For centuries, metaphysics was one of the most respected disciplines. During the modern era and especially during the 20th century, the possibility of this field of study became the subject of doubt. Some claimed that even if there is a metaphysics, it is not in fact about the being as being but about our concepts of being. Other critics proclaimed this field to be highly speculative and they treated the metaphysical statements as meaningless. Finally, there was a group of authors contending that our discourse about alleged reality is not only carried out in language, but moreover, it cannot transcend the language. Therefore, they continued that the language should not be viewed as an unproblematic means how to get access to reality but as a socially constructed phenomenon based on the existing power relations. Furthermore, the concept of extra-linguistic reality is highly problematic and so is the metaphysics itself.
Despite all the criticism there are authors who still believe that metaphysics could be a general discipline studying what there is and what is even more important that it could be carried out. They are convinced that most of the objections of the critics are not well founded and they do not really force them to abandon this time-honored discipline.
In this paper I will try to outline some of the objections directed against the traditional metaphysics. Despite the fact that the criticism of the traditional metaphysics has some popularity, the arguments of the critics do seem to have their own problems. Therefore, I will try to show that if one embraces one of the most popular criticisms of the traditional metaphysics (to the effect that metaphysics cannot transcend the conceptual framework and study reality as such), one may end up in espousing a contentious epistemic position (skepticism or infinite regress or dogmatism). I will conclude the paper with a consideration of how to grant the possibility of a certain type of metaphysics and yet to avoid the undesirable consequences.
The structure of the paper should be as follows. The first section will present the criticisms of the traditional metaphysics. The second one will focus on the unacceptable consequences of the Kantian-style objection against the traditional metaphysics and the final one will consist of the concluding remarks concerning the possibility of doing metaphysics. Let me finish the introduction by a brief note on methodology. While the paper is concerned with a metaphysics it approaches the issue from the epistemological point of view. The paper does not engage in doing metaphysics but it tries to analyze the possibility and nature of doing metaphysics, i.e. of a metaphysical knowledge.
The author of the above paper is Eugen Zelenak, Catholic University, Ruzomberok, Slovakia.
The Fine-Tuning Argument (FTA) is a variant of the Design Argument for the existence of God. In this paper the evidence of fine-tuning is explained and the Fine-Tuning Design Argument for God is presented. Then two objections are covered. The first objection is that fine-tuning can be explained in terms of the existence of multiple universes (the ‘multiverse’) plus the operation of the anthropic principle. The second objection is the ‘normalizability problem’ – the objection that the Fine-Tuning Argument fails because fine-tuning is not actually improbable.
The author of the above paper is Neil A. Manson, University of Mississippi.
Aristotle talks about ‘the first philosophy’ throughout Metaphysics – and it is metaphysics that Aristotle considers to be the first philosophy – but he never makes it entirely clear what first philosophy consists of. What he does make clear is that the first philosophy is not to be understood as a collection of topics that should be studied in advance of any other topics. In fact, Aristotle seems to have thought that the topics of Metaphysics are to be studied after those in Physics (Cohen 2009). In what sense could metaphysics be the first philosophy? Let me take the liberty of applying the technical jargon of contemporary metaphysics to answer: the first philosophy is an account of what is, or what it means to be, fundamental. Things that are the most fundamental are not grounded in anything more fundamental, they are ontologically independent. This does not necessarily mean that first philosophy attempts to list the most fundamental things, although this could be a part of the discipline. Rather, the study of fundamentality focuses on giving an account of what it is for something to be fundamental. So, first philosophy studies a certain type of being – the fundamental type, and it may also involve an account of which (kind of) things are, or could be, fundamental.
The author of the above essay is Tuomas E. Tahko, University of Helsinki.
Natural theology is the part of metaphysics that studies God by using reason and our knowledge of the natural world. Natural theologians attempt to obtain knowledge of God by arguing from effect to cause. In this regard the contemporary sciences have an important role to play. For example, recent discoveries in cosmology and physics, which seem to imply that the universe was “fine-tuned” for life, have reawakened debate about the design argument for the existence of God. Natural theologians have an important role to play in this debate because they are the mediators between science and religion. Unfortunately, contemporary dialogue between science and religion has deteriorated to such an extent that, at times, both sides appear to be at war with one another. In an effort to improve dialogue and advance the discussion, I do three things in this paper. First, I discuss the primary barriers to dialogue between scientists and natural theologians. Second, I propose an expanded conception of science that will strengthen science and provide a neutral metaphysical framework for scientists to conduct their investigations. This neutral framework should be acceptable to both atheists and theists. Third, I argue that scientists cannot escape metaphysics and thus they should engage in interdisciplinary work with metaphysicians. Taken together, my proposals should also help to alleviate at least some of the problems currently hindering dialogue between science and religion.
The author of the above paper is Robert Anthony Delfino, Saint John’s University.
What are the philosophical views of contemporary professional philosophers? We surveyed many professional philosophers in order to help determine their views on thirty central philosophical issues. This article documents the results. It also
reveals correlations among philosophical views and between these views and factors such as age, gender, and nationality. A factor analysis suggests that an individual’s philosophical views factor into a few underlying factors that predict much of the variation in those views. The results of a meta-survey also suggest that many of the results of the survey are surprising: philosophers as a whole have quite inaccurate beliefs about the distribution of philosophical views in the profession.
The authors of the above article are David Bourget and David J. Chalmers.
The fundamental constants that are involved in the laws of physics which describe our universe are finely tuned for life, in the sense that if some of the constants had slightly different values life could not exist. Some people hold that this provides evidence for the existence of God. I will present a probabilistic version of this fine-tuning argument which is stronger than all other versions in the literature. Nevertheless, I will show that one can have reasonable opinions such that the fine-tuning argument doesn’t lead to an increase in one’s probability for the existence of God.
The author of the above article is Bradley Monton.
The so-called ‘parody objection’ purports to undermine the ontological argument for the existence of God by constructing parallel parody arguments that appear to prove the existence (or non-existence) of various absurd entities. In this paper I discuss some of the most recent and most sophisticated versions of the parody objection concerning the existence of ‘AntiGod’ and the devil, as introduced by Peter Millican and Timothy Chambers. In analysing these versions I defend the following hypothesis: The parody objection will always fail, because any parody of the ontological argument is such that either (i) it is not structurally parallel to the ontological argument (typically because its scope is too narrow), or (ii) it is not dialectically parallel to the ontological argument (typically because it makes extraneous assumptions to which proponents of the ontological argument are not committed). I argue, moreover, that once a parody argument is modified in such a way that it negates (i) and (ii), it is, ironically, no longer a parody—it is the ontological argument itself. Of course, one can hardly undermine the ontological argument by appealing to the ontological argument itself.
The author of the above paper is Yujin Nagasawa, University of Birmingham.
It is natural for scientists to employ a familiar formal tool, the probability calculus, to give quantitative expression to relations of partial evidential support. However this probabilistic representation is unable to separate cleanly neutral support from disfavoring evidence (or ignorance from disbelief). Since this separation is essential for the analysis of evidential relations in cosmology in the context of multiverse and anthropic reasoning, the use of probabilistic representations may introduce spurious results stemming from its expressive inadequacy. That such spurious results arise in the Bayesian “doomsday argument” is shown by a reanalysis that employs fragments of inductive logic able to represent evidential neutrality. Similarly, the mere supposition of a multiverse is not yet enough to warrant the introduction of probabilities without some analog of a randomizer over the multiverses. The improper introduction of such probabilities is illustrated with the “self-sampling assumption.” A concluding heretical thought: perhaps the values of some cosmic parameters are unexplained by current theory simply because no explanation is possible; they just are what they are.
The author of the above paper is John D. Norton, University of Pittsburgh.
In some of the most important recent work in religious epistemology, Paul Moser (2002, 2004, 2008) develops a multifaceted reply to a prominent attack on belief in God—what we’ll call the Hiddenness Argument. This paper raises a number of worries about Moser’s novel treatment of the Hiddenness Argument. After laying out the version of that argument Moser most explicitly engages, we explain the four main elements of Moser’s reply and argue that it stands or falls with two pieces in particular—what we call the Purposively Available Evidence Argument and the Cognitive Idolatry Argument. We then show that the Cognitive Idolatry Argument fails, leaving the Purposively Available Evidence Argument as Moser’s only potentially viable objection to the Hiddenness Argument. We conclude that Moser’s treatment of the Hiddenness Argument depends crucially on some controversial epistemological claims about certain of our moral beliefs, and is thus considerably more vulnerable than many have recognized.
The authors of the above paper are E.J. Coffman and Jeff Cervantez, The University of Tennessee.
In a formal theory of induction, inductive inferences are licensed by universal schemas. In a material theory of induction, inductive inferences are licensed by facts. With this change in the conception of the nature of induction, I argue that
Hume’s celebrated “problem of induction” can no longer be set up and is thereby dissolved.
The author of the above paper is John D. Norton, University of Pittsburgh.
Augustine and Anselm form a common tradition in mediæval thought about angelic sin, a tradition rooted in patristic thought and centred on their attempts to give a philosophically coherent account of moral choice. Augustine concentrates on the reasons and causes of angelic sin, especially in reference to free will; Anselm adopts Augustine’s analysis and extends it to issues about the rationality of sinful choice. Each takes Lucifer’s primal sin to be the paradigm case. Lucifer, undistracted by bodily desires and unencumbered by history, committed the first moral misdeed in an entirely good universe newly created by an entirely good God. The challenge is to give a philosophical account that permits us to understand how the best and brightest of all angels nevertheless made a sinful choice in such uniformly positive circumstances.
The author of the above paper is Peter King, University of Toronto.
Modern skepticism can be usefully divided into two camps: the Cartesian and the Humean. Cartesian skepticism is a matter of a theoretical doubt that has little or no practical import in our everyday lives. Its employment concerns whether or not we can achieve a special kind of certain knowledge – something Descartes calls “scientia” - that is far removed from our everyday aims or standards of epistemic appraisal. Alternatively, Humean skepticism engages the ancient skeptical concern with whether we have good reason, or any reason at all, for our beliefs, including the common or garden beliefs that are presupposed in our ordinary practical affairs. On this traditional conception, philosophical doubt is a projection of everyday doubt and the lessons of the study are potentially lessons for the street.
The author of the above paper is David Macarthur, University of Sydney.
The present paper challenges the narrow scientistic conception of Nature that underlies current projects of ‘naturalization’ involving, say, evaluative or intentional discourse. It is more plausible to hold that science provides only a partial characterization of the natural world. I consider McDowell’s articulation of a more liberal naturalism, one which recognizes autonomous normative facts about reasons, meanings and values, as genuine constituents of Nature on a more liberal conception of it. Several critics have claimed that this account is vitiated by the threat of supernaturalism. Responsiveness to normative facts is, I argue, a phenomenological datum that we have good reason to take at face value. I trace the source of the supernaturalist objection to a misreading of McDowell’s perceptual analogy with respect to value and a related failing to clearly distinguish physical and logical notions of an object.
The author of the above paper is David Macarthur, University of Sydney.
Philosophical naturalism faces a dilemma: take it as an ideology, and you face charges of internal incoherence, since the ideological stance itself does not look to be a deliverance of science. Forgo the ideological aspect, on the other hand, and naturalism becomes a merely subjective assessment, a cry of “yay for science!” that carries no normative weight for those who are not inclined to agree.
I first argue that both horns of this dilemma are sharp, and that current attempts to negotiate them have failed. I then give a plausible construal of methodological naturalism that is both ideological and internally coherent, and so threads this dilemma. Finally, I consider objections to this formulation of naturalism.
The author of the above paper is Stephen Petersen, Niagara University.
After a survey of the present state of cosmological theory and observations, this article discusses a series of major themes underlying the relation of philosophy to cosmology. These are:
A: The uniqueness of the universe;
B: The large scale of the universe in space and time;
C: The unbound energies in the early universe;
D: Explaining the universe — the question of origins;
E: The universe as the background for existence;
F: The explicit philosophical basis;
G: The Anthropic question: fine tuning for life;
H: The possible existence of multiverses;
I: The natures of existence.
Each of these themes is explored and related to a series of Theses that set out the major issues confronting cosmology in relation to philosophy.
The author of the above article is George F R Ellis, University of Cape Town, South Africa.
Philosophy of science has a complicated – almost schizophrenic – relationship with metaphysics. Studying topics such as the nature of causation, laws of nature, and spacetime, it clearly engages in activities that deserve to be classified as
metaphysics. Yet the academic discipline itself was born in opposition to the field. Carnap, Reichenbach, Feigl, Neurath, and Popper, for example, were united in a shared distrust of metaphysics. Their suspicion ran so deep as to motivate a search for a demarcation between science and non-science, and science and speculative metaphysics in particular. Philosophy of science appears caught in what Einstein (1933) calls the "eternal antithesis between the two inseparable components of our knowledge—the empirical and the rational." It wants to employ metaphysical speculation, but impressed with the methods of the subject it studies, it fears over-reaching. Philosophy of science thus tries to walk a fine line between scientifically motivated or grounded metaphysics and its more speculative cousins.
The author of the above paper is Craig Callender, University of California, San Diego.
Some have proposed that it is reasonable for an atheist to pursue a form of life shaped by engagement with theistic religious language and practice, once language and belief in God are interpreted in the appropriate non-realist manner. My aim is to defend this proposal in the face of several objections that have been raised against it. First, I engage in some conceptual spadework to distinguish more clearly some varieties of religious non-realism. Then, in response to two central objections, I seek to articulate the most promising version of the view. I conclude by discussing some practical and moral objections to a non-realist form of religious life.
The author of the above paper is Andrew Eshleman, University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
The free will defence attempts to show that belief in an omnibenevolent, omnipotent, and omniscient God may be rational, despite the existence of evil. At the heart of the free will defence is the claim that it may be impossible, even for an omnibenevolent, omnipotent, and omniscient God, to bring about certain goods without the accompanying inevitability, or at least overwhelming probability, of evil. The good in question is the existence of free agents, in particular, agents who are sometimes free with respect to morally signi®cant actions and who are thereby responsible, at least in part, for those actions and the personal character which is a function of and exhibited in those actions. The free will defender contends that if an agent is to be truly responsible for her actions, then she must be free to bring about both good and evil, and God cannot be blamed if such agents choose to bring about the latter rather than the former.
The author of the above paper is Andrew Eshleman, University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
Thanks largely to the work of Robert Adams and Philip Quinn, the second half of the twentieth century witnessed a resurgence of interest in divine command theory as a viable position in normative theory and meta-ethics. More recently, however, there has been some dissatisfaction with divine command theory even among those philosophers who claim that normative properties are grounded in God, and as a result alternative views have begun to emerge, most notably divine intention theory (Murphy, Quinn) and divine motivation theory (Zagzebski). My goal here is to outline a distinct theory, divine desire theory, and suggest that, even if it is not clearly superior to these extant views, it is at least worthy of serious consideration.
The author of the above paper is Christian Miller, Wake Forest University.
Immanuel Kant has greatly influenced modern philosophy, theology, and biblical studies. One of his most influential works is his Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone. While Kant never actually uses the terms ‘Jesus’ and ‘Christ’ in this work, and Kant’s project is much larger than simply reforming Christianity, he does clearly refer to Jesus numerous times throughout his work and interacts, generally in a veiled way, with Christian theology. This article deals with Kant’s veiled interaction with Christian theories of the atonement. In his Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone, Kant demythologizes three of the predominant Christian theories of the atonement by moving the work of atonement from Christ to each individual, leaving no significant role for Christ.
After a brief overview of these three major Christian theories of the atonement, Kant’s demythologization of these theories is discussed. A critique of Kant’s demythologization then follows.
The author of the above article is Drayton C. Benner, graduate student at the University of Chicago.
Philosophers and theologians have advanced a variety of arguments for God's existence. The arguments vary along a number of dimensions. Some are a priori; some are a posteriori. Some depend on a particular definition of God; others are more general. But they have features in common. They are independent of any particular religious tradition, depending on nothing more than a generally classical conception of God. They attempt to relate a potential believer to God by way of a
definition or description. They thus appear, if successful, to yield de dicto rather than de re knowledge of God. And they bear little relation to the reasons for which most believers believe.
My aim, in this paper, is to revive an argument for God's existence that does not share these features. It is primarily historical; it does not depend on any particular definition or description of God. It yields, if successful, de re knowledge of God within the context and history of a particular religious tradition. And it does express an important reason why many believers believe in God. Indeed, it formed the central argument for Christianity both in ancient times and in Enlightenment debates about the justification for religious belief.
The argument I will defend is the argument from miracles, also known as the historical argument. It has been receiving increased attention. Bayesian methods have revealed weaknesses in Hume's critique of the argument, and the so-called higher criticism that cast doubt on the historicity of the Bible increasingly appears methodologically unsound. My goal in this paper is to cast the argument from miracles in a general form, bringing out its recursive character, showing that similar considerations apply to base and recursive portions, and in particular that the argument becomes quite strong when applied to events in series.
The author of the above paper is Daniel Bonevac, University of Texas, Austin.
Is parapsychology a pseudo-science? Many believe that the Eighteenth century philosopher David Hume showed, in effect, that it must be. In this article, Terence Penelhum explains and endorses Hume's arguments concerning testimony of the miraculous, but also explains why he believes there is now evidence of sufficient quality concerning the paranormal to make further investigation scientifically worthwhile.
The author of the above article is Terence Penelhum, University of Calgary (Emeritus).
From the age of about fourteen my religious faith was marked by increasing intensity, a common enough teenage experience. At the same time, however, I was coming to have doubts, doubts that I found difficult to express since I didn’t possess the requisite vocabulary or ideas, nor did I have those around me with whom I could discuss such matters. When I was sixteen I discovered Bertrand Russell’s Why I’m not a Christian. On reading this book all the inchoate questions I had suddenly became clear. Russell’s book acted like sulphuric acid on the grounds of my faith; I found that they could not stand up to rational criticism so I abandoned my faith and, for the next 14 years or so, I was a convinced atheist—an atheist, note, not an agnostic for I subscribed to the principle that if there was no evidence for a belief system then that constituted evidence for its negation.
The author of the above paper is Gerard Casey, University College Dublin.
Recent years have seen increasing attacks on the "deontological" conception (or as we call it, the "prescriptive conception") of epistemic justification, the view that epistemology guides us in forming beliefs responsibly. Critics challenge an important presupposition of the prescriptive conception, doxastic voluntarism, the view that we choose our beliefs. We assume that epistemic prescriptions are indispensable, and seek to answer objections to doxastic voluntarism, most prominently William Alston’s. We contend that Alston falsely assumes that choice of belief requires the assent to a specific propositional content. We argue that beliefs can be chosen under descriptions which do not specify their propositional content, and that these descriptions—which concern the method of inquiry whereby a belief is to be formed—nonetheless specify the features of the belief that make it epistemically responsible to adopt. More generally, we urge that the identity of a belief is not exhausted by its content.
The authors of the above paper are Gregory Salmieri, UNC/Chapel Hill, and Benjamin Bayer, Colorado College.
Modern-day heirs of the Cartesian revolution have been fascinated by the thought that one could utilize certain hypotheses – that one is dreaming, deceived by an evil demon, or a brain in a vat – to argue at one fell swoop that one does not
know, is not justified in believing, or ought not believe most if not all of what one currently believes about the world. A good part of the interest and mystique of these discussions arises from the contention that the seeds of such arguments lie
in our ordinary epistemic practices, so that external world skepticism can arise “from within”. But is this contention correct? I doubt it.
The author of the above paper is Adam Leite, Indiana University.
Timothy Williamson’s anti-luminosity argument has received considerable attention. Escaping unnoticed, though, is a strikingly similar argument from David Hume. This paper highlights some of the arresting parallels between Williamson’s reasoning and Hume’s that will allow us to appreciate more deeply the plausibility of Williamson’s reasoning and to understand how, following Hume, we can extend this reasoning to undermine the “luminosity” of simple necessary truths. More broadly the parallels help us to identify a common skeptical predicament underlying both arguments, which we shall call “the quarantine problem”. The quarantine problem expresses a deep skepticism about achieving any exalted epistemic state. Further, the perspective gained by the quarantine problem allows us to easily categorize existing responses to Williamson’s anti-luminosity argument and to observe the deficiencies of those responses. In sum, the quarantine problem reveals the deeply fallibilistic nature of whatever knowledge we may possess.
The authors of the above paper are Kevin Meeker, University of South Alabama, and Ted Poston, University of South Alabama.
When was the state of nature? Rousseau views the state of nature much differently than other natural rights theorists, including Hobbes, Pufendorf, and Locke, and vigorously critiques their philosophies. While the differences between these two
states of nature are vast, a key distinction can be reduced to one concept; time. Ostensibly, the dissimilarity is the temporal location of the state of nature, defined as how far removed that epoch is from the present time. In this essay, I will explore the concept of when the state of nature was located. In the process, I will seek to vindicate Locke’s oft-attacked notion of the state of nature, and weaken many of Rousseau’s critiques. Further, I will venture a guess how Locke, if given the opportunity, would have responded to some of Rousseau’s attacks.
First, I highlight Rousseau's critiques of Locke's state of nature. In discussing these criticisms, I focus on Rousseau's argument that savage man in the state of nature lacked reason and language, could not consent to the social compact, and did not cohabitate in families. Contrary to Locke, Rousseau contended these human characteristics are products of civil society and did not exist in the state of nature.
Second, I explore whether Locke and Rousseau considered the state of nature to be a hypothetical or a historical period. I contend that both philosophers viewed the state of nature solely as a hypothetical construct useful to discuss human nature and civil society. Assuming the state of nature is a fictitious and hypothetical state, I query why should philosophers study it? In answering this question, I focus on Locke's purposes in writing the Second Treatise, and how the state of nature conveys that message. This analysis attempts to vindicate Locke's philosophy against cynical attempts to disparage his state of nature, and shows why it remains a valid and persuasive method to explain the origins of civil society.
Third, I propose a Lockean defense to Rousseau's critiques. Because many of Rousseau's criticisms are styled as if Locke actually viewed the state of nature to be a historical, provable fact, which Locke did not, many of Rousseau's critiques are blunted. I contend that Locke and Rousseau are answering different questions, and therefore many of Rousseau's criticisms are inapt.
The author of the above essay is Josh Blackman, George Mason University.
In his recent ‘‘Thomas vs. Thomas: A New Approach to Nagel’s Bat Argument’’, Yujin Nagasawa interprets Thomas Nagel as making a certain argument against physicalism and objects that this argument transgresses a principle, laid down by Thomas Aquinas, according to which inability to perform a pseudo-task does not count against an omnipotence claim. Taking Nagasawa’s interpretation of Nagel for granted, I distinguish different kinds of omnipotence claims and different kinds of
pseudo-tasks, and on that basis show that Nagasawa’s criticism of Nagel is unsuccessful. I also show how his reflections do nonetheless point to a limitation of the approach he means to criticize.
The author of the above article is Michael Gorman, The Catholic University of America, USA.
Throughout his career, Husserl identifies naturalism as the greatest threat to both the sciences and philosophy. In this paper, I explicate Husserl’s overall diagnosis and critique of naturalism and then examine the specific transcendental aspect of his critique. Husserl agreed with the Neo-Kantians in rejecting naturalism. He has three major critiques of naturalism: First, it (like psychologism and for the same reasons) is ‘countersensical’ in that it denies the very ideal laws that it needs for its own justification. Second, naturalism essentially misconstrues consciousness by treating it as a part of the world. Third, naturalism is the inevitable consequence of a certain rigidification of the ‘natural attitude’ into what Husserl calls the ‘naturalistic attitude’. This naturalistic attitude ‘reifies’ and it ‘absolutizes’ the world such that it is treated as taken-for-granted and ‘obvious’. Husserl’s transcendental phenomenological analysis, however, discloses that the natural attitude is, despite its omnipresence in everyday life, not primary, but in fact is relative to the ‘absolute’ transcendental attitude. The mature Husserl’s critique of naturalism is therefore based on his acceptance of the absolute priority of the transcendental attitude. The paradox remains that we must start from and, in a sense, return to the natural attitude, while, at the same time, restricting this attitude through the on-going transcendental vigilance of the universal epoche´.
The author of the above paper is Dermot Moran, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland.
A core theistic doctrine holds that God is the creator and sustainer of all that is. In contemporary analytic philosophy of religion, this is generally understood as follows: God surveys the array of possible worlds, and in his wisdom selects exactly one for actualization, based on its axiological properties. In this paper, I discuss an under-appreciated challenge for this account of God’s selection of a world. In particular, I urge that there are failures of comparability between various possible worlds, and I argue that these failures threaten the rationality of God’s choice of a world. This result, I suggest, threatens the central theistic notion that God is a perfect being.
The author of the above paper is Klaas J. Kraay, Ryerson University.
In this short paper, I shall examine some key structural features of Descartes’s metaphysics, as it relates to mind–body dualism. The style of presentation will partly be one of rational reconstruction, designed to present the Cartesian system
in a way that will be of maximal interest to contemporary metaphysicians. Section 1 focuses on five key Cartesian theses about principal attributes. Sections 2 and 3 examine how those theses play themselves out in Descartes’s discussion
of mind–body dualism.
The author of the above paper is John Hawthorne, Oxford University.
We argue that there is a tension between two types of design arguments-the fine-tuning argument (FTA) and the biological design argument (BDA). The tension arises because the strength of each argument is inversely proportional to the value of a certain currently unknown probability. Since the value of that probability is currently unknown, we investigate the properties of the FTA and BDA on different hypothetical values of this probability. If our central claim is correct this suggests three results: 1. It is not very plausible that a cumulative case for theism include both the FTA and the BDA (with one possible qualification); 2. Self-organization scenarios do not threaten theism but in fact provide the materials for a good FTA. 3. A plausible design argument of one sort or another (either FTA or BDA) will be available for a wide variety of values of the
The authors of the above paper are Trent Dougherty, University of Rochester, and Ted Poston, University of South Alabama.
The Consequence Argument is a staple in the defense of libertarianism, the view that free will is incompatible with determinism and that humans have free will. It is often thought that libertarianism is consistent with a certain naturalistic view of the world — that is, that libertarian free will can be had without metaphysical commitments beyond those provided by our best (indeterministic) physics. In this paper, I argue that libertarians who endorse the Consequence Argument are forced to reject this naturalistic worldview, since the Consequence Argument has a sister argument — I call it the Supervenience Argument — which cannot be rejected without threatening either the Consequence Argument or the
naturalistic worldview in question.
The author of the above paper is Jason Turner, Rutgers University.
A common response to natural theology arguments is to offer a rebuttal that I call “Hume’s Stopper.” It goes something like this: “Well, even if this argument is sound, it doesn’t prove theism, since the ‘god’ required by [fill in the argument du jour] is a far cry from the elaborate deity envisioned by traditional theism.” That is, one does not need to postulate a full-blown omnipotent, omniscient, morally perfect creator and sustainer of the universe in order to satisfy the requirements of the argument (a first cause, a designer, etc.). In short, Hume’s Stopper is the accusation that any natural theology argument, even if sound, simply does not prove enough.
The author of the above essay is James F. Sennett, Professor of Philosophy, Lincoln Christian College and Seminary.
In this paper I shall explore the parallels and contrasts between scientific and theological realism. I shall start by providing an outline of the various aspects of scientific realism before looking at these in more detail and in comparison to theological realism. I hope that by this comparison with the well-developed debates between various species of scientific antirealists and realists, that some light may be shed on debates concerning realism in theology.
The term ‘scientific realism’ covers a variety of related positions. These may roughly be divided into the metaphysical and the epistemological. The former concerns the subject matter of science. The realist and antirealist may disagree on the correct answer to the question, ‘what is particle physics about?’ Since such questions may be couched in terms of the reference of the key terms of science, we may regard many of the important debates concerning realism as debates about the semantics of scientific terms. Epistemological realists and their opponents take positions on what we can and do know in science or on whether our scientific beliefs are justified. A third area that links with both parts of the realism debate concerns the question, ‘what is the aim of science?’
I shall briefly consider each of these three aspects of the scientific realism-antirealism debate before looking at the parallels in the theological realism-antirealism debate. My conclusion will be that metaphysical antirealism faces many obstacles both in science and theology. If anything the obstacles are greater in theology, even though antirealism is a popular option among theologians. Epistemological antirealism (scepticism, agnosticism, atheism) is better grounded, but in science there are strong responses that do not have theological parallels. Consequently, the theological metaphysical realist is threatened by epistemological antirealism.
The author of the above paper is Alexander Bird, Birkbeck College.
Only one traditional objection to Pascal's wager is telling: Pascal assumes a particular theology, but without justification. We produce two new objections that go deeper. We show that even if Pascal's theology is assumed to be probable, Pascal's argument does not go through. In addition, we describe a wager that Pascal never considered, which leads away from Pascal's conclusion. We then consider the impact of these considerations on other prudential arguments concerning what one should believe, and on the more general question of when and why belief formation ought to be based solely on the evidence.
The authors of the above paper are Gregory Mouginand and Elliott Sober, University of Wisconsin.
On what basis does God choose a possible world to make actual? Theists typically claim that God freely selects exactly one world on the basis of its axiological characteristics. But suppose that (a) there are infinitely-many unsurpassable worlds from which to choose; or else that (b) there are no unsurpassable worlds, but instead an infinite hierarchy of increasingly-better worlds. On each of these scenarios, philosophers have alleged that God is unable to rationally choose a world for actualization. In the former case, God lacks sufficient reason to select any particular world, since there are infinitely-many other equally-good candidates. In the latter case, God lacks sufficient reason to select any particular world, since for any world there are infinitely-many better candidates. These considerations generate arguments for atheism, as follows. On theism, God is supposed to be the explanation for this world’s being actual, and God requires sufficient reasons for action. So, on either scenario (a) or (b), since there is an actual world, it was not actualized by God. In response, defenders of theism have urged that God need not have sufficient reason for choosing a world on (a) or (b): God may defensibly choose a world at random. In what follows, I evaluate this reply. In conclude
that it succeeds only on the enormously-implausible assumption that there is exactly one randomizer available to God..
The author of the above paper is Klaas J. Kraay, Ryerson University.
According to the doctrine of divine simplicity, God is an absolutely simple being lacking any distinct metaphysical parts, properties, or constituents. Although this doctrine was once an essential part of traditional philosophical theology, it is now widely rejected as incoherent. In this paper, I develop an interpretation of the doctrine designed to resolve contemporary concerns about its coherence, as well as to show precisely what is required to make sense of divine simplicity.
The author of the above paper is Jeffrey E. Brower, Purdue University.
In World Without Design: The Ontological Consequences of Naturalism, I argued that there is an important sense in which naturalism’s current status as methodological orthodoxy is without rational foundation, and I argued that naturalists must give up two views that many of them are inclined to hold dear - realism about material objects and materialism. In a review recently published in Faith and Philosophy, Dale Jacquette alleges (among other things) that my arguments in World Without Design are directed mainly against strawmen and that I have neglected to discuss at least one formulation of naturalism that straightforwardly addresses my main objections. In this reply, I show that these and other objections raised by Jacquette are unsound and, in fact, rest on egregious misrepresentations of the book.
The author of the above paper is Michael C. Rea, University of Notre Dame.
According to a widespread tradition in philosophical theology, God is necessarily simple and eternal. One objection to this view of God’s nature is that it would rule out God having foreknowledge of non-determined, free human actions insofar as simplicity and eternity are incompatible with God’s knowledge being causally dependent on those actions. According to this view, either (a) God must causally determine the free actions of human agents, thus leading to a theological version of compatibilism, or (b) God cannot know, and thus cannot respond to, the free actions of human agents. In the present paper, I argue that one can consistently maintain that God is not causally dependent on anything, even for His knowledge, without being committed to either (a) or (b). In other words, an eternal God can know the free actions of agents even if libertarianism is true.
The author of the above paper is Kevin Timpe, University of San Diego.
My goal in this paper is to show that naturalists cannot reasonably endorse moral realism. In defending this conclusion, I mean to contribute to a broader anti-naturalistic project. Elsewhere (Rea 1998, 2002), I have argued that naturalists must give up realism about material objects, materialism, and perhaps even realism about other minds. Materialism aside, I take realism about material objects and realism about other minds to be important parts of our commonsense metaphysics. Likewise, I take moral realism to be an important part of commonsense morality. Insofar as it conflicts with these important parts of our commonsense view of the world, naturalism is unattractive. Of course, one might doubt that unattractiveness counts as evidence against a philosophical position; but, as I’ll explain below, I think that naturalism is not a philosophical position, but a research program. Moreover, I have argued elsewhere (Rea 2002) that naturalism, like any other research program, must be adopted or
rejected solely on the basis of its pragmatic appeal (or lack thereof). It is for this reason that highlighting unattractive features of naturalism is an important way of attacking it.
The author of the above paper is Michael C. Rea, University of Notre Dame.
Eleonore Stump has recently articulated an account of grace which is neither deterministic nor Pelagian. Drawing on resources from Aquinas’s moral psychology, Stump’s account of grace affords the quiescence of the will a significant role in an individual’s coming to saving faith. In the present paper, I first outline Stump’s account and then raise a worry for that account. I conclude by suggesting a metaphysic that provides a way of resolving this worry. The resulting view allows one to maintain both (i) that divine grace is the efficient cause of saving faith and (ii) that humans control whether or not they come to saving faith.
The author of the above paper is Kevin Timpe, University of San Diego.
In this paper we argue that attention to the intricacies relating to belief illustrate crucial difficulties with Schellenberg’s hiddenness argument. This issue has been only tangentially discussed in the literature to date. Yet we judge this aspect of Shellenberg’s argument deeply significant. We claim that focus on the nature of belief manifests a central flaw in the hiddenness argument. Additionally, attention to doxastic subtleties provides important lessons about the nature of faith.
The authors of the above paper are Ted Poston and Trent Dougherty.
Although science studies the natural world and religion seems concerned with supernatural worlds, I shall argue that cognitively speaking it is religion that is natural and science that is largely unnatural.
The author of the above chapter, which appears in Explanation and Cognition, is Robert N. McCauley, Department of Philosophy, Emory University.
There is a long tradition of arguments for the existence of God. Early examples include Aristotle’s cosmological argument in Book Lambda of the Metaphysics, arguing that if there is change, there must be at least one unchanging and perfect being that originates all change, while the first chapter of Romans and chapter 13 of the Book of Wisdom insist that “from the greatness and the beauty of created things their original author, by analogy, is seen” (Wis. 13:5, NAB). This tradition continues, and indeed starting in the 1950s, analytic philosophy has seen an impressive resurgence of more and more careful formulations and criticisms of arguments for the existence of God. I shall show how the phenomenon of altruism yields a theistic argument.
The author of the above paper is Alexander R. Pruss, Department of Philosophy, Georgetown University.
On one way of putting things, incompatibilism is the view that in some important sense free will (and/or moral responsibility) is incompatible with determinism. Incompatibilism is typically taken to come in two species: libertarianism, which holds that we are free and responsible (andcorrespondingly, that determinism does not hold), and skeptical incompatibilism. The latter includes views such as hard determinism, which hold that we are not free (and/or responsible) and views that argue that free will is incompatible with both determinism and indeterminism,
among others. In this paper, I attempt to provide positive arguments against both of the primary strands of incompatibilism.
The first aim of this paper is to take some steps toward filling in an argument that is often mentioned but seldom developed in any detail—the argument that libertarianism is a scientifically implausible view. I say “take some steps” because I think the considerations I muster (at most) favor a less ambitious relative of that argument. The less ambitious claim I hope to motivate is that there is little reason to believe that extant libertarian accounts satisfy a standard of naturalistic plausibility, even if they do satisfy a standard of naturalistic compatibility.
The second aim of this paper is to argue against skepticism about free will without denying the presence of incompatibilist intuitions. Indeed, I am inclined to think that many of us do have incompatibilist intuitions and that they reflect an important aspect of our self-conception. What I
endeavor to provide are considerations for thinking that neither the shortcomings of libertarianism nor the difficulties of standard arguments for free will skepticism are sufficient for embracing skepticism about free will and/or moral responsibility.
I start with some methodological considerations about the aim of theorizing about free will. I then argue for the comparative implausibility of libertarianism, followed by an argument against free will skepticism. The last section of the paper considers the alternatives that remain for those who feel an impulse toward incompatibilism but accept skepticism about libertarianism and skepticism about skepticism about free will.
The author of the above paper is Manuel Vargas, University of San Francisco.
Many theists hold that for any world x that God has the power to actualize, there is a better world, y, that God had the power to actualize instead of x. Recently, however, it has been suggested that this scenario is incompatible with traditional theism: roughly, it is claimed that no being can be essentially unsurpassable on this view, since no matter what God does in actualizing a world, it is possible for God (or some other being) to do better, and hence it is possible for God (or some other being) to be better. In reply to an argument of this sort, Daniel and Frances Howard-Snyder offer the surprising claim that an essentially unsurpassable being could – consistently with his goodness and rationality – select a world for actualization at random. In what follows, I respond to the most recent contributions to this discussion. I criticize William Rowe’s new reply to the Howard-Snyders (but I endorse the spirit of one of his arguments), and I claim that Edward Wierenga’s new defence of the Howard-Snyders fails. I conclude that the Howard-Snyders’ argument fails to show that an essentially unsurpassable being could randomly choose a world for actualization. Accordingly, it fails to block an important argument for atheism.
The author of the above paper is Klaas J. Kraay, Ryerson University.
From a contemporary perspective, the work of the Frankfurt School thinkers can be considered the last grand modern attempt to offer transcendence, meaning, and religiosity rather than ‘‘emancipation’’ and ‘‘truth.’’ In the very first stage of their work, Adorno and Horkheimer interlaced the goals of Critical Theory with the Marxian revolutionary project. The development of their thought led them to criticize orthodox Marxism and ended in a complete break with that tradition, as they developed a quest for a unique kind religiosity connected with the Gnostic tradition and emanating, to a certain extent, from Judaism. This religiosity offers a reformulated Negative Theology within the framework of what I call ‘‘Diasporic philosophy.’’ In his later work, Horkheimer explicitly presented Critical Theory as a new Jewish theology. Rearticulating Critical
Theory is of vital importance today, both for understanding the current historical moment and for going beyond the oppressive dimensions of Critical Pedagogy. This article does not satisfy itself by offering a new reconstruction of Critical Theory; its goal is to offer a blueprint for a Diasporic counter-education that transcends Critical Pedagogy and goes beyond the emancipatory dimensions of Judaism itself.
The author of the above article is Ilan Gur-Ze’ev, Faculty of Education, University of Haifa.
Patrick Grim argues that God cannot be omniscient because no one other than me can acquire knowledge de se of myself. In particular, according to Grim, God cannot know what I know in knowing that I am making a mess. I argue, however, that given two plausible principles
regarding divine attributes there is no reason to accept Grim’s conclusion that God cannot be omniscient. In this paper I focus on the relationship between divine omniscience and necessary impossibilities, in contrast to the general trend of research since Aquinas, which has concentrated on the relationship between divine omnipotence and necessary impossibilities.
The author of the above paper is Yujin Nagasawa, Philosophy Program, Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University.
Many theists have tried to work out coherent accounts of the relationship between God and abstract objects. Some have contended that abstracta depend on God for their existence and nature. Following Christopher Menzel and Thomas Morris, I call such a position, 'theistic activism.' In this essay, I begin by examining some motivations for holding such a position. Then, I try to make sense of how abstract objects might depend on God. Finally, I object to theistic activism on the grounds that one who holds to it is committed to the claim that God causes himself to exist and causes himself to have such properties as omnipotence and omniscience.
The author of the above essay is Matthew Davidson, University of Wisconsin.
Two intuitions lie at the heart of our conception of free will. One intuition locates free will in our ability to deliberate effectively and control our actions accordingly: the ‘Deliberation and Control’ (DC) condition. The other intuition is that free will requires the existence of alternative possibilities for choice: the AP condition. These intuitions seem to conflict when, for instance, we deliberate well to decide what to do, and we do not want it to be possible to act in some other way. I suggest that intuitions about the AP condition arise when we face ‘close calls,’ situations in which, after deliberating, we still do not know what we really want to do. Indeed, several incompatibilists suggest such close calls are necessary for free will. I challenge this suggestion by describing a ‘confident agent’ who, after deliberating, always feels confident about what to do (and can then control her actions accordingly). Because she maximally satisfies the DC condition, she does not face close calls, and the intuition that the AP condition is essential for free will does not seem to apply to her. I conclude that the strength of intuitions about the importance of the AP condition rest on our experiences of close calls and arise precisely to the extent that our deliberations fail to arrive at a clear decision. I then raise and respond to several objections to this thought experiment and its relevance to the free will debate.
The author of the above paper is Eddy Nahmias, Florida State University.
This paper elaborates and defends an argument for saying that if God is necessarily good (morally perfect in all possible worlds), then He does not have the maximum conceivable amount of power and so is not all-powerful. It considers and rejects several of the best-known attempts to show that necessary moral perfection is consistent with the requirements of omnipotence, and concludes by suggesting that a less than all-powerful person might still be the greatest possible being.
The author of the above paper is Wes Morriston, Department of Philosophy, University of Colorado.
One of the most important aspects of Alvin Plantinga's paper, and of his religious epistemology generally, is his claim that some Christian beliefs are
properly basic. In what follows, I will very briefly sketch, defend, and present for your consideration an alternative picture according to which Christian beliefs are not properly basic.
The author of the above paper is Keith DeRose, Yale University.
Anselm. (forthcoming inThe Encyclopaedia of Philosophy - second edition.) (pdf)
Anselm of Canterbury (St.) [1033–1109], the greatest philosopher of the eleventh century, was the author of some dozen works whose originality,
rigour, and subtlety earned him the title of "Father of Scholasticism." Nowadays best known for his 'Ontological Argument' designed to prove God's existence, Anselm made significant contributions to metaphysics, ethics, and philosophy of language.
The author of the above article is Peter King, Professor of Philosophy and Mediaeval Studies, University of Toronto. You can also read Anselm's Philosophy of Language by Peter King here. (pdf)
The Paradox of the Stone is a familiar argument that purports to show the incoherence of the notion of an omnipotent God. This paper argues that the paradox loses all force once one accepts two plausible principles regarding the nature of divine omnipotence. The solution to the paradox proposed here is importantly different from the traditional one proposed by such philosophers as Mavrodes, Mayo and Plantinga. The paper also
considers, and rejects, a common strategy for bolstering the paradox, one that appeals to an apparent ability that is lacked by God yet possessed by ordinary folk. It is argued that the strategy rests on an equivocation.
The author of the above paper is Yujin Nagasawa, Department of Philosophy, University of Alberta.
Human rights are in desperate straits around the world. They are widely proclaimed, but brutally violated on a mind-numbing scale. The basic outlook which I wish to represent in this talk is that moral rights depend, for their effective implementation, upon a certain condition in human community. If the community is not one of a high level of moral substance (that is, not predominantly one of morally good people, both in official positions and throughout the population), then moral rights will, at best, degenerate into mere legal rights; and even then they will be continually subject to failure in the context of need, because the individuals involved in such contexts do not act to support them. Those legal rights - where they exist - will also be, at most, honored in the letter, and not in the spirit of human dignity, as Kant and those of similar moral outlook would understand human dignity.
The author of the above speech is Dallas Willard, Professor in the School of Philosophy at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
The works of Søren Kierkegaard and Ludwig Wittgenstein are generally conceded to be of seminal importance for their respective fields. But the mention of 'respective fields' already shows that there is a radical gap between the spheres of influence of the two authors.
A systematic consideration of the situation could result in a variety of theories concerning the origin of this gap. For example, it might seem to be justified by the disparity in the two authors' own fields of study. Kierkegaard explicitly claims to be 'a religious author,' insisting that everything he writes must be understood in relation to the problem of 'becoming a Christian.' On the other hand, Wittgenstein is clearly a philosopher: in his works the problems of philosophy are addressed in terms of the relation between language and world. These facts certainly document a substantial difference.
The author of the above essay is Charles L. Creegan.
The aim of this paper is to examine the difficulties that belief in a paradisiacal afterlife creates for orthodox theists. In particular, we consider the difficulties that arise when one asks whether there is freedom in Heaven, i.e. whether the denizens of Heaven have libertarian freedom of action. Our main contention is that this “Problem of Heaven” makes serious difficulties for proponents of free will theodicies and for proponents of free will defences to arguments from evil.
The authors of the above essay are Yujin Nagasawa, Graham Oppy and Nick Trakakis.
This article deals with the philosophical problem of how to conceive reality. The difficulty consists in finding a middle way between the claim that reality is unconceptualised reality and the claim that there is no difference between what is real and what we experience as real. In this regard, the pragmatic tradition in philosophy promises to provide us with some fruitful ideas for steering a path between the two. The author applies some of these ideas in developing a pragmatic realist philosophy of religion which is not reductionist and therefore acceptable for religious as well as non-religious philosophers of religion. First, he gives a very short summary of pragmatism as background to his proposal. Second, in contrast to the notion of realism in the pragmatic tradition he sketches the presuppositions of what is labelled religious or theological realism in present analytic philosophy of religion. Third, he distinguishes between ontological commitments that are metaphysical in character and ontological commitments that are not, drawing on Rudolf Carnap's idea of the difference between internal and external questions of existence. Fourth, he presents Hilary Putnam's criticism of a metaphysically realist conception of existence and fifth, Putnam's defence of what he calls internal realism. Sixth, he puts forward a pragmatic idea of the difference between observational experiences and existential ones in our lives. Finally, he applies this pragmatic philosophy of religion to the question of whether it is reasonable to claim that belief in God presupposes God's existence.
The author of the above essay is Eberhard Herrmann, Uppsala University, Sweden.
What, if anything, has Jesus to do with philosophy? Although widely neglected, this question calls for attention from anyone interested in philosophy, whether Christian or non-Christian. This paper clarifies how philosophy fares under the teaching of Jesus. In particular, it contends that Jesus’s love (agape) commands have important implications for how philosophy is to be done, specifically, for what questions may be pursued. The paper, accordingly, distinguishes two relevant modes of being human: a discussion mode and an obedience mode. Philosophy done under the authority of Jesus’s love commands must transcend a discussion mode to realize an obedience mode of human conduct. So, under Jesus’s teachings, we no longer have business as usual in philosophy. The discipline of philosophy then takes on a purpose foreign to philosophy as we know it, even as practiced by Christian philosophers. Under the authority of Jesus, philosophy becomes agape-oriented ministry in the church of Jesus and thus reflective of Jesus himself. In this respect, Jesus is Lord of philosophy.
The aim of this paper is to show that the epistemic force of religious experience is considerably less than Alston makes out in his book Perceiving God. Time and again we see Alston's critics offering what seem to them to be fundamental criticisms of his defense of the rationality of Christian mystical practice (hereinafter CMP) only to be met with Alston's response that the criticisms fail to interpret Perceiving God properly. I hope to show that if we concentrate on how far the arguments of Perceiving God establish Christian theistic realism, then we can break out of this stalemated debate. In particular, I shall examine the stalemated debate between Gale and Alston in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 1994 in the hope of showing how it may be developed with profit to our understanding both of Alston's case and of the epistemic force of religious experience.
The author of the above essay is Peter Byrne, Professor of the Philosophy of Religion, King’s College London.
The present essay calls for a readjustment and extension of the field of philosophy of religion as it is conceived by most of its practitioners. Philosophy of religion should not only pursue its old objectives of epistemology, ontology, and philosophy of religious language, to name just these examples, but consider religious phenomena in their entirety, including social and public dimensions. Social philosophy is a major area at the moment. Thinkers such as Jürgen Habermas and Charles Taylor write extensively on the importance of the public sphere in modern societies, and they even address the role of religion in this sphere. To leave the exploration of the social dimension of religion to social philosophers, historians, and sociologists of religion would be unwise and betrays a truncated view of religion and, thereby, of philosophy of religion. There is more to religion than its cognitive and moral aspects. This essay is an attempt to engage in a dialogue with modern scholarship on religion which rethinks its (re)location in (post)modernity. It is simply not true that the only proper place for religion in the modern world is the private sphere. The emergence of a public sphere since the Enlightenment offers also new opportunities for religion. Philosophers of religion ought to reflect about this kind of transformations.
The author of this essay is Arie L. Molendijk, The University of Groningen.