Monday, 20 August 2007

Theism and Atheism

I leave you this fine evening with a column by Tom Krattenmaker.


Should Catholics address God as “Allah”? See here.

A. P. Martinich on Hobbes’s Conventionalism

What is interesting about these laws of nature is their conventionality. One of the oddities of this part of Hobbes’s philosophy is that from his contentious starting point, namely, the state of nature, egoistic psychology, and the right of self-preservation, he derives a perfectly conventional normative system. Normally, philosophers try to proceed in the opposite way: from uncontroversial premises to shocking conclusions.

(A. P. Martinich, Hobbes: A Biography [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999], 147 [endnote omitted])

Animal Ethics

Here is my latest post.

A Year Ago



Here is a useful way to distinguish atheism from agnosticism. The agnostic says, “There is insufficient reason to believe in God.” The atheist says, “There is sufficient reason to disbelieve in God.” (The theist says, “There is sufficient reason to believe in God.”) So construed, atheism entails agnosticism (but not conversely). In other words, atheism is a species, or special case, of the genus agnosticism.

We can avoid this result by interpreting the agnostic as saying, “There is insufficient reason to believe in God and there is insufficient reason to disbelieve in God.” So construed, agnosticism contradicts both theism and atheism. Theism and atheism are contraries but not contradictories. In other words, both can be false, but it’s not the case that both can be true.

Best of the Web Today


From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

CARE’s brave decision to forgo monetized food aid (“CARE Turns Down Federal Funds for Food Aid,” front page, Aug. 16) highlights the ethical dilemma posed by an American food aid program that requires enormous inefficiency and potentially counterproductive impacts on poor people.

The United States contributes more than half of all food aid worldwide. But as a result of special-interest lobbying, America’s generosity is undermined by legal restrictions and bureaucracy that create waste, delay and added expense.

President Bush has proposed changes to the food aid program, recommending that one-quarter of the food aid budget be shifted from commodities to cash. But this request has fallen mostly on deaf ears in Congress.

The food aid program is up for renewal this year as part of the farm bill, a broad piece of legislation governing farm, food, and conservation policy. Although the House of Representatives has done little to improve the efficiencies of food aid programs, it remains to be seen whether the Senate will listen to the needs of the hungry or those of vested special interests.

Raymond C. Offenheiser
President, Oxfam America
Boston, Aug. 16, 2007

Note from KBJ: It’s outrageous that money is taken from hard-working Americans against their will (or without their consent) and given to people in other countries. Those who want to help others, here or abroad, should do so, privately. Those who don’t shouldn’t be made to.

From the Mailbag


No desire to taunt, bash, mock, etc.

One thing one cannot stress too often about baseball though is that it is a very LONG season. Most division races are decided by two or three games. So things change. It is still a long shot for the Yankees, who looked worse than dead at the All Star break, to catch Boston, although in 1978 they were more than a dozen games behind at this stage and won.

But the long season combines with the weirdness of streaks to mean that a time which has been awful in the first half can and often is good in the second and conversely. Bobby Abreu hit something like .240 the first half of the season and .340 since. Who can explain it?

It’s a humbling game. It is never unwise to be humble.


Note from KBJ: Humility is for losers, Paul. The Yankees suck!