Dale Tuggy

Dale Tuggy is Professor of Philosophy at the State University of New York at Fredonia, where he teaches courses in analytic theology, philosophy of religion, religious studies, and the history of philosophy.

4 Comments

  1. Brandon
    February 14, 2009 @ 11:31 am

    I agree that metaphorical speech is important, but in theoretical contexts, it can also be a crutch.

    But this, again, doesn’t seem to me to have anything to do with metaphors as such; it is something that happens with any terms in common use, metaphorical or not.

    I think you are way too easy on philosophers with the “plausibly necessary assumptions”; for one thing, most philosophers who are not actually doing logic are not making their arguments in fields where there are any plausibly necessary assumptions. I do agree that philosophy is better off than theology on these points, at least at this point in time; it’s exactly why I, who had originally intended to go into theology, went into philosophy instead. There is a real difference; but I think it is less than you are suggesting. And somewhat better than theologians is a very low standard at this point in time.

    • Dale
      February 14, 2009 @ 2:39 pm

      …not making their arguments in fields where there are any plausibly necessary assumptions.

      I have my Van Inwagenish moments, but I think I’m less skeptical than you are about modal epistemology.

      And somewhat better than theologians is a very low standard at this point in time.

      Ouch! 😛

  2. Brandon
    February 11, 2009 @ 3:48 pm

    I think that’s fair enough, as long as we also have philosophers stop using ‘implies’ and ‘suggests’ and ‘presupposes’, which are ways of doing exactly the same thing. ‘Implies’ is a particularly dangerous term; it can have a precise meaning, when it means ‘entails’ or the only slightly less precise ‘entails, given a few basic assumptions’. But it only does so in formal contexts, and when you are aware of this, it is surprising how often we are never told how, or on what analysis, or given what formal background assumptions, one thing implies another. I think everyone would benefit from both the recommendations in the post and dropping ‘implies’ and ‘suggests’ and ‘presupposes’ (difficult as it may be, since they get used out of habit).

    (But I’m not too thrilled about most of the ‘just a metaphor’ part of the argument. Most of our ways of connecting claims with their supports are metaphors; implies is one, as is entails, etc. It’s not that they are metaphors that cause the problem; it’s that they aren’t precise metaphors in the relevant contexts.)

    • Dale
      February 12, 2009 @ 9:14 pm

      Point well taken. There’s a difference, though, which is that philosophers are often assuming what are plausibly necessary truths. Yes, it can be a matter of controversy, but there are plenty of clear cases. Theologians, as a rule, are not trained in logic or argumentation, and so quite often they’re thinking it is just obvious that Y follows from X (’cause we *say* it does), although they have no idea how to construct any valid argument connecting them.

      I agree that metaphorical speech is important, but in theoretical contexts, it can also be a crutch. When theorizing, one ought to be able to say why or in what way certain metaphors are appropriate. e.g. Christians calling themselves “sons” and “daughters” of God.