God, the Best, and Evil is an original treatment of some longstanding problems about God and his actions towards human beings. First, BruceLangtry explores some implications of divine omnipotence, omniscience, and perfect goodness for God's providence. In particular, he investigates whether God is in some sense a maximizer. Second, he assesses the strength of objections to the existence of God that are based on the apparent fact that God could have created a better world than this one. (...) Finally, he assesses the strength of objections to the existence of God that focus on the problem of evil. -/- To create a (possible) world is to strongly or weakly actualize it. A world is prime if God can create it, and he cannot create a world better than it. This book's conclusions include the following: (1) If there is at least one prime world, then if God does create some world he will create a prime world. (2) If there are no prime worlds, then it does not follow that God does not exist. Instead, what follows is that if God creates a world he will create one that is good enough, despite the fact that he could create a world which is better. (3) This conclusion does not give rise to a good objection to theism, based on the apparent fact that the actual world is improvable and yet it is not good enough (4) Even if there is a best world, or several equal-best worlds, God cannot create any of them. (5) A good partial theodicy for evil can be provided, appealing to goods bound up with human free will, moral responsibility, and the roles of individuals' own personal traits in shaping their own and other people's lives. The partial theodicy is neutral between Theological Compatibilism and libertarianism. (6) The problem of evil does not provide a very strong objection to the existence of God. (shrink)
This paper discusses the normative ethical theory of the business firm advanced principally by William E. Evan and R. Edward Freeman. According to their stakeholder theory, the firm should be managed for the benefit of its stakeholders: indeed, management has a fiduciary obligation to stakeholders to act as their agent. In this paper I seek to clarify the theory by discussing the concept of a stakeholder and by distinguishing stakeholder theory from two varieties of stockholder theory-I call them ‘pure’ and (...) ‘tinged.’ I argue that the distinctive claims of stakeholder theory, as contrasted with tinged stockholder theories, have been inadequately supported by argument. (shrink)
My reply corrects one misstatement in Oppy’s summary of my book, abandons a footnote in the light of one of Oppy’s criticisms, and argues that Oppy’s other criticisms do not succeed in showing either that my claims are mistaken or that the arguments by which I supported them are defective.
The main issue in this paper has been whether appeal to greater goods can explain why God, if he exists, is justified in refraining from ensuring that there is little or no evil. I have argued that in principle it can. I have not defended the plausibility of the view that there actually are greater goods for whose sake God’s actions are planned; nor have I attempted to identify candidate goods performing the role envisaged. However those tasks form part of (...) my larger project. Well beyond my reach is an item on my idle wish list: an explanation of why, assuming that God could have strongly actualized suitable alternative goods with less evil, he did not in fact do so. (shrink)
Arc there cases in which an object x is thc same F as an object y but x is not the same G as y, cvcn though x is a G? A11 aihrmativc answer will have drastic repercussions 011 0ne’s account of identity and on one’s quantification theory. For suppose that the expression ‘x is the same F as y’ can be understood as ‘x is an F and y is an F and x is identical with y’, and that (...) ‘x is not the same G as y’ can be understood as ‘it is not the case that x is a G and y is a G and x is identical with y’. Then one may reason as follows. (shrink)
The paper reaches two main conclusions: Firstly, even if there are one or more possible worlds than which there are none better, God cannot actualise any of them. Secondly, if there are possible worlds which God can actualise, and than which God can actualise none better, then God must actualise one of them. The paper is neutral between compatibilist and libertarian views of creaturely freedom.
This paper argues that (1) Richard Swinburne’s general account of the simplicity of empirical hypotheses fails because it involves a deeply problematic notion of postulating a property, while there is a wide range of hypotheses where the assessment of simplicity rests entirely on the number and kinds of postulated properties, (2) Swinburne’s main argument in ’The Christian God’ for the simplicity of theism, the one based on considerations about pure limitless intentional power, is significantly weaker than he seems to believe. (...) The paper does not draw a conclusion about whether theism is simple. (shrink)
Hume’s main argument against rational belief in miracles might seem to rule out rational belief in other antecedently improbable occurrences as well--for example, a certain person’s having won the lottery. Dorothy Coleman has recently defended Hume against the lottery counterexample, invoking Hume’s distinction between probability of chances and probability of causes. I argue that Coleman’s defence fails.
I EXAMINE VARIOUS SUGGESTED PRINCIPLES FOR WEIGHING TESTIMONY TO PAST EVENTS AND IDENTIFY ONE WHICH SEEMS TO BE BOTH TRUE AND ROUGHLY IN THE SPIRIT OF DAVID HUME’S ESSAY. I ARGUE THAT HUME FAILS TO PROVIDE GOOD REASONS FOR SAYING THAT THIS PRINCIPLE, WHEN APPLIED TO REPORTS OF MIRACLES PURPORTING TO SUPPORT RELIGIOUS BELIEFS, WILL ALWAYS LEAD US TO REJECT THE OCCURRENCE OF THE MIRACLE.
J L MACKIE, IN "THE MIRACLE OF THEISM", CHAPTER 1, ARGUES THAT "IT IS PRETTY WELL IMPOSSIBLE THAT REPORTED MIRACLES SHOULD PROVIDE A WORTHWHILE ARGUMENT FOR THEISM ADDRESSED TO THOSE WHO ARE INITIALLY INCLINED TO ATHEISM OR EVEN TO AGNOSTICISM." I ARGUE THAT MACKIE FAILS TO ESTABLISH THIS CONCLUSION. ALL THAT MACKIE CAN SHOW IS THAT THOSE WHO ARE INITIALLY INCLINED TO THEISM OR AGNOSTICISM MAY BE JUSTIFIED IN PREDICTING THAT THE NEXT MIRACLE REPORT THEY EXAMINE WILL NOT BE SUCH (...) AS TO FORM THE BASIS FOR A WORTHWHILE ARGUMENT FOR THEISM. (shrink)
Religious outlooks are combinations of theological, moral and political principles, individuated in a medium-grained way. Distinguish between religious outlooks that are friendly to the fundamental political principles characteristic of liberal democracy, and those that are hostile to, or knowingly subversive of, them. I claim that (1) in some respects, but not all, governments are justified in discriminating against 'hostile' religious outlooks, but (2) governments should not intentionally favour some 'friendly' ones over others, and (3) governments should respect all 'friendly' faith-based (...) organisations with which it deals, but may on various grounds favour some over others. (shrink)
HUME, "ENQUIRY X" ARGUES: EVERY ALLEGED MIRACLE ’M subscript 1’ , WHOSE OCCURRENCE WOULD BE EVIDENCE IN FAVOR OF A GIVEN RELIGION ’R subscript 1’ IS SUCH THAT ITS OCCURRENCE WOULD BE EVIDENCE AGAINST ANY CONTRARY RELIGION ’R subscript 2’ . MOREOVER, CONSIDER TESTIMONY ’T subscript 1’ IN FAVOR OF THE OCCURRENCE OF ’M subscript 1’ : ’T subscript 1’ IS EVIDENCE AGAINST THE OCCURRENCE OF ANY MIRACLE ’M subscript 2’ WHICH WOULD CONSTITUTE EVIDENCE FOR ’R subscript 2’. ONE SHOULD (...) DISTINGUISH TWO SENSES OF ’X IS EVIDENCE IN FAVOR OF Y’: NAMELY, ’Y IS HIGHLY LIKELY RELATIVE TO X’ AND ’X RAISES THE LIKELIHOOD OF Y’. THE LATTER IS RELEVANT HERE. USING THIS DISTINCTION, I ARGUE THAT HUME’S CLAIMS ARE FALSE. (shrink)
HUME, ENQUIRY SECTION X, HOLDS THAT ’ALL PROBABILITY SUPPOSES AN OPPOSITION OF EXPERIMENTS AND OBSERVATIONS, WHERE ONE SIDE IS FOUND TO OVERBALANCE THE OTHER AND TO PRODUCE A DEGREE OF EVIDENCE PROPORTIONED TO THE SUPERIORITY’. HE CONCLUDES THAT IN ASSESSING MIRACLE-CLAIMS ONE SHOULD WEIGH THE HISTORICAL TESTIMONY SUPPORTING THE MIRACLE AGAINST THE TESTIMONY SUPPORTING THE REGULARITY TO WHICH IT IS AN EXCEPTION. I ARGUE THAT BOTH HIS PREMISE AND HIS CONCLUSION ARE FALSE.
DAVID HUME, "ENQUIRY" SECTION X, CLAIMS THAT ALLEGED MIRACLES REPORTED IN CONNECTION WITH DIFFERENT RELIGIONS UNDERMINE EACH OTHERS CREDIBILITY. COMMENTATORS OFTEN ASCRIBE TO HUME’S ARGUMENT THE SUPPRESSED PREMISE THAT MIRACLES OCCUR ONLY IN CONNECTION WITH TRUE RELIGION. I REJECT THIS INTERPRETATION, AND OFFER A DIFFERENT CONJECTURE AS TO WHAT HUME’S INTENDED ARGUMENT IS. I THEN ATTACK BOTH THE ARGUMENT AND ITS CONCLUSION.
Robert Young's recent article on the distribution of scarce medical resources suffers from inexplicitness concerning the foundations of his moral judgments.1 The purpose of this note is to point out two related lines of thought which he ignores but which threaten to outflank his position.
BruceLangtry's ‘God, the Best and Evil’ is a fine contribution to the literature. Here, I review the contents of the book, and then provide some critical remarks that, as fas as I know, have not been made elsewhere. In particular, I argue that his criticism of my formulations of logical arguments from evil (in my Arguing about Gods) is unsuccessful.
William Rowe’s a posteriori arguments for the non-existence of God are well-known. Rather less attention has been given, however, to Rowe’s intriguing a priori argument for atheism. In this paper, I examine the three published responses to Rowe’s a priori argument (due to BruceLangtry, William Morris, and Daniel and Frances Howard-Snyder, respectively). I conclude that none is decisive, but I show that Rowe’s argument nevertheless requires more defence than he provides.