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Wolterstorff's Recent Books

Nicholas Wolterstorff was among the original movers and shakers in Reformed Epistemology, alongside Alvin Plantinga and William Alston. The following two volumes collect Wolterstorff's most important past work in philosophy of religion, as well as a number of new essays representing his latest work:

Inquiring about God: Selected Essays, Volume I (ed. Terence Cuneo). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2009.

Blurb: Inquiring about God is the first of two volumes of Nicholas Wolterstorff's collected papers. This volume collects Wolterstorff's essays on the philosophy of religion written over the last thirty-five years. The essays, which span a range of topics including Kant's philosophy of religion, the medieval (or classical) conception of God, and the problem of evil, are unified by the conviction that some of the central claims made by the classical theistic tradition, such as the claims that God is timeless, simple, and impassible, should be rejected. Still, Wolters…

Two Forthcoming Books to Watch for From OUP

Perszyk, Ken (ed.). Molinism: The Contemporary Debate. Molinism provides an important account of divine providence that has held out hope for many a philosopher of religion in solving such issues as the problem of freedom and foreknowledge, the logical problem of evil (think Plantinga's molinist free will defense), etc. But molinism seems to be losing ground these days (witness, for example, the current prominence of "Open Future" views of God's foreknowledge). This volume assesses the current state of the debate, and the prospects for molinism.

Clark, Kelly James and Van Arragon, Raymond (eds.) Evidence and Religious Belief. Here's the blurb:

A fundamental question in philosophy of religion is whether religious belief must be based on evidence in order to be properly held. In recent years two prominent positions on this issue have been staked out: evidentialism, which claims that proper religious belief requires evidence; and Reformed epistemology, which claims …

Hume Quote

“Look round the universe. What an immense profusion of beings, animated and organized, sensible and active! You admire this prodigious variety and fecundity. But inspect a little more narrowly these living existences, the only things worth regarding. How hostile and destructive to each other! How insufficient all of them for their own happiness! How contemptible or odious to the spectator! The whole presents nothing but the idea of a blind nature, impregnated by a great vivifying principle, and pouring forth from her lap, without discernment or parental care, her maimed and abortive children.”

-Hume, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion

Dennis Whitcomb's New Argument for Atheism

Dennis Whitcomb (Western Washington University) has recently offered a new argument for atheism in his paper, "Grounding and Omniscience", which will appear in a forthcoming volume of Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion. The penultimate draft can be found here.[1] As he summarizes the argument of the paper:

"This paper argues that omniscience is impossible and therefore that the traditional “perfect being theological” God does not exist. The argument appeals to grounding, that is to say the “in virtue of” relation."

The paper won him The Younger Scholar Prize in Philosophical Theology in 2010.

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[1] Note: Whitcomb mentioned on his webpage that he'll expand the paper a bit before it appears in print.

House Republicans unveil plan to end federal arts and humanities agencies and aid to public broadcasting

House Republicans unveil plan to end federal arts and humanities agencies and aid to public broadcasting

Two salient passages:

"The arts and humanities endowments each get $167.5 million a year; the broadcasting agency, which supports public radio and television, gets $445 million"

"the government's existing arts-funding model follows conservative budgetary principles: A small federal investment that's important to the health of the nonprofit arts sector helps sustain its 5.7 million jobs and the $30 billion in annual returns to federal, state and local coffers that those workers pay in taxes."

HT: TM

Two Recent Short Pieces by Maitzen

Stephen Maitzen has recently written two nice short pieces that are accessible to the non-philosopher:

"On God and Our Ultimate Purpose", Free Inquiry (Feb/Mar 2011), 35-37. (a reply to Craig's argument that God is required if our lives are to be sufficiently meaningful or significant.)

"Does God Destroy Our Duty of Compassion?", Free Inquiry (Oct/Nov 2010), 52-53. (a non-technical version of his argument in "Ordinary Morality Implies Atheism", European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 1:2 (2009), 107-126.[1])

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[1] Jerome Gellman has written a reply to Maitzen's "Ordinary Morality Implies Atheism". See his “On God, Suffering, and Theodical Individualism,” European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 2:1 (2010): 187-191 Maitzen's rejoinder can be found here.

More from Peter Millican on Hume on Miracles

Peter Millican (Oxford) has recently written an extremely helpful and illuminating new paper on Hume on miracles ("Twenty Questions About Hume's "Of Miracles"), which is commissioned to appear in Antony O'Hear (ed.), Philosophy and Religion (Cambridge University Press).


(P.S. We've noted Millican's very nice reply to Earman's Hume's Abject Failure on another occasion.)

Some Concerns for Rasmussen's Third Premise

SECOND DRAFT: DO NOT COPY OR CITE WITHOUT PERMISSION FROM THE AUTHOR. COMMENTS WELCOME!

We recently noted Joshua Rasmussen's interesting new paper in AJP[1], in which he offers a novel variation on the Leibnizian cosmological argument for a necessary being. Recall that his argument runs as follows:

(1) Normally, for any intrinsic property p that (i) can begin to be
exemplified and (ii) can be exemplified by something that has a cause,
there can be a cause of p’s beginning to be exemplified.
(2) The property c of being a contingent concrete particular is an intrinsic
property.
(3) Property c can begin to be exemplified.
(4) Property c can be exemplified by something that has a cause.
Therefore,
(5) There can be a cause of c’s beginning to be exemplified (1–4).
(6) If (5), then there is a necessary being.
Therefore,
(7) There is a necessary being.

I have three main concerns about the justification for premise (3). First, it appears that Rasmussen's basis for (3) is that one can imagine all co…

Physics-Based Intelligent Design Arguments are Based on False Physics

Or so argues Bradley Monton in this conference paper. Especially helpful in evaluating Craig's appeal to Big Bang cosmology in support of the kalam cosmological argument. (N.B., A small criticism: It seems to me that the argument would be better titled, "Physics-Based Design and Cosmological arguments are Based on False Physics")

Baylor Philosophy of Religion Conference

Sorry -- thought I'd posted an announcement on this earlier:

Baylor's 6th annual philosophy of religion conference is just around the corner (Jan. 28th). Details here.

To whet your appetite, here is the list of speakers and papers:


“Social Evil” Ted Poston

“Rawls and the Essentially Religious Temperament” David Reidy

"Compatibilism and the Complicity of Morality: A New Kind of Argument against Compatibilism" Patrick Todd

“Kant on Religion and the Hope for Human Progress” Andrew Chignell

TBA: Lara Buchak

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell: Against Conciliatory Response to Religious Disagreement” Matt Mullins

“Two-No, Three-Dogmas of Philosophical Theology” Michael Almeida

“Against Multiverse Theodicies” Bradley Monton

TBA: Robert Garcia

“Multiverses and Possible Worlds" Hugh McCann

“Plantinga’s ‘Defeat’” Ed Wierenga

“On the Importance of Being Sensitive” Steve Wykstra & Tim Perrine

“Intelligent Design Reliabilism” Peter Graham



Papers from previous conferences …

Some Questions About Rasmussen's Third Premise

DRAFT: DO NOT COPY OR CITE WITHOUT PERMISSION FROM THE AUTHOR. COMMENTS WELCOME!

We recently noted Joshua Rasmussen's interesting new paper in AJP[1], in which he offers a novel variation on the Leibnizian cosmological argument for a necessary being. Recall that his argument runs as follows:

(1) Normally, for any intrinsic property p that (i) can begin to be
exemplified and (ii) can be exemplified by something that has a cause,
there can be a cause of p’s beginning to be exemplified.
(2) The property c of being a contingent concrete particular is an intrinsic
property.
(3) Property c can begin to be exemplified.
(4) Property c can be exemplified by something that has a cause.
Therefore,
(5) There can be a cause of c’s beginning to be exemplified (1–4).
(6) If (5), then there is a necessary being.
Therefore,
(7) There is a necessary being.

I have three main concerns about the justification for premise (3). First, it appears that Rasmussen's basis for (3) is that one can imagine all concrete …

Revision: A Quick Thought on Hume, Miracles, and the Apologists

[Thanks to James Gibson for pushing me to get clearer on the point I'm trying to make here.]

A small point: It seems to me that the apologists tacitly concede more to Hume than is often noted. Narrowly construed, Hume's point was that one couldn't rationally believe that a miracle had occurred merely on the basis of the testimony of others[1]. And in practice, it appears that sophisticated apologists of the likes of Swinburne, Craig, Habermas, et al. agree with this much. For they base their case for the resurrection not on mere testimony, but rather on an inference to the best explanation of a set of data, such as, e.g., the crucifixion, the empty tomb, experiences of the disciples that seemed to be of Jesus after his death[2], and the origin of the Christian faith.[3]

Here, then, is my suggestion to apologists. (Assuming a plausible interpretation of the text can support it,) Change your reply to Hume as follows: Hume went wrong, not in thinking that testimony is insuffici…

A Quick Note on Hume, Miracles, and the Apologists

A small point: It seems to me that the apologists tacitly concede more to Hume than is often noted. Narrowly construed, Hume's point was that one couldn't rationally believe that a miracle had occurred merely on the basis of the testimony of others[1]. And in practice, it appears that sophisticated apologists of the likes of Swinburne, Craig, Habermas, et al. agree with this much. For they base their case for the resurrection not on mere testimony, but rather on an inference to the best explanation of a set of data, such as, e.g., the crucifixion, the empty tomb, experiences of the disciples that seemed to be of Jesus after his death[2], and the origin of the Christian faith.[3]

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[1] although I think Hume's claim is probably too strong on that head, at least on the "in principle" (as opposed to the "in fact") interpretation of it. Earman's work has persuaded me that one could pump up the probability of a miracle claim high enough…

Josh Rasmussen's New Argument for a Necessary Being

We've noted some of Rasmussen's work in philosophy of religion on another occasion. Here I'd like to call attention to his new paper, "A New Argument for a Necessary Being" (Australasian Journal of Philosophy 88:3 (Sept. 2010)), which can be found here.

Also worth noting is his helpful overview of recent work on the Leibnizian cosmological argument in the most recent issue of Philosophy Compass (“Cosmological Arguments from Contingency”).

Call for Papers: The British Society for Philosophy of Religion 2011 Conference

The British Society for the Philosophy of Religion
2011 Conference "God, Mind and Knowledge"

Call for Papers

The next conference of the British Society for the Philosophy of
Religion will be at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford from Wednesday 14th –
Friday 16th September 2011. The theme for the conference will be God,
Mind and Knowledge. The plenary speakers will be John Cottingham,
Anthony Kenny, Robin Le Poidevin, and Charles Taliaferro.

If you would like to present a paper, please send an abstract of a
maximum of 300 words to me (andrew.moore@theology.ox.ac.uk) by the end
of March.

Papers need not be on the theme of the conference, although a
preference may be displayed towards selecting those that are, other
things being equal. Obviously time and space at the Conference will
be limited, so we shall have to be selective, even allowing for the
fact that we plan to run parallel sessions and encourage people
presenting papers to keep to half-hour slots.

In order to keep to the tight timetabling …