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Showing posts from February, 2011

Plantinga's Forthcoming Book on Science, Religion, and Naturalism

Alvin Plantinga has a book that's due out in September with Oxford University Press: Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism.

Here's the blurb:

A long-awaited major statement by pre-eminent analytic philosopher Alvin Plantinga, Where the Conflict Really Lies illuminates one of our biggest debates--the conflict between science and religion. Plantinga examines where this conflict is said to exist--looking at areas such as evolution, divine action in the world, and the scientific study of religion--and considers claims by Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins, and Philip Kitcher that evolution and theistic belief cannot co-exist. He makes a case that their arguments are not only inconclusive, but that the supposed conflicts themselves are superficial, due to the methodological naturalism used by science. On the other hand, science can actually offer support to theistic doctrines--for instance, some versions or interpretations of quantum mechanics provide useful …

Another Welcome Exploration of Liberal Naturalism

Mario De Caro and David Macarthur offer another volume exploring liberal naturalism: Naturalism and Normativity (Columbia University Press, 2010). Benedict Smith (Durham University) recently reviewed the book for NDPR. Here is the link.

We've noted another recent volume sympathetic to Moderate and Liberal versions of naturalism (though perhaps unintentionally so) here.

Reply to William Lane Craig

As previously noted, someone recently put some of my criticisms of the Leibnizian cosmological argument to William Lane Craig (some of the relevant posts where I present the criticisms can be found here, here, here, here, and here), and Craig offered a reply. I offer a rejoinder below, but first, a couple of initial comments and clarifications:

First, both the person who puts my arguments to Craig (alias "Midas") and Craig himself discuss several points I never asserted. For example, I don't deny that certain representative mental states can function as prima facie justification for possibility claims, and I don't take Kripke/Putnam a posteriori necessity cases to undermine the general reliability of modal seemings. Nor do I think occasional errors in modal inferences undermine the prima facie justification of possibility claims, any more than I think occasional errors in perceptual seemings undermine the justification of perceptual beliefs. My primary area of speci…

Initial Rejoinder to Craig

***NOTE: A substantially revised and expanded reply can be found here.***

As previously noted, someone recently put some of my criticisms of the Leibnizian cosmological argument to William Lane Craig, and Craig offered a reply. I offer a rejoinder below:

Craig's most important reply is his charge that my key criticisms entail an untenable modal skepticism:

We generally trust our modal intuitions on other familiar matters (for example, our sense that the planet Earth exists contingently, not necessarily, even though we have no experience of its non-existence). If we are to do otherwise with respect to the universe’s contingency, then the non-theist needs to provide some reason for his scepticism other than his desire to avoid theism.

My reply to this objection is similar to the one I offer in a paper I'm currently working on (with some modifications. See below):

"One might object that my criticism relies on an arbitrarily selective form of modal skepticism, on the grounds that …

Buckareff's Critique of William J. Abraham's Recent Defense of Rational Christian Belief

Here. It looks as though Abraham's case relies on a relativized version of Roderick Chisholm's epistemic particularism (i.e., Chisholm's notion of a "clear case" of knowledge is not taken to mean "clear to virtually everyone" -- i.e., Moorean facts --, but rather "clear to folks in my community"), and thus suffers from the same sorts of problems that inflicted Plantinga's version of it in the pre-warrant phase of his reformed epistemology.

Some Concerns for Rasmussen's Third Premise


Recently, Joshua Rasmussen offered an original argument for the existence of a necessary being.[1] Rasmussen states his argument 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
(3) Property c can begin to be exemplified.
(4) Property c can be exemplified by something that has a cause.
(5) There can be a cause of c’s beginning to be exemplified (1–4).
(6) If (5), then there is a necessary being.
(7) There is a necessary being.[2]

In this paper, I shall argue that premise (3) lacks adequate support, and thus that Rasmussen’s new case for a necessary being is unsuccessful.

Two initial points of clarification about premise (3) are in order for our purp…

Quote of the Day

Peter Millican on John Earman's Hume's Abject Failure:

"It is, admittedly, very hard to assess the originality of the Bayesian themes in Hume’s
essay, because this will depend on the interpretation of many previous discussions of testimony and miracles (e.g. how far the Port-Royal Logic’s application of the distinction between ‘external’ and ‘internal’ circumstances should be seen as implying the same kind of weighing up of probabilities for and against the reported event). What certainly does distinguish Hume’s essay, however, is its proximity to Bayes’s (and Price’s) seminal contribution to probability theory, and the intriguing albeit circumstantial evidence that the latter may have been developed in direct response to Hume’s Enquiry, including in particular his discussions of induction and of miracles in impact on the credibility of the testimony which reports it (and in doing so, he effectively defends the assumption of independence, as alluded to earlier). If there i…

A Formidable Challenge to the "In Principle" Construal of Hume's Argument Against Rational (Testimony-Based) Belief in Miracles

...and one that, as John Earman has noted, has been around a long time:

“The slightly longer Part II of Earman’s book contains extracts from writings of the century and a half surrounding Hume’s Enquiry which show the context and subsequent development of the debate….They end with Babbage’s brilliant (though not fully clear) demonstration that it is always possible to assign a number of independent witnesses, the improbability of the falsehood of whose concurring testimonies shall be greater than that of the improbability of the miracle itself’. From this general result Babbage shows that if m persons have died without being resurrected and we use Laplace’s rule that in that case the probability that (m+1)th person to die will not be resurrected is m+1/m+2, even if m=1,000,000,000,000, the combined testimony that the (m+1)th person was resurrected of eleven independent witnesses who tell the truth 99 out of 100 occasions, will suffice to make that resurrection overall probable. Such is…

Robert Audi's Forthcoming Book

Robert Audi's Rationality and Religious Commitment is due to come out in September. It looks as though it will be an important contribution to the field, building off of his prior work in philosophy of religion and, perhaps especially, his important and influential work in epistemology and ethics. I'm willing to bet that it will prove to be among the most important book-length defenses of rational theistic belief in recent years (although whether it will be considered as such is another matter). I look forward to giving it a careful read.

Here's some basic information about the book from the OUP website:

-Powerful defence of religion as a rational way of living
-Offers a fuller understanding of what it means to be religious
-Major new work from one of America's leading philosophers
-Clearly written: accessible to non-specialists
-Shows that religion is not incompatible with a scientific worldview

Rationality and Religious Commitment shows how religious commitment can be rati…

Blog Help Request

Dear readers:

I'd like to add a sidebar feature that displays clickable book thumbnails that take one to to look at or purchase books (inclusive 'or'). Any helpful advice would be greatly appreciated.


Announcement: The Canadian Society of Christian Philosophers Annual Meeting

The Canadian Society of Christian Philosophers (CSCP) is currently accepting submissions for the 2011 edition of its annual general meeting. The meeting will take place on Thursday June 2nd, 2011 from 9 A.M. until 6 P.M. at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. It is held at the same time as the annual general meeting of the Canadian Philosophical Association and the larger Congress of the Humanities.

The CSCP accepts papers from a broad range of perspectives. The primary purpose of the Canadian Society of Christian Philosophers is to provide a forum for discussion and exchange on topics in philosophy and religion--especially where these two disciplines meet. Like the Society of Christian Philosophers in the United States, the Canadian Society is ecumenical in composition with respect to Christian denomination, theological perspective and philosophical orientation. Participation in its meetings has, however, always been open to those who do not share it…