Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wielenberg's Defense of Non-Natural, Non-Theistic Moral Realism

On another occasion, I mentioned a review of Wielenberg's "In Defense of Non-Natural, Non-Theistic Moral Realism", ( Faith and Philosophy 29:1 (2009), pp. 23-41) in Philosopher's Digest. Here is a link to Wielenberg's paper itself. The paper offers an undercutting defeater for claims made by Copan, Craig, Moreland, et al. that atheism can't provide an adequate meta-ethical basis for morality.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sudduth's Criticisms of Plantinga's Warranted Christian Belief

Christian philosopher Michael Sudduth critiques Plantinga's Warranted Christian Belief in "Can Religious Unbelief be Proper Function Rational?", Faith and Philosophy 16:3 (July 1999), pp. 297-314. Here is a link to an online version.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Early Christmas Treats

This is turning out to be a jolly little Christmas season for me. My Ph.D. diploma came about a week ago. Then, the other night, a package was delivered to my doorstep. It was a box containing several bound copies of my dissertation (Guess what my parents and in-laws are getting for Christmas?). Now if I can just get a call from a search committee for a tenure-track job interview...

Monday, December 21, 2009

Hume's Abject Failure? Millican's Reply to Earman

In Hume's Abject Failure, John Earman offered a book-length critique of Hume's case against justified (testimony-based) belief in miracles. Peter Millican (Hertford College, Oxford) has offered a careful reply. Here is the link, and here is the abstract:

The centrepiece of Earman’s provocatively titled book Hume’s Abject Failure: The Argument against Miracles (OUP, 2000) is a probabilistic interpretation of Hume’s famous ‘maxim’ concerning the credibility of miracle reports, followed by a trenchant critique of the maxim when thus interpreted. He argues that the first part of this maxim, once its obscurity is removed, is simply trivial, while the second part is nonsensical. His subsequent discussion culminates with a forthright challenge to any would-be defender of Hume to ‘point to some thesis which is both philosophically interesting and which Hume has made plausible’. My main aim here is to answer this challenge, by demonstrating a preferable interpretation of Hume’s maxim, according to which its first half is both plausible and non-trivial, while its second half sketches a useful, albeit approximate, corollary. I conclude by contesting Earman’s negative views on the originality and philosophical significance of Hume’s justly famous essay.

It's perhaps worth noting that Millican is currently the co-editor of the journal, Hume Studies.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Epistemology of Disagreement and Rationally Permissible Theistic Belief

Alvin Plantinga has asserted that if, after careful consideration of the evidence for and against a proposition, P, one still finds P persuasive, then one is in one's epistemic rights in believing P.[1] Relatedly, Peter van Inwagen has asserted that one can be justified in believing P, despite being unable to convince a true epistemic peer, if she enjoys an incommunicable insight into the evidence for P that her epistemic peer lacks.[2]

A key implication of Plantinga's and van Inwagen's theses is supposed to be that a theist can be epistemically justified or epistemically blameless in believing in God if, despite the existence of genuine epistemic peer disagreement, they have carefully considered the evidence for and against such belief, and still find that belief persuasive (Plantinga), perhaps in virtue of an incommunicable insight into the evidence for theism that their epistemic peers lack (van Inwagen).

The problem is that recent work in the epistemology of disagreement raises serious problems for these sorts of theses. The basic idea is that when one becomes aware that a true epistemic peer disagrees with you about some proposition P, then this provides an undercutting defeater for your belief that P. For a powerful recent defense of this point, and one that directly addresses Plantinga's and van Inwagen's theses above, see Earl Conee's paper, "Peerage" (draft: do not cite without permission from the author).

(Relatedly, this provides a substantive challenge to Plantinga's claim that it's absurdly easy to meet the demands of internalist rationality and justified belief).

Yet another example of the relevance of the epistemology of disagreement debate to issues in philosophy of religion.
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[1] The Nature of Necessity (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982), pp. 218-221.
[2] "Is It Wrong Everywhere, Always, and for Anyone to Believe Anything on Insufficient Evidence?"

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Review of Paul Moser's The Elusive God: Re-Orienting Religious Epistemology

Bruce Russell (Wayne State) reviews the book for NDPR. Here is the link. I recommend also reading Stephen Maitzen's forthcoming review of the book for Sophia (available online for those with access to the "Online First" option for the journal).

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Most Philosophers are Atheists

Details here.

HT: Prosblogion and Bradley Monton

UPDATE: Trent Dougherty takes an optimistic view of it, here. It'll be interesting to see how the comments play out on his post.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Evan Fales' New Book

Evan Fales' book, Divine Intervention: Metaphysical and Epistemological Puzzles, should be out on Dec. 9th. Here's the blurb:

This study is a new look at the question of how God can act upon the world, and whether the world can affect God, examining contemporary work on the metaphysics of causation and laws of nature, and current work in the theory of knowledge and mysticism. It has been traditional to address such questions by appealing to God’s omnipotence and omniscience, but this book claims that this is useless unless it can be shown how these two powers "work." Instead of treating the familiar problems associated with omnipotence and omniscience, this book asks directly whether, and how, causal interactions between God and His world could occur: both between God and the physical world (miracles) and between God and other minds (mystical experience), as well as between the world and God (divine perception). Fales examines current thinking (which is diverse) about the very nature of causation, laws of nature, and agency.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Wielenberg's New Paper in Philosophia Christi

I'm currently thinking about Erik Wielnberg's paper, "Dawkins's Gambit, Hume's Aroma, and God's Simplicity" (Phil. Christi, 11:1 (2009), pp. 113-128). The paper can be found here.

I have mixed feelings about the paper: I like it, but it overlaps considerably with a paper I'm currently working on, making my paper a bit redundant!
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