Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Another Response from John Lemos

John Lemos has sent me the following response to my last blog post on his comments.

"When I say that I have no special interest in defining goodness or the good, and then I go on to say that when things do their characteristic activity well they are good, this is not problematic. If I say 'when things do their characteristic activity well they are good,' I am not thereby defining goodness, rather I am predicating goodness of such things. I want to say that this is a common way in which many things are good. This is how watches, hearts, cars, and lungs are good. And I want to suggest that human beings are good in a similar way. this is not a definition of good.

"I am open to there being other things which are good and that these other things may be good for different reasons, reasons other than the successful performance of their defining activity. Perhaps, pleasure and beauty are good but for different reasons.

"Additionally, I am open to the possibility that goodness is a nonnatural property. You ask for an explanation of what a nonnatural property is. In response, and waxing Moorean on this, I would say a nonnatural property is a simple property that is incapable of definition in terms of any natural properties. Moore, himself, held this view about goodness and some other properties, such as redness and greenness, as well as other colors. Further, the presence of such nonnatural goodness may supervene on the occurrence of certain natural properties, such as the well functioning of a thing, while not being identical with such. Redness seems to work this way too. It's occurrence supervenes on the occurrence of certain wavelengths of light, but redness is not identical with those wavelengths of light.

"These are some of my initial thoughts about your latest post. I have not responded in full here. Let me think about the rest.

"BTW, I recently studied a piece you wrote some while ago, 'Conservatives, Darwin, and Design: An Exchange,' which appeared in First Things. Comments from Behe and Dembski are provided along with your replies. In enjoyed this piece quite a lot, and I am in much agreement with things you say there. I think your take on the relationship between the truth of the Darwinian theory of evolution and religion is probably quite similar to mine, and this is probably reflected in the later chapters of my book, especially the first half of Ch. 5 of my book, where I discuss evolution and the rationality of religious belief."

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