Abstract: The issue of whether logic has an ontological base—rests, ultimately, on the principles or nature of reality—is constantly with us. In this paper I revisit it, drawing on a piece I wrote back in 1969, for the early incarnation of Reason magazine. I conclude that the Aristotelian idea that logic tracks reality is sound and those opposed—conventionalists, pragmatists, conceptualists, Kantians, et al.—have it wrong.
Abstract: Can there be truth in philosophy? A problem: it is philosophy, its various schools, that advances what counts as true versus false, how to go about making the distinction. This is what I wish to focus on here and see if some coherent, sensible position could be reached on the topic.
Abstract: Many may benefit from revisiting the natural rights support for the fully free society even though the case is on record in several books and numerous scholarly pieces. Here I provide a sketch of that support, with a plethora of references for those who would like to explore the full case.
The basic point is that adult human beings are moral agents and as such require in their communities respect for–and at times expert protection of–their individual natural rights. This is what gives rise to a polity of very limited government or law. Like referees at a game, whoever maintains and defends the law must stick to that job and not stray into other projects lest the work become corrupted. Such a society will not guarantee good conduct or prosperity but will have the best chance at these.
Abstract: Some libertarians are impatient with philosophical discussions and even dismiss philosophy as not needed to make the case for the free society. I dispute this and indicate why. As many have found, even to dismiss philosophy, one needs a bit of it!
Abstract: Aristotelian ethics is still very promising, mainly because of its meta-ethical naturalism. As in medicine, what’s good versus bad is based on knowledge of the nature of something. With the addition of a strong doctrine of voluntary action, the morally good life is one within which one pursues one’s human flourishing (by means of practicing the virtues). An obstacle is Aristotle’s essentialism whereby he stresses what is distinctive about human beings, not what is a matter of their nature, as the standard of right versus wrong conduct. If this is amended in Aristotle what emerges is what some have called a genuine naturalist, biocentric ethical eudaimonism. Here I sketch the case for this amended Aristotelian ethical view.
Abstract: Milton Friedman is among those who have favored a value free, amoral defense of the free society. Here I discuss his basic reason for doing so, namely, that the claim to moral knowledge implies authoritarian politics. I argue that this is wrong because to act morally cannot require coercing people to do so–to quote Immanuel Kant, “ought” implies “can.”