Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Slew of Excellent New Papers from Stephen Maitzen

"Questioning the Question," forthcoming in The Puzzle of Existence: Why is There Something Rather than Nothing?, ed. Tyron Goldschmidt (Routledge)

"'Agnosticism', Skeptical Theism, and Moral Obligation," forthcoming in Skeptical Theism: New Essays, ed. Trent G. Dougherty and Justin P. McBrayer (Oxford University Press)

"Atheism and the Basis of Morality," forthcoming in What Makes Us Moral?, ed. A. W. Musschenga and Anton van Harskamp (Springer)

"The Moral Skepticism Objection to Skeptical Theism," forthcoming in A Companion to the Problem of Evil, ed. Justin P. McBrayer and Daniel Howard-Snyder (Wiley-Blackwell)

More of Maitzen's excellent work in philosophy of religion can be found here.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Nice Exploration of Koons' New Paper on Divine Command Theory

Over at Philosophical Disquisitions, John Danaher is exploring Jeremy Koons' interesting new paper on divine command theory. Here is the first post in his series on the article.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Multiple Choice


Some criticize the Free Will Response to the problem of evil, claiming that: 
a. If God’s free, then it’s possible to free and never do evil; and if God’s not free, then free will must not be one of the greatest goods
b. If there’s freedom in heaven, then it’s possible to be free and never do evil; if there’s no freedom in heaven, then free will isn’t one of the greatest goods
c. The good of free will doesn’t outweigh the bad of all the evil in the world
d. Even if free will justifies moral evil, it doesn’t justify natural evil
e. All of the above

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Quote of the Day

If the HOT-account [i.e., the higher-order thought account -EA] of phenomenal consciousness were correct and if animals lacked the capacity for HOTs, then animals would be incapable of experiencing pain. . . Are we justified in rejecting the HOT-account of phenomenal consciousness, i.e., do we have evidence that the HOT-account is false? The answer is "Yes." First, we have reason to think that the HOT-account of phenomenal consciousness is false when applied to humans, because human infants and severely retarded human beings experience (morally significant) pain, even though they aren't capable of forming HOTs.

We also have independent evidence that many animals are capable of experiencing pain, evidence that parallels the evidence we have for thinking our fellow humans are capable of feeling pain: We witness pain behavior, not just reflex actions to noxious stimuli (protective pain), but subsequent pain-induced behavioral modification caused by bodily damage (restorative pain); we observe significant anatomical and neurophysiological similarity between humans and many animals (including all mammals and most vertebrates); endogenous serotonergic and opioid pain-control mechanisms are present in all mammals (Why would organisms incapable of feeling pain have endogenous pain-control systems?); efferent and afferent nerves run throughout their bodies; analgesics and anesthetics stop animals from exhibiting pain behavior, presumably because these substances prevent the pain itself in much the way they prevent pain in humans; and there is compelling experimental evidence that the capacity to feel pain enhances survival value in animals, based on the self-destructive tendencies displayed by animals that have been surgically deafferented. Based on this cumulative observational, analogical, and experimental evidence, we are clearly justified in accepting that animals can feel pain, and so, we're justified in rejecting any neo-Cartesian explanation that denies animals have this ability, based on what we justifiably accept. Consequently, all neo-Cartesian CDs fail, for they fail to meet even the low bar that Murray sets for CD-success. Neo-Cartesian CDs are not "as plausible as not, overall" given our justified acceptances.


-from Mylan Engel Jr.'s NDPR review of Michael J. Murray's Nature Red in Tooth and Claw: Theism and the Problem of Animal Suffering.



ANNOUNCEMENT: Workshop: God and the Multiverse

Friday, February 15 2013 - Saturday, February 16 2013

Department of Philosophy, Ryerson University

63 Gould Street
Toronto
Canada

In recent decades, there has been tremendous growth in scientific theories which postulate the existence of many universes beyond our own. Once considered outré or patently absurd, multiverse theories now appear to be gaining scientific respectability. That said, the details and implications of each one are hotly contested.

In the philosophy of religion, multiverse theories are usually discussed in connection with the fine-tuning argument for the existence of God. In its simplest form, this argument runs as follows. If certain features of the universe had been slightly different, the universe would not have been capable of generating and sustaining life. This apparent “fine-tuning”, some say, is best explained by positing an intelligent designer. Critics have countered that multiverse theories undermine this argument. If there indeed are vastly many universes which vary – perhaps randomly – in the relevant parameters, they say, then it is not at all surprising that at least one universe is life-permitting. In this debate, then, multiverse theories are typically offered as naturalistic rivals to theism.

Yet, in a surprising twist, several philosophers have recently offered various reasons for thinking that, if theism is true, there are many universes. Rather than being deemed rivals to theism, then, multiverses are here deemed to be consequences of theism. Moreover, some philosophers have argued that a theistic multiverse model can even help to defend theism against prominent arguments for atheism, including the problem of evil and the problem of no best world. All of these claims are controversial, and a body of literature has recently developed around them.
This workshop aims to thoroughly assess the idea that a multiverse is, in some sense or other, to be expected if theism is true. The presenters (nine philosophers, two physicists, and one philosopher-astrophysicist) will consider the philosophical, scientific, and theological dimensions of this idea.

Further details can be found at:

Paul Kurtz Has Died

See here and here for some thoughtful remarks about Paul.

H/T J.S. and G.O.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

ANNOUNCEMENT: Call for Papers


The Mountain-Pacific Region of the Society of Christian Philosophers (SCP) is now accepting papers for its annual conference to be held March 8-9 at the University of Colorado at Boulder.  We welcome both Christians and non-Christians as presenters, commentators, and participants. Although we are particularly interested in papers on the intersection of faith and reason (e.g., religious epistemology, the concept of faith, the reasonableness of faith, or arguments for God’s existence), papers on any topic of philosophical interest will be considered.

Submissions should include a paper that is 3,000 words or less and is prepared for blind review in an accessible format (e.g., .doc, .docx, or .pdf).  In addition to the paper, submissions should include a cover letter that includes your name, institutional affiliation, email address, paper title, and an abstract of 200 words or less. Submissions should be sent to Jonathan Spelman at (jonathan.spelman [at] colorado.edu) on or before January 6, 2013. Note that there is a $500 award for the best graduate student paper!

For additional information about the conference, please contact either Jonathan Spelman at (jonathan.spelman [at] colorado.edu) or Ashley Taylor at (ashley.taylor [at] colorado.edu), or visit the conference website:

Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday, October 12, 2012

Contrarian Philosophy of Religion Assertion Friday

Some Moorean facts: Material objects exist; there is a past; there are other minds; there are vast amounts of gratuitous evil.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Mohan Matthen Critiques Plantinga's EAAN

...at NewAPPS.

UPDATE: Matthen points to this excellent paper, which argues that evolution favors truth-tracking cognition in a number of cases.

UPDATE: Nicholas McGinnis has a nice follow up post over at Engaging Science.

New(ish) Paper on DCT and the Euthyphro Dilemma

John Milliken, "Euthyphro, the Good, and the Right", Philosophia Christi 11:1 (2009), 149-159.

Abstract: The Euthyphro dilemma is widely deployed as an argument against theistic accounts of ethics. The argument proceeds by trying to derive strongly counterintuitive implications from the view that God is the source of morality. I argue here that a general crudeness with which both the dilemma and its theistic targets are described accounts for the seeming force of the argument. Proper attention to details, among them the distinction between the good and the right, reveals that a nuanced theism is quite unscathed by it.


P.S., Note well the concessions made in fn. 27 (though of course Robert Adams has made them as well in his Finite and Infinite Goods). The defense of DCT thus comes at the expense of denying that morality is essentially dependent upon God (at least on a Finean analysis of essence).

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Reformed and Evolutionary Epistemology and the Noetic Effects of Sin...

...is the title of an interesting new paper by Helen De Cruz and Johan De Smedt. Here's the abstract:

Despite their divergent metaphysical assumptions, Reformed and
evolutionary epistemologists have converged on the notion of proper
basicality. Where Reformed epistemologists appeal to God, who has
designed the mind in such a way that it successfully aims at the truth,
evolutionary epistemologists appeal to natural selection as a mecha-
nism that favors truth-preserving cognitive capacities. This paper
investigates whether Reformed and evolutionary epistemological ac-
counts of theistic belief are compatible. We will argue that their chief
incompatibility lies in the noetic e ects of sin and what may be termed
the noetic e ects of evolution, systematic tendencies wherein human
cognitive faculties go awry. We propose a reconceptualization of the
noetic e ects of sin to mitigate this tension.


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