The Argument from Logic

Rough draft: Post stub.

The fact that orthodox theists, from at least Augustine and all the way to the present, have seen logic as the expression of single, rational, divine Mind is at least some evidence that theism expects and predicts logical monism. But the case against logical monism is more plausible than the case for logical monism. But the truth of the disjunction of logical pluralism and logical nihilism is prima facie more surprising on theism than on naturalism. Therefore, the case for the disjunction of logical pluralism and logical nihilism provides at least some evidence against theism.

The Argument from Motivated Reasoning

Post stub. Very rough draft.

Recent empirical work on motivated reasoning indicates that it is strongly resistant to detection, even despite our best efforts (Ballantyne 2015; Pronin et al. 2002). Perhaps worse, other work shows that attempts to preempt motivated reasoning reinforce its impact (Ehrlinger et al. 2005; Schwitzgebel & Ellis 2017). This is surprising on theism, given that it's surprising that God would design our cognitive faculties in a way that's highly disposed to unreliability -- and likely without remedy -- especially in ways that can be morally pernicious. By contrast, it's not surprising on naturalism, since nature is "indifferent" to our welfare on that hypothesis, and since motivated reasoning is conducive to survival and reproduction (Mercier & Sperber 2011). Therefore, the existence of motivated reasoning is at least some evidence for naturalism vis-a-vis theism.

Oberle's New Paper on Metaphysical Infinitism and the Thomistic Cosmological Argument

Here's a new paper making a point I've been on about recently: recent work on metaphysical infinitism and coherentism undercuts certain cosmological arguments, and the metaphysical foundationalism presupposed by theism.

Oberle, Thomas. "Grounding, infinite regress, and the Thomistic cosmological argument", International Journal for Philosophy of Religion (July 2022).
Abstract: A prominent Thomistic cosmological argument maintains that an infinite regress of causes, which exhibits a certain pattern of ontological dependence among its members, would be vicious and so must terminate in a first member. Interestingly, Jonathan Schaffer offers a similar argument in the contemporary grounding literature for the view called metaphysical foundationalism. I consider the striking similarities between both arguments and conclude that both are unsuccessful for the same reason. I argue this negative result gives us indirect reason to consider metaphysical infinitism as a genuine possibility, the view that chains of ontological dependence or ground can descend indefinitely.



The Ontological Argument and the Metaphysics of Modality

Draft: Post stub.

It's not clear that there's a metaphysics of modality that can vindicate a cogent modal ontological argument for classical theism. Theistic activism and theistic conceptualism with respect to possible worlds are a bad fit with the modal ontological argument (circularity). But so is Platonism about possible worlds (runs afoul of the aseity-sovereignty doctrine). Perhaps a dispositionalist/powers-based account of modality is compatible with the modal ontological argument, but prima facie, dispositionalism entails moderate modal skepticism (cf. Jacobs, Vetter), thereby undermining the possibility premise in the modal ontological argument. What's left? Modal fictionalism? That's already been shown to imply devastating problems for the modal ontological argument. 

Upshot: Cogent modal ontological arguments (at least ones friendly to classical theism) seem to have no suitable home in the metaphysics and epistemology of modality.

Substance-First vs. Property-First Ontologies: Beyond the Physicalism/Supernaturalism Distinction

Very rough draft: First pass.

A standard distinction between physicalism and supernaturalism/mentalism goes like this: 
Physicalism is the view that the physical is fundamental -- everything is either physical or dependent upon/grounded in the physical. By contrast supernaturalism/mentalism is the view that one or more spiritual/mental/supernatural beings are more fundamental than the physical -- everything is either mental or dependent upon the mental.
I have at least two worries for this way of carving things up. I've gestured to the first of these on previous occasions -- viz., that the characterization of the distinction presupposes metaphysical foundationalism, and yet metaphysical foundationalism has recently been called into doubt (on both philosophical and scientific grounds), and metaphysical coherentism and metaphysical infinitism have both recently been vigorously defended. 

My second worry is the one I want to briefly focus on in this post. The worry is that it fails to get at what is potentially a deeper distinction, and one that's potentially more illuminating than the distinction between physicalism and supernaturalism. The distinction I have in mind is at the level of basic ontological categories and categorical priority -- in particular, the level of the ontological priority of the categories of substance and property. According to a standard and historically prominent view, substances are more fundamental than properties (or at least: substances are no less fundamental than properties). Accordingly, let's call this sort of view a substance-first ontology.

By contrast, a number of philosophers (e.g., Laurie Paul and Shamik Dasgupta) have recently argued that properties are more fundamental than substances, and indeed that substances may not even exist. Let's call this sort of view a property-first ontology.

Which view is correct: the substance-first view or the property-first view? This question has potentially huge implications for the disagreement between theists and non-theists.[1] This is because, prima facie, orthodox monotheism entails the substance-first view. And this in turn is because, prima facie, God is a substance, and is prior to all else that exists. Therefore, if there are reasons to prefer the property-first view, then there are thereby reasons to prefer non-theism to theism. 

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[1] There are other views that are equally powerful threats to theism, such as a stuff-first view, according to which stuffs are more fundamental than substances. However, I leave this sort of threat to the side for the present post.

The Fine-Tuning Argument Against Theism

Draft: Post stub.

The evidence for fine-tuning confirms both demiurgism and panentheism over theism, and in this way is good evidence against theism. This is because the intuitive and empirical evidence against creation ex nihilo creates a strong drag on theism’s prior probability not suffered by demiurgism and panentheism, and so they lap the former in terms of posterior probability. A fortiori, the posterior probability of the inclusive disjunction of demiurgism and panentheism is considerably higher than that of theism given the evidence of fine-tuning.

The Argument from Logic

Rough draft: Post stub. The fact that orthodox theists, from at least Augustine and all the way to the present, have seen logic as the expre...