In this essay we analyze some of the most influential of the recent claims that the Son is permanently and necessarily subordinate to the Father. After first summarizing the case made by Bruce Ware and Wayne Grudem for their view, we evaluate the strength of their case and advance some counterarguments. In spite of the fact that their view has attracted a great deal of attention and criticism, the massive and important metaphysical claims made by Grudem and Ware have not (...) yet received adequate scrutiny. (edited). (shrink)
The essay that follows considers two topics. After dealing with relevant preliminaries, it asks: (a) what differences are there in what must be done in order to tell whether there is any religious knowledge if an internalist evidentialist account of knowledge is true, from what must be done in order to tell whether there is any religious knowledge if an externalist reliabilist account of knowledge is true; and (b) does the best current externalist reliabilist account of knowledge require (or perhaps (...) already implicitly contain) an internalist evidentialist element? Put in a nutshell, then, a belief has warrant for a person S only if that belief is produced in S by cognitive faculties functioning properly (subject to no dysfunction) in a cognitive environment that is appropriate for S’s kind of cognitive faculties, according to a design plant that is successfully aimed at truth … when a belief meets these conditions and does enjoy warrant, the degree of warrant it enjoys depends on the strength of the belief, the degree of firmness with which S holds it. This is intended as an account of the central core of our concept of warrant … [Warranted Christian Belief, 156; implicit in reference to a design plan here is another feature—that the belief is subject to no undefeated defeaters; such a belief, if true, constitutes knowledge.]. (shrink)
From epic to limerick, novel to anecdote, literary narratives engage and entertain us. From autobiography and biography to accounts of familial generations, narratives define communities. Myths and histories loom large in religious traditions as well. Recently, the importance of narrative to ethics and religion has become a pervasive theme in several scholarly disciplines. In the essays presented here, a distinguished roster of scholars addresses a range of issues associated with this theme, focussing especially on questions concerning narrative's contribution to knowledge.
Having shown that Ramanuja and Madhva are indeed monotheists, I argue that (i) they differ concerning the relationship between God, the original Agent, and human agents created by God; (ii) that this difference involves in Madhva’s case there being only one agent and in Ramanuja’s case both God and created persons being agents, and (iii) since both positions require that created persons be agents, Madhva’s perspective is inconsistent and Ramanuja’s is not.
Crossculturally, monotheistic traditions view God as occupying the apex of power, knowledge and goodness, and as enjoying independent existence. This conceptual context provides room for maneuvering concerning God’s nature (e.g., does God have logically necessary existence?) and God’s creatures (e.g., do created persons have libertarian freedom?). Logical consistency is always a constraint on such maneuvering. With that constraint in mind, our purpose here is to consider different conceptual maneuvers concerning God, created persons, and freedom (both human and divine) within Christian (...) and Hindu Vedantic monotheism. (shrink)
Philosophy of Religion provides an account of the central issues and viewpoints in the philosophy of religion but also shows how such issues can be rationally assessed and in what ways competing views can be rationally assessed. It includes major philosophical figures in religious traditions as well as discussions by important contemporary philosophers. Keith E. Yandell deals lucidly and constructively with representative views from Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.
I argue here (in Part II) for mind-body dualism --- a dualism of substances, not merely of properties. I also investigate (in Part Ill) dualism’s relevance to the question of whether one can survive the death of one’s body. Naturally the argument occurs in a philosophical context, and (in Part I) I begin by making that context explicit.
This book addresses a fundamental question in the philosophy of religion. Can religious experience provide evidence for religious belief? If so, how? Keith Yandell argues against the notion that religious experience is ineffable, while advocating the view that strong numinous experience provides some evidence that God exists. An attractive feature of the book is that it does not confine its attention to any one religious cultural tradition, but tracks the nature of religious experience across different traditions in both the East (...) and the West. (shrink)
The preceding two sections have considered, respectively, the discreditation of psychological belief, and of propositional belief, which begins with the claim that a belief possessed by some person is non-epistemically explicable and ends with the claim that that person is unreasonable or that that belief is (probably) false. Obviously, only certain strategies of discreditation were discussed, and those only partially. But if the examples of discrediting strategies were representative, and the remarks made about them were correct, what, if anything, follows?It (...) seems clear that the sheer fact that a person's belief is non-epistemically explicable entails very little if anything about the person's reasonability in holding it or the probable falsehood of the belief in question. Nor does the fact that a basic belief is held without reason or grounds seem to speak against the rationality of its believer - not at least with respect to the sort of propositions we called structural. It does not follow that one cannot rationally assess competing structural beliefs - that is another, and given the present argument an entirely open, question. It does seem correct that the more restrictive axioms of the ethics of properly held basic beliefs are ill-suited to deal responsibly with the acceptance of structural propositions. And at least some religious propositions - God exists among them - seem to me to be of that sort. Of course, that raises the question of what, exactly, a structural proposition is - which, again, is another topic.If the argument of this essay is correct, the shift from considering whether some particular (and perhaps idiosyncratic) person is reasonable in accepting some proposition, in cases where this is an interesting and debateable matter, to whether (on the whole) this proposition is one that can be accepted without rendering oneself unreasonable, seems to be an issue usually not capable of rational resolution without engaging in some sort of direct assessment of the proposition believed, and the strategy of trying to escape this by considering whether a person's acceptance of that proposition can be non-epistemically explained seems, on the whole, not a profitable enterprise. Further, often, at least, it can be countered in one or another of the ways we considered in the preceding two sections. So I am inclined to view the attempt to settle interesting debates about whether a person is reasonable in accepting a proposition by arguing that his acceptance is non-epistemically explicable as, on the whole, a failure.If anything, things are worse, so far as I can see, for attempts to argue from the fact that a person's belief is non-epistemically explicable to the conclusion that it is probably false. For, again, this argument has force only if the fact that this person's acceptance of it is non-epistemically explicable is not idiosyncratic, and this is establishable, often at least, only by appealing to the results of a direct assessment of the proposition believed (or by offering a judgment on this matter without benefit of any assessment, which of course is worthless). Nor, of course, is the nonepistemic explicability of a person's belief that P sufficient to discredit the person, let alone P, and the sorts of properties that are often alleged to accompany non-epistemically explicable beliefs seem either in fact not to accompany them, or to accompany only a basically irrelevant and uninteresting sub-set of them, or not to be such as to make falsehood of the propositions whose belief they accompany probable.A final comment These remarks, at best, scratch the surface of a difficult and complex topic. It is a topic on which, so far as I am aware, not a great deal has been written. My hope is that what I have said here may stimulate sufficient interest in the topic for others to provide a further exploration of the issues that I have here only been able to highlight. (shrink)
A religious tradition’s rational kernel interprets the basic human situation and its attendant religious problem, and proffers a solution. Religious faith involves accepting, and living in accord with, a kernel’s teachings. If the kernel is monotheistic, faith includes trust in God; if a kernel is Christian, it also involves trust in Christ. In addition, faith presupposes a certain epistemological ambiguity. There must be some evidence that the kernel is false, or at least what is such evidence unless one accepts a (...) theory that is based only on the kernel itself. (shrink)
There is another sort of ‘defense’ of relativism that I mention in conclusion. Sometimes one finds the view that one is rightly punished for a crime only if they admit committing it, and that it was a crime — something wrongly done: ‘punishment conditional on confession’ is the rule proposed. It might seem that this would give impunity to a criminal hardy enough to deny the fact, or the evil, of her deed; so it would, unless it was also understood (...) that if a person was proved by accepted standards to be the perpetrator of an action agreed to be wrong, the opportunity to admit guilt would extend from open questioning through beating to exquisite torture until confession was extracted (cf. the Chinese customs reflected in the Judge Dee stories of Robert Van Gulik). More often, one finds the view that a person is not refuted unless he admits this, and a view is not refuted — and so is not properly dismissed — unless its proponents concede defeat. A similar view is that all really telling philosophical criticism must be internal or else non-neutral (a view we discussed above).If one can in principle produce a conceptual system from a list of all propositions by following the recipe: for any proposition P include P, or else include not-P, in S, then (providing one adds no constraints concerning consistency) there will be no proposition that will appear in all conceptual systems. If what it is for a proposition to be neutral is for it to appear in all conceptual systems, then no proposition is neutral. But of course, the same recipe that produces this result produces the result that the proposition (P) Some proposition is both true and false appears in some conceptual system which (since the denial of (P) appears in less than all systems and hence is not neutral) is (allegedly) none the worse for that. And the proposition (P1) Conceptual relativism is false appears in some conceptual systems which (since the denial of (P1) appears in less than all systems and hence is not neutral) is none the worse for that. But then what remains of the claim that conceptual relativism is true?Sometimes refuted is used in a person-independent manner: Proposition P is (and always was) refuted by the fact that F uses P is refuted in such a way that it does not entail There is someone who refuted P. Sometimes, of course, it is so used that P is refuted does have that entailment. Even in the latter case, refutation is an epistemological notion, and Person S is refuted does not entail S knows that S is refuted and is compatible with S believes that S is not refuted. The recommendation that we add a psychological component of ‘admits to’ to the epistemological notion ‘being refuted’ seems to have no other ground than the arbitrary one that if we do we shall then be able better to defend relativism.While the recipe for constructing conceptual systems suggested above may seem useful to a relativist — it gives one clear content to ‘neutral proposition’ — it has what must surely seem a defect to the relativist, namely that given it (even with consistency constraints added) there will be no translational incommensurability. For if P is contained in system S, then not-P is expressible in S, and conversely. And the recipe yields the result that for any proposition P, and any system S, S contains either P or else not-P.This, of course, brings out an ambiguity in ‘contains’. In one sense, a system ‘contains (1)’ whatever can be expressed in it. In another, it ‘contains (2)’ whatever, according to it, is true. If it is a complete system without suspense of judgment it contains (1) twice the propositions it contains (2). Further, a system contains (1) lots of propositions it (or its proponent) does not regard as true, and so the fact that a proposition P appears in system S does not mean that P favors S. One often at least can state the conditions of S's falsehood in S, and even prove in S that S is false, where “in” is used in the sense of “contains (1).”Sophisticated relativism, then, seems no more plausible, no more free from inconsistency, and no less open to devastating critique than are its less cultured relatives. Relativism, at least in the varieties discussed here, seems to live up to its unsavory reputation. Since not even translation incommensurability seems to entail lack of cognitive competitiveness, it seems that it will have to be admitted that, regarding apparent disagreement on basic matters — including fundamental religious disagreement — the appearance is also the reality. People do uneliminably disagree, and short of conversion or (what will seem from within the religious perspective in question) some other ‘failure in faith’ (e.g., coming to reject all religious views) will continue to do so. Whatever can be done in terms of common understanding and common humanitarian endeavors must be done without denying the many basic disagreements that there are. And whatever notion of inter-faith dialogue is other than espitemically defective will have to face that fact; for significant dialogue based on self-deception or on falsehood seems not a terribly promising enterprise. (shrink)
HUME’S CLAIMS REGARDING THE QUERY "IS IT EVER REASONABLE TO BELIEVE THAT A MIRACLE HAS OCCURRED?" ARE FASCINATINGLY COMPLEX. THIS ESSAY ATTEMPTS TO TAKE ACCOUNT OF THE VARIETY OF CLAIMS HE OFFERS, STATING EACH ARGUMENT AND THEN APPRAISING ITS SUCCESS. SINCE WHAT HUME SAYS HAS INTERESTING ANALOGIES AND APPLICATIONS TO CONTEMPORARY ISSUES IN THE PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE AND THE EPISTEMOLOGY OF RELIGIOUS BELIEF, THESE ARE ALSO DISCUSSED.