Raisons de Res Publica [1] Short answers to some of your questions

What are the essential views and which non-essential at TU? Are we at Res Publica blurring an important distinction here? Where do we draw the lines?

The answer to the question about what are the essential and non-essential views at Taylor must be “It depends” — specifically, it depends on what is being discussed and what process is in view — and essential and non-essential cannot be defined as consequential and inconsequential, respectively. We at Res Publica understand essential views at Taylor to be those delineated in the university’s foundational documents, especially its statement of faith. Furthermore, we understand essential here to mean those views which the university considers foundational for beginning the integration of faith and learning at Taylor. Taylor’s foundational documents do not identify all the views which may prove essential for achieving greater levels of coherence later on in the faith and learning integration process. So, we accept those views which Taylor’s foundational documents deem essential for beginning the integration of faith and learning, but we all remain free to question, debate, argue, and disagree about those which are essential for furthering the integration of faith and learning. Thus, the delineation of essential views is relative to whatever subject is at hand and what stage in the process of the integration of faith and learning is in view. Here it is evident that we at Res Publica do not blur an important distinction between essential and non-essential views at TU. We are simply trying to help restore some clarity to these categories. Furthermore, we are not drawing lines in the sense of inclusion or exclusion from the community. Rather, we are crafting arguments and drawing conclusions about particular ways of configuring truths and non-truths.

Are our arguments actually personal attacks? Are we indicting some of our colleagues’ work because we oppose their views?

Arguments for particular ways of configuring truths will always implicitly pose a challenge to those who configure them differently or to those who resist considering their configuration at all. Freedom of thought does not mean freedom from critique or from the responsibility to validate thinking. We at Res Publica are of the mind that a person may argue for a particular way of configuring a body of truths as essential for responsible Christian thought and living in a particular area of concern. This person may also claim that such a particular configuration of truths exposes other proposed configurations as lacking rational justification and therefore as being non-truths, while other people will be free to disagree and to assert counterarguments which they think represent better approximations of the truth. In making a claim regarding such essentiality this person who makes these arguments is not saying that acceptance of their views is essential for involvement or membership in the Taylor community. Such argumentation also does not mean that any individuals who happen to hold the views being challenged are themselves being personally attacked by the one expressing the critique. All viewpoints do not have equal claims to validity by virtue of the mere fact that some nice person holds to any one of them. Having a desire to adopt and maintain a particular view is not the same as having a rational justification to do so.

[1] Combining French and Latin appeals to my philosophical and ecclesial disposition. Plus, it just has a nice ring to it.

P.S.: For a more in-depth discussion of these questions and related matters see my Raisons de Res PublicaDear Taylor: Why our challenging you does not mean we are “breaking-up” with you or “stalking” you.

VIEW FULL VERSION of Raisons de Res Publica.

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