Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Metz's Forthcoming Book on Meaning in Life

Readers of this blog may be interested in Thaddeus Metz's forthcoming book, Meaning in Life. Here's the blurb:

What makes a person's life meaningful? Thaddeus Metz offers a new answer to an ancient question which has recently returned to the philosophical agenda. He proceeds by examining what, if anything, all the conditions that make a life meaningful have in common. The outcome of this process is a philosophical theory of meaning in life. He starts by evaluating existing theories in terms of the classic triad of the good, the true, and the beautiful. He considers whether meaning in life might be about such principles as fulfilling God's purpose, obtaining reward in an afterlife for having been virtuous, being attracted to what merits attraction, leaving the world a better place, connecting to organic unity, or transcending oneself by connecting to what is extensive. He argues that no extant principle satisfactorily accounts for the three-fold significance of morality, enquiry, and creativity, and that the most promising theory is a fresh one according to which meaning in life is a matter of intelligence contoured toward fundamental conditions of human existence.

And here's the table of contents:

1. Introduction: The Meaning of life
Part 1: Meaning as One Part of a Good Life 
2. The Concept of Meaning
3. The Bearer of Meaning
4. The Value of Meaning
Part 2: Supernaturalist Theories of Meaning in Life 
5. Purpose Theory I: Questioning Motivations
6. Purpose Theory II: Advancing Objections
7. Non-Purposive Supernaturalism
8. Rejecting Supernaturalism
Part 3: Naturalist Theories of Meaning in Life 
9. Subjectivism
10. Objectivism I: Being Attracted, Meriting Attraction, and Promoting Consequences
11. Objectivism II: Non-Consequentialism
12. Objectivism III: The Fundamentality Theory
13. Conclusion: the fine game of nil
Works Cited

Further information can be found here.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Rob Lovering's New Book

Rob Lovering has a new book out: God and Evidence: Problems for Theistic Philosophers (Continuum, 2013). Here's the blurb:
God and Evidence presents a new set of compelling problems for theistic philosophers. The problems pertain to three types of theistic philosopher, which Lovering defines here as 'theistic inferentialists,' 'theistic non-inferentialists,' and 'theistic fideists.' Theistic inferentialists believe that God exists, that there is inferential probabilifying evidence of God's existence, and that this evidence is discoverable not simply in principle but in practice. Theistic non-inferentialists believe that God exists, that there is non-inferential probabilifying evidence of God's existence, and that this evidence is discoverable not simply in principle but in practice. Theistic fideists believe that God exists, that there is no discoverable probabilifying evidence (inferential or non-inferential) of God's existence, and that it is nevertheless acceptable-morally if not otherwise-to have faith that God exists. Lovering argues that each type of theistic philosopher faces a problem unique to his type and that they all share two particular problems. Some of these problems take us down an entirely new discursive path; others down a new discursive path branching off from an old one.
Further information about the book can be found here.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Rizzieri's Important Forthcoming Book on Pragmatic Encroachment and Religious Belief

On other occasions, we've noted Aaron Rizzieri's pioneering application of the hot  epistemological topic of pragmatic encroachment to issues in philosophy of religion. I'm happy to announce that Rizzieri has now produced a monograph on these matters: Pragmatic Encroachment, Religious Belief and Practice (Palgrave MacMillan, forthcoming).

Here's the blurb:

Pragmatic Encroachment, Religious Belief and Practice engages several recent and important discussions in the mainstream epistemological literature surrounding 'pragmatic encroachment'. It has been argued that what is at stake for a person in regards to acting as if a proposition is true can raise the levels of epistemic support required to know that proposition. Do the high stakes involved in accepting or rejecting religious beliefs raise the standards for knowledge that 'God exists', 'Jesus rose from the Dead' and other propositions? Professor Rizzieri also examines whether or not knowledge and justification norms of belief and action undermine the pragmatic grounds for religious belief suggested by William James. Rizzieri argues that such norms favor an attitude of hope, as opposed to belief, under conditions of uncertainty. Finally, Rizzieri argues the connections between knowledge and rational action undermine radically externalist accounts of religious knowledge and proposes an alternative account of the justification of religious beliefs. 

And here's the table of contents:

Series Editor's Preface


1. Breaking with Orthodoxy: Encroachment and the Bank Cases

2. High Stakes and Religiously Significant Propositions
3. An Encroachment Argument for Internalism
4. Reformed Epistemology in Light of Encroachment
5. The Justification of Action Guiding Beliefs: A Positive Account
6. James and the Justification Norm of Belief and Action

I look forward to reading it.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

New Paper: Bogardus on the Problem of Contingency for Religious Belief

On another occasion, we noted Tomas Bogardus' nice talk on (what he dubbed) the "elsewhere, elsewhen" objection to religious belief. Bogardus has since developed the paper ("The Problem of Contingency for Religious Belief", Faith & Philosophy, forthcoming). A copy of the penultimate draft can be found here.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Quote of the Day

. . .my friends believe that we have no sufficient reason at all to think it even likely that God could achieve the very best for us (humans and animals) were he to have prevented the Holocaust, the terrible suffering of the fawn, the horrible suffering of the little girl, or any of the other countless evils that abound in this world. Why on earth do they believe this? The basic reason is this: God's knowledge of goods and the conditions of their realization extends far beyond our own. Because God's knowledge of the goods and the conditions of their realization extends far beyond our own, they think it just may be that God would know that even he, with his infinite power, cannot achieve the best for us without permitting all the horrendous evils that occur daily in our world. And they also think it just may be that God can achieve the best for us only if he keeps us in the dark as to what the good is that justifies him in permitting any of these horrendous evils. But what their own view comes to is this: Because we cannot rule out God knowing goods we do not know, we cannot rule out there being goods that justify God in permitting any amount of evil whatever that might occur in our world. If human and animal life on earth were nothing more than a series of agonizing moments from birth to death, my friends' position would still require them to say that we cannot reasonably infer that it is even likely that God does not exist. For, since we don't know that the goods we know of are representative of the goods there are, we can't know it is likely that there are no goods that justify God in permitting human and animal life on earth to be nothing more than a series of agonizing moments from birth to death. But surely such a view is unreasonable, if not absurd. Surely there must be some point at which the appalling agony of human and animal existence on earth would render it unlikely that God exists. And this must be so even though we all agree that God's knowledge would far exceed our own. I believe my theistic friends have gone considerably beyond that point when, in light of the enormous proliferation of horrendous evil in this world, they continue to insist that we are unjustified in concluding that it is unlikely that God exists.

William Rowe, "Reply to Howard-Snyder and Bergmann", in Peterson, Michael L. and Raymond Van Arragon (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Religion (Blackwell, 2004), p. 26.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Schellenberg's New Book... now out. A nice post from Schellenberg about the book can be found at the OUP blog. There weren't many copies left on Amazon last I checked, so you might want to jump on it.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Kraay on Van Inwagen on Gratuitous Evil

Kraay, Klaas. "Peter van Inwagen on Gratuitious Evil", Religious Studies (forthcoming). Here's the abstract:

Defenders and critics of the evidential argument from evil typically agree that if theism is true, no gratuitous evil occurs. But Peter van Inwagen has challenged this orthodoxy by urging that for all we know, given God’s goals, it is impossible for God to prevent all gratuitous evil, in which case God is not required do so. If van Inwagen is right, the evidential argument from evil fails. After setting out this striking and innovative move, I examine three responses found in the literature, and show that none of them defeats van Inwagen’s argument. I then offer a novel criticism: I show that van Inwagen implicitly relies on the claim that God can sensibly be thought to satisfice, and I argue that this is seriously under-motivated. Accordingly, van Inwagen’s objection to the evidential argument from evil is, at best, incomplete.

A link to the penultimate draft can be found here.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Review of Probability in the Philosophy of Religion

Trent Dougherty reviews the book for NDPR.

Craig's Critique of the Existence of Actual Infinites in His Blackwell Companion Article, Part I

Craig's recent defense of his philosophical arguments against the existence of actual infinites is unsuccessful. Start with his interaction with David Yandell's reply. Yandell correctly points out that no contradiction arises when one subtracts different infinite subsets from an actually infinite set. Thus: subtracting all the even numbers from all the natural numbers = all the odd numbers; subtracting all the natural numbers from all the natural numbers = 0. Now of course, if subtracting the very same subset yielded different answers on different occasions, then that would be a contradiction. But of course that doesn't happen when one subtracts from actually infinite sets.

In reply, Craig admits that no contradiction results from the infinite subtractions in Yandell's illustrations. Nevertheless, he asserts that a contradiction is yet to be found with another aspect of such subtractions. In particular, it's to be found in the fact that "an identical number of members have been subtracted from the identical number and yet did not arrive at an identical result." (p. 112) 

As those who follow the literature on the kalam argument know, however, Craig here fails to address a well-known, mainstream criticism from Wes Morriston[1] and Paul Draper[2] -- one that's been around for at least a decade. The criticism is that Craig's reply turns on an ambiguity in the notion of "an identical number" of members of a set. According to one construal, two sets fail to have an identical number of members just in case they can't be put into a one-to-one correspondence with one another. According to another construal, two sets fail to have an identical number of members just in case one of them has all the members of the other, and others besides. The problem is that Craig is relying on the former construal, while the latter construal entails that the two cases do not involve an identical number of members that are subtracted. Referring to the coarse-grained similarity of the two subtracted subsets (viz., correspondence) conceals this crucial difference. But once one shifts one's focus from sameness of cardinality to the finer-grained difference in the particular members of the two subtracted subsets (the set of all natural numbers has all the members of the set of all even numbers, plus all the odd numbers besides), the intuitiveness of Craig's assertion disappears. For then one would of course expect different results when the sets removed in the two scenarios are different in this crucial way. Craig has thus failed to show a contradiction or absurdity in the notion of an instantiated actual infinite. Here, as elsewhere, Craig is craigging.

(We've covered this point in more detail on other occasions (here, for example). An index of criticisms of virtually all of his other key a priori arguments against the existence and traversability of actual infinites can be found here. A critique of his reply to Mackie's criticisms can be found here.)
[1] See, for example, Morriston, Wes."Craig on the Actual Infinite", Religious Studies 38 (2002), pp. 147-166, esp. pp. 153-155; Morriston, "Must Metaphysical Time Have a Beginning?", Faith and Philosophy 20:3 (July 2003), pp. 288-306, esp. 299-300
[2] Draper, Paul. "A Critique of the Kalam Cosmological Argument", in Pojman, Louis and Rea, Michael (eds.), Philosophy of Religion, an Anthology, 5th ed. (Wadsworth, 2008).

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Discussion: Plantinga, Sosa, and Others on Theism, Naturalism, and Rationality

A helpful discussion of some core claims in Plantinga's religious epistemology by Plantinga, Sosa, and others, herehere, and here.

H/T: Prosblogion

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Announcement: Call for Papers: Theistic Metaphysics and Naturalism

Eastern Regional Conference
"Theistic Metaphysics and Naturalism"
October 24-26, 2013

University of South Florida
Tampa, Florida

Conference Website: 

Keynote Speakers: 
Trenton Merricks (University of Virginia)
Christina Van Dyke (Calvin College)

The Eastern Regional Meeting of the Society of Christian Philosophers (SCP) will be held October 24-26 at the University of South Florida. Submissions are welcome from all theological perspectives, and we welcome Christian and non-Christian presenters and participants. The theme this year will be "Theistic Metaphysics and Naturalism." Paper submissions on any topic of philosophical interest, however, will be given equal consideration. 

Submissions should be 3,000 words or less and prepared for blind review (please send a .doc, .docx, or .pdf file with no identifying 'marks'). Submissions should also include a cover letter with your name, institutional affiliation, email address, paper title, and an abstract of 150 words or less. 

Deadline for submissions: August 3rd, 2013. Submissions should be sent to

There is a $500 SCP-funded award for the best graduate student paper. If you would like to be considered for the award, please indicate this in your cover letter. 

For additional information, please contact Daniel Collette ( or Jeffery Steele (

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Review of Griffin's Leibniz, God, and Necessity

Michael Futch (Tulsa) reviews the book for NDPR.

Griffin attributes to Leibniz a distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic possibilities to explain how Leibniz's necessitarian theism doesn't collapse into Spinozism. For what it's worth, I've briefly argued for such a distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic possibilities here.
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