On January 28, the British philosophers F.C. Copleston and Bertrand Russell squared off on BBC radio for a debate on the existence of. Abstract, This article has no associated abstract. (fix it). Keywords, No keywords specified (fix it). Categories. Bertrand Russell in 20th Century Philosophy. Here is the famous debate on the existence of God between Frederick Copleston and Bertrand Russell. The link gives you the transcript of the.

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You maintain, I think, that existing beings are simply there, and that I have no justification for raising the question of the explanation of their existence.

Copleston–Russell debate

It will help to explain changes in the matter of the moral law in the content of the precepts as accepted by this or that nation, or this or that individual. But it is impossible that there should be valid grounds for admitting A, which are not also grounds for admitting B. March 16, at I’m speaking strictly of mystical experience proper, and I certainly don’t include, by the way, what are called visions.

I can illustrate what seems to me your fallacy. Archive All posts by date. Something copletson exist; therefore, there must be something which accounts for this fact, a being which is outside the series of contingent beings. You distinguish blue and yellow by seeing them, so you distinguish good and bad by what faculty? And I can’t admit any circumstances coplesfon which certain kinds of behavior, such as you have been discussing, would do good.


You can sometimes give a causal explanation of one thing as being the effect of something else, but that is merely referring one thing to another thing and there’s no — to my mind — explanation in Father Copleston’s sense of anything at all, nor is there any meaning in calling things “contingent” because there isn’t anything else they could be.

I can illustrate what seems to me your fallacy. The vast majority of the human race will make, and always have made, some distinction between right and wrong.

He admits the experience is something inexpressible, the object is an object of love, and therefore, russell an object that causes horror and disgust.

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The infinity of the series of contingent beings, even if proved, would be irrelevant. The moral law, for example, is always changing. For you it has no meaning. Classifying Contingency in the Social Sciences: I can’t imagine circumstances in which they would have a beneficial effect.

Therefore, the series has not a phenomenal cause but a transcendent cause. That there is a contingent being actually existing has to be discovered by experience, and the proposition that there is a contingent being is certainly not an analytic proposition, though once you know, I should maintain, that there is a contingent being, it follows of necessity that there is a Necessary Being.

You’ve got to take account of the effects of actions and your feelings toward those effects.

A Debate on the Argument from Contingency

The Ethical Implication of Contingency. And that existence, in fact, quite definitely is not a predicate. You see, you can have an argument about it if you can say that certain sorts of occurrences are the sort you like and certain others the sort you don’t like. But, to my mind, a “necessary proposition” has got to be analytic.

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I maintain the meaninglessness of certain particular terms — not on devate general ground, but simply because I’ve not been able to see an interpretation of those particular terms.

Partial MP3 Audio here.

Basically, it is not that who speaks the most wins. Moreover, your theory explains moral obligation away, and explaining away is not explanation.

Frederick Copleston and Bertrand Russell: A Debate

But the possibility bdrtrand criticizing the accepted moral code presupposes devate there is an objective standard, and there is an ideal moral order, which imposes itself I mean the obligatory character of which can be recognized. Why something rather than nothing? It seems to me, if you will pardon my saying so, that besides your own logical system — what you call “modern” in opposition to antiquated logic a tendentious adjective — you maintain a philosophy which deabte be substantiated by logical analysis.

Well, I believe that when we appreciate poetry and art we appreciate definite poems or a definite work of art. An infinite series of contingent beings will be, to my way of thinking, as unable to cause itself as one contingent being.