Cross-Examination of IDKR at AAR

Faith and Philosophy 29 (2):170-180 (2012)
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This essay offers constructive criticism of the book “In Defense of Kant’s Religion” (2008), by Chris L. Firestone and Nathan Jacobs. Follow the link given here to see the published version of this article. In the same journal issue where that version appeared (Faith & Philosophy 29.2), Jacobs and Firestone each published essays that claimed to respond to my criticisms of their book; but for the most part they merely skirted around the points my article makes, often avoiding the key issues (e.g., by imputing alleged "fallacies" to my paper and using these as excuses to avoid discussing the genuine issues), sometimes making claims that were simply false in the process. In Faith and Philosophy 29.3 (July 2012):340-346, I published a general response to the whole debate over their book, without going into the sad details of the tactics they employed. But in a footnote (p.342n) I referred the reader to a detailed, point-by-point rebuttal to their (non-)arguments, as an addendum to that article, that would be uploaded here on my academia. edu site. This version of my original paper uploaded here contains the identical text for the paper itself (i.e., the first 15 pages of the original typescript have not been changed); but I have added an Appendix (starting on p.16) that responds, point-by-point to the Firestone and Jacobs essays. Warning to the faint-hearted: this discussion should not be read by anyone who is considering giving up their study of philosophy on the grounds that philosophers typically waste their time merely talking past each other, because for such a person, reading the Appendix to the version of the paper uploaded here could be the straw that breaks the camel's back! As I wrote it, I found myself sometimes wishing I had not published a promise to provide such material, because it is an embarrassment to philosophy that philosophers sometimes treat each other in the way illustrated by the two essays I am responding to. I only hope that taking the trouble to publish such a detailed response will help some readers recognize how important it is to give one's interlocuter the benefit of the doubt wherever possible (as I have tried to do here, for Firestone and Jacobs--and I would welcome their detailed explanations, if they think I have not done so). In any case, I hope the (unpublished) Appendix, uploaded here, will illustrate the fact that there are more important values to consider, when conducting a philosophical argument, than merely persuading others that "I’m right!"

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Stephen R. Palmquist
Hong Kong Baptist University


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