This volume brings together fourteen of the best papers by the late Philip Quinn, one of the world's leading philosophers of religion. It covers the following topics: religious epistemology, religious ethics, religion and tragic dilemmas, religion and political liberalism, topics in Christian philosophy, and religious diversity.
In this paper, I respond to Adolf Grünbaum’s charge that the cosmological problem to which the theological doctrine of divine creation would, if true, be a solution is really only a pseudoproblem. My discussion focuses on three questions: Why does the possible world that is in fact actual obtain, rather than any of the other possible worlds? Why does a possible world with the natural laws of the actual world obtain, rather than some possible world with a different nomological structure? (...) And why does a possible world in which some contingent things exist obtain, rather than the possible world in which nothing contingent exists? I argue that each of these questions can be understood in such a way that it avoids Grünbaum’s pseudoproblem charge. I also argue that the second and third questions give rise, if pressed, to problems that science cannot solve. Their ultimate answers are either appeals to inexplicable brute facts, which are not explanatory, or appeals to extrascientific explanations, which could be theological. (shrink)
In this response to the papers on Jonathan Edwards's ethical thought by Stephen A. Wilson, Gerald R. McDermott, William C. Spohn, and Roland A. Delattre, I comment on their efforts to show that ideas drawn from Edwards can be successfully appropriated for use in contemporary ethics. I conclude that the four authors build a strong cumulative case for the view that some elements of Edwards's thought can serve as resources for our ethical reflections. But I also argue for a deflationary (...) view of how much of Edwards we will find it feasible to take on board when we engage in the task of working out a religious ethics we might accept. (shrink)
This paper is a study of a pragmatic argument for belief in the existence of God constructed and criticized by Richard Gale. The argument’s conclusion is that religious belief is morally permissible under certain circumstances. Gale contends that this moral permission is defeated in the circumstances in question both because it violates the principle of universalizability and because belief produces an evil that outweighs the good it promotes. My counterargument tries to show that neither of the reasons invoked by Gale (...) suffices to defeat the moral permission established by the original argument. (shrink)
This paper critically examines what Nicholas Wolterstorff has to say in Divine Discourse in response to the two questions in the title. It tries to show that his argument for the conclusion that God can have the obligations of a speaker is defective. It also tries to show that his argument for the conclusion that some actual person is entitled to believe that God has spoken to her is incomplete. The paper's conclusion is that Wolterstorff's arguments fail to establish, or (...) to provide strong grounds for accepting, a positive answer to either of the questions in its title. (shrink)
This paper begins with an outline of some of the main themes in the ecclesiology Kant presents in Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone. It then discusses implications of Kant’s ecclesiology for issues concerning scriptural interpretation and religious toleration. With the help of these implications, an objection to Kant’s ecclesiology is developed, and a Kantian ecclesiology modified in response to the objection is sketched out. The Roman Catholic ecclesiology of the Second Vatican Council is compared to both Kant’s ecclesiology (...) and the modified Kantian ecclesiology. It is argued that on some points the ecclesiology of Vatican II represents movement in the direction of Kant’s ecclesio]ogy while on others tension between Kant and Vatican II can be reduced by the modified Kantian ecclesiology. (shrink)
This unique volume collects some of the best recent work on the philosophical challenge that religious diversity poses for religious belief. Featuring contributors from philosophy, religious studies, and theology, it is unified by the way in which many of the authors engage in sustained critical examination of one another's positions. John Hick's pluralism provides one focal point of the collection. Hick argues that all the major religious traditions make contact with the same ultimate reality, each encountering it through a variety (...) of culturally shaped forms of thought and experience but all offering equally effective paths to salvation or liberation. Another central position is William P. Alston's defense of the Christian practice of forming beliefs about manifestations of God in response to experiences of divine presence or activity. Articles by Hick and Alston develop their arguments and other selections respond, criticizing or defending various aspects of one or both positions. Religious skepticism, religious exclusivism, religious inclusivism, and other perspectives are also represented. In the introduction, the editors suggest connections among the articles and report on additional exchanges between the contributors. The only anthology that provides comprehensive coverage of the current philosophical debate about religious diversity, The Philosophical Challenge of Religious Diversity is ideal for courses and seminars on the philosophy of religion, philosophical theology, and world religions. (shrink)
The world religions make conflicting claims about the nature of ultimate reality, and they all appeal to experience for justification of their claims. The experiential justifications for conflicting religious beliefs thus seem to be mutually destructive. One response to this situation, advocated by John Hick, is to reinterpret traditional religious claims in ways that eliminate the conflicts; another, favored by William P. Alston, is to defend the rationality of continuing, despite the conflicts, to engage in the doxastic practice of one’s (...) own religion. I begin this paper with a summary of the criticism of Alston’s defense that I have spelled out in greater detail elsewhere. After arguing that Alston’s conclusions require significant modification, I go on to defend the modified Alstonian conclusions against objections recently raised by Hick. I conclude by suggesting a view that seems to me to combine the best features of Alston’s and Hick’s approaches to religious pluralism. (shrink)
This paper is devoted to discussion of Abelard’s account of the Christian doctrine of the Atonement. It defends his account against charges of Exemplarism and Pelagianism. It also argues that his account contains material that ought to be incorporated into Christian thinking about the Atonement. Abelard’s constructive contribution to such thinking is the idea that divine love, made manifest in the life and death of Jesus, has the power to transform human sinners, if they cooperate, in ways that fit them (...) for everlasting life in intimate union with God. (shrink)
These comments consist of reflections on the papers Anastasios Brenner and R. N. D. Martin presented at the Conference on Pierre Duhem: Historian and Philosopher of Science. I argue they present nicely complementary accounts of Duhem's turn to history of science: Brenner emphasizes reasons internal to Duhem's philosophical concern with scientific methodology while Martin highlights reasons derived from the broader context of Duhem's engagement with religious controversies of his culture. I go on to suggest that seeing Duhem in this broader (...) perspective can help us cope with the conflicts between science and religion in our own culture. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue by example for the possibility of genuine dilemmas internal to Christian ethics. My example is the life of Sebastian Rodrigues, who is the protagonist of Shusaku Endo's moving novel "Silence". The first part of the paper is devoted to retelling Endo's story, highlighting salient ethical and religious features of the life of Rodrigues. The latter half of the paper argues for an interpretation of the story according to which Rodrigues confronts a real conflict between the (...) obligation to love God with total devotion and the obligation to love one's neighbor as oneself. I conclude with the suggestion that the outcome of this conflict is not ultimately tragic because it serves providentially to move Rodrigues closer to Christ in suffering love. (shrink)
THIS PAPER IS A STUDY OF KANT’S ATTEMPT TO RECONSTRUCT THE CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE OF ATONEMENT WITHIN THE LIMITS OF REASON. IT BEGINS WITH A BRIEF SKETCH OF ANSELM’S SATISFACTION-THEORETIC ACCOUNT OF ATONEMENT AND THEN PRESENTS THE MAIN OBJECTIONS TO THAT ACCOUNT. NEXT KANT’S ACCOUNT OF ATONEMENT IS GIVEN A DETAILED EXPOSITION, AND IT IS SHOWN THAT IT AVOIDS THE DIFFICULTIES THAT PLAGUE ANSELM’S ACCOUNT. KANT’S ACCOUNT IS THEN SUBJECTED TO CRITICISM.
These comments address two of the main topics discussed by Laudan. First I take issue with the correctness-conditions and the acceptability-conditions he proposes for methodological rules. Then I criticize his suggestion about how to naturalize the axiology of scientific inquiry. I note that the realizability of a goal is a necessary but not a sufficient condition of its worthiness of pursuit, and I argue that this leaves room for conventional choice of scientific goals. In concluding, I respond to Laudan's attacks (...) on Feyerabend, Polanyi, Popper, Lakatos and Quine by saying a few words in their defense. (shrink)
This paper is a critical and exploratory discussion of Plantinga’s claim that certain propositions which self-evidently entail the existence of God could be properly basic. In the critical section, I argue that Plantinga fails to show that the modem foundationalist’s criterion for proper basicality, according to which such propositions could not be properly basic, is self-referentially incoherent or otherwise defective. In the exploratory section, I try to build a case for the view that, even if such propositions could be properly (...) basic, they would seldom, if ever, be properly basic for intellectually sophisticated adult theists in our culture. (shrink)
In this wide-ranging study, Quinn argues that human moral autonomy is compatible with unqualified obedience to divine commands. He formulates several versions of the crucial assumptions of divine command ethics, defending them against a battery of objections often expressed in the philosophical literature.
Some of the controversy surrounding the Duhemian claim that in science falsification is as inconclusive as verification is reconsidered. The D-Thesis, a particular version of this claim first discussed by Adolf Grünbaum, is formulated in a more precise and perspicuous fashion as a conjunction of two subtheses. Grünbaum's attempt to refute one of the subtheses by means of a geometrical counterexample and some subsequent discussions of this example are examined critically. An argument designed to prove the other subthesis is analyzed (...) and shown to be unsuccessful. It is concluded that the D-Thesis is as yet neither proven nor refuted. (shrink)