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  1. Mikel Burley (forthcoming). Contemplating Evil. Nordic Wittgenstein Review.
    Via a discussion of various ways in which putative descriptions or explanations can be deemed to be morally insensitive, this article investigates the role of “contemplation” in philosophy of religion and ethics, and especially in connection with the “problem of evil.” Focusing on the Wittgenstein-influenced methods of D. Z. Phillips, the question is considered whether a tension obtains between, on the one hand, a “contemplative conception of philosophy,” and on the other hand, the sort of critique of theodicy according to (...)
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  2. Mikel Burley (2014). God and Moral Obligation. Philosophical Quarterly 64 (254):159-161.
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  3. Mikel Burley (2014). Karma, Morality, and Evil. Philosophy Compass 9 (6):415-430.
    The doctrine of karma has been praised as a rational and morally edifying explanatory response to the existence of evil and apparent injustice in the world. Critics have attacked it as a morally misguided dogma that distorts one's vision of reality. This essay, after outlining the traditional doctrine, examines three criticisms that have been central to recent debates: firstly, that the doctrine offers no practical guidance; second, that it faces a dilemma between free will and fatalism; and third, that it (...)
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  4. Mikel Burley (2013). Andrew Gleeson, A Frightening Love: Recasting the Problem of Evil (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012). Philosophical Papers 42 (1):127 - 131.
    (2013). Andrew Gleeson, A Frightening Love: Recasting the Problem of Evil (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012) Philosophical Papers: Vol. 42, No. 1, pp. 127-131. doi: 10.1080/05568641.2013.774726.
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  5. Mikel Burley (2013). Retributive Karma and the Problem of Blaming the Victim. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 74 (2):149-165.
    A defining feature of retributive conceptions of karma is their regarding of suffering or misfortune as consequent upon sins committed in previous lives. Some critical non-believers in karma take offence at this view, considering it to involve unjustly blaming the victim. Defenders of the view demur, and argue that a belief in retributive karma in fact provides a motivation for benevolent action. This article elucidates the debate, showing that its depth is such that it is best characterized as a disagreement (...)
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  6. Mikel Burley (2012). Atheism and the Gift of Death. Religious Studies 48 (4):533 - 546.
    Richard Beardsmore once argued that, although it is possible for atheists and religious believers alike to regard life as a gift, the regarding of one's own death as a gift is open only to the (Christian) believer. I discuss this interesting contention, and argue that, notwithstanding some important differences between the attitudinal possibilities available to atheists and believers in God, there are at least three senses in which an atheist could regard death as a gift. Two of these involve death's (...)
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  7. Mikel Burley (2012). Believing in Reincarnation. Philosophy 87 (02):261-279.
    Is it absurd to believe that, in the absence of bodily continuity, personal identity could be retained? Bernard Williams argued for an affirmative answer to this question partly on the basis of a well-known thought experiment. Some other philosophers, including D. Z. Phillips, have accepted, or appear to have accepted, Williams' conclusion.Yet the argument has the consequence of dismissing as absurd the sorts of reincarnation beliefs which, within their proper contexts, have a meaningful role in the lives of many millions (...)
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  8. Mikel Burley (2012). D. Z. Phillips' Contemplations on Religion and Literature. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 71 (1):21-37.
    This paper critically discusses D. Z. Phillips’ use of literary works as a resource for philosophical reflection on religion. Beginning by noting Phillips’ suggestion, made in relation to Waiting for Godot , that the possibilities of meaning that we see in a literary work can reveal something of our own religious sensibility, I then proceed to show what we learn about Phillips from his readings of certain works by Larkin, Tennyson, and Wharton. Through exploring alternative possible readings, I argue that, (...)
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  9. Mikel Burley (2012). Mounce and Winch on Understanding (or Not Understanding) an Indigenous Society. Philosophical Investigations 35 (3-4):350-372.
    Howard Mounce and Peter Winch both made novel and illuminating contributions to discussions about how, or whether, we can understand societies very different from our own – societies that would, these days, be referred to as “indigenous,”“tribal,”“traditional” or “small-scale.” This paper aims to elucidate some disagreements between Mounce and Winch while also critically engaging in the debate. The concepts of “practice” and “language-game” are considered in connection with magic-related activities among the Azande of north-central Africa, and Mounce's contention that the (...)
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  10. Mikel Burley (2012). Reply to Howard Mounce. Philosophical Investigations 35 (3-4):377-379.
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  11. Mikel Burley (2011). Emotion and Anecdote in Philosophical Argument: The Case of Havi Carel's Illness. Metaphilosophy 42 (1-2):33-48.
    Abstract: Critics of Havi Carel's 2008 book, Illness: The Cry of the Flesh, have contended that Carel's deployment of phenomenological philosophy adds little to commonsense views about illness and that Carel relies too heavily on emotion-laden autobiographical anecdotes. Against these contentions this article argues: first, that a perfectly respectable task of philosophy is to find reasons to support pre-existing beliefs; and secondly, that Carel's use of anecdotes, while certainly appealing to readers' emotions, constitutes part of a legitimate argumentative strategy. The (...)
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  12. Mikel Burley (2011). „God's Reality, Matters of Fact and DZ Phillips.“. Ars Disputandi 11.
     
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  13. Mikel Burley (2011). Robert MacSwain and Michael Ward (Eds) The Cambridge Companion to CS Lewis (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010). Pp. Xx+ 326.£ 18.99 (Pbk). ISBN 978 0 521 71114 2. Jerry Root CS Lewis and a Problem of Evil: An Investigation of a Pervasive Theme (Cambridge: James Clarke & Co., 2010). Pp. Xxii+ 284.£ 22.50 (Pbk). ISBN 978 0 227 17338 1. [REVIEW] Religious Studies 47 (4):532-537.
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  14. Mikel Burley (2011). Stanley Hauerwas Hannah's Child: A Theologian's Memoir (London: SCM Press, 2010). Pp. Xii+ 288.£ 19.99 (Pbk). ISBN: 978 03340 4368 3. [REVIEW] Religious Studies 47 (4):527-531.
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  15. Mikel Burley (2010). Epicurus, Death, and the Wrongness of Killing. Inquiry 53 (1):68-86.
    This article questions the assumption, held by several philosophers, that the Epicurean argument for death's being ?nothing to us? must be fallacious since its acceptance would undermine the principle that killing is (in general) wrong. Two possible strategies are considered, which the Epicurean-sympathizer might deploy in order to show that the non-badness of death (for the person who dies) is compatible with killing's being wrong. One of these is unsuccessful; the other is more promising. It involves arguing that the wrongness (...)
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  16. Mikel Burley (2010). Middle Age. International Journal of Philosophical Studies 18 (1):136 – 140.
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  17. Mikel Burley (2010). Winch and Wittgenstein on Moral Harm and Absolute Safety. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 67 (2):81 - 94.
    This paper examines Wittgenstein's conception of absolute safety in the light of two potential problems exposed by Winch. These are that, firstly: even if someone's life has been virtuous so far, the contingency of its remaining so until death vitiates the claim that the virtuous person cannot be harmed; and secondly: when voiced from a first-person standpoint, the claim to be absolutely safe due to one's virtuousness appears hubristic and self-undermining. I argue that Wittgenstein's mystical conception of safety, unlike some (...)
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  18. Mikel Burley (2010). Is There a Tension in Wittgenstein's Philosophy of Religion? Heythrop Journal 51 (6):1000-1010.
    This paper responds to Severin Schroeder's recent charge that Wittgenstein's philosophy of religion contains an ‘unresolved tension’ between three propositions, namely: (1) ‘As a hypothesis, God's existence (&c) is extremely implausible’; (2) ‘Christian faith is not unreasonable’; and (3) ‘Christian faith does involve belief in God's existence (&c)’. I argue as follows: that the first of these propositions has no place in Wittgenstein's thinking on religion; that the second is ill-phrased and should be re-worded as the proposition that ‘Christian faith (...)
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  19. Mikel Burley (2009). A Dialogue on Immortality. Think 8 (21):91-97.
    The fictional case of Elina Makropulos has been a focus for philosophical reflections on immortality. Here Mikel Burley presents a conversation between Elina and two imaginary philosophers (some, but not all, of whose views bear a passing resemblance to those of Bernard Williams and John Martin Fischer respectively).
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  20. Mikel Burley (2009). Immortality and Boredom: A Response to Wisnewski. [REVIEW] International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 65 (2):77 - 85.
    This article contributes to the ongoing debate initiated by Bernard Williams’ claim that, due to the non-contingent finitude of the categorical desires that give meaning to our lives, an immortal life would necessarily become intolerably boring. Jeremy Wisnewski has argued that even if immortality involves periods in which our categorical desires have been exhausted, this need not divest life of meaning since some categorical desires are revivable. I argue that careful reflection upon the thought-experiments adduced by Wisnewski reveals that they (...)
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  21. Mikel Burley (2009). Immortality and Meaning: Reflections on the Makropulos Debate. Philosophy 84 (4):529-547.
    This article reflects upon the debate, initiated by Bernard Williams in 1973, concerning the desirability of immortality, where the latter expression is taken to mean endless bodily life as a human or humanoid being. Williams contends that it cannot be desirable; others have disputed this contention. I discuss a recent response from Timothy Chappell and attempt to pinpoint the central disagreement between Chappell and Williams. I propose that neither side in the debate has firm grounds for its claims, and then (...)
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  22. Mikel Burley (2009). Illness: The Cry of the Flesh. International Journal of Philosophical Studies 17 (4):627 – 632.
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  23. Mikel Burley (2008). Harry Silverstein's Four-Dimensionalism and the Purported Evil of Death. International Journal of Philosophical Studies 16 (4):559 – 568.
    In his article 'The Evil of Death' (henceforth: ED) Harry Silverstein argues that a proper refutation of the Epicurean view that death is not an evil requires the adoption of a particular revisionary ontology, which Silverstein, following Quine, calls 'four-dimensionalism'.1 In 'The Evil of Death Revisited' (henceforth: EDR) Silverstein reaffirms his earlier position and responds to several criticisms, including some targeted at his ontology. There remain, however, serious problems with Silverstein's argument, and I shall highlight five major ones below. I (...)
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  24. Mikel Burley (2008). Is Death a Bad Thing? Think 6 (16):59-68.
    After examining arguments for and against the view that death is a bad thing, Mikel Burley tentatively endorses the Epicurean claim that death cannot rationally be judged bad. For moral reasons, however, this conclusion is acceptable only with regard to one's own death.
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  25. Mikel Burley (2008). Phillips and Eternal Life: A Response to Haldane. Philosophical Investigations 31 (3):237–251.
    This paper responds to John Haldane's recent criticisms of D. Z. Phillips' treatment of the Christian belief in eternal life. I argue that Haldane's attempt to show that Phillips only partially elucidates, and hence misrepresents, this belief is unsuccessful, the biblical and theological passages cited by Haldane being amenable to elucidation in terms of which Phillips would have approved. Haldane makes three points to support his main claim, and I argue that none of these has significant force against Phillips' position (...)
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  26. Mikel Burley (2008). Phillips and Realists on Religious Beliefs and the Fruits Thereof. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 64 (3):141 - 153.
    This article addresses some issues concerning the relation between religious beliefs and the fruits of those beliefs, where ‘fruits’ implies certain relevant forms of behaviour and affective attitudes. My primary aim is to elucidate the dispute between D. Z. Phillips and theological realists, emphasizing the extent to which this dispute is symptomatic of a deeper disagreement over how words acquire their meanings. In the course of doing so, I highlight an important difference between two alternative realist claims, exemplified by Trigg (...)
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  27. Mikel Burley (2008). Should a B-Theoretic Atheist Fear Death? Ratio 21 (3):260-272.
    This article discusses Robin Le Poidevin's proposal that a commitment to the B-theory of time provides atheists with a reason to relinquish the fear of death. For the purposes of the article, I grant Le Poidevin's assertion that the B-theory gives us a sense in which our lives are 'eternally real'; but I deny that the B-theorist is entitled to regard this as sufficient to furnish a reason to cease fearing death. This is because, according to the most prevalent B-theoretic (...)
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  28. Mikel Burley (2008). The B-Theory of Time and the Fear of Death. Polish Journal of Philosophy 2 (2):21-38.
    This paper discusses Robin Le Poidevin’s proposal that a commitment to the B-theory of time provides a reason to relinquish the fear of death. After outlining Le Poidevin’s views on time and death, I analyze the specific passages in which he makes his proposal, giving close attention to the claim that, for the B-theorist, one’s life is “eternally real.” I distinguish two possible interpretations of this claim, which I call alethic eternalism and ontic eternalism respectively, and argue, with reference to (...)
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  29. Mikel Burley (2007). Hendrik M. Vroom A Spectrum of Worldviews: An Introduction to Philosophy of Religion in a Pluralistic World, Tr. Morris and Alice Greidanus, Currents of Encounter 29. (Amsterdam and New York NY: Rodopi, 2006). Pp. Xi+331. € 70.00/US$91.00 (Hbk), € 30.00/US$39.00 (Pbk). ISBN 10 9042020482 (Hbk), 13 9789042020467 (Pbk). [REVIEW] Religious Studies 43 (1):111-116.
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  30. Mikel Burley (2007). Lucretius' Symmetry Argument and the Determinacy of Death. Philosophical Forum 38 (4):327–341.
  31. Mikel Burley (2007). The Danish Cartoons: Considering the Consequences. Think 5 (15):77-82.
    Should publishing decisions be influenced by the potential for violent reactions?
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  32. Mikel Burley (2006). Anticipating Annihilation. Inquiry 49 (2):170 – 185.
    According to Epicureans, anticipating one's own annihilation ought not to be a frightening experience. Non-existence precludes the possibility of sensation, and hence annihilation can be neither pleasant nor unpleasant. And that which cannot be felt is unworthy of fear. Certain objectors to this claim have asserted that one's own annihilation really is a terrifying prospect. Against this assertion, I argue that those who make it are guilty of precisely the kind of confusion that Epicurus and his disciples alert us to, (...)
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  33. Mikel Burley (2006). Beyond “Beyond a- and B-Time”. Philosophia 34 (4):411-416.
    This Article critically discusses Clifford Williams’ claim that the A-theory and B-theory of time are indistinguishable. I examine three considerations adduced by Williams to support his claim that the concept of time essentially includes transition as well as extension, and argue that, despite its prima facie plausibility, the claim has not been adequately justified. Williams therefore begs the question against the B-theorist, who denies that transition is essential. By Williams’ own lights, he ought to deny that the B-theory is a (...)
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  34. Mikel Burley (2006). Classical Samkhya and Yoga: An Indian Metaphysics of Experience. Routledge.
    Samkhya and Yoga are two of the oldest and most influential systems of classical Indian philosophy. This book provides a thorough analysis of the systems in order to fully understand Indian philosophy. Placing particular emphasis on the metaphysical schema which underlies both concepts, the author aptly develops a new interpretation of the standard views on Samkhya and Yoga. Drawing upon existing sources and using insights from both eastern and western philosophy and religious practice, this comprehensive interpretation is respectful to the (...)
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  35. Mikel Burley, Anticipating Annihilation, Cheryl K. Chen & Hannah Ginsborg (2006). Index to Volume 49, 2006. Inquiry 49 (6):591-592.
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  36. Mikel Burley (2005). Biology and Anti-Homosexual Disgust. Think 4 (11):107-112.
    Mikel Burley also responds to Michael Levin's article, (Think 10).
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  37. Mikel Burley (2004). 'Aloneness' and the Problem of Realism in Classical Sākhya and Yoga. Asian Philosophy 14 (3):223 – 238.
    The concept of kaivalya (literally, 'aloneness') is of crucial importance to the systems of classical Indian philosophy known as Sākhya and Yoga. Indeed, kaivalya is the supreme soteriological goal to which these systems are directed. Various statements concerning this final goal appear in the classical texts - namely, the Sākhyakārikā and Yogastra - and yet there is no consensus within modern scholarship about how the concept is to be interpreted. More specifically, there appears to be a great deal of confusion (...)
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  38. Mikel Burley (2004). Bradley and Schopenhauer, and the Epicurean Argument Concerning Death. Bradley Studies 10 (1/2):42-54.
  39. Mikel Burley (2004). Death Becomes It. The Philosophers' Magazine 27 (27):28-29.
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