Just so ya know: there are two Susan Haacks
May 16, 2006 — 12:20

Author: Trent Dougherty  Category: General  Comments: Off

Just so ya know: there are two Susan Haacks
I saw recently that the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity (site was down for awhile) which is a Christian bioethics think tank and (I think) tied to the Trinity Evangelical complex is having a conference with speakers listed as “John F. Kilner, J. P. Moreland, Susan Haack, and Edmund Pellegrino.” I knew all those names of course and Haack’s brought to mind Kermit the Frog singing “one of these things is not like the other.”
I thought maybe Haack was there to make the conference “fair and balanced” but I’m pretty familiar with her writings (she writes on all the stuff I’m interested in) and I didn’t recall anything that would fit the bill here. Well, after digging around a bit I discovered that there’s a Susan Haack, MD as well as a Susan Haack, PhD. It is, of course, the former who will be at the CBHD event. The latter is a confirmed skeptic. I was really perplexed and intrigued for about 15 minutes, so I thought perhaps this post would spare some others the same confusion.
For what it’s worth, Haack’s writings on the nature of religious belief seem, well, underinformed. Granting that they are usually semi-popular works they still seem a bit amateurish. Perhaps that’s not quite the right word, but, like Dennett I suppose, she seems to assume that all the religion stuff was proved nonsense many years ago, not something that a modern individual takes seriously. That’s too bad because she’s got such a fine mind, I tremendous respect for her as a philosopher (in the disciplines in which she’s a specialist and in some others as well).
As a token example, the only time I’ve been able to find her refer to referring to Swinburne it’s from his popular book _Is There a God?_ rather than any scholarly work and she simply repeats one of Mackie’s complaints (the very non-Humean complaint about how the non-physical cannot conceivably cause physical events) and moves on. I’d have been keenly interested if she’d really engaged. It seems such a shame that so many good minds never really do.

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