Annotated Bibliography of Veatch's Major Works

Roger Bissell

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An Annotated Bibliography of Henry B. Veatch’s Major Works

In Chronological Order


Intentional Logic: A Logic Based on Philosophical Realism. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1952.

This powerful work is fundamental to Veatch’s thought and is as relevant today as when it first appeared, possibly more. This work treats logic as Aristotle did—namely, as an organon, that is, as a tool for knowledge. It challenges many of the contemporary positions found in analytic philosophy regarding the nature of logic. From issues pertaining to the character of logical forms and relations to the alleged primacy of the analytic-synthetic account of propositions, this book argues that the failure to understand the intentional character of logic lies at the very heart of many of the basic confusions and problems of contemporary analytic philosophy.

Realism and Nominalism Revisited. Milwaukee, WI: Marquette University Press, 1954.

This tightly argued and clearly written work was The Aquinas Lecture for 1954 at Marquette University. Veatch took issue with both Gottlob Frege’s and W.V.O. Quine’s characterizations of logic and accused both of resurrecting the ancient “problem of universals”—a problem for Veatch that had its solution in Aquinas’ “moderate realism.”

Logic as a Human Instrument. With Parker, Frank. New York: Harper & Row, 1959.

The work is for classroom use as a logic text, but it uses insights from Intentional Logic to explain concepts, propositions, and arguments. The first chapter’s discussion of the nature of signs is very important to not only understanding Veatch’s thought, but also philosophical realism in general. Also, the discussion of the Aristotelian, as opposed to the Millean account, of induction is very instructive and helps one to understand some of the central issues in the so-called “problem of induction.”

Rational Man: A Modern Interpretation of Aristotelian Ethics. London and Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1962. Translated by Garcia del la Mora, J.M., as Etica del ser racionel. Barcelona: 1967.

Two Logics: The Conflict between Classical and Neo-Analytic Philosophy. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1968.

Veatch argued that the neo-analytic view of concepts and propositions is unable to provide a knowledge of what things are, where the neo-Aristotelian view of concepts can provide such knowledge. In some ways, Veatch’s discussion of neo-analytic philosophy predicted the deconstructivism of Stanley Fish and Richard Rorty. There are also important discussions of the differences between scientific and humanistic knowing, what essentialism is and is not, and the significance of fallibilism.

For an Ontology of Morals: A Critique of Contemporary Ethical Theory. Evanston: IL: Northwestern University Press, 1968.

This sophisticated and important work does three things: 1) it contends that neo-analytic and existentialist ethics provide us with no recourse but ethical nihilism; 2) it argues that the Kantian philosophical device, the transcendental turn, ultimately provides no help to the analysts and existentialists; and 3) it defends the thesis that only an ontological turn in ethics can avoid ethical nihilism. The third thesis involves a fascinating account of goodness as an objective and natural, but also supervenient and relational, property as well as a defense of natural law ethics against utilitarianism and Kantian duty ethics.

Intentional Logic: A Logic Based on Philosophical Realism, 1970.

This is an unaltered and unabridged reprinting by Archon Books.

Aristotle: A Contemporary Appreciation. London and Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1974.

Veatch was a lucid and learned mentor of Aristotle, but he was never more so than in this work. Marvelously clear accounts of Aristotle’s doctrine of the four causes, the soul, and being qua being are provided by Veatch along with introductory discussions of Aristotle’s Ethics, Politics, and Poetics. Veatch argued that Aristotle is the philosopher of common sense par excellence.

Human Rights: Fact or Fancy? Baton Rouge, LA and London: Louisiana State University Press, 1985.

This work holds that only a natural law ethics that bases itself on teleology can provide a ground for natural rights. Neither a desire nor a duty ethics will suffice. Veatch’s conception of the basic rights of life, liberty, and property is negative, not positive. Further, Veatch held that the common good of the political community has to be truly good for each and every individual. Thus, what the state could claim as its function on behalf of the common good was severely limited, since the human good for Veatch was never some “Platonic” form.

Swimming Against the Current in Contemporary Philosophy: Occasional Papers and Essays. Studies in Philosophy and the History of Philosophy, ed. Jude P. Dougherty, vol. 20. Washington, DC: The Catholic University Press of America, 1990.

This work contains many important articles, especially from the 1980’s. The views of such contemporary philosophers as Quine, Rorty, Alan Donagan, and Alan Gewirth come in for some important criticism. There are also discussions of the principle of universalizability, right reason, ethical egoism, natural rights, and libertarian political theory. Finally, there are essays on the value of humanistic learning and essays challenging John Finnis and the so-called “new natural law theorists.”

Selected Articles:

“Concerning the Ontological Status of Logical Forms.” The Review of Metaphysics 2 (1948): 40-64.

“Aristotelian and Mathematical Logic.” The Thomist 13 (1950): 50-96.

“In Defense of the Syllogism.” The Modern Schoolman 26 (1950): 184-202.

“Formalism and/or Intentionality in Logic.” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 11 (1951): 348-365.

“Discussion: Reply to Professor Copi.” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 11 (1951): 373-375.

“Basic Confusions in Current Notions of Propositional Calculi.” The Thomist 14 (1951): 238-258.

These articles express in different ways, and sometimes with greater detail than Intentional Logic, the nature of Veatch’s complaint against so-called “mathematical” logic.

“On Trying to Say and Know What’s What.” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 24 (1963).

“The Truths of Metaphysics.” The Review of Metaphysics 17 (1964): 372-395.

“St. Thomas and the Question ‘How are Synthetic Judgments A Priori Possible?” The Modern Schoolman 42 (1965): 239-263.

These articles take up what was an on-going theme of Veatch’s philosophical career–namely the difference between the conception of the proposition in Aristotelian thought and that of contemporary analytic philosophy. These articles are worth reading if for no other reason than to appreciate Veatch’s dialectical moves.

“Non-Cognitivism in Ethics: A Modest Proposal for its Diagnosis and Cure.” Ethics 76 (1966): 102-116.

This essay offers criticism of G.E. Moore’s “open-question argument,” and a clear discussion of Veatch’s claim that goodness is a natural, but supervenient and relational, property.

“Kant and Aquinas: A Confrontation on the Contemporary Meta-Ethical Field of Honor.” The New Scholasticism 48 (1974): 73-99.

This work provides a discussion of how for Aquinas it is possible for the good to be an object of desire and so determine the will in the manner of reasons that serve to warrant or justify choices.

“The Rational Justification of Moral Principles: Can there be Such a Thing?” The Review of Metaphysics 29 (1975): 217-238.

This essay considers the question “Why be Moral?” and argues that neither a duty ethics nor a desire-based ethics can provide a satisfactory answer. But if goodness is an objective feature of things in the real world and also the object of desires and interests, then both a reason and motivation for being moral can be provided.

“On the Use and the Abuse of the Principle of Universalizability.” Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 51 (1977): 162-170.

This work distinguishes the principle of universalizability from impartialist and altruistic interpretations of it.

“Is Kant the Gray Eminence of Contemporary Ethics Theory?” Ethics 90 (1980): 218-238.

Kant’s influence in contemporary ethics is shown in this work to be the source of the egoism-altruism paradigm. Also, Aquinas’ view of rational agency is contrasted to Kant’s.

“Modern Ethics, Teleology, and Love of Self.” The Monist 75 (1992): 52-70.

This essay provides an argument showing how an ethics of self-love, if teleologically construed, can be universalizable, but not impersonal or agent-neutral.

[Note: Dr. Rasmussen informs me that another important article, "Non-Cartesian Meditations," was added to the bibliography after the pre-publication version he sent me. I will endeavor to locate and insert this information in the appropriate location as time permits.]

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  • 1 month later...

While browsing Google for entries on Henry B. Veatch, I came across a link to one of his more recent essays, "Natural Law: Dead or Alive?", posted on the Liberty Fund website, as part of its Online Library of Liberty project. This is a very meaty article for you fans of political philosophy and philosophy of law, and Aristotelians, Objectivists, and Libertarians alike. Here is a link to the essay:

"Natural Law: Dead or Alive?" by Henry B. Veatch

Happy reading!


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  • 4 years later...

The essay mentioned but never cited is:

'A Non-Cartesian Meditation upon the Doctrine of Being in Aristotle's Metaphysics', in Lloyd P. Gerson (ed.), Graceful Reason: Essays in Ancient and Medieval Philosophy Presented to Joseph Owens, CSSR, Toronto 1983, p. 75-100. It is principally an attack on the linguistic turn and defense of realism that is largely familiar from Veatch's other works.

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I wouldn't hold my breath on many of these works coming back into print or being made available in electronic format any time soon. Veatch was unfashionable when he was writing, and many of his more technical works are now outdated. So, for instance, For an Ontology of Morals, written in 1971, contains a nice critique of contemporary ethical theory, but ethical theory has changed a whole lot in the last 40 years, and his critiques of ethics from Moore to Searle have become somewhat standard. The book is still well worth reading for those who aren't already familiar with early-mid 20th century meta-ethics and naturalist critiques of it (or for those who are but want a concise but incisive treatment of the issues). But it wouldn't be a good sell for philosophers, who will be happier with more elaborated discussions of these issues, or for beginners to philosophy who won't be able to follow the argument very well and who will at any rate want something more up-to-date. So I can't imagine a publisher bringing it back out. Liberty Fund could bring out Rational Man despite some similar problems with it primarily because Rational Man is a less technical book and because Liberty Fund knows how to sell books to a specific group of people who don't care much about being fashionable. His book on Human Rights is still in print as well in part because it's a less technical presentation of the issues and, since it isn't primarily a critique, it doesn't suffer from the same problems of being out of date (it was also published in 1985). The situation would seem even more dire for his works on logic. It's not inconceivable that someone will bring these books back into print, but until the copyright runs out I doubt we'll see them available in electronic format.

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Veatch is "unfashionable"? There are "problems" with his works? How lucky that there are no unspecifiable problems with the works of any of the other thinkers and writers.

The cost of making works available via e-book is so low that any publisher with out-of-print classics on his hand should consider a program of getting them into e-book format.

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No doubt it would be cheap and easy, but that doesn't mean they'll do it. My claims about Veatch's work weren't meant as an evaluation (in fact I esteem them pretty highly), but as a sociological account of why we shouldn't expect to see them back in print or even in cheap and easy e-book format. The problems I identified are problems from the perspective of someone considering the prospect of putting the out-of-print works back into print in order to make money. I did in fact specify what those problems are, as you can see if you re-read my previous post. Any other works that have those same problems will, ceteris paribus, also be unlikely to be put back into print. You respond as if I were denigrating the contents of Veatch's books, but I don't think I said anything to give that impression. At any rate, let this be as clear as day: I'm not saying that they *shouldn't* be put back in print or made available in electronic format, I'm saying that I doubt anybody will do it.

Edited by djr
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  • 5 years later...

>> I'm not saying that they *shouldn't* be put back in print or made available in electronic format, I'm saying that I doubt anybody will do it. <<

So why don't we do it? Surely there wouldn't be unsurmountable copyright problems. All it takes is for someone to provide a copy and someone to do the work. To quote Francis Parker: "Anything approaching a fully satisfactory explanation of these phenomena [of knowledge] requires the co-operative efforts of all those who believe that there is a world of real existence independent of human minds and that this real existence can be truly known as it really is."

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