Thursday, November 29, 2012

Alter and Nagasawa's Explication and (Partial) Defense of Russellian Monism

As longtime readers of this blog know, I'm sympathetic to Russellian monism. Torin Alter and Yujin Nagasawa provide a clear explication and partial defense of the view in "What is Russellian Monism?", Journal of Consciousness Studies 19, pp. 67-95.  Here's the abstract:

Russellian monism offers a distinctive perspective on the relationship 
between the physical and the phenomenal. For example, on one version of the view, 
phenomenal properties are the categorical bases of fundamental physical properties, 
such as mass and charge, which are dispositional. Russellian monism has prominent 
supporters, such as Bertrand Russell, Grover Maxwell, Michael Lockwood, and David 
Chalmers. But its strengths and shortcomings are often misunderstood. In this paper 
we try to eliminate confusions about the view and defend it from criticisms. We 
present its core and distinguish different versions of it. We then compare these 
versions with traditional theories, such as physicalism, dualism, and idealism. We also 
argue that the knowledge argument and the conceivability argument are consistent 
with Russellian monism and that existing arguments against the view, such as the 
argument from weirdness, are not decisive. We conclude that Russellian monism is an 
attractive view that deserves serious consideration.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

J.L. Schellenberg's New Website

Leading philosopher of religion J.L. Schellenberg has an excellent new website. The site includes several new papers not available elsewhere, recent notes on divine hiddenness, access to the trilogy (now available in paperback!), and information about his forthcoming book, Evolutionary Religion (with OUP), among other things. Check it out!

UPDATE: Schellenberg has kindly added an extract from Evolutionary Religion.

New iPhones App for Philosophers


H/T Leiter Reports

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Lovering on Immoral Theistic Belief

Lovering, Rob. "On the Morality of Having Faith that God Exists", Sophia 51:1 (2012), 17-30.

AbstractMany theists who identify themselves with the Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) maintain that it is perfectly acceptable to have faith that God exists. In this paper, I argue that, when believing that God exists will affect others, it is prima facie wrong to forgo attempting to believe that God exists on the basis of sufficient evidence. Lest there be any confusion: I do not argue that it is always wrong to have faith that God exists, only that, under certain conditions, it can be.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Secular Outpost: Paul Draper's Essay, "Darwin's Argument from Evil"...

The Secular Outpost: Paul Draper's Essay, "Darwin's Argument from Evil"...: The entire chapter is available for free courtesy of Google Books. You may need to be logged into a Google account in order to view this. ...

Absolutely essential reading.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

New Paper on the Cosmological Argument

Gustavo E. Romero and Daniela Perez. "New remarks on the cosmological argument", International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 72:2 (October 2012), 103-113.

Abstract: We present a formal analysis of the Cosmological Argument in its two main forms: that due to Aquinas, and the revised version of the Kalam Cosmological Argument more recently advocated by William Lane Craig. We formulate these two arguments in such a way that each conclusion follows in first-order logic from the corresponding assumptions. Our analysis shows that the conclusion which follows for Aquinas is considerably weaker than what his aims demand. With formalizations that are logically valid in hand, we reinterpret the natural language versions of the premises and conclusions in terms of concepts of causality consistent with (and used in) recent work in cosmology done by physicists. In brief: the Kalam argument commits the fallacy of equivocation in a way that seems beyond repair; two of the premises adopted by Aquinas seem dubious when the terms `cause' and `causality' are interpreted in the context of contemporary empirical science. Thus, while there are no problems with whether the conclusions follow logically from their assumptions, the Kalam argument is not viable, and the Aquinas argument does not imply a caused origination of the universe. The assumptions of the latter are at best less than obvious relative to recent work in the sciences. We conclude with mention of a new argument that makes some positive modifications to an alternative variation on Aquinas by Le Poidevin, which nonetheless seems rather weak.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Announcement: Workshop on Religious Epistemology, Contextualism, and Pragmatic Encroachment

Workshop on Religious Epistemology, Contextualism, and Pragmatic Encroachment

Oxford University 13 &14 March 2013

The New Insights and Directions in Religious Epistemology project at Oxford University invites the submission of papers related to the application of contextualism and pragmatic encroachment to any question in the philosophy of religion or analytic theology.

Papers should be suitable for blind review and be no longer than 3000 words in length. Submissions should be accompanied by a cover letter including the name, affiliation, and contact details of the author.

Papers should be submitted to

Submission deadline is January 15, 2013.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Trisel's New Papers on Divine Silence and on the Value of Unintended Lives

Trisel, Brooke Alan. "God's Silence as an Epistemological Concern", Philosophical Forum 43:4 (2012), 383-393.

Here's the abstract:
Throughout history, many people, including Mother Teresa, have been troubled by God’s silence. In spite of conflicting interpretations of the Bible, God has remained silent. If God exists and he created humanity as a means to fulfilling a purpose, then one would think that God would have clarified his purpose and our role by now. To help God carry out his purpose, we would need to have a clear understanding of our role. Thus, by failing to clarify our role, God would be undermining himself in achieving the purpose he conceived, which would not make sense. Is there a good reason that explains God’s silence or is God’s silence evidence that humanity was not created by God as a means to fulfilling a purpose? I will argue for the latter view. In the companion article “Intended and Unintended Life,” I will then argue that one’s life can be meaningful regardless of whether one’s own life or life in general was intended.

Here is the link to the companion article, "Intended and Unintended Life", (same issue), and here is the abstract:
Some people feel threatened by the thought that life might have arisen by chance. What is it about “chance” that some people find so threatening? If life originated by chance, this suggests that life was unintended and that it was not inevitable. It is ironic that people care about whether life in general was intended, but may not have ever wondered whether their own existence was intended by their parents. If it does not matter to us whether one's own existence was intended by one's parents, as will be hypothesized, then why should it matter whether there was some remote intent behind the creation of the first unicellular organism(s) billions of years ago? I will discuss three possible scenarios by which life might have originated. I will then argue that, in regard to whether one’s individual life can be meaningful, it does not matter whether life was intended or arose by chance. If complex life was unintended and is rare in this universe, this is not a reason to disparage life, but a reason to appreciate and value our existence.

John Turri's New Critique of Ontolological Arguments

Turri, John. "Doomed to Fail: The Sad Epistemological Fate of Ontological Arguments", in Miroslaw Szatkowski, ed. Ontological Proofs Today (Ontos Verlag, forthcoming).

Friday, November 09, 2012

Quote of the Day

...why may not the material universe be the necessarily existent Being, according to this pretended explication of necessity? We dare not affirm that we know all the qualities of matter; and for aught we can determine, it may contain some qualities which, were they known, would make its non-existence appear as great a contradiction as that twice two is five. I find only one argument employed to prove that the material world is not the necessarily existent being; and this argument is derived from the contingency both of the matter and the form of the world. 'Any particle of matter', it is said, 'may be conceived to be annihilated; and any form may be conceived to be altered. Such an annihilation or alteration, therefore, is not impossible'. But it seems a great partiality not to perceive, that the same argument extends equally to the Deity, so far as we have any conception of him; and that the mind can at least imagine him to be non-existent, or his attributes to be altered. It must be some unknown, inconceivable qualities, which can make his non-existence appear impossible, or his attributes unalterable. And no reason can be assigned, why these qualities may not belong to matter.

-from Part IX of Hume's Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion

Sunday, November 04, 2012

PSR Poll

Hi gang,

I'm taking a poll. For those who accept a strong version of PSR (i.e., one that requires a sufficient reason for the existence of both objects and states of affairs). What is the basis for your acceptance of PSR? (i) Rational intuition? (ii) Phenomenal conservatism? (iii) Inference to the best explanation? (iv) Enumerative induction? (v) Reflective equilibrium? Is it (vi) a presupposition of reason? Is it (vii) properly basic? Something else? If your answer is (iii), (iv), or (v), please explain the data that a strong version of PSR aims to explain. Inquiring minds want to know.

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