Saturday, January 20, 2007

Meta-Ethical Quiz Meme

You scored 95 Objectivism, 47 Naturalism, and 82 Cognitivism!
Many judges and much of the legal system is Intuitionist (as far as it goes, philosophically) in outlook to some degree.”Ethical intuitionism is usually understood as a meta-ethical theory that embraces the following theses:

Moral realism, the view that there are objective facts about value, Ethical non-naturalism, the view that these evaluative facts cannot be reduced to natural facts, and The thesis that we sometimes have intuitive awareness of value, or intuitive knowledge of evaluative facts, which forms the foundation of our ethical knowledge.”

My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:

free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on Objectivism

free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on Naturalism

free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on Cognitivism
Link: The Meta-ethical Theories Test written by jacostyle on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Quite right, although on every single one of these points I have a more complicated notion than seems to be in view in the test. That's probably not surprising since I think 'value' is too vague a term for mapping the lay of the land -- there are just too many values, and they differ, sometimes sharply, in kind. And this is true even with what goes by the term 'moral values'.

Notes and Links

* Jim Kreines, The Logic of Life: Hegel's Philosophical Defense of Teleology (PDF). I believe I attended a presentation of an earlier version of this paper, or at least a paper on a related topic; in any case, it's quite good, and useful for making a point that I like always making: Hegel starts making sense when you recognize that a lot of his claims sound weird only because they are hard to contextualize -- he doesn't give you many clues about the context, so you have to dig a bit. Once you do that, and find out what he's responding to, he starts making a lot of sense, and saying some interesting things. And it is probably still true that Hegel is the most insightful critic of Kant ever to have written. In this case, Kreines notes that Hegel argues, in an argument suggestive in parts of Aristotle, that we can find in living things a teleology that is not intelligent design. (ht: OPP)

* A good post on the principle of causality at "Just Thomism".

* Rebecca has finished her series on sola fide and solus Christus. The full series:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

* Via The American Jewish Committee, Kenneth Stern's Hate Matters: The Need for an Interdisciplinary Field of Hate Studies (PDF) argues that an adequate response to prejudice, scapegoating, and the like, requires a more multidimensional understanding of these matters, which can be furthered in academia by an interdisciplinary approach. It would need a better name.

* In Evangelicals and the Mother of God Timothy George argues for a greater appreciation of Mary. In it he mentions both Mary as type of the Church, and the popular (and much-covered) Amy Grant song Breath of Heaven. An exercise: listen to the song as the song of the Church in its pilgrimage in this life, as a sort of virgo praedicanda. Any song of Mary is our song, a song of the community of the faithful.

* This post at "The Discalced Yooper" is one of the more interesting defenses I've seen of the position that there are good reasons for the position condemning Saddam Hussein's execution; the argument makes use of Thomas Aquinas's discussion of vindicatio, vindication or (as the author calls it, following the Dominican Fathers translation) vengeance.

* John Calvin's Short Treatise on the Lord's Supper. Beza called it Calvin's "little golden treatise"; it gives a good summary of Calvin's view on these matters, both insofar as it is distinguished from the Catholic (the consecrated elements are a sacrifice) and the Zwinglian (the whole ritual is simply a memorial) as he understood them. It also gives his diagnosis of why Protestants failed to achieve unity on this topic.

* At "Dissoi Blogoi" Michael Pakaluk looks at the question of Christianity in Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy. One thing I've always wondered is why people think there's any sort of problem with Boethius writing a book that doesn't explicitly take a Christian point of view; there clearly, for instance, was no problem on the part of Christian readers. They didn't have any problem with the book, for all that it seems to talk about the World Soul and the world's sempiternity. In fact, if there is any early medieval text to which the common Christian response could be called enthusiasm, it's the Consolation. And the general message of the book -- that philosophy gives consolation by showing that prayer is not futile -- is hardly one that discords with a Christian perspective, even if it is not an exclusively Christian message. So is this not rather a made-up problem? In any case, made up or not, it does occasionally raise interesting issues.

* An interesting word I came across recently that I am certain I had never, ever come across before: tokophobia.

Grave Matters

Jimmy Akin has an interesting post on one of the traditional preconditions for mortal sin, grave matter. The basic problem the post is dealing with is the distinction between venial and mortal sin; and as Thomas Aquinas says some very interesting things about the distinction, I thought I'd point them out. The locus classicus for the Thomistic view on this matter is ST 1-2.88.

The first thing to be clear about is what is intended by 'sin': Thomas follows Augustine's definition, "Sin is a word, deed, or desire contrary to eternal law," where the expression of the eternal law that most generally concerns us is natural law, i.e., the basic principles of moral reason (natural law is not, however, the only expression of eternal law; divine positive law would be another).

On this basis, Thomas considers whether it makes sense to divide 'sin' into mortal and venial. He very carefully insists that 'mortal' here is a metaphor in order to avoid arguments that rely too greatly on the ordinary meanings of the term. (He uses a great example of this. Ordinarily 'laughing' and 'dry' are not opposing terms; but if we take 'laughing' in a metaphorical sense, and use the term 'laughing' to indicate flourishing and vitality, 'laughing' and 'dry' could very well be opposites.) His suggestion is that the distinction is based on seeing sin on analogy with disease. Some diseases are mortal, fatal, in the sense that they destroy some key principle of life, or, as Thomas puts it, "in that they induce an irreparable defect through the failure (per destitutionem) of some principle." This use of the term is similar to our use of the word 'terminal', but it doesn't map exactly on that use; the idea is that some diseases are such that the body can't repair the defect, and the defect is such that if it is not repaired, the body dies. These are mortal diseases.

A mortal sin, therefore, is a sin so serious that induces an irreparable defect in the fundamental principles of our spiritual lives, where 'irreparable' here means: we have no innate means of repairing the defect. A divine intervention, of course, is still possible, but this is more a fact about divine power than it is about the sin itself. The key principle here is our ordering to our final end, namely, God as unrestricted goodness itself; a mortal sin is one that breaks our orientation toward the end ultimate goodness, whereas a venial sin is one in which this orientation is not broken but the means of expressing it are disordered, poorly suited to that end. The venial sins are called 'venial' because they allow by their very nature for venia, i.e., acquittal or pardon. This allowance may be for direct acquittal -- as when we recognize a moral failing as forgivable due to ignorance or extreme circumstances -- or for indirect acquittal -- as when we recognize that a moral failing is forgivable if a certain debt of punishment is paid. In either case, a sin is venial.

Thomas insists very strongly that mortal sins and venial sins are not sins in the same sense; the use of 'sin' here is analogous, not univocal. Venial sins are not sins in the strictest and most proper sense at all; they are condemned not because they are complete sins, but because they dispose to complete sin. Venial sins are not problematic because they are sins in a full-blown sense but because they are (so to speak) inducements to mortal sin. Venial sins dispose to mortal sins not in being sins in the same way, but in the sense that by their very nature they break down our moral immune system (so to speak), and can aggravate any mortal conditions by increasing our craving for sinning. The usual analogy Thomas makes is that venial sins are to mortal sins as accidents are to substances in Aristotelian philosophy, or in particular, as accidents that are generative dispositions. This means that, strictly speaking, there is no sliding scale between venial and moral sins; they are completely distinct, albeit intimately related, things. They are both defects of due order; venial sins tend to generate mortal sins and remove impediments to them; so in that sense we can think of a venial sin as the 'seed' of mortal sin. But this is only a loose metaphor. In reality they are related more like a bad case of flu and death. Both of these are, without any doubt, serious medical conditions, and can be lumped together as such. But the two are actually nothing alike, except in a very abstract and general sense; but they are closely related because one condition can easily lead to the other condition.

What makes a sin mortal, then? Thomas is very clear about this: any action, and I do mean any action, that in any aspect, and I do many any aspect, is inconsistent by nature with love of God or neighbor is a mortal sin. Venial sins are actions that are not inconsistent with love of God or love of neighbor as such even though they are poorly proportionated to it. Malicious hate speech, for instance, is inconsistent by nature with love of neighbor (obviously) and love of God (insofar as human beings are in the image of God). It is a mortal sin. Going too far in making jokes is not in its nature consistent with love of neighbor or love of God, even though it is poorly suited to both. If there is no malice in it, it is a venial sin. Venial sins tend to be things OK in themselves that are either not taken far enough or taken too far; the additional condition they have to meet is that the person committing them must not be treating them as means to a mortal sin or as ends in themselves. Thus there is nothing wrong with sexual talk under proper conditions (e.g., marriage) when it is done moderately and rationally; therefore sexual talk is only a venial sin outside those conditions or when done immoderately or irrationally; unless it is done for the purpose of some other grave sin (like adultery) or simply because it is a sin.

Augustine has a scenario in his Confessions that conveys the idea quite well. When he was a boy, he used to steal pears from someone's trees. He goes on at great length about those pears, which has led some people, like Bertrand Russell, to mock him for it. But he's making a serious point. There's nothing wrong with taking pears from someone else's trees without their permission under certain conditions when it's done in a certain way, e.g., when you need the pears to feed your starving family and have tried to get permission; there is something wrong with stealing the pears to give them to someone who you know doesn't need them, or even because you really like pears; there is something very wrong with stealing the pears precisely because it is stealing. And Augustine's point was that, in fact, he stole because it was fun and exciting to steal. When he stole the pears, he threw them away, because he didn't care about the pears at all. Augustine doesn't frame it in terms of mortal and venial sin, but that's the distinction exactly.

This account, I think, deals very easily with the sort of problem raised by Akin, namely, that there are not sharp lines in identifying the gravity of the matter. In fact, if Thomas is right, and there's good reason to think he is, there are only two things that count as grave matter at all: strict inconsistency with loving God and strict inconsistency with loving neighbor. Everything else is mild. Although, of course, to say 'everything else' makes it sound as if mortal sin were rare, when it clearly is not. And note that it doesn't matter what the external behavior in question is. Giving alms to the poor can be a mortal sin if it is done with an intention irreconcilable with love of the poor. Drunkenness is a mortal sin if someone drinks in order to disorder his reason; it is a venial sin if it someone gets knock-down drunk merely because they misjudged how much they were drinking. In the first type of drunkenness you are to blame for the drunkenness itself; in the second type you can only be blamed for not being careful enough. In unusual circumstances, murdering someone may well be merely a venial sin. This doesn't mean that it is any less serious; it doesn't mean you can't be blamed for it. In English we have a useful expression for the difference; we can say that such-and-such is wrong but 'forgivable', i.e., the circumstances and nature of the act are such that there's nothing in it that prevents us from going easy on the person who did it (either straightway or whenever they meet some condition). That's more or less what differentiates the mortal from the venial: venial sins are wrong but 'forgivable'. Mortal sins, however, are not 'forgivable' in this general sense; they can strictly speaking be forgiven, but there is nothing in the act itself that is open to it. Forgiveness has to come in as an extraordinary intervention that introduces a radical transformation. Venial sins are illness, sometimes very serious illness; they require recuperation, sometimes medicine, sometimes surgery. Mortal sins are death; they require resurrection.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Three Poem Drafts

Salutary Questions

You mock the folk around you,
insult and then forget it;
but if this were the world's last day,
would you then regret it?
If taking it back would bring them back,
could it be you'd let it?

If all our race were lost in space
or swallowed by the sun,
and none at all were saved of us
save you, the only one,
would you stand upon your point,
content at what you'd won?
Or would you rather you had lost
if losing made all undone?
And that sharp and biting comment
you made in wrath and haste,
is it worth re-saying,
or would you use more grace?

Might you think of all your passion
for your rightness, goodness, and such,
that if they can't outlast the world's end,
they are not worth so much?


The birds are chirping, twirping,
leaving their places, others' usurping,
bickering, quarrelling, with snicker and song,
their wings all a-flicker as their notes carry long.
As time measures beats and wind measures gusts,
the birds are a-bobble with bobbing of thrust,
sailing and soaring with yearning and yaw,
snipping their prey with sharp beak and claw.


This torment of the wicked
is the comfort of the good;
that evil be not licit
but punished as it should;
that its pain and penal color
be the flourishing of the seed
implanted in the darkness
by the doer of the deed;
that conscience be not toothless,
but bear a whip and flail
so that when our justice falters
the Furies still prevail.

The Name

From Newman's sermon notes for January 19, 1851, one hundred fifty-six years ago today:

Hence you see a meaning why the Eternal Son would reveal this, that the Name of that Son was of consequence; it was a manifestation of the nature and attributes of God—Admirabilis, Isa. ix. 6; Emmanuel, Isa. vii. 14. Still, however, the name was not told. At length Gabriel said it, Luke i. 31; circumcision, Luke ii. 21; angel to Joseph, Matt. i. 21, His name was called Jesus. And hence the devils: 'Jesus the Son of God'; 'I know thee who thou art.' On the cross. The first miracle of St. Peter and St. John, Acts iii.—'in the name,' 'this name,' 'no other name'—and St. Paul in Phil. ii. 8-11. The two great apostles, the angels from Gabriel, devils from the possessed, and men from the circumcision.

For in this the whole history of salvation, the whole creed—how God would save men, how He loved them, etc., recounting the Christian doctrine. Thus when we would know who God is, we answer, Jesus. We see God in the clouds, in the mountains, etc., and who is He? Jesus. Who then rules? Who is looking, the ruler of bad men? Who is looking, the guardian of the virtuous? Who, etc.? and we answer, Jesus. He is the one word containing in itself all power, etc., because in it we thereby have in our minds the full description of Almighty God.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Seven Wonders of the World

There's a contest going on to come up with a new list of Seven Wonders of the World. The current short list is, in no particular order:

1. The Acropolis (Athens, Greece)
2. Alhambra (Granada, Spain)
3. Angkor (Cambodia)
4. The Pyramid of Kukulkan at Chichén Itzá (Mexico)
5. The Statue of Christ Redeemer (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
6. The Colosseum (Rome, Italy)
7. Statues of Easter Island (Easter Island, Chile)
8. The Eiffel Tower (Paris, France)
9. The Great Wall of China
10. Hagia Sophia (Istanbul, Turkey)
11. Kiyomizu Temple (Kyoto, Japan)
12. The Kremlin (Moscow, Russia)
13. Machu Picchu (Peru)
14. Neuschwanstein Castle (Schwangau, Germany)
15. Petra (Jordan)
16. The Great Pyramids of Giza
17. The Statue of Liberty (New York, USA)
18. Stonehenge (Amesbury, UK)
19. Sydney Opera House (Sydney, Australia)
20. The Taj Mahal (Agra, India)
21. Timbuktu (Mali)

The candidates I would choose are in bold. 9 and 16 are the obvious choices, of course. I have no notion why 5, 8, 12, 14, 17, 19, and 21 are on this list; they're interesting places, but hardly wonders of the world. So basically it came down to choosing five of the rest. Which would you choose?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Life of Anthony

Today is the memorial of St. Anthony of Egypt. I thought I'd point to Athanasius's Life of Anthony, which was in its day one of the most influential works on spirituality ever written, and is still a classic.

My favorite story about Saint Anthony, though, comes from the sayings of the Desert Fathers. Some of the elders once visited Saint Anthony the Great, and along with them came the abbot Joseph. Saint Anthony, having seen in his lifetime many men of very different qualities, decided to determine what manner of men had come to him. He proposed to them a passage of Scripture, asking for its meaning. One by one they gave their opinions; and to each of them, he said, "You have not found it." At last the question came to abbot Joseph.

"What is the meaning of this passage?" Saint Anthony said to abbot Joseph.

"I do not know," said abbot Joseph to Saint Anthony.

Then Saint Anthony turned to the elders and said, "Truly I say to you, the abbot Joseph has learned the only way in which Scripture can be interpreted. For when he does not know, he acknowledges his own ignorance."

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Further Notes and Links

* Bernhard Blankenhorn, O.P., discusses Thomas Aquinas's notion of sacramental causality in The Instrumental Causality of the Sacraments: Thomas Aquinas and Louis-Marie Chauvet (PDF).

* A truly beautiful article in the New York Times by a reporter reporting on his experiences with a Pentecostal church in Harlem -- instead of attending a few Sundays he spent a whole year at the church:

To spend a year with this congregation is to see a teenage single mother and party girl discover the strength to go to college, marry in the church and land a job. It is to see a former political radical and brawler pray over alcoholics in the park. It is to see the 50-year-old pastor roaming the city, driving the church’s van to gather members for Bible class or trolling for converts outside an upper Broadway subway station — to keep the Ark afloat, and growing.

It makes one wonder about all the stories left untold about all the other churches in the United States, both the good stories and the bad, that are missed because there is no reporter staying long enough to record them.

* As I've noted before, I think the whole hubbub around Dawkins is chiefly an atheist thing -- Dawkins isn't pulling out the stops to attack religion but to attack atheists who don't think that religion ought to be attacked in a particular way, namely, his way. I think there are a great many atheists who recognize that quite clearly, and are less than amused; I think, unfortunately, that there are a lot of my fellow theists who have too much of a tendency to think that everything in these disputes is about them, which is clearly not the case. For my part, I wouldn't discuss Dawkins at all if it weren't for people like Grayling putting in their two cents as if they had particularly good philosophical arguments behind them, and that for a very simple reason: I deserve more rational opponents. Perhaps I overestimate what I deserve; certainly some Dawkinsians have hastened to inform me that I am wrong, and that what I and all religionists deserve are opponents like themselves. But there it is. There is also the further point, noted by Odious, that there are reasons to feel sorry for Dawkins; after all, there's little doubt that he probably really does hear a lot mumbo-jumbo and nonsense day in and out from all sorts of crazies. I note, in any case, that Macht gives some salutary criticisms of Witherington's criticism of Dawkins.

* Something I have been listening to a lot: Leonard Cohen's "First We Take Manhattan, Then We Take Berlin". Actually a good selection for MLK Day; the song is about the appeal of a sort of honest and open extremism, particularly its lack of compromise and refusal to back down. And that goes well with King's exhortation in the Letter from Birmingham Jail that, since we will end up hitting some extreme or other anyway, we ought deliberately to make the effort to be creative extremists for love, truth, and goodness.

* Speaking of Cohen, via a very old post at Nine Scorpions I stumbled across this music site, which is based on a meticulous categorization of music styles, so that after some selections it will only play music you like. Like Proclus, I've found it to be interesting, but pretty much a failure so far. I started with Cohen; and that may have been a mistake, because it keeps trying to put me to sleep. It is, I think, missing entirely most of what I love about Cohen: his songs are all didactic poetry and I am that rare bird who loves didactic poetry, with its intricate lyrics that give food for thought; I like a mood of good-humored darkness in music; and Cohen is a case where the two are regularly put together in an almost perfect match. And in his later work he has a deep, gravelly voice that can pull off all sorts of things prettier singers can't, and so forth. But when I tell it I like Leonard Cohen, it thinks that I mean I like folk roots and acoustic guitars and major key tonality. And something analogous seems to be the case with all my other musical tastes. I suspect, though, that it might work well with someone who had really specific tastes in music and was not lyrics-oriented at all.

* Speaking of didactic poetry, Pope's Essay on Man.

The Kiss and Nuptial Sleep

Dante Gabriel Rossetti's "The Kiss":

The Kiss

What smouldering senses in death's sick delay
Or seizure of malign vicissitude
Can rob this body of honour, or denude
This soul of wedding-raiment worn to-day?
For lo! even now my lady's lips did play
With these my lips such consonant interlude
As laurelled Orpheus longed for when he wooed
The half-drawn hungering face with that last lay.

I was a child beneath her touch,--a man
When breast to breast we clung, even I and she,--
A spirit when her spirit looked through me,--
A god when all our life-breath met to fan
Our life-blood, till love's emulous ardours ran,
Fire within fire, desire in deity.

It was this sort of poem that led Rossetti to being attacked as a member of the 'fleshly school of poetry'; I think it's probably his best poem of this sort. The most famous example, though, is probably "Nuptial Sleep," which describes the sleep after sex:

Nuptial Sleep

At length their long kiss severed, with sweet smart:
And as the last slow sudden drops are shed
From sparkling eaves when all the storm has fled,
So singly flagged the pulses of each heart.
Their bosoms sundered, with the opening start
Of married flowers to either side outspread
From the knit stem; yet still their mouths, burnt red,
Fawned on each other where they lay apart.

Sleep sank them lower than the tide of dreams,
And their dreams watched them sink, and slid away.
Slowly their souls swam up again, through gleams
Of watered light and dull drowned waifs of day;
Till from some wonder of new woods and streams
He woke, and wondered more: for there she lay.

In Recent Science Blogging

Coturnix of "A Blog Around the Clock" has unveiled the new science blogging anthology he has been working on. You can buy it online for $8.69 (download) or $19.95 (paperback). It looks very good. It puts some of the great scientific popularization going on in the blogosphere in solid format, which is an excellent thing, given that high-quality scientific popularization is one of the features of the blogosphere that most has the chance of doing general good. If I were ever to teach a philosophy of science course, I would consider whether I could integrate a book like this into the syllabus. Someone should certainly do something similar for other fields.

One of the things science bloggers have recently been doing is posting on basic concepts in their fields. So far the posts that have been put up are:

Clade at "Evolving Thoughts"
Evolution at "Sandwalk"
Mean, Median, and Mode at "Good Math, Bad Math"
Normal Distributions at "Good Math, Bad Math"
Force at "Uncertain Principles"
Gene at "Pharyngula"
Standard Deviation at "Good Math, Bad Math"
Fitness at "Evolving Thoughts"
Fields at "Uncertain Principles"
The Central Dogma of Molecular Biology at "Sandwalk"
Margin of Error at "Good Math, Bad Math"
How do you sequence a genome? at "Discovering Biology in a Digital World"
The Three Necessary and Sufficient Conditions of Natural Selection at "Greg Laden"
The Modes of Natural Selection at "Greg Laden"
Natural Numbers and Integers at "Good Math, Bad Math"
Recursion and Induction at "Good Math, Bad Math"
Numbers at "Evolutionblog"
Infinity and Infinite Sums at "Evolutionblog"
Species at "Evolving Thoughts"

I'll put up others as I'm aware of them. This sort of thing is very tricky to do -- on the one hand, since you are dealing with basics, you have to go back and build up the concept from scratch, so to speak, appealing to common experiences to help make clear what the concept is. On the other hand (and this is where a vast amount of scientific popularization in general fails miserably) you can't dumb it down too much -- you have to keep as strictly accurate as possible, and, where you can't do so without getting too advanced, you have to make clear the reader understands that you are speaking more loosely. (This is the reason why I'm inclined to think that scientific popularization, of all the many features of science almost completely neglected in contemporary philosophy of science, is one of the most important for philosophers of science to clarify and evaluate. It's the key source of the public's understanding of scientific issues, but it is immensely difficult to do, and there needs to be some good work done on how best to go about it. What is perhaps noteworthy is that philosophers of science keep picking up the subject here and there -- Herschel, Whewell, Duhem, and Neurath, for instance, are examples I can think of off the top of my head who consider the issue to some extent -- but almost all the work has been done in isolation, which means it does very little good in the long run.) But, as Chesterton said, if a thing's worth doing, it's worth doing badly -- i.e., if it's really worth doing, it's worth doing even if it's not done well. And what's been done so far certainly looks very promising.

Chris at "Mixing Memory" is hosting Encephalon 14, the most recent edition of the neuroscience carnival.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Aquinas on the Obligation of Human Law

This is Aquinas's ST 1-2.96.4, as translated by me. All the standard caveats apply; as usual I've preferred to stick as close to the text as I think I can get away with. The Dominican Fathers translation is here; Freddoso's translation is here (PDF). The Latin is here.


To the fourth we proceed thus.

It seems that human law does not impose necessity on a man in the forum of conscience. For an inferior power is not able to impose law in the court (iudicio) of a superior power. But the power of man, which makes human law, is inferior to divine power. Therefore human law is not able to impose law in the divine court, which is the court of conscience.

Further, the court of conscience mostly depends on divine mandate. But sometimes divine mandates are voided by human laws; as according to Matthew XV, "The mandate of God you have made ineffective (irritum) through your traditions." Therefore human law does not impose necessity on a man with regard to conscience.

Further, human laws frequently throw calumny and injury on a man; as according to Isaiah X, "Woe to those who introduce iniquitous laws, and in writing write injustices, such that they oppress the poor in court, and do violence (vim) to the cause of the humble of my people." But it is licit for anyone to avoid oppression and violence. Therefore human laws do not impose necessity on a man with regard to conscience.

But against this is what is said in I Peter II, "This is gracious, if according to conscience he endures sorrows, suffering (patiens) injustice."

I reply that it must be said that human laws are either just or unjust.

(1) If they be just, they have obligating force in the forum of conscience from the eternal law, from which they derive; according to Proverbs VIII, "By my kings reign and lawgivers decree justice." Now laws are said to be justice both from the end, that is, when they are ordered to common good; and from the source (ex auctore), that is, when the law made does not exceed the power of the maker; and from the form, that is, when according to a proportional equality it imposes burdens ordered to common good. For, as one man is part of the multitude, so all that this same man is and all that he has is of the multitude, just as everything that a part is, is of the whole. Thus nature inflicts some harm on the part so as to save the whole. And according to this, laws like this, inflicting burdens proportionably, are just, and obligate in the forum of conscience, and are legal laws (leges legales).

(2) But laws are unjust in two ways. In one way, through an opposition (per contrarietatem) to human good, from opposition (e contrario) to the aforesaid things, either from the end, as when some magistrate (praesidens) imposes on the subjects burdensome laws not pertaining to common utility (ad utilitatem communem), but rather to cupidity and vainglory; or else from the source, as when someone makes law beyond the power committed to him; or else from the form, as when unequal burdens are dispensed to the multitude, even if ordered to the common good. And in these ways they are violence rather than laws, because, as Augustine says, in the book of Lib. Arb., what is not just seems not to be a law. Wherefore such laws do not obligate in the forum of conscience, unless perhaps with regard to the vice of scandal or tumult (turbationem), in which case a man ought even to cede his right, according to Matthew V: "If a man makes you walk a mile, go with him another two; if a man takes your coat, give him your cloak as well."

In another way, laws are able to be unjust by opposition to divine good, as when the laws of tyrants inculcate idolatry, or anything else that is contrary to divine law. And such laws in no way should be observed, because, as Acts V says, "We ought to obey God rather than man."

To the first, therefore, it must be said that, as the apostle says in Romans XIII, all human power is from God, and therefore who resists that power, in that which pertains to the order of that power, resists the order of God. And according to this he is made guilty with regard to conscience.

To the second it must be said that this reasoning works (ratio illa procedit) for human laws that are contrary to the mandate of God. And to this the order of power does not extend. Therefore in such human laws is nothing to be obeyed.

To the third it must be said that this reasoning works (ratio illa procedit) for laws that that introduce an unjust burden (gravamen) on the subjects, to which the order of power conceded by God does not extend. Therefore neither in such things is a man obliged to obey the law, if it is possible to disobey without scandal or inflicting a greater harm.

NOTE ADDED LATER: It occurs to me that it might be useful to point out that by 'scandal' Thomas means something very specific, namely, the vice of talking or acting in such a way as to cause the spiritual downfall of another, i.e., acting in a manner that leads another person to sin. It is the vice opposed to beneficence. It's a bit harder to say what exactly he has in mind by turbatio, which is usually translated 'disturbance'. It's possible that this is a hendiadys, and this is suggested by some of the passages in which he mentions it along with scandal (ST 2-2.69.4 is a good example). However, I find that he later (ST 2-2.3.2) uses the term along with that for scandal in the context of 1 Corinthians 10:32, which has to do with not giving offense. Elsewhere he notes that there are overriding reasons why prelates should be able to punish people regardless of whether they are disturbed. I've translated the word as 'tumult' just because (1) it is vague enough and (2) sounds serious enough to convey what Aquinas probably had in mind. He clearly doesn't mean just any sort of disturbance or unrest. It's noteworthy that turbatio is the word Aquinas uses when he discusses the problem of how Christ's death caused a disturbance, turbatio, in society, namely, by King Herod slaughtering hundreds of innocent children. I'm pretty sure that, if the phrase 'scandal or disturbance' is not a hendiadys, it's things on this order that Thomas has in mind when he uses the term.

Unjust Laws

In ST 1-2.96.4, Thomas Aquinas argues that laws bind the conscience, i.e., obligate, when and only when they conform to the eternal law, particularly insofar as the eternal law is exhibited in the universal principles of practical reason (a.k.a. natural law). To be just, a law must be good as to:

(1) its end: it must be ordered to the common good;
(2) its author: it must not exceed the jurisdiction of the one who imposes it;
(3) its form: it must not place disproportionate burdens on any of the subjects involved.

A law, however, that is unjust in any of these ways does not impose any obligation. That is, a law ceases to have binding force if any of these is true:

(1) it is not ordered to the common good, but merely to the private good of those who impose it;
(2) it exceeds the authority of those who impose it;
(3) it places disproportionate burdens on any of the people in the community.

An act that does any of these things is, says Aquinas, more like an act of violence than like a law; it may share some features of a just law, but it is not a law in precisely the same sense. Thus Aquinas favorably quotes Augustine as saying that it seems that an unjust law is no law at all. The only way in which an unjust law may obligate is indirectly, namely, when it is clear that disobeying it would lead to evils worse than obeying it.

One thing that is often overlooked is that Aquinas considers an argument (3rd objection) that human laws do not obligate because they sometimes bring injury and loss of character on human beings: they oppress the poor and the humble. And Aquinas accepts it, for those cases in which the hurt induced on anyone is unjust. Oppressive laws are perversions of law, usurpations, acts of violence; no one need have conscientious qualms about disobeying them.

It is this line of reasoning that Martin Luther King, Jr. took up in his famous 1963 Letter from Birmingham Jail. There he argues that a nonviolent campaign follows four stages:

(1) collection of facts to determine whether injustice actually exists;
(2) negotiation in order to resolve the matter peacefully;
(3) self-purification, in which there is careful preparation for nonviolent direct action;
(4) direct action through nonviolent means.

A major worry, of course, through all of this is breaking the law. To alleviate this worry, King appeals to Aquinas's argument, and does so, I think, more thoroughly and insightfully than is usually thought. King says, "Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality." This move fits very comfortably with Aquinas's acceptance of the argument in the 3rd Objection, which connects the non-obligatoriness of unjust laws with the moral and physical injury they induce. It's not a bare appeal to Aquinas, as it might seem on a superficial reading; Aquinas is not just thrown out there as an authority or as an example. Rather, it's an insightful and reasonable application of Aquinas's argument, one that shows that the natural law position has strength where it counts.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Carnival of Citizens #3

The Third Carnival of Citizens is up at "Sportive Thoughts". The theme is Reconciliation. My complicity and solidarity post is one of the contributions; as is an interesting post by Richard on potential problems with forgiveness. Go and see.

By the way, I see that Eugene Volokh provides us with the Illinois Compiled Statutes definition of a carnival:

"Carnival" means and includes an aggregation of attractions, whether shows, acts, games, vending devices or amusement devices, whether conducted under one or more managements or independently, which are temporarily set up or conducted in a public place or upon any private premises accessible to the public, with or without admission fee, and which, from the nature of the aggregation, attracts attendance and causes promiscuous intermingling of persons in the spirit of merrymaking and revelry.

In other words: go and promiscuously intermingle.

The One Who Tastes, Knows

A poem by the Sufi poet Rubi'a:

In love, nothing exists between heart and heart.
Speech is born out of longing,
True description from the real taste.
The one who tastes, knows;
the one who explains, lies.
How can you describe the true form of Something
In whose presence you are blotted out?
And in whose being you still exist?
And who lives as a sign for your journey?

You can read more Sufi poetry here.

Edwards, Berkeley, Malebranche

I recently came across Brian Trapp's paper A World of Minds: Affinities and Contrasts in the Immaterialism of Jonathan Edwards and George Berkeley (PDF), which takes up the question of whether Berkeley is an influence on the young Edwards's development of an immaterialist position. After noting that there are a number of intriguing similarities (and a few key differences), Trapp concludes, rightly, I think, that there isn't much supporting evidence for the claim that Berkeley was an influence.

There is another possibility that the paper doesn't canvass (understandably, since it would be a paper in itself), namely, whether the similarities, plus the lack of evidence for Berkeley's influence, might not be indicative of a common influence. There is, in fact, a plausible candidate for such influence, at least at first glance: Nicolas Malebranche. Berkeley certainly was a reader of Malebranche, and was heavily influenced by him; in fact, although it isn't obvious to the reader who doesn't know Malebranche, perhaps as much of the Principles is devoted to addressing Malebranchean issues as is devoted to Lockean ones. Edwards is trickier, and I lack the expertise on him to say much that is definite. However, as Trapp notes, Malebranche, unlike Berkeley, was in the Yale library at the time (as was Norris, the leading British Malebranchean). And it has been argued (by Paul Copan, for instance) that the evidence for Malebranchean influence on Edwards's thought in general is reasonably strong. And I notice in particular that some of Edwards's comments sound (much as Berkeley's comments sometimes sound) the way you would expect comments of a young Lockean (in a broad sense) who was impressed by Malebranche to sound. For instance, this, qouted by Trapp, could be said by either Malebranche or Norris:

The idea may be resisted, it may move, and stop and rebound; but how a mere power, which is nothing real, can move and stop is inconceivable, and it is impossible to say a word about it without contradiction. The world is therefore an ideal one; and the law of creating, and the succession of these ideas, is constant and regular.

In fact, Malebranche was famous for insisting that (in creatures, at least) power was nothing real, and that the world was an ideal one, and that the regularities we perceive were not due to any causal powers in material objects but to general laws. Of course, Malebranche was not himself an immaterialist; but his claims about material objects are very obscure. The most natural reading of them (not, I think, quite correct, but certainly the most natural) is that he thinks that the only (good) reasons for believing that there are material objects are doctrines of faith -- the creation and the Incarnation in particular. Thus, it's very easy for a reader of Malebranche to take the small step to idealism -- indeed, we know that Berkeley certainly did. So there is at least a superficial plausibility to the idea that Berkeley and Edwards may both have derived (in a loose sense of 'derived') their idealism from Malebranche (perhaps in Edwards's case via Norris in part or in whole). This possibility, incidentally, does not exclude Trapp's own suggestion, that they were both reacting critically to Locke's representationalism (we know, in fact, that Berkeley was doing so -- he was also reacting critically to Malebranche's representationalism, if we want to call it that). And it would go some way to explaining the intriguing similarities that go beyond the mere fact of having similar philosophical projects.

Some Selected Poem Re-Drafts II

Night Scene

Soft as silver a silent river
like a sliver on the land
winds and wanders; pauses, ponders;
wends again like weathering wind.


garden fountains pour
living streams refreshed by shower
greening leaf and blooming flower
around the lily white

fresh and dewy-petalled light
surrrounds her, silver scented
where God on earth is tented
spreading grace and fire

see her many-gifted hand
granting merci to her knights
vital sips of paradise
vivid dreams of sainted lands
beyond the ken of learning wise

see how under maddened moon
in lights bewitching to a swoon
she walks on rain-wet paths
through shades of minds demented
calming with her touch and song
the ache of heart that, maddened, longs
for better world and wonder

she inspires to seek the true
by gentle kiss of breath
a wind outracing wings of death
bringing hoping heart to light
speaking troth, giving life

as the mover moves the stars
as cloud to earth calls in thunder
she calls, she moves, she draws
that lovers may learn of loving awe
that every heart may be renewed
a fresher flower young with dew


Bent back, aching feet,
shoulders overladen,
endless march behind me,
weary, I have journeyed,
seeking rest.

In this up-country climb,
endless driving days,
I have journeyed onward,
seeking the end.

But now the final hill,
swarded green and sandy,
falls back beneath my feet;
it opens endlessly out
to a never-ending roar.

It is morning here;
the march is done;
the strong light leaps,
somersaulting the sea.

Loyola at Llobregar

On the river-bank I sit,
water running past,
mind running past,
a path ever-moving.
It courses over stones,
overflowing matter,
dividing as a unity,
drawn to a natural place,
rushing like a music
to divine consummation.
The mind now prepared
by ten thousand disciplines
flows with the river
to the ocean of God.

Lull upon the Mountain

Like lightning in the storm
where bolts of God rain down
was the conversion of the wheels,
the wheels within the wheels,
the Principles of All
in never-ceasing orbit!

The lights were strangely shining
in the fallen mountain-darkness
when Raymond saw the wheels,
the wheels within the wheels,
the glory of the signs
in ever-turning circles!

Peace pours out like oceans,
tumbling in the darkness;
Ophanim move in glory,
the wheels within the wheels,
the holy presence racing
in a chariot of fire!

All Hat and No Cattle

There has been some small but very negative buzz across a number of Christian blogs for the past few weeks over the GodMen movement, which has been making the news as it protests the 'wussification' of Christianity. I've intended to say something about this whole absurd idea, but it was just very hard to know even where to start. Fortunately Marvin at "Avdat" has said all that needs to be said. If they were really interested in being manly rather than in being adolescent, they'd cowboy up and face their Christian responsibilities like men and not like boys. It's not exactly a hard truth to figure out.

An Exuberance Exceeding All Questioning

Michael Liccione of "Sacramentum Vitae" has a worth-reading response to my recent post on development of doctrine. At this point I won't be directly responding, since I still owe a post developing my own view, which, I think, will clarify some matters. But I can actually start with a point Michael makes

As I eagerly await that post, I shall point out that we must all be careful to distinguish between describing what actually went on in various processes of development, which was indeed far wider and richer than logical inference, and describing what it was about the various processes that enabled them to yield genuine developments. I suggest that the latter is the kind of inference I've already described.

Since I think this is exactly the point on which an inferentialist view -- whether Scott's deductivist or Michael's inductivist view -- can only do partial justice to actual development of doctrine, I want to say a few things about why I think the development-making feature in the whole process has to be more than an inference.

The first thing, which I've already mentioned, is the richness or complication of actual development. Newman has a nice passage in a sermon late in his Anglican period that captures the sense of it:

What a remarkable sight it is, as almost all unprejudiced persons will admit, to trace the course of the controversy, from its first disorders to its exact and determinate issue. Full of deep interest, to see how the great idea takes hold of a thousand minds by its living force, and will not be ruled or stinted, but is "like a burning fire," as the Prophet speaks, "shut up" within them, till they are "weary of forbearing, and cannot stay," and grows in them, and at length is born through them, perhaps in a long course of years, and even successive generations; so that the doctrine may rather be said to use the minds of Christians, than to be used by them. Wonderful it is, to see with what effort, hesitation, suspense, interruption,—with how many swayings to the right and to the left—with how many reverses, yet with what certainty of advance, with what precision in its march, and with what ultimate completeness, it has been evolved; till the whole truth "self-balanced on its centre hung," part answering to part, one, absolute, integral, indissoluble, while the world lasts! Wonderful, to see how heresy has but thrown that idea into fresh forms, and drawn out from it farther developments, with an exuberance which exceeded all questioning, and a harmony which baffled all criticism, like Him, its Divine Author, who, when put on trial by the Evil One, was but fortified by the assault, and is ever justified in His sayings, and overcomes when He is judged.

I particularly like the expression, "the doctrine may rather be said to use the minds of Christians, than to be used by them." Michael has responded to this point, however, in the above quotation, so I'll pass on to a point I consider even more important.

One of the important steps in the fight against Nestorianism was the Second Council of Constantinople. Justinian and a number of Eastern bishops became convinced that Nestorianism was drawing strength from the writings of Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret of Cyrus, and Ibas of Edessa; so a council was called to condemn their writings. This was somewhat controversial as the Council of Chalcedon had seemed to clear Theodoret and Ibas of personal involvement in Nestorianism, which is one of the reasons the West opposed the Council until after the fact; but the focus here was on the writings. However, it is noteworthy in being an ecumenical council that explicitly considered the issue of how the Church deals with disputed questions in its sentence:

In order to persuade him, we reminded him of the great example left us by the apostles and of the traditions of the fathers. Even though the grace of the holy Spirit was abundant in each of the apostles, so that none of them required the advice of another in order to do his work, nevertheless they were loathe to come to a decision on the issue of the circumcision of gentiles until they had met together to test their various opinions against the witness of the holy scriptures. In this way they unanimously reached the conclusion which they wrote to the gentiles: It has seemed good to the holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from unchastity.

The holy fathers, who have gathered at intervals in the four holy councils, have followed the examples of antiquity. They dealt with heresies and current problems by debate in common, since it was established as certain that when the disputed question is set out by each side in communal discussions, the light of truth drives out the shadows of lying. The truth cannot be made clear in any other way when there are debates about questions of faith, since everyone requires the assistance of his neighbour. As Solomon says in his proverbs: A brother who helps a brother shall be exalted like a strong city; he shall be as strong as a well-established kingdom. Again in Ecclesiastes he says: Two are better than one, for they have a good reward for their toil. And the Lord himself says: Amen I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

I've added the emphasis where I think it is telling. If I were to summarize my basic reason for thinking that inferentialist accounts of development fall short, I could hardly do better than to point here. The problem with an inference is that anyone can do it; whereas development of doctrine is something only the Church can do. The inferentialist, I think, does capture much of the thought that goes into development; but the development itself can only be accurately characterized if it is characterized in such a way that makes clear why everyone in matters of doctrine requires the assistance of their Christian brothers and sisters. For it is certain that they do. Thus I think it is the inferentialist who has difficulty distinguishing properly between all the things that actually went on in development of doctrine from that about the development that actually makes it a development.

A different way to approach this question but make the same point, I think, is to take a specific example of development of doctrine, namely, the development of the canon of Scripture, one of Newman's centerpiece examples of the fact that development of doctrine cannot be ignored. I suspect it's fairly common to think that the development of the canon proceeded by inference -- the Church looked over various candidates using various criteria, and accepted those that fit the criteria. And it has this going for it, that people in the Church did consider such criteria at various stages of the processes. However, it is clear enough that this is not an adequate account of the development, because by the time people started reflecting on the subject in this way, the canon had already developed (having, in fact, largely solidified for purely liturgical reasons); the inferences about the canon were simply a matter of clarifying confusions about the canon. What the inferentialist is forced to overlook is that what makes development of canon legitimate is that the works in question were committed to the Church by the Spirit as having canonical authority; and this was done in a long, slow communal movement. We have no information about the majority of inferences used. We do not know, for instance, why the second generation of Christians was using the Four Gospels in worship the way they were; we don't know why people started using the epistles in the same way. And we don't have any good, reliable inferentialist account of why the Church would have concluded that these books should have this particular sort of authority, against which opinions should be tested. We can, of course, make our own inferences about the matter, and these inferences can and often do confirm that the choice was good. But these are 'external indications'; they miss entirely one way the Spirit actually works, which is by internal assistance of the whole body of Christ as a body. And it is this way that is most relevant to development of doctrine.

The key element in any adequate account of development of doctrine, therefore, has to be confidelity. Confidelity is, in fact, the key element of any adequate account of doctrine at all. As I noted a long time ago in a somewhat different context, it is what resolves the apparent tension between our absolute certainty in the Resurrection of Christ and our insistence that it was a historical event. The tension only arises because we are tempted to take a purely inferentialist view of the matter, i.e., a view in which what gives us our certainty that the Resurrection doctrine is true are the inferences that we make concluding to it. But if this were so, our certainty would be qualified by the limits of the historical evidence. In fact, however, the certainty is much greater because in their confidelity the community of the faithful is the body of the Risen Christ. This certainty, however, is something only discovered when we come together, which is one reason why coming together is so important for reflection on the Resurrection. The inferences that an inferentialist account notes are very important for individuals in the process of accepting the truth of the Resurrection; but we are not merely individuals but a community, and it is as a community that we have our fundamental grasp of the truth. I think this is generally going to be the case. The inferentialist about development of doctrine identifies legitimate and important things -- namely, guidelines about how individuals may guide themselves with respect to Church doctrine, and combine freedom of thought with fidelity to truth. But, while this certainly plays a role in development of doctrine, it is not what constitutes it as development. It is merely what makes it possible for us as individuals to go with the flow of it (so to speak). It's as if we took a plant and tried to say that its life was a particular type of molecular motion.

So, to recap the point so far, I think the inferentialist account fails to do justice to the (1) complexity and (2) confidelity involved in actual development. I also think it fails to do justice to the (3) creativity involved, since I get the impression from reading up on disputes of doctrine that the ways the Church has been called to handle them have been immensely diverse, each one calling for its own bit of ingenuity, and I am not at all convinced that an inferentialist account can do justice to this. But as this is a tricky one, and would require much more than a blog post to develop properly, I won't say much more about it. There is a fourth problem I see with it, which I will get to in a moment, but first I want to deal with a problem with my own view, one for which I only have a partial answer, due to its difficulty. It is one thing to say that development of doctrine should be characterized in communal rather than individual terms, in terms other than inferential ones, but it is another thing entirely to elucidate this. One of the great attractions of any inferentialist account, whether it is non-ampliative or not, is that there has been a lot of work on inference-related issues over the past 2500 years, producing a vast field of resources to draw upon. Once you identify the key feature of development as, say, a Principle of Non-Ampliation, it becomes fairly clear what sort of things you should look at in order to develop this idea. This is not the case for those of us who take a non-inferentialist view of the matter; we are left with a larger number of puzzles to handle, and a much more difficult account to clarify.

There has been some work done, however, that does at least allow us to lay down some suggestive and promising lines of thought. In particular, there has been an increased interest recently in what we can, following MacIntyre, call 'tradition-constituted inquiry'. MacIntyre divides approaches to inquiry into three kinds: Encyclopaedic, Genealogical, and Tradition-constituted. In the first, theoretical knowledge is cast as transparent inferences from fundamental principles or facts; it is impersonal and universal and disinterested. In the second, theoretical knowledge is cast as expressions of self-interest and the will to power; it is neither impersonal or universal. Both approaches tend to assume that we are caught in a dichotomy between one or the other. There is, however, a third way. To use MacIntyre's words from Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry, it is an approach according to which one hlds "that reason can only move towards being genuinely universal and impersonal insofar as it is neither neutral nor disinterested, that membership in a particular type of moral community, one from which fundamental dissent has to be excluded, is a condition for genuinely rational enquiry and more especially for moral and theological enquiry." It is clear, I think, that inferentialist accounts of the development of doctrine fit more comfortably in an Encyclopaedic approach than a tradition-constituted one; at the same time, it is clear that, unless development of doctrine is to be set free-wheeling, independent of any stable truth, a rejection of the inferentialist view would seem to require a tradition-constituted approach.

One of the great strengths of the tradition-constituted approach for considering development of doctrine is that it is telos-guided. As MacIntyre puts it, a tradition-constituted approach draws from the past in order that we may learn how to approach our telos, our end, more adequately. This element of finality is sorely lacking in the inferentialist approach, which treats development of doctrine in purely formal terms. At least, any final cause seems to be extrinsic on an inferentialist view. But I would suggest that the whole point of development is that it has entelechy -- it carries its end inside it, it has a final-causal aspect in its very essence. This is why it is so easy to think of development of doctrine on analogy with organic development, and we begin to see more clearly what Newman's notes of development (as opposed to deterioration) are doing: they are distinguishing between something that carries its purpose inside it (a living tradition) from something that does not (a dead one). In the sermon noted above, Newman notes the feature that marks out heresy, and again we find this organic metaphor:

Its formulae end in themselves, without development, because they are words; they are barren, because they are dead. If they had life, they would increase and multiply; or, if they do live and bear fruit, it is but as "sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." It developes into dissolution; but it creates nothing, it tends to no system, its resultant dogma is but the denial of all dogmas, any theology, under the Gospel. No wonder it denies what it cannot attain.

It lacks the principle of life; it has no aptness for 'living and bearing fruit'. Heresy is mechanical, and its change is a mechanical sort of change. But what it attacks is a vibrantly living tradition, because what is carried forward is a purpose, a final causality, a teleology. When the Church considers a claim, its primary concern is never, and has never been, the precise way in which the claim is related to other claims. That does come up as an important (very important!) auxiliary issue; but its primary concern has been how the claim relates to the telos of the Church, Christ our Head and our salvation. What makes Appolinarianism so suspicious, for instance, is that it violates this telos; the fact that it does so is in itself an excellent argument for the conclusion that, however well-supported it might initially seem (whether by deductive or inductive inferences), there is something wrong with that support. So, despite their useful elucidation of many important points, inferentialist accounts, when taken as a whole, lack the life that characterizes development of doctrine, the life the Church has because we have been grafted onto the Vine, because we have been stamped with an image of Christ and His life, death, and resurrection -- an intelligible character -- that gives us a telos and draws us together into one body. On our own we can get muddled or confused about that telos; but together we begin to see more clearly. Thus the conciliar fathers were right: even when we have the right to judge a matter on our own, it is essential to come together in mutual aid; for in matters of dispute about the faith, truth can be found in no other way. It is when we come together as a community in Christ that light shines and shadows flee, and the doctrine of the Church, develops, advances in victory, against heresy and falsehood.

So there are four features of development of doctrine that I think to which I think an adequate account must do justice: (1) richness; (2) confidelity; (3) creativity; (4) entelechy. I think that inferentialist accounts, of whatever kind, and for all their good, fall short on all four points. The alternative I've sketched here -- very sketchily! -- does better, I think, although it requires a vast amount of development. And perhaps that's as it should be.