Philosophers have responded to McTaggart’s famous argument for the unreality of time in a variety of ways. Some of those responses are not easy to evaluate, since they involve, for example, sometimes murky questions concerning whether a certain infinite regress is or is not vicious. In this paper I set out a response that has not, I think, been advanced by any other author, and which, if successful, is absolutely clear-cut. The basic idea is simply that a tensed approach to (...) time can avoid McTaggart’s contradiction, and can also avoid any regress, vicious or otherwise, by specifying the times at which events have different tensed properties in a tenseless fashion — namely, by using dates. This answer to McTaggart’s argument is, however, open to four important objections. The first objection is that my answer to the second part of McTaggart’s argument is incompatible with something that McTaggart takes himself to have proved in the first part of his argument — the claim, namely, that “there can be no change unless some propositions are sometimes true and sometimes false.” The second objection is that the sentences that I claim can be used to specify when an event has a given tensed property do not in fact do so, since they turn out to be purely tenseless sentences. The third objection is that the sentences in question make use of tenseless verbs, and that it is not in fact possible to make sense of such verbs. The fourth and final objection is that it is not really possible to specify, in tenseless terms, when an event has a given tensed property, since dates have to be analyzed using the relation of temporal priority, and that relation, in turn, must be analyzed in terms of the tensed properties of pastness, presentness and futurity, so that the purportedly tenseless specification is implicitly tensed. I argue, however, that none of these four objections can be sustained. (shrink)
In this essay, my goal is, first, to describe the most important contemporary philosophical approaches to the nature of time, and then, secondly, to discuss the ways in which those different accounts bear upon the question of the possibility of divine foreknowledge. I shall argue that different accounts of the nature of time give rise to different objections to the idea of divine foreknowledge, but that, in addition, there is a general argument for the impossibility of divine foreknowledge that is (...) independent of one’s account of the nature of time. (shrink)
This volume presents a selection of the most influential recent discussions of the crucial metaphysical questions: what is it for one event to cause another? The subject of causation bears on many topics, such as time, explanation, mental states, the laws of nature, and the philosphy of science.
In the debate volume, ’Knowledge of God’, co-authored with Alvin Plantinga, I argued that there is an inductively sound version of the argument from evil, and recently, several popular books criticizing religious belief have appeared, often focusing on that issue of the existence of God. In the present essay I argue, however, that to help ordinary people think more critically about religious beliefs, it is better to focus on beliefs associated with specific religions, such as Christianity. I then go on (...) to look briefly at Jesus, and I offer reasons for concluding that Jesus was neither wise nor morally admirable. (shrink)
The newest addition to the Point/Counterpoint Series, Abortion: Three Perspectives features a debate between four noted philosophers - Michael Tooley, Celia Wolf-Devine, Philip E. Devine, and Alison M. Jaggar - with three different perspectives on abortion: the "liberal" pro-choice approach, the "communitarian" pro-life approach, and the "gender justice" approach. Each of the authors takes a controversial position, and all push their philosophical opinions to their logical limits. All of the views presented are radical, both in the sense of exploring fundamental (...) assumptions and in the sense of diverging from mainstream opinion in America. They do not rely on religious authority; therefore their arguments address all citizens regardless of their religious beliefs. The first "liberal" pro-choice approach is Michael Tooley's. After examining, analyzing, and challenging the most important arguments for a right to life before birth, he holds that abortion is always morally permissible in itself. He argues that it is unreasonable to claim that human embryos/fetuses either have or develop a right to life before birth. Celia Wolf-Devine and Philip E. Devine, however, take a "communitarian" pro-life position, arguing that the human organism is a person from the point at which it first came to be. They also argue that, because its creators are responsible for its existence, the prospective parents have a moral obligation to care for its life. Finally, Alison Jaggar explores abortion in light of political philosophy and social justice. She argues that women everywhere have a human right to abortion, that abortion rights are necessary for gender equality, and that the availability of abortion is indispensable for pubic health and social development. As philosophers, the authors have special skills in critical analysis and thinking systematically about values. Because they do not rely on religious authority, their arguments address all citizens regardless of their religious beliefs. By drawing examples from real life, employing logic, philosophy, and empirical data, and addressing views of abortion from across other disciplines, the authors present a well-informed and up-to-date discussion. Advanced courses in ethics, contemporary moral problems, sex and gender, and bioethics will find this text useful and relevant. (shrink)
In his recent article, ``Self-Consciousness', George Bealer has set outa novel and interesting argument against functionalism in the philosophyof mind. I shall attempt to show, however, that Bealer's argument cannotbe sustained.In arguing for this conclusion, I shall be defending three main theses.The first is connected with the problem of defining theoreticalpredicates that occur in theories where the following two features arepresent: first, the theoretical predicate in question occurswithin both extensional and non-extensional contexts; secondly, thetheory in question asserts that the relevant (...) theoretical states enterinto causal relations. What I shall argue is that a Ramsey-styleapproach to the definition of such theoretical terms requires twodistinct quantifiers: one which ranges over concepts, and theother which ranges over properties in the world. (shrink)
In her book, The Dilemma of Freedom and Foreknowledge, Linda Zagzebski suggests that among the strongest ways of supporting the thesis that libertarian free will is incompatible with divine foreknowledge is what she refers to as the Accidental Necessity argument. Zagzebski contends, however, that at least three satisfactory responses to that argument are available.I argue that two of the proposed solutions are open to strong objections, and that the third, although it may very well handle the specific versions of the (...) Accidental Necessity argument that Zagzebski considers, fails when confronted with a stronger version of the Accidental Necessity line of argument. (shrink)
Michael Tooley presents a major new philosophical theory of the nature of time, offering a powerful alternative to the traditional "tensed" and recent "tenseless" accounts of time. He argues for a dynamic conception of the universe, in which past, present, and future are not merely subjective features of experience. He claims that the past and the present are real, while the future is not. Tooley's approach accounts for time in terms of causation. He therefore claims that the key to understanding (...) the dynamic nature of the universe is to understand the nature of causation. Time, Tense, and Causation is a landmark treatment of one of the oldest and most perplexing intellectual problems, and will be fascinating reading for anyone interested in the character of time. (shrink)
This volume presents a selection of the most influential recent discussions of the crucial metaphysical question: What is it for one event to cause another? The subject of causation bears on many topics, such as time, explanation, mental states, the laws of nature, and the philosophy of science. Contributors include J.L Mackie, Michael Scriven, Jaegwon Kim, G.E.M. Anscombe, G.H. von Wright, C.J. Ducasse, Wesley C. Salmon, David Lewis, Paul Horwich, Jonathan Bennett, Ernest Sosa, and Michael Tooley.
Tooley here sets out and defends realist accounts of traditional empiricist explanations of causation and laws of nature, arguing that since reductionist accounts of causation are exposed to decisive objections, empiricists must break with that tradition.
Among the central theses defended in this paper are the following. First, the logical incompatibility version of the argument from evil is not one of the crucial versions, and Plantinga, in fostering the illusion that it is, seriously misrepresents claims advanced by other philosophers. Secondly, Plantinga’s arguments against the thesis that the existence of any evil at all is logically incompatible with God’s existence. Thirdly, Plantinga’s attempt to demonstrate that the existence of a certain amount of evil in the world (...) does not render improbable the existence of God involves both a false claim and a fallacious inference. (shrink)