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Showing posts from July, 2014

Blogosphere Skirmish on Whether Phil. of Religion Should Be Taught in Colleges

Here. I thought this was a joke when I first read about it (and of course it is among philosophers). In any case, the comments from Draper, Schellenberg, and Almeida are spot on, and the post itself says pretty much all else that needs to be said. Here I'll just say a few more things.
First, it's perhaps worth pointing to a more comprehensive list of readings on the topic of bias in philosophy of religion than the one in the post linked to above. Here you go.
Second, the fact that several in the field of philosophy of religion use the discipline as a means of engaging in partisan apologetics is irrelevant to whether the questions pursued in the field are worthy of research or teaching. It's only a reason not to follow their example, and to focus on the work of non-apologetically oriented philosophers of religion. There are of course very many who fall in this camp. Important examples include Paul Draper, J.L. Schellenberg, and Wes Morriston.
Third, as alluded to in the Daily …

Puryear's New Critique of the Kalam Cosmological Argument

Puryear, Stephen. "Finitism and the Beginning of the Universe", Australasian Journal of Philosophy (forthcoming). Here's the abstract: Many philosophers have argued that the past must be finite in duration because otherwise reaching the present moment would have involved something impossible, namely, the sequential occurrence of an actual infinity of events. In reply, some philosophers have objected that there can be nothing amiss in such an occurrence, since actually infinite sequences are ‘traversed’ all the time in nature, for example, whenever an object moves from one location in space to another. This essay focuses on one of the two available replies to this objection, namely, the claim that actual infinities are not traversed in nature because space, time and other continuous wholes divide into parts only in so far as we divide them in thought, and thus divide into only a finite number of parts. I grant that this reply succeeds in blunting the anti-finitist objectio…

On Ch. 1 of Smith's Naturalism and Our Knowledge of Reality

In chapter 1, Smith begins his case against naturalism's ability to account for our capacity for knowledge of the external world. Toward that end, he offers a brief explication and critique of D.M. Armstrong's naturalistic account of direct realism with respect to perception. Below is a quick sketch of some particulars of Armstrong's account, and some of his motivations for it, that are relevant to Smith's evaluation.
Armstrong is an empiricist. However, unlike traditional empiricists (e.g., Hume, Locke, et al.), Armstrong rejects indirect realist accounts of perception, according to which perceptual awareness of external objects is mediated through sense-data. Armstrong worries that sense-data theories fall prey to radical skepticism with respect to knowledge of the external world. For if sense-data stand as intermediaries between ourselves and the outside world, then there is no way to know if they are caused by or accurately represent it. 
In the place of sense-dat…

Blogging Through Smith's Naturalism and our Knowledge of Reality

I'll be blogging through R. Scott Smith's Naturalism and Our Knowledge of Reality for a bit. The aim is not to thoroughly exposit the ins and outs of each chapter, but to briefly summarize a chapter per post, and to take up a key point or argument in each one. To start off, though, I should offer a bird's eye view of the book. 
In this ambitious book, R. Scott Smith aims to show that philosophical naturalists can’t account for our knowledge of the world. In particular, philosophical naturalism lacks the ontological resources to account for direct access to the external world, accurate concept formation of entities within the external world, and genuine intentionality, which in turn (argues Smith) are necessary conditions for the possibility of knowledge. 
We can summarize Smith’s core argument as follows:

1. If naturalism is true and we can have knowledge of the external world, then such knowledge can be adequately accounted for in terms of the naturalist’s ontology.
2. We can…

Chalmers' New TedTalk on Explaining Consciousness

If he's right, then Russellian monism looks to be the closest match to perhaps the leading theory in the science of consciousness. Also, if he's right, then naturalists should take the base-expanding approach to accounting for consciousness, and not the shoehorning approach. Finally, if the leading theory is also the correct theory, then the argument from substance dualism has not only an undercutting defeater, but also a rebutting defeater in Russellian monism. Liberal naturalism FTW!

Oppy's Forthcoming Book on the Divine Attributes

Oppy, Graham. Describing Gods (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming). It's due to come out in December. Here's the blurb: How do religious believers describe God, and what sort of attributes to they attribute to him? These are central topics in the philosophy of religion. In this book Graham Oppy undertakes a careful study of attributes which are commonly ascribed to God, including infinity, perfection, simplicity, eternity, necessity, fundamentality, omnipotence, omniscience, freedom, incorporeality, perfect goodness and perfect beauty. In a series of substantial chapters, he examines divine attributes one by one, and relates them to a larger taxonomy of those attributes. He also examines the difficulties involved in establishing the claim that understandings of divine attributes are inconsistent or incoherent. Intended as a companion to his 2006 book Arguing about Gods, his study engages with a range of the best contemporary work on divine attributes. It will appeal to rea…

The Argument from Revulsion

Here's a sketch of another argument I'm toying with: (1) I'm rightly repulsed by some aspects of the natural world, but (2) I wouldn't be rightly repulsed by some aspects of the natural world if theism is true; therefore, (3) theism is false.  Call it the argument from revulsion.
The kind of revulsion in play is not primarily moral, but aesthetic. The argument therefore seems distinct from arguments from evil. Examples of repulsive things are easy to find -- think, for example, of most insects and parasites. Here is a randomly chosen example:  The crustacean Cymothoa exigua has the dubious and unsettling honor of being the only parasite known to replace an organ. It enters through the gills of the spotted rose snapper, attaching to the base of the fish’s tongue, where it drinks its blood. The bloodsucking causes the tongue to eventually wither away, at which point the crustacean attaches itself to the tongue stub, acting as the fish's tongue from then on. (link)Other…

Announcement: CFP: Divine Hiddenness

The British Society for the Philosophy of Religion 2015 Conference

Submission deadline:  Tuesday, March 31 2015
Conference date(s): Thursday, September 10 2015 - Sunday, September 13 2015
Conference Venue: Oriel College, Oxford University  Oxford, United Kingdom
Details The British Society for the Philosophy of Religion 2015 Conference: Divine Hiddenness 
Oriel College, Oxford, Thursday 10th – Sunday 13th September 2015. Saturday 12th will focus on the legacy of Richard Swinburne in honour of his 80th birthday 
Keynote Speakers: Professor Richard Swinburne (Oxford), Professor Stephen R. L. Clark (Liverpool), Professor Sarah Coakley (Cambridge), and Professor Paul Moser (tbc) (Loyola University, Chicago) 
Call for Papers  The problem of the "Hiddenness of God" has been explored in analytic philosophy of religion in recent decades mainly as an issue of theodicy and providence: if God wishes to make Godself transformatively available to humans, why does God not do so more obviously and open…

Announcement: CFP: Logos 2015: Religious Experience

Submission deadline: Wednesday, October 15 2014

Date: Thursday, May 7 2015 - Saturday, May 9 2015
Conference Venue: University of Notre Dame  Notre Dame, United States


Religious experience is central to religious faith and practice. It often serves as evidence for belief; it contributes to the development of doctrine; and it, or the desire for it, is often a major motivator for church attendance, meditation, commitment to spiritual disciplines, and other religious practices. Religious experience has received a great deal of attention within both philosophy and theology; but important questions remain unanswered. What is the nature of religious experience? What, exactly is (or should be) its relationship to religious belief and religious practice? If God exists and loves human beings, why aren’t vivid, unambiguous religious experiences more widely available? What can religious experiences tell us about the nature of God? Might religious experiences be the result, in part, of parti…