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Showing posts from 2017

Substance and Priority in Aristotle's Metaphysics

Aristotle argues that there are several ways in which one of the main components of a particular substance can be prior to another.In this paper, I will examine Aristotle’s senses of priority, and then point out ways in which he thought that the matter, essence and substance of a thing can be said to be prior to and posterior to each other. Finally, I will try to see what conclusions can be drawn from this about whether it is the matter, essence, or substance of a particular thing comes first (in some sense). First of all, we must briefly discuss the entities in question that stand in the aforementioned relations of priority.These entities are matter, form (or essence), and substance.Before we consider these, however, let me note that it will be unavoidable that I use the word ‘substance’ before I explicitly discuss it.But I believe we have a rough and ready conception of substance that is sufficient for us to make due until then.With that said, let’s now consider matter. Aristotle’s u…

Yishai Cohen's Excellent Defense of Morriston's "Endless Future" Objection to Craig's Kalam Argument

Cohen, Yishai. "Endless Future: A Persistent Thorn in the Kalam Cosmological Argument", Philosophical Papers 44:2 (2015), pp. 165-187.

A penultimate draft of the paper can be found here.

Also worthy of note is that the paper also provides a nice challenge to Koons' recent defense of the kalam argument based on a version of the Grim Reaper paradox.

P.S., his other papers in philosophy of religion are also well worth reading (e.g., his paper on the problem of the counterfactuals of divine freedom, and his paper on skeptical theism). Both can be found here.

Intriguing New Critique of Theistic Platonism

Baras, Dan. "A Reliability Challenge to Theistic Platonism", Analysis  (2017)doi: 10.1093/analys/anx089.
Here's the abstract: Many philosophers believe that when a theory is committed to an apparently unexplainable massive correlation, that fact counts significantly against the theory. Philosophical theories that imply that we have knowledge of non-causal mind-independent facts are especially prone to this objection. Prominent examples of such theories are mathematical Platonism, robust normative realism and modal realism. It is sometimes thought that theists can easily respond to this sort of challenge and that theism therefore has an epistemic advantage over atheism. In this paper, I will argue that, contrary to widespread thought, some versions of theism only push the challenge one step further and thus are in no better position than atheism. The penultimate draft can be found here.

Grinbaum's New Critique of the Argument from the Effectiveness of Mathematics

In the 1960s, Eugene Wegner argued that the effectiveness of mathematics to explain and describe the natural world is a philosophical problem. Since then, a number of theists have appealed to Wegner's work as the basis for a theistic argument.

In a new paper ("The Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Physics of the Unknown", Synthese. (2017). doi:10.1007/s11229-017-1490-0), Alexei Grinbaum offers a reply to Wegner's original argument. The paper can be found here.

My Podcast Interview on Real Atheology

The interview covers theism's problem of creation ex nihilo and other topics. Those interested can listen here at Real Atheology.Relevant blog posts can be found here
Many thanks to Justin Schieber and Ben Watkins for having me on RA! It's an excellent podcast. I highly recommend it to readers of this blog who are interested in valuable conversations about contemporary philosophy of religion.

The Problem of Teleological Evil

In this post, I’d like to sketch a new (or at least under-explored) version of the problem of evil, which I will dub the problem of teleological evil.
To begin, let’s call something an instance of teleological evil just in case it’s an instance of suffering that occurs in virtue of the natural purpose or design plan of a thing, i.e., it’s part of a thing’s design plan or one of its natural purposes to cause other beings to suffer. A given instance of teleological evil might ultimately trace back to one or more creaturely agents (e.g., a human or a devil), but unless it does, let's say that it falls under the more general category of natural evil.
It’s important not to confuse the problem of teleological evil with the problem of dysteleology. The latter problem traces back to Darwin’s discussions of the imperfect design found in biological organisms and their parts. Commonly discussed examples include the panda’s thumb, the inverted retina, and the convolution of the sexual organs an…

Important New Paper on the Problem of Evil

Mooney, Justin. "Is the Problem of Evil a Deontological Problem?", Analysis (2017).
(DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/analys/anx039).
Here's the abstract: Recently, some authors have argued that experiences of poignant evils provide non-inferential support for crucial premisses in arguments from evil. Careful scrutiny of these experiences suggests that the impermissibility of permitting a horrendous evil might be characterized by a deontological insensitivity to consequences. This has significant implications for the project of theodicy. Happy reading!

Another New Grounding-Based Cosmological Argument

We recently noted Pearce's new cosmological argument that applies recent work on the metaphysics of grounding and ontological dependence to the cosmological argument. Another new paper that aims to do the same is Soufiane Hamlie's "On the Ultimate Ground of Being", International Journal for the Philosophy of Religion (2017), 10.1007/s11153-017-9625-2. Here's the abstract: This paper presents a characterization of the ontological dependence relation between an existent and its sustaining cause, which allows to straightforwardly deduce that the being of any dependent existent is grounded on an independent one. Furthermore, an argument is given to the conclusion that there is a unique independent existent, which is therefore the ultimate ground of being. And if a copy should find its way to my inbox, I wouldn't mind it in the least.

Schellenberg's New Two-Part Series on Recent Work on the Hiddenness Argument ...

...with Philosophy Compass. The first article focuses on objections to Schellenberg's hiddenness argument. The second discusses new work that expands the scope of the discussion, including work on Maitzen's argument (on hiddenness and the demographics of theism), some new hiddenness-related problems, and also work that might provocatively be described as seeking to reclaim the hiddenness topic for theology.   
Also of note in the new issue are the papers on Pascal's Wager and on epistemic externalism in the philosophy of religion.
Happy reading!

Ruloff's Recent Paper on Propositional Platonism and Theistic Conceptualism

Colin Ruloff does excellent work in (among other areas) philosophy of religion. Some of his recent work concerns arguments surrounding theistic conceptualism. (See, for example, his "Divine Thoughts and Fregean Propositional Realism", International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 76:1 (2014), pp. 41-51). His most recent paper on the topic is "On Propositional Platonism, Representation, and Divine Conceptualism", European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 8:4 (2016), which addresses arguments from Gould and Davis against propositional platonism and for theistic conceptualism. Here is the abstract: Gould and Davis (2014) have recently argued for the claim that Propositional Platonism is mistaken since it is not able to explain how a proposition comes to bear its representational properties. But, say Gould and Davis, if Propositional Platonism is mistaken, then Divine Conceptualism must be true and we should therefore identify propositions with the contents of a di…