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presidential address
1. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 84
Thérèse-Anne Druart Al-Fârâbî: An Arabic Account of the Origin of Language and of Philosophical Vocabulary
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The paper first presents the necessary background to appreciate al-Fârâbî’s views and his originality. It explains the issues Anicent philosophers faced: the natural vs. the conventional origin of language, the problem of ambiguous words, and the difficulty to express Greek thought into Latin. It then sketches andcontrasts the views of Christianity and Islam on the origin of language and the diversity of idioms. It argues that al-Fârâbî follows the philosophical tradition butdevelops it in sophisticated and original manner by telling the story of the origin and development of language and giving little place to the Islamic tradition. Foral-Fârâbî language emerges naturally but develops by convention in three phases: (1) The constitution of utterances and crafts to ensure basic necessities; (2) The development of rhetoric, poetry, memorizing, writing, and the language arts; (3) the development of dialectic, sophistical reasoning and demonstration that leads to philosophy reaching its perfection with with Aristotle. Religion for him is posterior to philosophy and derives form it. As for al-Fârâbî philosophy in Islamic lands was imported from Greece, he includes rules to translate technical philosophical terms from one language into another.
presentation of the aquinas medal
2. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 84
Mark C. Murphy Introduction of the Aquinas Medalist Alasdair MacIntyre
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aquinas medalist’s address
3. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 84
Alasdair MacIntyre On Being a Theistic Philosopher in a Secularized Culture
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plenary sessions
4. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 84
Daniel O. Dahlstrom Towards an Explanation of Language
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After reviewing basic features of language, this paper reviews a central debate among twentieth-century philosophers over the proper analysis of linguisticmeaning. While some center the analysis of meaning in language’s capacity to be true, others locate meaning in the communicative intentions of the users of thelanguage. As a means of addressing this impasse and suggesting its unfounded character, the paper draws on recent studies of language acquisition and relates them to existential dimensions of language.
5. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 84
Ann Hartle Language and Philosophy in the Essays of Montaigne
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Montaigne chooses to write the Essays in French, the vulgar language, rather than in Latin, the language of the learned. He uses only the words that areheard in the streets, markets, and taverns of France. And he speaks about the body and the sexual in a manner that goes beyond the limits of propriety. The language of the Essays perfectly reflects Montaigne’s philosophical project, the re-ordering of philosophy to the lowest rather than the highest, to the ordinary rather than the extraordinary. By bringing the private into the public, he frees the private from shame and creates the new, modern public space, i.e., society. The invention of the essay is the invention of society.
6. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 84
Stephen F. Brown William of Ockham and St. Augustine on Proper and Improper Statements
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William of Ockham discussed the fallacy of amphiboly twice in his writings. The first treatment was in his Expositio super libros Elenchorum, where he simply presents Aristotle’s treatment, updates it with some Latin examples, and tells us it is not too important, since we do not often run into cases of ambiguity of thiskind. Later, in his Summa logicae, however, he extends his treatment appreciably. He here includes under ambiguous statements philosophical and theological sentences which are improperly stated. Led by Aristotle, Augustine and Anselm, Ockham finds that in their writings they give us instances of improper statements which need to be restated properly before they can be evaluated as true or false. These leads provide for Ockham a key to unlocking the teaching treasures of the Ancients.
session i: hylomorphism and contemporary thought
7. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 84
Paul Blaschko Resurrection and Hylomorphism: Moving Toward a Theory of Post-Mortem Survival Compatible with Catholic Doctrine
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My paper raises the question whether there are any tenable hylomorphic theories of post-mortem survival and resurrection compatible with Catholic Churchdoctrine. After considering what it would mean for such a theory to be compatible with Church doctrine, I raise three objections to which a hylomorphic theory would need to successfully respond in order to be considered tenable. In the final section of the paper, I argue affirmatively, that there are tenable hylomorphic theories. I then consider two contemporary theories and offer reasons to prefer an alternative, non-reassemblist theory to others that are currently equally or more popular.
8. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 84
James J. Delaney Catholicism, the Human Form, and Genetic Engineering
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In September of 2008, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published Dignitas Personae, which addresses several newly emerging topics in thearea of biomedical ethics. One of these topics is genetic engineering, which we can define as the intentional manipulation of genetic material so as to produce some desired trait or characteristic. Genetic engineering is discussed in Dignitas Personae, but is done so relatively briefly. In this paper, I explore some of the metaphysical and ethical questions that are key in assessing the morality of this practice by examining other Church documents as well as philosophical literature. Ultimately, I will argue that aside from some instrumental restrictions, questions about the moral permissibility of genetic engineering, the distinction between therapy and enhancement, and what it means to be human are not as easily answered from a Catholic perspective as one might think.
session ii: thomistic political philosophy
9. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 84
Michael Baur The Language of Rights: Towards an Aristotelian-Thomistic Analysis
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Alasdair MacIntyre has argued that our contemporary discourse about “rights,” and “natural rights” or “human rights,” is alien to the thought of Aristotleand Aquinas. His worry, it seems, is that our contemporary language of rights is often taken to imply that individuals may possess certain entitlement-conferringproperties or powers (typically called “rights”) entirely in isolation from other individuals, and outside the context of any community or common good. In thispaper, I accept MacIntyre’s worries about our contemporary language of “rights”; however, I seek to show that some of our contemporary language or discourseabout “justice” and “rights” is not altogether misguided, but does—in fact—reflect a properly critical (Aristotelian-Thomistic) understanding of what is meant by“justice” and “rights.”
10. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 84
Benjamin Smith Political Theology and Thomas Aquinas: A Reading of the De Regno
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Political life is and ought to be entirely autonomous from theology; religion belongs to the private sphere and political community is ruled by the sovereign power of the state in accordance with “secular reasons.” This is commonly referred to as the modern settlement over the vexed relationship between politics and religious faith, and many have characterized it as one of the greatest legacies of the Enlightenment. Against this positive assessment, I shall argue that in hisearly De Regno, Thomas Aquinas offers compelling theological and philosophical reasons to doubt the coherence of the modern settlement and its compatibility with Christian tradition. According to this view, political practice must be reinterpreted according to a distinctly Christian understanding of the human person. Political life is not autonomous; rather it essentially requires theological reorientation.