Is it reasonable to believe in God even in the absence of strong evidence that God exists? Pragmatic arguments for theism are designed to support belief even if one lacks evidence that theism is more likely than not. Jeff Jordan proposes that there is a sound version of the most well-known argument of this kind, Pascal's Wager, and explores the issues involved - in epistemology, the ethics of belief, decision theory, and theology.
Pascal's wager attempts to provide a prudential reason in support of the rationality of believing that God exists. The wager employs the idea that the utility of theistic belief, if true, is infinite, and in this way, the expected utility of theism swamps that of any of its rivals. Not surprisingly the wager generates more than a good share of philosophical criticism. In this essay I examine two recent objections levelled against the wager and I argue that each fails. Following (...) this, I argue that a transfinite version of the wager -- one using the idea of an infinite utility -- is incompatible with standard axiomatic constructions of decision-theory and, as a consequence, the Pascalian would be well-advised to give up the idea of an infinite utility and employ only a finite version of the wager. The consequences of limiting the wager to finite utilities are also explored. (shrink)
The evidential argument from evil seeks to show that suffering is strong evidence against theism. The core idea of the evidential argument is that we know of innocent beings suffering for no apparent good reason. Perhaps the most common criticism of the evidential argument comes from the camp of skeptical theism, whose lot includes William Alston, Alvin Plantinga, and Stephen Wykstra. According to skeptical theism the limits of human knowledge concerning the realm of goods, evils, and the connections between values, (...) undermines the judgment that what appears as pointless evil really is pointless. For all we know the suffering of an innocent being, though appearing pointless, in fact leads to a greater good. In this paper I argue that no one who accepts the doctrines of skeptical theism has a principled way of avoiding moral skepticism. (shrink)
‘William L. Rowe on Philosophy of Religion’ edited by Nick Trakakis, collects 30 papers of William Rowe's important work in the philosophy of religion. I review this collection, and offer an objection of one of Rowe's arguments.
Pascal is best known among philosophers for his wager in support of Christian belief. Since Ian Hacking’s classic article on the wager, three versions of the wager have been recognized within the concise paragraphs of the Pensées. In what follows I argue that there is a fourth to be found there, a version that in many respects anticipates the argument of William James in his 1896 essay “The Will to Believe.” This fourth wager argument, I contend, differs from the better-known (...) three in that it has as a premise the proposition that theistic belief is more rewarding than non-belief in this life, whether God exists or not. As we will see, this proposition provides a way of circumventing the many-gods objection. From the four wagers found in Pascal’s Pensées, I argue, one can salvage the resources for a version of the wager, Pascalian in nature, even if not in origin, immune to the many-gods objection. A brief comment on the apologetic role Pascal intended for the wagers played is our first task at hand. (shrink)
There is quite a bit of disagreement in cognitive science regarding the role that consciousness and control play in explanations of how people do what they do. The purpose of the present paper is to do the following: (1) examine the theoretical choice points that have lead theorists to conflicting positions, (2) examine the philosophical and empirical problems different theories encounter as they address the issue of conscious agency, and (3) provide an integrative framework (Wild Systems Theory) that addresses these (...) problems and potentially naturalizes conscious agency. It does so by grounding conscious and control in the notion of self-sustaining energy-transformation systems (i.e., living systems), versus computational or self- organizing systems, as is the case in information processing theory and dynamical systems theory, respectively. Given its assertion that content (and consciousness) emerges in self-sustaining systems, Wild Systems Theory may also provide a sound theoretical basis for a science of consciousness in general. (shrink)
The systematic philosophical foundation for Jean-François Lyotard's postmodern and post-Marxist politics is described. The central principle of the right to create different "phrases" is uncovered and examined. The political consequences of this philosophical system are explored, leading to the conclusion that Lyotard's commitment to difference leads to political indifference. The philosophical roots of this indifference are detailed in Lyotard's Cartesian starting point and his analysis of Holocaust revisionism. This analysis reveals an idealist basis to Lyotard's philosophy of difference. Lyotard's concept (...) of difference is compared to that of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that theists are extremely well-situated with respect to developing metaethical accounts that qualify as ‘robust’ versions of moral realism. In the first part of the essay, a number of metaethical desiderata are identified. In the second part, theistic strategies for accommodating those desiderata are explained and defended. The upshot is that, contrary to the received philosophical wisdom, there are good theoretical reasons for theistic philosophers to seek to develop metaethical accounts that ground moral facts in (...) facts about God. (shrink)
The concept of contextual emergence has been introduced as a speci?c kind of emergence in which some, but not all of the conditions for a higher-level phenomenon exist at a lower level. Further conditions exist in contingent contexts that provide stability conditions at the lower level, which in turn accord the emergence of novelty at the higher level. The purpose of the present paper is to propose that (proto-) consciousness is a contextually emergent property of self-sustaining systems. The core assumption (...) is that living organisms constitute self-sustaining embodiments of the contingent contexts that accord their emergence. We propose that the emergence of such systems constitutes the emergence of content-bearing systems because the lower-level processes of such systems give rise to and sustain the macro-level whole (i.e., body) in which they are nested, while the emergent macro-level whole constitutes the context in which the lower- level processes can be for something (i.e., be functional). Such embodied functionality is necessarily and naturally about the contexts that it has embodied. It is this notion of self- sustaining embodied aboutness that we propose to represent a type of content capable of evolving into consciousness. (shrink)
The term "human dignity" is the source of considerable confusion in contemporary bioethics. It has been used by Kantians to refer to autonomy, by others to refer to the sanctity of life, and by still others (e.g., the President’s Council on Bioethics) to refer—albeit obliquely—to an important but infrequently discussed set of human goods. In the first part of this article, I seek to disambiguate the notion of human dignity. The second part is a defense of the philosophical utility of (...) such a notion; I argue that there is nothing implausible about appealing to a deontological "principle of dignity" to solve bioethical problems, especially those concerning the development of new biotechnologies. There may, however, be problems associated with any attempt to use dignity as a basis for public policy. This sort of worry is explained and briefly addressed in the final section. (shrink)
The present paper analyzes the regularities referred to via the concept 'self.' This is important, for cognitive science traditionally models the self as a cognitive mediator between perceptual inputs and behavioral outputs. This leads to the assertion that the self causes action. Recent findings in social psychology indicate this is not the case and, as a consequence, certain cognitive scientists model the self as being epiphenomenal. In contrast, the present paper proposes an alternative approach (i.e., the event-control approach) that is (...) based on recently discovered regularities between perception and action. Specifically, these regularities indicate that perception and action planning utilize common neural resources. This leads to a coupling of perception, planning, and action in which the first two constitute aspects of a single system (i.e., the distal-event system) that is able to pre-specify and detect distal events. This distal-event system is then coupled with action (i.e., effector-control systems) in a constraining, as opposed to 'causal' manner. This model has implications for how we conceptualize the manner in which one infers the intentions of another, anticipates the intentions of another, and possibly even experiences another. In conclusion, it is argued that it may be possible to map the concept 'self' onto the regularities referred to in the event-control model, not in order to reify 'the self' as a causal mechanism, but to demonstrate its status as a useful concept that refers to regularities that are part of the natural order. (shrink)
A natural experiment was conducted studying the relations among student cheating, motivation, religiosity, and attitudes toward cheating. Students enrolled in a dual religious/college curriculum were surveyed regarding their cheating behavior, attitudes toward cheating, religiosity, and learning/grade motivations toward classes. Business and liberal arts college students were represented. Results strongly support the following conclusions. First, grade orientation is associated with increases in self-reported cheating. Second, among these religious students, more religiosity correlates with reduced reports of cheating in all courses. This result (...) appears to be due to the unique effect of religion on self-reported cheating rates and, depending on course content, on a reduction of grade orientation in religious students. Third, business students report more cheating than their liberal arts counterparts, even when taking the same courses. They have less critical attitudes toward cheating and greater grade orientation, both of which statistically contribute to this difference, but other factors are involved as well. Keywords: academic integrity, motivation, religiosity, cheating. (shrink)
Gold & Stoljar reveal that adherence to the radical neuron doctrine cannot be maintained via appeals to scientific principles. Using arguments from (1) naturalism and materialism, (2) unification, and (3) exemplars, it is shown that the “mind-is-brain” materialism explicit in the trivial version of the neuron doctrine ultimately suffers the same theoretical fate. Cognitive science, if it is to adopt an ontology at all, would be better served by a metaphysically neutral ontology such as double-aspect theory or neutral monism.
To compose a Christian book on exemplary Christian living, Ambrose appropriates and criticizes Cicero's book on "duties," "De officiis." In many passages within the moral part of his "Summa of Theology," Thomas Aquinas incorporates quotations from both Cicero and Ambrose. Comparison of the three texts raises issues about the relation of genres to terms, arguments, rules, and ideals in religious teaching. Genre becomes a useful category for analyzing religious rhetoric only when it is conceived as a set of persuasive or (...) pedagogical relations below a text's surface disposition. (shrink)
Cheaters and noncheaters were assessed on 2 types of motivation (mastery and extrinsic), on perceived social norms regarding cheating, on attitudes about cheating, and on knowledge of institutional policy regarding cheating behavior. All 5 factors were significant predictors of cheating rates. In addition, cheaters were found lower in mastery motivation and higher in extrinsic motivation in courses in which they cheated than in courses in which they did not cheat. Cheaters, in courses in which they cheated, were also lower in (...) mastery motivation and higher in extrinsic motivation than were noncheaters. Finally, cheaters differed from noncheaters on perceived social norms regarding cheating, on their knowledge of institutional policy regarding cheating, and on their attitudes toward cheating. Implications of these findings for institutional interventions are discussed. (shrink)
A recurrent theme in ethnomethodological research is that of instructed actions. Contrary to the classic traditions in the social and cognitive sciences, which attribute logical priority or causal primacy to instructions, rules, and structures of action, ethnomethodologists investigate the situated production of actions which enable such formulations to stand as adequate accounts. Consequently, a recitation of formal structures can not count as an adequate sociological description, when no account is given of the local production ofwhat those structures describe. The natural (...) sciences can be described as a domain of practical action in whichthe use of methods enables the intersubjective reproduction of naturalistic observations and experiments. As numerous sociological studies of laboratory practices have shown, the achievement of intersubjective order cannot be reduced to formal methods; instead, it arises from the work of custom-fitting relevant methods to the local circumstances of the research. In this paper we discuss a possible extension of this idea to cover two intertwined aspects of molecular biology: (1) the work of following instructions on how to perform routine laboratory procedures, and (2) the relationship between cellular orders and the encoded instructions contained in the DNA molecule. We suggest that a classic conception of scientific action is implied by the way formal instructions are treated as a primary basis, both for molecular biologists' actions and the cellular functions they study, and we envision an ethnomethodological alternative to those conceptions of social and biological order. (shrink)
Cognitive psychologists tend to treat intentionality as a control variable during experiments, yet ignore it when generating mechanistic descriptions of performance. Wynn's work brings this conflict into striking relief and, when considered in relation to recent neurophysiological findings, makes it clear that intentionality can be regarded mechanistically if one defines it as the planning of distal effects.
Hartmann's way of conceiving what he terms "the actual ought-to-be [aktuales Seinsollen]" offers a fruitful approach to crucial issues in the phenomenology of action. The central issue to be dealt with concerns the description of the "constitution" of anticipated possibilities as projects for action. Such potentialities are termed "problematic possibilities" and are contrasted with "open possibilities" in most of the works published by Husserl as well as those published by Alfred Schutz. The description given by Alfred Schutz emphasized that the (...) projecting of possibilities is thoroughly conditioned by the agent's habitual beliefs and interests. Schutz, however left open the possibility that other factors might affect the projecting of courses of action and the choosing of one in preference to others. In particular, he left open the possibility that the agent come to take an interest in possibilities in which she had no prior interest. More recent interpretations of his position on this issue have left this possibility undiscussed or else excluded it altogether. The result has been that a sort of value nihilism (subjectivism, sociologism, lingualism, anthropologism, historicism, psychologism, etc.) came to prevail in the phenomenological description of actions. A quite parallel development occurred in interpretations of Heidegger's account of actions (of "explication [Auslegung]" in the vocabulary of Being and Time). Heidegger expressly and emphatically rejected most ways of conceiving values in discussing the forms of action (circumspection and assertion in the vocabulary of Sein und Zeit). it came quite generally to be assumed that he subscribed to some variation of nihilism regarding values despite his insistence in the "Letter on Humanism" that he meant no such thing. The literature on this subject has concentrated on Scheler's work to the complete exclusion of Hartmann's axiology — as happened in Parvis Ermad's Heidegger and the Phenomenology of Values, His Critique of Intentionality, foreword by Walter Biernel (Glen Ellyn, Illinois: Torey Press, 1981). Scheler's view entails the radical separation of ontic traits from axiotic traits, of what-is from what-ought-to-be. However, for Hartmann, the set of ontic traits that becomes actual when laws about what-ought-to-be are satisfied is identical with the set of traits that ought-to-be, Hartmann's way of conceiving the ought-to-be, the actual ought-to-be, and the three-fold structure of the finalistic nexus seems entirely compatible with Heidegger's way of thinking about actions. They are also an enlightening supplement to Schutz's description of "Choosing Among Projects of Action" (in Collected Papers 1, 67-96). That description requires that choice and action be thoroughly conditioned by psychological, social, and historical facts about the agent. However, nothing of this vital determination of actions is sacrificed when these concepts that are so central to Hartmann's "absolutism" with respect to values are introduced into the description. Their introduction provides an elaboration that Schutz himself neglected, perhaps due to pragmatic deference to biases which were prevalent then in the intellectual climate of philosophy and sociology in the U.S. Still, the transformation they bring is a significant improvement. It shows decisively that being conditioned linguistically, psychologically, socially, and historically does not enclose the choice among projects within a "Hermeneutical Circle" such as would exclude the possibility that agents be open to previously unfamiliar values. Hartmann's conception of the plurality as well as the absoluteness (or "objectivity") of primary goods allows, put in Kantian terms, that an agent may, however rarely, take an interest in possibilities such as she may never before have been interested in at all; or, put in Heideggerian terms, that she may come to care about possibilities such as have never concerned her before. (shrink)
This investigation applies a social cognition framework to examine moral awareness in business situations. Using a vignette-based instrument, the investigation compares the recall, recognition, and ascription of importance to moral-versus strategy-related issues in business managers (n = 86) and academic professors (n = 61). Results demonstrate that managers recall strategy-related issues more than moral-related issues and recognize and ascribe importance to moral-related issues less than academics. It also finds an inverse relationship between socialization in the business context and moral awareness. (...) Future directions for moral awareness research and the practical implications for these findings are discussed. (shrink)
An interdisciplinary fusion between the philosophy of science and the teaching of science can help to eradicate the disciplinary rigidity entrenched in both. In this paper I approach the history of sciencethematically, identifying general themes which transcend the boundaries of individual disciplines. Such conceptual themes can be used as a basis for an interdisciplinary introduction to university science, encouraging certain important cognitive skills not exercised during the disciplinary training emphasised in traditional approaches. Courses which teach themes such as conservation, randomness, (...) and holism/reductionism have already proved successful, and these innovations should encourage philosophers and historians to explore the exciting new possibilities which arise from stepping outside the confines of a single discipline. (shrink)
Hommel et al. propose that action planning and perception utilize common resources. This implies perception should have intention-relative content. Data supporting this implication are presented. These findings challenge the notion of perception as “seeing.” An alternative is suggested (i.e., perception as distal control) that may provide a means of integrating representational and ecological approaches to the study of organism-environment coordination.
We analyzed a sample of 356 forms containing information that Colorado law legally requires both licensed and unlicensed therapists to disclose to clients. The majority of forms contained the legally mandated information; fewer forms contained ethically desirable information. The average readability grade level was 15.74, corresponding to upper-level college, and 63.9% of the forms reached the highest (most difficult) readability grade of 17 +. Therapists are obeying the law, but do not appear to be taking advantage of the opportunity to (...) provide their clients useful information in an accessible way. (shrink)
Ballard et al. model eye position as a deictic pointer for spatial perception. Evidence from research on gaze control indicates, however, that shifts in actual eye position are neither necessary nor sufficient to produce shifts in spatial perception. Deictic context is instead provided by the interaction between two deictic pointers; one representing actual eye position, and the other, intended eye position.
Grush makes extensive use of von Holst and Mittelstaedt's (1950) efference copy hypothesis. Although his embellishment of the model is admirably more sophisticated than that of its progenitors, I argue that it still suffers from the same conceptual limitations as entailed in its original formulation.
This article reviews the recent contributions of Amartya Sen and John McMurtry to theory of international development and social justice. The author argues that both fail to give an adequate account of the current transformation of collective life and the provision of collective goods. Without such an analysis, theories of justice are incomplete.
This collection of essays is dedicated to William Rowe, with great affection, respect, and admiration. The philosophy of religion, once considered a deviation from an otherwise analytically rigorous discipline, has flourished over the past two decades. This collection of new essays by twelve distinguished philosophers of religion explores three broad themes: religious attitudes of faith, belief, acceptance, and love; human and divine freedom; and the rationality of religious belief. Contributors include: William Alston, Robert Audi, Jan Cover, Martin Curd, Peter van (...) Inwagen, Norman Kretzmann, George Nakhnikian, John Hawthorne, Philip Quinn, James Ross, Eleonore Stump, and William Wainwright. (shrink)