Timpe's New Book on Free Will in Philosophical Theology

Kevin Timpe has written an important new book: Free Will in Philosophical Theology. Here's the blurb:
Free Will in Philosophical Theology takes the most recent philosophical work on free will and uses it to elucidate and explore theological doctrines involving free will. Rather than being a work of natural theology, it is a work in what has been called clarification—using philosophy to understand, develop, systematize, and explain theological claims without first raising the justification for holding the theological claims that one is working with. Timpe's aim is to show how a particular philosophical account of the nature of free will—an account known as source incompatibilism—can help us understand a range of theological doctrines.
And here's the table of contents:

Chapter 1: The Importance and Nature of Free Will
1.1 Introduction
1.2 Philosophical Theology
1.3 The Nature of Free Will: Source Incompatibilism
1.4 The Issues

Chapter 2: Free Will and the Good
2.1 Choice, the Good, and Teleology
2.2 Reasons and Choice
2.3 Moral Character and Agency
2.4 Moral Character and Habit

Chapter 3: The Primal Sin
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Katherin Rogers on Anselm
3.3 Scott MacDonald on Augustine
3.4 Taking Stock

Chapter 4: Realigning a Fallen Will
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Grace and Theological Determinism
4.3 Non-deterministic Grace
4.4 Stump on Grace and Faith
4.5 Refraining, Quasi-causing, and Control
4.6 Conclusion

Chapter 5: Damned Freedom
5.1 Introduction
5.2 The Traditional Doctrine of Hell
5.3 The Choice Model of Hell
5.4 Death and Psychological Impossibility
5.5 Overcoming Two Objections
5.6 Conclusion

Chapter 6: Perfected Freedom
6.1 Introduction
6.2 Virtue Libertarianism in Heaven
6.3 Warding Off Objections
6.4 Moral Perfection and Purgatory
6.5 Conclusion

Chapter 7: Divine Freedom
7.1 Virtue Libertarianism and History
7.2 Morriston on Moral Freedom and History
7.3 Divine Freedom and Moral Freedom
7.4 God’s Freedom as the Truest Freedom
7.5 Divine Freedom God’s Choice to Create

Graham's Naturalistic Proper Functionalism

Alvin Plantinga has argued that (i) epistemic warrant should be cashed out in terms of proper function, and that (ii) naturalistic accounts of proper function are hopeless. In a series of fantastic papers, however, Peter J. Graham (UC Riverside) has fleshed out an extremely plausible, empirically informed version of naturalistic proper functionalism. See, for example:

Graham, Peter J. "The Function of Perception", in Abrol Fairweather (ed.), Virtue Scientia: Virtue Epistemology and Philosophy of Science. Synthese Library (forthcoming).

-"Epistemic Entitlement", Nous 46 (2012): 449-482. Published online January 20, 2011.

-Functions, Warrant, History Forthcoming in Naturalizing Epistemic Virtue, A. Fairweather & O. Flanagan, eds. (Cambridge University Press).

-"Perceptual Entitlement and Basic Beliefs", Philosophical Studies 152 (2011), 467-475.

-"Does Justification Aim at Truth?", Canadian Journal of Philosophy 41 (2011): 51-72.

-"Testimonial Entitlement and the Function of Comprehension", Social Epistemology, D. Pritchard, A. Millar, A. Haddock, eds. (Oxford University Press, 2010): 148-174.

-"Intelligent Design and Selective History: Two Sources of Purpose and Plan", Oxford Studies in the Philosophy of Religion 3 (2011): 67-88. (This paper is a direct reply to Plantinga's (ii)).

One upshot of these papers is that Plantinga's (ii) is undercut. Another is that Plantinga's theistic version of proper functionalism is undercut.

(We've looked at Plantinga's account of epistemic warrant on a number of other occasions -- here, for example.)

Review of Lovering's God and Evidence: Problems for Theistic Philosophers

Clayton Littlejohn (King's College, London) reviews the book for NDPR.

(For what it's worth, I've sketched an argument in a somewhat similar vein, although focused solely upon conservative Christian theism, here.)

The October 2013 Issue of Faith & Philosophy...

...is now out. Here's the table of contents:

1.Faith and Philosophy: Volume > 30 > Issue: 4
Tomas Bogardus, The Problem of Contingency for Religious Belief
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2.Faith and Philosophy: Volume > 30 > Issue: 4
Tyron Goldschmidt, Beth Seacord, Judaism, Reincarnation, and Theodicy
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3.Faith and Philosophy: Volume > 30 > Issue: 4
Joshua Rasmussen, On the Value of Freedome To Do Evil
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4.Faith and Philosophy: Volume > 30 > Issue: 4
James East, Infinity Minus Infinity
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5.Faith and Philosophy: Volume > 30 > Issue: 4
Martin Lembke, Pious Polygenism and Original Sin
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6.Faith and Philosophy: Volume > 30 > Issue: 4
William Hasker, Can Social Trinitarianism Be Monotheist?: A Reply to Dale Tuggy
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7.Faith and Philosophy: Volume > 30 > Issue: 4
Ross Parker, Deep and Wide: A Response to Jeff Jordan on Divine Love
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Book Reviews
8.Faith and Philosophy: Volume > 30 > Issue: 4
William L. Craig, God and Necessity, by Brian Leftow
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9.Faith and Philosophy: Volume > 30 > Issue: 4
Paul Draper, Probability in the Philosophy of Religion, ed. Jake Chandler and Victoria S. Harrison
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10.Faith and Philosophy: Volume > 30 > Issue: 4
Michael Fuerstein, Moral Perception, by Robert Audi
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While We're on the Topic of Sharon Street's Work...

...she has recently written three excellent papers that are more directly relevant to the aims of this blog:

-"If Everything Happens for a Reason, Then We Don't Know What Reasons Are: Why The Price of Theism is Normative Skepticism", in Bergmann, Michael and Patrick Kain, eds.  Challenges to Religious Belief: Disagreement and Evolution (OUP, forthcoming)

-"Does Anything Really Matter, or Did We Just Evolve to Think So?", in A. Byrne, J. Cohen, G. Rosen, and S. Shiffrin, eds. The Norton Introduction to Philosophy (forthcoming).

-"Nothing "Really" Matters, but That's Not What Matters", in Singer, Peter, ed. Does Anything Really Matter? Parfit on Objectivity (OUP, forthcoming).

In Which My Metaethical Intuitions Have Finally Found a Home

Street, Sharon. "Constructivism About Reasons", in Shafer-Landau, Russ (ed). Oxford Studies in Metaethics, Vol. 3 (Oxford: Clarendon, 2008), pp. 207-245.*

[*] For those interested: The paper should be read along with her important paper, "A Darwinian Dilemma for Realist Theories of Value", Phil. Studies 127:1 (Jan. 2006), pp. 109-166.   Of course, there has been much discussion of Steet's "Dilemma" paper since it first appeared. For an important recent defense of Street's dilemma, see Fraser, Benjamin James. "Evolutionary Debunking Arguments and the Reliability of Moral Cognition", Phil. Studies (forthcoming). The penultimate draft can be found here.

Two Recent Issues of Res Philosophica to Check Out

Issues 1 and 4 of this year's volume of Res Philosophica focus on issues in philosophy of religion. Below are the tables of contents for each for your perusal:

-Vol. 4:
winner of the 2013 res philosophica essay prize
1. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Eleanor Helms, The Objectivity of Faith: Kierkegaard's Critique of Fideism
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runner up of the 2013 res philosophica essay prize
2. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Anna Strelis, The Intimacy between Reason and Emotion: Kierkegaard's "Simultaneity of Factors"
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3. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Rasmus Rosenberg Larsen, Schelling and Kierkegaard in Perspective: Integrating Existence into Idealism
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4. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Jennifer Ryan Lockhart, Kierkegaard's Indirect Communication of Kant's Existential Moment
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5. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Walter Wietzke, Practical Reason and the Imagination
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6. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Robert Wyllie, Kierkegaard's Eyes of Faith: The Paradoxical Voluntarism of Climacus's "Philosophical Fragments"
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7. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Ryan West, Faith as a Passion and Virtue
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8. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Jason Kido Lopez, Kierkegaard's View of Despair: Paradoxical Psychology and Spiritual Therapy
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9. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
David Diener, Kierkegaard on Authority, Obedience, and the Modern Approach to Religion
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-Vol. 1:
1. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 1
Alexander R. Pruss, Omnirationality
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2. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 1
Lynne Rudder Baker, Updating Anselm Again
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3. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 1
Nicholas Wolterstorff, C. S. Lewis on the Problem of Suffering
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4. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 1
Jonathan L. Kvanvig, Theories of Providence and Creation
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5. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 1
Brian Leftow, God’s Deontic Perfection
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6. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 1
Paul Draper, The Limitations of Pure Skeptical Theism
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7. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 1
Peter van Inwagen, C. S. Lewis’s Argument Against Naturalism
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Tim Maudlin on Why Our Universe Appears Fine-Tuned for LIfe


H/T: Leiter Reports

Martin Smith's Recent Defense of the Parity Thesis

We recently noted Martin Smith's helpful overview of recent work in the epistemology of religion. Also worth reading is his recent defense of the thesis that belief in God has relevant and tight parallels with belief in an external world: "God and the External World" (Ratio 24:1 (2011), 65-77). Here's the abstract:
There are a number of apparent parallels between belief in God and belief in the existence of an external world beyond our experiences. Both beliefs would seem to condition one's overall view of reality and one's place within it – and yet it is difficult to see how either can be defended. Neither belief is likely to receive a purely a priori defence and any empirical evidence that one cites either in favour of the existence of God or the existence of the external world would seem to blatantly beg the question against a doubter. I will explore just how far this parallel can be pushed by examining some strategies for resisting external world scepticism.

Borrowing from Singer to Help Out Kant

Here are two standard criticisms of Kant's ethics:

(i) Kant thought that humans have intrinsic value and dignity in virtue of their autonomy, and that this, in turn, requires libertarian freedom. But if so, then to the extent that we have reason to doubt that we have such freedom, then to that extent we have reason to doubt that Kant's ethics can account for the intrinsic value of humans.

(ii) Kant thought that only beings with the kind of autonomy of the sort gestured to above have intrinsic value. But if so, then since infants, the severely mentally disabled, and animals lack such autonomy, they thereby lack intrinsic value. But if this is what his account of ethics implies, then so much the worse for Kant's ethics.

These two criticisms clearly stem from Kant's thesis that

(IVA) Intrinsic value is grounded in the capacity for autonomy (which in turn is grounded in libertarian freedom and rational agency).

 It seems to me that there is a natural way to revise Kantian ethics so as to avoid at least the aforementioned criticisms, viz. by replacing IVA with

(IVI) Intrinsic value is grounded in the capacity for having interests.

On this account, the scope of the moral community can be expanded so as to encompass not just autonomous agents, but also infants, the severely mentally disabled, and non-human animals. For as Peter Singer has put it, all such beings have, at a minimum, the capacity for suffering and enjoyment, which in turn grounds the capacity for the minimal interests of pursuing enjoyment and avoiding suffering.[1]

I'm not claiming that such a revision to Kant's ethics is novel. All I'm saying is that it seems to be a natural revision to Kant's ethics that accounts for a large swath of widespread moral intuitions, and in a way that avoids at least the two powerful criticisms to Kant's ethics sketched above.

[1] It's of course ironic to find the seeds of a Kantian theory in the ideas of an arch-consequentialist of the likes of Peter Singer!

Religious Faith and Intellectual Virtue

Is religious faith consistent with being an intellectually virtuous thinker? This question is explored in the forthcoming book, Religious Faith and Intellectual Virtue (OUP). Details here.

Chalmers' Latest Exploration of Panprotopsychism

Regular readers of this blog may have surmised that I'm somewhat inclined toward Russellian monism about the nature of consciousness. I'm also inclined to think that the mere epistemic possibility of such a version of liberal naturalism functions as an undercutting defeater for both substance dualism in particular and classical theism in general. David Chalmers is of course a leading philosopher of mind with similar sympathies about the nature of consciousness. Here's his latest exploration and defense of a view in this vicinity.

Huemer's New IEP Entry on Phenomenal Conservatism


Vallier, Yetter-Chapell and Gressis on Whether Religious Belief is Reasonable

You're following these three discussions, right?

New Paper on the Epistemology of Religion

Smith, Martin. "The Epistemology of Religion", Analysis (Forthcoming). The paper looks to provide an overview of past and recent trends in the epistemology of religion that we've discussed on a number of occasions (e.g., here and here).  Here's the abstract:

The epistemology of religion is the branch of epistemology concerned with the rationality, the justificatory status and the knowledge status of religious beliefs – most often the belief in the existence of an omnipotent, omniscient and loving God as conceived by the major monotheistic religions. While other sorts of religious beliefs – such as belief in an afterlife or in disembodied spirits or in the occurrence of miracles – have also been the focus of considerable attention from epistemologists, I shall concentrate here on belief in God. There were a number of significant works in the epistemology of religion written during the early and mid Twentieth Century. The late Twentieth Century, however, saw a surge of interest in this area, fuelled by the work of philosophers such as William Alston, Alvin Plantinga and Linda Zagzebski amongst others. Alston, Plantinga and Zagzebski succeeded in importing, into the epistemology of religion, various new ideas from mainstream epistemology – in particular, externalist approaches to justification, such as reliabilism, and virtue theoretic approaches to knowledge (see, for instance, Alston, 1986, 1991, Plantinga, 1988, 2000, Zagzebski, 1993a, 1993b). This laid fertile ground for new research – questions about the justificatory and knowledge status of belief in God begin to look very different when viewed through the lens of theories such as these. I will begin by surveying some of this groundbreaking work in the present article, before moving on to work from the last five years – a period in which the epistemology of religion has again received impetus from a number of ideas from mainstream epistemology; ideas such as pragmatic encroachment, phenomenal conservatism and externalist theories of evidence.
 And if a copy of the paper should find its way to my inbox...

Update: Thanks!

Quote(s) of the Day

Alexander Vilenkin: Whatever it's worth, my view is that the BGV theorem does not say anything about the existence of God one way or the other. In particular, the beginning of the universe could be a natural event, described by quantum cosmology.

Bill Craig: In that vein, I do have a question about your statement: 
the BGV theorem uses a classical picture of spacetime. In the regime where gravity becomes essentially quantum, we may not even know the right questions to ask.
Elsewhere you’ve written:
A remarkable thing about this theorem is its sweeping generality. . . . We did not even assume that gravity is described by Einstein’s equations. So, if Einstein’s gravity requires some modification, our conclusion will still hold. The only assumption that we made was that the expansion rate of the universe never gets below some nonzero value [Vilenkin, 2006, p. 175].
How are these statements compatible? The 2006 statement sounds as if a quantum theory of gravitation would not undo the theorem. But the letter to Krauss sounds as if we are awash in uncertainty.

I have my own idea of how you might understand these statements, but rather than burden you with my surmises, I’d prefer to simply ask you how you understand the situation.

Vilenkin: The question of whether or not the universe had a beginning assumes a classical spacetime, in which the notions of time and causality can be defined. On very small time and length scales, quantum fluctuations in the structure of spacetime could be so large that these classical concepts become totally inapplicable. Then we do not really have a language to describe what is happening, because all our physics concepts are deeply rooted in the concepts of space and time. This is what I mean when I say that we do not even know what the right questions are.

Conference and Call for Papers: Religious Studies at 50

To celebrate the publication of the 50th volume of Religious Studies in 2014, and the 50th anniversary of the founding of the journal in 1965, the University of Leeds is hosting a conference, sponsored by Cambridge University Press, on 25th - 27th June, 2014. Invited participants include: Pamela Sue Anderson, Peter Byrne, Victoria Harrison, Brian Leftow, Graham Oppy, John Schellenberg, Stewart Sutherland, Richard Swinburne, and Keith Ward.

The afternoon of 26th will be set aside for submitted short papers, and these are now invited. Abstracts of around 250 words, accompanied by a short CV, should be sent by e-mail attachment to the Editor, Prof. Robin Le Poidevin, r.d.lepoidevin@leeds.ac.uk, no later than 31st January, 2014.

Important Recent Paper Pertaining to Naturalism and Ethical and Mathematical Knowledge

Clarke-Doane, Justin. “Morality and Mathematics: The Evolutionary Challenge”, Ethics 122, 313-340. The article was selected by the Philosopher's Annual as one of the best papers of 2012. The paper can be found here.

Resto QuiƱones's New Argument Against Perfect Being Theism

Resto QuiƱones, Jashiel. " Incompatible And Incomparable Perfections: A New Argument Against Perfect Being Theism ", International...