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Plantinga versus Dennett at the APA

Here’s a fascinating, anonymous account of the recent (Saturday, February 21, 2009) debate between Alvin Plantinga and Daniel Dennett at the Central Division of the American Philosophical Association (APA), in Chicago. The account is anonymous because the writer wishes to protect his academic career from discrimination — itself a fact worth noting about the current climate.

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8 Responses to Plantinga versus Dennett at the APA

  1. “Dennett tried to come up with an alternative to traditional Christian Ictus. He notes that it is an acronym and so he tries to come up with a latin acronym for Darwin. It translates as follows: “Destroy the author of things to discover the nature of the universe.” This was his last response. Basically, he is talking about murdering God. Dennett has revealed a deep wickedness in his character. I will never take him seriously as a philosopher again.”

    Wow. That’s kind of scary. Sounds like it’s straight from a Frank Perretti book, lol.

  2. I find that most atheist arguments are ridicule.

  3. I’ve just been listening to the audio file. I have to say I was disappointed. Too much of the discussion was completely off the track, and even when it was on track, it could have been much more succinct. I also felt that better arguments could have been made on both sides.

    I feel that it would have helped the debate if each speaker, at the opening of his speech, had been required to state the other speaker’s case as persuasively and as forcefully as possible, in the short space of two or three minutes. This would have demonstrated that they understood one another’s world-view. Although the two speakers crossed swords from time to time, I got the feeling that each speaker found it hard to get inside the other’s skin.

    Here’s a link to an old debate where there was indeed a genuine battle of wits: http://www.bringyou.to/apologetics/p20.htm . I was hoping for a 21st century re-match. Too bad I didn’t get one.

  4. Aside from Dennett’s usual anecdotal stories generating a few yucks from his tribe, it appears he gave away his secret by first, dismissing Behe as some kind of a hack when, having been asked to debate him at Notre Dame he felt compelled to invite a renowned biochemist from Harvard? He subsequently spoke on behalf of all real scientists dismissing Behe outright. It doesn’t sound like he really thought that at the time. Funny that in Plantinga’s rebuttal he remembered Behe to be quite formidable.

    Plantinga is a very precise thinker and low on rhetoric, Dennett is a clever rhetorician, but imprecise an imprecise thinker (at least of late). He simply redresses the subject matter into something other than the topic at hand. He was very unpersuasive, just as he was when he met D’Souza at Tufts last year. I actually felt sorry for the man.

    Thanks for the topic. I had hoped that Plantinga would have a chance at Dennett for quite some time. In my view, such as it is, the outcome is exactly what I had expected. Too bad this stuff never makes it in popular campus culture. The anonymity of the attached narrative makes that perfectly clear.

  5. 6
    caiuscamargarus

    Paul, where does it say that the student wished to remain anonymous to prevent academic discrimination? All it says on the page you linked to is that the author wished to remain anonymous, full stop. I can think of plenty of reasons why someone might prefer to remain anonymous. If you followed up on it and discovered that this is in fact why the author chose to remain anonymous, please indicate that fact in your post. If not, I ask you, for the sake of intellectual honesty, to remove it.

  6. @ 6

    I’m fairly certain you did not read the account, as it states quite clearly:

    “I wrote live comments on the debate/session. I prefer to remain anonymous for various reasons, in particular because I am inclined towards Plantinga’s position over Dennett’s and were this to become well-known it could damage or destroy my career in analytic philosophy.”

  7. toc # 5:

    Great point. So on the one hand Behe is a total pseudoscientist, on the other it takes a renowned biochemist from Harvard to rebutt him? Okkk.

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