RichardSwinburne is one of the most distinguished philosophers of religion of our day. In this volume, many notable British and American philosophers unite to honor him and to discuss various topics to which he has contributed significantly. These include general topics in the philosophy of religion such as revelation, and faith and reason, and the specifically Christian doctrines of the Trinity, the Incarnation, and atonement. In the spirit of the movement which Swinburne spearheaded, the essays use (...) analytic philosophical methods to examine doctrines in particular religious traditions, expanding upon traditional discussions of theism. As such, this volume represents a field-report on the interaction of philosophy and Christian thought in the English-speaking world. Swinburne has himself contributed an individual and personal Intellectual Autobiography. (shrink)
Plantinga defines S's belief as ‘privately rational if and only if it is probable on S's evidence’, and ‘publicly rational if and only if it is probable with respect to public evidence’, and he claims that ‘it is an immediate consequence of these definitions that all my basic beliefs are privately rational’. I made it explicitly clear in my review that on my account of a person's evidence (quoted and used by Plantinga) as ‘the content of his basic beliefs (weighted (...) by his degree of confidence in them)’, that is not the case. I emphasize ‘weighted by his degree of confidence in them’. I wrote explicitly: ‘for more or less any belief, however convinced you are of it initially, other evidence of which you are equally convinced could rend it overall improbable’. Put technically, in probabilistic terms, basic beliefs come to us with different degrees of prior probability varying with our degree of confidence in them, but a belief with a high prior probability can in the light of other beliefs of our current set have a lower posterior probability. If you continue to hold on to a basic belief when its probability on the total evidence is below half, that belief is not privately rational. Footnotes1 Note: This brief discussion arises out of RichardSwinburne's critical notice of Alvin Plantinga's Warranted Christian Belief (New York NY: Oxford University Press, 2000) and Plantinga's reply in Religious Studies, 37 (2001), 203–214, 215–222. (shrink)
THE PAPER EXAMINES WHAT IS MEANT BY ’EVIDENCE’ WHEN IT IS SAID THAT A THEORY IS PROBABLE ON CERTAIN EVIDENCE. IT CONSIDERS WHAT IS THE RELATION BETWEEN A THEORY BEING PROBABLE ON CERTAIN EVIDENCE, A THEORY BEING BELIEVED, AND A THEORY BEING CREDIBLE. IT DISTINGUISHES VARIOUS SENSES OF ’ACCEPT’ IN WHICH SCIENTISTS ARE SAID TO ACCEPT THEORIES, ONLY ONE OF WHICH IS THE SENSE OF ’ACCEPT’ IN WHICH IT IS EQUATED WITH ’BELIEVE’. IT ANALYSES THE LOGICAL RELATIONS BETWEEN A THEORY (...) BEING PROBABLE ON THE EVIDENCE, AND A THEORY BEING ACCEPTED, AND A THEORY BEING ACCEPTABLE, IN THE DIFFERENT SENSES OF ’ACCEPT’. (shrink)
RichardSwinburne presents a substantially rewritten and updated edition of his most celebrated book. No other work has made a more powerful case for the probability of the existence of God. Swinburne gives a rigorous and penetrating analysis of the most important arguments for theism: the cosmological argument; arguments from the existence of laws of nature and the 'fine-tuning' of the universe; from the occurrence of consciousness and moral awareness; and from miracles and religious experience. He claims (...) that while none of these arguments are deductively valid, they do give inductive support to theism and that, even when the argument from evil is weighed against them, taken together they offer good grounds to support the probability that there is a God. The overall structure of the discussion and its conclusion have been retained for this new edition, but much has been changed in order to strengthen the argumentation and to take account of Swinburne's subsequent work on the nature of consciousness and the problem of evil, and of the latest philosophical and scientific writing, especially in respect of the laws of nature and the argument from fine-tuning. This is now the definitive version of a classic in the philosophy of religion. (shrink)
RichardSwinburne offers an original treatment of a question at the heart of epistemology: what makes a belief rational, or justified in holding? He maps the rival accounts of philosophers on epistemic justification ("internalist" and "externalist"), arguing that they are really accounts of different concepts. He distinguishes between synchronic justification (justification at a time) and diachronic justification (synchronic justification resulting from adequate investigation)--both internalist and externalist. He also argues that most kinds of justification are worth having because they (...) are indicative of truth; however, it is only justification of internalist kinds that can guide a believer's actions. Swinburne goes on to show the usefulness of the probability calculus in elucidating how empirical evidence makes beliefs probably true. (shrink)
At least since Darwin's Origin of Species was published in 1859, it has increasingly become accepted that the existence of God is, intellectually, a lost cause, and that religious faith is an entirely non-rational matter--the province of those who willingly refuse to accept the dramatic advances of modern cosmology. Are belief in God and belief in science really mutually exclusive? Or, as noted philosopher of science and religion RichardSwinburne puts forth, can the very same criteria which scientists (...) use to reach theories about everything from DNA to the Big Bang be used to argue for the existence of God? In Is There a God? Swinburne presents a powerful and approachable case for the existence of God. Using the methods of scientific reasoning, Swinburne rigorously argues that science, far from replacing God, provides good grounds for belief in God. With each new discovery and advance, from black holes to quarks, superstrings to continuing evolution, science brings us closer to a complete understanding of how things work--but science can only go so far. Though it can explain much of how the universe works, science doesn't tell us why there is a universe at all. We can understand much of how life evolved, but why is there any life on earth? We can name and explicate scientific laws, but how is it that they operate in the universe? The Darwinian theory holds that the complex animal and human bodies that are here today exist because, ages ago, there were certain chemicals on earth, and given the laws of evolution, it was probable that complex organisms would emerge. But why those laws rather than any other? Why those chemicals? In Swinburne's view, the ultimate grand unifying theory is possible only by a belief in what he calls theism, acknowledging the existence of God: it was God who brought about the natural laws so that humans and animals would evolve. The watch may have been made, Swinburne asserts in reference to Richard Dawkins, with the aid of some blind screwdrivers (or even a blind watchmaking machine), but they were guided by a watchmaker with some very clear sight. At the heart of his argument is Swinburne's belief that the very success of science in showing us how deeply ordered the natural world is provides strong grounds for believing there is an even deeper cause of that order. By embracing a belief in God that acknowledges the truth in science, Swinburne's elegant argument supplies an essential spiritual element to our understanding of order and beauty, the structure beneath the chaos of the natural world. This informed and provocative volume will be essential reading for all readers of popular science, philosophy, and religion. (shrink)
According to how we treat others, we acquire merit or guilt, deserve praise or blame, and receive reward or punishment, looking in the end for atonement. In this study distinguished theological philosopher RichardSwinburne examines how these moral concepts apply to humans in their dealings with each other, and analyzes these findings, determining which versions of traditional Christian doctrines--sin and original sin, redemption, sanctification, and heaven and hell--are considered morally acceptable.
THE VOLUME CONTAINS PAPERS BY J L MACKIE, JON DORLING, ELIE ZAHAR, LAWRENCE SKLAR, RICHARDSwinburne, Richard A HEALEY, W H NEWTON-SMITH, NANCY CARTWRIGHT, JEREMY BUTTERFIELD, MICHAEL REDHEAD AND PETER GIBBONS. THEY CONCERN THE IMPLICATIONS FOR OUR UNDERSTANDING OF SPACE, TIME AND CAUSATION OF THE DEVELOPMENTS OF MODERN PHYSICS AND ESPECIALLY OF RELATIVITY THEORY AND QUANTUM THEORY.
What is it for there to be a God, and what reason is there for supposing him to conform to the claims of Christian doctrine? In this pivotal volume of his tetralogy, RichardSwinburne builds a rigorous metaphysical system for describing the world, and applies this to assessing the worth of the Christian tenets of the Trinity and the Incarnation. Part I is dedicated to analyzing the categories needed to address accounts of the divine nature--substance, cause, time, and (...) necessity. Part II begins by setting out, in terms of these categories, the fundamental doctrine of Western religions--that there is a God. After pointing out some of the different ways in which this doctrine can be developed, Swinburne spells out the simplest possible account of divine nature. He then goes on to clarify the implications of this account for the specifically Christian doctrines of the Trinity (that God is "three persons in one substance") and of the Incarnation (that God became incarnate in Jesus Christ). Swinburne finds that there are good reasons to believe the Christian additions to the core Western idea of God. The Christian God builds upon Swinburne's acclaimed previous work to form a self-contained text which will no doubt become a classic in the philosophy of religion. (shrink)
Do humans have a free choice of which actions to perform? Three recent developments of modern science can help us to answer this question. First, new investigative tools have enabled us to study the processes in our brains which accompanying our decisions. The pioneer work of Benjamin Libet has led many neuroscientists to hold the view that our conscious intentions do not cause our bodily movements but merely accompany them. Then, Quantum Theory suggests that not all physical events are fully (...) determined by their causes, and so opens the possibility that not all brain events may be fully determined by their causes, and so maybe - if neuroscience does not rule this out - there is a role for intentions after all. Finally, a theorem of mathematics, Godel's theory, has been interpreted to suggest that the initial conditions and laws of development of a mathematician's brain could not fully determine which mathematical conjectures he sees to be true. Papers by Patrick Haggard, Tim Bayne, Harald Atmanspacher and Stefan Rotter, Solomon Feferman, and John Lucas investigate these issues. The extent to which human behaviour is determined by brain events may well depend on whether conscious events, such as intentions, are themselves merely brain events, or whether they are separate events which interact with brain events (perhaps in the radical form that intentions are events in our soul, and not in our body). The papers of Frank Jackson, RichardSwinburne, and Howard Robinson investigate these issues. The remaining papers, of Galen Strawson, Helen Steward, and R.A. Duff, consider what kind of free will we need in order to be morally responsible for our actions or to be held guilty in a court of law. Is it sufficient merely that our actions are uncaused by brain events, or what? (shrink)
The great religions often claim that their books or creeds contain truths revealed by God. How could we know that they do? In the second edition of Revelation, renowned philosopher of religion RichardSwinburne addresses this central question. But since the books of great religions often contain much poetry and parable, Swinburne begins by investigating how eternal truth can be conveyed in unfamiliar genres, by analogy and metaphor, within false presuppositions about science and history. In the final (...) part of the book, Swinburne then applies the results of Parts I and II to assessing the evidence that the teaching of the Christian Church constitutes a revelation from God. -/- In the course of his philosophical exploration, Swinburne considers how the church which Jesus founded is to be identified today and presents a sustained discussion of which passages in the Bible should be understood literally and which should be understood metaphorically. -/- This is a fuller and entirely rewritten second edition of Revelation, the most notable new feature of which is a long chapter examining whether traditional Christian claims about personal morality (divorce, homosexuality, abortion, etc.) can be regarded as revealed truths. A formal appendix shows how the structure of evidence supporting the Christian revelation can be articulated in terms of the probability calculus (and shows that Plantinga's well-known argument from 'dwindling probabilities' against probabilistic arguments of this kind is not cogent). (shrink)
The orderliness of the universe and the existence of human beings already provides some reason for believing that there is a God - as argued in RichardSwinburne's earlier book Is There a God ? Swinburne now claims that it is probable that the main Christian doctrines about the nature of God and his actions in the world are true. In virtue of his omnipotence and perfect goodness, God must be a Trinity, live a human life in (...) order to share our suffering, and found a church which would enable him to tell all humans about this. It is also quite probable that he would provide his human life as an atonement for our wrongdoing, teach us how we should live and tell us his plans for our future after death. Among founders of religions, Jesus satisfies uniquely well the requirement of living the sort of human life which God would need to have lived. But to give us adequate reason to believe that Jesus was God, God would need to put his 'signature' on the life of Jesus by an act which he alone could do, for example raise him from the dead. There is adequate historical evidence that Jesus rose from the dead. The church which he founded gave plausible interpretations of his basic message. Therefore Christian doctrines are probably true. (shrink)
This is a revised and updated version of Swinburne's controversial treatment of the eternal philosophical problem of the relation between mind and body. He argues that we can only make sense of the interaction between the mental and the physical in terms of the soul, and that there is no scientific explanation of the evolution of the soul.
Theodicy needs to show, for all actual evils e, that 1) in allowing e, a God would bring about a necessary condition of a good g not achievable in any other morally permissible way, 2) if e occurs, g occurs, 3) it is morally permissible for God to allow e, and 4) g is at least as good as e is bad. This article contributes to a full-scale theodicy by showing that A being of use (e.g., by suffering) to B (...) is a great good for A, and that in consequence, if 1) and 2) are satisfied, 3) and 4) are also likely to be satisfied. (shrink)
Empiricists have sought to follow Hume in claiming that causality is a relation between events reducible to something more basic, e.g., regularities or counterfactuals. But all such attempts fail through their inability to distinguish cause from effect. The alternative is that causation is irreducible. Regularities are evidence of causation but do not constitute it. We understand what causation is through performing intentional actions which necessarily involve trying, which in turn just is exercising causal power.
I defend the A Theory of Time that there are tensed (and other indexical) facts, e.g., about what has happened, as well as tenseless facts, e.g., about what happened in the nineteenth century. I reject arguments of McTaggart and Grunbaum, but concentrate on Mellor’s argument that tenseless truth-conditions can be given for the truth of every tensed sentence. My rebuttal of this argument depends on a distinction between the ’proposition’ and the ’statement’ expressed by a sentence. Statements have changeless truth-value, (...) while propositions may change truth-value; but there is more to be known than knowledge of true statements can capture. (shrink)
THE PARADOXES OF CONFIRMATION ARE CONSTITUTED BY THE CONTRADICTIONS ARISING FROM THE CONJUNCTION OF THREE PRINCIPLES OF CONFIRMATION - NICOD’S CRITERION, THE EQUIVALENCE CONDITION, AND WHAT THE PAPER CALLS THE SCIENTIFIC LAWS CONDITION. THE PAPER DISCUSSES IN DETAIL THE VARIOUS SOLUTIONS PROVIDED BY ABANDONING ONE OF THE PRINCIPLES. IN THE END IT FINDS NICOD’S CRITERION FALSE, BUT FINDS THE EXPLANATIONS GIVEN BY H.G. ALEXANDER AND OTHERS OF WHY NICOD’S CRITERION IS FALSE THEMSELVES UNSATISFACTORY. IT THEN PROVIDES A MORE ADEQUATE ACCOUNT (...) OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES IN WHICH "RA.BA" CONFIRMS "ALL R’S ARE B". (shrink)
The paper investigates what are the proper procedures for calculating the probability on certain evidence of a particular object e having a property, Q, e.g. of Eclipse winning the Derby. Let `α ' denote the conjunction of properties known to be possessed by e, and P(Q)/α the probability of an object which is α being Q. One view is that the probability of e being Q is given by the best confirmed value of P(Q)/α . This view is shown not (...) to be generally true, but to provide a useful approximation in many cases. Then given that we have information about the observed frequencies of Q among objects having one or more of the properties whose conjunction forms α , the paper shows how to establish which value of P(Q)/α is the best confirmed one. (shrink)
Alvin Plantinga Warranted Christian Belief (New York NY: Oxford University Press, 2000). In the two previous volumes of his trilogy on ‘warrant’, Alvin Plantinga developed his general theory of warrant, defined as that characteristic enough of which terms a true belief into knowledge. A belief B has warrant if and only if: (1) it is produced by cognitive faculties functioning properly, (2) in a cognitive environment sufficiently similar to that for which the faculties were designed, (3) according to a design (...) plan aimed at the production of true beliefs, when (4) there is a high statistical probability of such beliefs being true. Thus my belief that there is a table in front of me has warrant if in the first place, in producing it, my cognitive faculties were functioning properly, the way they were meant to function. Plantinga holds that just as our heart or liver may function properly or not, so may our cognitive faculties. And he also holds that if God made us, our faculties function properly if they function in the way God designed them to function; whereas if evolution (uncaused by God) made us, then our faculties function properly if they function in the way that (in some sense) evolution designed them to function. (shrink)
THE PAPER BEGINS BY CONSIDERING THREE ALTERNATIVE DEFINITIONS OF "ANALYTIC," ONE IN TERMS OF LOGICAL TRUTH, ONE IN TERMS OF THE MEANINGS OF WORDS, AND ONE IN TERMS OF SELF-CONTRADICTION OR INCOHERENCE. NEXT, FIVE DEFINITIONS OF "NECESSARY" ARE CONSIDERED, ONE IN TERMS OF ANALYTICITY, AND ONE PICKING OUT THE BROADER KIND OF LOGICAL NECESSITY DISCUSSED BY KRIPKE AND PLANTINGA. FINALLY, THREE DEFINITIONS OF "A PRIORI" ARE CONSIDERED. ONLY ON A FEW OF THESE DEFINITIONS DO THE CATEGORIES OF ANALYTIC, NECESSARY, AND (...) A PRIORI COINCIDE. (shrink)
The principle of the identity of indiscernibles holds that two individuals are the same individual if they have all the same properties. There are different forms of the principle, varying with what is allowed to count as a property. An individual has thisness if the weakest form of the principle does not apply to it. Abstract objects, places and times do not have thisness. Inanimate material objects probably do not. Animate beings, and the conscious events which involve them do have (...) thisness, and probably other events do as well. (shrink)
This paper defends (especially in response to Brian Leftow’s recent attack) logical nominalism, the thesis that logically necessary truth belongs primarily to sentences and depends solely on the conventions of human language. A sentence is logically necessary (that is, a priori metaphysically necessary) iff its negation entails a contradiction. A sentence is a posteriori metaphysically necessary iff it reduces to a logical necessity when we substitute for rigid designators of objects or properties canonical descriptions of the essential properties of those (...) objects or properties. The truth-conditions of necessary sentences are not to be found in any transcendent reality, such as God’s thoughts. "There is a God" is neither a priori nor a posteriori metaphysically necessary; God is necessary in the sense that His existence is not causally contingent on anything else. (shrink)
Inanimate explanation is to be analysed in terms of substances having powers and liabilities to exercise their powers under certain conditions; while personal explanation is to be analysed in terms of persons, their beliefs, powers, and purposes. A crucial criterion for an explanation being probably true is that it is (among explanations leading us to expect the data) the simplest one. Simplicity is a matter of few substances, few kinds of substances, few properties (including powers and liabilities), few kinds of (...) properties, and mathematically simple relations between properties. Explanation of the existence of the universe by the agency of God provides the simplest kind of personal explanation there can be, and one simpler than any inanimate explanation. I defend this view more thoroughly than previously in light of recent challenges. (shrink)
AN OCCURRENT THOUGHT IS DISTINGUISHED FROM BELIEF, INTELLIGENT BEHAVIOR, AND THE ACTIVE PROCESS OF THINKING. THE OCCURRENCE OF THOUGHTS IS NOT TO BE ANALYZED IN TERMS OF THE OCCURRENCE OF IMAGES OF WORDS OF SENTENCES WHICH EXPRESS THEM AND OFTEN ACCOMPANY THEM. THOUGHTS HAVE INBUILT INTENTIONALITY.
Jeremy Gwiazda made two criticisms of my formulation in terms of Bayes’s theorem of my probabilistic argument for the existence of God. The first criticism depends on his assumption that I claim that the intrinsic probabilities of all propositions depend almost entirely on their simplicity; however, my claim is that that holds only insofar as those propositions are explanatory hypotheses. The second criticism depends on a claim that the intrinsic probabilities of exclusive and exhaustive explanatory hypotheses of a phenomenon must (...) sum to 1; however it is only those probabilities plus the intrinsic probability of the non-occurrence of the phenomenon which must sum to 1. (shrink)
This is my response to the critical commentaries by Hasker, McNaughton and Schellenberg on my tetralogy on Christian doctrine. I dispute the moral principles invoked by McNaughton and Schellenberg in criticism of my theodicy and theory of atonement. I claim, contrary to Hasker, that I have taken proper account of the ‘existential dimension' of Christianity. I agree that whether it is rational to pursue the Christian way depends not only on how probable it is that the Christian creed is true (...) and so that the way leads to the Christian goals, but (in part) on how strongly one wants those goals. Hasker is correct to say that I need to give arguments in favour of the historical claims of Christianity, and I outline how I hope to do that. (shrink)
ARGUMENTS FROM DESIGN TO THE EXISTENCE OF GOD MAY TAKE AS THEIR PREMISS EITHER THE EXISTENCE OF REGULARITIES OF COPRESENCE OR THE EXISTENCE OF REGULARITIES OF SUCCESSION. THERE ARE NO VALID FORMAL OBJECTIONS TO A CAREFULLY ARTICULATED ARGUMENT OF THE LATTER TYPE. AGAINST SUCH AN ARGUMENT NONE OF THE OBJECTIONS IN HUME’S "DIALOGUES" HAVE ANY WORTH. THE ARGUMENT MAY HOWEVER GIVE ONLY A SMALL DEGREE OF SUPPORT TO ITS CONCLUSION.
Jeremy Gwiazda has criticized my claim that God, understood as an omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly free person is a person ’of the simplest possible kind’ on the grounds that omnipotence, etc., as spelled out by me are omnipotence, etc., of restricted kinds, and so less simple forms of these properties than maximal forms would be. However, the account which I gave of these properties in ’The Christian God’ (although not in ’The Coherence of Theism’) shows that, when they are defined (...) in certain ways, they all follow from one property of ’pure, limitless, intentional power’. I argue here that a person who has these properties so defined is a person ’of the simplest possible kind’. (shrink)
(I UNDERSTAND BY A MIRACLE, A VIOLATION OF A LAW OF NATURE BY A GOD.) A VIOLATION OF A LAW OF NATURE IS THE OCCURRENCE OF A NON-REPEATABLE COUNTER-INSTANCE TO IT. CONTRARY TO HUME’S VIEW, THERE COULD BE GOOD HISTORICAL EVIDENCE BOTH THAT A VIOLATION HAD OCCURRED AND THAT IT WAS DUE TO THE ACT OF A GOD.
THE FREEWILL DEFENCE IS DESIGNED TO SHOW THAT THE EXISTENCE OF MORAL EVIL (I.E., EVIL PRODUCED BY MEN) IS COMPATIBLE WITH THE EXISTENCE OF GOD. TO DO THIS IT MUST CLAIM THAT IT IS GOOD THAT MEN HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO BRING ABOUT EITHER GOOD OR EVIL. TO HAVE THIS OPPORTUNITY, THEY MUST KNOW HOW TO BRING ABOUT EVIL. GOD COULD TELL THEM, BUT THAT WOULD MAKE HIS PRESENCE SO MANIFEST AS TO IMPAIR THEIR FREEDOM. THE ONLY OTHER WAY IN (...) WHICH THEY COULD ACQUIRE THAT KNOWLEDGE IS BY SEEING THAT CERTAIN NATURAL PROCESSES BRING ABOUT EVIL EFFECTS. BUT THAT MEANS THAT THERE MUST BE NATURAL EVIL IF MEN ARE TO HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO BRING ABOUT MORAL EVIL. (shrink)
Events are the instantiations of properties in substances at times. A full history of the world must include, as well as physical events, mental events (ones to which the substance involved has privileged access) and mental substances (ones to the existence of which the substance has privileged access), and, among the latter, pure mental substances (ones which do not include a physical substance as an essential part). Humans are pure mental substances. An argument for this is that it seems conceivable (...) that I could exist without my body. An objection to this argument is that ’I’ refers to my body, and so what seems conceivable is not metaphysically possible. My response to this objection is that ’I’ is an informative designator and so necessarily we know to what it refers, and it does not refer to my body. (shrink)
EMPIRICIST THEORIES OF PERSONAL IDENTITY STATE THAT THE IDENTITY OF A PERSON OVER TIME IS A MATTER OF BODILY CONTINUITY AND/OR SIMILARITY OF MEMORY AND CHARACTER. IN CONTRAST, THIS PAPER ARGUES THAT WHILE BODILY CONTINUITY AND SIMILARITY OF MEMORY AND CHARACTER ARE EVIDENCE OF PERSONAL IDENTITY, THEY DO NOT CONSTITUTE IT. IT IS SOMETHING UNDEFINABLE. THE DIFFICULTY OF KNOWING WHAT TO SAY IN PUZZLE CASES DOES NOT SHOW THAT PERSONAL IDENTITY EXISTS IN DIFFERENT DEGREES OR THAT WE HAVE TO MAKE (...) ARBITRARY JUDGMENTS ABOUT IT. IT SHOWS ONLY THAT SOMETIMES WE CANNOT KNOW WHO IS WHO. (shrink)
I have argued in many places that a carefully articulated version of Descartes’s argument to show that he is essentially an immaterial soul is sound. It is conceivable that I who am currently conscious continue to exist without my body, and that can only be if there is currently a nonbodily part of me which alone is essential for me. Recent counterarguments of Alston and Smythe, Moser and van der Nat, Zimmerman, and Shoemaker are rejected.
A THEIST NEEDS A THEODICY, AN ACCOUNT FOR EACH KNOWN KIND OF EVIL OF HOW IT IS PROBABLE THAT IT SERVES A GREATER GOOD, IF HIS BELIEF IN GOD IS TO BE RATIONAL--UNLESS EITHER HE HAS OTHER EVIDENCE FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD WHICH OUTWEIGHS THE COUNTEREVIDENCE FROM EVIL, OR HE HAS FOUND THE RESEARCH PROGRAMME OF THEODICY PROGRESSIVE. IT IS NOT ENOUGH, CONTRARY TO WYKSTRA AND PLANTINGA, TO CLAIM THAT GOD MAY BE PURSUING GREATER GOODS BEYOND OUR UNDERSTANDING. HOW (...) EVIDENCE FUNCTIONS HERE IS WELL CAPTURED BY THE PROBABILITY CALCULUS. (shrink)
Armstrong's theory of laws of nature as relations between universals gives an initially plausible account of why the causal powers of substances are bound together only in certain ways, so that the world is a very regular place. But its resulting theory of causation cannot account for intentional causation, since this involves an agent trying to do something, and trying is causing. This kind of causation is thus a state of an agent and does not involve the operation of a (...) law. It is simpler to suppose that non-intentional causing is also causing by substances (and not events) in virtue of their powers to act. That raises again the question of why their powers are bound together only in certain ways. The most probable answer is that God, the simplest kind of person there could be, brings this about because it is necessary for the existence of finite rational creatures such as ourselves. (shrink)
In response to Michael Bradley, I summarize my account of the criteria by which the various data of natural theology increase the probability of theism and together make it probable. I explain the sense in which a simpler theory leaves less to be explained, justify my claim that God’s perfect goodness is entailed by his other divine properties, and show that not merely is theism simpler than Bradley’s ’Epicurean hypothesis’, but that the ’mixed’ data of natural theology are more to (...) be expected given theism than given the ’Epicurean hypothesis’. (shrink)
I DEFEND IN DETAIL AN EXPOSITION OF THE ARGUMENT FROM DESIGN IN "PHILOSOPHY" 1968 AGAINST A. OLDING’S RECENT ATTACK IN RELIGIOUS STUDIES. I JUSTIFY THE DUALISM UNDERLYING THE ORIGINAL EXPOSITION. I FIND OLDING GUILTY OF TWO INTERESTING FALLACIES OF INDUCTIVE LOGIC - THE SUPERSIMILARITY FALLACY (POSTULATING IN AN ARGUMENT FROM ANALOGY SIMILARITIES OF CAUSES IN RESPECTS IN WHICH DIFFERENCES OF EFFECTS SUGGEST DIFFERENCES OF CAUSES) AND THE COMPLETIST FALLACY (CLAIMING THAT AN EXPLANATION OF E BY C IS IMPERFECT UNLESS THE (...) EXISTENCE OF C AND HOW C CAUSES E CAN ALSO BE EXPLAINED). (shrink)
THE OBJECTIVIST CLAIMS THAT MORAL JUDGMENTS ARE STATEMENTS WHICH ARE TRUE OR FALSE. HE MAY BE A NATURALIST OR AN ANTI-NATURALIST. IF A NATURALIST, HE MAY MAINTAIN EITHER THAT MORAL PROPERTIES ARE NATURAL PROPERTIES, OR THAT, THOUGH MORAL PROPERTIES ARE DISTINCT FROM NATURAL PROPERTIES, POSSESSION OF NATURAL PROPERTIES SOMETIMES ENTAILS POSSESSION OF MORAL PROPERTIES. THE ONLY PLAUSIBLE OBJECTIVIST POSITION IS THE LATTER FORM OF NATURALISM. VARIOUS ARGUMENTS AGAINST OBJECTIVISM ARE CONSIDERED, INCLUDING THE ARGUMENT THAT MORAL MATTERS CANNOT BE SETTLED BY (...) ARGUMENT AND THE ARGUMENT THAT AGREEMENT ABOUT MORAL MATTERS INVOLVES AGREEMENT IN ATTITUDE, WHEREAS AGREEMENT ABOUT FACTUAL MATTERS DOES NOT. ALL THESE ARGUMENTS ARE SHOWN TO FAIL. FINALLY A POSITIVE ARGUMENT IN FAVOR OF OBJECTIVISM IS PUT FORWARD. (shrink)
CAN A COHERENT ACCOUNT BE PROVIDED OF WHAT IT IS FOR A BEING TO BE OMNIPOTENT, WHICH BRINGS OUT WHAT THEISTS HAVE WANTED TO SAY WHEN THEY CLAIM THAT GOD IS OMNIPOTENT? IT IS ARGUED THAT IT CAN. A BEING S IS SAID TO BE OMNIPOTENT AT A TIME T IF FOR ANY LOGICALLY CONTINGENT STATE OF AFFAIRS X AFTER T, SUCH THAT THE OCCURRENCE OF X AFTER T DOES NOT ENTAIL THAT S DID NOT BRING ABOUT X AT T, (...) S IS ABLE AT T TO BRING ABOUT X. THIS ACCOUNT IS IMMUNE TO DIFFICULTIES SUCH AS THOSE OFFERED BY THE PARADOX OF THE STONE. (shrink)
I give a detailed defence against Grunbaum’s 2004 attack on my Bayesian argument for the existence of God from various features of the universe (its conformity to simple laws, the laws being such as to lead to the evolution of humans, etc.). Theism postulates the simplest possible stopping point for explanation of the various features which I mention, and is such that it makes the accounts of those features more probable than they would be otherwise.
Given four modest verificationist theses, tying the meaning of talk about instants and periods to the events which (physically) could occur during, before or after them, the only content to the claim the Universe had a beginning (applicable equally to chaotic or orderly universes) is in terms of it being preceded by empty time. It follows that time cannot have a beginning. The Universe, however, could have a beginning--even if it has lasted for an infinite time.
CONTRARY TO GOODMAN’S VIEW, A CLEAR DISTINCTION CAN BE MADE BETWEEN QUALITATIVE AND POSITIONAL PREDICATES. HENCE WE CAN EXPLAIN THAT WE OUGHT TO PROJECT ’GREEN’ RATHER THAN ’GRUE’ BECAUSE THE LATTER IS A POSITIONAL PREDICATE, RATHER THAN BECAUSE THE LATTER IS LESS WELL ENTRENCHED. A PREDICATE IS POSITIONAL IF, TO FIND OUT AS CERTAINLY AS WE CAN WHETHER IT APPLIES TO AN OBJECT, WE HAVE TO FIND OUT THE LATTER’S SPATIO-TEMPORAL LOCATION.
THERE IS A CLEAR DISTINCTION BETWEEN ANALYTIC AND SYNTHETIC SENTENCES IF WE DEFINE AN ANALYTIC SENTENCE AS ONE WHICH ENTAILS A SELF-CONTRADICTION. THE PAPER SHOWS THAT ALTHOUGH THIS DEFINES "ANALYTIC" BY TERMS WHICH ARE THEMSELVES ALSO MODAL TERMS, THESE LATTER TERMS CAN BE EXPLAINED BY DEFINITIONS USING LESS TECHNICAL TERMS AND BY EXAMPLES, IN SUCH A WAY AS TO GIVE "ANALYTIC" AS CLEAR A MEANING AS IS POSSESSED BY MOST OTHER TERMS OF OUR LANGUAGE. THE FACT THAT THERE ARE BORDER-LINE (...) CASES OF ANALYTIC SENTENCES, AND THAT APPARENTLY SOME OBVIOUS CASES OF ANALYTIC SENTENCES TURN OUT TO BE SYNTHETIC IS NO GOOD OBJECTION TO THE CLARITY OF THE DISTINCTION. IF WE DEFINE AN ANALYTIC SENTENCE AS ONE REDUCIBLE TO A TRUTH OF LOGIC BY SUBSTITUTION OF SYNONYMS, THIS DEFINITION PICKS OUT A DIFFERENT CLASS OF SENTENCES AS ANALYTIC, BUT IT ALSO ALLOWS US TO MAKE A CLEAR DISTINCTION BETWEEN THE ANALYTIC AND THE SYNTHETIC. (shrink)
MANY WRITERS HAVE WISHED TO DISTINGUISH, WITH RESPECT TO CLAIMS ABOUT SPACE AND TIME, BETWEEN MATTERS OF FACT AND MATTERS OF CONVENTION--TO SAY, FOR EXAMPLE, THAT IT IS A MATTER OF FACT WHETHER TWO RODS AT THE SAME PLACE ARE CONGRUENT, BUT A MATTER OF CONVENTION WHETHER TWO RODS AT DIFFERENT PLACES ARE CONGRUENT. ANY ATTEMPT TO DETERMINE WHICH STATEMENTS ARE MATTERS OF CONVENTION WILL RELY ON SOME VERIFICATIONIST DOCTRINE. YET DIFFERENT VERIFICATIONIST DOCTRINES DIFFER IN PLAUSIBILITY AND YIELD DIFFERENT RESULTS. (...) THE ONLY SATISFACTORY WAY TO DETERMINE WHETHER A STATEMENT CONCERNS MATTER OF FACT, IS BY SPELLING OUT ITS CONSEQUENCES, NOT BY INVESTIGATING HOW IT CAN BE VERIFIED. (shrink)
Theism is a far simpler hypothesis, and so a priori more probably true, than naturalism, understood as the hypothesis that the existence of this law-governed universe has no explanation. Theism postulates only one entity (God) with very simple properties, whereas naturalism has to postulate either innumerable entities all having the same properties, or one very complicated entity with the power to produce the former. If theism is true, it is moderately probable that God would create humanoid beings and so humanoid (...) bodies; but laws of nature would have to have very special properties if they are to bring about the existence of humanoid bodies. Given laws of the present form, the constants of the laws and variables of the boundary conditions of the universe would need to be extremely fine-tuned. So the evidence of the existence of humanoid bodies adds further to the probability of theism as against naturalism. (edited). (shrink)
EVENTS CONSIST IN THE INSTANTIATION OF PROPERTIES IN SUBSTANCES. TWO WORDS WHICH RIGIDLY DESIGNATE PROPERTIES, PICK OUT THE SAME PROPERTIES, NOT JUST BECAUSE THE TWO PROPERTIES HAVE THE SAME CAUSES OR EFFECTS, BUT IF AND ONLY IF THE WORDS MEAN THE SAME. IT FOLLOWS THAT HAVING A RED AFTER IMAGE AND HAVING C-FIBRES FIRE ARE DIFFERENT PROPERTIES. ALTHOUGH THE INSTANTIATION OF TWO DIFFERENT PROPERTIES IN A SUBSTANCE MAY CONSTITUTE THE SAME EVENT, THAT WILL BE SO ONLY IF (IN GOLDMAN’S TERMINOLOGY) (...) THE INSTANTIATION OF THE ONE LEVEL-GENERATES THE INSTANTIATION OF THE OTHER. THIS DOES NOT HOLD IN THE CASE OF MENTAL AND BRAIN EVENTS. (shrink)
IN REPLY TO J L MACKIE’S CRITICISMS OF MY "THE EXISTENCE OF GOD", I CLAIM THAT A PERSONAL EXPLANATION OF THE ORDER OF THE UNIVERSE IS IN ITSELF A VERY SIMPLE ONE AND FOR THAT REASON LIKELY TO BE TRUE, EVEN IF HUMAN PURPOSES ARE NORMALLY EXECUTED VIA A COMPLICATED MECHANISM.
In response to Peter Byrne’s critical notice of my book "Revelation", I argue that if God is to put us in a position freely to choose to seek Him, we need some propositional revelation (about what he is like and how to worship him), but also some scope for sorting out the implications of that revelation. Both of these aims are satisfied if the Christian Bible with the normal tradition of how to interpret it are the vehicle of revelation.
THERE COULD BE MORE THAN ONE GOD (DEFINED BY THE NORMAL DIVINE PREDICATES), ONLY IF A FIRST GOD BRINGS ABOUT (FROM ETERNITY) A SECOND GOD, AND THE FIRST TWO BRING ABOUT A THIRD GOD. IN ORDER TO EVINCE THE GOODNESS OF SHARING AND COOPERATING IN SHARING, THEY WILL DO THIS NECESSARILY. BUT THEY DO NOT HAVE TO PRODUCE A FOURTH GOD; AND SINCE A GOD MUST EXIST NECESSARILY IF AT ALL, THERE WILL BE AND CAN BE ONLY THREE GODS. BUT (...) SINCE THEY MUTUALLY SUSTAIN EACH OTHER, THEY FORM A TRINITY. (shrink)
Two sentences express the same proposition if they are synonymous; they express the same statement if they attribute the same properties to the same objects at the same time (however objects and times are picked out). Neither propositions nor statements are necessary a posteriori. Suggested examples of the necessary a posteriori, such as "Hesperus is Phosphorus", or "water is H2O", only appear to be such because of a confusion between proposition and statement.
This paper comments on the other papers in this special issue of ’Faith and Philosophy’ on natural theology. It claims that most people today need both bare natural theology (to show that there is a God) and ramified natural theology (to establish detailed doctrinal claims), and that Christian tradition has generally claimed that cogent arguments of natural theology (of both kinds) are available. Plantinga’s "dwindling probabilities" objection against ramified natural theology is shown to have no force when different pieces of (...) evidence are fed into the arguments at different stages. But showing the cogency of arguments of natural theology involves the lengthy process of helping people to see the correctness of certain moral views. (shrink)
ACCORDING TO POPPER, SCIENTIFIC THEORIES ARE TO BE ACCEPTED IN SO FAR AS THEY ARE FALSIFIABLE AND IN SO FAR AS THEY HAVE BEEN CORROBORATED. THE CONCEPTS OF FALSIFIABILITY AND CORROBORATION ARE SUBMITTED TO DETAILED ANALYSIS. THE POINT OF ACCEPTING THEORIES, ACCORDING TO POPPER, IS TO OBTAIN THEORIES OF HIGH VERISIMILITUDE. HOWEVER THE BEST WE CAN DO IS TO OBTAIN THEORIES OF HIGH PROBABLE VERISIMILITUDE. POPPER’S CRITERIA FOR ACCEPTING THEORIES WILL ONLY LEAD TO THEORIES OF HIGH PROBABLE VERISIMILITUDE ON NON-POPPERIAN (...) ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT INDUCTION. (shrink)
THERE IS OFTEN UNCERTAINTY ABOUT WHETHER SOME PREDICATE APPLIES TO SOME PHYSICAL OBJECT OR STATE. THIS UNCERTAINTY MAY HAVE ANY OF THREE SOURCES - VAGUENESS OF A TERM, INEXACTNESS OF A CONCEPT, OR PRACTICAL DIFFICULTY IN DETERMINING ITS APPLICABILITY. VARIOUS WAYS IN WHICH CONCEPTUAL INEXACTNESS OR PRACTICAL DIFFICULTY MAY PRODUCE UNCERTAINTY ARE DISTINGUISHED. NEITHER TERMINOLOGICAL VAGUENESS, NOR PRACTICAL DIFFICULTY IN DETERMINING THE APPLICABILITY OF A CONCEPT ARE NECESSARY FEATURES OF EVERY LANGUAGE IN EVERY PHYSICAL WORLD, BUT CONCEPTUAL INEXACTNESS IS A (...) NECESSARY FEATURE OF EMPIRICAL CONCEPTS. THESE RESULTS ARE UTILIZED TO DETERMINE THE SOURCES AND NECESSITY OF IMPRECISION IN MEASUREMENT. (shrink)
Hasker’s claim that my modal argument for substance dualism is epistemically circular is implausible. Someone can accept Premise 2 (which, Hasker claims, is the premise which generates the circularity) without ever understanding the conclusion, or without accepting Premise 3.
DESIRES ARE INVOLUNTARY MENTAL READINESSES TO DO ACTIONS INDEPENDENTLY OF BELIEFS ABOUT THEIR WORTH. AGENTS OFTEN HAVE A CHOICE WHETHER TO DO THE ACTION BELIEVED BEST OR TO YIELD TO DESIRE TO DO AN ACTION BELIEVED LESS GOOD. ENJOYMENT CONSISTS IN THE SATISFACTION OF DESIRE. ALTHOUGH DESIRES ARE AT ANY GIVEN MOMENT INVOLUNTARY, AN AGENT CAN TAKE STEPS TO CHANGE HIS FUTURE DESIRES.
IF "ALL A’S ARE B" AND "ALL A’S ARE C" ARE BOTH EQUALLY WELL SUPPORTED BY OBSERVATIONS SO FAR, YET YIELD CONFLICTING PREDICTIONS, WHICH OUGHT WE TO ADOPT? GOODMAN’S CONFLICT BETWEEN "ALL EMERALDS ARE GREEN" AND "ALL EMERALDS ARE GRUE" IS A SPECIAL CASE OF SUCH CONFLICT, WHICH MAY BE DEALT WITH BY A RULE STATING THAT WE OUGHT NOT TO PROJECT POSITIONAL IN PREFERENCE TO QUALITATIVE PREDICATES. THIS PAPER ATTEMPTS TO ELUCIDATE THE RULES GOVERNING A LARGER CLASS OF SUCH (...) CONFLICTS, IN CASES WHERE ONE PREDICATE B IS "EPISTEMOLOGICALLY PRIOR" TO ANOTHER ONE C. (shrink)
The deepest beliefs’ about personal identity whose consequences Unger seeks to draw out are the beliefs of those who already share his theoretical convictions; and his pain-avoidance’ experiments show nothing unless one already assumes those convictions. If there is a risk’ that I may not survive a brain operation even though I know exactly which chunks of brain will be removed and replaced, that shows that I am a separate thing from my body and brain, about which the latter provide (...) normally reliable, but still fallible evidence. (shrink)
ON WHAT GROUNDS OUGHT WE TO CHOOSE BETWEEN COMPETING CONFIRMATION THEORIES? THE ARTICLE BEGINS BY DISTINGUISHING BETWEEN CONFIRMATION THEORIES AND OTHER THEORIES WHICH MIGHT BE CONFUSED WITH THEM, SUCH AS THEORIES OF ACCEPTABILITY. IT THEN ARGUES THAT A CONFIRMATION THEORY OUGHT TO ANALYSE RATHER THAN EXPLICATE OUR ORDINARY STANDARDS OF CONFIRMATION. IT WILL DO THIS IN SO FAR AS IT IS COHERENT AND DOES NOT YIELD COUNTERINTUITIVE JUDGMENTS.
Contrary to Grunbaum’s BJPS 2000 criticism of my natural theology, there are objective a priori criteria for how far evidence renders a hypothesis probable. These include the simplicity of the hypothesis and how far it makes probable the evidence. Theism is a simple hypothesis and, in virtue of God’s perfect goodness, we have some reason to suppose that he will bring about an orderly world in which there are humans. Hence, the existence of such a world is evidence for the (...) existence of God. (shrink)
CENTRAL TO COHEN’S NEW THEORY OF INDUCTION IS THE CLAIM THAT THE SUPPORT GIVEN BY EVIDENCE TO A HYPOTHESIS IS NOT A FUNCTION WHICH OBEYS THE AXIOMS OF THE PROBABILITY CALCULUS. THIS CLAIM DEPENDS ON THE TRUTH OF COHEN’S INSTANTIAL COMPARABILITY PRINCIPLE. UNDER NATURAL INTERPRETATIONS OF ’SUPPORT’, THIS PRINCIPLE IS FALSE. EVEN IF IT IS TRUE UNDER OTHER INTERPRETATIONS OF ’SUPPORT’, THAT DOES NOT SHOW THAT CONFIRMATION IN CARNAP’S SENSE DOES NOT OBEY THE AXIOMS.
Stump and Kretzmann object to my argument for substance dualism on the ground that its statement involves an implausibly stringent understanding of a hard fact about a time as one whose truth conditions lie solely at that time. I am, however, entitled to my own definitions and there is a simple reason why the "standard examples" of hard facts which they provide do not satisfy my definition--they all concern instants and not periods of time.
IF WE CAN EXPLAIN CAUSALLY EACH EVENT OF A SERIES, CAN WE THEREBY EXPLAIN CAUSALLY THE WHOLE SERIES? THE PRINCIPLES DEVELOPED IN ANSWER TO THIS QUESTION ENTAIL THAT EVEN IF WE CAN EXPLAIN CAUSALLY THE OCCURRENCE OF THE STATE OF THE UNIVERSE AT EACH TEMPORAL INSTANT, THAT DOES NOT MEAN THAT WE CAN EXPLAIN CAUSALLY THE OCCURRENCE OF ALL THOSE STATES.
THIS ARTICLE EXAMINES THE CONFIRMATIONIST PRINCIPLE, THAT A STATEMENT IS FACTUALLY MEANINGFUL IF AND ONLY IF IT IS AN OBSERVATION-STATEMENT, OR THERE ARE OBSERVATION STATEMENTS WHICH WOULD CONFIRM OR DISCONFIRM IT. THIS PRINCIPLE IS THE FINAL WEAK CLAIM OF VERIFICATIONISM. EVEN IF TRUE, IT WOULD NOT BE OF GREAT USE IN SORTING OUT THE MEANINGFUL FROM THE MEANINGFULNESS, BUT IT IS SHOWN CONCLUSIVELY TO BE FALSE. A CLAIM THAT THERE IS A DISCREPANCY BETWEEN THE BEST EVIDENCE THAT MEN WILL EVER (...) HAVE ABOUT WHETHER SOME STATE OF AFFAIRS HOLDS AND WHETHER IT DOES HOLD IS FACTUALLY MEANINGFUL BUT NEITHER CONFIRMABLE NOR DISCONFIRMABLE. (shrink)
HORIZONS ARE FRONTIERS BETWEEN THINGS OBSERVABLE AND THINGS UNOBSERVABLE. EVEN IS SUCH HORIZONS EXIST WE MAY LEARN ABOUT UNOBSERVABLE REGIONS OF THE UNIVERSE BY, (A) USING THE LAWS OF PHYSICS WHICH TELL US HOW A PRESENTLY OBSERVABLE GALAXY WILL EVOLVE WHEN NO LONGER OBSERVABLE OR, (B) USING THE COSMOLOGICAL PRINCIPLE.