Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Shelley Kagan vs William Lane Craig - Ethicis without God 2009 BEST TOP TEN

This debate ( audio | video ) was between philosopher Shelley Kagan and super-apologist William Lane Craig in 2009. The debate topic was about the possibility of ethics without God.

5 stars. Kagan lets Craig get away with very little in this debate about morality without God. BEST TOP TEN
Whenever the Apologeticbot-316000 William Lane Craig is brought up by (more thoughtful) atheists, it's usually conceded that Craig definitely lost this debate on morality with philosopher Shelley Kagan. I'm updating all my reviews (2015) and this still seems to be the ONE debate more agree on.

Kagan details his argument so clearly and in such an accessible manner. He starts off by making sure the audience knows that people have been talking about morality without mentioning god for a very long time. Such a thing isn't even atheistic, too, it's just that people have been trying to knock about moral frameworks forever and a lot times they forget to think about how maybe some celestial super-being might play a role.

He also presented just ONE such moral framework that can account for what Christian apologists (not all) usually insist atheistic moral frameworks lack, which is moral objectivity. This framework is Rawl's Theory of Justice, which basically purports that the feature of universal or objective morality is achieved by asking how we would treat one another/interacted morally/ethically with the external world had we been asked such questions before we were marred with our dividing biases.

Craig does his shtick but it doesn’t seem to be as intense as in other debates because the debate topic is so specific. Here is where we get a more focused speech from Craig on only morality. Craig is good at giving out a lot if nice, snack-sized arguments, together forming one larger case for his position. But when he has to flesh out a more specific topic, he ends up coming off less intense (if you need another example, check out his debate with Ray Bradley on Hell).

This issue really weakens Craig's position later: Craig keeps harping on ultimate significance as being really super important to objective morality and this is how he is able to dismiss the non-theistic arguments for being morally upright because 5 billion years from now the earth with turn to ash AND they don't matter if there is no god or heavenly reward.

Craig does say this in many of his other debates but it is dished out with several other arguments that his opponent has to respond to. However, Kagan doesn't need to worry about that here and we also hear Craig repeat this issue over and over again making it easier for Kagan to respond to it. And he does. Really well.

Craig also gets beaten up pretty badly in the cross-examination, Kagan doesn’t let him get away with the slides he can pull through his almost complete mastery of the art of formal debate. Kagan beautifully lays out contractualism and Craig attempts (not necessarily in a nefarious manner) to crap on the framework by asking “what if [I forget] doesn’t wanna sign the contract?” and this gets a laugh out of the audience but it also gave Kagan the chance to reiterate the key parts of contractualism to the audience and Kagan does so and does it perfectly.

One of the best debates out there.

Good but kind of choppy AQ and good VQ.

Other Reviews
APF review: 4.5/5
CSA review: good?
WK review: Xians always win

A list of mini-reviews of Craig's debates can be found here! 

Post Revision Notes
6-30-2013 I fleshed out the first paragraph introducing the debate a little more.
8-19-2013 I significantly changed the first paragraph. I originally talked about how Kagan didn't need to address Craig's argument from the resurrection, which is true, but it's true because Craig never actually brings it up in this debate. I've listened to a lot of Craig's debates and they all blurred for me. I also edited the technical  section.
8-15-2015 Updated the links and made myself sound less like an idiot...And I described the debate a bit more.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Don't be a jerk!