Academic Papers

A Defense of the Square of Opposition – The square of opposition in traditional logic is thought by many contemporary logicians to suffer from an inherent formal defect. Many of these logicians think that universal propositions in both affirmative and negative modes (traditionally called A and E propositions) do not have “existential import” for at times they can refer to a “null class”. Particular propositions (i.e. “Some S is P”) are held to clearly refer to actual existence and so the very notion of subalternation, where from, “All S is P” it is inferred that at least “Some S is P”, is erroneous.

But the reasons behind this charge are dubious at best, and in this essay I will examine a typical instance of this criticism and then offer what amounts to a traditional logician’s response from a scholastic perspective. It seems to me that with the scholastic understanding of supposition, there is nothing new in these charges that was not already explicitly or at least implicitly addressed by scholastic logicians.

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Nihil Est Sine Ratione: A Defense of the Principle of Sufficient Reason (Chapter 1) – Leibniz once said that without the principle of sufficient reason, very little in philosophy and science could be demonstrated. In a similar vein, the contemporary Thomistic philosopher, Norris Clarke, has called the principle of sufficient reason the dynamic principle of metaphysics, since it is in virtue of this very principle that enables the mind to pass from one being to another in order to make sense out of it: “All advance in thought to infer the existence of some new being from what we already know depends upon this principle.

 

Aquinas The Neoplatonist – IF ONE DID NO MORE than read through some of the Neothomist manuals of the early to mid 20th century, one might come away with the impression that St Thomas Aquinas was a thorough-going anti-Platonic Aristotelian. This is most evident regarding the medieval “problem of universals”, viz., the debate over the ontological status of natures and properties. Regarding thequestion of universals, the way these manuals usually cover this topic is a bit of Plato bashing for a page or two, then comes the Aristotelian “solution” of common natures being “in the thing”, leaving the reader with a strict in re and post rem answer to the problem and then these authors move on to other topics. But this “solution” won’t work for two reasons…

 

The Development Of The Ordinary/Extraordinary Distinction In The Catholic Tradition – Ethical questions surrounding end of life issues are concerns that those most of us living in the 21st century and beyond will have to face. The bioethical challenge is how to uphold dignity of human life standards in the face of an improving technology which is capable of conserving life much longer than in prior years, and of which it is reasonable to think will greatly improve over time. We are forced, then, to make fundamental moral distinctions about how aggressive we are to be in prolonging life. Some have adopted a “technological imperative” viz., that if we can conserve life we must conserve life. But when is enough enough? Is one who believes in intrinsic human value committed to indefinitely preserving human life in disregard of other factors?

IN DEFENSE OF THE FALSILOQUIUM – MAY ONE TELL A LIE IN ORDER TO AVOID HARM to self or others, and yet still avoid sinning in the process? From the earliest history of philosophy, we see divergent opinions on this matter. Plato permitted the “noble lie” to bring about good,  while Aristotle indicates telling untruth is always wrong.  This divergence continues through the Church Fathers. Differences aside, all recognize the moral dilemma involved with maintaining a virtue of honesty while at the same time dealing appropriately with the classic, “What do you tell a Nazi at your door when he asks if there are any Jews in your cellar”?