I advance a type of conceptualist argument for substance dualism based on the understandability of what it would be for something to be a spirit, e.g. what it would be for God to be a spirit. After presenting the argument formally, I clarify and defend its various premises with a special focus on what I take to be the most controversial one, namely, if thinking (i.e. conscious) matter is metaphysically possible, it is not the case that we have a distinct (...) positive concept of God's being a divine spirit. (shrink)
Graham Oppy has launched the most effective criticism to date of an argument for God’s existence from the existence of irreducible mental states or theirregular correlation with physical states (AC). I seek to undercut Oppy’s central defeaters of AC. In particular, I argue, first, that Oppy has not provided successful defeaters against the use of a distinctive form of explanation—personal explanation—employed in premise (3) of AC; second, I expose a confusion on Oppy’s part with respect to AC’s premise (5), and (...) show that this confusion results in a failure to grasp adequately the dialectical force of (5). As a result, Oppy fails to offer adequate rejoinders to (5), or so I shall argue. (shrink)
Graham Oppy had criticized my argument for God from consciousness (AC) in my recent book ’Consciousness and the Existence of God’ (N.Y.: Routledge, 2008). In this article I offer a rejoinder to Oppy. Specifically, I respond to his criticisms of my presentation of three forms of AC, and interact with his claims about theism, consciousness and emergent chemical properties.
The first premise of the Kalam cosmological argument has come under fire in the last few years. The premise states that the universe had a beginning, and one of two prominent arguments for it turns on the claim that an actual infinite collection of entities cannot exist. After stating the Kalam cosmological argument and the two approaches to defending its first premise, I respond to two objections against the notion that an actual infinite collection is impossible: a Platonistic objection from (...) abstract objects and a set-theoretic objection from an ambiguity in the definition of ‘=’ and ‘. (shrink)
The authors of this lively and thorough introduction to philosophy from a Christian perspective introduce you to the principal subdisciplines of philosophy, including epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of science, ethics and philosophy ...
Steve Cowan had criticized my defense of theistic science on four grounds: (1) my critique of compatibilism attacks a straw man; (2) libertarianism cannot meet some of the conditions for responsible action; (3) attributing libertarian agency to God has the unacceptable implication that God can do evil; and (4) we don’t need libertarianism to provide a model of divine actions sufficient to justify the scientific detectability of miracles. I clarify and respond to these points in the order listed and conclude (...) that Cowan’s critique fails. (shrink)
In a previous article, I argue that on the assumption that God exercises libertarian agency, a primary causal divine miracle could, in principle, leave a scientifically detectable gap in the natural world. In a subsequent publication, Evan Fales offered a critique of my argument and this article is my rejoinder. I justify my employment of Divine libertarian agency and respond to Fales’s two, closely-related questions: How much energy could one add to a room by making a lot of decisions? Would (...) the increase in energy be measurable? (shrink)
In an important paper, Clifford Williams advanced a Lockean-style argument to justify the parity thesis, viz., that there is no intellectual advantage to Christian physicalism or Christian dualism. In an article in Religious Studies I offered a critique of Williams's parity thesis and he has published a rejoinder to me in the same journal centring on my rejection of topic neutrality as an appropriate way to set up the mind–body debate. In this surrejoinder to Williams, I present his three main (...) arguments and respond to each: (1) The dualist rejection of topic neutrality is flawed because it expresses a conceptual approach to the mind–body problem instead of the preferable empirical approach. The latter favours physicalism and, in any case, clearly supports topic neutrality. (2) If the dualist rejects the first argument, then a second parity thesis can be advanced in which an essentialist view of soul and the brain are presented in which each is essentially a thinking and feeling entity. Thus, an essentialist parity thesis is preserved. (3) If the dualist rejects the second argument, a new topic neutrality emerges in the dialectic, so topic neutrality is unavoidable. Against the first argument, I claim that Williams makes two central confusions that undermine his case and that he fails to show how the mind–body debate can be settled empirically. Against the second argument, I claim that it leaves Williams vulnerable to a topic-neutral approach to God and it merely proffers a verbal shift with a new dualism between normal and ‘special’ matter. Against the third argument, I point out that it misrepresents the dualist viewpoint and leads to two counterintuitive features that follow from topic neutrality. (shrink)
Construed metaphysically, the problem of individuation is the problem of offering an ontological assay of two entities that share all their pure properties in common so as to offer an account of what makes them distinct particulars. This article provides a survey of the major contemporary attempts to answer this problem. To accomplish this goal, the most important contemporary advocates of each solution is analyzed: the trope nominalism of Keith Campbell, the realism of D. M. Armstrong, the Leibnizian essence view (...) of Alvin Plantinga, and the bare particular position of Gustav Bergmann. As a secondary purpose, the article provides a brief critique of the first three solutions and a brief defense of the fourth. (shrink)
Recently, Clifford Williams has attempted to argue for the plausibility of a Christian form of physicalism. To make his case, Williams appropriates certain claims by John Locke regarding the possibility of thinking matter to argue for what Williams calls the parity theses: (1) God can make matter and nonmatter either to think or not to think. Given God's omnipotence, the justification for (1) is: (2) there is no contradiction in asserting either that matter or nonmatter thinks or that they do (...) not think. If we expand thinking to include other morally and religiously relevant operations of the mind, then we get: (3) God can make either a purely material being or a nonmaterial entity to have moral and religious characteristics. From this, Williams infers that: (4) there is an equal amount of mystery in thinking matter as there is in non-thinking matter. In response to Williams, I argue that his main arguments for the parity theses fail and his Lockean style argument must be judged a failure. To show this I, first, state Williams' Lockean parity argument and, second, criticize the three arguments he offers for its most important premise. (shrink)
While most philosophers agree that libertarian agency and naturalism are incompatible, few attempts have been offered to spell out in some detail just why this is the case. My purpose in this article is to fill this gap in the literature by expanding on and clarifying the connection between naturalism as it is widely understood today and the rejection of libertarian agency. To accomplish this end I begin by clarifying different forms of libertarian agency and identity the key philosophical components (...) that constitute libertarian agency per se. Second, three different aspects of contemporary scientific naturalism are analyzed and the relations among them clarified: the naturalist epistemic attitude, etiology, and ontology. This is followed by a presentation of six arguments for the claim that libertarian agency should be rejected by advocates of scientific naturalism. Finally, I criticize a recent attempt by Randolf Clarke to reconcile libertarian agency and scientific naturalism. (shrink)
A widely adopted approach to end-of-life ethical questions fails to make explicit certain crucial metaphysical ideas entailed by it and when those ideas are clarified, then it can be shown to be inadequate. These metaphysical themes cluster around the notions of personal identity, personhood and humanness, and the metaphysics of substance. In order to clarify and critique the approach just mentioned, I focus on the writings of Robert N. Wennberg as a paradigm case by, first, stating his views of personal (...) identity, humanness, personhood, and the relations among them; second, offering a comparison of a view of humans as substances (understood in the classic interpretation of Aristotle and Aquinas) vs. a view of humans as property-things; third, applying the metaphysical distinctions surfaced in the second section towards a critique of Wennberg. (shrink)