Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Nathan Hanna on the Logical Problem of Evil

Nathan Hanna (Lawrence University) is currently working on a version of the logical problem of evil that is immune to Plantinga's Free Will Defense. Here is the link to the current draft ("Resurrecting the Logical Problem of Evil").

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Review of Jack Ritchie's Understanding Naturalism

David Macarthur (University of Sydney) reviews the book for NDPR. Here's the link.

Like me, Macarthur holds to a "liberal" conception of naturalism. The following passage from MacArthur's review captures my sentiments about more conservative forms of naturalism:

"Ritchie's strategy of taking up a position within the landscape of current scientific naturalism, however, leads to a blindspot about the range of viable naturalisms on offer in contemporary philosophy. He misses the possibility of a non-scientific or liberal naturalism that is arguably associated with such leading philosophers as Dewey, McDowell, Putnam and Wittgenstein. Such naturalism lies in the largely unexplored conceptual space between scientific naturalism and supernaturalism. It allows that one can respect science without supposing that science is our only resource for understanding humanity. Not everything that exists is explicable, or fully explicable, by science. There are many things in our everyday world of which there is no complete scientific theory but that are, nonetheless, presupposed by science -- e.g. tables, persons, artworks, institutions, rational norms. A liberal naturalism can more readily do justice to such things. It is also in a better position to ask whether there exist non-scientific modes of knowing and understanding tables, persons, reasons, etc. The best prospects for an account of rational or conceptual normativity ("the hardest task") are, presumably, neither scientific nor supernatural."

The Chemical Brothers - Where Do I Begin?

The Winter 2009 Issue of Philosophia Christi...

... is now out. Here is the link to the table of contents.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Erik Baldwin's Interesting Paper on Plantinga's Model of Warranted Christian Belief

Erik Baldwin is a graduate student at Purdue. He's also a visiting graduate student at Notre Dame, doing research at their Center for Philosophy of Religion. In his paper "Could the Extended Aquinas/Calvin Model Defeat Basic Christian Belief?", (Philosophia Christi 8:2 (2006), pp. 383-399), he raises concerns about Plantinga's model of warranted Christian belief. In the process, he does an excellent job of clarifying Plantinga's account.

P.S., Recall that Erik Baldwin is the one who co-authored this nice paper with Michael Thune (one of his former fellow grad students at Purdue).

New Philosophy of Religion Specialty Journal

The European Journal for Philosophy of Religion is a relatively new journal that focuses on issues in philosophy of religion. Here is the link.

Friday, November 06, 2009

The November Issue of Jobs for Philosophers: Doom

Well, it's official: This is the worst job season since at least the formation of the American Philosophical Association. The publication of the October issue of the APA's Jobs for Philosophers marks the official beginning of the year's philosophy hiring season. The number of jobs listed in that issue is down roughly 50 percent from 2008 (256 jobs, down from 507 jobs), and that was a bad year.

To make matters worse, the newly-released November issue of JfP has just 18 -- 18! -- new positions posted. Guesstimating, if you add to the newly-minted PhDs (e.g., me) the ABDs, the people who didn't get a job the last couple of seasons, and the tenured or tenure-track people seeking to switch institutions this year, there are probably about 1,000 job candidates on the market.


UPDATE: I stand corrected: this is not the worst job season on APA record (see the comments of the anons at 4:54PM (NOV. 7th) and 12:46AM (Nov. 8th).

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Link to Videos of the Recent "My Ways Are Not Your Ways" Conference at Notre Dame

Recently, the Notre Dame Center for Philosophy of Religion held an important conference discussing the prima facie (I would say "ultima facie") morally problematic character of the God of the Old Testament (e.g., God-endorsed genocide). The conference was entitled, "My Ways Are Not Your Ways: The Character of the God of the Hebrew Bible", and many leading figures in philosophy of religion presented papers. The videos for all the talks can be found here.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Stephen Maitzen's New Paper on God and Morality

We've noted Stephen Maitzen's excellent work in philosophy of religion on another occasion, but I'd like to note that he has since written and posted some more nice papers. His most recent paper, "Ordinary Morality Implies Atheism" (European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 2 (2009): 107-126) can be found here. Links to most of his other papers can be found here.

Btw, some time soon, I'd like to get a discussion going on his novel argument in "Anselmian Atheism", Philosophy and Phenomenological Research Vol. LXX, No. 1 (January 2005), pp. 225-239.

Interesting Recent Exchange on the Problem of Natural Evil

Alexander Bird is known for his work on dispositional essentialism and, relatedly, his arguments for the metaphysical necessity of the laws of nature (a view which is growing in acceptance among philosophers, I might add).

Recently, Bird had an exchange with Michael Bertrand on the problem of natural evil in The Australasian Journal of Philosophy. The exchange is based on some brief remarks at the end of Bird's paper, "Unexpected A Posteriori Necessary Laws of Nature", Australasian Journal of Philosophy 83:4 (December 2005), pp. 533-548. Bertrand's reply, "God Might Be Responsible for Physical Evil", AJP 87:3 (September 2009), pp. 513-515 can be found here (requires subscription for access), and (the pre-print version of) Bird's rejoinder, "...And Then Again, He Might Not Be", AJP 87(2009), pp. 517-521, can be found here.

I find Bird's reply to the problem of natural evil the most plausible. Unfortunately, as he points out, it comes at a high cost, as it relies on a view according to which the laws of nature are metaphysically necessary, which in turn implies that miracles are metaphysically impossible(!).

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Excellent Recent Critique of the "Big Bang" Version of the Kalam argument

Pitts, J. Brian. "Why the Big Bang Singularity Does Not Help the Kalam Cosmological Argument for Theism", British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 59 (2008), pp. 675-708. Here is the link.

Perhaps it's worth noting that unlike William Lane Craig, James Brian Pitts actually has a PhD in physics.

UPDATE: Commenter "Pastor Tom" has kindly pointed out that Craig has offered a reply to Pitts. Here is the link. I leave it to the reader to decide whether Craig's reply is adequate.

Review of The Agnostic Inquirer: Revelation from a Philosophical Standpoint

Keith Parsons (University of Houston, Clear Lake) reviews the book for NDPR. Here is the link.
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