Wednesday, January 30, 2008

About these posts

A graduate student told me that sometimes I say crazy things, and suggested that I do so to get a reaction. I plead guilty to both. However, I have to say that I mean the crazy things that I say to get a reaction. I am punctilious about the duty not to lie, and if something from me has the form of assertion, and isn't explicitly disclaimed or plainly in some non-assertive context like play-acting or joke-telling, I really do mean it. In particular my posts, though sometimes written in a tongue-in-cheek style and espousing seemingly absurd doctrines, are quite sincere. (That said, it may be that a back post no longer reflects my current views--perhaps a commenter has persuaded me out of some view I held, in which case I owe her my gratitude.)

At the same time, what I say may sometimes need to be read carefully, and one cannot rely on ordinary-language implicature. If I simply entitle something "An argument for p", I am not claiming that what is offered is a sound argument for p, or even an interesting argument, but only that it is an argument (of course if I don't think it's an interesting argument, then I'm not that likely to post it, am I?) If I label something a "valid argument", then my only claim is that it is valid--I am not affirming the premises or the conclusion, nor am I even claiming that the premises are coherent. If I call something a "sound argument", then I am endorsing the premises and the conclusion, and committing myself to the argument's validity, but I am committing myself to no claim about the argument's usefulness.

Finally, as a general rule of interpretation, I never mean to contradict any teaching of the magisterium of the Catholic Church, be the magisterium extraordinary or ordinary, infallible or fallible (even where the magisterium is fallible, I am much more fallible). I am committed to repudiating any view of mine should it be shown to have contradicted the teaching of the Church.

4 comments:

Apolonio said...

alex,

your posts are fine. they are enjoyable and i read them every day. your arguments are very interesting and new and sometimes weird. the best ones are those like, arguments for God's existence through love or something. plus, you have the humility to submit yourself to the Church which is lacking in many Catholic philosophers/theologians. i pray and wish you are more well known.

Vlastimil Vohánka said...

Apolonio is right.

One question, Alex,

As you wrote, "if something from me has the form of assertion, and isn't explicitly disclaimed or plainly in some non-assertive context like play-acting or joke-telling, I really do mean it."

Is this attitude common among contemporary philosophers? One analytical philosopher that I know suggested to me few years ago that it isn't, at with respect to many journal papers. He even suspected some authors of deliberate, subtle fallacies motivated by the hunger for originality and reactions.

Alexander R Pruss said...

I do sometimes write up, and maybe even present, an argument that I suspect of harboring a subtle fallacy but where I cannot lay my hands on what the fallacy exactly is. In that case, I don't proclaim the argument to be sound.

Vlastimil said...

I believe you, Alex, but my question has been about something different.

Maybe, though, you do not want to answer - because you do not want to judge the philosophical community as a whole. If so, then I respect that.