Thank you for visiting.
I’m Keith Buhler, a philosopher and classical educator, and host of the Classical Academy Podcast, which offers a friendly introduction to classical education.
This site is a guide to my personal interests and professional activities.
You may want to check out:
- my current projects in philosophy, education, and arts
- my academic research to dialog about virtue and wisdom
- the “Buhler Report”, a blog with recent reflections on sundry topics such as books, culture, parenting, movies, politics, and living intentionally
My life mission is to help people of all ages to pursue virtue and wisdom. The pursuit of wisdom informs my teaching, coaching, and other activities.
In my day job, I’m a humanities teacher and academic philosopher with a special interest in virtue ethics.
I teach online philosophy courses for Asbury University and dual-credit philosophy courses at a classical Christian school, (plus other courses as needed, such as: theology, history, Greek language, Spanish, and drama.)
In other areas of the classical education renewal, I serve as a board member of two other classical schools and recently became an Alcuin Fellow (West Coast chapter).
Virtue is possible but it requires hard work and practice. We all need to “try on” the practical skills that bring about human flourishing, even if we wobble and sometimes fail. These skills include listening well, being proactive, self-discipline, serving others, prayer, and spiritual discipline.
I’m currently developing and implementing a 10th grade philosophy course introducing students to Plato and Aristotle by reading the whole Republic and the whole Nicomachean Ethics, as well as teaching them to write and argue using the medieval “disputatio” format (a la Aquinas).
In 2018, I gave a lecture entitled “Philosophy for Everyone” at Trinity Classical Academy, introducing our community to the nature and value of philosophy.
Last summer, I spoke at the ACCS conference on “Assessing for Virtue”. and received positive feedback from the 120 teachers, admin, and parents in attendance.
Around the same time, I had the privilege of interviewing Dr. Robert George of Princeton for my YouTube channel.
Before that, I did audio interviews with Eric Silverman, David Bradshaw, and JP Moreland for my Christian Philosophers podcast.
It’s the time of year again when I prepare to teach an online Intro to Philosophy summer course at Asbury University.
The opening unit is on moral or cultural relativism and moral realism or objectivity. So we have to think about whether morality is real. Are some things really wrong? Or is everything permissible? Does ‘permissible’ depend on what you can get away with in your particular setting? Does it depend on your individual conscience or universal rules?
On the “no, morality isn’t real, it’s a cultural artifact like dress codes, etiquette, and tribal medicine” side we read a nice little article by anthropologist Ruth Benedict outlining the widely varying cultural practices of different societies.
On “yes, morality is real and somethings are really wrong, dummy” side we read a nice little article by James Rachels.
Between these two, Rachels has the upper hand. There are better defenses of a skeptical or cynical attitude toward morality –Thrasymachus, Nietzche, Gilbert Harman, Simon Blackburn’s quasi-realism, and others. There are also better arguments for moral reality.
That got me thinking: What are the best arguments for morality? Here’s my list:
1. Peter Kreeft, Summa Philosophica, Q VII, “Whether there is a Moral Law?”
In 2 pages, Kreeft puts all the best arguments and counter arguments in one place. It’s airtight, and also funny.
#2. Russ Shafer-Landau, Moral Realism
Shafer-Landau’s book is not 2 pages, and it’s more technical, but it includes some persuasive destruction of the anti-realist arguments, along with a full defense of moral reality and one possible explanation of how it all works.
#3. Peter Geach, the Virtues
The first few chapters.
He has to clear the way for his full discussion of the cardinal virtues. He demolishes the paltry line of thought that morality isn’t real because some people act immorally sometimes.
#4. David Enoch, “How is moral disagreement a problem for moral realism?”
Again, this ones a bit technical compared to Geach or Kreeft but this article is the best attempt anyone has ever made (including moral anti-realists and relativists) at actually stating the argument from moral disagreement explicitly. It turns out that being clear makes the argument much less persuasive. Put differently, the argument for relativism depends on innuendo, suggestion. It is sophistry.
#5. CS Lewis, Mere Christianity, Book I.
Lewis lays out an argument, in terms the radio-listening public of 1950’s England could easily follow, for why moral disagreement proves that moral rules are real. (We wouldn’t argue over subjective feelings.)
#6. CS Lewis, Abolition of Man
Lewis’s more mature, robust, and academic offering on a similar topic. Not only does he defend moral realism against specious and shallow appeals to “instinct”, “biology”, or cultural code, but he goes beyond to analyze the real nature of immorality. The Abolition of Man defends the “tao”, a set of universal moral laws that are visible to every morally decent person but invisible to the type of Unman our culture is busy creating.
That’s my list of the best arguments, or those which have had perhaps the most influence on my way of thinking.
Interview with English professor and CS Lewis scholar Louis Markos Real virtue wins out every time.
Interview with Christian philosopher Eric Silverman How Christians can succeed in academic philosopher. How a thoughtful reflection on Christianity’s view of love inspires his ethical work.
“Life is Suffering”, and other Jordan Peterson quotations “We don’t understand the world. I do think the world is more like a musical masterpiece than it is like anything else. And things are oddly connected.”
This Classic Text Explains why Classical Education is Best – If you haven’t read the Yale Report, it is very good. The “Yale Report of 1828” is one of the “most influential documents in the history of American higher education” according to R.J. O’Hara. It is still a pleasure to read, and its influence should not wane.
In 2017, completed a philosophy book (as of yet unpublished), titled Becoming What We Are. It defends Aristotle’s ethics in light of scientific naturalism – and offers a tendentious definition of scientific naturalism.
In 2012, I published a my first book, Sola Scriptura, a Platonic dialogue consisting of of various Christians discussing Scripture and Tradition.