Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Mizrahi on Fine-Tuning and the Simulation Hypothesis

Mizrahi, Moti. "The Fine-Tuning Argument and the Simulation Hypothesis", Think (forthcoming).

The paper looks to be part of his larger project on the explanatory power of the simulation hypothesis.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Davis New Paper on Preferring God's Existence (or Not)


Review of God, Reason, and Reality

Mike Almeida reviews the book for NDPR.

Chalmers' New TedTalk on Explaining Consciousness

If he's right, then Russellian monism looks to be the closest match to perhaps the leading theory in the science of consciousness. Also, if he's right, then naturalists should take the base-expanding approach to accounting for consciousness, and not the shoehorning approach. Finally, if the leading theory is also the correct theory, then the argument from substance dualism has not only an undercutting defeater, but also a rebutting defeater in Russellian monism. Liberal naturalism FTW!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Oppy's Forthcoming Book on the Divine Attributes

Oppy, Graham. Describing Gods (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming). It's due to come out in December. Here's the blurb:
How do religious believers describe God, and what sort of attributes to they attribute to him? These are central topics in the philosophy of religion. In this book Graham Oppy undertakes a careful study of attributes which are commonly ascribed to God, including infinity, perfection, simplicity, eternity, necessity, fundamentality, omnipotence, omniscience, freedom, incorporeality, perfect goodness and perfect beauty. In a series of substantial chapters, he examines divine attributes one by one, and relates them to a larger taxonomy of those attributes. He also examines the difficulties involved in establishing the claim that understandings of divine attributes are inconsistent or incoherent. Intended as a companion to his 2006 book Arguing about Gods, his study engages with a range of the best contemporary work on divine attributes. It will appeal to readers in philosophy of religion.
  • Discusses a wide range of divine attributes including infinity, fundamentality and incorporeality
  • Provides extensive foundations for improved discussion of ontological and cosmological arguments about the existence of God
  • A companion volume to Arguing about Gods
And here's the table of contents:

Preface1. Preliminaries 2. Infinity 3. Perfection 4. Simplicity 5. Eternity 6. Necessity 7. Fundamentality 8. Omni-attributes 9. Freedom 10. Incorporeality 11. Value 12. Concluding remarks Bibliography Index 
Further details here.  H/T: John Danaher

The Argument from Revulsion

Here's a sketch of another argument I'm toying with: (1) I'm rightly repulsed by some aspects of the natural world, but (2) I wouldn't be rightly repulsed by some aspects of the natural world if theism is true; therefore, (3) theism is false.  Call it the argument from revulsion.

The kind of revulsion in play is not primarily moral, but aesthetic. The argument therefore seems distinct from arguments from evil. Examples of repulsive things are easy to find -- think, for example, of most insects and parasites. Here is a randomly chosen example: 
The crustacean Cymothoa exigua has the dubious and unsettling honor of being the only parasite known to replace an organ. It enters through the gills of the spotted rose snapper, attaching to the base of the fish’s tongue, where it drinks its blood. The bloodsucking causes the tongue to eventually wither away, at which point the crustacean attaches itself to the tongue stub, acting as the fish's tongue from then on. (link)

The key premise is (2). Why should we accept it? The basic line of reasoning in support of the premise is that if theism is true, then our cognitive and affective faculties are reliable, and so they track the truth about aesthetic properties of the world. Now if theism is true, then God made the world, and it is good. But given epistemic reliability, my aesthetic judgements about the repulsiveness of parts of the natural world are prima facie justified, in which case parts of the creation are prima facie repulsive. But this conflicts with the hypothesis that it is good (at least aesthetically). 

So that's the argument in a nutshell. What can be said in reply? Perhaps a "greater good" response could be constructed. But how would it go? Is a world full of aesthetically revolting things necessary for a greater good? If so, what is it? 

P.S., I am seeking a list of creatures and other aspects of nature that readers find particularly repulsive. Please comment liberally with your examples!

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Announcement: CFP: Divine Hiddenness

The British Society for the Philosophy of Religion 2015 Conference

Submission deadline: 
Tuesday, March 31 2015

Conference date(s):
Thursday, September 10 2015 - Sunday, September 13 2015

Conference Venue:
Oriel College, Oxford University 
Oxford, United Kingdom

The British Society for the Philosophy of Religion 2015 Conference: Divine Hiddenness 

Oriel College, Oxford, Thursday 10th – Sunday 13th September 2015.
Saturday 12th will focus on the legacy of Richard Swinburne in honour of his 80th birthday 

Keynote Speakers: Professor Richard Swinburne (Oxford), Professor Stephen R. L. Clark (Liverpool), Professor Sarah Coakley (Cambridge), and Professor Paul Moser (tbc) (Loyola University, Chicago) 

Call for Papers 
The problem of the "Hiddenness of God" has been explored in analytic philosophy of religion in recent decades mainly as an issue of theodicy and providence: if God wishes to make Godself transformatively available to humans, why does God not do so more obviously and openly? Many, such as Russell and, more recently, Schellenberg, have taken this to be an argument against theism. 

There is however also a deeper ontological issue at stake, that of the apparently intrinsic divine transcendence of God as creator. What philosophical sense can be made of a God who is (it is said) utterly unknowable in 'essence' but equally utterly available ‘in energies’, grace and revelation? Is there anything to be gained by a comparison with modern cosmological speculation here? We know what ‘dark matter’ does (namely, pull visible baryonic matter into stars and galaxies) but not what it is. 

There is also an epistemological problem, with echoes in other (non-religious) spheres. We may hope one day - though perhaps without much reason - to know the nature of 'dark matter', whereas - we are told - God is forever incomprehensible. How - as Hume enquired - does an incomprehensible divinity differ from an equally incomprehensible, non-divine, origin? How does "God does it" differ from "we can never know what does it"? Papers are invited which probe these philosophical issues from different directions, in connection with Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu or classical pagan traditions, both ancient and modern, and from the perspective of abstract metaphysics and epistemology. The theodicy question in the earlier discussion need not be neglected, but should be considered in the light of the metaphysical and epistemological issues already named. 

Please send abstracts either in the body of an email or as a .doc file (no pdfs) of a maximum of 250 words to me (Victoria.Harrison@glasgow.ac.uk) by the end of March 2015. Unfortunately, it will not be possible to consider abstracts that exceed the word limit or that are submitted after the closing date (allowance being made to colleagues in other time zones). 

Final versions of accepted papers will be due one month before the conference begins. Preference will be shown towards papers that are on the theme of the conference. Time and space at the conference will be limited, so we shall have to be selective, even allowing for the fact that we plan to run parallel sessions and request people presenting papers to keep to half-hour slots. 

In order to keep to the tight timetabling required to permit participants to hear (the whole of) as many papers as possible, papers should take ideally fifteen minutes and an absolute maximum twenty minutes to deliver, leaving ten minutes or so for discussion.

Announcement: CFP: Logos 2015: Religious Experience

Submission deadline: Wednesday, October 15 2014

Date: Thursday, May 7 2015 - Saturday, May 9 2015

Conference Venue:
University of Notre Dame 
Notre Dame, United States


Religious experience is central to religious faith and practice. It often serves as evidence for belief; it contributes to the development of doctrine; and it, or the desire for it, is often a major motivator for church attendance, meditation, commitment to spiritual disciplines, and other religious practices. Religious experience has received a great deal of attention within both philosophy and theology; but important questions remain unanswered. What is the nature of religious experience? What, exactly is (or should be) its relationship to religious belief and religious practice? If God exists and loves human beings, why aren’t vivid, unambiguous religious experiences more widely available? What can religious experiences tell us about the nature of God? Might religious experiences be the result, in part, of particular skills or virtues of the people who have them? The 2015 Logos Workshop will be devoted to addressing these and other philosophical and theological aspects of religious experience.

To have your paper considered for presentation at Logos 2015, please submit an abstract of the paper or the paper itself no later than October 15, 2014. Other things being equal, preference will be given to those who submit full papers by the deadline. We will let you know by December 1, 2014 whether your paper has been provisionally accepted. Full acceptance will be conditional on submission of the full reading version of the paper by April 1, 2015. It is expected that papers presented at the Logos workshop will be works in progress that can benefit from the group discussion. Consequently, we ask that authors not submit papers that will be published before the conference has ended.

Please send Abstracts or Full Papers to: analytictheology.logos@gmail.com

Michael Ruse on Whether Evolution Explains Religious Beliefs...

...in the New York Times.