For quite some time, critics have attacked religious language on the grounds that theologians employed metaphors that were irreducible. By irreducible, they meant metaphors that could not be paraphrased in literal language. And any such language that could not be reduced to words that can be taken in a literal sense, would be devoid of cognitive meaning or truth value. Since theologians claimed that statements like ‘God is love’ cannot be reduced to a literal sense without robbing the concept of (...) God of its transcendent status, sceptics replied that such failures merely indicated the meaninglessness of religious language. Or, if apologists did assert that ‘God is love’ can be paraphrased by statements describing the love of one man for another, the sceptic claimed that such a move reduced religious language to anthropological language where terms like ‘God’ were superfluous. Critics argued that metaphors of religion posed the following dilemma: either religious metaphors could not be reduced to literal paraphrases and were, therefore, meaningless; or, religious metaphors could be reduced to literal paraphrases, but the method by which they were reduced eliminated the necessity for theological terminology. (shrink)
Recent defenders of the cognitive significance of religious language have had to face opponents from two directions; from those who demand that religious language be capable of some form of empirical verification and from those who demand that for religious language to be meaningful it must be capable of being understood in ordinary language. Apologists who have taken the first challenge seriously have strained to show that religious statements can be verified by ‘religious experience’, or by an ‘odd discernment’ or (...) by an ‘eschatological verification’. Each of these responses raises further problems for the defender of religion, but in general they all are subject to their failure to provide an adequate criterion or standard by which they could be inter-subjectively tested. Facing in the other direction, theological apologists have attempted to justify religious expressions by showing that they could be subsumed under special categories of ordinary language; namely those of ‘convictional language’ and ‘performative language’. Although these defenders have shown that religious language has an ‘ordinary usage’, they have not shown that the cognitive elements of this usage can be reduced to the ‘use of ordinary language’. (shrink)
. Humans can be described as existing somewhere on a descriptive continuum between the poles expressed by the metaphors “humans are machines” and “humans are animals.” Arguments for these metaphors are examined, and the metaphors are rejected as absolute descriptions of humans. After a brief examination of the nature of metaphor, all metaphors are discovered to mediate between biological and cultural evolution. Contrary to the reductionist program of sociobiologists, religious metaphors that generate transcendent meaning offer a legitimate description of humans.
‘To be is to be the value of a bound variable’W.V. QuineIn ‘Should the Numbers Count?’ John Taurek asks whether the relative numbers of people whose welfare is affected by a given choice is ever of itself a determining factor in moral trade-off situations. No one raises a question like this unless they have a surprise, and so Taurek unsurprisingly concludes that numbers alone should not, or need not, ever be regarded as significant in moral decision. Taurek's strategy is to (...) argue that the common belief that, other things being equal, we are morally required to help the greater number is incompatible with other things that many of us commonly believe. He additionally argues that the preference for higher numbers in itself represents a dubious and confused way of thinking. (shrink)