Friday, January 13, 2017

CfP: The Pantheism and Panentheism Project Summer Stipend Program

Submission deadline: April 15, 2017

Details

The Pantheism and Panentheism Project, funded by the John Templeton Foundation, welcomes applications for summer stipends from scholars and writers who wish to spend the summer writing a paper for publication in a peer-reviewed academic journal, a reputable magazine (if they wish to write for a popular audience), or an edited collection to be published by a leading academic publisher. We offer £1000 each to 10 applicants in the summer of 2017 and 9 awards of £1000 each in the summer of 2018. Co-authors are welcome to apply together but they will be awarded only one joint stipend of £1000.

Application Process:

Applicants are required to submit the following items electronically:

· A curriculum vitae

· An project abstract of no more than 200 words

· A project proposal of 1000-1500 words

Please email all of the above as a single PDF document by 15 April 2017 to spinozawhitehead@gmail.com

The Pantheism and Panentheism Project focuses on the following three main problems. Applicants are required to address at least one of these problems directly or indirectly from a philosophical, historical, theological or scientific perspective. It is not required that applicants defend pantheism or panentheism. Applications from critics of these views are also welcome.

· The problem of personality: Pantheism and panentheism say that the cosmos is identical with, is constituted by, or is part of God. This appears to suggest that, contrary to the classical theistic view, God is not a person or a personal being. Critics claim that this is problematic because a concept of God that is non-personal does not seem to be adequate for theological discourse. Can pantheists and panentheists respond to this problem by developing a plausible account of personhood that makes the pantheistic or panentheistic God qualify as a person or a personal being?

· The problem of unity: Classical theists maintain the doctrine of creation ex nihilo, according to which God created the cosmos out of nothing. This doctrine entails that God is ontologically distinct from the cosmos. Classical theists face the following intractable question: How could God, who is understood by classical theists as an incorporeal, timeless, changeless being, create the cosmos, which consists of matter, time and space, out of nothing? Pantheists and panentheists avoid such a question by maintaining that the cosmos is not ontologically distinct from God. Yet it is not very clear how the cosmos, which includes an extremely large number of entities, can be considered a single, unified entity that can be described as divine. Can pantheists and panentheists coherently maintain that the cosmos is a unified whole?

· The problem of evil: Classical theists face the problem of evil because they maintain that the cosmos, which includes apparently pointless pain and suffering, was created by an all-powerful and all-good God. One of the main virtues of pantheism and panentheism is that they do not face this problem. Since they do not postulate the existence of an all-powerful and all-good God the problem of evil for classical theists cannot be directed at them. However, pantheism and panentheism do face a variation on the same problem: How could the cosmos be identical with or be part of God if it contains apparently gratuitous pain and suffering?

Selection Criteria:

The selection criteria are (i) the quality of the abstract, (ii) relevance to the project topics and (iii) the applicant’s publication track record.

Project Leaders:

Andrei Buckareff (Marist College, USA) 

andrei.buckareff@marist.edu

Yujin Nagasawa (University of Birmingham, UK)

Y.Nagasawa@bham.ac.uk

(via)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

New Volume on God and the Meaning of LIfe


Seachris, Joshua W. and Stewart Goetz (eds.) God and Meaning: New Essays. Bloomsbury, 2016.

Mawson's New Book on God and the Meaning(s) of LIfe


Mawson, T.J. , God and the Meanings of Life: What God Could and Couldn't Do to Make Our Lives More Meaningful. Bloomsbury, 2016.

Benton's New Paper on Religious Diversity and the Epistemology of Disagreement

Benton, Matthew. "Religious Diversity and Disagreement", In N. J. L. L. Pedersen, M. Fricker, P. Graham & D. Henderson (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Social Epistemology. Routledge (forthcoming).

Here's the abstract:
Epistemologists have shown increased interest in the epistemic significance of disagreement, and in particular, in whether there is a rational requirement concerning belief revision in the face of peer disagreement. This article examines some of the general issues discussed by epistemologists, and then considers how they may or may not apply to the case of religious disagreement, both within religious traditions and between religious (and non-religious) views.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Andrew Moon's New Paper on Recent Work in Reformed Epistemology...

...in the latest issue of Philosophy Compass. Here's the abstract:
Reformed epistemology, roughly, is the thesis that religious belief can be rational without argument. After providing some background, I present Plantinga's defense of reformed epistemology and its influence on religious debunking arguments. I then discuss three objections to Plantinga's arguments that arise from the following topics: skeptical theism, cognitive science of religion, and basicality. I then show how reformed epistemology has recently been undergirded by a number of epistemological theories, including phenomenal conservatism and virtue epistemology. I end by noting that a good objection to reformed epistemology must criticize either a substantive epistemological theory or the application of that theory to religious belief; I also show that the famous Great Pumpkin Objection is an example of the former.
And if a copy should make its way to my inbox...

UPDATE: Thanks!

Klaas Kraay's New Survey Aricles on God and Gratuitous Evil...

...in the latest issue of Philosophy Compass: "God and Gratuitous Evil (Part I)" and "God and Gratuitous Evil (Part II)". Here's the abstract:
In contemporary analytic philosophy, the problem of evil refers to a family of arguments that attempt to show, by appeal to evil, that God does not (or probably does not) exist. Some very important arguments in this family focus on gratuitous evil. Most participants in the relevant discussions, including theists and atheists, agree that God is able to prevent all gratuitous evil and that God would do so. On this view, of course, the occurrence of even a single instance of gratuitous evil falsifies theism. The most common response to such arguments attempts to cast doubt on the claim that gratuitous evil really occurs. The focus of these two survey papers will be a different response—one that has received less attention in the literature. This response attempts to show that God and gratuitous evil are compatible. If it succeeds, then the occurrence of gratuitous evil does not, after all, count against theism. After introducing some key terms, I survey the literature surrounding the attempts by Michael Peterson and John Hick to execute this strategy. In a follow-up paper, I discuss the attempts of William Hasker, Peter van Inwagen, and Michael Almeida, respectively.

And if copies should find their way to my inbox, I wouldn't mind it in the least.

UPDATE: Thanks!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

New Paper on Skeptical Theism and the Parent Analogy

Rutledge, John Curtis. "The Parent Analogy: A Reassessment", International Journal for Philosophy of Religion (forthcoming). Here's the abstract:
According to the parent analogy, as a caretaker’s goodness, ability and intelligence increase, the likelihood that the caretaker will make arrangements for the attainment of future goods that are unnoticed or underappreciated by their dependents also increases. Consequently, if this analogy accurately represents our relationship to God, then we should expect to find many instances of inscrutable evil in the world. This argument in support of skeptical theism has recently been criticized by Dougherty. I argue that Dougherty’s argument is incomplete, for there are two plausible ways of construing the parent analogy’s conclusion. I supplement Dougherty’s case by offering a new argument against the parent analogy based on failed expectations concerning the amount of inscrutable evils encountered in the world. Consequently, there remains a significant empirical hurdle for skeptical theism to overcome if it is to maintain its status as a defeater for our reliability when tracking gratuitous evils.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Epircurean Cosmological Arguments for Matter's Necessity

One can find, through the writings of Lucretius, a powerful yet simple Epicurean argument for matter's (factual or metaphysical) necessity. In simplest terms, the argument is that since matter exists, and since nothing can come from nothing, matter is eternal and uncreated, and is therefore at least a factually necessary being. 

A stronger version of Epicurus' core argument can be developed by adding an appeal to something in the neighborhood of origin essentialism. The basic line of reasoning here is that being uncreated is an essential property of matter, and thus that the matter at the actual world is essentially uncreated.

Yet stronger versions of the argument could go on from there by appealing to the principle of sufficient reason to argue that whatever plays the role of being eternal and essentially uncreated does not vary from world to world, and thus that matter is a metaphysically necessary being.

It seems to me that this broadly Epicurean line of reasoning is a cosmological argument of sorts, but one that concludes that matter, and not an immaterial creator, is the uncaused cause of contingent concrete reality. Let us therefore call any argument that deploys the principle ex nihilo nihil fit to infer the factual or metaphysical necessity of matter (or matter's ultimate constituents) an Epicurean Cosmological Argument.  

Given its simplicity and plausibility, I think it's high time for Epicurus' little argument to receive the attention and development it deserves.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Announcement: 6th Annual Metaphysics Conference on Philosophy of Religion


The University of Southern California will be hosting the 6th annual California Metaphysics Conference, January 20th-22nd, 2017. This year's topic is Philosophy of Religion and Metaphysics!


Speakers:
Andrew Bailey
Ricki Bliss
Jeffrey Brower
Lara Buchak
Hud Hudson
Michael Rea
Bradley Rettler
Amy Seymour
Meghan Sullivan
Christina Van Dyke


Attendence is open (and free) to all who would like to come, but you must register by emailing kleinsch [at] usc [dot] edu no later than December 15th, 2016. Please include your full name and university affiliation in the email. You will not receive a confirmation email, but your name should appear on the list of participants within 30 days. Also, let me know if you are a graduate student from outside CA and you are interested in being an assistant organiser!

University of Leeds Centre for Philosophy of Religion Website

Here.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Contrarian Philosophy of Religion Friday

If lacking the ability to do wrong thereby makes a person a robot, then the God of classical theism is thereby a robot. But if the lack of ability to do wrong does not thereby make a person a robot, then finite creaturely agents who lack such an ability are not thereby rendered robots.
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