Skip to main content

Steven Poole exchange with myself

I am now having a bit of banter with Steven Poole on the Guardian webpage on which his very negative review of my book appears, if you are interested. Go here.

Comments

Bill Snedden said…
Hilarious. One would think that a minimum requirement of reviewing non-fiction would be the ability to read objectively. One would apparently be wrong, at least insofar as the Guardian's hiring practices are concerned...
Skippy said…
I guess there are people that do and people that review. But people who review seem to have a privileged position in which they can casually distort about what was written and then poke fun at their mangled version of it. Lazy and dishonest really.
jeremy said…
Yikes! That's some high level misrepresentation by Poole. Quite appalling, actually!

For what it's worth, Stephen, what is the FULL sentence that begins "In order to refute humanism as I have characterized it, then, it is not enough..."?

Things aren't looking good for Poole in this exchange. Must be incredibly frustrating to be subject to this idiot's judgements...
Unknown said…
Mind you, the books that turn up in Steven Poole's short review box are often of interest and it is useful to have one's attention drawn to them, irrespective of the accuracy of his reporting - Stephen's being one good example.
Rocky said…
I'm always a bit skeptical of whether book reviewers read all these books that they review from start to finish, or if they do, that they read them especially thoroughly (the latter seems unlikely in this instance given the rather blatant misrepresentations of your claims).
Stephen Law said…
I can't get too pissed off about it to be honest - I realize it was a fairly causal knock-about review. But obviously I'm entitled to set the record straight when Poole gets things wrong. I didn't proudly announce that Humanism can't be refuted.

Jeremy, the sentence which Steven took to show I do think that reads:

"In order to refute Humanism as I have characterized it, then, it is not enough that one refute utopianism, utilitarianism, scientism or naturalism. A humanist can reject, or remain neutral concerning, all these philosophical stances."
jeremy said…
As I thought. Only an idiot could misunderstand that sentence in the way Poole does.
Hugo said…
"Otherwise the truth of "In order to refute the claim that Steven Poole is a moron, it is not enough to show that Steven Poole has said one stupid thing" would entail that "Steven Poole is a moron" can't be refuted."

That's not very graceful.

Popular posts from this blog

EVIDENCE, MIRACLES AND THE EXISTENCE OF JESUS

(Published in Faith and Philosophy 2011. Volume 28, Issue 2, April 2011. Stephen Law. Pages 129-151) EVIDENCE, MIRACLES AND THE EXISTENCE OF JESUS Stephen Law Abstract The vast majority of Biblical historians believe there is evidence sufficient to place Jesus’ existence beyond reasonable doubt. Many believe the New Testament documents alone suffice firmly to establish Jesus as an actual, historical figure. I question these views. In particular, I argue (i) that the three most popular criteria by which various non-miraculous New Testament claims made about Jesus are supposedly corroborated are not sufficient, either singly or jointly, to place his existence beyond reasonable doubt, and (ii) that a prima facie plausible principle concerning how evidence should be assessed – a principle I call the contamination principle – entails that, given the large proportion of uncorroborated miracle claims made about Jesus in the New Testament documents, we should, in the absence of indepen

What is Humanism?

What is Humanism? “Humanism” is a word that has had and continues to have a number of meanings. The focus here is on kind of atheistic world-view espoused by those who organize and campaign under that banner in the UK and abroad. We should acknowledge that there remain other uses of term. In one of the loosest senses of the expression, a “Humanist” is someone whose world-view gives special importance to human concerns, values and dignity. If that is what a Humanist is, then of course most of us qualify as Humanists, including many religious theists. But the fact remains that, around the world, those who organize under the label “Humanism” tend to sign up to a narrower, atheistic view. What does Humanism, understood in this narrower way, involve? The boundaries of the concept remain somewhat vague and ambiguous. However, most of those who organize under the banner of Humanism would accept the following minimal seven-point characterization of their world-view.

Plantinga's Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism refuted

Here's my central criticism of Plantinga's Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (EAAN). It's novel and was published in Analysis last year. Here's the gist. Plantinga argues that if naturalism and evolution are true, then semantic epiphenomenalism is very probably true - that's to say, the content of our beliefs does not causally impinge on our behaviour. And if semantic properties such as having such-and-such content or being true cannot causally impinge on behaviour, then they cannot be selected for by unguided evolution. Plantinga's argument requires, crucially, that there be no conceptual links between belief content and behaviour of a sort that it's actually very plausible to suppose exist (note that to suppose there are such conceptual links is not necessarily to suppose that content can be exhaustively captured in terms of behaviour or functional role, etc. in the way logical behaviourists or functionalists suppose). It turns o