Laura Ekstrom's New Book on the Problem of Evil

God, Suffering, and the Value of Free Will (Oxford University Press, 2021) is now out, and promises to be a major contribution to the problem of evil. Can't wait to read it.

New Critique of Brower's Truthmaker Analysis of Divine Simplicity

 Da Vee, Dean. "Why truthmaker theory cannot save divine simplicity", International Journal for Philosophy of Religion (2021). 


Although the doctrine of divine simplicity has faced substantial criticism in recent years, Jeffrey Brower has recently offered a novel defense of the view by appealing to contemporary truthmaker theory. In this paper, I will argue that Brower’s defense of divine simplicity requires an implausible account of how truthmaking works for essential intrinsic predications. I will first argue that, unless Brower is willing to make an ad hoc exception for how truthmaking works in God’s case, he is committed to saying that essential intrinsic predications about any object are made true by that object alone, not by its having essential properties. I will then argue that reflecting on cases where distinct essential intrinsic predications about an object have different causal explanations behind them shows that this general view of truthmaking is implausible.

Nice Paper on the Impossibility of a Rational Omnipotent Agent

Baker, Derek. "Deliberators Must Be Imperfect", PPR 93(2): 321-347. The aim of the paper is to critique theories that explain practical reason in terms of perfectly rational omniscient agents, but of course the point is  of interest to philosophers of religion as well. Here's the abstract:

This paper argues that, with certain provisos, predicting one's future actions is incompatible with rationally deliberating about whether to perform those actions. It follows that fully rational omniscient agents are impossible, since an omniscient being could never rationally deliberate about what to do (omniscient beings, the paper argues, will always meet the relevant provisos). Consequently, theories that explain practical reasons in terms of the choices of a perfectly rational omniscient agent must fail. The paper considers several ways of defending the possibility of an omniscient agent, and concludes that while some of these may work, they are inconsistent with the aim of explaining practical normativity by appeal to such an agent.

100 (or so) Arguments for Atheism

A popular view in contemporary analytic philosophy of religion is that while there are many arguments for theism -- cosmological, ontological, and teleological arguments; moral arguments; arguments from consciousness; etc. (by Plantinga's lights, two dozen or so) -- there are only one or two arguments for atheism, viz., the problem of evil and (more recently) the argument from divine hiddenness.

This is a misconception. Here are over a hundred:

10. The Free Will Offense (Schellenberg)
11. Schellenberg's new deductive argument from evil. (Schellenberg) 
12. The argument from the absurdity of life in a Christian (and, arguably, any traditional theistic) universe (Wielenberg)
13. An abductive argument for naturalism (Oppy)
14. The argument from ordinary morality (Maitzen)
15. An ontological disproof of theism (Maitzen)
16. The problem of theistic evidentialist philosophers (Lovering)
17. The argument from autonomy (Kahane, Rachels)
18. The argument from ugliness (Aikin and Jones)
19. The common core/diversity dilemma (Thornhill-Miller and Millican
20. The argument from the philosophy of nature (Cordry)
21. The argument from natural inequalities (Mizrahi)
22. The argument from social evil (Poston)
23. The argument from insect suffering (Crummett)
24. The argument from scale (Everitt)
25. The argument from religious evil (Kodaj)
26. The argument from idolatry (Linford and Megill)
27. The argument from indifference (Linford and Megill)
28. The argument from the requirement of divine interference (Maring)
29. The argument from eternally separated lovers (Hassoun)
30. The argument from peer disagreement
31. The argument from the impropriety of worship (Aikin)
32. The argument from the impropriety of belief (Nagel)
33. The argument from abstract objects (Davidson, Craig, me)
34. The argument from inhospitable environment (me)
35. The argument from teleological evil (me)
36. The argument from material causality (me)
37. The argument from revulsion (me)
38. The argument from the ineffectiveness of prayer (various)
39. The argument from divine evil (Lewis)
40. The argument from hell (Sider)
41. The argument from the meaning of life (Megill and Linford)
42. The argument from the demographics of theism (Maitzen)
43. The problem of no best world (Rowe, others)
44. The problem of incoherent/incompatible properties (various)
45. The problem of mitigated modal skepticism (me)
46. The structure and dynamics argument (me)
47. The argument from Mandevillian intelligence (me)
48. The argument from quantum mechanics (me)
49. The argument from wave function realism (me)
50. The argument from low priors (Draper)
51. The argument from decisive evidence (Draper)
52. Epicurean cosmological arguments for naturalism (me)
53. The argument from cognitive biases (Lucas, me)
54. The argument from the etiology of religious belief (De Cruz, others)
55. The argument from moral psychology (Park)
56. The argument from moral epistemology (Park)
57. The argument from meager moral fruits (Draper)
58. The argument from imperfection (Everitt)
59. Smith's cosmological argument for atheism (Smith)
60. The argument from tragic moral dilemmas (me)
61. The argument from substance dualism (me)
62. A Leibnizian cosmological argument for naturalism (me)
63. Arguments from order and fine-tuning against theism (me)
64. Arguments from sub-optimality (Darwin, Dawes, others)
65. Probabilitistic ontological arguments against theism (me)
66. Arguments from the success of naturalistic explanations (D. Lewis, Dawes, others)
67. The argument from lack of character (me)
68. The problem of divine authority (me)
69. The problem of polytheisms (Lataster and Philipse)
70. The problem of alternative monotheisms (Lataster)
71. An abductive argument for liberal naturalism (me)
72. The problem of demiurgism (me)
73. Sterba's deductive argument from evil
74. Another ontological disproof of classical theism (me)
75. The problem of natural nonbelief (Marsh)
76. The problem of permissivism (me)
77. Pragmatic arguments for atheism (Cockayne & Warman; Lougheed)
82. The argument from anti-religious experience (me, Adams and Robson)
98. The aloneness argument (Schmid and Mullins)
101. The argument from (1)-(100).

The Argument from Expressivism

Metaethical expressivism is a powerful and popular theory of the nature of moral statements. However, the theory entails that there are no moral facts. This is surprising on theism, since on that view, there are moral facts, and God has moral attributes that seem to entail the existence of moral facts about his/her nature. By contrast, the non-existence of moral facts isn't surprising on naturalism, since it seems to make no predictions about the existence of moral facts. Therefore, those who accept metaethical expressivism thereby have at least some grounds for naturalism vis-a-vis theism.

Malpass' Nice Critique of the Argument from Logic

Malpass, Alex. "Problems for the argument from logic", Sophia (forthcoming).

The Argument from the Autonomy of Ethics Against Theism

There are several secular ethical theories (e.g., contractarian theories, consequentialist theories, deontological theories, sentimentalist theories, etc.) that explain our moral intuitions better than religious accounts, such as divine command theory. This is surprising on standard forms of theism, since on those hypotheses, morality is not independent of the existence, nature, and/or commands of God. Therefore, the phenomenon of the autonomy of ethics is one piece of data in an inference to the best explanation for naturalism vis-a-vis theism.

Laura Ekstrom's New Book on the Problem of Evil

God, Suffering, and the Value of Free Will   (Oxford University Press, 2021) is now out, and promises to be a major contribution to the prob...