This paper explores the main contours of recent work in English-speaking philosophy of religion on the justification of religious belief. It sets out the main characteristics of the religious epistemologies of such writers as Alston, Plantinga, and Swinburne. It poses and seeks to answer the question of how far any or all of these epistemologies are indebted or similar to the epistemology of the Scottish Enlightenment thinker Thomas Reid. It concludes that while there are some links to Reid in recent (...) writing, contemporary approaches depart from Reid’s views on the specific topic of the justification of religious belief. (shrink)
This paper surveys the argument that a secular world-view that is committed to a neo-Darwinian account of human origins generates a vicious form of moral skepticism. The argument turns around the claim that Darwinism entails the unreliability of moral sense or conscience. This argument is analyzed and found wanting. It rests on a major error about the scope of evolutionary biology in explaining human thought.
The paper aims to move the debate between Alston and critics of Perceiving God forward by asking if Alston’s book establishes a case for a realist interpretation of Christian mystical perception. It is argued that critical comments on Alston’s paper in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research by Richard Gale point, when reinterpreted, to a crucial disparity between mystical perception and sense perception. A realist interpretation of the former is not prima facie warranted but a realist interpretation of the latter is. Alston (...) confuses the question of whether mystical perception yields true outputs with the question of its realist status. (shrink)
This study is an introduction to the problems of moral philosophy designed particularly for those interested in theology and religious studies. It offers an account of the nature and subject matter of moral reasoning and of the major types of moral theory in contemporary moral philosophy. The account aims to bring out the major issues in moral theory, to present a clear, non-technical articulation of the structure of moral knowledge, and to explore the relation between religious belief and morality.
correct insofar as he thinks Humeanism is committed to object transubstantia- tion. If the individual essences of objects are constituted only by intrinsic categorical properties, and it is possible for their dispositional properties to change without accompanying changes in their intrinsic categorical properties, then it would be possible for a particular object to remain the very same object even if its dispositions to behave changed radically. It is not clear, however, that scientific essentialism per se is not also committed to (...) object transubstantiation. Scientific essentialism would preclude object transubstantiation if the kinds instantiated by an object were part of the individual essence of the object; for instance, if being a member of the substance kind human were essential to the individual Nixon. But Ellis specifically denies this claim; he asserts that “individual essences would seem to have very little to do with kind essences” (238–39). So once object transubstantiation is distinguished from kind transubstantiation, it is not clear how embarrassed the Humean should be. Neither scientific essentialism nor Humeanism per se is committed to kind transubstantiation. And though Humeanism is committed to object transubstantiation, scientific essentialism per se does not preclude object transubstantiation. (shrink)
THIS ARTICLE ATTEMPTS TO SHOW THAT A BELIEF IN MIRACLES AS VIOLATIONS OF THE LAWS OF NATURE IS COMPATIBLE WITH A DUE RESPECT FOR SCIENTIFIC METHOD. SOME MODERN THEOLOGIANS HAVE THOUGHT THAT SCIENTIFIC DETERMINISM INVOLVES A RIGID INSISTENCE THAT EVERY EVENT HAS A CAUSE AND THUS THAT RESPECT FOR SCIENCE CALLS FOR REINTERPRETATION OF THE CONCEPT OF MIRACLE. THE AUTHOR CONTENDS THAT A WEAKER COMMITMENT TO DETERMINISM IS RATIONALLY MORE ACCEPTABLE AND THAT THIS COMMITMENT LEAVES THE TRADITIONAL CONCEPT OF MIRACLE (...) UNSCATHED. SCIENCE COULD SURVIVE THE RECOGNITION THAT THERE WERE UNREPEATABLE EXCEPTIONS TO SOME LAWS OF NATURE. (shrink)