A Society for Mormon Philosophy

It looks like “The Society for Mormon Philosophy and Theology” has finally decied to go public. You can check out their new website (very slick) at www.smpt.org. In addition, they will be sponsoring a conference at UVSC on March 19-20 on Mormon Theology. (link here)

As a lawyer, I thought it is interesting that one of the things that they cite as spurring the formation of their society is the increased awareness of the importance of the 19th century Mormon experience for the constitutional interpretation of religious freedom.

Note: T&S’s Jim Faulconer is the chairman of this august organization.

2 comments for “A Society for Mormon Philosophy

  1. Kaimi
    January 30, 2004 at 7:17 pm

    In this thread on the temporary comments, there were two comments made which I’ll paste below:


    Jim wrote:

    Nate, thanks for the plug. We hope that as many as can will be at the March conference, and we hope that LDS who are interested in an academic approach to theology and philosophy will join up.

    But I am only the chair of the organizing committee, not the chair of the organization. (No chair has been elected yet). Even my title is more or less meaningless; I’m the one who gets to say “okay, let’s vote” when it is time for the committee to vote on matters. People like Ben Huff are the real moving force for SMPT. And since we haven’t yet appeared in public, though we’ve announced our appearance, it is a bit premature to decide whether we are august.


    Bob Caswell wrote:

    Ben Huff? I think I know him unless there are more than one Ben Huffs. Give me some info on him.

  2. Restoring Lost Comments
    November 25, 2004 at 11:23 pm

    [Restoring Comments Inadvertently Lost in the WP transfer] :

    Ben Huff,
    extremely personable philosophy student at Notre Dame, single and handsome as anything, and one of the coolest names I can think of offhand.
    Comment by: Adam Greenwood at January 30, 2004 09:59 PM


    I’m curious about this phrase from the mission statement: “will take seriously both the commitments of faith and the standards of scholarship.” What does it mean to take seriously commitments of faith? Does it mean one must believe? Or?
    Comment by: Susan at January 30, 2004 10:29 PM


    Mom: that is a good question. I am not involved with SMPT so I can’t speak for them. I suspect that it means three things:
    1. Theological propositions based on religious belief can be used as a major premise in arguments. Generally speaking this is a no, no in philosophy.
    2. It provides a signal to people at certain institutions (read: BYU) that this is not meant to be a self-consciously critical or hostile forum.
    3. It puts participants on notice that there are limits to the kind of discussion that will be sponsored. This, hopefully, keeps it from becoming a magnet for those whose main interest is as critics of the Church, which would have the unfortunate effect of killing it off.
    That said, I suspect that belief is not a pre-requisite for participation. Respect for belief is. If you are a Dennett, Dawkins, or Lieter disciple who thinks all religious believers are stupid, please go elsewhere.
    Comment by: Nate Oman at January 30, 2004 11:03 PM


    So? Does this mean theological propositions must be based on belief? Are there alternatives to “self-consciously critical” or “hostile” that might not send off these dangerous signals? I agree about respect in belief–just wonder what limits on belief qualify one for civil, honest, respectful conversation about faith and the church. Belief is such a mysterious thing.
    Comment by: Susan at January 30, 2004 11:27 PM


    To plug for Ben Huff…
    i don’t know if he has shaved his marvelous apostolic beard; but he a rather nice guy, highly sought after by the single women folk, and also comes equipped with an articulate and piercing mind.
    Comment by: lyle at January 31, 2004 06:18 AM


    As of this summer, Ben was clean-shaven; this has not noticably affected his powers :)
    C’mon, Ben, can we really not provoke you into a comment? :)
    Comment by: Kristine at January 31, 2004 09:34 AM


    I doubt that any one of us has taken the time to come up with a set of criteria for what “will take seriously both the commitments of faith and the standards of scholarship” means. As happens in most democracies, we agreed to the statement without deciding what it means, so I assume that we probably each have a slightly different understanding of it.
    I doubt that any of us thinks that one must believe in order to take faith commitments seriously. There are plenty of examples of people who take religious faith seriously and don’t believe. Similar societies, such as the association that Catholic philosophers have, have similar expectations and don’t preclude either non-Catholics or non-Christians or non-believers from taking part. We see ourselves operating in much the same way as they.
    I can’t speak for Ben’s animal magnetism, but I agree that he is a very nice person who has put a lot of time into organizing SMPT. Others have also put in a lot of time (Dennis Potter and Brian Birch, for example, both of UVSC), but I think Ben has done the most. His passion is what is presently driving the organizing committee.
    Comment by: Jim F. at January 31, 2004 11:24 PM


    This is killing me… I know a Ben Huff who is my brother-in-law’s brother. I don’t know him that well but think he’s the same person you are all talking about. But maybe not. Someone give me some more info so that I can see if this strange coincidence exists.
    Is his father’s name Kent Huff? Does his family live in Spanish Fork currently? Did he move around the world with his family in the early part of his life (including lots of time in Saudi Arabia)?
    I guess I could just call my brother-in-law but that wouldn’t be nearly as fun as finding out through a blog where everyone seems to know this man.
    From what I know of my Ben Huff, it does seem like he would be extremely popular with this crowd.
    How does one get involved with the SMPT?
    Comment by: Bob Caswell at February 1, 2004 03:53 PM


    Bob…I’m pretty sure its the same guy. Check with your fam…but, the details you know fit Ben Huff as far as I know.
    Comment by: lyle at February 2, 2004 01:42 PM


    Bob: It’s the same Ben Huff. If you want to get involved in SMPT, the best thing to do is start at the website: http://www.smpt.org
    Comment by: Jim F. at February 3, 2004 12:31 AM


    Hi all; I would have showed up sooner if I’d known so many of my favorite people were conversing here! Jim just clued me in this morning. I wish I had the willpower to keep listening in silence! But I can’t resist commenting on SMPT, when it’s a conversation with you folks : )
    Nate and Jim pretty well covered the business about taking faith seriously. But to develop Nate’s point a bit: it will be not just acceptable but typical to start from believing LDS assumptions in SMPT’s discussions.
    You don’t have to believe to belong at SMPT, but if you submit a paper that simply begins from the assumption that a typical or standard LDS belief is false, we’re not going to be interested. Departure from typical or standard LDS beliefs in our fora will call for explanation of how and why, in a way that shows you can appreciate the sort of reasons smart LDS people have for believing the way they do, or at least you’re interested in hearing those reasons in response to your paper.
    Note also that I didn’t say it would be typical to *argue* for standard LDS beliefs, either. Arguments for or against basics of LDS belief have a place at SMPT, but if either critical or apologetic work becomes more than a minority of the program, we’re off track in my book. The critical discussions I have encountered tend to be seriously underinformed about what LDS beliefs really are and/or should be (given our authoritative sources), and a preoccupation with apologetics can lead to the same problem.
    What I’m most interested in — and our program for March is right on here — is discussions of what LDS beliefs are and ought to be, of how they fit together with each other and with other things we’re inclined to believe, and of what the range of faithful interpretations is. Which will tend to be primarily a discussion by believers for believers.
    Jim is right that he’s not the chairman of SMPT, since there isn’t one yet, but he’s too modest about his role: Jim is a primary source of sense and sanity in the way we proceed! tho I often have to dig it out of him : )
    As for the beard, I’m still shaving, but the biting wind off the Great Lakes is seriously eroding my resolve!
    Comment by: Ben Huff at February 5, 2004 05:17 PM

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