The Robin & Boom Show #16 – Modernism, Postmodernism, and Virtue, with Dr. Phillip Cary

Is it possible to infer values about what we ought to do from facts about how the world is? This question introduces a major problem within meta-ethics, which is how to philosophically justify ethical obligations. In this interview, Dr. Phillip Cary explains how these difficulties in meta-ethics arose out of the political, philosophical, and scientific context of the 17th and 18th centuries. Building on the work of Alasdair MacIntyre, Cary suggests that we have been left with the fragments of a once coherent tradition. The rise of Postmodernism offers a unique opportunity to return to this earlier tradition, and to recover a context in which discussion of virtues make sense. Questions covered in this podcast include:

  • Is it possible to philosophically justify ethical obligations?
  • What is the central Postmodern insight?
  • Is the anti-traditional bias in Modernism itself a type of tradition?
  • What is the good for which human beings were created?
  • How is training in virtue tried to the pursuit of wisdom?
  • In what way do traditions create a context for virtue and rationality?
  • Does Hume’s famous is-ought gap show forth the failure of the Enlightenment project?
  • Can competing traditions speak to each other?
  • How does a recovery of teleology or final causation help us affirm a truth about the good?

An Angry Bumble Bee, a Strange Phone Call, and Another Day at Work

Things were slow earlier today, as I sat behind the reference desk at the Whitworth library.

Shortly before my lunch break, a few patrons came into the building. One of our visitors was a previous professor at the university who is now writing a book on the history of music ministry in the United States. I had the opportunity to help him access a database of unpublished PhD theses.

When I wasn’t answering questions or helping patrons with research, I worked on an extended research project for one of the faculty members. He had asked the librarians to dig into the university archives to gather information for a history of the history department.

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Light from the Christian West: Aquinas and Eastern Orthodoxy

St_Thomas_AquinasMarcus Plested has done some important work to try to correct the tendency among Eastern Orthodox Christians to look upon Thomas Aquinas as the arch-villein of Western theology.

Plested is Vice-Principal and Academic Director for the Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies at Cambridge. He is also the author of the book Orthodox Readings of Aquinas, which Andrew Louth summarized at First Things. Louth wrote:

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