In the first part of the paper, I argue that Christians should incorporate the theory of reincarnation into their belief system. The problem of the apparent disproportion between finite human sin and infinite punishment in Hell becomes far more tractable against the background of reincarnation. In the second part of the paper, I address and answer three objections that may be raised against a Christian theory of reincarnation. The first objection is based on the role of memory in identity, the (...) second points to the essential unity of body and soul, and the third revolves around the suggestion that living multiple lives may more easily lead to damnation than to salvation. (shrink)
Did Aristotle believe that upbringing determines character, and character, in turn, determines action? Some scholars answer this question in the affirmative and thus read Aristotle as a determinist with little use for the idea that people are morally responsible for what they do. The present paper counters this interpretation by showing that a deterministic reading of Aristotle’s theory of action and character is indefensible in the face of the text. The author points to three main facts: (1)a passage in the (...) Nicomachean Ethics shows conclusively that Aristotle did not regard upbringing as determining moral character; (2) the doctrine of character expounded in Nicomachean Ethics III does not entail that people can only act in conformity with their moral dispositions, and (3) Aristotle viewed alternatepossibilities as genuinely open to moral agents, not as available to them only in principle (i.e., if they had received a different upbringing or had had different beliefs and desires). (shrink)
The ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus regarded his atomism as a cure for the fear of natural phenomena. An atomistic philosophy, however, can easily lead to determinism and epiphenomenalism, which threaten human happiness even more than the fear of nature. The present paper attempts to reconstruct Epicurus’ strategy for dealing with the unwanted consequences of his atomism. The author argues that Epicurus employed a form of emergentism about properties to show that freedom exists and mental states are not causally inert epiphenomena.
Contrary to what most interpreters hold, in the Nicomachean Ethics Aristotle is not committed to the view that people of established vicious character could never become good. The present paper proves this result (1) by giving a better reading of 1114 a 12-21, a passage which has traditionally been taken to assert that unjust and self-indulgent people are doomed to a lifetime of vice; (2) by showing that when Aristotle refers to self-indulgent people as "incurable", he does not mean that (...) they could never change, but only that they could not change as a result of external influences such as persuasion or punishment; (3) by proving that although Aristotle regards the desires of vicious people as determined by their character, there is room within Aristotelian moral psychology for the possibility that people of corrupt character become motivated to begin a process of moral reform. (shrink)