dilluns, 28 de setembre de 2009

Bad arguments & dreadful arguments


In a sense Bogghossian makes it easier for himself by taking on more or less rational authors, specifically Putnam, Goodman, and to a lesser extent Rorty. Their views are reasonably easy to refute because they are, at least in the case of Putnam and Goodman, fairly clearly statet. It is much easier to refute a bad argument than to refute a truly dreadful argument. A bad argument has enough structure that you can point out its badness. But with a truly dreadful argument, you have to try to reconstruct it so that it is clear enough that you can state a refutation.

Boghossian takes bad arguments by Putnam, Goodman, and Rorty and refutes them. But what about the truly dreadful arguments in such authors as Jacques Derrida, Jean-François Lyotard, and other postmodernists that have been more influential during the last half-century? What about, for exemple, Derrida's attempts to "prove" that meanings are inherently unstable and indeterminate, and that it is impossible to have any clear, determinate representations of realty? (He argues, for exemple, that is no tenable distinction between writing and speech.) The atmosphere of Boghossian was a student of Rorty at Princeton. But he does not go into the swamp and wrestle with Derrida & Co.

John R. Searle, "Why Should You Believe It?", ressenya del llibre de Paul A. Boghossian, Fear of Knowledge: Against Relativism and Constructivism (Clarendon Press/Oxford University Press, 139 pp.), The New York Review of Books, September 24, 2009, Volume LVI, Number 14, pàgs.89-90.