Evan Fales has recently argued that, although I provide the most promising approach for those concerned to defend belief in divine intervention, I nevertheless fail to show that such belief can be rational. I argue that Fales’ objections are unsuccessful.
Many contemporary thinkers seeking to integrate theistic belief and scientific thought reject what they regard as two extremes. They disavow deism in which God is understood simply to uphold the existence of the physical universe, and they exclude any view of divine influence that suggests the performance of physical work through an immaterial cause. Deism is viewed as theologically inadequate, and acceptance of direct immaterial causation of physical events is viewed as scientifically illegitimate. This desire to avoid both deism and (...) any positing of God as directly intervening in the physical order has led to models of divine agency that seek to defend the reality of divine causal power yet affirm the causal closure of the physical. I argue, negatively, that such models are unsuccessful in their attempts to affirm both the reality of divine causal power acting in the created world and the causal closure of the physical and, positively, that the assumption that underlies these models, namely that any genuine integration of theistic and scientific belief must posit the causal closure of the physical on pain of violating well-established conservation principles, is mistaken. (shrink)
Contemporary commentators on Hume’s essay, "Of Miracles" have increasingly tended to argue that Hume never intended to suggest that testimonial evidence must always be insufficient to justify belief in a miracle. This is in marked contrast to earlier commentators who interpreted Hume as intending to demonstrate that testimonial evidence is incapable in principle of ever establishing rational belief in a miracle. In this article I argue that this traditional interpretation is the correct one.
In his paper "Miracles: Metaphysics, Physics, and Physicalism," Kirk McDermid appears to have two primary goals. The first is to demonstrate that my account of how God might produce a miracle without violating any laws of nature is radically flawed. The second is to suggest two alternative accounts, one suitable for a deterministic world, one suitable for an indeterministic world, which allow for the occurrence of a miracle without violation of the laws of nature, yet do not suffer from the (...) defects of what McDermid terms the ’Larmerian’ model. I briefly describe my model, reply to McDermid’s criticism of it, and evaluate his alternative accounts. (shrink)
Christian Overall and I have been debating whether the occurrence of events traditionally viewed as miracles would constitute evidence for theism. In this article, I make some concluding comments regarding our exchanges. My goal in making these comments is twofold. First, I wish to sketch why I think miracles can function as evidence for God. Second, in the course of our discussion, Overall has ascribed to me claims that I do not make and criticized me on the basis of my (...) holding these views. I feel it is important to set the record straight on several issues. (shrink)
In "Miracles as Evidence Against the Existence of God," (’Southern Journal of Philosophy’, 1985) Christine Overall argued that the occurrence of miracles would constitute evidence against the existence of God, on the grounds that miracles are violations of natural law or permanently inexplicable events and, as such, would be inconsistent with the supposed purposes of God. In ’Water Into Wine?’ (MacGill-Queen’s, 1988), I argued that her argument fails once a more adequate definition of miracle is adopted. In "Miracles and God: (...) A Reply to Robert A.H. Larmer" (’Dialogue’ 1997), Overall attempted to reply to my specific criticisms and to attack central theses of ’Water Into Wine?’. I argue that she is successful in neither endeavor. (shrink)
In a recent article in this journal entitled "The Ethics of Investing", William Irvine argues that what he calls the 'Evil-Company Principle' is an inadequate guide to ethical investing. In its place, he proposes what he calls the 'Enablement Principle'. In reply, I argue that his rejection of the Evil-Company Principle is premature and that his Enablement Principle presupposes acceptance of the Evil-Company Principle.
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In his article The Moral Responsibility of Corporate Executives for Disasters, John Bishop has argued that we are justified on moral considerations for holding corporate executives responsible for disasters resulting from corporate activities, even in circumstances where they could not reasonably have been expected to possess the information necessary to avert these disasters. I argue that he is mistaken in this claim.
Discussions of whistleblowing and employee loyalty usually assume either that the concept of loyalty is irrelevant to the issue or, more commonly, that whistleblowing involves a moral choice in which the loyalty that an employee owes an employer comes to be pitted against the employee''s responsibility to serve public interest. I argue that both these views are mistaken and propose a third view which sees whistleblowing as entirely compatible with employee loyalty.
In a recent article, Neil MacGill criticizes my claim (See "Water Into Wine", MacGill-Queen’s University Press, 1988) that miracles, understood as a transcendent agent overriding the usual course of nature, can conceivably occur without violating or suspending any of the laws of nature. MacGill feels that my account of miracles implies the violation of at least one law of nature, the Principle of the Conservation of Energy. In my reply, I point out that he is mistaken and that my original (...) claim has not, therefore, been refuted. (shrink)
IN HIS ARTICLE "MIRACLES AND NATURAL EXPLANATION" DAVID BASINGER TAKES ISSUE WITH THE CLAIM I ADVANCED IN MY EARLIER ARTICLE "MIRACLES AND CRITERIA" THAT ONLY A DOGMATIC AND UNCRITICAL ASSUMPTION THAT NATURE IS IN FACT AN ISOLATED SYSTEM CAN EXPLAIN THE INSISTENCE OF SOME PHILOSOPHERS THAT, NO MATTER WHAT THE EVENT AND NO MATTER WHAT THE CONTEXT IN WHICH IT OCCURS, IT IS ALWAYS MORE RATIONAL TO LIVE IN THE FAITH THAT SUCH AN EVENT HAS A NATURAL EXPLANATION RATHER THAN (...) BELIEVE IT A MIRACLE. BASINGER URGES THAT MY ARGUMENT CONTAINS TWO BASIC CONFUSIONS. IN REPLY, I ARGUE THAT BOTH HIS OBJECTIONS ARE MISTAKEN. (shrink)
IN HIS RECENT ARTICLE "AGAINST MIRACLES" ("DIALOGUE" 25, 349-352, SUMMER 1986) JOHN COLLIER CRITICIZES MY CLAIM THAT MIRACLES, I.E., OVERRIDINGS OF NATURE BY A TRANSCENDENT AGENT, CAN TAKE PLACE IN A WORLD WHICH BEHAVES COMPLETELY IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE LAWS OF NATURE ("MIRACLES AND THE LAWS OF NATURE," "DIALOGUE" 24, SUMMER 1985). THE TWO GROUNDS HE GIVES FOR REJECTING MY VIEW ARE (1) THAT I MISUNDERSTAND HUME, AND (2) THAT I MISUNDERSTAND THE PRINCIPLE OF CONSERVATION OF ENERGY. IN REPLY, I (...) ARGUE THAT BOTH HIS OBJECTIONS ARE MISTAKEN AND HE HAS NOT, THEREFORE, REFUTED MY ORIGINAL CLAIM. (shrink)
One of the major reasons underlying the widespread rejection of the theory that the mind is an immaterial substance distinct from the body, But which nevertheless acts on the body, Is that it is felt that such a theory commits one to denying the principle of the conservation of energy. My aim in this article is to assess the strength of this objection. My thesis is that the usual replies are inadequate, But--Strong as this objection appears--Some important logical distinctions have (...) been overlooked and when these are taken into account its force vanishes. (shrink)
I DEFEND THE VIEW THAT MIRACLES, CONSIDERED AS OBJECTIVE EVENTS SPECIALLY CAUSED BY GOD, CAN CONCEIVABLY OCCUR IN A WORLD WHICH BEHAVES, ALWAYS AND EVERYWHERE, COMPLETELY IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE LAWS OF NATURE. GOD, BY CREATING OR ANNIHILATING UNITS OR MASS/ENERGY AND THUS ALTERING THE MATERIAL CONDITIONS TO WHICH THE LAWS APPLY, CAN PRODUCE A MIRACLE WITHOUT VIOLATING ANY OF THE LAWS OF NATURE.
IN "MIRACLES AND CRITERIA" I ARGUE THAT, CONTRARY TO VIEWS OF PHILOSOPHERS SUCH AS GUY ROBINSON, THERE EXIST CRITERIA BY WHICH TO DIFFERENTIATE EVENTS LEGITIMATELY TERMED MIRACLES AND EVENTS BEST INTERPRETED AS MERE INDICES OF AN INADEQUATE UNDERSTANDING OF NATURAL PROCESSES. WHETHER ONE VIEWS AN EXTRAORDINARY EVENT AS A MIRACLE OR AS THE RESULT OF SOME UNKNOWN OR POORLY UNDERSTOOD NATURAL PROCESSES IS NOT, THEREFORE, A MATTER OF WHIM.