Data from various settings suggest that there is an upper limit of about four on the number of individuals who can interact in spontaneous conversation. This limit appears to be a consequence of the mechanisms of speech production and detection. There appear to be no differences between men and women in this respect, other than those introduced by women’s lighter voices.
Descartes argues that, apart from the existence of a veracious God, we can have no reason to believe that we possess reliable cognitive faculties, with the result that, if atheism is true, not even our seemingly most certain beliefs can count as knowledge for us. Since the atheist denies the existence of God, he or she will be precisely in this position. I argue that Descartes' argument is sound, and that atheism is therefore self-refuting.
In this paper, I argue that Kant's famous critique of the Ontological Argument largely begs the question against that argument, and is no better when supplemented by the modern quantificational analysis of "exists." In particular, I argue that the claim, common to Hume and Kant, that conceptual truths can never entail substantive existential claims is false,and thus no ground for rejecting the Ontological Argument.
In Meditation I, Descartes dismisses the possibility that he might be insane as a ground for doubting that the senses are a source of knowledge of the external world. In this paper, I argue that Descartes was justified in so doing, and draw some general epistemological conclusions from this result.
In this paper, I argue that, if a common form of materialism is true, I cannot know my own thoughts, or even that I am thinking. I conclude that, since I can and do know these things, materialism about mind as I characterize it must be false.
In this essay, I argue that neurophysiological materialism - the thesis that all of our mental contents are caused by non-mental, purely physical brain states - is epistemically self-refuting, and ought to be rejected even if it cannot be otherwise disproved.
In his Beweisgrund (1762), Kant presents a sketch of "the only possible basis" for a proof of God's existence. In this essay, I attempt to present that proof as a valid and sound argument for the existence of God.
In this essay I explore some of the basic elements of consciousness from a substance dualist point of view, incorporating some elements of Kant's Transcendental Analytic into an overall account of the constitution of consciousness.
I agree with about 95% of what Paul Moser has written in his book The Elusive God. However, I have three main points of disagreement with Moser, two of which I ventilate in this paper. The third I discuss in my paper "What's Love Got to Do with It?" also on this website.
In the course of writing a book on Free Will, I took the opportunity to read a good deal of contemporary literature on the Free Will problem. This paper is a survey and reflection on that reading, responding to the current trends and state of play concerning the existence of free will.
Based on a recently published essay by Jeremy Gwiazda, I argue that the possibility that the present state of the universe is the product of an actually infinite series of causally-ordered prior events is impossible in principle, and thus that a major criticism of the Secunda Via of St. Thomas is baseless after all.
This is the second of a series of papers inspired by a paper I wrote around 1989. In this paper, I consider the notion of material contingency and relate it to the traditional, metaphysically loaded Principle of Sufficient Reason.
In this paper, I explore the concept of happiness by relating it to those of desire, pleasure, and love, arriving at the classical view that objective happiness consists in the possession and enjoyment of the good.
In this paper I argue that there is no problem of Divine Hiddenness for Christians and offer an alternate explanation for the widespread claim that God's existence is hidden based on the Christian doctrine of Original Sin.
Recently, I was reading Kant's Critique of Pure Reason: Background Source Materials, and read selections from Wolff, Baumgarten, Crusius, and Kant's own teacher, Martin Knutzen. It was dope - real philosophical comfort food - and inspired this piece, written in the style of one of their textbooks.
In this essay, I use a thought experiment to illustrate the human predicament if determinism is true, then draw the implications of this result for human rationality. This paper was read at the Eastern Division of the Society for Christian Philosophers at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts in 2009.
Inspired by Paul Moser's recent work, this paper presents a new parable on the topic of belief and unbelief in the tradition of Wisdom and Flew. -/- This paper was read at the annual POH Symposium at Lake Wenatchee, WA in May, 2010. An edited version of this paper has appeared in the second issue of the Seattle Critical Review (online).
In this paper, I present some ruminations on Hume's argument from miracles and the distorted view of rationality that it reflects (along with religious skepticism generally) contrasting it with what I take to be a better account of rationality, one more sympathetic - at least less hostile - to religious claims.
I argue that, despite claims that might be made to the contrary, no scientific evidence could ever prove that introspection is unreliable, even in principle. This paper was read at the annual POH symposium in Lake Wenatchee in May, 2011.
In this paper, I argue that neuroscience not only is not complemented, but rather is positively undermined, by the substantive commitments of materialist philosophers of mind. Thus, we can have neuroscience or "neurophilosophy" but not both. Since neuroscience is a real science, to the extent that it is in tension with materialistic neurophilosophy, the latter should be abandoned and the former retained.
I examine the notion of the authoritative command of divine love developed by Paul Moser in his book The Elusive God. Using a Calvinist objection to Moser's contention that God must love every one, including His enemies, I conclude that the notion of an authoritative command of divine love is paradoxical. I then offer a resolution of this paradox on terms that I judge to be in line with Moser's intentions.
After discussing the manifest inconveniences of Galilean physicalism for both science and common sense, I propose an alternate, Aristotelian ontology of material things and show how it solves the epistemological problems engendered by the New Science. Read at the annual POH Symposium in Lake Wenatchee, WA, May 2011.
In this paper, I offer a new account of mind/body interaction that shows how it is possible for an immaterial mind or soul to influence a physical system without entering the horizontal system of efficient causes studied by natural science.
In this essay, I investigate the implications for the discussion of theism in philosophy of religion for the beliefs of ordinary Christians and conclude that, in light of its historical development, those implications are minimal.
Although this piece was inspired by the kinds of legal puzzles discussed by Hart and Honore in Causation in the Law, the puzzle cases presented here are intended to test the readers intuitions about what constitutes murder. Play along!
In this paper I defend the thesis that, considered simply as certain sorts of bodily sensations, pleasure is not the good nor is pain intrinsically evil. In fact, the opposite is largely the case: pursuit of pleasure is generally productive of ontic evil, and pain, when heeded, directs us toward the ontic good.
Hume was correct in his critique of causation as understood by the New Science, a critique deadly to both causal and scientific realism. Getting beyond Hume's critique of causation requires that we call into question the New Science's understanding of causation and replace it with a Neo-Aristotelian account of causal processes. In this paper, I try to point the way to such an account.
In this essay I discuss the concept of suffering, the causes of suffering, and the Christian solution to the problem of suffering. I conclude that there is no basis, within the Christian view of things, for raising the traditional problem of evil through reflection on the fact of substantial suffering in the world.
In 1885, during initial discussions of J. C. Maxwell's celebrated thermodynamic demon, Whiting (1) observed that the demon-like velocity selection of molecules can occur in a gravitationally bound gas. Recently, a gravitational Maxwell demon has been proposed which makes use of this observation [D. P. Sheehan, J. Glick, and J. D. Means, Found. Phys. 30, 1227 (2000)]. Here we report on numerical simulations that detail its microscopic phase space structure. Results verify the previously hypothesized mechanism of its paradoxical behavior. This (...) system appears to be the only example of a fully classical mechanical Maxwell demon that has not been resolved in favor of the second law of thermodynamics. (shrink)
Predictive genetic testing is now routinely offered to asymptomatic adults at risk for genetic disease. However, testing of minors at risk for adult-onset conditions, where no treatment or preventive intervention exists, has evoked greater controversy and inspired a debate spanning two decades. This review aims to provide a detailed longitudinal analysis and concludes by examining the debate's current status and prospects for the future. Fifty-three relevant theoretical papers published between 1990 and December 2010 were identified, and interpretative content analysis was (...) employed to catalogue discrete arguments within these papers. Novel conclusions were drawn from this review. While the debate's first voices were raised in opposition of testing and their arguments have retained currency over many years, arguments in favour of testing, which appeared sporadically at first, have gained momentum more recently. Most arguments on both sides are testable empirical claims, so far untested, rather than abstract ethical or philosophical positions. The dispute, therein, lies not so much in whether minors should be permitted to access predictive genetic testing but whether these empirical claims on the relative benefits or harms of testing should be assessed. (shrink)
The concept of selecting for a disability, and deafness in particular, has triggered a controversial and sometimes acrimonious debate between key stakeholders. Previous studies have concentrated on the views of the deaf and hard of hearing, health professionals and ethicists towards reproductive selection for deafness. This study, however, is the first of its kind examining the views of hearing children of deaf adults towards preimplantation genetic diagnosis and prenatal diagnosis to select for or against deafness. Hearing children of deaf adults (...) (or CODAs, as they call themselves, and are widely known in the deaf community) straddle both the deaf and hearing worlds, and this dual perspective makes them ideally placed to add to the academic discourse concerning the use of genetic selection for or against deafness. The study incorporated two complementary stages, using initial, semistructured interviews with key informants (CODAs and health professionals) as a means to guide the subsequent development of an electronic survey, completed anonymously by 66 individuals. The participants shared many of the same views as deaf individuals in the D/deaf (or “culturally deaf”) community. The similarities extended to their opinions regarding deafness not being a disability (45.5% believed deafness was a distinct culture rather than a disability), their ambivalence towards having hearing or deaf children (72.3% indicated no preference) and their general disapproval of the use of genetic technologies to select either for or against deafness (60% believed that reproductive technologies, when used to select for or against deafness, should not be available to the community). (shrink)