Peter Singer reviews Parfit’s book on Moral Realism
Posted: 21 June 2011 06:10 AM   [ Ignore ]
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See it HERE. I haven’t read Parfit’s new two-volume work; I doubt I’ll have the time. But Parfit is indubitably one of the most brilliant philosophers alive today. His masterwork Reasons and Persons is evidence enough of that claim.

I fully expect his defense of moral realism to be as valuable as Singer seems to think it is.

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Posted: 23 June 2011 10:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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A similar work came out a few years ago, by Russ Shafer-Landau, *Moral Realism*:
http://ndpr.nd.edu/review.cfm?id=1429

It’s cheaper, and shorter by a volume, although after three months reading it front to back, I wouldn’t claim it’s more readable. However, Shafer-Landau does fire his guns at about every variation of moral non-realism out there.

On a tangential note, here are a couple of articles about Singer:
http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2011/06/22/the-wit-and-wisdom-of-peter-singer/
http://www.firstthings.com/article/2007/06/a-curious-encounter-with-a-philosopher-from-nowhere-37
(The second article devotes the last half to liberalism rather than Singer, and is much less interesting if political philosophy doesn’t float your boat.)

On disagreeing philosophers: it’s good to see that Singer, who must disagree mightily with much of what Parfit writes except for the utilitarian bits, can still find a work pushing for moral realism good not just for himself but for others to read.

Chris Kirk

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Posted: 23 June 2011 01:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Re. your first article, let me just say it’s more of a hatchet-job of context-free clips from Singer than “a representative taste of Singer’s thoughts” as its author claims. I do not consider myself an expert on Singer, and disagree with some of what he says, but that sort of treatment is pretty poor.

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Posted: 23 June 2011 05:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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dougsmith - 23 June 2011 01:34 PM

Re. your first article, let me just say it’s more of a hatchet-job of context-free clips from Singer than “a representative taste of Singer’s thoughts” as its author claims. I do not consider myself an expert on Singer, and disagree with some of what he says, but that sort of treatment is pretty poor.

I think it is a hatchet-job; the article is uncharitable, even ugly in a way.
But they *are* things Singer’s claimed, they flow very naturally from his ethical theory, he’s said them himself, and he’s never taken any of them back. ‘Live by the sword, die by the sword’. I’d call most the works of Dawkins, Dennett, Flanagan, even Paulos, on theological and religious matters, hatchet-jobs; I leave it to others to decide if they’re context-free or just. But none of them are very charitable about religion or religious people, no matter how charming they are in person. I can’t handle that particular kind of conflict.

(I met Dawkins a few years back; he gave a funny but awfully simplistic lecture that in part made fun of some Australian[?] crank who talked about how God must have designed the banana for human consumption. I’ve discovered that visiting speakers often underestimate the intelligence of undergraduates. But he was a nice guy in person, and exceedingly jet-lagged; a rare bout of charity prompted me to let him drink his tea in weary peace and talk about little things.)

chris kirk

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Posted: 23 June 2011 06:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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inthegobi - 23 June 2011 05:37 PM

I think it is a hatchet-job; the article is uncharitable, even ugly in a way.
But they *are* things Singer’s claimed, they flow very naturally from his ethical theory, he’s said them himself, and he’s never taken any of them back. ‘Live by the sword, die by the sword’. I’d call most the works of Dawkins, Dennett, Flanagan, even Paulos, on theological and religious matters, hatchet-jobs; I leave it to others to decide if they’re context-free or just. But none of them are very charitable about religion or religious people, no matter how charming they are in person. I can’t handle that particular kind of conflict.

Fair enough. FWIW, my main annoyance with the article was less that it was a hatchet job than with the claim that the skewed selection was “a representative taste of Singer’s thoughts”. That strikes me as mendacious rather than informative.

One of the most noble (if that’s the right word) things I find in Singer is the dogged honesty with which he embraces even the most apparently distasteful corollaries of his own views. Like him or not, he at least is someone who bends over backwards to be clear, consistent and honest about his philosophizing.

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