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Showing posts from May, 2012

PSR Without Necessary Concreta (of Any Sort)

As I mentioned in two previousposts, it's commonly thought that a naturalist can't plausibly accept the Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR), on the grounds that (i) she thereby commits herself to the existence of a metaphysically necessary being (more carefully, a metaphysically necessary concrete object), and that (ii) this is incompatible with any plausible version of naturalism. I critiqued (i) in the first of the two posts and (ii) in the second. Here I'd like to return to (i) and offer one more critique of it.

My previous criticism of (i) was that merely factually necessary beings are sufficient to satisfy a plausible version of PSR. Here my criticism shall be that a plausible version of PSR can be satisfied without appeal to necessary beings of any sort -- i.e., it can be satisfied merely in terms of continent, dependent beings. This sort of criticism goes back to Hume, of course, but William Lane Craig has tried to circumvent Hume's criticism in recent years. T…

The 21st Century Monad Solution to the Problem of Evil

This is not the actual world!

Genius lyrics:

I admit I lost my faith
When I felt the shake from a Lisbon quake
And I could not believe
This is how things ought to be
So I wondered from place to place
But the evils of the human race
They made themselves apparent
That they were inherent

My life felt like someone else’s dream
And that’s when it came to me, and I could see

This is not the actual world

Yeah we’re in world 223
And a world like this must in some sense be
For God’s not choosing it to be praiseworthy
And what else could explain
This seeming random distribution of pleasure and pain?
On the just and the unjust alike
Falls the same rain

Millikan's Reply to Plantinga

On otheroccasions, we noted Plantinga's "Content and Natural Selection" (CNS), which is (I believe) his most recent paper on the topic of his evolutionary argument against naturalism. In this short paper (forthcoming in PPR), Ruth Millikan argues that Plantinga has severely misread her theory of teleosemantics in CNS.

HT: Andrew Bailey

Naturalism and Necessary Beings (Very, Very Rough Draft)

(Revised a bit more in light of J.D.'s helpful comments)

As I mentioned in a previous post, it's commonly thought that a naturalist can't plausibly accept the Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR), on the grounds that (i) she thereby commits herself to the existence of a metaphysically necessary being (more carefully, a metaphysically necessary concrete object), and that (ii) this is incompatible with any plausible version of naturalism. In the previous post, I offered reasons to doubt (i). Here I'll briefly argue that (ii) is doubtful as well. As before, I'll use some remarks from William Lane Craig as my foil.

As a part of his defense of the Leibnizian cosmological argument, Craig has argued that the universe cannot plausibly be considered a metaphysically necessary being. He offers three main lines of argument for this conclusion: (1) our modal intuitions indicate that there could've been no universe at all, which is evidence that our universe isn't metap…

Derek Parfit on Contingency and Fine-Tuning

Here is Parfit's "Why Anything? Why This?" A shorter, earlier statement of several of his key points can be found here.

I was just thinking of a reply to Craig's "Why these quarks, and not others (and why this many, and not more or fewer)?" criticism of naturalistic accounts of a metaphysically necessary being along (some of) these lines.

Happy Friday

Stay cool, and be somebody's fool this year...

Hooray for Sanity

PHOTOS: Francois Hollande Sworn In As France's New President

"In his first presidential speech, Hollande promised to fight financial speculation and "open a new path" in Europe but acknowledged that he inherits huge government debt. He has pushed back against austerity measures championed by Germany amid Europe's debt crisis and wants government stimulus instead. Hollande also pledged to bring "dignity" to the presidential role – something voters felt that Sarkozy did not always do."

PSR for Naturalists

(Revised in light of Dr. Rizz's excellent comments)

It's commonly thought that a naturalist can't accept the Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR), on the grounds that (i) she thereby commits herself to the existence of a metaphysically necessary being, and that (ii) this is incompatible with any plausible version of naturalism. I have my doubts about (ii), but here I want to focus on (i). For it seems to me that (i) is false. To be a tad more precise: there is a plausible version of PSR, the acceptance of which doesn't thereby require one to admit a metaphysically necessary being into one's ontology. William Lane Craig has recently defended a version of PSR as a component of his favored formulation of the Leibnizian cosmological argument. I will therefore use his treatment of PSR as a foil.

In several places, William Lane Craig has endorsed the following restricted version of PSR:

(PSRc) Every existing thing has an explanation for its existence, either in t…

Nagasawa and Alter's Forthcoming Book on Russellian Monism

Long-time readers of this blog may have noticed that I'm somewhat inclined toward Russellian monism. I'm therefore excited to see that Yujin Nagasawa and Torin Alter have a forthcoming book on the topic (with Oxford University Press).

Those who follow Nagasawa's work will know that he's been interested in non-physicalist versions of monism for some time now, and headed (with Max Velmans) a recent (2009-11) Templeton-funded project on the topic.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Purdue Conference on the Epistemology of Moral and Religious Belief

On September 6-8, 2012, Purdue University will host an interdisciplinary conference entitled “Challenges to Religious and Moral Belief: Disagreement and Evolution”.
The conference will focus on three main challenges to religious and moral beliefs:
Widespread interpersonal disagreement among intellectual peers on religious and on moral topics provides reason to doubt these beliefs;Belief-source disagreement on moral issues between commonsense moral intuitions and religious belief sources raises doubts about both methods of belief formation;Evolutionary accounts of the origins of our religious and moral beliefs creates doubts about these beliefs by undermining our confidence in the reliability of their sources. Conference Participants:
Robert Audi                              University of Notre Dame (Philosophy)Sarah Brosnan                         Georgia State University (Psychology)Kelly James Clark                    Calvin College (Philosophy)Stephen Davis                 …

Scientific Approaches to the Philosophy of Religion

Scientific Approaches to the Philosophy of Religion (Yujin Nagasawa, ed.) is due out in August. Here is the table of contents:

Series Editors' Preface
Notes on Contributors
Introduction: Y.Nagasawa
PART I: DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
The Necessity of God and the Psychology of Counterfactual Thinking; R.Le Poidevin
Why Would Anyone Believe in a Timeless God?: Two Types of Theology; B.Murphy
PART II: GOD, CREATION AND EVOLUTION
Darwin's Argument from Evil; P.Draper
Attributing Agency: Fast and Frugal or All Things Considered?; G.Wood
PART III: GOD AND THE UNIVERSE
On Non-Singular Spacetimes and the Beginning of the Universe; W.L.Craig & J.D.Sinclair
The Theistic Multiverse: Problems and Prospects; K.J.Kraay
PART IV: RELIGIOUS BELIEFS
How Relevant is the Cognitive Science of Religion to Philosophy of Religion?; D.Leech & A.Visala
The Rationality of Classical Theism and Its Demographics; T.J.Mawson
PART V: RELIGIOUS TOLERANCE AND DISAGREEMENT
Coercion, Consequence and Salvation; S.…

Forthcoming from OUP: Zagzebski's Epistemic Authority: A Theory of Trust, Authority, and Autonomy in Belief

Here's the blurb:

In this book Linda Trinkaus Zagzebski gives an extended argument that the self-reflective person is committed to belief on authority. Epistemic authority is compatible with autonomy, but epistemic self-reliance is incoherent. She argues that epistemic and emotional self-trust are rational and inescapable, that consistent self-trust commits us to trust in others, and that among those we are committed to trusting are some whom we ought to treat as epistemic authorities, modeled on the well-known principles of authority of Joseph Raz. Some of these authorities can be in the moral and religious domains.


Why have people for thousands of years accepted epistemic authority in religious communities? A religious community's justification for authority is typically based on beliefs unique to that community. Unfortunately, that often means that from the community's perspective, its justifying claims are insulated from the outside; whereas from an outsid…