A Moderate Anselmian Plea -- Metaphysical Atheological Arguments and the Free Will Defense -- Three Important Objections -- Unrestricted Actualization, Freedom and Morally Perfect Worlds -- The Logical Problem of Evil Redux -- Four Important Objections -- Four More Objections -- Redeeming Worlds -- Conclusions.
In a recent article in Philo I critique William Rowe’s new evidential argument from evil. Richard Carrier claims I advance an argument for theism in that article and proposes a counterexample to that argument. I show that Carrier’s counterexample fails for reasons that are fairly obvious. I then offer help. The best chance for a counterexample to the argument I offer comes from the possibility of cryptid creatures. But it is not difficult to show that counterexamples from cryptic creatures also (...) fail. I conclude that these critical observations present no interesting problem for the defeat of Rowe’s new argument. (shrink)
Ted Sider’s Proportionality of Justice condition requires that any two moral agents instantiating nearly the same moral state be treated in nearly the same way. I provide a countermodel in supervaluation semantics to the proportionality of justice condition. It is possible that moral agents S and S' are in nearly the same moral state, S' is beyond all redemption and S is not. It is consistent with perfect justice then that moral agents that are not beyond redemption go determinately to (...) heaven and moral agents that are beyond all redemption go determinately to hell. I conclude that moral agents that are in nearly the same moral state may be treated in very unequal ways. (shrink)
Atheistic arguments from improvability -- Rational choice and no best world -- On evil's vague necessity -- The problem of no maximum evil -- On the logic of imperfection -- Supervenience, divine freedom, and absolute orderings -- Vague eschatology -- Theistic modal realism, multiverses, and hyperspace.
Michael Martin introduces a non-Humean conception of miracles according to which miracles are events that need not violate a law of nature and are brought about by the exercise of a possibly non-theistic, supernatural power. Call those m-miracles. I consider Martin’s argument that the occurrence of an m-miracle would not confirm the existence of God. Martin presents an interesting argument, but it does not establish that m-miracles would not confirm the existence God. I argue that, on the contrary, it is (...) quite reasonable to conclude that Martin’s m-miracles provide at least some confirmation for the hypothesis that God exists. (shrink)
Suppose it is a reasonable assumption that there is no possible world that is overall highest in value. Some theists have found in thatassumption a basis for actualizing a less-than-best world. Some atheists have found in that assumption a basis for actualizing no world at all. I present a dynamic choice model for the problem and describe the rationality assumptions necessary to generate a rational choice problem for an ideally rational agent. I show that at least one of the rationality (...) assumptions—the Rational Perfection Principle—is invalid in the relevant sorts of models. I conclude that the existence of no best world presents no rational choice problem for ideally rational agents. (shrink)
William Rowe has argued that if there is an infinite sequence of improving worlds then an essentially perfectly good being must actualize some world in the sequence and must not actualize any world in the sequence. Since that is impossible, there exist no perfectly good beings. I show that Rowe's argument assumes that the concept of a maximally great being is incoherent. Since we are given no reason to believe that the concept of a maximally great being is incoherent we (...) have no reason to believe Rowe's Argument from Improvability is sound. (shrink)
William Rowe argues that an essentially perfectly good being could not actualize a world unless there is no better world it could actualize instead. According to Rowe’s Argument from Improvability, if there is an infinite series of ever-improving and actualizable worlds then a perfect being could actualize exactly none of them. I argue that there is no reason to believe Rowe’s argument is sound. It therefore presents no important objection to theism.
Recent work in moral theory includes an intriguing new argument that the vagueness of moral properties, together with two well-known and well-received metaethical principles, entails the incredible conclusion that it is impossible to be moral. I show that the argument equivocates between “it is true that A and B are morally indistinguishable” and “it is not false that A and B are morally indistinguishable.” As expected the argument is interesting but unsound. It is therefore not impossible to be moral.Les travaux (...) récents en théorie morale comprennent un nouvel argument intrigant voulant que le caractère vague des propriétés morales, joint à deux principes métaéthiques bien connus et généralement admis, entraîne une conclusion incroyable, soit qu’il est impossible d’être moral. Je montre que cet argument entretient l’équivoque entre «il est vrai que A et B sont moralement impossibles à distinguer» et «il n’est pas faux que A et B soient moralement impossibles à distinguer». Comme on s’y attendait, l’argument est intéressant mais mal fondé. Il n’est donc pas impossible d’être moral. (shrink)
In his most recent version of the evidential argument from evil, William Rowe argues that the observation of no outweighing goods for certain evils constitutes significant evidence against theism. I show that the new evidential argument cannot challenge theism unless it is also reasonable to believe that no good we know of justifies God in permitting any evil at all. Since the new evidential argument provides no reason at all to believe that God is not justified in permitting any existing (...) evil, I conclude that Rowe's argument presents no evidential challenge to theism. (shrink)
The celebrated free-will defence was designed to show that the ideal-world thesis presents no challenge to theism. The ideal-world thesis states that, in any world in which God exists, He can actualize a world containing moral good and no moral evil. I consider an intriguing two-stage argument that Michael Bergmann advances for the free-will defence, and show that the argument provides atheologians with no reason to abandon the ideal-world thesis. I show next that the existence of worlds in which every (...) essence is transworld untrustworthy provides atheologians with no better reason to abandon the ideal-world thesis. I conclude that neither the free-will defence nor Bergmann's revised free-will defence is a convincing response to the atheological challenge. (Published Online February 17 2004). (shrink)
Property-identical divine-command theory (PDCT) is the view that being obligatory is identical to being commanded by God in just the way that being water is identical to being H2O. If these identity statements are true, then they express necessary a posteriori truths. PDCT has been defended in Robert M. Adams (1987) and William Alston (1990). More recently Mark C. Murphy (2002) has argued that property-identical divine-command theory is inconsistent with two well-known and well-received theses: the free-command thesis and the supervenience (...) thesis. I show that Murphy's argument is vitiated by mistaken assumptions about the substitutivity of metaphysical identicals in contexts of supervenience. The free-command thesis and the supervenience thesis therefore pose no serious threat to PDCT. (Published Online August 11 2004). (shrink)
Sceptical theists--e.g., William Alston and Michael Bergmann--have claimed that considerations concerning human cognitive limitations are alone sufficient to undermine evidential arguments from evil. We argue that, if the considerations deployed by sceptical theists are sufficient to undermine evidential arguments from evil, then those considerations are also sufficient to undermine inferences that play a crucial role in ordinary moral reasoning. If cogent, our argument suffices to discredit sceptical theist responses to evidential arguments from evil.
There is an intriguing recent effort to develop a valid cosmological argument on the basis of quite minimal assumptions.1 Indeed, the basis of the new cosmological argument is so slight that it is likely to make even a conscientious theist suspicious – to say nothing of our vigilant atheists. In Section 1 we present the background assumptions and central premises of the new cosmological argument. We are sympathetic to the conclusion that there necessarily exists an intelligent and powerful creator of (...) the actual universe, but we show in Section 2 that the new cosmological argument cannot establish this claim. Speciﬁcally, we show by reductio ad absurdum that the new argument is unsound, and that every plausibly modiﬁed version of the argument is also unsound.2 We close our discussion with a diagnosis of what went wrong in the new cosmological argument. Our conclusion is that this intriguing new argument promises considerably more than it can show. (shrink)
Standard dyadic deontic logic (as well as standard deontic logic) has recently come under attack by moral philosophers who maintain that the axioms of standard dyadic deontic logic are biased against moral theories which generate moral conflicts. Since moral theories which generate conflicts are at least logically tenable, it is argued, standard dyadic deontic logic should be modified so that the set of logically possible moral theories includes those which generate such conflicts. I argue that (1) there are only certain (...) types of moral conflicts which are interesting, and which have worried moral theorists, (2) the modification of standard dyadic deontic logic along the lines suggested by those who defend the possibility of moral conflicts makes possible only uninteresting types of moral conflicts, and (3) the general strategy of piecemeal modification standard dyadic deontic logic is misguided: the possibility of interesting moral conflicts cannot be achieved in that way. (shrink)