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Andrew Moon's New Paper on Recent Work in Reformed Epistemology...

...in the latest issue of Philosophy Compass. Here's the abstract:
Reformed epistemology, roughly, is the thesis that religious belief can be rational without argument. After providing some background, I present Plantinga's defense of reformed epistemology and its influence on religious debunking arguments. I then discuss three objections to Plantinga's arguments that arise from the following topics: skeptical theism, cognitive science of religion, and basicality. I then show how reformed epistemology has recently been undergirded by a number of epistemological theories, including phenomenal conservatism and virtue epistemology. I end by noting that a good objection to reformed epistemology must criticize either a substantive epistemological theory or the application of that theory to religious belief; I also show that the famous Great Pumpkin Objection is an example of the former. And if a copy should make its way to my inbox...

UPDATE: Thanks!

Klaas Kraay's New Survey Aricles on God and Gratuitous Evil...

...in the latest issue of Philosophy Compass: "God and Gratuitous Evil (Part I)" and "God and Gratuitous Evil (Part II)". Here's the abstract:
In contemporary analytic philosophy, the problem of evil refers to a family of arguments that attempt to show, by appeal to evil, that God does not (or probably does not) exist. Some very important arguments in this family focus on gratuitous evil. Most participants in the relevant discussions, including theists and atheists, agree that God is able to prevent all gratuitous evil and that God would do so. On this view, of course, the occurrence of even a single instance of gratuitous evil falsifies theism. The most common response to such arguments attempts to cast doubt on the claim that gratuitous evil really occurs. The focus of these two survey papers will be a different response—one that has received less attention in the literature. This response attempts to show that God and gratuitous evil are compatible. If it su…

New Paper on Skeptical Theism and the Parent Analogy

Rutledge, John Curtis. "The Parent Analogy: A Reassessment", International Journal for Philosophy of Religion (forthcoming). Here's the abstract:
According to the parent analogy, as a caretaker’s goodness, ability and intelligence increase, the likelihood that the caretaker will make arrangements for the attainment of future goods that are unnoticed or underappreciated by their dependents also increases. Consequently, if this analogy accurately represents our relationship to God, then we should expect to find many instances of inscrutable evil in the world. This argument in support of skeptical theism has recently been criticized by Dougherty. I argue that Dougherty’s argument is incomplete, for there are two plausible ways of construing the parent analogy’s conclusion. I supplement Dougherty’s case by offering a new argument against the parent analogy based on failed expectations concerning the amount of inscrutable evils encountered in the world. Consequently, there rem…

Epicurean Cosmological Arguments for Matter's Necessity

One can find, through the writings of Lucretius, a powerful yet simple Epicurean argument for matter's (factual or metaphysical) necessity. In simplest terms, the argument is that since matter exists, and since nothing can come from nothing, matter is eternal and uncreated, and is therefore at least a factually necessary being. 
A stronger version of Epicurus' core argument can be developed by adding an appeal to something in the neighborhood of origin essentialism. The basic line of reasoning here is that being uncreated is an essential property of matter, and thus that the matter at the actual world is essentially uncreated.
Yet stronger versions of the argument could go on from there by appealing to the principle of sufficient reason to argue that whatever plays the role of being eternal and essentially uncreated does not vary from world to world, and thus that matter is a metaphysically necessary being.
It seems to me that this broadly Epicurean line of reasoning is a co…

Announcement: 6th Annual Metaphysics Conference on Philosophy of Religion

The University of Southern California will be hosting the 6th annual California Metaphysics Conference, January 20th-22nd, 2017. This year's topic is Philosophy of Religion and Metaphysics!


Speakers:
Andrew Bailey
Ricki Bliss
Jeffrey Brower
Lara Buchak
Hud Hudson
Michael Rea
Bradley Rettler
Amy Seymour
Meghan Sullivan
Christina Van Dyke


Attendence is open (and free) to all who would like to come, but you must register by emailing kleinsch [at] usc [dot] edu no later than December 15th, 2016. Please include your full name and university affiliation in the email. You will not receive a confirmation email, but your name should appear on the list of participants within 30 days. Also, let me know if you are a graduate student from outside CA and you are interested in being an assistant organiser!

Contrarian Philosophy of Religion Friday

If lacking the ability to do wrong thereby makes a person a robot, then the God of classical theism is thereby a robot. But if the lack of ability to do wrong does not thereby make a person a robot, then finite creaturely agents who lack such an ability are not thereby rendered robots.

CfP: Inquiry: New Work on the Existence of God

NEW WORK ON THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
In recent years, methods and concepts in logic, metaphysics and epistemology have become more and more sophisticated. For example, much new, subtle and interesting work has been done on modality, grounding, explanation and infinity, in both logic, metaphysics as well as epistemology. The three classical arguments for the existence of God – ontological arguments, cosmological arguments and fine-tuning arguments – all turn on issues of modality, grounding, explanation and infinity. In light of recent work, these arguments can - and to some extent have - become more sophisticated as well. Inquiry hereby calls for new and original papers in the intersection of recent work in logic, metaphysics and epistemology and the three main types of arguments for the existence of God. 


The deadline is 31 January 2017. Direct queries to einar.d.bohn at uia.no.

Divine Command Theory and the Free Will Defense: A Tension

A common line of reasoning in response to the problem of evil is (very roughly) that free will is an exceedingly great good, but God can't give us this good without thereby preventing the possibility of our misusing it and causing evil in the world. My concern here is not whether the free will defense is a successful defeater for the problem of evil, but rather whether it fits well with a popular theistic view of meta-ethics, viz., divine command theory. 
To see the worry, start with a crude version of divine command theory, according to which all moral properties, including both moral values and moral duties, are grounded in God's decrees. On such a view, God can confer moral value or moral worth on anything he likes by mere decree, in which case free will isn't intrinsically valuable, in which case God's ability to bring about the greatest goods isn't dependent upon creating creatures with free will, in which case the free will defense looks to be in big trouble…

New Paper on Modal Fictionalism and the Ontological Argument

Ted Parent offers a powerful critique of the modal ontological argument in his paper, "The Modal Ontological Argument Meets Modal Fictionalism", Analytic Philosophy (forthcoming). Here is the abstract: This paper attacks the modal ontological argument, as advocated by Plantinga among others. Whereas other criticisms in the literature reject one of its premises, the present line is that the argument is invalid. This becomes apparent once we run the argument assuming fictionalism about possible worlds. Broadly speaking, the problem is that if one defines “x” as something that exists, it does not follow that there is anything satisfying the definition. Yet unlike non-modal ontological arguments, the modal argument commits this “existential fallacy” not in relation to the definition of ‘God’. Rather, it occurs in relation to the modal facts quantified over within a Kripkean modal logic. In brief, we can describe the modal facts by whichever logic we prefer—yet it does not follow …

Levey's Important New Paper on PSR

Levey Samuel. "The Paradox of Sufficient Reason", The Philosophical Review 125:3 (July 2016), pp. 397-430.

Here's the abstract:
It can be shown by means of a paradox that, given the Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR), there is no conjunction of all contingent truths. The question is, or ought to be, how to interpret that result: Quid sibi velit? A celebrated argument against PSR due to Peter van Inwagen and Jonathan Bennett in effect interprets the result to mean that PSR entails that there are no contingent truths. But reflection on parallels in philosophy of mathematics shows it can equally be interpreted either as a proof that there are “too many” contingent truths to combine in a single conjunction or as a proof that the concept contingent truth is indefinitely extensible and there is no such thing as “all contingent truths.” Either interpretation would reconcile PSR with contingent truth, but the natural rationales of those interpretations are at odds. This essay a…

Two New Objections to the Fine-Tuning Argument

Rough draft: First objection: Necessarily, nothing cancreate concrete objects ex nihilo. So the posterior probability of the fine-tuning of the universe of concrete objects on the hypothesis that the god of classical theism both (i) designed it and (ii) ultimately created it ex nihilo is nil. But according to classical theism, for any world W containing concrete objects, God ultimately created the concrete objects in W ex nihilo. Therefore, classical theism entails that God ultimately creates ex nihilo any world containing concrete objects he designs. Therefore, the posterior probability of fine-tuning on the hypothesis of classical theism is nil.
Second objection: There are final causes inGod's naturethat are ontologically prior to his intelligent agency. For example, God's intellect and will work together to perform various functions, such as designing and creating things.  God's life is also meaningful and purposeful according to classical theism. On classical theism, th…

Toward a Plausible Framework for Doing Philosophy of Religion

I've argued that no divine personal agent that's wholly distinct from the natural world of concrete objects has the capacity to serve as the ultimate ground of abstract objects, concreteobjects, final causes, or objective moral duties.  Now suppose I'm right about that. Then either some of these things (e.g., final causes and objective moral duties) derive from more fundamental entities, or they don't. If they do, then as we've seen, no divine personal agent that's wholly distinct from the natural world of concrete objects serves as their ultimate ground.  If they don't, then the world is chock full of eternal, uncreated entities of the sort listed above -- abstract objects, concrete objects, final causes, and objective moral values, in which case no divine personal agent that's wholly distinct from the natural world serves as their ultimate ground.  Either disjunct leaves many interesting candidates within the space of epistemic possibilities -- e.g. …

Theism, Naturalism, and Final Causes

There is a long tradition in theistic philosophy of religion of appealing to God as the ultimate ground or architect of final causes -- of purpose, plan, and function -- found in nature. A key rationale behind this appeal is that final causes have an intelligent source as part of their nature or essence. This rationale appears to be at work in a wide range of arguments for God. Examples include design arguments, arguments from reason, arguments from intentionality, and arguments from life-meaning and purpose. 
Here's the rub: There are final causes in God's nature that are ontologically prior to his intelligent agency. For example, God's intellect and will work together to perform various functions, such as designing and creating things.  God's life is also meaningful and purposeful according to classical theism. On classical theism, therefore, final causes are built into God's nature without a prior cause. But if that's right, then classical theism entails th…

Contrarian Philosophy of Religion Assertion Tuesday

On classical theism, purpose is built into God's nature without a prior cause, in which case classical theism entails the existence of purpose that God cannot create at the metaphysical ground floor, in which case theism entails purpose that doesn't require intention -- and indeed, that non-conscious teleology is more fundamental than teleology caused by intelligence --, in which case it's not clear why purpose in the universe without intention is problematic for naturalism.

New Issue of Philo

Here. The table of contents is below to whet your appetite.


Dan Flores, Correlations and Conclusions: Neuroscience and the Belief in God Mark Glouberman, ‘O God, O Montreal!’: Secularity and Turbo-Charged Humanism

Mark Glouberman, ‘O God, O Montreal!’: Secularity and Turbo-Charged Humanism

Tony Houston, Renaissance Humanism: Obscurantist Impieties

R. Zachary Manis, The Problem of Epistemic Luck for Naturalists

Steve Petersen, A Normative Yet Coherent Naturalism

CP Ruloff, Against Mind-Dependence

Lawrence Torcello, On the Virtues of Inhospitality: Toward an Ethics of Public Reason and Critical Engagement

Wielenberg's New Paper on Plantinga's Free Will Defense

Wielenberg, Erik. "Plantingian theism and the free-will defense", Religious Studies 52:2 (forthcoming). 
Here's the abstract: I advance a challenge to the coherence of Alvin Plantinga's brand of theism that focuses on Plantinga's celebrated free-will defence. This challenge draws on (but goes beyond) some ideas advanced by Wes Morriston. The central claim of my challenge is that Plantinga's free-will defence, together with certain claims that are plausible and/or to which Plantinga is committed, both requires and rules out the claim that it is possible that God is capable of engaging in moral goodness. I then critically evaluate an interesting strategy for responding to my challenge inspired by some recent work by Kevin Timpe, arguing that the response ultimately fails. The upshot of the article is that Plantinga's brand of theism is internally inconsistent; furthermore, because the claims that are in tension with the free-will defence are ones that many…

A Slew of Fantastic New Papers by Schellenberg

Reminder On Fair Use Rules

Hi Gang,

It has come to my attention that someone has again used content from this site in a way that violates fair use rules. Please don't do that. You're better than that.

Thanks All,
EA

A Quick Thought on Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Philosophy of Religion

God may well not exist -- yet. But it's not unlikely that beings with godlike qualities will exist in the not so distant future, viz., certain forms of artificial superintelligence, as well as humans and other finite sentient beings, who will create/have created sim worlds. We will then have theological knowledge. In particular, we will know of the existence and nature of god(s).  Many other topics in philosophy of religion will also become lively, such as:
-What sorts of attitudes are appropriate, or at least permissible, toward these beings? -Can these beings generate obligations for us? Will they have obligations to us? -What sorts of relationships are appropriate between humans and these beings?
Given the likely prospects of artificial intelligence and artificial superintelligence, the future of philosophy of religion is bright indeed. The journey has just begun.

A Quick Thought on Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Philosophy of Religion

God may well not exist -- yet. But it's not unlikely that beings with godlike qualities will exist in the not so distant future, viz., certain forms of artificial superintelligence, as well as humans and other finite sentient beings, who will create/have created sim worlds. We will then have theological knowledge. In particular, we will know of the existence and nature of god(s).  Many other topics in philosophy of religion will also become lively, such as:
-What sorts of attitudes are appropriate, or at least permissible, toward these beings? -Can these beings generate obligations for us? Will they have obligations to us? -What sorts of relationships are appropriate between humans and these beings?
Given the likely prospects of artificial intelligence and artificial superintelligence, the future of philosophy of religion is bright indeed. The journey has just begun.


Interesting New Empirical Version of the Problem of Evil

Linford, Daniel and William Patterson. "God, Geography, and Justice", Essays in the Philosophy of Humanism 23:2 (2015), 189-216.

Here's the abstract:
The existence of various sufferings has long been thought to pose a problem for the existence of a personal God: the Problem of Evil (POE). In this paper, we propose an original version of POE, in which the geographic distribution of sufferings and of opportunities for flourishing or suffering is better explained if the universe, at bottom, is indifferent to the human condition than if, as theists propose, there is a personal God from whom the universe originates: the Problem of Geography (POG). POG moves beyond previous versions of POE because traditional responses to POE (skeptical theism and various theodicies) are less effective as responses to POG than they are to other versions of POE. It should be recalled that the importance of attending to the geographic distribution of certain theistically problematic states has also…

Interesting New Moral Epistemological Argument for Atheism

Park, John Jung. "The Moral Epistemological Argument for Atheism", European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 7 (2015).

Here's the abstract:
Numerous supposed immoral mandates and commands by God found in religious texts are introduced and discussed. Such passages are used to construct a logical contradiction contention that is called the moral epistemological argument. It is shown how there is a contradiction in that God is omnibenevolent, God can instruct human beings, and God at times provides us with unethical orders and laws. Given the existence of the contradiction, it is argued that an omnibenevolent God does not exist. Finally, this contention is defended from several objections.

Video: Swinburne vs. Philipse on the Existence of God

Announcement: William L. Rowe Memorial Conference

July 26, 2016 - July 27, 2016
Purdue University

610 Purdue Mall
West Lafayette 47907
United States

Organisers:
Paul Draper
(unaffiliated)
Bertha Manninen
(unaffiliated)
Jack Mulder
(unaffiliated)
Kevin Sharpe
(unaffiliated)

Topic areas
Metaphysics
Philosophy of Religion


Details
We are pleased to announce the “William L. Rowe Memorial Conference” to be held July 26 – July 27, 2016, at Purdue University in West Layette, IN. The conference will celebrate the life and career of William Rowe, a long time professor of Philosophy at Purdue University and one of the preeminent philosophers of religion in the past century.

The speakers will be:

· Michael Bergmann

· Kevin Corcoran

· Scott Davison

· Evan Fales

· William Hasker

· Jeff Jordan

· Timothy O’Connor

· Bruce Russell

· John Schellenberg

· Beth Seacord

· Eleonore Stump

· William Wainwright

· Erik Wielenberg

· Stephen Wykstra

On the evening of July 26, the organizers wil…

New Paper on Anti-Theodicy

Betenson, Tony. "Anti-Theodicy", Philosophy Compass 11:1 (January 2016), pp. 56-65. Here's the abstract:
In this article, I outline the major themes of ‘anti-theodicy’. Anti-theodicy is characterised as a reaction, as rejection, against traditional solutions to the problem of evil (called ‘theodicies’) and against the traditional formulations of the problem of evil to which those solutions respond. I detail numerous ‘moral’ anti-theodical objections to theodicy, illustrating the central claim of anti-theodicy: Theodicy is morally objectionable. I also detail some ‘non-moral’ anti-theodical objections, illustrating the second major claim of anti-theodicy: Traditional formulations of the problem of evil are conceptually misguided. My focus remains on the analytic philosophical tradition throughout, but I briefly allude to the rich theological tradition of anti-theodicy. Although we should recognise the significant degree of diversity amongst anti-theodical arguments and the…

New Book on Religion, Cognitive Science, and Experimental Philosophy

Helen De Cruz, Ryan Nichols, and James Beebe have come out with a terrific new collection: Advances in Religion, Cognitive Science, and Experimental Philosophy(Bloomsbury, 2016).
Here's the blurb:
Experimental philosophy has blossomed into a variety of philosophical fields including ethics, epistemology, metaphysics and philosophy of language. But there has been very little experimental philosophical research in the domain of philosophy of religion. Advances in Religion, Cognitive Science, and Experimental Philosophy demonstrates how cognitive science of religion has the methodological and conceptual resources to become a form of experimental philosophy of religion.Addressing a wide variety of empirical claims that are of interest to philosophers and psychologists of religion, a team of psychologists and philosophers apply data from the psychology of religion to important problems in the philosophy of religion including the psychology of religious diversity; the psychology of substa…