Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Blog Review: Conservative Philosopher

My previous blog reviews have all been very positive. This one will break that trend. In fact, I'm about to remove the Conservative Philosopher group blog from my blogroll. It was never particularly good to begin with, but now Keith Burgess-Jackson (a.k.a. Anal-"Philosopher") has enacted a shameful 'zero tolerance for criticism' policy, removing all comments and trackbacks. This seems likely to worsen the uncritically indulgent character of the blog, and I have no desire to support KBJ's intemperate rants.

It's a pity, really, because the idea of a conservative answer to Left2Right is an intriguing one. KBJ boasted that "[e]ven liberals want to read what smart conservatives have to say." Unfortunately, the conservative philoegos philosophers did not live up to my expectations. It would have been nice to read some smart conservative commentary, as opposed to commentary about how smart conservatives are.

With few exceptions, CP posts lacked the insight and rigour found at Left2Right. Perhaps the comparison is unfair, as the latter blog boasts a truly first-rate cast. But the CP blog does seem overly prone to unreasonable rhetoric and straw manning. See the criticisms from Clayton Littlejohn, Brandon Butler (Hat-tip: Leiter), and Dadahead for examples.

Ex-contributor Max Goss explains why he left the blog:
* discomfort with being associated with a loose cannon [KBJ] of dubious conservative commitment;

* KBJ's sudden disabling of the blog's comments feature and his deleting of old comments without so much as a warning to readers or contributors;

* KBJ's evident contempt for both me and his readers (the latter was best seen in the now-deleted comments; I expect they will appear in Google's cache in the next day or so, however).

Matthew Mullins adds in the comments:
I should have pointed out to all of TCP's contributors that on two previous attempts at group blogging Keith behaved abominably. In both cases Keith locked out his fellow contributors without so much as a warning or even a notice. Unfortunately for me I was involved in the second fiasco. I suspect that Keith was the kid who took the bat home when the game did not go his way.

KBJ has not responded well to these criticisms. Long-time readers of this blog will recall that I've taken him to task before for his immature reactions to criticism. A while later, I offered a critique of one of his arguments. When I emailed KBJ, politely inviting him to respond, his one-line reply was: "I did not appreciate your nasty comments." Readers are welcome to judge for themselves whether my post contained anything 'nasty', or if KBJ is just so intellectually insecure that he cannot cope with criticism.

Anyway, all this suggests that the failure of the CP blog may be largely due to one man. This has been a very negative review so far. But - KBJ aside - the CP blog wasn't all bad. There were at least three interesting posts. The best was probably Max's own, on 'rootedness', which argues that anonymity breeds poor character, a problem that community can help remedy. I also enjoyed Jim Ryan's Three Views of the Nature of Morality, and Edward Feser's Quine as a Conservative.

Max is planning a new conservative philosophy group blog, which I await with interest. I have some hope for it. As the above considerations suggest, there is some quality there to build upon, and he'll be leaving the worst behind.


  1. Richard , I'll also remove TCP from my blogroll. During the last weeks I've posted two comments on TCP. But both comments simply disappeared, without any sort of explanation. I don't think that this is a good strategy. Everyone of us knows how it is to get unpleasant comments. But in that case I normally EXPLAIN the reader why I don't appreciate the comments.

  2. I think you're being too kind to TCP. KBJ is probably the worst thing about their lineup, and his posts are insipid and tiresome. However KBJ-style posts look to me to be the rule at TCP. That style consists primarily of grandstanding rhetoric regarding the obviousness of their position and the moral and intellectual inferiority of their opponents. Some examples: Michael Pakaluk's post on why he's conservative, where he writes, "People who call themselves 'conservative' are, I think, generally promoting something good; whereas the efforts of those known as liberals are almost without exception destructive and bad." Another example, by William Vallicella: "Try this. The next time you are at a liberal gathering, a faculty party, say, calmly state that you agree with the National Rifle Association's position on gun control. Then observe the idiocies to flow freely from liberal mouths."

    I suspect that you've picked out every halfway decent post in their archives. I think the failure of the blog is not due solely, or even primarily, to KBJ (although he played a major role) but instead due to the general unwillingness of the contributors to engage in substantive discussion.

  3. I agree. The Conservative Philosopher should get the "worst philosophy blog ever" award. All they did was make generalizations about liberals (e.g. they can't argument as good as conservatives) and then circle the wagons when somebody called them out on it.


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