Skip to main content

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 Also included is an appendix containing Plantinga’s often referred to, but previously unpublished, lecture notes entitled 'Two Dozen (or so) Theistic Arguments', with a substantial preface to the appendix written by Plantinga specifically for this volume."

And here's the table of contents:

Introduction: Alvin Plantinga, God’s philosopher - Deane-Peter Baker
1. Natural theology - Graham Oppy
2. Evil and Alvin Plantinga - Richard M. Gale
3. The modal metaphysics of Alvin Plantinga - John Divers
4. Natural theology and naturalist atheology: Plantinga’s evolutionary argument against naturalism - Ernest Sosa
5. Two approaches to epistemic defeat - Jonathan Kvanvig
6. Plantinga’s model of warranted Christian belief - James Beilby
7. Pluralism and proper function - Kelly James Clark
8. Plantinga’s replacement argument - Peter Van Inwagen
Appendix: Two Dozen (or so) Theistic Arguments - Alvin Plantinga.

Btw: the editor of the collection (Deane-Peter Baker) is a Christian philosopher who recently wrote a very helpful article on Plantinga's externalist account of warranted Christian belief ("Plantinga’s Reformed Epistemology: What’s the Question?", International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 57:2 (2005), pp. 77–103). After explicating Plantinga's account, he evaluates it by analyzing a virtually comprehensive list of criticisms of his account to date. He argues that the criticisms with real force reduce to four -- what he dubs (i) the proper basicality challenge, (ii) the ethical objection, (iii) the ‘further question’ objection, and (iv) the problem of religious diversity. He concludes that these criticisms have sufficient force to show that, pace Plantinga, positive arguments for Christian belief are required.


Popular posts from this blog

Epicurean Cosmological Arguments for Matter's Necessity

One can find, through the writings of Lucretius, a powerful yet simple Epicurean argument for matter's (factual or metaphysical) necessity. In simplest terms, the argument is that since matter exists, and since nothing can come from nothing, matter is eternal and uncreated, and is therefore at least a factually necessary being. 
A stronger version of Epicurus' core argument can be developed by adding an appeal to something in the neighborhood of origin essentialism. The basic line of reasoning here is that being uncreated is an essential property of matter, and thus that the matter at the actual world is essentially uncreated.
Yet stronger versions of the argument could go on from there by appealing to the principle of sufficient reason to argue that whatever plays the role of being eternal and essentially uncreated does not vary from world to world, and thus that matter is a metaphysically necessary being.
It seems to me that this broadly Epicurean line of reasoning is a co…

Notes on Mackie's "Evil and Omnipotence"

0. Introduction
0.1 Mackie argues that the problem of evil proves that either no god exists, or at least that the god of Orthodox Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, does not exist. His argument is roughly the same version of the problem of evil that we’ve been considering.
0.2 Mackie thinks that one can avoid the conclusion that God does not exist only if one admits that either God is not omnipotent (i.e., not all-powerful), or that God is not perfectly good. 0.3 However, he thinks that hardly anyone will be willing to take this route. For doing so leaves one with a conception of a god that isn’t worthy of worship, and therefore not religiously significant.
0.4 After his brief discussion of his version of the problem of evil, he considers most of the main responses to the problem of evil, and concludes that none of them work.

1. First Response and Mackie's Reply
1.1 Response: Good can’t exist without evil; evil is a necessary counterpart to good.
1.2 Mackie’s reply:
1.2.1 this see…

Notes on Swinburne, "On Why God Allows Evil"

Notes on Swinburne’s “Why God Allows Evil”

1. The kinds of goods a theistic god would provide: deeper goods than just “thrills of pleasure and times of contentment” (p. 90). For example:
1.1 Significant freedom and responsibility
1.1.1 for ourselves
1.1.2 for others
1.1.3 for the world in which they live
1.2 Valuable lives
1.2.1 being of significant use to ourselves
1.2.2 being of significant use to each other

2. Kinds of evil
2.1 Moral evil: all the evil caused or permitted by human beings, whether intentionally or through negligence (e.g., murder, theft, etc.)
2.2 Natural evil: all the rest: evil not caused or permitted by human beings (e.g., suffering caused by hurricanes, forest fires, diseases, animal suffering, etc.)

3. The gist of Swinburne’s answer to the problem of evil: God cannot – logically cannot -- give us the goods of significant freedom, responsibility and usefulness without thereby allowing for the possibility of lots of moral and natural evil. This is why he has al…