[lit-ideas] Re: Socratic Congress

  • From: "Walter C. Okshevsky" <wokshevs@xxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx, Eric Yost <mr.eric.yost@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 11 Jun 2009 23:20:25 -0230

Quoting Eric Yost <mr.eric.yost@xxxxxxxxx>:

> Every absolute view carries its own exceptions [...]

Hmmmm .... Is that view not itself an absolute view? 

Or is Eric claiming that his view about absolute views is only "relatively
true."  (We're still awaiting some sense on that notion.) 

And if it is an absolute view, and what he avers about absolute views is
correct, then what kinds of exceptions to his view is he ready to accomodate?

But then, what would such accomodation entail for his view on absolute truth? 
Performative contradiction? Practical contradiction? Self-refutation at 15
paces? .... YOU decide.

Note that some of Eric's epistemic predicament is shared by Robert. Both hold
absolute views: Eric maintains an absolute claim about absolute claims, while
Robert maintains the absolute claim that certain maxims, perhaps only certain
actions (it's not clear from his posts), are morally wrong, period. Any
theoretical explanation of morality that brings into question the justification
of this moral wrongness is eo ipso defective.

Bracketing Robert's more rhetorical and less considered recent formulations,
metaethic maintains that the question of whether it is ever morally
permissible, perhaps even morally required, to torture the innocent is a
question raised only by one who fails to understand the nature of morality. Let
it not go unrecognized that I agree with him. 

But I see the need to take the extra philosophical step and confront the
question of WHY this is the case. After
all, just because I speak French grammatically correctly (!) and am quite
competent at intuitively recognizing grammatically correct and incorrect
formulations in French, doesn't mean I have an explicit, systematic and
comprehensive understanding of the syntactical rules governing correct
grammatical utterances in French. 

Pursuing this analogy, Robert wants to claim
that this intuitive mastery of a language is somehow a *criterion* of
correctness, rather than but an expression of, an accordance with, correct
performance. I want to suggest that the intuitively based competence in a
language is grounded in, i.e., is possible only in virtue of, a network of
syntactical rules the validity of which is not established, without begging the
question, via reference to the intuitions of competent speakers of the language.
We look to competent speakers for *confirmation* of the correctness of
grammatical rules - not for the prior establishment of the correctness we must
deploy in judging speakers to be "competent" within the language. 

Walter O

Walter O

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