Thursday, May 24, 2007

Translation is Tradition

A good way to see how translation is really a form of tradition, a handing down anew of a text, is to see it through many different changes; this can be especially interesting in translation of texts, like poems, that pose particularly significant problems of translation. Here is the first stanza of St. Ambrose's famous hymn, Veni, Redemptor gentium, written circa 397, which is still sung today, especially (but not exclusively) in translation:

Veni, Redemptor gentium;
Ostende partum virginis;
Miretur omne saeculum.
Talis decet partus Deo.

Here is a translation by that inimitable translator of hymns, John M. Neale:

Come, Thou Redeemer of the earth,
And manifest Thy virgin birth:
Let every age adoring fall;
Such birth befits the God of all.

As with most of Neale's hymn translations, it is astonishingly good, managing to be both reasonably close to the original and yet eminently singable. Neale translated directly from the original text, and he did an immense amount of hymn translation and writing. (His translations of hymns are still very common; his only original work that is still well known is "Good King Wenceslaus.") Both those features make him probably the greatest nineteenth-century of hymns into English, and one of the best ever.

This is Martin Luther's lovely and popular translation of it into German:

Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland,
Der Jungfrauen Kind erkannt!
Dass sich wundre alle Welt,
Gott solch’ Geburt ihm bestellt.

This is William Reynold's translation of Martin Luther's translation:

Savior of the nations, come;
Virgin’s Son, here make Thy home!
Marvel now, O heaven and earth,
That the Lord chose such a birth.

This is Richard Massie's translation of Martin Luther's translation:

Savior of the heathen, known
As the promised virgin’s Son;
Come Thou Wonder of the earth,
God ordained Thee such a birth.

Incidentally, this Luther-line of the old Ambrosian hymn has attached to the hymn yet another eminent name, that of Johann Sebastian Bach, who wrote music for Luther's words. Bach's harmony has been taken up as a tune (known as Nun Komm) by others in several slight variations.

Palamas and Composition

Does the ousia/energeia distinction violate the doctrine of divine simplicity. Gregory Palamas argues not:

Just as the substance of God is absolutely unnameable since it is beyond names according to the theologians, so also is it imparticipable since it is beyond participation according to them. Therefore, those who now disobey the teaching of the Spirit through our holy Fathers and revile us who agree with them, say that either there are many gods or the one God is composite, if the divine energy is distinct from the divine substance even if it be observed entirely within the substance of God. They are unaware that it is not acting and energy but being acted upon and the passivity which constitute composition. But God acts without being acted upon and without undergoing change.

[Gregory Palamas, The One Hundred and Fifty Chapters, Robert E. Sinewicz, tr. PIMS (Toronto: 1988) ch. 145 (p. 251).]

One thing that is striking about this is that from a Thomistic perspective this is exactly how one should argue in order to show that the distinction does not violate divine simplicity. On Thomas's view, simplicity is noncomposition; and all compositio is in some way or another compositio actus et potentiae, a composition of actuality and passive potentiality (cf., e.g., SCG 1.18). If the distinction introduces no potentiality, it introduces no composition, and thus does not violate the doctrine of divine simplicity.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


I saw this at DarwinCatholic.

Grab the nearest book.

Open it to page 161.
Find the fifth full sentence.
Post the text of the sentence along with these instructions.
Don't search around looking for the coolest book you can find. Do what's actually next to you.

I have a lot of books next to me at the moment, though, all within arm's reach, so I thought I'd do it for each of them. In roughly the order of their closeness:

Gregory Palamas, The One Hundred and Fifty Chapters (Robert Sinkewicz, tr.): He indicated what we once were and what we shall become through him in the future age if we choose here below to live according to his ways as much as possible, as John Chrysostom says. (Speaking of the Transfiguration)

Alasdair MacIntyre, Edith Stein: I have constructed the best overall narrative that I can, but a better historian might well do better.

Euripides, Ten Plays (Paul Roche, tr.): And from me, hear this: I now praise Apollo, whom I would not praise before, because he gives me back the child he once ignored. (Creusa, in Ion)

Dorothy L. Sayers, The Complete Stories: Now why shouldn't it be full? (from "The Vindictive Story of the Footsteps that Ran")

Nicolas Malebranche, The Search after Truth (Lennon & Olscamp, trs.): To maintain this union God has commanded us to have charity for one another.

Alasdair MacIntyre, Whose Justice? Which Rationality?: The guardianship of the order of justice is one of the specific functions of the pope, and that guardianship imposes a duty of respect and obedience upon secular rulers. (Speaking of Gregory VII's view of the papal role)

Walter M. Miller, Jr., A Canticle for Leibowitz: Who are you talking about?

Alasdair MacIntyre, Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry: No one's thought is treated as a whole and therefore the relationship of individual theses and arguments as parts to wholes never appears. (Speaking of The Cambridge History of Later Medieval Philosophy.)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Links and Notes

* Ed Brayton has a good post on slander of Clarence Thomas. The whole thing leaves one shaking one's head. Here is a man who has risen to the highest court in the land, whose opinions, though controversial, are recognized to be well-reasoned, and (while I can't certify it myself, I am told by those who would know) whose opinions on corporate law cases in particular are often far and away the most insighful opinions the Supreme Court delivers with regard to corporate law, and that still isn't enough for people to stop treating him as an inferior when it suits their purposes. I mean, seriously, what does a black man have to do to be appreciated for merit in this country, particularly when he has controversial views?

* Jonathan Rowe at "Positive Liberty" notes that Google has digitized Joseph Priestley's A History of the Corruptions of Christianity. I'll certainly be reading it; as Rowe notes, it was fairly influential for its time.

* Lee at "Thinking Reed" notes C. S. Lewis's position on laws against homosexuality (he was very much against them) as it appears in some of his letters.

* Currently reading: Michael S. Pardo, Testimony (PDF). One weakness of its argument, it seems to me is that it wants to read the justification relevant to testimony in law as epistemic justification, when obviously it is practical justification. What we are trying to justify in court is not belief but action; it doesn't matter whether the judge and jury have justified beliefs about the defendant's guilt, for instance, only whether they are justified in rendering a guilty verdict given the law and its prudent and just application in light of all the circumstances presented. Thus the role of testimony in law is only secondarily an epistemological question at all; it is primarily an ethical one. The discussion of testimonial failure -- due to a lapse in sincerity, narration, perception or memory -- is interesting, though. I'm inclined to think the 'cognitive cul-de-sac' case (Dead-End 5) is incorrectly diagnosed, since, the stout not being Young's, S does in fact know that he's drinking an Irish stout and can pass this on. The only way it would fail is if S did not know the difference between Young's and Guinness, or did not in fact know that Guinness is an Irish stout, which, ex hypothesi, he does; his error about Young's being an Irish stout is only relevant when he's drinking Young's.

* Also reading: Paolo Carozza's Subsidiarity as a Structural Principle in International Law (PDF) and Thomas Kohler's Solidarity and the Secret History of American Labor Law (PDF).

* Jeff McMahan's contribution to the Online Philosophy Conference, about pacifism (PDF) is well worth reading. If you're interested in issues of pacifism and just wary theory, I highly recommend it.

* I haven't said much about Falwell's passing, since I don't have much to say. I was interested by the following passage in an old New Yorker piece (recently reprinted and updated, and discussed at Get Religion), though, that put its finger, without the author quite knowing it, on the cause of Falwell's success, and the thing that so many of his critics never at all grasped. The passage is speaking of Falwell's church:

"It's a laboring church," said one of the five businessmen who had been on the committee to straighten out the church’s finances — the president of the First Colony Life Insurance Company. "There’s no participation in it by community leaders, and that is probably why it is so successful. The nonachievers have to have something to be proud of, and they are proud of their church and contribute handsomely."

As Get Religion's Douglas LeBlanc notes, this is a very classist quotation. But it shows an insight into something that many people find utterly mysterious, namely, his widespread appeal, particularly in his heyday: he let ordinary, decent working people in on something big, in a way that gave them a personal investment and an essential role to play in it all. That has powerful draw, and for very good reason; and it gave him both a stable core of influence and a very public platform from which to speak. I find it very sad that so many of Falwell's critics have been more interested in attacking those same people instead of loving them, seeing what attracted them, and giving them different options.

UPDATE: Yes, I know about the 'just wary' typo; but since it's become a tourist attraction (and is pretty nice, as far as typos go), I'm leaving it up.

Some Rough Thoughts on Sosa on Epistemic Normativity

From Ernest Sosa's paper on Epistemic Normativity (PDF) at the OPC2:

In calling a belief knowledge, we evaluate it positively by epistemic standards. Within the domain of epistemic assessment, knowledge has a standing higher than that given to its constitutive belief by its mere truth.

I'm always puzzled by this sort of claim. If I say I know that the sun rose today, amy I really evaluating it "positively by epistemic standards"* and giving it a "standing higher than that given to its constitutive belief by its mere truth"? I don't think so. Take the pair:

I know that the sun rose today.
I believe, but do not know, that the sun rose today.

Sosa (and he is not alone) thinks that we hold the former to exemplify more of a some epistemically relevant value, give it a higher standing. This may sometimes be true, but I see no reason to regard it as generally true. After all, it doesn't really matter in most cases whether you know that the sun rose or merely believe it; as far as the thought itself goes, you aren't missing out on anything either way.

I think my doubt on this point is related to my skepticism about another bit of common wisdom, namely, that knowledge (as usually understood in these discussions, namely, as a particular kind of belief) is, as knowledge, more valuable than alone. I see no reason to accept this. The answer to the question, "What makes knowledge more valuable than belief?" is, "Nothing in general, although there certainly are cases of knowledge that are more valuable than belief."

I suspect that the reason people think that knowledge must in itself be more valuable than mere belief in itself is that in inquiry we often try to move from belief to knowledge. That suggests to them that there is something intrinsically valuable about knowledge. But in fact, no one cares about most things that could be known, and everybody implicitly recognizes that it's a waste of time to try to know everything you believe. I believe that there is a clean pair of socks in the drawer not far from me at the moment. I have no need to come to know it; I will have gained not one single thing from the mere fact of having come to know it; I am not in the least inclined to try to know it; when I come to know it, it will be as an entirely incidental result of looking for actual clean socks. I could get something of value from looking in the drawer right now, thus coming to know that there are clean socks in it. I would on its basis be able to formulate a better estimate, for instance, of how long I have before I have to face a choice between doing laundry or going without clean socks, if I needed to do so. But it might not be important to do so. Knowing (again, in the sense usually found in these discussions) adds no 'higher standing' to the belief; it just facilitates doing other things in which certainty is useful.

Thus we can regard truth as the 'fundamental epistemic value' without any worries about the value of knowledge. The answer to the question Sosa asks later,

How can the truth-reliability of an epistemic source give to the beliefs that it yields any additional epistemic worth, over and above any that they already have in virtue of being true?

is that it can't, and we never had particularly good reason to think it could. It can give it other kinds of value, of course -- e.g., practical usefulness.

Likewise, although Sosa thinks that it is central to virtue epistemology that "the value of apt belief is no less epistemically fundamental than that of true belief," I, who certainly am a virtue epistemologist, deny this, since I think the value relevant to apt belief is simply a different sort of value from that relevant to true belief. To speak of them as if they were values in a domain that can be treated with univocal label is simply a mistake. My virtue epistemology has to do not chiefly with value at all, but with what I think knowledge and belief in fact are in the knowing and believing subject (namely, dispositions of a certain sort, differentiated by their potential roles in the fullness of a happy and flourishing human life as structured by certain ends). Any views about value are wholly derivative and presuppose this type of account; they are not central. And I think this is actually true of everyone's account, by nature; you can't seriously talk about the value of apt belief or true belief or knowledge without having any notion of what apt belief, true belief, or knowledge are, because different accounts of what they are will constrain what possible accounts of their value are available to you. Sosa's talk about value presupposes such an account, one in which knowing and believing are performance-like and where justification is a key differentiating factor. Someone who holds such a view will tend to give normativity a key role and the temptation to treat this as something like obligation will hover in the air above him even if he does not succomb. Such a 'virtue epistemology' is in constant danger of turning into a deontological reliabilism. And virtually all modern 'virtue epistemologies' give justification this key role. For someone who holds a broadly Thomistic virtue epistemology, to give something to contrast them with, the emphasis is not put on justification but on cultivation of human potential insofar as we are rational animals; prudence, manifested in some way as an 'illative sense', does most of the work Sosa wants normativity to do; and the preferred way of classifying things as knowledge and belief is different. On such a view, questions about justification, understood as conforming to certain standards, are simply the wrong questions to start with (of course, in particular domains questions about justification may arise as derivative questions), because such justification is not a foundational epistemic notion.

* Of course, 'epistemic' here must be taken more loosely than its strict sense of 'pertaining to knowledge'; if it were taken in that sense, and mere belief could not in itself be evaluated in terms of 'epistemic value', not being epistemic at all. But that's not the way the term is used in this context. It's a worthwhile question to ask what it should be understood to mean at all in a context like this, but I won't ask it here.

Atheists and Morality

The Maverick Philosopher examines the following argument by Sam Harris:

If you are right to believe that religious faith offers the only real basis for morality, then atheists should be less moral than believers. In fact, they should be utterly immoral.

Vallicella's criticism of it is exactly right. For my part, I was reminded (as I always am when this topic comes up) of William Warburton. Warburton was an eighteenth-century theologian and philosopher, extremely influential at the time, who was famous for being very abusive and unfair in his treatment of his opponents, including atheists. He has an extended argument, called The Divine Legation of Moses, a good portion of which is taken up with arguing precisely that religious faith offers the only real basis for morality. Warburton takes a very strong view of the matter: atheists cannot consistently recognize any moral obligation as an obligation, because obligation requires the sanction of a prior superior will, and atheists in general don't recognize any such will.

But, of course, Warburton doesn't think atheism is true, and he thinks God exerts a moral providence. So he denies that atheists are utterly immoral; divine providence has prevented all human beings from being utterly immoral by giving every human being (1) a moral taste, a set of natural sentiments and preferences, that can be cultivated and shaped; and (2) a reason capable of recognizing whether something is (as a matter of prudence) appropriate or inappropriate. Warburton considers neither of these to be morality in the proper sense, but they are (we might say) morality-tending, that is, by God's providence they approximate (to varying degrees) moral behavior, because even for theists they serve as the God-designed materials for moral life that are given proper form by divine command. Moreover, Warburton is only committed to saying that atheists cannot consistently be moral even in what he considers to be the only proper sense of 'moral'. For atheists do not all exist in Atheist Land. They exist in a world where they have to live with theists, and are exposed to theistic ideas, and are sometimes raised and educated as far as their moral life is concerned by theists. So it's entirely possible for the moral teaching of theists to have rubbed off on atheists, either directly (e.g., in their acceptance of some of the law of Moses or Jesus' Sermon on the Mount as good moral guidance) or indirectly (e.g., by shaping the general culture in which they live). Likewise, some atheists may follow the teaching more thoroughly than some theists, although Warburton thinks that in doing so atheists would be implicitly contradicting their atheism without really realizing that they were doing so (because exhibiting the contradiction would take extended reasoning about the nature of obligation).

Thus even Warburton, who definitely and vehemently holds the view that the only real basis for morality is religious belief, is not committed to the claim that atheists are "utterly immoral". He's only committed to the claim that when they are moral they are (fortunately for themselves and everyone else) rationally inconsistent or confused. And this tends to be generally the case for people who make this claim. As Vallicella notes, Harris is conflating two distinct questions.

Monday, May 21, 2007

A Guide to the Argument of Hume's Dialogues, Parts VI&VII

Previous Post

It may be useful to summarize what we have so far. Cleanthes has presented an argument with the following characteristics:

1. It recognizes an analogy between the world and a machine.
2. On the basis of this analogy, an analogical inference is made on the basic principle of "Like effects have like causes" to the conclusion that, as a machine is designed by a mind, so too the world is designed by a mind.
3. The mind in question must be a human-like mind, since that is the only mind we know.
4. Cleanthes regards one of the strengths of the argument to be that it is a posteriori, i.e., experience-based.
5. He puts it forward as the sole theological argument possible.
6. He claims that it is a sufficient foundation for religion.

Philo originally began by arguing that the analogy is too weak to yield any analogical inference; he is unable to maintain this, and Cleanthes outmaneuvers him in argument. Demea, however, having insisted that we make a sharp distinction between the being and nature of God, argues that the inference has a conclusion that puts too great an emphasis on the similarity of God to a human mind. Philo begins to recognize that the distinction between being and nature sheds important light on the argument; he failed to maintain the argument that the inference to existence was impossible, but that leaves open the question of the nature of what you have inferred to exist.

Thus in Part VI he begins a striking line of argument by proposing alternative analogies. Each of these alternative analogies is intended to explicate the fundamental fact of the order of the world. These analogies are usually understood to be an attack on (2) in the above scheme, but I think it is clear that they are really an attack on (3). Cleanthes's analogical inference has the following structure:

(D) machine : human mind :: world : divine mind

The first alternative hypothesis Philo proposes is:

(WS) animal body : animal soul :: world : world soul

Cleanthes concedes that he had not thought of this, but his first thought in reply is that on such reasoning one might as well say the world is like a vegetable as an animal. A fatal reply. After some discussion of Cleanthes's other suggestions in response to (WS), Philo in Part VII proposes two other analogies:

(G) animal body : generation :: world : something analogous to animal generation

(V) plant body : vegetation :: world : something analogous to vegetation

'Vegetation' here is understood to be the process whereby plants come to exist. You can begin to see what Philo is doing. The question is how to explain the order of the world. Cleanthes has put forward an argument in which we take how a part of the world (machine) comes to be ordered, and infer from that how the whole world comes to be ordered. So Philo naturally begins looking at how other parts of the world come to be ordered (animal bodies, plant bodies).

Demea replies that these are wild and arbitrary hypotheses, and asks what date Philo could have for such conclusions. And Philo replies that this is precisely his point, and the point he has insisted on all along: our experience is so imperfect that it gives us no "probable conjecture" into the order of the whole universe. But if we must make a supposition, we have to do so with the widest possible experience and, given that no other theological argument is allowed, we can have no other rule to guide us by similarity. Thus we have four principles of order in our own little part of the universe: reason (which gives us D), instinct (which gives us WS), generation (which gives us G), and vegetation (which gives us V). Despite what one might think, Philo is not offering each of these analogies as an absolute alternative, as if one has to choose one. Rather, his point is that all these are similar in being principles of order, and are the causes of similar effects. And, what is more, we have no reason to think that they are the only possible principles of order. (Philo is thinking of principles of order in other parts of the universe, but the idea is the same if we take other principles of order in our part of it, e.g., crystallization.) And if we press any one of them too hard, and try to draw too much out of the analogy, we get a radically different cosmogony. D gives us a world that is produced by reason; WS a world produced by instinct; G a world reproduced like an animal; V a world reproduced like a plant.

Cleanthes cannot say that instinct, generation, and vegetation are themselves designed processes without either begging the question or rejecting the a posteriori character of the argument. Precisely what is to be explained is the order of the world; if the argument is to be a posteriori, Cleanthes must consider all the candidates of experience that fit the basic structure of his argument, and not privilege design from the beginning. He can get out of this by assuming that every form of order is a form of design. But if he does he has made the argument a priori!

What is more (and this, I think, is an interesting twist), if Philo choose to think the world was hatched form an egg, Cleanthes has little room to insist that he recognize the world's hatching from an egg as itself caused by a designing mind. For when Philo asked what the designer of the designer was, Cleanthes replied that it didn't matter: it was sufficient to know the cause of the world, and you didn't have to know the cause of the cause of the world to know it. Philo suggests that he can make use of the same defense. If he chooses to infer that the world was hatched from an egg, he doesn't have to give any cause of its generation in this way. If, however, Cleanthes does insist that Philo take the next step and infer that the generation of the world was designed, since there is no other argument allowed by Cleanthes, Philo can with equal right insist that Cleanthes take the next step and infer that the designer was reproduced by animal generation. Equal right? Greater right: because whereas we don't have in our experience much acquaintance with rational minds designing animal generation, we have a great deal of acquaintance with animal generations that result in rational minds, namely, our own reproduction.

Cleanthes responds to this very briefly at the end of the Part VII. I present his answer because its significance is easily missed:

I must confess, Philo, replied Cleanthes, that of all men living, the task which you have undertaken, of raising doubts and objections, suits you best, and seems, in a manner, natural and unavoidable to you. So great is your fertility of invention, that I am not ashamed to acknowledge myself unable, on a sudden, to solve regularly such out-of-the-way difficulties as you incessantly start upon me: though I clearly see, in general, their fallacy and error. And I question not, but you are yourself, at present, in the same case, and have not the solution so ready as the objection: while you must be sensible, that common sense and reason are entirely against you; and that such whimsies as you have delivered, may puzzle, but never can convince us.

People usually write off Cleanthes too early in the Dialogues. Hume, however, did not write Cleanthes as a stupid character. On a superficial reading, Cleanthes' response might seem to be just a stubborn dismissal. It is not. Cleanthes is still pushing on what he already knows to be Philo's weak spot. Philo is a skeptic; he puts a greater emphasis on the natural force of reasoning than on speculative conclusions. With an interlocutor like Philo, Cleanthes does not have to answer every objection, because Philo himself cannot say that every objection should be conceded. Rather, on his own principles we should go (although not dogmatically) with the inference that has the greatest natural force. By claiming that Philo's objections "may puzzle, but never can convince us," and that Philo's claim, that it is more plausible that the universe hatched like an egg than was designed by a mind, is against common sense and reason, he is laying emphasis on this point. It is not stubbornness; it is a sign of just how clever Cleanthes is. Cleanthes' best move at this point is not to budge and not to get distracted by trying to put forward an objection to every alternative speculation Philo puts forward. That's to play the game on Philo's own ground, and Cleanthes has simply not yet been put into a position in which he must play the game on any ground other than his own. It is still the case that Philo's own principles favor Cleanthes' conclusion; at least, Cleanthes can still plausibly claim that they do.

Philo has a response to this. But to get into it would bring us to Part VIII, so we'll just have to wait.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Some Disjointed Thoughts about Rape

Via the new Feminist Philosophers blog I came across this appreciation of Andrea Dworkin. There are things with which I disagree; for instance, I think the point, surely correct, that there is an overlap between rape and consensual intercourse, suggests that even a revised notion of consent will not be an adequate means for dividing the two. In part this is because consent already has the tones that Trigani wants it to have. That's part of the problem; it flips back and forth between them, so that the more ideal valence, in which consent is an expression of a woman's power and authority over herself, serves as a cover for the valence in which consent expresses an evacuation of the woman's power. The two are actually complementary, and affirming one doesn't eliminate its shadow. As long as consent is the foundation of the discussion, it will always be possible to flip the valence from positive to negative, and sex will always harbor this ambivalence about woman's power and authority.

Other problems with consent are highlighted in cases of fraud-based rape, where the sex is consensual but rape certain occurs (despite its not being recognized as rape in the state of Massachusetts and elsewhere). Such cases show that, at the very least, the notion of 'consent' involved in distinguishing rape from sex that is not rape involves complicated counterfactual conditionals and all the problems that arise with making such conditionals tractable. I think it actually goes further and shows that consent is useless for distinguishing rape from other sexual interactions. Absence of consent is an identifier of rape, but consent is not an identifier of the absence of rape.

On a related issue, this Salon article on virtual rape raises a number of questions. The answer to the question of the article -- Is virtual rape a crime? -- is, I think, that it depends; for something to be a crime it must be made such by law. The serious question is more like, "Is virtual rape wicked?" or "Is virtual rape an injustice?" or "Is virtual rape repulsive to a properly developed moral sense?" Since the answer, I take it, to all three questions is Yes, this allows us to address the questions, "Should virtual rape be a crime (whether it currently is or is not) and in what ways should we treat it as one? And whether or not we can do so, what as a society should we do about it?" To focus purely on the legal aspect is to have a purely reactive view to it: to identify something as a crime and leave it at that is simply to set up a system in which one waits for it to be committed and then punishes it. But surely this should be the last bulwark against it, when everything else has failed, and not the first? I'm inclined to think the real questions, here as elsewhere, have to do with our moral education, and it is our failure to engage problems like this at that level that guarantees systemic oppression and injustice.

One thing, incidentally, that worries me about the reasoning of the article is the attempt to parallel sex with violence in this context. In fact, the two are not even remotely parallel. Virtual violence is not violence; but virtual violation is violation. There is a legitimate question about whether virtual rape is rape given that virtual murder is not murder (I think it's quite right to say that it is not, and that trying to make 'rape' stretch that far causes more problems for the fight against rape than it could possibly solve); but this is an entirely different question. The disanalogy between violence and sex arises from the fact that violence is a physical activity whereas sex is a physically expressible mental activity. This is perhaps another reason why nothing short of a focus on how human beings are educated morally can deal with rape properly.

In any case, I do recommend that you read the Feminist Philosophers blog I linked to above; it has just barely started, but as it stands so far it looks to be very promising.

Hume on the Notion of Morals

Avarice, ambition, vanity, and all passions vulgarly, though improperly, comprized under the denomination of self-love, are here excluded from our theory concerning the origin of morals, not because they are too weak, but because they have not a proper direction, for that purpose. The notion of morals, implies some sentiment common to all mankind, which recommends the same object to general approbation, and makes every man, or most men, agree in the same opinion or decision concerning it. It also implies some sentiment, so universal and comprehensive as to extend to all mankind, and render the actions and conduct, even of the persons the most remote, an object of applause or censure, according as they agree or disagree with that rule of right which is established. These two requisite circumstances belong alone to the sentiment of humanity here insisted on. The other passions produce, in every breast, many strong sentiments of desire and aversion, affection and hatred; but these neither are felt so much in common, nor are so comprehensive, as to be the foundation of any general system and established theory of blame or approbation.

Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, Section IX, Part I.

Fathers of the First Council

The Apostles' preaching
and the Fathers' doctrine
have established one faith for the Church.
Adorned with the robe of truth
woven from heavenly theology,
great is the Mystery of Piety
which she defines and glorifies.