Saturday, January 30, 2016

New IEP Entry on Proper Functionalism

Here.

New Paper on Anti-Theodicy

Betenson, Tony. "Anti-Theodicy", Philosophy Compass 11:1 (January 2016), pp. 56-65. Here's the abstract:

In this article, I outline the major themes of ‘anti-theodicy’. Anti-theodicy is characterised as a reaction, as rejection, against traditional solutions to the problem of evil (called ‘theodicies’) and against the traditional formulations of the problem of evil to which those solutions respond. I detail numerous ‘moral’ anti-theodical objections to theodicy, illustrating the central claim of anti-theodicy: Theodicy is morally objectionable. I also detail some ‘non-moral’ anti-theodical objections, illustrating the second major claim of anti-theodicy: Traditional formulations of the problem of evil are conceptually misguided. My focus remains on the analytic philosophical tradition throughout, but I briefly allude to the rich theological tradition of anti-theodicy. Although we should recognise the significant degree of diversity amongst anti-theodical arguments and the philosophical views of their proponents, this article should serve to illustrate the general theme: ‘Theodicies mediate a praxis that sanctions evil.

And if a copy should find its way to my inbox...

Update: Thanks!

Friday, January 29, 2016

New Book on Religion, Cognitive Science, and Experimental Philosophy

Helen De Cruz, Ryan Nichols, and James Beebe have come out with a terrific new collection: Advances in Religion, Cognitive Science, and Experimental Philosophy (Bloomsbury, 2016).

Here's the blurb:

Experimental philosophy has blossomed into a variety of philosophical fields including ethics, epistemology, metaphysics and philosophy of language. But there has been very little experimental philosophical research in the domain of philosophy of religion. Advances in Religion, Cognitive Science, and Experimental Philosophy demonstrates how cognitive science of religion has the methodological and conceptual resources to become a form of experimental philosophy of religion.Addressing a wide variety of empirical claims that are of interest to philosophers and psychologists of religion, a team of psychologists and philosophers apply data from the psychology of religion to important problems in the philosophy of religion including the psychology of religious diversity; the psychology of substance dualism; the problem of evil and the relation between religious belief and empathy; and the cognitive science explaining the formation of intuitions that unwittingly guide philosophers of religion when formulating arguments.Bringing together authors and researchers who have made important contributions to interdisciplinary research on religion in the last decade, Advances in Religion, Cognitive Science, and Experimental Philosophy provides new ways of approaching core philosophical and psychological problems.
And here's the table of contents:

1. Introduction: Cognitive science of religion and its philosophical implications, Helen De Cruz (Department of Philosophy, VU University Amsterdam) and Ryan Nichols (Department of Philosophy, California State University, Fullerton, and Centre for Human Evolution, Cognition, & Culture, University of British Columbia)
2. Is religion or science debunked by the evolution of cognitive faculties? John Wilkins (Honorary Fellow at the School of Historical and Philosophical Sciences, The University of Melbourne)
3. A cognitive psychological account of reasoning about ritual efficacy, Cristine H. Legare (Associate Professor of Psychology, Cognition, Culture, and Development Lab, Department of Psychology, University of Texas) and Rachel Watson-Jones (Postdoctoral fellow, Cognition, Culture, and Development Lab, Department of Psychology, University of Texas)
4. Atheism, inference and intuition, Kelly James Clark (Senior Research Fellow, Kaufman Interfaith Institute, Grand Valley State University)
5. Cognitive science, evil and God, John Teehan (Professor of Religion, Hofstra University)
6. How to witness your own funeral: “The folk” respond to Anthony Flew, Mitch Hodge (Adjunct Professor of Philosophy, Amarillo College)
7. How do philosophers evaluate natural theological arguments? An experimental philosophical investigation, Helen De Cruz (Assistant professor, Department of Philosophy, VU University Amsterdam) and Johan De Smedt (Postdoctoral fellow, Department of Philosophy, Ghent University)
8. Remembering past lives, Claire White (Assistant Professor, California State University, Northridge, Robert Kelly (California State University, Northridge) and Shaun Nichols (Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Arizona)
9. An ecological theory of gods' minds, Benjamin Grant Purzycki and Rita McNamara (Centre for Human Evolution, Cognition & Culture, University of British Columbia)
10. Rethinking the significance of moral and religious diversity, Jason Marsh (Assistant professor of Philosophy, St Olaf College) and Jon Marsh (St. Louis University)
Index

See more at: http://www.bloomsbury.com/us/advances-in-religion-cognitive-science-and-experimental-philosophy-9781474223843/#sthash.epmZpcFp.dpuf

Friday, December 04, 2015

PSR, PvI, and the Multiverse

According to a strong and unrestricted version of the principle of sufficient reason, everything that exists or occurs has a sufficient reason for its existence or occurrence, where sufficient reasons are taken to entail or necessitate the existence or occurrence of the entity in question. For our purposes, call this version PSR.

Peter van Inwagen famously argued that PSR is implausible, as it entails that everything exists or occurs of metaphysical necessity, and that this is absurd (since many things seem to be contingent and not necessary). Call this the PvI objection. Now people tend to react to the PvI objection in one of three ways: 

(i) Hold on to PSR, while accepting that it entails everything exists or occurs of metaphysical necessity.
(ii) Restrict PSR so as to make conceptual space for things to occur contingently.
(iii) Reject PSR in order to make conceptual space for things to occur contingently.

However, it seems to me that there is another option: 

(iv) Hold on to PSR and its implication that everything exists or occurs of metaphysical necessity, but deny that it entails that everything exists in our universe exists or occurs of necessity in all universes.

To motivate this option, note that the PvI objection gets most of its bite by assuming that
1. Our universe is the only universe that exists at the actual world. 
For then it seems to follow from (1) and the PvI objection that
2. Whatever exists or occurs in our universe at the actual world exists or occurs in all possible universes at all possible worlds
However, if it's possible that there is a multiverse comprising an infinite number of universes (where these are sufficiently diverse so as to capture our modal intuitions about the space of metaphysical possibilities), then this inference doesn't go through.

Option (iv) exploits the epistemic possibility of a multiverse of the sort sketched above to block the inference from (1) and the PvI objection to (2).  Those who take this option grant that PSR entails that everything exists or occurs of metaphysical necessity, in the sense that the multiverse  at the actual world exists at all possible worlds. However, they deny that all that exists or occurs in our tiny corner of the multiverse exists or occurs at all other universes within the multiverse. In this way, they deflate the epistemic significance of the intuition of contingency that gives the PvI objection its bite.  By choosing option (iv), then, one can have one's explanatory cake and eat it, too.

I'm not saying that option (iv) doesn't raise questions of its own. (E.g., does it commit one to Lewisian modal realism and/or counterpart theory? Etc., etc.). All I'm saying is that (iv) is an option that's no worse off than the others, and that it's not clear that it fares worse than PvI's option in terms of a theoretical cost-benefit analysis between the respective views. At a minimum, it's an option that deserves more consideration than it has hitherto received.

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