Monday, February 08, 2016

My predictions on tomorrow's New Hampshire Republican presidential primary

First Place: Donald Trump, but he won't get over 30 percent, and he might get less. This will be views as a mediocre performance
Second Place: Ted Cruz. His data-driven campaign, which is beyond compare, will have him exceeding his place in the polls all campaign season.
Third Place: John Kasitch. He's had a good last few days and he has the only positive commercials in the last days of the campaign, making him stand out from the other candidates.
Fourth Place (tie): Chris Christie. He scored with his attacks on Rubio in the debate.
Fourth Place (tie): Marco Rubio. He was scored on by Christie's attacks.
Fourth Place (tie): Jeb Bush. He scored againt Trump in the debate.
Fifth Place: Ben Carson. The evangelical votes just aren't there in NH. Also, he has been turning in very mediocre debate performances.

Sixth Place: Carly Fiorina. She just hasn't had any attention paid to her. Being excluded from the debate really hurt.

Thank you Ted Cruz, the only Republican candidate who doesn't want to draft your daughters

After Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, and Chris Christie gave their imbecilic responses to Martha Radditz's question about drafting women into a military that now places women on combat positions, the debate proceeded on to other questions. It was hard to believe that none of the other supposedly conservative candidates didn't have another view.

As it turns out, one of them did. From Politico:

“I have to admit, as I was sitting there listening to that conversation, my reaction was, ‘Are you guys nuts?’” Cruz said Sunday, speaking at a town hall here. “Listen, we have had enough with political correctness, especially in the military. Political correctness is dangerous. And the idea that we would draft our daughters to forcibly bring them into the military and put them in close combat, I think is wrong, it is immoral, and if I am president, we ain’t doing it.”

To applause, Cruz went on to note that he is a father to two daughters, and he wants them to follow their dreams.

“But the idea that their government would forcibly put them in a foxhole with a 220-pound psychopath trying to kill them doesn’t make any sense at all,” he said.

Read the rest here.

Of courseLet's see if I've got this straight: We're going to draft both men and women into the military, but we're going to force men into combat positions, but give women the option in the name of equal treatment? Wouldn't treating men and women equally mean either mandating both to serve in combat or giving both the option? I'm soooo confused about this new equality regime.

Rubio, Bush, Christie cheer Obama's move to draft women into combat roles

Marco Rubio: "I support that."
When three Republicans presidential candidates expressed support for drafting women into a military with combat positions now open to women in last Saturday night's New Hampshire debate, it confirmed the fact that the national Republican Party is in the final throes of its abandonment of the social issues banner under which it has faithfully marched since Ronald Reagan.

ABC moderator Martha Raddatz, married to a Harvard Law professor and who had Obama as a guest at her wedding, was clearly surprised at the answers she was getting from Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, and Jeb Bush, who were, to a man (not a terribly chivalrous man) supportive of forcing women to register for the draft. Each of these candidates had his own manifestly nonsensical reason for his position.

She first asked the question about registering women for the draft of Rubiomatic:

Raddatz: "Many of you have young daughters. Senator Rubio, should young women be required to sign up for selective service in case of a national emergency?"

Rubio: "Well first, let me say there are already women serving today in roles that are like combat, that in fact whose lives are in very serious danger. So I have no problem whatsoever with people of either gender serving in combat, so long as the minimum requirements necessary to do the job are not compromised. But I support that. And, obviously, now that that is the case I do believe that selective service should be opened up for both men and for women in case a draft is ever instituted.”

In other words, we're already doing it, therefore it can't be wrong (moral philosophy is clearly not in Rubio's wheelhouse). Also, Memo to Rubio: They always change the minimum requirements when it comes to including women in roles in the military. Always. What makes you think they aren't going to do it again?

Rubio also made the argument that we should be able to conscript women into military service because we need to strengthen our military. What's next? Drafting children and old people?

Then came Bush:

Raddatz: “Gov. Bush … Do you believe that young women should sign up for selective service—be required to do so?"

Bush: “I do. I do. And I think that we should not impose any kind of political agenda on the military. There should be—if women can meet the requirements, the minimum requirements, for combat service, they ought to have the right to do it, for sure.”

If there had been a gong indicating "failed answer," it should have sounded right then. Raddatz was plainly perplexed:

Raddatz: “Tell me what you would say to American people out there, who are sitting at home, who have daughters, who might worry about those answers?"

Bush: “Why would they worry about it?” [Editorial comment: Duh.]

Raddatz: “--and might worry that the draft is reinstituted?"

Bush: “Well, the draft is not going to be reinstituted. But why—if women are accessing—”

Raddatz: “But you can just do away with it?”

Bush: “No, I didn’t say that. You asked the question not about the draft, you asked about registering. And if women are going to be supporting-- ”

Raddatz: “You register for the draft—if it’s reinstituted.”

Bush: “But we don’t have a draft. I’m not suggesting we have a draft. What I’m suggesting is that we ought to have readiness being the first priority of our military, and secondly that we make sure that the moral is high. And right now neither one of those is acceptable because we have been gutting the military budget. We also need to reform our procurement process. We need to make sure that there are more men and women in uniform than civilians in our Defense Department. There’s a lot of things that we need to do to reform, to bring our defense capabilities into the 21st century and I am the guy that can do that. That’s why I have the support of generals of admirals of 12 Medal of Honor recipients and many other people that know I would be a steady commander in chief and rebuild our military.

That's right: The clueless Bush attempted to make a distinction between women registering for the draft, which he said he supported, and actually drafting them, of which he sort of, kind of seemed to imply he was not necessarily in favor. The question of how someone could be in favor of making women register for the draft and not be in favor of actually drafting them would require an answer of Byzantine complexity—one which the Jeb Bushes of this world are constitutionally ill-fit to negotiate.
Then Chris Christie dug the hole deeper:

Christie: “Martha, can I be really clear on this, because I am the father of two daughters—one of them is here tonight. What my wife and I have taught our daughters right from the beginning: that their sense of self-worth, their sense of value, their sense of what they want to do with their life comes not from the outside but comes from within. And if a young woman in this country wants to go and fight to defend her country she should be permitted to do so. And part of that also needs to be a part of a greater effort in this country. So, there is no reason why one young woman should be discriminated against from registering for the selecting service. The fact is we need to be a party and a people that makes sure that our women in this country understand anything they can dream, anything they want to aspire to, they can do. That’s the way we raised our daughters and that’s what we should aspire to as president for all the women in our country.”

So, in Christie's world—as in Barack Obama's—military personnel policy is a matter of womens' rights. Glad we cleared that up. If we're going to agree with Obama on political first principles, then what do we have Republicans for?

Left unremarked at the debate was that it was the social revolutionaries in the Obama administration, not women themselves, who pushed for women in combat positions. Women have not been agitating to be pressed into combat roles in the military. These changes are being made by radical egalitarians who want to tear down every traditional gender role in favor of the liberal utopia they all want in which gender plays no role at all.

I'm trying to think why anyone would want to live in such a banal and uninteresting world.

Of course, that would destroy their entire case against sexual harassment against women in the military, a position completely dependent upon the assumption that women are weaker vessels than men and who stand in need of protection.

As these answers on the selective service were coming from the mouths of three ostensible conservatives—answers that could easily have come from the mouths of Obama and Hillary Clinton—the rest of the field of candidates stood by silent, in tacit acquiescence to this position, it underscored just how one-dimensional the Party has become. The national Republican Party leadership is now made up almost exclusively of economic Johnny one-notes.

[NOTE: Ted Cruz contested these remarks today and spoke out against drafting women. I'll post about that tomorrow.]

The national Republican Party was largely missing-in-action on the marriage debate that has utterly redefined society's most crucial institution. The inaction and seeming disinterest in the face of the wholesale distortion of the Constitutional process and their relative silence on the importance of children being raised in homes with a mother and a father was an act of complicity (albeit by omission) which directly led to the demise of  traditional marriage, which died, not with a bang, but with a whimper.

There are candidates who say (but only when asked) that they are opposed to the redefinition of marriage, but it is largely absent from their campaign rhetoric and no one of them that I know of has said what they would do about it.

Some national Republican leaders—alleged conservatives who would be appalled if the procedure used to redefine marriage were attempted on any other issue—were even actively supportive of the effort to divest states of their longstanding and Constitutional right to define marriage. Political treason of the highest order.

The issue of drafting women who could serve in combat positions (and eventually will have to serve in them--that is the obvious next logical step) is just the next phase in the national Republican Party's retreat on social issues.

National Republican leaders have totally bought in to the whole postmodernist redefinition of gender. They have left unquestioned the myth that there is some kind of widespread (or even not-so-widespread) discrimination against gays. They have been silent in the face of claims about the nature of sexuality from proponents of transgenderism, who can literally claim  anything—anything, no matter how outrageous and incoherent.

With friends like this, conservatives don't need any enemies.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Is Jerry Coyne's new book the worst atheist book ever written?

Jerry's new book.
I have not yet had a chance to review atheist scientist Jerry Coyne's new book, Faith vs. Fact, but after this review by Catholic philosopher Ed Feser, I may not have to:
Faith versus Fact is some kind of achievement. Biologist Jerry Coyne has managed to write what might be the worst book yet published in the New Atheist genre. True, the competition for that particular distinction is fierce. But among other volumes in this metastasizing literature, each has at least some small redeeming feature. For example, though Lawrence Krauss’s A Universe from Nothing is bad as philosophy, it is middling as pop science. Christopher Hitchens’s God Is Not Great was at least written by someone who could write like Christopher Hitchens. Though devoid of interest, Sam Harris’s Letter to a Christian Nation is brief. Even PZ Myers’s book The Happy Atheist has at least one advantage over Coyne’s book: It came out first.
You gotta love it. Read the rest here.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Dr. John Lennox explains why science & faith are not in conflict

Dr. John Lennox, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford and Emeritus Fellow in Mathematics and the Philosophy of Science at Green Templeton College, explains why science and faith are not in conflict:
God no more conflicts with science as an explanation for the universe than Henry Ford conflicts with the laws of the internal combustion engine as an explanation for the motorcar. The existence of mechanisms and laws is not an argument for the absence of an agent who set those laws and mechanisms in place. On the contrary, their very sophistication, down to the fine tuning of the universe, is evidence for the Creator’s genius.
His article is the feature article in Knowing and Doing, a publication of the C. S. Lewis Institute. Read the rest here.

Academic Freedom Bill passes State Senate

Yesterday's press release from The Family Foundation:

FEBRUARY 6, 2016

LEXINGTON, KY— A bill that would protect student political speech and religious expression in schools passed the Senate today 31 to 2.  Part of the impetus for the bill came from the censorship of a student performance of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" by a Kentucky school superintendent in Johnson County.  The school censored the part of the play in which Charles Schulz's character Linus quotes the Gospel of Luke.
The bill, sponsored by State Sen. Albert Robinson (R-London), also covers the general freedom of expression of students on matters of religion and politics in speech and on school assignments.
"We stand with Linus," said Martin Cothran, spokesman for The Family Foundation, which supports the bill. "When schools start seeing a cartoon character quoting the Bible as a threat, then things have obviously gone too far. This bill provides protections students from the virulent secularism that increasingly threatens First Amendment freedoms in our country."
The bill now goes to the State House of Representatives.


Tuesday, February 02, 2016

What is classical Christian education?

I work with a number of classical schools, one of which is Holy Trinity in Beaufort, South Carolina. They have produced an excellent promotional video on classical Christian education:

Monday, February 01, 2016

#Rubio Rising: The biggest winner in Iowa was not the winner

Here's the way the Iowa Republican caucus vote looks to this observer, in the order of significance:

#1. Trump Lost. In the first actual collection of votes, Trump, who the polls had as ahead, came in second.

First of all, this seriously damages the one thing that has powered Trump over the last month or two: the perception of inevitability. He has appeared to many people as an invincible force on the basis of the only contest he has yet participated in: the polls. But now we have an actual election in which actual people have gone to an actual place and cast actual votes—in other words, in the only place that really matters in an election—and Trump lost.

Secondly, he underperformed in light of his poll numbers. One of the key questions in evaluating the Trump phenomenon is whether his poll numbers translate into votes. Tonight they didn't—at least, not to the extent he needed in a close race. This would at least suggest that maybe we can discount those big poll leads he has in other polls. Thanks to his high poll numbers, Trump underperformed expectations. Other than a scandal, this is the worst thing that can happen to you during an election.

Thirdly, Trump got less than a quarter of Republican votes. This tells us something important about Trump's future. You can win without much more than a quarter of the votes now, as Cruz did, because there are still so many candidates in the race. But when the announcements come—as Huckabee's already has and that two or three or may come even before New Hampshire—that candidates are leaving the race, it is just as likely, perhaps more so because of Trump's low ceiling, to help some other candidate, most likely ...

#2: Super Mario is Rising. While Trump lost the expectations game, and Cruz pretty much tied, Rubio won it. Note that, although he was third in the race, he was only one percentage point behind Trump, who was supposed to win it. Watch Rubio rise in the polls in New Hampshire in the coming week and begin to gain serious momentum.

#3: Ted Cruz Won. The fact that I am putting this as only the third most important fact about Cruz winning (which I think will reflect the public perception) means that his win won't benefit him as much as it otherwise would have. Because Cruz was expected to do well, and did, it isn't as remarkable as the fact that Rubio almost beat Trump, which no one expected him to do. This should have been better for Cruz, but his momentum will be stifled by Rubio. Cruz had the advantage in Iowa because he had the best organization in the state where organization matters the most. What happens when he has to start squaring off against Rubio in the race to see who faces off with Trump in the other states where Cruz's data-driven methods don't have quite the same effect?

Man, this is fun.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Are traditional and modern logic really different? A response to David McPike, Part II

In the comments section of my post "Why Traditional Logic Does Not Employ Truth Tables," David McPike takes issue with a couple things I said. I addressed some of these yesterday. On a related point, I had said:

Therefore, in the modern system, statements such as: "If the moon is made of green cheese, then ducks can swim" are considered true statements, since their antecedents (in this case, "the moon is made of green cheese") is false at the same time that the consequent ("ducks can swim") is false. In fact the antecedent is false and the consequent true, therefore (according to the modern logician) it is a true statement.

To which McPike responds:

This again seems misleading. In the modern system of "logic", statements such as "If P1 then P2" are considered formally, as being possibly true, possibly false. Insofar as propositions figure into actual reasoning about reality, what reason is there to think that modern and traditional logic are any different in viewing logic "as a linguistic and metaphysical art, not [merely!] a technical mathematical calculus"?

My response to the question of what reason I have for thinking that modern and traditional logic are different in their view of what kind of art they are engaging in is threefold: First, anyone versed in the particulars of the two systems in fact do view them differently; secondly, they admit they treat them differently; and, third, they give the reasons why they, in fact, do treat them differently.

This characterization is less the case with modern logicians than with the traditionalists. Modern logicians are largely unfamiliar with the tradition of the traditional system and seem to be mostly unaware of the assumptions behind their own system since they are never called upon to have to explain them in an English academic world that still operates in the shadow of logical positivism (the ideological mileiu in which modern logic was birthed).

Traditional logicians, on the other hand, being in the minority, are in a position to have to explain why they are not doing the same thing as so many of their peers. Consequently, they seem to have a better grasp on the difference between the two systems. 

Mr. McPike might want to consult several traditional logicians to see what I mean. The first would be Jacques Maritain, whose book Formal Logic (1946) contains a discussion of some of these issues. Maritain considers the two systems so different that he even balks at calling modern logic "logic" at all. He refers to it as "logistics." There are other discussions too, such as that by Andrew Bachhuber in his Introduction to Logic (1957) and in Daniel J. Sullivan's Fundamentals of Logic (1963). There is also a short discussion of this in Peter Kreeft's recent Socratic Logic. Anyone wanting something more in depth can go to the works of Henry Veach, who made a whole career out of examining the differences between the two systems and articulating and questioning the assumptions behind the modern system (Aristotelian and Mathematical Logic (1950), In Defense of the Syllogism (1952); Intensional Logic (1952); Logic as a Human Instrument (1959); and Two Logics (1969)).

And the differences between the two systems has not gone unacknowledged by the moderns, as evidenced by Bertrand Russell's summary dismissal of it (along with Aristotelianism in general, an indication that he understood that the difference between the two systems was rooted in the respective underlying metaphysical beliefs). Irving Copi too acknowledges it briefly in his text, and a good example of the some the issues can found online in Kelly Ross' "In Defense of Bramantip," which is, ironically, a defense of at least one plank in the traditionalist platform by a modern analytic philosopher.

In regard specifically to conditional statements, I'm not sure it is accurate to say that modern logic treats them "as being possibly true, possibly false." If the modal qualifiers ("possibly") in this characterization simply mean that the statement may be true or false depending on the actual state of affairs in the world, then I have no problem with it. But once that state of affairs is taken into account, there is "possibly") about it: If the antecedent is true and the consequent false, then the statement is definitely false. In all other circumstances, the statement is definitely true.

Traditionalists agree with the first part of this, but categorically deny the second. In other words, practitioners of the two systems have contradictory understandings of three of the four possible truth value combinations involved in determining the truth of a conditional statement. This seems to me to constitute a rather marked difference. Moderns believe you can determine the truth of a conditional statement based solely on the truth value of its component statements and traditionalists do not (with the exception of the one case of the antecedent being true and the conclusion false).

On the matter of whether the disagreement between the two systems indicates a different believe about the kind of art logic is, I may need a bit more clarification from Mr. McPike on the import of his question. If it is a question about whether logic is, for both schools, a language art, I would argue that it could not be considered so by the moderns, since they view logic as a purely quantificational system (that's why they refer to logic as "quantification theory") and language is not purely quantitative. If the issue then becomes whether language is, in fact, purely quantitative, as I suppose a logical positive may very well believe (I haven't thought a lot about that), then the difference would go deeper than just logic.

If the question is whether the proponents of two systems of logic agree that logic is a metaphysical art, I would simply point to the fact that, first, most of those who championed it in the early twentieth century explicitly denied the existence of metaphysics since they were, in large part, logical positivists (see A. J. Ayer's Language, Truth, and Logic for a good example, particularly the first chapter, which is entitled, "The Elimination of Metaphysics"); and, second, that the system itself betrays this belief, as I have explained several times.

I'll leave it at that for now.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Why the Academy's effort to diversity its membership is a bad idea

White men smiling at the Oscars.
The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has announced that it will be "diversifying" its membership. This is one more blow to guilty White liberals who dominate the leadership of elite organizations and who use their positions to lecture the rest of us on how to act, even though, in occupying these positions in inordinate numbers, they undermine the very Politically Correct principles they espouse.

The action by the Academy—taken in response to protests by non-guilty non-White liberals who took umbrage at the fact that, for the second year in a row, all 20 of the acting nominees were White (most, if not all of them liberal and probably guilty about it)—will further hamper the privileged status of these people who are constantly preaching to the rest of us about the evils of such privilege while enjoying it themselves.

The problem is this: In shaming guilty White liberals who use these positions to work out the deep-seated guilt associated with being White and possessing such privilege, the Academy is underscoring their hypocrisy, which will undoubtedly result in even higher levels of guilt needing to be atoned for. But since the only avenue guilty White liberals have to do penance for their Whiteness and their privilege is to lecture other people from privileged positions about how evil these things are—and such opportunities are diminishing because of actions like that of the Academy which actually apply the principles they are always lecturing the rest of us about but never following themselves—we will be putting these people in an untenable position.

How does the Academy expect guilty White liberals to deal with their shame now that they have been divested of the opportunity to engage in the hypocrisy that, until now, no one has bothered to notice?

Are traditional and modern logic really different? A response to David McPike, Part I

Bertrand Russell
In the comments section of my post "Why Traditional Logic Does Not Employ Truth Tables," David McPike takes issue with a couple things I said.

I said:
Traditional logic does not attempt to reduce logic to a quantitative calculus, largely because it views logic as a linguistic and metaphysical art, not a technical mathematical calculus.
McPike responds:
Surely this is just wrong? 'Traditional logic' also views logic as a formal tool, one which it is necessary to master "before" attempting something like metaphysics. It can be treated (taught and learned) just as abstractly and formally as modern logic.
But to say that traditional logic is formal (or at least has a formal branch—the old traditional logic included material logic, which was not formal) is not the same thing as saying that all rational discourse can be reduced to "a kind of mathematical calculus," which was the point of my post. I think the latter statement is more specific than the mere issue of formality.

For one thing, I think it would be fair to say that the system of traditional logic recognizes that there are what I would call "material leakages" in the system which defy exclusively formal treatment. The conditional statements I pointed to are just one example of this. Oblique syllogisms (syllogisms in which there is a relational term playing an essential role in the inference—"John is the son of Mary) would be another. In both these cases the formal clothing we try to fit our rational expression into doesn't perfectly fit. There is some material relation that inserts itself into the otherwise formal structure of the reasoning and that recognition is built into the formal system of traditional logic.

For another, traditional logicians have traditionally disputed the idea that logic—even in its formal aspect—is purely quantitative in nature, in the way in which the kind of logic fathered by the Principia Mathematica seems to be. Most traditional manuals on logic begin with the distinction between comprehension and extension. Comprehension has to do with the intellectual content of logical terms, whereas extension has to do with their referents in the world. The comprehension of the term 'man', for example, would be a "rational, sentient, living, material substance." The extension of the term 'man' would be "all the men who are, were, or will be."

Comprehension is qualitative in nature because it asks questions involving the kind of things to which terms refer, whereas  extension is quantitative, since it asks how much or how many things a term refers to. I'm willing to be disproven here, but it seems to me that modern systems of logic (at least the propositional and predicate calculus) are all extension and no comprehension. That is reflected in the title modern logicians have affixed to their system: propositional and predicate calculus. I'm no expert in set theory, a fixture of much of the modern logic that traces itself to Russell and Whitehead, but from what I know of it, it seems to be one bit of evidence for my claim here.

And it doesn't seem to me a complete coincidence that those who developed modern logic were almost exclusively mathematicians (Frege, Boole, Russell, Whitehead, et al.).

My point was simply that although the formal branch of traditional logic is the treatment of reasoning in a formal way, there is a recognition that, in doing so, there are material (and qualitative) considerations that affect the course and conduct of the reasoning, a recognition that modern systems do not seem to allow for in their attempt to cram all rational discourse into a purely formal system. The modern system of logic not only does not allow for material considerations in its formal system, it doesn't, as traditional logic does, recognize a material (or "major") branch of logic at all, any material considerations having been relegated to the dust heap of rejected Aristotelian metaphysics (e.g. Russell), or to the field of rhetoric (as seems to be the case with what is now called "informal logic").

I will post my answer to McPike's challenge to my use of conditional statements as examples of the differences between the two systems tomorrow.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Biblically-challenged #Trump2016 campaign now making religious proclamations.

Katrina Pierson, staff theologian for the Trump campaign, has questioned Jesus founded the Church. In a Tweet today (remember, these are people whose thought is limited to 140 characters) she said:

You wonder what business a campaign that can't seem to get its Corinthians straight is doing making proclamations about an institution that has been considering religious questions for over 2,000 years.