Oppy and Pearce's Excellent New God Debate Book

I'm really enjoying Oppy and Pearce's new debate book, Is There a God? A Debate (Routledge, 2021).

Here's the blurb:
Bertrand Russell famously quipped that he didn’t believe in God for the same reason that he didn’t believe in a teapot in orbit between the earth and Mars: it is a bizarre assertion for which no evidence can be provided. Is belief in God really like belief in Russell’s teapot? Kenneth L. Pearce argues that God is no teapot. God is a real answer to the deepest question of all: why is there something rather than nothing? Graham Oppy argues that we should believe that there are none but natural causal entities with none but natural causal properties—and hence should believe that there are no gods. Beginning from this basic disagreement, the authors proceed to discuss and debate a wide range of philosophical questions, including questions about explanation, necessity, rationality, religious experience, mathematical objects, the foundations of ethics, and the methodology of philosophy. Each author first presents his own side, and then they interact through two rounds of objections and replies.

Pedagogical features include standard form arguments, section summaries, bolded key terms and principles, a glossary, and annotated reading lists. In the volume foreword, Helen De Cruz calls the debate "both edifying and a joy," and sums up what’s at stake: "Here you have two carefully formulated positive proposals for worldviews that explain all that is: classical theism, or naturalistic atheism. You can follow along with the authors and deliberate: which one do you find more plausible?"

Though written with beginning students in mind, this debate will be of interest to philosophers at all levels and to anyone who values careful, rational thought about the nature of reality and our place in it.

Important Recent Work on Theodicy

Hill, Scott. "Why God Allows Undeserved Horrendous Evil", Religious Studies (Online First 28 Sept. 2021). In the paper, Hill applies recent work on the non-identity problem in ethics to the problem of evil. Vince Vitale has recently written a monograph applying insights from the non-identity problem literature to the problem of evil as well. Required reading for anyone working on the problem of evil today.

Quantum Modal Realism and a "Victorious" Ontological Argument for Naturalism

Rough draft.

One can run a minimal modal ontological argument for naturalism with just two simple premises:  

1. Possibly, a necessarily existent natural universe exists.

2. What's necessary doesn't vary from possible world to possible world.

3. Therefore, there is a necessarily existent natural universe.

(2) follows from Axiom S5 of S5 modal logic, and most philosophers accept S5, so it's fairly uncontroversial. So the argument comes down to the plausibility of (1). 

But (1) is plausible as well. For the most plausible interpretation of quantum mechanics is arguably the Everettian interpretation, and as Alastair Wilson has recently argued, one can provide a plausible naturalistic account of modality in terms of Everettian quantum mechanics, which he dubs quantum modal realism (QMR). Roughly: a possible world is a branch of the universal wave function; something is possible just in case it exists in at least one branch of the wave function; and something is necessary just in case it exists in every branch of the wave function. Finally, because the empirical evidence underdetermines whether the decohering branches of the wave function share an initial segment (the overlapping interpretation) or have qualitatively identical yet numerically distinct initial segments (the diverging interpretation), de re modality can be spelled out either in terms of transworld identity (which corresponds to the overlapping interpretation) or in terms of counterpart theory, according to which individuals are worldbound (which corresponds to the diverging interpretation). So in light of the machinery of QMR, (1) asserts that it is true within at least one branch of the wavefunction that the natural universe exists in every branch of the wave function (which is true in our branch, and of course in every branch), where the de re modal properties of the natural universe are given either an overlapping, transworld identity gloss or a diverging, worldbound/counterpart-theoretic gloss.

Furthermore, (1) seems more plausible than the theistic possibility premise in the corresponding modal ontological argument for theism. For the truth of the latter premise requires acceptance of the compossibility of a large swath of exotic properties, such as omnipotence, omniscience, moral perfection, immateriality, and the capacity for creating individuals and/or stuffs out of nothing. Therefore, it appears that one has more reason to accept the minimal modal ontological argument for naturalism than the standard modal ontological argument for theism.

A Minimal Modal Ontological Argument for Naturalism

One can run a minimal modal ontological argument for naturalism with just two simple premises:  

1. Possibly, there is a necessarily existent extended thing (i.e., the two properties are compossible).

2. What's necessary doesn't vary from possible world to possible world.

3. Therefore, there is a necessarily existent essentially extended thing.

(2) follows from Axiom S5 of S5 modal logic, and most philosophers accept S5, so it's fairly uncontroversial. So the argument comes down to the plausibility of (1). But (1) just says that necessary existence and extension are compossible properties, which seems more plausible than the theistic possibility premise in the corresponding modal ontological argument for theism. For the truth of the latter premise requires acceptance of the compossibility of a large swath of exotic properties, such as omnipotence, omniscience, moral perfection, immateriality, and the capacity for creating individuals and/or stuffs out of nothing. Therefore, it appears that one has more reason to accept the minimal modal ontological argument for naturalism than the standard modal ontological argument for theism.

Oppy and Pearce's Excellent New God Debate Book

I'm really enjoying Oppy and Pearce's new debate book, Is There a God? A Debate (Routledge, 2021) . Here's the blurb: Bertrand ...