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Showing posts from April, 2009

Recent Philosophy of Religion Articles in Philosophy Compass

Philosophy Compass is an excellent journal that publishes survey articles on the current state of the art on a given topic in a given sub-field of Philosophy, including topics in philosophy of religion. A number of very helpful survey articles in philosophy of religion have been published there recently, and I wanted to recommend some of them for those who can access them (if you can't, you might try Googling their department webpages for drafts):

-Manson, Neil A. "The Fine-Tuning Argument"

-King, Nathan L. "Religious Diversity and its Challenges to Religious Belief"

-Kraay, Klaas J. "Creation, Actualization, and God's Choice Among Worlds"

-Oppy, Graham. "Higher-Order Ontological Arguments"

-Hasker, William. "Intelligent Design"

-Alexander, David. "The Recent Revival of Cosmological Arguments"

-Kwan, Kai-man. "Can Religious Experience Provide Justification for the Belief in God? The Debate in Contemporary Analytic Philo…

Plantinga's Recent Critique of Materialism in Philosophy of Mind

When people think of Alvin Plantinga's work in the philosophy of religion, they typically think of his defense of the proper basicality of belief in God and his defenses of theism against the logical and evidential versions of the problem of evil. However, since about the early to mid 90s, he's gone on the offensive and offered several critiques of metaphysical naturalism.[1] His previous three arguments of this sort are:

(i) The argument from anti-realism, which we mentioned recently.

(ii) The evolutionary argument against naturalism (EAAN): very roughly, the argument is that if naturalism is true, then the probability that unguided evolution gave us reliable cognitive faculties is low or inscrutable. Therefore, embracing naturalism gives one a decisive basis for not trusting your own mind.

(iii) The argument from proper function: very roughly, the argument is that a belief is warranted -- i.e., it has that quality or quantity, enough of which turns true belief into knowledge --…

An Irrefutable Ontological Argument?

Mike Almeida has presented an ingenious new probabilistic version of the ontological argument at Prosblogion. As I understand it, the basic idea is this. Consider the following properties:

Being concrete (as opposed to being abstract)
Necessary existence

Mike's argument seems to be this. The first three properties admit of an infinite number of degrees. Furthermore, at least very many combinations of these degreed properties are compossible -- perhaps infinitely many. Furthermore, these combinations are compatible with the fourth property of being concrete. So there seem to be an infinite number of compossible combinations of the first four properties:

Being Concrete

Therefore, given the infinite number of possible combinations of these properties, it's highly probable that at least one such combination is compatible with the fifth property mentioned earlier, viz., the property of necessary existence. Therefore, since every set of compati…

Plantinga's "Reason and Belief in God"... now online at his department webpage at Notre Dame, here. (thanks, Al!). This 1983 text is the most developed exposition and defense of Plantinga's earlier internalist account of properly basic belief in God. It's still considered a classic. If you're interested in understanding and evaluating Plantinga's reformed epistemology, this is the place to start.

Salerno and Brogaard's Critique of the Argument from Anti-Realism to Theism

In his 1982 APA presidential address, "How to be an Anti-Realist", Alvin Plantinga (Notre Dame) argued that anti-realism is true, and that the best account of anti-realism entails the truth of theism. Plantinga summarizes his argument at the end of his address as follows:

"By way of conclusion then: the fundamental anti-realist intuition-
that truth is not independent of mind--is indeed correct. This intuition
is best accommodated by the theistic claim that necessarily, proposi-
tions have two properties essentially: being conceived by God and being
true if and only if believed by God. So how can we sensibly be anti-
realists? Easily enough: by being theists."

Recently, Michael Rea (Notre Dame) has offered a similar version of Plantinga's argument (‘‘Theism and Epistemic Truth-Equivalences’’, Nous 34:2 (2000), pp. 291–301).

Joe Salerno (Saint Louis University) and Berit Brogaard (U of MIssouri, St. Louis) published a paper ("Anti-realism, Theism and the Cond…

Review of Swinburne's 2nd Edition of The Existence of God

Richard Swinburne's The Existence of God (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1979) is widely considered a high point in the defense of classical theism. There, he reformulated the classical arguments for theism as inductive arguments, using the machinery of Bayes' Theorem. He came out with a second edition of the book in 2004. A helpful review of the new edition can be found at Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, here.

Paul Draper's 2009 SPR Presidential Address

In his 2009 presidential address to the Society for Philosophy of Religion, Draper presents a paper arguing that theists bear a heavy burden of proof. His argument is based on an application of his new theory of intrinsic probability for the probability calculus. First, he briefly explains his theory of intrinsic probability, and why it's superior to Richard Swinburne's. He then applies his theory by showing resultant problems for generating good Bayesian arguments for theism. The audio of Draper's address can be found here.

Welcome to the cutting edge, kiddies.

Deane-Peter Baker's Recent Book, Alvin Plantinga

If you're evaluating Plantinga's work in philosophy of religion, get this book:

Baker, Deane-Peter. Alvin Plantinga (Cambridge UP, 2007).

Here's the blurb from the Cambridge UP website:

"Few thinkers have had as much impact on contemporary philosophy as has Alvin Plantinga. The work of this quintessential analytic philosopher has in many respects set the tone for the debate in the fields of modal metaphysics and epistemology and he is arguably the most important philosopher of religion of our time. In this volume, a distinguished team of today’s leading philosophers address the central aspects of Plantinga’s philosophy - his views on natural theology; his responses to the problem of evil; his contributions to the field of modal metaphysics; the controversial evolutionary argument against naturalism; his model of epistemic warrant and his view of epistemic defeat; and his recent work on mind-body dualism. Also included is an appendix containing Plantinga’s often referre…