...at Prosblogion. We've noted Wes Morriston's recent paper on genocide and the Old Testament. It's good to see some of his arguments being discussed over there -- and Wes has joined the discussion in the comments.
There are a lot of issues to untangle and sort out here. Let me start with this: Suppose there is just one kind of substance, and it has both ordinary physical properties and informational/representational properties essentially and fundamentally. Suppose further that it's an uncreated, eternal, and at least de facto indestructible substance (since it's a "free-standing", metaphysically independent sort of stuff, and it turns out that nothing else that exists in our world has what it takes to annihilate it). Call this "The Quasi-Spinozistic View".
On The Quasi-Spinozistic view, then, consciousness and other mental properties don't emerge from, and aren't caused by, the physical. Furthermore, no god is required to create such properties, anymore than a god is needed to make its physical properties. Finally, there's no special problem about where this substance came from or why it exists. For it n…
Is there some special reason to think that non-physical concreta can't -- or even probably wouldn't -- exist if theism weren't true? In particular, why think it's even slightly more likely than not that theism is true if, say, the mental or quasi-mental is a fundamental feature of concrete substances?
Just to be clear: The hypothesis on the table isn't that the mental supervenes upon or emerges from the physical. Rather, the hypothesis is that the mental or quasi-mental is part of the bedrock of concrete reality.
UPDATE: Here is a link to the SEP entry on neutral monism. It also includes helpful descriptions of somewhat similar views (e.g., panpsychism, dual aspect theory, neo-Russellianism, etc.). Non-physicalistic naturalist views of concreta such as these seem to me to pose one sort of problem for apologetical arguments from consciousness to theism.
The 2010 St. Thomas Summer Seminar in Philosophy of Religion and Philosophical Theology
Organized by Dean Zimmerman (Rutgers) Michael Rota (University of St. Thomas)
Recent PhDs and current graduate students in philosophy, theology, or religious studies are invited to apply to participate in the 2010 St. Thomas Summer Seminar in Philosophy of Religion and Philosophical Theology. Twenty participants will be selected; each will receive a stipend of $2,800 and will be provided with accommodations and meals for the duration of the seminar. (Regrettably, funding for travel costs cannot be provided.)
Seminar Dates: June 15 - July 2, 2010
Location: University of St. Thomas, Saint Paul, Minnesota
Topics and Speakers
The epistemology of religious belief Alvin Plantinga (Notre Dame) and Richard Feldman (Rochester)
Science and religion Alvin Plantinga (Notre Dame) and Elliott Sober (UW-Madison)
The cosmological argument Alexander Pruss (Baylor) and Peter van Inwagen (Notre Dame)
Sorry for the dearth of posts as of late. I recently (Spring 2009) got my Ph.D. in Philosophy, and this is my first (and, if things go well, last!) serious run on the Philosophy job market, which officially began yesterday with the publication of the October issue of Jobs for Philosophers. Unfortunately for myself and others going on the market, this is the worst job season in a few decades. In any case, polishing my dossier and sending out applications (on top of teaching and family matters) is pretty much all-consuming, and will be so for a good while. As such, posting may well be light for about a month or two.
In response to the effects of the California budget crisis on the University of California system, George Lakoff explains how California got into its current mess, and how we can get out of it. Learn it, know it, live it.