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Showing posts from June, 2014

Williamson's Necessitism and Anselmian Theism

Timothy Williamson has recently argued for necessitism, according to which anything that exists in one possible world exists in every possible world; that is, that every possible being is a necessary being. However, that doesn't mean that every possible being has the property of being concrete at every possible world (and so there are plenty of worlds at which we are mere abstract objects).

If true, necessitism would to have interesting implications for certain views in philosophy of religion. For example, it would mean that if an Anselmian being exists, then it is just one among infinitely many other necessary beings. Of course, one could reply that an Anselmian being still retains its unique and superlative status in virtue of being the only being who exists concretely at every possible world. Perhaps that's a difference that matters. Still, it seems to me that it would chip away at at least some of an Anselmian being's greatness.

The Kalam Cosmological Argument + the Principle of Material Causality = Panentheism

Consider the following set of propositions, which I’ll call A:
Set A:
1. There is a temporal beginning to all physical reality.
2. If there is a temporal beginning to all physical reality, then there is an ontic beginning[1] to all physical reality. 3. If there is an ontic beginning to all physical reality, then there is an ontic beginning to all concrete reality besides God. 4. Whatever has an ontic beginning has an efficient cause. 5. Whatever has an ontic beginning has a material cause. 6. If there is an ontic beginning to all concrete reality besides God, then it cannot have a material cause.
Set A is inconsistent. Which proposition should go? Craig thinks it’s (5). But why think that? Craig admits that both (4) and (5) are extremely well-supported, but reasons that rejecting (5) is better than rejecting both. Perhaps that's right. But of course that’s not the only option. Given the extremely strong grounds for both causal principles[2], it seems that the most reasonable optio…

Nolan's New Paper on Hyperintensional Metaphysics

Nolan, Daniel. "Hyperintensional Metaphysics", Phil. Studies (forthcoming. Penultimate draft here).
This isn't a philosophy of religion paper, but it's an absolutely essential read to those working in the field. Possible-worlds analyses (e.g. of concepts, properties, essences, dispositions, etc.) are now widely seen to be too coarse grained to "carve reality at her joints", as it were. Therefore, the future of analyses for God's attributes, of the viability of divine command theory, of the standards for what counts as a counterexample, etc., is likely to be a hyperintensional one, in which case consideration of impossible worlds will more frequently be seen as relevant to their evaluation.  Let the hyperintensional revolution continue!

Aikin's Forthcoming Book on Clifford and James

Aikin, Scott. Evidentialism and the Will to Believe (Bloomsbury, forthcoming). The book is due to come out in July. Here's the blurb: Work on the norms of belief in epistemology regularly starts with two touchstone essays: W.K. Clifford's "The Ethics of Belief" and William James's "The Will to Believe." Discussing the central themes from these seminal essays, Evidentialism and the Will to Believe explores the history of the ideas governing evidentialism.
As well as Clifford's argument from the examples of the shipowner, the consequences of credulity and his defence against skepticism, this book tackles James's conditions for a genuine option and the structure of the will to believe case as a counter-example to Clifford's evidentialism. Exploring the question of whether James's case successfully counters Clifford's evidentialist rule for belief, this study captures the debate between those who hold that one should proportion belief to e…

Oppy's Forthcoming Book on Reinventing Philosophy of Religion

Oppy, Graham. Reinventing Philosophy of Religion (Palgrave, forthcoming). The book is due to come out in July. Here's the blurb: Widespread conflict between worldviews prompts philosophical questions. Are all worldviews religious? Is there a common core to all worldviews? Is there one true worldview? Are some worldviews better than others? Are there proofs that ought to bring an end to all disputes about worldviews? Might we reasonably agree to disagree when it comes to questions about worldviews? Can one lead a worthwhile life if one subscribes to a false worldview? Are people who do not have a religious worldview necessarily wicked or immoral? Should worldview education be an entirely private matter? This book is an introduction to these—and other—central questions in the philosophy of religion, as well as a defense of the idea that these kinds of questions are the central subject matter of philosophy of religion. And here's the table of contents: Introductory Remarks

Dougherty's Forthcoming Book on the Problem of Animal Pain

Dougherty, Trent. The Problem of Animal Pain (Palgrave, forthcoming). The book is due to come out in July. Interestingly (and plausibly) it rejects the neo-Cartesian response to the problem of animal suffering defending by Michael J. Murray and endorsed by William Lane Craig. Here's the blurb: The problem of evil constitutes the greatest challenge to rational belief in the existence of God. Animal suffering constitutes perhaps the most powerful version of the problem. Considerations that render human suffering theologically intelligible seem inapplicable to non-human animals. It is commonly held that they do not have morally significant free will, they do not have immortal souls, and they do not have a direct relationship with God. In this book, Dougherty defends radical possibilities for animal afterlife that allow a soul-making theodicy to apply to animals. He defends that animals have souls, and a novel model of materialist resurrection if they don't. He then proposes that a…

Forthcoming Book on God and the Multiverse

Kraay, Klaas (ed). God and the Multiverse (Routledge). The book is due out in October. Here's the blurb: In recent decades, scientific theories have postulated the existence of many universes beyond our own. The details and implications of these theories are hotly contested. Some philosophers argue that these scientific models count against the existence of God. Others, however, argue that if God exists, a multiverse is precisely what we should expect to find. Moreover, these philosophers claim that the idea of a divinely created multiverse can help believers in God respond to certain arguments for atheism. These proposals are, of course, also extremely controversial. This volume collects together twelve newly published essays – two by physicists, and ten by philosophers – that discuss various aspects of this issue. Some of the essays support the idea of a divinely created multiverse; others oppose it. Scientific, philosophical, and theological issues are considered.
And here's …

Goldschmidt's New Paper on Commanding Belief...

... looks really interesting. Here's the abstract:

This essay shows three things: first, that we cannot comply with a command from God to believe in God; second, that God cannot command us to believe in God; and, third, that the divine command theory is false. The third conclusion follows from the second, and the second follows from the first. The essay focuses on an argument from the medieval Jewish philosopher, Hasdai Crescas. It also draws from, and is something of a sequel to, an argument from Brown and Nagasawa published previously in this journal. And if I should find a copy in my email, I wouldn't mind in the least.
Update: Thanks!
H/T: G.O.

New Paper Replies to (Some of) Morriston's Important Critiques of Divine Command Theory

Brian Davis, Richard and W. Paul Franks. "Counterpossibles and the ‘Terrible’ Divine Command Deity", Religious Studies (forthcoming). The pre-publication version can be found here (No-citation or circulation rules apply).
Here's the abstract: In a series of articles in this journal, Wes Morriston has launched what can only be considered a full-scale assault on the divine command theory (DCT) of morality. According to Morriston, proponents of this theory are committed to an alarming counterpossible: that if God did command an annual human sacrifice, it would be morally obligatory. Since only a ‘terrible’ deity would do such a ‘terrible’ thing, we should reject DCT. Indeed, if there were such a deity, the world would be a terrible place – certainly far worse than it is. We argue that Morriston's non-standard method for assessing counterpossibles of this sort is flawed. Not only is the savvy DCT-ist at liberty to reject it, but Morriston's method badly misfires in the…

New Paper on Epistemic Contextualism and James's "The Will to Believe"

Holley, David M. "Practical Considerations and Evidence in James's Permission to Believe", Religious Studies (forthcoming).
Here's the abstract: Philosophers often read ‘The will to believe’ as defending the substitution of non-epistemic reasons for inadequate epistemic reasons. I contend that a more charitable reading of James's argument is to understand him as proposing a contextualist account of the kind of evidence needed for responsible believing. On my reading, James claims that evidential support that might be insufficient in a purely theoretical context may be good enough when there is a pressing need to decide on a course of action.
For my own part, I'm not concerned about the issue of how to properly interpret James's argument. I'm interested in the fundamental insight, pointed out by Aaron Rizzieri et al. and now Holley, that recent research on contextualism and pragmatic encroachment blurs -- and perhaps obliterates -- the traditional di…

Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion, Vol. 6... due out next February. Here's the table of contents:

Editor's Introduction 1: Alexander Arnold: Knowledge First and Ockhamism 2: Michael Bergmann: Religious Disagreement and Rational Demotion 3: Gregory W. Dawes: The Act of Faith: Aquinas and the Moderns 4: Laura W. Ekstrom: Religion on the Cheap 5: Gregory Fowler: Simplicity or Priority? 6: John Heil: Cartesian Transubstantiation 7: Jonathan D. Jacobs: The Ineffable, Inconceivable, and Incomprehensible God: Fundamentality and Apophatic Theology 8: Bruce Langtry: Rightmaking and Wrongmaking Properties, Evil, and Theism 9: R. Zachary Manis: The Doxastic Problem of Hell 10: Richard Swinburne: Could God be a Necessary Being? 11: N. N. Trakakis: The Ecclesiological Problem of Evil 12: Christina van Dyke: Aquinas's Shiny Happy People: Perfect Happiness and the Limits of Human Nature
Further details here.