Posted by: gcarkner | October 4, 2015

Reflections on Ethics at UBC Oct. 7 and 8

Scienitific Naturalism and Ethics- R. Scott Smith Transcript of “Can Scientific naturalism Fully Explain Ethics?”

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130101_002 Scott Smith Audio File “Does Postmodernism Offer a Better Alternative?

Naturalism is a picture of the whole of reality that cannot, according to its own intrinsic premises, address the being of the whole; it is a metaphysics of the rejection of metaphysics, a transcendental certainty of the impossibility of transcendent truth, and so requires an act of pure credence logically immune to any verification…. Thus naturalism must forever remain a pure assertion, a pure conviction, a confession of blind assurance in an inaccessible beyond; and that beyond, more paradoxically still, is the beyond of no beyond. (D.B. Hart, 2013, p. 77)

The commitments to metaphysical naturalism and ideological scientism that govern “public reason” dictate a conception of reality that prevents the grounding of any morality at all…. If metaphysical naturalism is true then human rights are not and cannot be real, natural or discovered. They are at most constructed conventions or useful fictions, but intellectually they are unwarranted remnants from a rejected conception of reality. (Brad Gregory, Notre Dame, 2012, p. 224-5)

Scott showed brilliantly that logically naturalism hampers or handicaps our ability to know things and know moral values. Nominalism reduces the world to particulars. It is anti-intellectual in the sense of understanding the essence of things, persons or ethics. Ultimately, we cannot trust our own thoughts, perceptions and convictions; it is skeptical of mental properties. Its strong ideological scientism is self-stultifying. We are left with no certainty of knowledge at all.

His counter was that, in fact, most of us believe we do know persons and things and moral values like justice and fairness and love. Thus skepticism should be thrown back on metaphysical naturalism or materialism. See also the work of Alvin Plantinga, Where the Conflict Really Lies Chapter 10.


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