Chapter Two

Which Philosophical Tradition Do You Disagree with Most?

Adams (U.C. Los Angeles): I certainly disagree with a lot of things. I have no sympathy whatever for materialism. I am quite opposed to most forms (probably all forms) of utilitarianism. Those are the first two that come to mind.

Beckman (Harvey Mudd): My strongest reactions are against those analytic philosophers who push philosophy into such a technical enterprise that most of one's time is devoted to mastering technical vocabulary and puzzles. Among philosophers of science, this is outrageously common, especially among those who dwell on statistical inference. Nancy Cartwright's recent book is an example.

Beckner (Pomona): Well, phenomenology and Platonism. I think they rely too much on analysis of problems rather than tying them up with reasons why or evidence for.

Churchland, Paul (U.C. San Diego): That's an interesting question. There are many philosophical traditions that I disagree with. I think that I would disagree most with the philosophical tradition that degenerates the role of reason, that invites us to become mystics. That invites us to give up or forsake our rationality in order to find satisfaction in some other way, either through meditation or through drugs or something like that. I think the road to understanding is the path reason will take us along. So I regard reason and intellectual honesty as being very precious indeed. Most philosophical traditions do.

Cohon (Stanford): In ethics I find myself disagreeing with utilitarianism most. In philosophy of mind [I disagree with] eliminative materialism. These are specific views rather than traditions. I can't say I find myself disagreeing with any traditions; rather, some traditions, such as that of Christianity from Augustine onward, have little to say to me--they don't address issues that engage me. The contemporary continental tradition is one with which I have trouble engaging (including Derrida and company).

Copp (U.C. Davis): I would say the so-called continental tradition, although "disagree" is not the right word. I find the topic generally to be unintelligible.

Dreyfus (U.C. Berkeley): The analytic tradition. I don't so much disagree with them; [rather] I find them not as relevant to my interest, though I respect their rigor and wish that the continental tradition had such rigor when it dealt with the important questions.

Dumont (Mt. Saint Mary's College): I do not have any particular enemies, although philosophers who try to be deliberately obscure and do not address real concerns from the perspectives of ordinary experiences are the ones that I find most odious because they seem to be pretentious and use philosophy to promote their egos.

Fischer (U.C. Riverside): I most disagree with what I would call a literary approach to the answers of the "big questions" because nothing is very clear. I like clarity and precision.

Friedman (U.C. Davis): Critical theory tradition. Muddle-headed to the extreme; moreover, their relativism is either self-refuting or unauthentic.

Jubien (U.C. Davis): Within the analytic tradition, I find myself in strong disagreement with anti-realism, with relativism (and pragmatism) about truth, and with the widespread assumption that materialist accounts of the mind are somehow "scientific" while, say, dualism is not. It would take many pages to say why I have these disagreements.

Kalish (U.C. Los Angeles): Well, I disagree with those philosophical traditions which try to build metaphysical or theological systems which are not based upon either some kind of mathematical foundation or foundations of empirical science.

Lambert (U.C. Irvine): Well, there is a very modern tradition sometimes referred to as post-modernism or deconstructionism. And I find myself completely in opposition with that stuff.

Lloyd (U.C. Berkeley): Strangely enough I would have to say modern analytic philosophy. This is strange because a person from the outside looking at my work would say that I am an analytic philosopher. I disagree with the focus on language. Here I am talking about English and American philosophy from 1930 to the present day.

Matson (U.C. Berkeley): The Platonic. Its conception of knowledge is ultimately mystical. It is suspicious of and supercilious toward natural science.

McCann (University of Southern California): The tradition I would disagree with most is idealism, especially absolute idealism. This is a perfect example of what happens when you let speculation just go completely unchecked. You can make all of these nice claims but none of them has any cash value.

McGray (University of San Diego): Some of the contemporary European philosophy. Instead of careful analysis, it seems to be concerned with lots of different ways of perceiving things.

Needleman (San Francisco State): Logical positivism.

Ring (C.S.U. Fullerton): My greatest disagreements are with the philosophical traditions which see science as the only legitimate way to understanding and which try to emulate science in their philosophical practice. Science is one kind of legitimate activity, but is no more than that.

Rosenberg (U.C. Riverside): I disagree with post-modernism because it has no room for truth, falsity, justification, or rationality.

Ross (Claremont Scripps College): The idealist philosophy because Plato's fundamentals and quotes created a lot of damage.

Shalinsky (U.C. San Diego): Contemporary analytic philosophy is often contrasted with continental European philosophy (e.g., existentialism, phenomenology); while the former seems primarily concerned with minute analysis, the latter is seen as engaged in some vast, overarching enterprise. From the point of view of an analytic philosopher, continental philosophy often seems to substitute gibberish for clarity and conciseness. I suppose this would constitute grounds for major misgivings about continental philosophy-- it certainly has for me. I have to admit, however, that the first course I took in philosophy was in existentialism, and they did seem to have something to say about the "meaning of life." I certainly have no quarrel with the substance of existentialist and phenomenological claims (in fact, they agree in some respects with certain positions in cognitive science); the problem lies simply in the unclarity and silliness with which the claims are sometimes expressed.

Wollheim (U.C. Davis): Any tradition that thinks that it can add to the sum of empirical knowledge simply through reason unaided by observation or experiment.

Woodruff (U.C. Irvine): I guess I would disagree with those who say that philosophers should not be technical. [Those who say] that philosophy is not interested in the search for truth, but it is interested either in edifying or making people have nice thoughts or drawing pretty pictures of the way the world is, or something like that. That I would disagree with. I would also disagree with a certain continental tradition that says philosophy is to be done in an obscure way--that the less intelligible a text is, the deeper it is. I see philosophy as continuous with science--that's the typical logical empiricist view. I would disagree with those who think that philosophy is not continuous with science.