Friday, July 08, 2011

Shorter Robert George: I'm Only a Bigot Because Philosophy Demands It!

The shame of Princeton University, Robert P. George, is at it again.

What's really funny about George and other "natural law" advocates is they never, ever discover that "natural law" is in violation with beliefs they already hold. No, somehow, miraculously, "natural law" demands that their prejudices be true!

Of course, George can't say this out loud, so he's required to surround it with academic bafflegab like "sexual intercourse (the behavioral component of reproduction) consummates and actualizes marriage as a one-flesh union of sexually complementary spouses naturally ordered to the good of procreation". And he makes ridiculous, over-the-top claims like "New York has abolished marriage as a matter of civil law and replaced it with a counterfeit that New Yorkers’ children and grandchildren will be taught to accept and approve as if it were the real thing." And he makes bogus claims, as when he states, "It is to give up on the truth that children need both a father and mother, and benefit from the security of their love for each other." (For the truth, go here.) In my field, if you said stuff like this, with so little to back it up, and expected to be taken seriously, people would just laugh at you. But in philosophy, or politics, or constitutional interpretation, or whatever field George thinks he is master of, it's considered to be important work. Go figure.

The really sad thing about George's claims about gay marriage is that you can transform many of the claims, mutatis mutandis, to similar claims about interracial marriage. And George's bigotry against gays will seem as quaint and baseless in 20 years as proscriptions against interracial marriage do today.

19 comments:

Yob said...

Philosophers like him need to get out more. Far too many philosophers have sat back in their armchairs and postulated a perfect world that conforms to their preconceptions, rather than getting dirty in real-world data.

Jesus Wore Makeup said...

Rob George is a perfect example of what happens when philosophy becomes the hostage of dogma. Dogma shouts the demands, philosophy does whatever it demands.

Are you surprised to learn that Douglas Groothuis loves Rob George?

DogmaKarma said...

"Rob George is a perfect example of what happens when philosophy becomes the hostage of dogma. "

If someone's philosophy was to believe that gay marriage is good and hetero-marriage wasn't, would he be hostage to dogma?

If he believes that both types of marriage were good, would he hostage to his dogma, or is the fact that he approves of two, as opposed to just one, option, automatically make him free from dogma?

If two people believe that gay marriage is good, and heterosexual marriage isn't, and one person is seemingly influenced by his religion but the other one seemingly has no religion, is only the first person a hostage to dogma?

James Cranch said...

If someone's philosophy was to believe that gay marriage is good and hetero-marriage wasn't, would he be hostage to dogma?

Yes, obviously: that would be arbitrary, irrational and unpleasant. Fortunately, I've never met anybody who espouses this particular form of stupidity. Have you?

g said...

DogmaKarma, have you ever actually encountered anyone who believes that "gay marriage is good and heterosexual marriage isn't"?

My answers, for what they're worth, to your questions for JWM: (1) It would depend on how he came by that belief. (2) It would depend on how he came by that belief; of course the content of the belief can't guarantee no dogma. (3) It would depend on how they came by those beliefs, but obviously being "seemingly influenced by his religion" in this matter would make the first one a more likely candidate for being an hostage to dogma. But of course not all dogma is religious dogma; perhaps the second is a doctrinaire communist or something. Not that I know of any religion or philosophy or anything that says "gay marriage is good and heterosexual marriage isn't".

And a question for you: Are you actually interested in answers to your questions, or are you hoping that JWM will be unable to give credible answers to them?

DogmaKarma said...

"DogmaKarma, have you ever actually encountered anyone who believes that "gay marriage is good and heterosexual marriage isn't"?"

No. (I was just attempting an offbeat rhetorical device.) I happen to like your answers, g. Thanks!

Sally S. said...

DogmaKarma strikes me as the kind of person that just likes to play the contrarian for the sake of it (especially if playing the contrarian allows him to stick up for his beliefs). A person that uses questions to disarm and not to seek answers.

I can't read the mind of JWM but I assume the following: Robert P. George is a rather orthodox Christian. George's philosophy generally defends whatever orthodox Christian dogma says is true and he seems to do so for no other reason other than his religion tells him something is wrong. Hence, George uses philosophy to justify the dogma of his Church. The point JWM seems to be making is about the SOURCE of George's morals (dogma) and his methods (philosophy justifying dogma) rather than any particular conclusions. Again, speculation. JWM can correct me if I am wrong.

The more interesting question: What the hell is DogmaKarma trying to prove?

DogmaKarma said...

I seek to get people to question their own positions, SallyS, thankyouverymuch.

The Judge of FAIL said...

DogmaKarma -

The last thing this world needs is another self-appointed gadlfy pretending to be the 21st century Socrates. Especially one who promotes themselves via "offbeat rhetorical devices." Truth above rhetoric, noob.

I declare that DogmaKarma brings the FAIL.

Da' Bird said...

Dogmakarma reminds me of a passive-agressive dude i knew in college. He used to love getting into debates because he would always ask "why?" or "what makes that so?"

anytime someone would actually answer him back he would stammer, stutter and get defensive and point out that he was trying to help them mature intellectually. Yeah right. Someone was just looking for validation and didn't find it.

DogmaKarma said...

Thank you, G, but no one else, for answering my questions.

Cindy said...

@Dogma

Given your reaction the other commentors must have pegged you, huh? ;)

But really, no one likes the pseudo-humble wise man. If you have a point, make it. Don't make it seem like you are the lone sage in the room and that no one else questions their own assumptions. It reeks of elitist insecurities.
Thanks, Dogma.

DogmaKarma said...

For crying out loud.
My question elicited one good response. The rest of you complainers are adding absolutely nothing to the conversation.
Zilch!

Pscyhologist Alf said...

Actually, DogmaKarma, the other posters pointed out the rhetorical trickery and pscyhological motivation behind posts such as yours. The points about your rhetoric defuse your attempted interrogations and exposed them. The examination of your psychological motivations reveals your true motivations for posting and provides relevant reasons to be suspicious of your posts. Two good discoveries made!

Patient DogmaKarma has been diagnosed. Medication is forthcoming, DogmaKarma.

Robert O'Brien said...

"For the truth, go here."

LOL. That study is a joke.

"The really sad thing about George's claims about gay marriage is that you can transform many of the claims, mutatis mutandis, to similar claims about interracial marriage. And George's bigotry against gays will seem as quaint and baseless in 20 years as proscriptions against interracial marriage do today."

Even if that were the case (and I dispute that it is), it is fallacious to conflate the two. An argument can be sound in one context and not another.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Robert:

Your response is a joke, since the link does not go to a *single study*, but rather a web page summarizing many studies on the same theme. The fact that you didn't realize this shows you didn't bother to follow the link or read the studies. You just dismissed the results reflexively because they don't agree with your preconceptions. And that is the essence of the ideologue.

Robert O'Brien said...

To the contrary, Professor Shallit, it is one study with several papers. Since the underlying study appears to be flawed in its data collection and other aspects, I do not have to address the papers individually.

As I wrote when the study first made headlines:

"I suspect this study features selection bias. It should also be noted that it was funded by homosexual advocacy groups, which is cause for close scrutiny."

"Not only was it funded by homosexual advocacy groups but Nanette Gartrell is a lesbian herself..."

"Statistics, including survey sampling, among non-statisticians is frequently deficient, even at 'elite' universities."

"Lesbians can produce decent statistical analyses but that does not appear to be the case here. I need to read the journal article but from what I gather the study suffers from the following problems:

The lesbians who participated were recruited from certain lesbian clubs and their sample of lesbians is biased toward older and financially established couples. I do not believe their sample is representative of all lesbians and it is not legitimate to compare such a sample to a sample of heterosexual parents that is (presumably) drawn from the entire population of heterosexual couples. Assuming their survey instruments are legitimate (which I'm not sure of), it would only be fair to compare their sample of lesbians to older, financially established heterosexual couples with planned pregnancies. Otherwise, the lesbian parenting is confounded with these other factors.

The lesbian parents were surveyed about the well being of their children and their answers are going to be skewed toward the positive, especially if they are cognizant (and I have no doubt that they are) of the impact such a study might have on social policy."

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Now we see why the Robert O'Brien trophy is eponymous.

All that criticism and yet it appears you still haven't actually read the papers themselves. For example, the NLLFS sample has significantly higher percentage of working class members and a significantly lower percentage of upper middle class and upper class members than Achenbach to which it is being compared.

No study is perfect. I am happy to admit that some of your criticisms have some validity, but until better data comes along, I think we should accept these results provisionally.

If you have any studies that reached different conclusions, you are welcome to present them. And, unlike you, I will actually read them.

The real question is, if the social science research becomes even more definitive, will you accept that George did not tell the truth? Or is he right, no matter what the evidence shows?

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Robert:

I should also add, I apologize for not immediately understanding the distinction between "study" and "paper" you were drawing. In my field these are often used interchangeably.