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presidential address
1. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 77
David B. Burrell Faith, Culture, and Reason: Analogous Language and Truth
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This paper examines how the faith/reason discussion can be expanded by means of culture and analogous language. The author argues that rationaldialogue can occur between different faith traditions, and without having to raise reason to the ideal of enlightenment objectivity or having to jettison reasonthrough some form of relativism. He argues that cultural shifts effect alterations in our very “criteria of rationality” so that our efforts to grasp others’ practices inmatters that challenge our presumed categories often reveal lacunae in our very own presumptions. The author further argues that a prerequisite for dialogue isa shared interest in pursuing the truth; thus the pursuit of truth transcends any given conceptuality. Accordingly, rationality can show itself in practices that canbe followed and understood by persons operating on the basis of different grounding convictions.
presentation of the aquinas medal
2. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 77
Anthony J. Lisska Presentation of the Aquinas Medal
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aquinas medalist's address
3. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 77
Michael Dummett Aquinas Medalist’s Address
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plenary sessions
4. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 77
Deirdre Carabine Outsiders on the Inside? Thinking about an Intercultural Understanding of Gender Identity
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This paper focuses on the issue of identity, primarily (though not exclusively) in relation to Africana women. The author argues that female identity in Africa today has been both negated and fractured, and that this fracture comes about through the “globalization of woman” and the universalization of both the experienceof women and of female “identity.” She goes on to argue that the ghost of universalism continues to hover over our conceptions of woman, especially the Other woman (that is, the non-white, non-heterosexual, non-middle class woman), despite the postmodern call for the acceptance of difference. According to the author, African female identity has been negated and fractured not only through various cultural practices, but also through colonialism, neo-colonialism, and imperialism.
5. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 77
Faustina Pereira Human Rights, Human Wrongs, and the Problem of Multicultural Understanding
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As a human rights activist and lawyer who believes in the mutuality of theology and legal philosophy, the author argues that Catholic philosophy can catalyse the process of global reconciliation. This is because the Church has the ability to recognise the double burden faced by Christians around the world (especially in Asia) who are struggling to disassociate themselves from an “alien” and “western” mantle, while still trying to live and preach the Christian doctrine and find common ground with other religions and cultures. Catholic philosophy, therefore, must engage itself and others meaningfully at an inter-religious, interdisciplinary, and multi-cultural level. We now live at a time in Church history when the gap in education between the clergy and the laity has been dramaticallynarrowed; as a result, it is imperative—especially now—to allow competing voices within the Church to be heard so that a healthy tension might arise andthrive. This will help to increase the transparency of discourse within the Catholic community itself, while also providing adaptive tools for dialogue with other,non-Catholic communities.
6. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 77
Jacques Poulain Justice and Truth: A Critical Examination of the Liberal Contract
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This paper presents a critique of American liberal capitalism, a system that began as a mere experiment but has now become the only form of life that isbroadly recognized as legitimate. Such legitimation is sustained by the seemingly objective and transcendent authority of a consensus that, as a matter of fact, isincapable of self-critique and judgment. For in liberal capitalism, the quest for happiness is measured primarily by the successes of free enterprise and the freemarket in general. These successes have thus become the only legitimate sources of individual and collective action. But in spite of such successes, liberal capitalism does nothing about the actual unjust relations between different social classes and between different countries. In order to address this unjust situation, liberal capitalism rightly searches for a theory of justice that can provide genuine selfjustification or self-legitimation. But capitalist culture has wrongly found such self-justification in the liberal theory of Rawls, whose veil of ignorance ends up legitimating capitalism’s own “worst of all possible situations.”
session 1
7. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 77
James J. Delaney, Jeffrey Dueck A Rethinking of Contemporary Religious Tolerance
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In relating philosophy to intercultural understanding, one of the key problems that arises is that of the relationship between tolerance and religious belief.This paper challenges the common understanding of tolerance in contemporary debates over religious diversity. It argues that tolerance is overused and over-applied in these debates, and has wrongfully come to refer to tactlessness, harshness of condemnation, and even exclusivity of belief. In seeking to clarify the concept and ensure its appropriate usage, it proposes that religious tolerance should only be applied to beliefs and actions following from those beliefs. It offers a framework in which tolerance about epistemic matters and tolerance about metaphysical matters is differentiated, and proposes that rejecting a certain element of metaphysical tolerance, namely the coexistence of incompatible content, is not a legitimate condition for intolerance. These clarifications enable a more consistent way of understanding tolerance and religious diversity.
8. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 77
John F. X. Knasas Does the Catholic Church Teach That There Is No One True Philosophy?
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This paper assesses various reasons for the claim that a Catholic should avoid being a proponent of a one and true philosophy. Rather, within limits, aCatholic philosopher ought to be a conceptual pluralist. These reasons include Pope John Paul II’s remarks in Fides et Ratio like the following: “The Church hasno philosophy of her own nor does she canonize any one particular philosophy in preference to others.” (para. 49) Also, Gerald A. McCool in his From Unity toPluralism: The Internal Evolution of Thomism argues that ironically the twentieth century Thomistic revival refuted the perceived call of Aeterni Patris to returnto the conceptual formulations of Aquinas. In that respect, this paper considers three “Thomistic” arguments for philosophical pluralism as put forth by J. M. LeBlond during a famous debate between French Dominicans and Jesuits following the Second World War. Le Blond’s “Thomistic” arguments include: the abstractive character of concepts, the equivalency of being and the true; and the epistemology of intellectual dynamism. My conclusion is that neither the Pope nor Aquinas is a proponent of philosophical pluralism.
session 2
9. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 77
M. V. Dougherty On the Alleged Subalternate Character of Sacra Doctrina in Aquinas
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Largely uncontested among interpreters of Aquinas is the claim that the Angelic Doctor presents sacra doctrina as a subalternated science. To be sure, in fourtexts of the Thomistic corpus Aquinas broaches the subject of subalternation in discussions of whether sacra doctrina can be a science. I contend that the appeal to subalternation in these discussions is not to defend sacra doctrina as a subalternated science, but is rather to defend the possibility of arriving at scientific conclusions when an act of belief serves as the starting point for syllogistic reasoning. There is indeed an epistemic similarity between the starting points of a subalternated science and the science of sacra doctrina, insofar as an act of belief serves as the proximate epistemic point of departure in both cases. However, the cognitive similarity between the practitioner of a subalternated science and a practitioner of sacra doctrina does not necessitate that sacra doctrina is a subalternated science.
10. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 77
Michael Baur Newman on the Problem of the Partiality and Unity of the Sciences
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This paper focuses on Newman’s approach to what we might call “the problem of the partiality and unity of the sciences.” The problem can be expressedin the form of a question: “If all human knowing is finite and partial, then on what grounds can one know of the unity and wholeness of all the sciences?” Newman’s solution to the problem is openly theistic, since it appeals to one’s knowledge of God. For Newman, even if I exclusively pursue my own partial science as a physicist, or psychologist, or historian, and even if I do not understand much about the content of the other sciences, nevertheless it is still possible for me tograsp the comprehensive ground of the unity of all the sciences, by virtue of my knowledge of God. The problem, however, is that this solution seems to rely onthe sort of intellectual imperialism that Newman criticizes throughout much of his work. For this solution seems to assert the unity of the sciences only by placingone science—theology—above all the others as a supervening Über-science. The aim of this paper is to defend Newman against this charge of imperialism, and toshow that his thought is not only more plausible, but also more nuanced, than might appear at first sight.
session 3
11. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 77
W. Matthews Grant Aquinas, Divine Simplicity, and Divine Freedom
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Aquinas maintains that, although God created the universe, he could have created another or simply refrained from creating altogether. That Aquinas believesin divine free choice is uncontroversial. Yet doubts have been raised as to whether Thomas is entitled to this belief, given his claims concerning divine simplicity.According to simplicity, there is no potentiality in God, nor is there a distinction in God between God’s willing, His essence, and His necessary being. On the surface, it appears that these claims leave no room for divine free choice. I argue that attempts by Aquinas and a pair of his contemporary defenders to reconcile God’s freedom with God’s simplicity fail to resolve the problem. Nevertheless, I maintain that Aquinas provides the key to a resolution in his claim that while creatures are really related to God, God is not really related to creatures.
12. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 77
Louis A. Mancha, Jr. Defending God’s Strong Conservation
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Defenders of the strong view of divine conservation hold that nothing that God creates is capable of sustaining its own existence from one moment to the next without His immediate and continual influence. Assuming a traditional view about efficient causality, I demonstrate that simply in virtue of being committedto creation ex nihilo, the theist is thereby committed to this strong view of conservation.
session 4
13. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 77
Catherine Jack Deavel Unity and Primary Substance for Aristotle
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Primary substance for Aristotle is either the individual or form. These same two possibilities are the leading candidates for the source of unity in a substance.Thus, if we could determine what is responsible for the unity of a substance, we may well have located primary substance also. I consider the following possiblesources of the unity of form and matter in a substance:1) The unifier is a connector external to form and matter. (This connector may be itself a form, matter, or a relation that is neither formal nor material.)2) There is no need for a unifier because form and matter are simply conceptual ways of understanding a single, already-unified, concrete being.3) The unifier is an inherent aspect of form or matter.I proceed by a process of elimination and conclude that substantial form is both what unifies a substance and the better candidate for primary substance.
14. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 77
James D. Madden Leibniz on Teleology and the Intelligibility of Nature
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Among the many tensions in Leibniz’s philosophical system is his tendency to invoke both mechanistic and teleological explanations. Jonathan Bennett, typicalof recent Leibniz commentators, attempts to relieve this difficulty by arguing that teleology for Leibniz is theological posturing and philosophically thin; such a doctrine does not serve to explain the relationship between teleology and mechanism. I argue that Leibniz’s appeal to final causality is both inextricably grounded in his wider metaphysic and helpful in understanding the preconditions for causality in general. To this end I defend the two following claims: 1) It is in part Leibniz’s theory of contingency, and not exclusively theological concerns, that leads him to conclude that the laws of nature must admit of teleological explanations. 2) The finality of the laws of nature, coupled with one of Leibniz’s most promising arguments against occasionalism, are together sufficient to show that teleology must play a role in explanations of the activity of all genuine substances.
session 5
15. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 77
Karl Schudt Are Animal Rights Inimical to Human Dignity?
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Do animals possess rights? The argument works from marginal cases: we attribute value to humans because of some minimal set of characteristics thathumans possess. Animals possess these characteristics; therefore they deserve moral consideration. Such arguments depend on a functionalist attribution of value. Any turn to functionalism will necessarily be detrimental to human dignity, since some humans will not qualify. I will show how the methods used to establish animal rights are generally some form of functionalism, with particular emphasis on Peter Singer and Tom Regan. Functionalism will always be arbitrary, since it assigns value on the basis of facts that do not necessitate such values. A better alternative is Aquinas’s theory of human dignity, that humans are valuable because of their supernatural destiny. This theory cannot be proven, but neither can the functionalist argument. Further, the human dignity argument is more rational, since it avoids many of the problems of the functionalist animal rights position.
16. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 77
James W. Boettcher “Political, Not Metaphysical”: Reading the Bishops’ Letter as a Form of Public Reason
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Is it permissible for a citizen or political official to exercise coercive political power on the basis of a political justification associated with a religiously motivatedconception of justice? In this paper I accept John Rawls’s general approach to this question, but attempt to show how the Rawlsian approach is more inclusive ofreligious reasoning than many have supposed. My paper focuses specifically on the 1986 Catholic bishops’ pastoral letter on the U.S. economy. The bishops’ letter is certainly part of what Rawls calls a “comprehensive doctrine.” But, as I argue in the paper, the letter is also consistent with political liberalism’s core idea of reasonableness, supports a reasonable political conception of justice and satisfies the Rawlsian “proviso” concerning the public-political use of religious argument. From the standpoint of political liberalism, the bishops’ letter may be interpreted as a form of public reason.
session 6
17. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 77
Joseph G. Trabbic Maimonides, Aquinas, and Interreligious Dialogue
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One way to work toward intercultural understanding is through interreligious dialogue, given the centrality that religion often has in a culture. David Burrell has suggested that Maimonides and Aquinas can offer us principles for interreligious dialogue. In particular, he argues that their negative theology shows us the impossibility of one tradition claiming a better understanding of God than those advanced by other traditions. This should lead religious traditions away fromcompetition and toward dialogue. In my paper, I propose a critique of Burrell’s thesis, arguing for a different interpretation of Maimonides and Aquinas and adifferent understanding of interreligious dialogue. While it is true that Maimonides and Aquinas have a well-developed sense of the limits of our theological knowledge, they do not draw the conclusion that these limitations necessarily make all understandings of God equal. I think Maimonides and Aquinas show us instead that the firmest basis for interreligious dialogue is the recognition that some genuine knowledge of the divine is available to all, regardless of religious tradition.
18. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 77
Andrew J. Dell’Olio Zhu Xi and Thomas Aquinas on the Foundations of Moral Self-Cultivation
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The twelfth-century Neo-Confucian philosopher, Zhu Xi, has often been compared to the thirteenth-century Christian philosopher, Thomas Aquinas. In this essay, I explore the similarities between these two thinkers, focusing on their respective accounts of the metaphysical foundations of moral self-cultivation. I suggestthat both philosophers play similar roles within their respective traditions and share similar aims. In general, both philosophers seek to appropriate ideas of rivalintellectual traditions in order to extend the moral vision of their home traditions, and both hope to achieve their goals without denying the primary orientationsof those traditions. Zhu Xi and Aquinas are shown to employ similar strategies, and to make use of similar metaphysical principles, to unite the humanistic andspiritual dimensions of moral self-cultivation into one synthetic vision. I will conclude by offering some reflections on the following questions: (1) what can the Neo-Confucian and the Thomist ethical traditions learn from one another? And (2) what can those of us engaged in inter-cultural philosophical and religiousdialogue learn from the masters of these traditions?
session 7
19. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 77
Atherton C. Lowry The Metaphysics of Culture: Its Being, Its Life, and Its Death
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The introduction takes up the history and meaning of the term culture and concurs with Dawson’s holistic view that culture has both material and spiritualfoundations. What I call the incarnated character of culture as extensional from and expressive of human beings, taken as hylomorphic substances, then brings us to the overriding theme of the paper: the metaphysical structure of culture. What discloses itself, in this regard, is the accidentality of culture as a system of relational acts rooted in social reality. Human society, in turn, is an accidental system of human substances in relation. Such substantial grounding of both society and culture will lead to the recognition that the human soul, through its substantial act or “esse,” manifests itself socially/culturally in the flesh. Culture is thereby the expression of the human soul. What then follows is a metaphysical investigation of why cultures live (this includes focuses on Aquinas, Eliade, Pieper) and why they die (focuses include Spengler, Schweitzer, Voegelin). The conclusion touches on the restoration of culture.
20. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 77
Paul St. Amour Cultural Pluralism and the Limitations of the Classicist Conception of Culture
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Bernard Lonergan has attempted to clarify a major theoretical transition from a classicist conception of culture, which was operative for over two millennia,to a contemporary notion of culture which is empirical, historicist, and pluralist. I argue that this transition has significant implications for apprehending boththe difficulty and the possibility of intercultural understanding. While the need for intercultural understanding is timely and obvious, its actual achievement hasproven elusive. One major impediment, I argue, has been the effective persistence of classicist assumptions which undermine our best theoretical understandings of what a culture is.