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Profile: Stephen Maitzen (Acadia University)
  1. Stephen Maitzen (forthcoming). Agnosticism, Skeptical Theism, and Moral Obligation. In Trent G. Dougherty & Justin P. McBrayer (eds.), Skeptical Theism: New Essays. Oxford University Press.
    Skeptical theism combines theism with skepticism about our capacity to discern God’s morally sufficient reasons for permitting evil. Proponents have claimed that skeptical theism defeats the evidential argument from evil. Many opponents have objected that it implies untenable moral skepticism, induces appalling moral paralysis, and the like. Recently Daniel Howard-Snyder has tried to rebut this prevalent objection to skeptical theism by rebutting it as an objection to the skeptical part of skeptical theism, which part he labels “Agnosticism” (with an intentionally (...)
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  2. Stephen Maitzen (2014). How Not to Argue From Science to Skepticism. International Journal for the Study of Skepticism 4 (1):21-35.
    For at least several decades, and arguably since the time of Descartes, it has been fashionable to offer scientific or quasi-scientific arguments for skepticism about human knowledge. I critique five attempts to argue for skeptical conclusions from the findings of science and scientifically informed common sense.
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  3. Stephen Maitzen (2013). Atheism and the Basis of Morality. In A. W. Musschenga & Anton van Harskamp (eds.), What Makes Us Moral? Springer. 257-269.
    People in many parts of the world link morality with God and see good ethical values as an important benefit of theistic belief. A recent survey showed that Americans, for example, distrust atheists more than any other group listed in the survey, this distrust stemming mainly from the conviction that only believers in God can be counted on to respect morality. I argue against this widespread tendency to see theism as the friend of morality. I argue that our most serious (...)
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  4. Stephen Maitzen (2013). Questioning the Question. In Tyron Goldschmidt (ed.), The Puzzle of Existence: Why is There Something Rather than Nothing? Routledge. 252-271.
    Why is there something rather than nothing? Apparently many people regard that question as a challenge to naturalism because they think it’s too fundamental or too sweeping for natural science to answer, even in principle. I argue, on the contrary, that the question has a simple and adequate naturalistic answer: ‘Because there are penguins.’ I then diagnose various confusions underlying the suspicion that the question can’t have such an answer and, more generally, that the question, or else some variant of (...)
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  5. Stephen Maitzen (2013). The Moral Skepticism Objection to Skeptical Theism. In Justin McBrayer & Daniel Howard-Snyder (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to the Problem of Evil. Wiley-Blackwell. 444--457.
  6. Stephen Maitzen (2012). Stop Asking Why There's Anything. Erkenntnis 77 (1):51-63.
    Why is there anything, rather than nothing at all? This question often serves as a debating tactic used by theists to attack naturalism. Many people apparently regard the question—couched in such stark, general terms—as too profound for natural science to answer. It is unanswerable by science, I argue, not because it’s profound or because science is superficial but because the question, as it stands, is ill-posed and hence has no answer in the first place. In any form in which it (...)
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  7. Stephen Maitzen (2010). A Dilemma for Skeptics. Teorema 29 (1):23-34.
    Some of the most enduring skeptical arguments invoke stories of deception -- the evil demon, convincing dreams, an envatted brain, the Matrix -- in order to show that we have no first-order knowledge of the external world. I confront such arguments with a dilemma: either (1) they establish no more than the logical possibility of error, in which case they fail to threaten fallible knowledge, the only kind of knowledge of the external world most of us think we have anyway; (...)
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  8. Stephen Maitzen (2010). On Gellman's Attempted Rescue. European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 2 (1):193 - 198.
    In "Ordinary Morality Implies Atheism" (2009), I argued that traditional theism threatens ordinary morality by relieving us of any moral obligation to prevent horrific suffering by innocent people even when we easily can. In the current issue of this journal, Jerome Gellman attempts to rescue that moral obligation from my charge that theism destroys it. In this reply, I argue that his attempted rescue fails.
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  9. Stephen Maitzen (2010). Review of Paul K. Moser, The Elusive God: Reorienting Religious Epistemology. [REVIEW] Sophia 49 (1):149-151.
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  10. Stephen Maitzen (2009). Ordinary Morality Implies Atheism. European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 1 (2):107 - 126.
    I present a "moral argument" for the nonexistence of God. Theism, I argue, can’t accommodate an ordinary and fundamental moral obligation acknowledged by many people, including many theists. My argument turns on a principle that a number of philosophers already accept as a constraint on God’s treatment of human beings. I defend the principle against objections from those inclined to reject it.
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  11. Stephen Maitzen (2009). Skeptical Theism and Moral Obligation. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 65 (2):93 - 103.
    Skeptical theism claims that the probability of a perfect God’s existence isn’t at all reduced by our failure to see how such a God could allow the horrific suffering that occurs in our world. Given our finite grasp of the realm of value, skeptical theists argue, it shouldn’t surprise us that we fail to see the reasons that justify God in allowing such suffering, and thus our failure to see those reasons is no evidence against God’s existence or perfection. Critics (...)
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  12. Stephen Maitzen (2008). Anti-Autonomism Defended: A Reply to Hill. Philosophia 36 (4):567-574.
    In the current issue of this journal, Scott Hill critiques some of my work on the “is”-“ought” controversy, the Hume-inspired debate over whether an ethical conclusion can be soundly, or even validly, derived from only non-ethical premises. I’ve argued that it can be; Hill is unconvinced. I reply to Hill’s critique, focusing on four key questions to which he and I give different answers.
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  13. Stephen Maitzen (2008). Does Molinism Explain the Demographics of Theism? Religious Studies 44 (4):473-477.
    I reply to Jason Marsh's discussion of my article 'Divine hiddenness and the demographics of theism'. For several reasons, Marsh's inventive Molinist explanation of the lopsided worldwide distribution of theistic believers does not threaten the conclusion I argued for originally: theistic explanations of that distribution are implausible on even their own terms and in any case less plausible than naturalistic ones.
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  14. Stephen Maitzen (2008). The Cambridge Companion to Atheism. Social Theory and Practice 34 (2):293-299.
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  15. Andrew Graham & Stephen Maitzen (2007). Cornea and Closure. Faith and Philosophy 24 (1):83-86.
    Could our observations of apparently pointless evil ever justify the conclusion that God does not exist? Not according to Stephen Wykstra, who several years ago announced the “Condition of Reasonable Epistemic Access,” or “CORNEA,” a principle that has sustained critiques of atheistic arguments from evil ever since. Despite numerous criticisms aimed at CORNEA in recent years, the principle continues to be invoked and defended. We raise a new objection: CORNEA is false because it entails intolerable violations of closure.
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  16. Stephen Maitzen (2007). Cornea and Closure. Faith and Philosophy 24 (1):83-86.
    Could our observations of apparently pointless evil ever justify the conclusion that God does not exist? Not according to Stephen Wykstra, who several years ago announced the “Condition of Reasonable Epistemic Access,” or “CORNEA,” a principle that has sustained critiques of atheistic arguments from evil ever since. Despite numerous criticisms aimed at CORNEA in recent years, the principle continues to be invoked and defended. We raise a new objection: CORNEA is false because it entails intolerable violations of closure.
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  17. Stephen Maitzen (2007). Skeptical Theism and God's Commands. Sophia 46 (3):237-243.
    According to Michael Almeida and Graham Oppy, adherents of skeptical theism will find their sense of moral obligation undermined in a potentially ‘appalling’ way. Michael Bergmann and Michael Rea disagree, claiming that God’s commands provide skeptical theists with a source of moral obligation that withstands the skepticism in skeptical theism. I argue that Bergmann and Rea are mistaken: skeptical theists cannot consistently rely on what they take to be God’s commands.
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  18. Stephen Maitzen (2006). Divine Hiddenness and the Demographics of Theism. Religious Studies 42 (2):177-191.
    According to the much-discussed argument from divine hiddenness, God's existence is disconfirmed by the fact that not everyone believes in God. The argument has provoked an impressive range of theistic replies, but none has overcome the challenge posed by the unevendistribution of theistic belief around the world, a phenomenon for which naturalistic explanations seem more promising. The confound any explanation of why non-belief is always blameworthy or of why God allows blameless non-belief. They also cast doubt on the existence of (...)
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  19. Stephen Maitzen (2006). The Impossibility of Local Skepticism. Philosophia 34 (4):453-464.
    According to global skepticism, we know nothing. According to local skepticism, we know nothing in some particular area or domain of discourse. Unlike their global counterparts, local skeptics think they can contain our invincible ignorance within limited bounds. I argue that they are mistaken. Local skepticism, particularly the kinds that most often get defended, cannot stay local: if there are domains whose truths we cannot know, then there must be claims outside those domains that we cannot know even if they (...)
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  20. Stephen Maitzen (2005). Anselmian Atheism. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 70 (1):225–239.
    On the basis of Chapter 15 of Anselm's Proslogion, I develop an argument that confronts theology with a trilemma: atheism, utter mysticism, or radical anti-Anselmianism. The argument establishes a disjunction of claims that Anselmians in particular, but not only they, will find disturbing: (a) God does not exist, (b) no human being can have even the slightest conception of God, or (c) the Anselmian requirement of maximal greatness in God is wrong. My own view, for which I argue briefly, is (...)
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  21. Stephen Maitzen (2004). A Semantic Attack on Divine-Command Metaethics. Sophia 43 (2):15-28.
    According to divine-command metaethics (DCM), whatever is morally good or right has that status because, and only because, it conforms to God’s will. I argue that DCM is false or vacuous: either DCM is false, or else there are no instantiated moral properties, and no moral truths, to which DCM can even apply. The sort of criticism I offer is familiar, but I develop it in what I believe is a novel way.
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  22. Stephen Maitzen & Garnett Wilson (2003). Newcomb's Hidden Regress. Theory and Decision 54 (2):151-162.
    Newcomb's problem supposedly involves your choosing one or else two boxes in circumstances in which a predictor has made a prediction of how many boxes you will choose. We argue that the circumstances which allegedly define Newcomb's problem generate a previously unnoticed regress which shows that Newcomb's problem is insoluble because it is ill-formed. Those who favor, as we do, a ``no-box'' reply to Newcomb's problem typically claim either that the problem's solution is underdetermined or else that it is overdetermined. (...)
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  23. Stephen Maitzen (2002). Kai Nielsen, Naturalism and Religion Reviewed By. Philosophy in Review 22 (5):347-349.
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  24. Stephen Maitzen (2000). C. Stephen Evans, Faith Beyond Reason: A Kierkegaardian Account Reviewed By. Philosophy in Review 20 (2):98-99.
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  25. Stephen Maitzen (1999). Abortion in the Original Position. The Personalist Forum 15 (2):373-388.
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  26. Stephen Maitzen (1998). Closing the "Is"-"Ought" Gap. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 28 (3):349-366.
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  27. Stephen Maitzen (1998). The Knower Paradox and Epistemic Closure. Synthese 114 (2):337-354.
    The Knower Paradox has had a brief but eventful history, and principles of epistemic closure (which say that a subject automatically knows any proposition she knows to be materially implied, or logically entailed, by a proposition she already knows) have been the subject of tremendous debate in epistemic logic and epistemology more generally, especially because the fate of standard arguments for and against skepticism seems to turn on the fate of closure. As far as I can tell, however, no one (...)
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  28. Stephen Maitzen (1997). Belief Policies. Philosophical Review 106 (3):448-450.
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  29. Stephen Maitzen (1996). Linda Martin Alcoff, Real Knowing: New Versions of the Coherence Theory Reviewed By. Philosophy in Review 16 (6):385-387.
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  30. Stephen Maitzen (1995). God and Other Theoretical Entities. Topoi 14 (2):123-134.
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  31. Stephen Maitzen (1995). Our Errant Epistemic Aim. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 55 (4):869-876.
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  32. Stephen Maitzen (1992). Two Views of Religious Certitude. Religious Studies 28 (1):65 - 74.
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  33. Stephen Maitzen (1991). Swinburne on Credal Belief. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 29 (3):143 - 157.
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  34. Stephen Maitzen (1991). The Ethics of Statistical Discrimination. Social Theory and Practice 17 (1):23-45.
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