Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Nicholas Everitt on the Divine Attributes

Everitt provides a helpful overview of recent work on the divine attributes in a recent article in Philosophy Compass (5:1 (2010)). Here is the link.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Quote of the Day

"We saw earlier that Swinburne claims that most contemporary theists need an adequate total theodicy in order to rationally believe that God exists. This is a claim about rationality in the subjective sense (p. 16).[1] Swinburne also holds that no adequate total theodicy except his own is available. Presumably, this means that theists who believe they have such a theodicy are guilty of at least objective irrationality. Furthermore...very few theists will agree with all or even most of the many metaphysical and axiological claims upon which the success of his theodicy depends and so will not, if Swinburne is correct, have an adequate total theodicy in the relevant sense. The surprising implication is that, if everything Swinburne says in his book is true, then most theistic belief is irrational in at least one of Swinburne’s two senses and will remain so no matter how many theists read and understand his book! Further, though additional argument would be required to establish this, it would seem that the internalist irrationality of most theistic belief is antecedently more likely if God does not exist than if God exists, and so is evidence against theism. Thus, Swinburne’s commitment to such irrationality is at least ironic and maybe even significant, especially since Swinburne is arguably the greatest natural theologian of the 20th Century."

-Draper, Paul. “Review of Richard Swinburne’s Providence and the Problem of Evil”, Nous 35:3 (2001), pp. 472-3.

--------------------------------------
[1] As Draper points out, "Swinburne distinguishes two internalist senses of rationality or justification in this book, one subjective and one objective (pp. 15–17 and 58– 63). A person’s belief is subjectively rational if and only if, given that person’s criteria of probability, it is either rendered probable by that person’s other subjectively rational beliefs or is properly basic. A person’s belief is objectively rational if and only if, given the true criteria of probability, it is either rendered probable by that person’s other objectively rational beliefs or is properly basic." Ibid., p. 473.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Craig's Replies to My Criticisms of the Leibnizian Cosmological Argument

(Note: I have since offered a longer reply to Craig)

It's been brought to my attention that someone has plagiarized used some of my criticisms of the Leibnizian cosmological argument in a Q and A with Craig. Here is the link.

I hope to give a proper reply at some point, but for now I'll say that his reply is illustrative of the sort of illicit burden of proof shifting that characterizes much of his apologetic work.[1]

Reminder: If you refer to my posts, please abide by the fair use rules indicated in the Creative Commons license for this blog.

Thanks,
EA
----------------------
[1] Wes Morriston is one of the few philosophers who has called him on illicitly shifting the burden of proof. See, for example, p. 291 of this paper.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Kvanvig's New Book

Over at Prosblogion, Jonathan Kvanvig (Baylor) has kindly posted a draft of his forthcoming collection of papers, Destiny and Deliberation: Essays in Philosophical Theology. Here is the link.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Liberal Naturalism and the Defeat of the Theistic Hypothesis

(Re-posted)

I think there is a version of naturalism that seems to explain the relevant range of data better than theism. To be a tad more precise: there is a prima facie viable version of naturalism that (a) explains the data appealed to in theistic arguments at least as well as theism, and (b) there is a range of other data that is better explained by this version of naturalism than by theism. Below I will provide a brief sketch of the sort of view I have in mind, as well as some considerations in its favor vis-a-vis theism.

Thus, consider the following hypothesis, which I'll call 'Chalmersian Liberal Naturalism' (in honor of the contemporary philosopher David Chalmers, who appears to accept a view somewhat similar to it. Call the view 'CLN' for short):

(CLN) There are both abstract objects and concrete objects. The abstract objects are eternal, necessary beings. All concrete objects are composed of just one kind of substance, and its essence has both physical and phenomenal or proto-phenomenal (or at least representational or proto-representational) attributes as a part of its essence (alternatively, the one kind of substance is neither physical nor mental, but the physical and mental are composed of it). Furthermore, this kind of substance is factually or metaphysically necessary. It is also eternal, and comprises a multiverse.

It seems to me that CLN can explain all the data appealed to by the standard arguments of natural theology: we'd expect fine-tuning if for every possible combination of fundamental constants, there is a universe that instantiates it -- indeed, a finely-tuned universe is inevitable on such a hypothesis; we'd expect consciousness in animals and humans if proto-phenomenal states are a part of the essence of concrete substance, since consciousness logically supervenes on structures composed of such a substance when it is suitably complex, and such complexity is accounted for in terms of mutation and natural selection; we'd expect abstract objects if they were eternal, necessary beings; we'd expect moral properties if they logically supervene on certain states of affairs, the latter of which are abstract, necessary beings that contingently obtain or fail to obtain; and the contingency of objects in the world is explained in terms of the factually or metaphysically necessary stuff of which it's composed.[1]

Furthermore, it seems to me that CLN explains a wide range of other data better than the hypothesis of theism. Thus, if CLN were true, then we'd expect the data of huge amounts of prima facie gratuitous human and animal suffering; we'd expect the data of divine hiddenness; we'd expect the data of radical religious diversity; we'd expect the data of scientific studies involving double-blind experiments indicating the ineffectivenss of prayer; and we'd expect the religious demographics data that we actually have. However, we wouldn't expect such data if theism were true.

Thus, it seems to me that CLN explains not only all the data appealed to in theistic arguments at least as well as theism, but it also better explains a wide range of data that is only awkwardly explained if explained at all by the hypothesis of theism. But CLN is a version of naturalism. Therefore, I conclude that naturalism is a better explanation of the range of relevant data than theism.

Some objections and replies:

Objection 1: "CLN is too weird to be true!"
Reply: True, CLN is weird. However, I don't know how to validly argue from "x is weird" to "x is false". A theory accrues support in virtue of embodying various theoretical virtues (simplicity, explantory scope, explanatory power, etc.), and so the theory stands or falls on that basis and that basis alone. Furthermore, CLN is certainly no weirder than the hypothesis of theism. For compare CLN to theism:

T: The world is composed of two really distinct kinds of substance: purely physical substances and purely immaterial substances. Furthermore, these two sorts of substances are capable of interacting with one another. In addition, there are both finite and infinite immaterial substances -- human (and perhaps animal) souls and God -- and the infinite immaterial substance created the finite immaterial substances (and perhaps the material ones, too), and created them without pre-existing materials (i.e., out of nothing).

Things get even more exotic if we move to specifically Christian theism, with its additional doctrines of the trinity and the incarnation. But the point is that both hypotheses -- theism and CLN -- include odd and problematic theses, and when one does a "cost-benefit analysis" of the two views, comparing the oddities and problematic features of the two hypotheses, it seems to me to be, at best, a wash.

In any case, it's a mistake to think that one must be a Liberal Naturalist to accept the conclusions here. One could be a Conservative or Moderate Naturalist -- or even a skeptic or agnostic -- and yet still properly accept the crucial claim here, viz., that whether it's the actual explanation of the relevant data or not, it's a better explanation of the data than theism -- or at the very least: as good an explanation of the data as theism --, in which case the data doesn't favor theism over naturalism.

Objection 2: CLN is too complex to be plausible.
Reply: Two points. First, CLN posits two sorts of entities -- abstract and concrete -- and they require separate treatment. As to the former: Since the abstract objects are posited as necessary beings, they need no explanation. That leaves us with the realm of concrete objects, and here we have postulated one type of substance, which in turn gives rise to a multiverse. Is this hypothesis complex?

Well, it's complex in one sense; in another it's not. The objector mistakenly assumes that there is only one kind of theoretical parsimony, viz., *quantitative* parsimony (i.e., the explanation postulates fewer entities). However, as David Lewis has taught us, another type is *qualitative* parsimony (i.e.,the explanation postulates fewer *kinds* of entities). And while the theistic hypothesis is a much more *quantitatively* parsimonious explanation of the data (it explains all of the data in terms of just one entity, viz., a god), the CLN multiverse hypothesis is a more *qualitatively* parsimonious explanation of the data (since it explains all of the data solely in terms of one *kind* of entity, viz., Chalmersian panprotopsychist substance). And it's not clear which type of theoretical parsimony is more important here.

Thoughts?
--------------
[1] Objection: "but I can imagine the fundamental stuff failing to exist. And since conceivability is sufficient evidence for possibility, it's possible for the fundamental stuff posited by CLN to fail to exist, in which case we have reason to doubt that such stuff is metaphysically necessary, in which case it can't explain the data of contingency." Reply: Either conceivability is sufficient evidence of possibility or it isn't. If it isn't, then of course the data of the conceivable non-existence of a Chalmersian multiverse isn't sufficient evidence of its possible non-existence, in which case the objection fails. On the other hand, suppose conceivability is sufficient evidence of possibility. Then since it's conceivable that both God and the Chalmersian multiverse fail to exist, then there's sufficient evidence that it's possble that both God and the Chalmersian multiverse fail to exist, in which case it looks as though no being of the relevant sort could be metaphysically necessary, in which case the jig is up for arguments from contingency, in which case contingency falls out of the range of data that needs explaining. Either way, then, the objection fails.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Interesting Recent Paper on Expressivism and Divine Command Ethics

Unwin, Nicholas. "Divine Hoorays: Some Parallels Between Expressivism and Religious Ethics", Philosophy and Phenomenological Research LXXVII No. 3 (November 2008), pp. 659-684.

Here's the abstract:
Divine law theories of metaethics claim that moral rightness is grounded in God’s commands, wishes and so forth. Expressivist theories, by contrast, claim that to call something morally right is to express our own attitudes, not to report on God’s. Ostensibly, such views are incompatible. However, we shall argue that a rapprochement is possible and beneficial to both sides. Expressivists need to explain the difference between reporting and expressing an attitude, and to address the Frege-Geach problem. Divine law theorists need to get past the Euthyphro dilemma, and to avoid moral externalism. This paper shows how a combined theory helps us to achieve this.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Stephen Law's Critique of Plantinga's "Content and Natural Selection"

We've noted Stephen Law's nice critique of Alvin Plantinga's belief-cum-desire version of his evolutionary argument against naturalism (EAAN) on another occasion. Law now has a draft of a critique of Alvin Plantinga's latest defense of his EAAN. The latest draft can be found here.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion, Vol. 3

...is set to come out in April 2011. As with the previous volumes in the series, it looks to be an excellent collection of new papers. Here is the table of contents:

Table of Contents
1. Theistic Modal Realism? , Michael Almeida
2. The Argument from Miracles , Daniel Bonevac
3. Omnipresence and Tough Choices , E. J. Coffman
4. Darwin, God, and Chance , Phil Dowe
5. Intelligent Design and Selective History: Two Sources of Purpose and Plan , Peter J. Graham
6. A Puzzle about Hypocrisy , Frances Howard-Snyder
7. The Argument from Consciousness Revisited , Kevin Kimble and Timothy O'Connor
8. Prolegomena to Any Future Physics-Based Metaphysics , Bradley Monton
9. O'Connor's Cosmological Argument , Graham Oppy
10. Evolution without Naturalism , Elliott Sober
11. Geachianism , Patrick Todd

One of the authors was my dissertation advisor, so I'm especially looking forward to reading this volume.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Forthcoming Defense of Divine Command Theory

Baggett and Walls. Good God: The Theistic Foundations of Morality (OUP, forthcoming).

A Quick and Dirty Refutation of Divine Command Theories

(Re-posted)
Robert Adams has played a significant role in reviving divine command theories in ethics (DCT). According to Adams, and many before him, the most plausible construal of DCT entails that moral obligation depends on the expressed will of God, where these expressions are properly construed as commands.1 Call any such view a ‘command formulation’ of DCT. Recently, Mark Murphy has argued that command formulations of DCT are untenable, and that the most plausible formulation of DCT entails that moral obligation depends upon the will of God, whether or not it is expressed.2 Call any such view a ‘will formulation’ of DCT. In this paper, I will argue that, while Murphy-style arguments against command formulations are decisive, the arguments Adams advances against will formulations seem equally decisive. But the most salient implication of these results is not that their particular versions of will and command formulations of DCT - those of Adams and Murphy - are inadequate. Rather, as I will argue, a much more dramatic implication follows: no possible formulation of DCT is an adequate moral theory.

This paper is divided into four sections. In the first section, I will briefly describe the defining features of the two most plausible formulations of DCT. In the second, I will discuss Murphy’s main objection to command formulations of DCT. In the third section, I will discuss Adams’ main objection to will formulations of DCT. In each of sections two and three, two goals are achieved: (i) a conclusion that an objection against a formulation of DCT is persuasive, and (ii) the uncovering of a necessary condition for any adequate moral theory. Finally, in the fourth section, I will utilize these results to argue that no version of DCT is adequate.

I
According to all formulations of DCT, at least some moral properties - such as the morally permissible, impermissible, and obligatory - are somehow dependent upon the will of God. Will formulations state that the dependence is direct. That is, certain kinds of divine acts of will are both necessary and sufficient for the exemplification of moral properties. By way of contrast, command formulations state that the dependence is indirect. That is, although certain sorts of divine volitions are necessary for the exemplification of moral properties, they are not sufficient. For such volitions to generate (e.g.) moral obligations, God must also communicate such volitions to the relevant people.

Are either of the above-mentioned versions of DCT plausible? As I mentioned earlier, Murphy has offered powerful criticisms of command formulations of DCT, and Adams has advanced powerful arguments against will formulations of DCT. We will now examine the best of these arguments in turn.

II
A key objection3 to command formulations of DCT can be expressed simply: If God’s ability to impose moral obligations depends on the expression of certain of His intentions in the form of commands, then they are objectionably contingent. For then God would be powerless to obligate without the existence of certain sorts of social practices, in particular, the practice of commanding. Such contingency is objectionable, for if (e.g.) the morally impermissible depends on God’s commands in this way, then it seems metaphysically possible for a community of people to exist in which either (i) the requisite social facts don’t exist, or (ii) they do exist, but God hasn’t commanded anything. But if either case obtains, then there will be actions that aren’t (say) impermissible, but should be. But this is implausible: such moral properties would be exemplified even if (i) or (ii) obtained. Therefore, command formulations of DCT are implausible.

Adams has a reply to this objection: “This does not ground a serious objection to divine command theory. A practice of commanding exists in virtually all human communities, and I think we need not worry about what obligation would be (if it would exist at all) for persons who do not live in communities in which they require things of each other4.”

This is surely too quick and dismissive. For it hardly suffices to say that, as a matter of fact, all (or virtually all) communities have a practice of commanding. For, prima facie, it seems (metaphysically) possible that a community without such a practice could exist. And it also seems that wrongness could supervene on acts in such a community. For consider a possible world, W, in which there exists a community of five people: a man (call him ‘Zed’), and four children, none of which is older than ten years old. Suppose further that this community has no practice of commanding. Finally, suppose that Zed regularly molests these children. Since, by hypothesis, this community has no practice of commanding, command formulations of DCT entail that none of Zed’s acts are morally wrong. But, surely, moral wrongness supervenes on at least some acts in W. But then moral wrongness doesn’t require the existence of a community practice of commanding as a part of its supervenience base. And if not, then command formulations of DCT are false. Therefore, it appears that Murphy is correct: command formulations of DCT are objectionably contingent. With this objection, then, we have uncovered a necessary condition for any adequate moral theory:

The Non-contingency Condition (NC): No moral obligation, R, is objectionably contingent.

Corollary: For any moral obligation R, if R isn’t binding without a human social practice of commanding, then R is objectionably contingent.

It will be important to keep this condition in mind when we come to assess the adequacy of divine command theories in general.

III
Adams’ main argument against will formulations of DCT is also simple: Moral obligations cannot exist unless they are communicated. But will formulations of DCT falsely imply that it is possible for certain sorts of God’s uncommunicated volitions to morally obligate us. Therefore, will formulations of DCT are false.5

There are two ways to support the main premise of this argument. According to the first, uncommunicated intentions can’t obligate because they are generated when (and only when) at least one person requires something of another person. But requiring is a communicative act. If, for example, a parent forms an intention (of a certain sort) that his teenage daughter be home before 8 p.m. every weeknight, but he doesn’t convey this intention to her, then she is not obligated to be home by 8 p.m. on weeknights. As soon as he communicates his intention to his daughter, however, an obligation is generated, and she must now be home at the stated time. Now if this is how obligations are generated, then, necessarily, if God has created obligations, then He has expressed them. But will formulations of DCT falsely imply that it is possible for certain sorts of God’s intentions to generate moral obligations even if those intentions remain forever unexpressed. Therefore, will formulations of DCT are false.6

According to the second way, uncommunicated intentions can’t obligate because a certain version of the “ought implies can” principle is true: If x is obligatory for S, then S must be aware (or at least be capable of becoming aware) that x is obligatory for S7. The general idea here is that one can only be responsible for what one is capable of doing. So, for example, suppose my hands are handcuffed together. If so, then I can’t raise just one of them. So if someone commands me to raise just one of my hands, I won’t be able to comply, even if I want to. But if not, then I can’t be held responsible for failing to raise just one of my hands. Similarly, I can’t be held responsible for failing to comply with an obligation if I can’t come to know of that obligation. For knowing of an obligation is a necessary condition for being capable of (intentionally) complying with it. But will formulations of DCT imply that the following type of situation is possible: (i) Due to a divine intention of a certain sort, at least one person is morally obligated to do something (or refrain from doing something), and (ii) she is unable to come to know of this obligation, since God has not expressed His intention. But since the above-stated “ought implies can” principle is true, this situation is not possible. Therefore, will formulations of DCT are false.

What to make of these objections to will formulations? If we don’t consider the “ought implies can” rationale behind the main premise, then the force of the argument will depend upon whether one finds a social theory of moral obligation persuasive. I suspect that many won’t find it persuasive. But even if we don’t, I think the “ought implies can” rationale is strong enough, all by itself, to support the main premise. However, Murphy disagrees. He thinks that no self-respecting moral realist can accept it. For, he argues, it seems to be a straightforward implication of moral realism that moral facts exist independently of human beings, just as rocks and trees exist independently of us. But then it follows that it is possible that there are moral values that we are not aware of. In particular, there could be moral obligations that we are not aware of. But if so, then the above-mentioned “ought implies can” principle is false, and so the argument doesn’t go through.8

I think this objection misses the mark. For recall the way that the “ought implies can” principle was formulated above. The principle doesn’t have the implication that there can’t be unknown moral obligations. Rather, it implies that there can’t be unknowable moral obligations. But surely any plausible moral theory must have the latter implication. A fortiori, any theistic version of moral realism must have this implication. For, prima facie, God’s holding His creatures accountable for failing to comply with obligations that He doesn’t express is incompatible with His goodness.9 So it appears that, necessarily, if a divine command theory is true (one according to which the divine commander is the God of traditional theism), then if God places obligations on His creatures, then He communicates them (or somehow makes it possible for His creatures to discover them). But as we have seen, will formulations allow for the possibility of morally binding, yet forever unexpressed, divine intentions. I submit, then, that Murphy has not shown that the above-mentioned “ought implies can” principle is false with respect to moral realist theories. It appears that we have found another necessary condition that any adequate moral theory must satisfy:

The Accessibility Condition (AC): Necessarily, for any moral rule, R, R is binding only if R is cognitively accessible in principle.

Unfortunately for Murphy, the principle shows that will formulations of DCT are inadequate. For unlike other versions of moral realism, will formulations of DCT entail that moral obligations can exist, and yet be incapable of discovery (even in principle) if God doesn’t express them. Therefore, will formulations of DCT are untenable.

IV
It is now time to take stock. In section II, we saw that any adequate moral theory must meet the following condition:

The Non-contingency Condition (NC): No moral obligation, R, is objectionably contingent.

Corollary: For any moral obligation R, if R isn’t binding without a human social practice of commanding, then R is objectionably contingent.

And in section III, we saw that any adequate moral theory must also satisfy the following condition:

The Accessibility Condition (AC): Necessarily, for any moral obligation, R, R is binding only if R is cognitively accessible in principle.

Putting these together, we get the following thesis:

The Adequacy Thesis: A moral theory is adequate only if it simultaneously satisfies both NC and AC.

Finally, the discussions of sections II and III together provide strong support for the following thesis:

The Incompatibility Thesis (IT): No version of DCT can simultaneously satisfy both NC and AC: For any version of DCT, T, T satisfies NC iff T does not satisfy AC.

For it is clear from the discussion in these sections that the feature of command formulations that enables them to satisfy the Accessibility Condition - the one that grounds the claim that no divine intention can generate a moral obligation unless it is communicated - is the very feature that prevents them from satisfying the Non-contingency Condition. It is also clear, from the discussion in these sections, that the feature of will formulations that enables them to satisfy the Non-contingency Condition - the one that grounds the claim that divine intentions (of a certain sort) can generate obligations, even if God does not express them - is the very feature that prevents them from satisfying the Accessibility Condition. But IT entails that no divine command theory satisfies the Adequacy Thesis. But if not, then it follows that neither formulation of DCT is adequate.

If the points of the previous paragraph are correct, then it is a short step to the conclusion that no possible formulation of DCT is adequate. For anything that could possibly count as a formulation of DCT would have to ground (at least some) moral properties in either (i) God’s commands alone, (ii) God’s intentions alone, or (iii) God’s intentions expressed in the form of commands.10 Now we have already dealt with (ii) and (iii). But our objections to (iii) apply to (i) as well. For, even apart from the inherent implausibility of type-(i) versions of DCT11, they imply that God’s ability to obligate would depend upon an existing practice of commanding. But if so, then version-(i) DCT fails to satisfy the Non-contingency Condition. Therefore, it cannot be an adequate moral theory. But since versions (i), (ii) and (iii) are mutually exclusive and jointly exhaustive formulations of DCT, any possible version of DCT must be an instance of one of these versions. And since we have just seen that each version is untenable, it follows that no possible version of DCT is an adequate moral theory.

In summary, then, we have taken a brief look at the only two formulations of DCT that have been advertised and endorsed. While discussing these accounts, we uncovered two necessary conditions of any adequate moral theory. We then saw that, while each of these formulations could meet one of the two conditions, neither version could meet both. Finally, we exploited some of these results to refute the only other possible formulation of DCT, one that no one endorses. And these results yielded the (perhaps) startling conclusion that DCT is doomed.

-----
1His most developed defense of this view is to be found in his Finite and Infinite Goods: A Framework for Ethics (New York: Oxford UP, 1999). See especially chapter 11 of that work.

2 Murphy, Mark. “Divine Commands, Divine Will, and Moral Obligation”, Faith and Philosophy 15 (January, 1998), pp. 3-27.

3The following argument is a modified version of the one Murphy gives in “Divine Commands, Divine Will, and Moral Obligation”, pp. 5-7.

4Adams, Robert. Finite and Infinite Goods, p. 266.

5This is a rough summary of Adams’ argument in his Finite and Infinite Goods, pp. 261-2.

6This is Adams’ primary rationale. See Finite and Infinite Goods, p. 262.

7It should be noted that Adams is uncomfortable with putting much weight on this second rationale. See Finite and Infinite Goods, p. 261-2, and footnote 27 on p. 262.

8This is a paraphrase of Murphy’s reply in “Divine Commands, Divine Will, and Moral Obligation”, p. 8.

9Adams seems to be raising the same problem for will formulations when he says that they yield “...an unattractive picture of divine-human relations, one in which the wish of God’s heart imposes binding obligations without even being communicated, much less issuing a command. Games in which one party incurs guilt for failing to guess the unexpressed wishes of the other party are not nice games. They are no nicer if God is thought of as a party to them.” Finite and Infinite Goods, p. 261.

10 Surely, no ethical theory that entailed that moral properties are grounded *neither* in God’s will *nor* in His commands (nor a combination of them) could count as a version of DCT.

11E.g., it appears that type-(i) versions imply that there could be a morally binding divine command that God does not want us to obey, which seems absurd., end

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Index: Assessing Theism in General and Christianity in Particular

Note: This is a work in progress.

0. Preliminaries:
0.1 On caring about and pursuing truth: here
0.2 On faith and reason: here and here.
0.3 On the theistic conception of God: here
0.4 On a Common Apologetic Strategy: here
0.5 On a Common Apologetic Fallacy: here
0.6 On Theism and the Burden of Proof: here.

1. Evaluation of Arguments for Theism
1.1 Cosmological arguments
1.1.1 The Leibnizian cosmological argument: part 1, part 2, part 3. Also: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here.
1.1.2 The kalam cosmological argument: here, herehere, here, here, here, here, here, and here (scroll down to the comments), here.
1.1.3 Thomistic cosmological arguments (and others): here, here.
1.1.4 O'Connor's abductive cosmological argument: here.
1.2 Design arguments:
1.2.1 Paley-style versions and fine-tuning versions: Here, here, here, here, here. See also here, here, and here, here, here, here, here.
1.2.2 Behe's irreducible complexity version: Part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6. See also here, here.
1.2.3 Dembski's explanatory filter version: here, here, here.
1.2.4 Meyer's DNA version: here.
1.3 The ontological argument: here, herehere, here, here.
1.4 The moral argument: here, here, here, here.
1.5 Arguments from religious experience: here, here, here.
1.6 Arguments From Consciousness: Here, here, here.
1.7 The argument from abstract objects: here, here, here.
1.8 The argument from reason: here.
1.9 The argument from the effectiveness of mathematics: here.
1.10 Plantinga's argument from anti-realism: here.
1.11 Plantinga's argument from proper function: here, here, here, here.
1.12 Plantinga's Reformed Epistemology: herehere, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here.
1.13 Plantinga's evolutionary argument against naturalism (EAAN): here, herehere, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, see the comments section here, here, here, here.
1.14 Craig's Reformed Epistemology: here
1.15 Presuppositional apologetics: here, here.
1.16 Moser's case for rational belief: Here.
1.17 The argument from common consent: here.
1.18 Cumulative case arguments:
1.18.1 a general point: here
1.18.2 Swinburne's version: here, here, here.
1.19 Pragmatic arguments (overview here)
1.19.1 Pascal's Wager: here, here.
1.19.2 James' Will to Believe argument: here (skip down to section 1.3 of the outline), here, here.
1.19.3 Craig's arguments against atheistic morality, moral motivation, meaning, and purpose: here, herehere, here, here.

2. Evaluation of Arguments Against Theism
2.1 The Logical Problem of Evil: herehere, here, herehere, here, here, here, here.
2.2 The evidential problem of evil: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here.
2.3 The argument from religious diversity: here
2.4 Arguments from divine hiddenness, religious ambiguity, and reasonable non-belief: here, here.
2.5 The argument from evolution: here
2.6 The argument from the mind's dependence on the brain: here
2.7 The argument from the demographics of theism: here, here.
2.8 The argument from unreliable mechanisms for religious belief: here.
2.9 The argument from reasonable religious disagreement: here, here.
2.10 The argument from the impropriety of worship: here.
2.11 Arguments from the impropriety of belief: here, here.
2.12 The argument from ordinary morality: here, here.
2.13 The argument from material causality: here, here, here, here.
2.14 The argument from abstract objects: here.
2.15 The from revulsion/ugliness: here, here.
2.16 The argument from environmental mismatch: here.
2.17 The argument from meaning in life: here, here.
2.18 Ontological arguments against theim: here, here.
2.19 The argument for matter's necessity: here.

3. Evaluation of Arguments for Chrisitanity
3.1 Arguments for the reliability of the New Testament: here, here, here
3.2 Arguments for the deity of Jesus: here
3.3 Arguments for the resurrection of Jesus: here, here
4. Arguments Against Christian Theism
4.1 The argument for Jesus as a failed apocalyptic prophet: here and here (scroll down to the comments -- not the post)
4.2 Arguments against the reliability of the New Testament
4.3 Arguments from divinely-caused and/or mandated evil in the Old Testament: here, here, here, and here here
4.4 The argument from the doctrine of everlasting punishment: here, here.
4.5 The argument from evolution: here
4.6 Hume's argument against the rationality of belief in miracles: here, here, here, here, here, here, here,
4.7 The problem of identifying miracles given the Bible's hypothesis of "the Devil's Lying Wonders": here.
4.8 The argument from scientific evidence for the ineffectiveness of prayer: here, here, here. here.
4.9 The argument from the powerlessness of the gospel
4.10 The argument from non-obviousness: here.
4.11 The argument from material causality: here.
4.12 The argument from abstract objects: here.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Two New Critiques of Plantinga's Proper Functionalism

Both address Plantinga's proper functionalism, as well as Michael Bergmann's more recent version of it. Also, both are accessible (and currently free!) in the Online First sections of the relevant journal sites.

Johnson, Daniel M. "Proper Function and Defeating Experiences", Synthese (forthcoming).

Long, Todd R. "Mentalist Evidentialism Vindicated (and a Super-Blooper
Epistemic Design Problem for Proper Function Justification)", Phil. Studies (forthcoming)
.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Plantinga's New Paper on Naturalism, Theism, and Morality

In 2008, Alvin Plantinga got a research grant from the Ammonius Foundation to write a paper on naturalism and objective morality. The paper ("Naturalism, Theism, Obligation, and Supervenience") is now out in of Faith & Philosophy (vol. 27, no. 3 (2010)). Here is a link to the paper.

I'm too busy at the moment to give it a careful read, but it looks as though it employs the Common Apologetic Strategy, and thus falls prey to the problems inherent in such arguments.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

4th Anniversary

Never thought I'd be blogging this long, but I've enjoyed it thoroughly. Thanks for making it a worthwhile project, folks!

All the best,
EA

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Super Crazy Busy

Hi folks,

Sorry for the slow posting lately, but I have a lot on my plate at the moment (new philosophy job stuff, house buying stuff, family stuff, etc.). I hope to get back soon. In the meantime, play nice.

Also: I'll probably re-post some stuff to make it look like someone's home.

All the best,
EA

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Tyler Wunder Interview Podcast

Luke Muehlauser interviews Tyler Wunder on his podcast, Conversations From the Pale Blue Dot. The topic is Alvin Plantinga's Reformed Epistemology (it touches on both the pre-warrant and warrant phases). What a treat!

Friday, October 01, 2010

Michael Della Rocca's New Defense of the Principle of Sufficient Reason

Della Rocca, Michael. "PSR", Philosopher's Imprint 10:7 (July 2010).

ABSTRACT: This paper presents an argument for the Principle of Sufficient Reason, the PSR, the principle according to which each thing that exists has an explanation. I begin with several widespread and extremely plausible arguments that I call explicability arguments in which a certain situation is rejected precisely because it would be arbitrary. Building on these plausible cases, I construct a series of explicability arguments that culminates in an explicability argument concerning existence itself. This argument amounts to the claim that the PSR is true. The plausibility of the initial cases in the series provides the basis of an argument for the PSR, an argument that can be rebutted only by drawing a line between the plausible early cases in the series and the apparently unacceptable later cases. I argue that no principled reason for drawing this line has been found and that one cannot draw an unprincipled or arbitrary line without begging the question. The paper concludes that, therefore, this defense of the PSR remains unrebutted and that we have a powerful, new reason to embrace the PSR.

Here's the link to the downloadable version.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Bryan Frances on the Problem of Gratuitous Evil

Bryan Frances (Fordham) is writing a short book on the problem of gratuitous evil: The Horrific Evil God Allows. A draft of the book can be found at his department webpage.

If you've read some of Frances' other work, you know his work is characterized by the following three virtues (among others): (i) it's written in a very clear, conversational style (ii) it's penetrating, and (iii) it exhibits a great sense of humor often lacking in analytic philosophy.

Announcement: The Society of Christian Philosophers Midwestern Conference

The Society of Christian Philosophers Midwestern Conference


February 24-26, 2011

Hope College

Holland, Michigan


Topic: Values and Virtues


Plenary speakers:


Robert C. Roberts (Baylor University)

Address: “Emotions in the Sense of Duty”


Eric Wielenberg (DePauw University)

Address: “Divine Deception”


Papers are especially encouraged on matters of virtue ethics, the
relation between religion and ethics, applied ethical topics
(especially as they might relate to the Christian tradition), or value
theory more generally. Papers on any topic of philosophical interest
will be considered. We welcome the submissions of both Christians and
non-Christians as presenters, commentators, and participants.
Submissions should be 3,000 words or less, prepared for blind review,
and saved in an accessible format (hard copy submissions will not be
accepted). Please indicate whether you would be willing to serve as a
commentator, should your paper not be accepted.


Deadline for submission: November 12, 2010.


For more information, please visit the conference website:

http://www.hope.edu/academic/philosophy/scp/index.html


Please send any queries, submissions, or requests to comment to Jack
Mulder at mulderj@hope.edu.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Announcement: Center for Philosophy of Religion Fellowships for 2011-2012

The Center for Philosophy of Religion at the University of Notre Dame
announces up to five fellowships for the 2011 - 2012 academic year:
the Alvin Plantinga Fellowship ($60,000), awarded to a distinguished
senior scholar; up to two Research Fellowships ($40,000 - $50,000,
depending on rank); the Frederick J. Crosson Fellowship ($45,000)
reserved for foreign scholars and those outside the field of
philosophy; and one Visiting Graduate Fellowship ($20,000) awarded to
a graduate student in philosophy who is working on a dissertation in
the philosophy of religion and who would profit from spending a year
at the Center. All Fellows will receive up to $2,000 reimbursement for
moving expenses, as well as up to $2,000 for research-related
expenses. The Plantinga Fellow and the Research Fellows may have the
option of teaching one course in philosophy per semester as well.
Those who do teach receive up to an additional $7,500 annually.

To apply, please submit the following materials electronically, if
possible, to cpreligion@nd.edu, or by mail to Michael Rea, Director,
Center for Philosophy of Religion, 418 Malloy Hall, University of
Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556:

1. A complete curriculum vitae.
2. Three letters of recommendation.
3. A statement of no more than three pages (double-spaced) specifying
the fellowship for which you are applying and describing the project
on which you would like to work while at the Center.
4. A project abstract of no more than 150 words.
5. One published or unpublished paper.

Application Deadline: February 1, 2011

You may apply for more than one fellowship for which you are eligible.

Announcement: Templeton Research Fellowships on Evil and Skeptical Theism for 2011-2012

The Center for Philosophy of Religion at the University of Notre Dame
announces up to four one-year residential Research Fellowships on the
topic of 'Evil and Skeptical Theism', open rank, funded by the John
Templeton Foundation. (Skeptical theism is an increasingly widely
discussed strategy for responding to the problem of evil.) Fellows
will be expected to spend the year in residence at the University of
Notre Dame. Each successful applicant will receive a total fellowship
award of $55,000 to $85,000. Stipend will depend on rank and
circumstances of the applicant, and up to $15,000 of each award may be
received as reimbursement for travel, re-location, or research-related
expenses.

In addition, there will be funding available to invite outside
scholars of interest to the fellows for brief visits during the 2011 –
2012 academic year. There will also be funding available for a
workshop on the theme of skeptical theism in late spring of 2012.
(Details of the workshop are still to be determined. Applicants who
are interested in helping to organize the workshop should indicate as
much in their cover letter.)

For further details, including a brief characterization of skeptical
theism and information about appropriate topics of research, please
visit www.evilandtheodicy.com and follow the “Fellowships” and
"Skeptical Theism" links.

To apply, please submit the following materials electronically, if
possible, to cpreligion@nd.edu, or by mail to Michael Rea, Director,
Center for Philosophy of Religion, 418 Malloy Hall, University of
Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556:

• A complete curriculum vitae
• Three letters of recommendation
• A project abstract of no more than 150 words
• A project description of no more than 1200 words
• One published or unpublished paper

All application materials must be received by January 15, 2011 to
assure full consideration. Questions may be addressed to Michael Rea
at cpreligion@nd.edu.

Announcement: The 2011 St. Thomas Summer Seminar in Philosophy of Religion and Philosophical Theology

The 2011 St. Thomas Summer Seminar in Philosophy of Religion and
Philosophical Theology

Recent PhDs and current graduate students are invited to apply to
participate in the 2011 St. Thomas Summer Seminar in Philosophy of
Religion and Philosophical Theology, a three-week long seminar
organized by Dean Zimmerman (Rutgers) and Michael Rota (University of
St. Thomas).

The seminar will be held at the University of St. Thomas, in St. Paul,
Minnesota, from June 13th to July 1st, 2011. Participants will receive
a stipend of $2900, as well as room and board. The deadline for
receipt of applications is December 1, 2010.

http://www.stthomas.edu/philosophy/templeton/project.html

Topics and speakers:

THE FINE-TUNING ARGUMENT

Robin Collins (Messiah College)
John Hawthorne (Oxford)
Bradley Monton (Colorado-Boulder)
Luke Barnes (Dept of Physics, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology,
Zurich)

EVOLUTIONARY EXPLANATIONS OF RELIGIOUS BELIEF

Justin Barrett (Oxford)
Jesse Bering (Queen's University)
John Greco (Saint Louis University)

DIVINE HIDDENNESS

J. L. Schellenberg (Mount Saint Vincent)
Peter van Inwagen (Notre Dame)

THE PROBLEM OF EVIL

Paul Draper (Purdue)
Eleonore Stump (Saint Louis University)

For more information, including information on how to apply, go to

http://www.stthomas.edu/philosophy/templeton/project.html

This seminar program is funded by a generous grant from the John
Templeton Foundation.

Announcement: The 2011 Purdue Summer Seminar on Perceptual, Moral, and Religious Skepticism

The 2011 Purdue Summer Seminar on Perceptual, Moral, and Religious Skepticism (June 8-24)



Recent PhDs and ABD graduate students in philosophy, theology, psychology, or cognitive science are invited to apply for the 2011 Purdue Summer Seminar on Perceptual, Moral, and Religious Skepticism to be held at Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN from June 8th to June 24th, 2011. The seminar will be directed by Michael Bergmann (Purdue) and the guest speakers will be Justin Barrett (Oxford) and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong (Duke).



The topics of the seminar are:



EPISTEMOLOGY: The epistemology of perceptual, moral, and religious belief

SKEPTICISM: Responses to skepticism about perceptual, moral, and religious belief

DISAGREEMENT: Moral and religious disagreement as grounds for unbelief

EVOLUTION: Evolutionary accounts of moral and religious belief as reasons for skepticism



Participants will receive a stipend of $5,000 from which they will pay for their travel, food, and lodging. The deadline for receipt of applications is December 1, 2010. For more information, including information on how to apply, go to: http://www.knowinginreligionandmorality.com/seminar.html



This seminar is funded by a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

Announcement: Templeton Dissertation Fellowships

The Templeton Dissertation Fellowships program in Evil, Pain, and
Contemporary Philosophy of Mind, hosted by the Center for Philosophy
of Religion at the University of Notre Dame, will provide up to three
one-year residential fellowships for the 2011 – 2012 academic year.,
with the possibility of a second year renewal in 2012. These
Fellowships fund research focused on the biological and psychological
nature and utility of pain and suffering, and/or the relations between
pain and suffering and the problem of evil.

Fellows will be expected to spend the year in residence at the
University of Notre Dame. Each successful applicant will receive a
$25,000 fellowship award, plus up to $5,000 for relocation, travel and
research. In addition, fellows will have joint access to funding to
bring in outside speakers and visitors for short periods during their
tenure, under the oversight of the fellowship directors (Logistical
and administrative details will be handled by the Center’s
administrative staff.)

For further details, including information about appropriate topics of
research, please visit www.evilandtheodicy.com and follow the
“Fellowships” and “Dissertation” links.

To apply, please submit the following materials electronically, if
possible, to cpreligion@nd.edu, or by mail to Michael Rea, Director,
Center for Philosophy of Religion, 418 Malloy Hall, University of
Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556:

• A complete curriculum vitae
• Three letters of recommendation
• A project abstract of no more than 150 words
• A project description of no more than 1200 words
• One published or unpublished paper

All application materials must be received by January 15, 2011 to
assure full consideration. Questions may be addressed to Michael Rea
at cpreligion@nd.edu.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Discussion of the Value of Analytic Philosophy of Religion at Jerry Coyne's Blog

Evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne (author of the best-selling book, Why Evolution is true) has started a thread on the value of analytic philosophy of religion. The comments are often terrible or uninformed (inclusive 'or' here), and so the discussion would be greatly helped if more philosophers would jump in (looks at readers).

Thanks to J.L. Schellenberg for calling my attention to this.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Thomas Senor's Critical Review of Plantinga's Warranted Christian Belief

Senor, Thomas. "A Critical Review of Alvin Plantinga's Warranted Christian Belief", International Philosophical Quarterly 42:3 (September 2002), pp. 389-396. Senor proposes a counterexample to Plantinga's analysis of warrant on pp. 393-396. We've mentioned some of the counterexamples that others have proposed here and here.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Wandering in Darkness

Eleonore Stump's magnum opus on the problem of evil, Wandering in Darkness: Narrative and the Problem of Suffering, is due out this month with Oxford University Press. Here's the blurb:

Only the most naïve or tendentious among us would deny the extent and intensity of suffering in the world. Can one hold, consistently with the common view of suffering in the world, that there is an omniscient, omnipotent, perfectly good God? This book argues that one can.

Wandering in Darkness first presents the moral psychology and value theory within which one typical traditional theodicy, namely, that of Thomas Aquinas, is embedded. It explicates Aquinas's account of the good for human beings, including the nature of love and union among persons. Eleonore Stump also makes use of developments in neurobiology and developmental psychology to illuminate the nature of such union.
Stump then turns to an examination of narratives. In a methodological section focused on epistemological issues, the book uses recent research involving autism spectrum disorder to argue that some philosophical problems are best considered in the context of narratives. Using the methodology argued for, the book gives detailed, innovative exegeses of the stories of Job, Samson, Abraham and Isaac, and Mary of Bethany.

In the context of these stories and against the backdrop of Aquinas's other views, Stump presents Aquinas's own theodicy, and shows that Aquinas's theodicy gives a powerful explanation for God's allowing suffering. She concludes by arguing that this explanation constitutes a consistent and cogent defense for the problem of suffering.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Phenomenal Conservatism and the Epistemology of Religious Belief

A "hot" view in epistemology at the moment is a version of evidentialism called "phenomenal conservatism", the view that if it seems or appears to one that P, then one thereby has at least some defeasible evidence that P. Variations of the view have been around for a long, long time, but the recent popularity of the view traces to at least two works by Michael Huemer (University of Colorado, Boulder): (i) Skepticism and the Veil of Perception, and (ii) "Compassionate Phenomenal Conservatism", Philosophy and Phenomenological Research (2007), pp. 30-55.

Well, the thesis of phenomenal conservatism is fast becoming a "hot" application topic in philosophy of religion (in particular, in supporting the rationality of theism). For a top-notch example, see Chris Tucker's paper, "Phenomenal Conservatism and Evidentialism in Epistemology", forthcoming in VanArragon, Raymond and Kelly James Clark (eds.). Evidence and Religious Belief. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (For Tucker's general defense of phenomenal conservatism, see this paper, which is forthcoming in Philosophical Perspectives.)

Get ready for a boatload of papers on this, folks. Evidentialism just became sexy again among theists.

Langtry's Reply to Gale

Bruce Langtry (University of Melbourne) has kindly posted a helpful overview (including chapter summaries) of his recent book, God, the Best, and Evil. You can also find his reply to Richard Gale's criticisms of the book at his department webpage.

P.S., Perhaps it's worth noting that he critiques Plantinga's Free Will Defense in the current issue of Faith and Philosophy. See his paper, "The Prospects for the Free Will Defense", Faith and Philosophy 27:2 (2010)

Annual EPS Meeting

This year's annual meeting of the Evangelical Philosophical Society will take place November 17-19 at the Atlanta Hilton in Atlanta, Georgia. Click here for more details. The event program can be found here.

Faith and Philosophy Table of Contents Online

Having recently found the table of contents for the current and past issues of Faith & Philosophy, I've updated the link to F&P in my list of philosophy of religion specialty journals, and have added an RSS feed in the column on the right.

P.S., If you would like to do so, you can add this blog to your Google Reader (or to another blog aggregator), by clicking the "Subscribe to: Posts" button at the top of the column on the right.

Online Papers from Baylor's 5th Annual Philosophy of Religion Conference

Baylor University hosts an important annual philosophy of religion conference. Here is the link to the one that occurred earlier this year. From there, you can find links to many of the papers that were presented. Here is the link to their previous conferences.

My favorite paper from this year's conference is Nathan L. King's "We're Not Very Good at This: Dealing With Evidence of Unreliability". King is a recent PhD from Notre Dame, and is an up-and-comer in the epistemology of disagreement debate. Those interested in the debate about the problem of reasonable religious disagreement shouldn't miss his recent paper, "Religious Diversity and its Challenges to Religious Belief", Philosophy Compass (2008)

New Paper on the Design Argument

Dan Moller's "A Simple Argument Against Design", forthcoming in Religious Studies.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Quote from Mackie on Design Arguments

"The argument from design, therefore, can be sustained only with the help of a supposedly a priori double-barrelled principle, that mental order (at least in a god) is self-explanatory, but that all material order not only is not self-explanatory, but is positively improbable and in need of further explanation...this double-barrelled principle is recognizable as the core of the cosmological argument...The argument will not take us even as far as Kant seems to allow without borrowing the a priori thesis that there is a vicious metaphysical contingency in all natural things, and, in contrast with this, the 'transcendental' concept of a god who is self-explanatory and necessarily existent. It is only with the help of these borrowings that the design argument can introduce the required asymmetry, that any natural explanation uses data which call for further explanation, but that the theistic explanation terminates the regress. Without this asymmetry, the design argument cannot show that there is any need to go beyond the sort of hypothesis that Hume foreshadowed and that Wallace and Darwin supplied... The dependence of the argument for design on the ideas that are the core of the cosmological one is greater than Kant realized."

-J.L. Mackie, The Miracle of Theism, pp. 144-145.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Keith Parsons No Longer Doing Philosophy of Religion

... on the grounds that he no longer finds theism sufficiently credible to warrant devoting further time to research in that field. You all knew that (if not, go here and here), but now Brian Leiter has started a discussion on the topic at his blog. Here is the link.

For the record, my own sentiments about the value of philosophy of religion, and the current state of the field, are captured perfectly by J.L. Schellenberg's comment in the thread at Prosblogion.

UPDATE: Parsons has since left the following comment in the thread of his original announcement at The Secular Outpost:

Thanks again for the many kind and generous comments. I do certainly agree that those who have the stomach for it should continue to subject theistic apologetics to stringent critique. I would especially like for somebody to debunk stuff like that by Robin Collins and John Leslie in the last issue of Philo.

When I helped found Philo, I expressed my chagrin that there were so very few replies to the theistic philosophy that had proliferated. Since that time the publication of books like Graham Oppy's Arguing About Gods, Jordan Howard Sobel's Logic and Theism and Nicholas Everitt's The Non-Existence of God have supplied the logically rigorous and sophisticated critiques that were sorely needed. To really effectively critique the theistic arguments, you need to know as much modal logic as Plantinga, as much Bayesian confirmation theory as Swinburne, and as much physical cosmology as Craig. I am glad to see that critics who have those qualifications are having their say.

Again, I admire and encourage those who continue the battle against theistic obscurantism, but I have such a sense of ennui and disgust that I am going to be hors de combat. I saw a quote attributed to Nietzsche one time that said "I cannot spend my time swatting flies." Swatting flies is what it feels like I've been doing for some time.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Disagreement

For those interested in the current debate about the problem of reasonable religious disagreement, don't miss this important collection of papers on the epistemology of disagreement, which is due out this month.

Does Belief in God Confer an Evolutionary Advantage?

The topic was recently discussed on NPR. Here is the link.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Help for Getting Clearer on Ruth Millikan's Account

I found this paper helpful in getting a better grasp of Ruth Millikan's naturalistic teleological account of mental content:

Kingsbury, Justine. (2006). A proper understanding of Millikan. Acta Analytica, 21(3), 23-40.

Stephen Hawking's Recent Remarks on God and Creation

Here. It's basically a plug for his new book, The Grand Design (due out September 7th!). It looks like the basic idea is that M-Theory is probably true, and that it explains the existence and fine-tuning of our universe.[1] Hey, that's pretty much my view, too![2]
--------------------
[1] Objection: "But I can imagine the fundamental stuff posited in the M-theory multiverse failing to exist. And since conceivability is sufficient evidence for possibility, it's possible for the fundamental stuff posited in the M-Theory multiverse to fail to exist, in which case we have reason to doubt that such stuff is metaphysically necessary, in which case it can't provide an ultimate explanation of the existence of our contingent universe. On the other hand, theism can explain such data. For it ultimately grounds the existence of our contingent universe in a factually or metaphysically necessary being, viz., God. Therefore, the hypothesis of a naturalistic M-theory multiverse fails to provide a better explanation of the existence of our contingent universe than theism."

Reply: Either conceivability is sufficient evidence of possibility or it isn't. If it isn't, then of course the data of the conceivable non-existence of an M-Theory multiverse isn't sufficient evidence of its possible non-existence, in which case the objection fails to show that the fundamental stuff of the M-theory multiverse isn't a metaphysically necessary being. On the other hand, suppose conceivability is sufficient evidence of possibility. Then since it's conceivable that both God and the M-theory multiverse fail to exist, then there's sufficient evidence that it's possble that both God and the M-theory multiverse fail to exist, in which case it looks as though no being of the relevant sort could be metaphysically necessary, in which case the jig is up for arguments from contingency, in which case contingency falls out of the range of data that needs explaining. Either way, then, the objection fails.

[2] I add the qualification that it's "pretty much" my view, since my view is the weaker one that the M-Theory hypothesis explains the data of the existence and fine-tuning of our universe at least as well as the theistic hypothesis, in which case such data doesn't favor theism over naturalism, in which case the existence and fine-tuning of our universe doesn't provide sufficient evidence for moving one from atheism or agnosticism to theism.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Elvis Costello - Green Shirt

Paul Draper's Upcoming Plantinga Lecture

Paul Draper (Purdue), my favorite philosopher of religion, is currently a Plantinga Fellow at the Notre Dame Center for Philosophy of Religion. He will be giving the ninth annual Plantinga Lecture in October, which will be on the problem of evil. Here is the content of the announcement:

The Ninth Annual Plantinga Lecture is scheduled for October 1, 2010 at 3:00pm in the auditorium of the Eck Visitors' Center. The 2010 - 2011 Plantinga Fellow, Paul Draper, Professor of Philosophy, Purdue University, will deliver a lecture entitled " God and Evil: A Philosophical Inquiry." Reception in the atrium immediately following. All are welcome.

Presumably, Draper will be presenting material from his forthcoming monograph on the evidential problem of evil. It thus looks like it'll be a way to get a sneak peak at his main line of argument.

Forthcoming Book on Divine Evil

In my view, the strongest version of the problem of evil is (what David Lewis called) the problem of divine evil, i.e., evil directly caused or mandated by the God of Abrahamic faiths (according to scripture). And as many readers of this blog know, the problem of divine evil is currently a hot topic in philosophy of religion (recall, for example, the recent conference at Notre Dame that was devoted to the topic, as well as these recent journal articles).

Well, a new collection of papers on the topic is scheduled to come out in November: Bergmann, Murray, and Rea (eds) Divine Evil? The Moral Character of the God of Abraham (Oxford University Press). I imagine it will be required reading for those researching the issue. Here's the blurb:

Adherents of the Abrahamic religions have traditionally held that God is morally perfect and unconditionally deserving of devotion, obedience, love, and worship. The Jewish, Christian, and Islamic scriptures tell us that God is compassionate, merciful, and just. As is well-known, however, these same scriptures contain passages that portray God as wrathful, severely punitive, and jealous. Critics furthermore argue that the God of these scriptures commends bigotry, misogyny, and homophobia, condones slavery, and demands the adoption of unjust laws-for example, laws that mandate the death penalty for adultery and rebellion against parents, and laws institutionalizing in various ways the diverse kinds of bigotry and oppression just mentioned. In recent days, these sorts of criticisms of the Hebrew Bible have been raised in new and forceful ways by philosophers, scientists, social commentators, and others. This volume brings together eleven original essays representing the views of both critics and defenders of the character of God as portrayed in these texts. Authors represent the disciplines of philosophy, religion, and Biblical studies. Each essay is accompanied by comments from another author who takes a critical approach to the thesis defended in that essay, along with replies by the essay's author.

More Troubles for Molinism

On another occasion, we noted Dean Zimmerman's powerful critique of middle knowledge. Here's another: Keith DeRose's new paper, "The Conditionals of Deliberation", Mind 119 (Jan. 2010). Here is the link. For a more explicit connection between the paper and the problems it poses for middle knowledge, see this related ancestor to the paper. This of course raises problems for Plantinga's specific version of the free will defense (although not necessarily for other versions).

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Waning of Materialism?

A piece of news I forgot to mention at the appropriate time: Robert Koons' edited volume with OUP, The Waning of Materialism, came out in April. As the title suggests, it's an evaluation of materialism, or what I have elsewhere called 'Conservative Naturalism'. I'm especially looking forward to reading the papers from Burge, Horgan, Jubien, Almog, and De Caro, which offer explorations and defenses of Moderate and Liberal forms of naturalism.

My guess is that some apologists will use some of the points in the volume to employ the Common Apologetic Strategy to argue from non-materialism to theism.



------------------------
P.S., Perhaps it's worth noting that (Christian philosopher) Koons previously contributed to a volume similar to the one he has edited here. Why does he want to put out another one? The cynical side of me is tempted to think he did it primarily to have another book available for Christian apologists to appeal to in their books and in other apologetic contexts. ("See? It's not just us Christians who are saying materialism is in trouble. We've got Burge, et al. saying it, too!"). A causal glance at the book reveals two key differences between the previous volume and the current one: (i) this one goes up a notch in prestige from Routledge to Oxford University Press (although Routledge is of course a great academic publisher), and (ii) this one isn't written solely by axe-grinding Christian apologists of the likes of Craig, Moreland, Dembski, et al. (as the last one was). I expect references to the book to be in constant rotation among apologists for quite a while (I'm looking at you, WLC).
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