Tag Archives: Euthyphro Problem

Nothing to fear, they’re nihilists

"Say what you will about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it was an ethos."  That was Walter Sobchek of the Big Lebowski.  One finds a similar thought in a recent discussion:*

Say what you will about the prosperity gospel and the cult of the God Within and the other theologies I criticize in Bad Religion, but at least they have a metaphysically coherent picture of the universe to justify their claims. Whereas much of today’s liberalism expects me to respect its moral fervor even as it denies the revelation that once justified that fervor in the first place. It insists that it is a purely secular and scientific enterprise even as it grounds its politics in metaphysical claims.

That's Ross Douthat, New York Times' pious columnist.  For a discussion of the Euthyphro Problem-denying angles to this, see John Holbo at Crooked Timber (my source for the passage above). 

My quibble would be that "secular" and "scientific" enterprises cannot have "methaphysical" claims.  Seems that insofar as they make claims about what sorts of things are real, or not, they do.

*edited this sentence to make it clear I'm not going Godwin on Douthat.

Trust your feelings

In service of the idea that arguments infect people like viruses, immuno-suppressed Dennis Prager catches some of that David Brooks virus (see here).  Prager, however, manages to get a worse version of Brooksosis acuta:

This latest study cited by David Brooks confirms what conservatives have known for a generation: Moral standards have been replaced by feelings. Of course, those on the left only believe this when an “eminent sociologist” is cited by a writer at a major liberal newspaper.

What is disconcerting about Brooks’s piece is that nowhere in what is an important column does he mention the reason for this disturbing trend: namely, secularism.

The intellectual class and the Left still believe that secularism is an unalloyed blessing. They are wrong. Secularism is good for government. But it is terrible for society (though still preferable to bad religion) and for the individual.

One key reason is what secularism does to moral standards. If moral standards are not rooted in God, they do not objectively exist. Good and evil are no more real than “yummy” and “yucky.” They are simply a matter of personal preference. One of the foremost liberal philosophers, Richard Rorty, an atheist, acknowledged that for the secular liberal, “There is no answer to the question, ‘Why not be cruel?’”

Aside from actually getting Brooks' article wrong, suggesting that Brooks is a liberal, and claiming that people believe him, Prager has the shallowest understanding of moral philosophy.  One would think that the cure Prager needs is the Euthyphro Problem.  But the passage just before this shows his intellectual ailment to be much worse:

Ever since I attended college I have been convinced that “studies” either confirm what common sense suggests or they are mistaken. I realized this when I was presented study after study showing that boys and girls were not inherently different from one another, and they acted differently only because of sexist upbringings.

Maybe he should go back to college and ask for his money back.