Podcast Episodes: New Insights and Directions in Religious Epistemology

On a number of occasions, we've noted Oxford's exciting new project, New Insights and Directions in Religious Epistemology, headed by John Hawthorne. A number of podcasts from its workshops are now available. Here, for example, are many of the podcasts for its workshops on the bearing of current work on the epistemological topics of contextualism, pragmatic encroachment, and the safety condition on religious Epistemology. I'll post links to the others as I find them (or as they become available).

New Philosophy Compass Article on Molinism

Ken Perszyk, "Recent Work on Molinism", Philosophy Compass 8(8), 755-770. Here's the abstract:
Molinism is named after Luis de Molina (1535–1600). Molina and his fellow Jesuits became entangled in a fierce debate over issues involving the doctrine of divine providence, which is a picture of how God runs the world. Molinism reemerged in the 1970s after Alvin Plantinga unwittingly assumed it in his Free Will Defense against the ‘Logical’ Argument from Evil. Molinism has been the subject of vigorous debate in analytic philosophy of religion ever since. The main aim of this essay is to survey the main contours of this debate. We will visit some ‘old’ battlefields and current hot spots in the ongoing Molinism Wars.
And if a copy should find its way to my inbox...

Update: Thanks!

Forthcoming Papers to Look For: Lackey on Testimony and Disagreement

A while back, I noted some recent trends in epistemology that were bound to become -- and were quickly becoming -- hot topics in philosophy of religion (a project devoted to generating research on these topics and others has since been inaugurated, and is currently in full swing). Two of those topics were the the epistemology of disagreement and the epistemology of testimony. Jennifer Lackey is one of the most insightful in the field on both topics, and has been working on at least two papers in these areas:
  • “Taking Religious Disagreement Seriously,” forthcoming in Timothy O’Connor and Laura Frances Goins (eds.), Religious Faith and Intellectual Virtue (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
  • “Religious Belief and the Epistemology of Testimony", to be presented at the 2013 Baylor-Georgetown-Notre Dame Philosophy of Religion Conference
Keep an eye out for these papers and others from Lackey, as they are likely to be important contributions to these topics. 

    Important New Critique of PSR

    Kleinschmidt, Shieva. "Reasoning Without the Principle of Sufficient Reason". The paper gives special focus to recent defenses of PSR by Pruss and Della Rocca.  Here's the abstract:

    According to Principles of Sufficient Reason, every truth (in some relevant group) has an explanation. One of the most popular defenses of Principles of Sufficient Reason has been the presupposition of reason defense, which takes endorsement of the defended PSR to play a crucial role in our theory selection. According to recent presentations of this defense, our method of theory selection often depends on the assumption that, if a given proposition is true, then it has an explanation, and this will only be justified if we think this holds for all propositions in the relevant group. I argue that this argument fails even when restricted to contingent propositions, and even if we grant that there is no non-arbitrary way to divide true propositions that have explanations from those that lack them. Further, we can give an alternate explanation of what justifies our selecting theories on the basis of explanatory features: the crucial role is not played by an endorsement of a PSR, but rather by our belief that, prima facie, we should prefer theories that exemplify explanatory power to greater degrees than their rivals. This guides our theory selection in a manner similar to ontological parsimonyand theoretical simplicity. Unlike a PSR, our belief about explanatory power gives us a prima facie guiding principle, which provides justification in the cases where we think we have it, and not in the cases where we think we don't.
    (Kleinshmidt is an excellent young philosopher at USC. She's also a theist.)

    The Blackwell Companion to the Problem of Evil...

    ...is due out in October, and it's a must-read. Here's the blurb:

    The Blackwell Companion to the Problem of Evil presents a collection of original essays providing both overview and insight, clarifying and evaluating the philosophical and theological “problem of evil” in its various contexts and manifestations. 

    • Features all original essays that explore the various forms of the problems of evil, offering theistic responses that attempt to explain evil as well as discussion of the challenges facing such explanations 
    • Includes section introductions with a historical essay that traces the developments of the issues explored 
    • Acknowledges the fact that there are many problems of evil, some of which apply only to those who believe in concepts such as hell and some of which apply to non-theists 
    • Represents views from the various religious traditions, including Hindu, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim 
    And here's the table of contents:

    Part I Problems of Evil 1
    1 A brief history of problems of evil 3
    Michael W. Hickson
    2 The logical problem of evil: mackie and plantinga 19
    Daniel Howard-Snyder
    3 A new logical problem of evil 34
    J.L. Schellenberg
    4 Rowe’s evidential arguments from evil 49
    Graham Oppy
    5 Explanation and the problem of evil 67
    Paul Draper and Trent Dougherty
    6 A carnapian argument from evil 83
    Richard Otte
    7 The experience of evil and support for atheism 98
    Jerome Gellman
    8 The problem of animal pain and suffering 113
    Robert Francescotti
    9 Hell and the problem of evil 128
    Andrei A. Buckareff and Allen Plug
    10 The problem of apparently morally abhorrent divine commands 144
    Wesley Morriston
    11 God because of evil: A pragmatic argument from evil for belief in God 160
    Marilyn McCord Adams

    Part II Theodicies 175
    12 A brief history of theodicy 177
    René van Woudenberg
    13 Counterpart and appreciation theodicies 192
    Justin P. McBrayer
    14 Free will and soul-making theodicies 205
    Daniel Speak
    15 The connection-building theodicy 222
    Robin Collins
    16 Best possible world theodicy 236
    Hud Hudson
    17 Providence and theodicy 251
    Thomas P. Flint
    18 A christian theodicy 266
    Laura W. Ekstrom
    19 Toward an Indian theodicy 281
    Purushottama Bilimoria
    20 Earth’s epistemic fruits for harmony with God: an Islamic theodicy 296
    Mohammad Ali Mobini
    21 On constructing a Jewish theodicy 309
    David Shatz
    22 Feminism and the problem of evil 326
    Beverley Clack
    23 Process theism and theodicies for problems of evil 340
    James A. Keller
    24 Theodicy in a vale of tears 349
    Evan Fales
    25 Antitheodicy 363
    N.N. Trakakis

    Part III Skeptical Responses 377
    26 A brief history of skeptical responses to evil 379
    T.M. Rudavsky
    27 Peter van Inwagen’s defense 396
    Meghan Sullivan
    28 A defense without free will 411
    Derk Pereboom
    29 Skeptical theism, CORNEA, and common sense epistemology 426
    Thomas D. Senor
    30 The moral skepticism objection to skeptical theism 444
    Stephen Maitzen
    31 The global skepticism objection to skeptical theism 458
    Ian Wilks
    32 Theistic objections to skeptical theism 468
    David O’Connor
    33 Skeptical theism and the “too much skepticism” objection 482
    Michael C. Rea
    Index 507

    Further details here. The price for the hardback is prohibitive, but the paperback and e-copy versions will no doubt be reasonable.

    The Best Argument Against God...

    ...is the title of Graham Oppy's new book.  Here's the blurb:

    The best way to work out whether or not to believe in God is to compare the best theory that says that God exists with the best theory that says that God does not exist, taking into account all of the relevant data. This book compares Theism – the best theory that says that God exists – with Naturalism – the best theory that says that God does not exist – on a very wide range of data. The conclusion of the comparison is that Naturalism is a better theory than Theism: for Naturalism is simpler than Theism, and all of the considered data is explained at least as well by Naturalism as it is by Theism. The argument for Naturalism is novel both in outline, and in the details of the case that there is no data that Theism explains better than Naturalism does.

    Further details and purchasing information can be found here.

    Samuel Scheffler on the Afterlife

    ...on Philosophy Bites. Here's the plug:

    What gives value to what we do? If all sentient life were to end a few minutes after my death, how would that affect the meaning of what I'm doing now? Samuel Scheffler discusses this sort of question with Nigel Warburton in this episode of the Philosophy Bites podcast. 

    New Paper on the Kalam Argument

    Christopher Alan Bobier, "God, Time, and the Kalam Cosmological Argument", Sophia (May 2013).

    Here's the abstract:
    The Kalām cosmological argument deploys the following causal principle: whatever begins to exist has a cause. Yet, under what conditions does something ‘begin to exist’? What does it mean to say that ‘X begins to exist at t’? William Lane Craig has offered and defended various accounts that seek to establish the necessary and sufficient conditions for when something ‘begins to exist.’ I argue that all of the accounts that William Lane Craig has offered fail on the following grounds: either they entail that God has a cause or they render the Kalām argument unsound. Part of the problem is due to Craig’s view of God’s relationship to time: that God exists timelessly without creation and temporarily with creation. The conclusion is that Craig must abandon either the Kalām argument or his view of God’s relationship to time; he cannot consistently hold both
    And if a copy should find its way to my inbox...

    Update: Thanks!

    Favorite Thing of the Moment


    Mizrahi's New Argument from Evil

    Mizrahi, Moti. "The Problem of Natural Inequality: A New Problem of Evil", Philosophia (forthcoming).

    Here's the abstract:
    In this paper, I argue that there is a kind of evil, namely, the unequal distribution of natural endowments, or natural inequality, which presents theists with a new evidential (not logical or incompatibility) problem of evil. The problem of natural inequality is a new evidential problem of evil not only because, to the best of my knowledge, it has not yet been discussed in the literature, but also because available theodicies, such the free will defense and the soul-making defense, are not adequate responses in the face of this particular evil, or so I argue.

    What God Would Have Known...

     ...is the title of J.L. Schellenberg's forthcoming book , which offers a large number of novel arguments against Christian theism. I...