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Showing posts from August, 2016

Levey's Important New Paper on PSR

Levey Samuel. "The Paradox of Sufficient Reason", The Philosophical Review 125:3 (July 2016), pp. 397-430.

Here's the abstract:
It can be shown by means of a paradox that, given the Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR), there is no conjunction of all contingent truths. The question is, or ought to be, how to interpret that result: Quid sibi velit? A celebrated argument against PSR due to Peter van Inwagen and Jonathan Bennett in effect interprets the result to mean that PSR entails that there are no contingent truths. But reflection on parallels in philosophy of mathematics shows it can equally be interpreted either as a proof that there are “too many” contingent truths to combine in a single conjunction or as a proof that the concept contingent truth is indefinitely extensible and there is no such thing as “all contingent truths.” Either interpretation would reconcile PSR with contingent truth, but the natural rationales of those interpretations are at odds. This essay a…

Two New Objections to the Fine-Tuning Argument

Rough draft: First objection: Necessarily, nothing cancreate concrete objects ex nihilo. So the posterior probability of the fine-tuning of the universe of concrete objects on the hypothesis that the god of classical theism both (i) designed it and (ii) ultimately created it ex nihilo is nil. But according to classical theism, for any world W containing concrete objects, God ultimately created the concrete objects in W ex nihilo. Therefore, classical theism entails that God ultimately creates ex nihilo any world containing concrete objects he designs. Therefore, the posterior probability of fine-tuning on the hypothesis of classical theism is nil.
Second objection: There are final causes inGod's naturethat are ontologically prior to his intelligent agency. For example, God's intellect and will work together to perform various functions, such as designing and creating things.  God's life is also meaningful and purposeful according to classical theism. On classical theism, th…

Toward a Plausible Framework for Doing Philosophy of Religion

I've argued that no divine personal agent that's wholly distinct from the natural world of concrete objects has the capacity to serve as the ultimate ground of abstract objects, concreteobjects, final causes, or objective moral duties.  Now suppose I'm right about that. Then either some of these things (e.g., final causes and objective moral duties) derive from more fundamental entities, or they don't. If they do, then as we've seen, no divine personal agent that's wholly distinct from the natural world of concrete objects serves as their ultimate ground.  If they don't, then the world is chock full of eternal, uncreated entities of the sort listed above -- abstract objects, concrete objects, final causes, and objective moral values, in which case no divine personal agent that's wholly distinct from the natural world serves as their ultimate ground.  Either disjunct leaves many interesting candidates within the space of epistemic possibilities -- e.g. …

Theism, Naturalism, and Final Causes

There is a long tradition in theistic philosophy of religion of appealing to God as the ultimate ground or architect of final causes -- of purpose, plan, and function -- found in nature. A key rationale behind this appeal is that final causes have an intelligent source as part of their nature or essence. This rationale appears to be at work in a wide range of arguments for God. Examples include design arguments, arguments from reason, arguments from intentionality, and arguments from life-meaning and purpose. 
Here's the rub: There are final causes in God's nature that are ontologically prior to his intelligent agency. For example, God's intellect and will work together to perform various functions, such as designing and creating things.  God's life is also meaningful and purposeful according to classical theism. On classical theism, therefore, final causes are built into God's nature without a prior cause. But if that's right, then classical theism entails th…