This chapter surveys work in meta-ethics in the past fifty years which explicitly deals with issues associated with evil. It discusses two examples from secular discussions: the argument developed by Gilbert Harman on the explanatory role of moral facts, and the argument developed by Gilbert Harman and John Doris on the empirical inadequacy of the virtues. The chapter then turns to two topics related to theistic meta-ethics: the problem of evil and moral realism, and theologicalvoluntarism and evil.
Thanks largely to the work of Robert Adams and Philip Quinn, the second half of the twentieth century witnessed a resurgence of interest in divine command theory as a viable position in normative theory and meta-ethics. More recently, however, there has been some dissatisfaction with divine command theory even among those philosophers who claim that normative properties are grounded in God, and as a result alternative views have begun to emerge, most notably divine intention theory (Murphy, Quinn) and divine motivation (...) theory (Zagzebski). My goal here is to outline a distinct theory, divine desire theory, and suggest that, even if it is not clearly superior to these extant views, it is at least worthy of serious consideration.1 As far as this paper is concerned, the discussion will be limited just to the deontic status of actions (obligatory, permissible, forbidden), and so no attempt will be made to also account for axiological properties such as goodness or evil. In order to get oriented to the range of deontological views in this area, consider the following three rough characterizations. (shrink)
I defend a neo-Kantian view wherein we are capable of being completely autonomous and impartial and argue that this ability can ground normativity. As this view includes an existentialist conception of the self, I defend radical choice, a primary component of that conception, against arguments many take to be definitive. I call the ability to use radical choice “existentialist voluntarism” and bring it into a current debate in normative philosophy, arguing that it allows that we can be distanced from (...) all ends at once so as to be completely impartial. Finally, I indicate how this can be the source of normativity as it provides a purely impartial reason for being rational. (shrink)
Doxastic voluntarism maintains that we have voluntary control over our beliefs. It is generally denied by contemporary philosophers. I argue that doxastic voluntarism is true: normally, and insofar as we are rational, we are able to suspend belief and, provided we have a natural inclination to believe, we are able to rescind that suspension, and thus to choose to believe. I show that the arguments that have been offered against doxastic voluntarism fail; and that, if the denial (...) of doxastic voluntarism is part of a strategy to defeat scepticism, it is inept, because knowledge presupposes doubt. (shrink)
Critics of liberalism in the past two decades have argued that the fact that we are necessarily "situated" or "embedded" means that we can not always choose our own ends (for example, our conceptions of the good or our loyalties to others). Some suggest that we simply discover ourselves with these "connections." If correct, this would argue against (Rawlsian) hypothetical contract models and liberalism more broadly, make true impartiality impossible, and give support to traditionalist views like those of Alasdair MacIntyre, (...) Charles Taylor, and Michael Sandel. These same critics argue that liberalism's rejection or neglect of this supposed fact of our moral life has pernicious anti-social affects. I argue that the critics are wrong in both cases, defending what I call "strong voluntarism." In contrast both to recent critics of liberalism and the dominant trend in recent liberal thought, my defense of strong voluntarism allows that we can always choose to accept or reject any end we happen to have but that this does not lead to any pernicious anti-social effects. (shrink)
Alvin Plantinga defends Theological Compatibilism (TC) and Essential- ism about property possession (E). TC is the claim that human freedom to act otherwise and God’s essential omniscience are compatible, while E is the claim that every individual entity whatsoever has a modal profile consisting in having both essential and accidental properties. I purport to show that, if E is assumed in the argument for TC, then the latter leads to a very puzzling upshot. I also intend to show that, (...) even if TC is suitably fixed in order to avoid that upshot, TC is still unconvincing in that it merges into one the de re and the de dicto rendering of ‘human freedom to act otherwise’; I end up by briefly sketching why the two renderings should instead be kept well apart. (shrink)
Defenders of doxastic voluntarism accept that we can voluntarily commit ourselves to propositions, including belief-contravening propositions. Thus, defenders of doxastic voluntarism allow that we can choose to believe propositions that are negatively implicated by our evidence. In this paper it is argued that the conjunction of epistemic deontology and doxastic voluntarism as it applies to ordinary cases of belief-contravening propositional commitments is incompatible with evidentialism. In this paper ED and DV will be assumed and this negative result (...) will be used to suggest that voluntary belief-contravening commitments are not themselves beliefs and that these sorts of commitments are not governed by evidentialism. So, the apparent incompatibility of the package views noted above can be resolved without ceding evidentialism with respect to beliefs. (shrink)
This paper argues that there is a conflict between two principles informing Locke’s political philosophy, namely his waste restriction and his strong voluntarism. Locke’s waste restriction is proposed as a necessary, enforceable restriction upon rightful private property holdings and it yields arguments to preserve and redistribute natural resources. Locke’s strong voluntarism is proposed as the liberal ideal of political obligations. It expresses Locke’s view that each individual has a natural political power, which can only be transferred to a (...) political body through the individual’s voluntary, actual consent. On this view, the legitimacy of a political power is dependent upon its subjects’ actual consent to its authority. After briefly outlining these two ideas informing Locke’s conception, I argue that we cannot maintain both at the same time. Therefore, contemporary Lockeans must either derive restrictions upon private property concerned with preserving natural resources from other aspects of Locke’s theory or they must accept weak voluntarism as the ideal of political obligations. I argue that both alternatives pose significant problems for the Lockean project. (shrink)
Hans Jonas developed in ‘Past and Truth’ (1991) a demonstration of the existence of God based on the ‘truth of past things’. And in ‘The Concept of God after Auschwitz’ (1984) he created a new myth of divine self-alienation in order to take away God’s responsibility for human misery. Both these texts were conceived as an alternative to a more Hegelian, objective idealist perspective on theology. This article shows that Jonas’s alternative does not fully succeed in this respect because his (...) arguments bring him back to an idealist perspective. His proof of God is revisited and explained using new insights recently developed by Robert Spaemann, whose interpretation of the proof makes it clear that many important critics of Jonas are too quick to reject his claims. The arguments of Jonas now seem to show a new strength even though they still fail to give an alternative to an objective idealist theological framework. (shrink)
ABSTRACT This paper provides an argument against doxastic voluntarism. After discussing the sort of cases adduced by Carl Ginet as clear examples of voluntary belief-acquisition, I propose an alternative explanation based on the notion of acceptance and offer a defence of the belief/acceptance distinction as a consequence of the con-cept of belief. My general contention is: when someone acknowledges some eviden-tial states or doxastic reasons as showing that p, she immediately believes that p. I argue for this immediacy in (...) believing and draw an analogy between believing and un-derstanding. The last sections are devoted to showing the fundamental voluntariness of intention and acceptance, in contrast to belief, and to offering an explanation of ―recalcitrant beliefs‖ within the present framework. (shrink)
I will briefly argue that theological fatalism is not a genuine ‘theological’ problem, for it can be reduced to another alleged incompatibility that arises independently of the existence or non-existence of God. I will conclude that the way of arguing against the existence of God or His omniscience by appealing to theological fatalism is blocked for libertarian atheists.
The primary goal of this essay is to demonstrate that Leibniz’s objections to theologicalvoluntarism are tightly connected to his overarching metaphysical system; a secondary goal is to show that his objections are not without some merit. Leibniz, it is argued, holds to strong versions of the imago dei doctrine, i.e., creatures are made in the image of God, and imitatio dei doctrine, i.e., creatures ought to imitate God. Consequently, God and creatures must possess similar structures of moral (...) psychology, and must be motivated in similar ways. Yet, Leibniz argues, a thoroughgoing voluntarism would obstruct both doctrines in philosophically unsettling ways, impeding the possibility for creatures to genuinely imitate God. (shrink)
In his 1959–1960 seminar on the ethics of psychoanalysis the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan states that one can only fully understand the intellectual (philosophical, ethical) problems Freud addresses when one recognizes the filiation or cultural paternity that exists between him and a new direction of thought represented by Luther. In this article Lacan’s interest in Luther’s theologicalvoluntarism, his conception of God, his articulation of what Lacan identifies as the modern crisis in ethics and his view on the (...) law in relation to desire is presented and analysed. It is argued that Lacan is primarily interested in Luther as a religious author radically expressing the problem of the foundation of moral law and addressing the question how and where a person finds moral orientation after the break with the medieval Aristotelian-scholastic universal order and given man’s sinful desires. (shrink)
Kant famously insisted that “the idea of the will of every rational being as a universally legislative will” is the supreme principle of morality. Recent interpreters have taken this emphasis on the self-legislation of the moral law as evidence that Kant endorsed a distinctively constructivist conception of morality according to which the moral law is a positive law, created by us. But a closer historical examination suggests otherwise. Kant developed his conception of legislation in the context of his opposition to (...)theological voluntarist accounts of morality and his engagement with conceptions of obligation found in his Wolffian predecessors. In order to defend important claims about the necessity and immediacy of moral obligation, Kant drew and refined a distinction between the legislation and authorship of the moral law in a way that precludes standard theological voluntarist theories and presents an obstacle to recent constructivist interpretations. A correct understanding of Kant's development and use of this distinction reveals that his conception of legislation leaves little room for constructivist moral anti-realism. (shrink)
. The global pandemic of HIV/AIDS is the most significant challenge of our time. The ongoing conversation between religion and science comes to a critical juncture in this pandemic. The global community has not yet found a vaccine or cure for this virulent virus, which will likely claim five million more lives in the coming year. The global statistics challenge even the most sophisticated imagination, with projections in the tens of millions of people dead, orphaned children, and many more living (...) in various stages of incapacitation or diminished lives. There is a common prophetic religious imperative among Western faith communities that urgently requires both science and religion to respond. Both disciplines define their scope and purpose as universal, and the global pandemic provides a significant challenge to that universal claim. Regardless of the many differences among the nations and peoples challenged by this pandemic, there is a common moral foundation to which the Western religious and scientific traditions must respond. Religion and science cannot deny their respective social responsibilities by claiming the role of neutral bystander. There are several critical ethical choices to be made in response to the pandemic, and the disciplines of religion and science are critical in formulating those choices. (shrink)
It is the aim of this paper to show that [the theological argument from Divine omniscience] is not more than a needlessly (and confusingly) elaborate version of the argument for fatalism discussed by Aristotle in de Interpretatione 9, which, since its sole premise is the Principle of Bivalence, may conveniently be called the logical argument for fatalism. If this is right, if the theological premisses of the theological argument can be shown to be strictly irrelevant to the (...) fatalist conclusion, then it follows that it is pointless to try to avoid fatalism by modification of those theological premisses. (shrink)
By one of the most prominent interpreters of Leo Strauss's thought, this book is the first to examine the theme that Strauss considered to be key to his entire intellectual enterprise. The theologico-political problem refers to the confrontation between the theological and political alternative to philosophy as a way of life. Heinrich Meier clarifies the distinction between political theology and political philosophy and sheds new light on the unifying center of Strauss' philosophical work. The culmination of his work on (...) the theologico-political problem, it will be of interest to anyone who has followed the debate about American foreign policy since September 11, 2001 and who seeks to understand the challenge posed by political - religious radicalism. This volume also makes available, for the first time, two lectures by Strauss which are directly relevant to this subject and which will pave the way for future research and debate on his legacy. (shrink)
Hermeneutic theory and the study of Jewish theology : toward a new model of Jewish theological language -- Jewish theology as a religious and doxastic practice -- Forms of theological language in Mekhilta of Rabbi Ishmael -- Forms of theological language in Franz Rosenzweig's The star of redemption.
Far from merely reinvigorating relativism, postmodernism has detected and expressed in our time a powerful nihilating process of which truth and reality itself are the final casualties; and with these morality and religion. Beginning from the theological reaches of philosophy, this book argues that gods played a crucial part in modern philosophy, even when it was most critical of them; that the dominant nihilism of Derrida is really an excessive and misleading outcome of a contemporary philosophy which could otherwise (...) resonate with all that is best in our evolutionary image of the universe; that moralists who turn to art in order to overcome the fact-value version of this deadly dualism do not thereby rule out religion; and that a Christian theology which recognises the evolutionary/historical conditions of faith and revelation is once again producing a theology that builds upon the best of contemporary philosophy and science. (shrink)
The cultural transmission of theological concepts remains an underexplored topic in the cognitive science of religion (CSR). In this paper, I examine whether approaches from CSR, especially the study of content biases in the transmission of beliefs, can help explain the cultural success of some theological concepts. This approach reveals that there is more continuity between theological beliefs and ordinary religious beliefs than CSR authors have hitherto recognized: the cultural transmission of theological concepts is influenced by (...) content biases that also underlie the reception of ordinary religious concepts. (shrink)
Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729-81), thinker, dramatist and controversialist of many-sided interests, is the most representative figure of the German Enlightenment. His defence of Spinoza, who had traditionally been condemned as an atheist, provoked a major controversy in philosophy, and his publication of H. S. Reimarus' radical assault on Christianity led to fundamental changes in Protestant theology. This volume presents the most comprehensive collection to date in English of Lessing's philosophical and theological writings, several of which are here translated for (...) the first time. They are edited and translated by H. B. Nisbet, who also provides an introduction that sets them in their historical and philosophical contexts. (shrink)
In a culture where institutional religion is in decline there is a pressing need for new theological strategies. Andrew Shanks argues for a fresh 'theological poetics', providing an eloquent and original first step towards meeting these needs and an alternative strategy for reconciling Christian theology with poetic truth.
In this paper I argue that al Ash'ari was a Theological Determinist whose position on free will and human responsibility was marred by his failure to distinguish between two senses of the word 'can' (yastati'u ). I also compare al Ash'ari's position with that of the Mu'tazilite thinker al Qadi 'Abd al Jabbar. I conclude that their positions may not have been so much opposed to each other as merely different. This, I suggest, should invite us to re evaluate (...) the nature and extent of the disagreement between the Ash'arites and the Mu'tazilites on the free will question. (shrink)
This book represents conversations between philosophers and theologians on several issues of current theological interest. God, the church, theological authority, atonement, the Holy Spirit, religious ethics, the problem of evil, and other topics are debated by top-notch theologians and philosophers of various theological and philosophical persuasions. Since contemporary philosophers and theologians seldom communicate professionally, this book represents a fascinating and highly unusual cross-disciplinary conversation.
These two remarkable books, both published in 2010, share many themes but differ in significant ways, and each is very much worth reading and pondering. Oord’s The Nature of Love concentrates primarily on conceptual and theological themes relating to the very nature of love itself and what influential theologians have had to say about love. His Defining Love focuses on how the social and physical sciences impact our understanding of human and divine love. Both books presuppose and express many (...) themes that are prominent in process theology such as: freedom is universally present (by degrees) in all creatures, especially us; predestination is abhorrent and untenable; God exists necessarily and everlastingly but not .. (shrink)
In what was originally a lecture, the well-known German fundamental theologian Heinrich Fries looks at similarities between the general theological characteristics of Karl Rahner (a friend of Fries) and John Henry Newman (the object of Fries’s early books and lasting research). He offers first some contrasts but then notes similarities: theology as an investigation rather than a system, being a theologian concerned with the most basic aspects of faith, faith as a dynamic of subectivity rather than as a collection (...) of beliefs, a primacy of praxis over theory, theological efforts done at the time of an Ecumenical Council. To conclude there are questions addressed to Fries and Rahner (who was present at the original lecture). (shrink)
I argue that Spinoza bases his observations regarding revelation on revelation alone, since he separates theology from philosophy. He does not use his philosophical theses to support theological beliefs, and he thinks that one’s philosophical position should not influence one’s views on revealed religion.
Doxastic voluntarism is the philosophical doctrine according to which people have voluntary control over their beliefs. Philosophers in the debate about doxastic voluntarism distinguish between two kinds of voluntary control. The first is known as direct voluntary control and refers to acts which are such that if a person chooses to perform them, they happen immediately. For instance, a person has direct voluntary control over whether he or she is thinking about his or her favorite song at a (...) given moment. The second is known as indirect voluntary control and refers to acts which are such that although a person lacks direct voluntary control over them, he or she can cause them to happen if he or she chooses to perform some number of other, intermediate actions. For instance, a person untrained in music has indirect voluntary control over whether he or she will play a melody on a violin. Corresponding to this distinction between two kinds of voluntary control, philosophers distinguish between two kinds of doxastic voluntarism. Direct doxastic voluntarism claims that people have direct voluntary control over at least some of their beliefs. Indirect doxastic voluntarism, however, supposes that people have indirect voluntary control over at least some of their beliefs, for example, by doing research and evaluating evidence. This article offers an introductory explanation of the nature of belief, the nature of voluntary control, the reasons for the consensus regarding indirect doxastic voluntarism, the reasons for the disagreements regarding direct doxastic voluntarism, and the practical implications for the debate about doxastic voluntarism in ethics, epistemology, political theory, and the philosophy of religion. (shrink)
An influential version of doxastic voluntarism claims that doxastic events such as belief-formations at least sometimes qualify as actions. William Alston has made a simple response to this claim by arguing on empirical grounds that in normal human agents intentions to form specific beliefs are simply powerless. However, despite Alston’s observation, various authors have insisted that belief-formations may qualify as voluntary in perfect analogy to certain types of actions or even to actions in general. I examine three analogy arguments (...) of this type and argue that they all fail. (shrink)
This paper presents and defends Kant’s non-voluntarist conception of political obligations. I argue that civil society is not primarily a prudential requirement for justice; it is not merely a necessary evil or moral response to combat our corrupting nature or our tendency to act viciously, thoughtlessly or in a biased manner. Rather, civil society is constitutive of rightful relations because only in civil society can we interact in ways reconcilable with each person’s innate right to freedom. Civil society is the (...) means through which we can rightfully interact even on the ideal assumption that no one ever succumbs to immoral temptation. (shrink)
Classical empiricism leads to notorious problems having to do with the (at least prima facie) lack of an acceptable empiricist justification of empiricism itself. Bas van Fraassen claims that his idea of the “empirical stance” can deal with such problems. I argue, however, that this view entails a very problematic form of voluntarism which comes with the threat of latent irrationality and normative inadequacy. However, there is also a certain element of truth in such a voluntarism. The main (...) difficulty consists in finding an acceptable form of voluntarism. (shrink)
This article is concerned with the shape of the story of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century moral philosophy as told by J. B. Schneewind in The Invention of Autonomy. After discussion of alternative possible shapes for such a story, the focus falls on the question to what extent, in Schneewind's account, strands of empiricist voluntarism and rationalist intellectualism are interwoven in Kant. This in turn leads to consideration of different types of voluntarism and their roles in early modern ethical theory. (...) Correspondence:c1 firstname.lastname@example.org. (shrink)
This paper makes three points: First, empiricism as a stance is problematic unless criteria for evaluating the stance are provided. Second, Van Fraassen conceives of the empiricist stance as receiving its content, at least in part, from the rejection of metaphysics. But the rejection of metaphysics seems to presuppose for its justification the very empiricist doctrine Van Fraassen intends to replace with the empiricist stance. Third, while I agree with Van Fraassen’s endorsement of voluntarism, I raise doubts about the (...) possibility of defending voluntarism without engaging in the kind of metaphysics Van Fraassen rejects. (shrink)
My aim here is to characterize a certain type of ‘virtue approach’ to questions of responsibility for belief; then to explore the extent to which this is helpful with respect to one fundamental puzzle raised by the claims that we have, and that we do not have, voluntary control over our beliefs; and then ultimately to attempt a more exact statement of doxastic responsibility and, with it a plausible statement of ‘weak doxastic voluntarism.’.
It is widely assumed that doxastic deliberation is transparent to the factual question of the truth of the proposition being considered for belief, and that this sets doxastic deliberation apart from practical deliberation. This feature is frequently invoked in arguments against doxastic voluntarism. I argue that transparency to factual questions occurs in practical deliberation in ways parallel to transparency in doxastic deliberation. I argue that this should make us reconsider the appeal to transparency in arguments against doxastic voluntarism, (...) and the wider issue of distinguishing theoretical from practical rationality. (shrink)
Philosophers have constituted business ethics as a field by providing a systematic overview that interrelates its problems and concepts and that supplies the basis for building on attained results. Is there a properly theological task in business ethics? The religious/theological literature on business ethics falls into four classes: (1) the application of religious morality to business practices; (2) the use of encyclical teachings about capitalism; (3) the interpretation of business relations in agapa-istic terms; and (4) the critique of (...) business from a liberation theological point of view. Theologians have not adequately addressed the questions of whether there are particular theological tasks in the field as they define it, and whether, if they define it, the theological definition is different from the philosophical. (shrink)
The view that social justice takes priority over both global justice and the demands of sub-groups faces two critics. Particularist critics ask why societies should have fundamental significance compared with other groups as far as justice is concerned. Cosmopolitan critics ask why any social unit short of humanity as a whole should have fundamental significance as far as justice is concerned. One way of trying to answer these critics is to show that members of societies have special obligations to one (...) another. This paper considers voluntarist and liberal nationalist accounts of such special obligations. It is especially concerned with developing a strong, sympathetic case for the less familiar nationalist position. Nonetheless, in each case the best arguments against the cosmopolitan critic require important concessions to the particularist critic. This suggests that there is a general problem with defending social justice against both critics at the same time. (shrink)
The philosophy of science has produced numerous accounts of how scientific facts are generated, from very specific facilitators of belief, such as neo- Kantian constitutive principles, to global frameworks, such as Kuhnian paradigms. I consider a recent addition to this canon: van Fraassen’s notion of an epistemic stance—a collection of attitudes and policies governing the generation of factual beliefs—and his commitment to voluntarism in this context: the idea that contrary stances and sets of beliefs are rationally permissible. I argue (...) that while scientific inquiry inevitably favours a high degree of consensus in our choices of stance, there is no parallel constraint in the case of philosophical inquiry, such as that concerned with how scientific knowledge should be interpreted. This leads, in the latter case, to a fundamental and apparently irresolvable mystery at the heart of stance voluntarism, regarding the grounds for choosing basic epistemic stances. (shrink)
This paper questions and criticizes the employment of critical realism in the field of ‘science and religion’. Referring to the texts of four main actors in this field, I demonstrate how the choice of critical realism is justified by a (disguised) apologetic interest in defending the epistemic privilege of the theological enterprise against that of the natural sciences. I argue that this is possible thanks to the reactivation of ‘theological potential’ latent in some under-examined assumptions and conceptual structures (...) still at work within philosophy of science and scientific epistemology. (shrink)
Abstract: In recent work Stephen Darwall has attacked what he calls J. G. Fichte's ‘voluntarist’ thesis, the idea—on Darwall's reading—that I am bound by obligations of respect to another person by virtue of my choice to interact with him. Darwall argues that voluntary choice is incompatible with the normative force behind the concept of a person, which demands my respect non-voluntarily. He in turn defends a ‘presuppositional’ thesis which claims that I am bound by obligations of respect simply by recognizing (...) the other as a person. In this paper I argue Darwall has misidentified the voluntary element in Fichte's account (sections 4–5). This requires me first to explain what Fichte's voluntarism really consists in (sections 1–3), and I suggest an apparent ambiguity in Fichte's position is responsible for Darwall's misreading. Clarifying this ambiguity, however, exposes some limitations to Darwall's thesis, and I end by discussing what those limitations are and what we can learn from them (sections 6–8). (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: List of contributors; Acknowledgements; List of abbreviations; Introduction Yitzhak Y. Melamed and Michael Rosenthal; Spinoza's exchange with Albert Burgh Edwin Curley; The text of Spinoza's Tractatus Theologico-Politicus Piet Steenbakkers; Spinoza on Ibn Ezra's Secret of the Twelve Warren Zev Harvey; Reflections of the medieval Jewish-Christian debate in the Theological-Political Treatise and the Epistles Daniel J. Lasker; The early Dutch and German reaction to the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus: foreshadowing the Enlightenment's more general Spinoza reception? Jonathan Israel; G. (...) W. Leibniz's two readings of the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus Mogens Laerke; The metaphysics of the Theological-Political Treatise Yitzhak Y. Melamed; Spinoza's conception of law: metaphysics and ethics Donald Rutherford; Getting his hands dirty: Spinoza's criticism of the rebel Michael Della Rocca; 'Promising' ideas: Hobbes and contract in Spinoza's political philosophy Don Garrett; Spinoza's curious defense of toleration Justin Steinberg; Miracles, wonder, and the state in Spinoza's Theological-Political Treatise Michael A. Rosenthal; Narrative as the means to freedom: Spinoza on the uses of imagination Susan James; Bibliography. (shrink)
In this paper, I clarify Descartes’s account of belief, in general, and of judgment, in particular. Then, drawing upon this clarification, I explain the type of direct doxastic voluntarism that he endorses. In particular, I attempt to demonstrate two claims. First, I argue that there is strong textual evidence that, on Descartes’s account, people have the ability to suspend, or to withhold, judgment directly by an act will. Second, I argue that there is weak and inconclusive textual evidence that, (...) on his account, people have the ability to form a judgment directly by an act will. I conclude by suggestion that understanding the position Descartes actually endorses (which I call ‘negative direct doxastic voluntarism’) has implications, more broadly, for contemporary participants in the doxastic voluntarism debate. (shrink)
Karl Barth and the displacement of natural law in contemporary Protestant theology -- Development of the natural-law tradition through the high Middle Ages -- John Calvin and the natural knowledge of God the Creator -- Peter Martyr Vermigli and the natural knowledge of God the Creator -- Natural law in the thought of Johannes Althusius -- Francis Turretin and the natural knowledge of God the Creator.
(Forthcoming in Religious Studies) Abstract I argue that the Free Will Defence need not presuppose a libertarian conception of freedom and therefore need not beg the question against compatibilists. I present three versions of theological determinism, each of which is inconsistent with freedom on compatibilist-friendly principles, and then argue that what generates the inconsistency – viz., that (i) God intentionally necessitates all human actions and (ii) no human has it within their power to causally influence God’s will – is (...) entailed by any version of theological determinism. Contrary to widespread opinion, therefore, the viability of the Free Will Defence does not depend upon the viability of libertarianism per se but on the falsity of theological determinism. (shrink)
Nick Bostrom’s Simulation Argument (SA) has many intriguing theological implications. We work out some of them here. We show how the SA can be used to develop novel versions of the Cosmological and Design Arguments. We then develop some of the affinities between Bostrom's naturalistic theogony and more traditional theological topics. We look at the resurrection of the body and at theodicy. We conclude with some reflections on the relations between the SA and Neoplatonism (friendly) and between the (...) SA and theism (less friendly). (shrink)
This paper examines and finds wanting the arguments against van Fraassen’s voluntarism, the view that the only constraint of rationality is consistency. Foundationalists claim that if we have no grounds or rationale for a belief or rule, rationality demands that we suspend it. But that begs the question by assuming that there have to be grounds or a rationale. Instead of asking, why should we hold a basic belief or rule, the question has to be: why should not we (...) be committed as we are? Within a system we can sometimes find internal reasons. But, short of assuming foundationalism from the outset, when it comes to our evolving system as a whole there are no grounds for abandoning the commitments that we experience so strongly. Along the way the paper develops a systematic way of talking about terms that cause confusion because of variation in usage: foundationalism, relativism, basic beliefs and rules, voluntarism, etc. (shrink)
Constructive empiricism - as formulated by Bas van Fraassen - makes no epistemological claims about the nature of science. Rather, it is a view about the aim of science, to be situated within van Fraassen's broader voluntarist epistemology. Yet while this epistemically minimalist framework may have various advantages in defending the epistemic relevance of constructive empiricism, I show how it also has various disadvantages in maintaining its internal coherence.
This thesis presents a case for theological compatibilism, the view that divine foreknowledge and human freedom are compatible. My attempt to support theological compatibilism is based chiefly upon two arguments, which appear in the second and third chapters of this thesis. While these arguments differ, they are united in one respect: each argument relies heavily upon the doctrine of divine sustenance, which is the doctrine that God is causally responsible for the continual existence of the universe. In chapter (...) II, I employ the doctrine of divine sustenance as an assumption that, when conjoined with a modified characterization of the necessity of the past, forces a common argument against theological compatibilism to generate an absurd conclusion. This approach constitutes a negative argument for theological compatibilism: if the modifications to accidental necessity and the assumptions regarding sustenance are appropriate, then some principle underlying a traditional argument against theological compatibilism must be rejected in order to avoid absurdity. In chapter III, I use the notion of divine sustenance in a positive argument for the compatibility of divine foreknowledge and human freedom. In that chapter, I contend that theological models that deny foreknowledge or divine sustenance lack the resources to explain the existence of human persons making free decisions. However, I argue that at least one theological model that includes foreknowledge, when conjoined with the doctrine of divine sustenance, provides adequate explanatory grounds for the existence of persons in their free decision-making. This implies that if human persons are free, their freedom is compatible with divine foreknowledge and divine sustenance, which also supports the theological compatibilist's position. Although my discussion results in some unresolved difficulties regarding divine freedom, which I discuss in the final chapter, the arguments in the second and third chapters nevertheless yield the conclusion that proper consideration of divine sustenance corroborates theological compatibilism. The theological compatibilist, then, may cogently employ the doctrine of divine sustenance to defend the coherency of his or her own position and to criticize the plausibility of opposing views. (shrink)
The article deals with the relationship between theological ethics and moral philosophy. The former is seen as a theoretical reflection on Christian ethics, the latter as one on secular ethics. The main questions asked are: (1) Is there one and only one pre-theoretical knowledge about acting rightly? (2) Does philosophy provide us with the theoretical framework for understanding both Christian and secular ethics? Both questions are answered in the negative. In the course of argument, four positions are presented: (...) class='Hi'>theological unificationism, philosophical unificationism, theological separationism and Lutheran dualism. It is argued that the latter position is most convincing. It is dual in the sense of being both a theory of Christian ethics and of including a recognition of natural law. Hence, it unites a particularistic and a universalistic point of view. In the last section a reformulation of the Lutheran position is attempted in making use of the ethical theory of Knud E. Løgstrup''s The Ethical Demand. (shrink)
John Preston has contended that Paul Feyerabend retreated from his earlier commitment to realism and consciously embraced a ‘voluntarist’, social constructionist, idealism. Though there seems to be unmistakable subjective idealist statements in some of Feyerabend's writings, it will be argued that Feyerabend's idealistic period was short-lived, and that he returned to a form of realism in his later writings. Specifically, Feyerabend's distinction between theoretical/abstract and empirical/historical traditions of thought, when understood with Feyerabend's re evaluation of Bohr's philosophy of quantum physics (...) in mind, is most aptly interpreted as aprocess realist position. Preston, in interpreting Feyerabend as a voluntarist, social constructionist, subjective idealist, fails to distinguish the ever-present rhetorical and provocative statements of Feyerabend's from the core arguments being presented. (shrink)
This article argues that Cavell's key concept of acknowledgement is of great theological significance. Acknowledgement is meant as a particular interpretation of knowledge, which emphasises the personal responsiveness and responsibility to the human other and to the world. As Cavell himself indicates, acknowledgement also overlaps with faith. However, what such acknowledgement of God amounts to, is not yet satisfactorily understood in the growing literature on Cavell. This article argues that Cavell's treatment of confessions (Augustine, Wittgenstein) and acceptance of promise (...) (Luther) provides important clues to a more elaborate understanding of acknowledgement in general, and of acknowledging God in particular. (shrink)
Any study of the 'Scientific Revolution' and particularly Descartes' role in the debates surrounding the conception of nature (atoms and the void v. plenum theory, the role of mathematics and experiment in natural knowledge, the status and derivation of the laws of nature, the eternality and necessity of eternal truths, etc.) should be placed in the philosophical, scientific, theological, and sociological context of its time. Seventeenth-century debates concerning the nature of the eternal truths such as '2 + 2 = (...) 4' or the law of inertia turn on the question of whether these truths were created along with nature, or were uncreated and subsisting in God's mind. One's answer to that question has direct consequences for conceptions of the necessity/contingency of mathematical and natural knowledge, how knowledge of such truths is accomplished by humans, and what grounds these truths. In this paper, I review the positions of four successors to Descartes' philosophy on the question of the eternal truths to illustrate how in specific ways that question with its theological, metaphysical, modal, and epistemological dimensions concerned the objectivity and certainty of the discoveries of the new science. Author Recommends: Clarke, Desmond. Descartes' Philosophy of Science . University Park, Penn State Press, 1982. This work provides an account of Descartes as a practicing scientist whose rationalism is mitigated by reliance on experiment and experience. Author re-examines Descartes' philosophical and scientific works in this new light. Dear, Peter. Revolutionizing the Sciences: European Knowledge and its Ambitions, 1500–1700 . Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2001. This work provides a useful overview of the issues and thinkers of the Scientific Revolution. Of particular relevance is chapter 8 on Cartesian and Newtonian science. Funkenstein, Amos. Theology and the Scientific Imagination from the Middle Ages to the Seventeenth Century . Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1986. This work is an advanced study of the theological and metaphysical foundations of early modern science. Discussions include questions of God's nature, God's knowledge in relation to human knowledge, providence, the laws of nature, and the truths of mathematics. In particular, chapter 3 discusses Descartes' account of the eternal truths and divine omnipotence. Garber, Daniel. Descartes' Metaphysical Physics . Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1992. This work examines how Descartes' metaphysical doctrines of God, soul, and body set the groundwork for his physics. It includes a study of God and the grounds for the laws of physics (chapter 9). Henry, John. The Scientific Revolution and the Origins of Modern Science . 3rd ed. New York, Palgrave, Macmillan Press, 2008. This work provides a brief, general, and informative overview of the Scientific Revolution, including the themes of method, magic, religion, and culture. Osler, Margaret J. Divine Will and the Mechanical Philosophy: Gassendi and Descartes on Contingency and Necessity in the Created World . Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1994. This work is an examination and comparison of the mechanical philosophies of Gassendi and Descartes. It offers in-depth discussion of the issue of voluntarism and intellectualism in the period and how that related to conceptions of laws of nature and the eternal truths. Shapin, Steven. The Scientific Revolution . Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1996. This work provides a critical synthesis of as well as a guide to recent scholarship in the history of science for a general readership. Online Materials Dr. Robert A. Hatch's Scientific Revolution Website: http://web.clas.ufl.edu/users/rhatch/pages/03-Sci-Rev/SCI-REV-Home/ A compendium of resources for the study of Scientific Revolution. Early English Books Online: http://eebo.chadwyck.com/home Early English Books Online (EEBO) contains digital facsimile page images of virtually every work printed in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and British North America and works in English printed elsewhere from 1473 to 1700. Early Modern Resources: http://www.earlymodernweb.org.uk/emr/ Early Modern Resources is a gateway for all those interested in finding electronic resources relating to the early modern period in history. Gallica, the Digital Library of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France: http://gallica.bnf.fr/ An ever-growing digital library which includes numerous primary and secondary texts of relevance to Descartes and his role in Scientific Revolution. Hatfield, Gary, 'René Descartes', The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Spring 2009 ed. Ed. Edward N. Zalta; URL: http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2009/entries/descartes/ Slowik, Edward, 'Descartes' Physics', The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Winter 2008 ed. Ed. Edward N. Zalta; URL: http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2008/entries/descartes-physics/ Syllabus Sample Syllabus: Cartesian Science The following is five weeks covering Cartesian Science in a course on Descartes or the Scientific Revolution, or 17th-century theories of matter, or related themes on early modern truth and method, especially on the continent. This material is best suited to a graduate level audience, but it could be modified to suit an upper-division undergraduate course, as the readings are basically primary texts whose context and background can be explained in lectures. Week 1: Cartesian Revolution in France • Scientific method • Role of mathematics and experiment • Certainty of scientific knowledge Readings: Hatfield, Gary, 'René Descartes', The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Spring 2009 ed. Ed. Edward N. Zalta; URL: http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2009/entries/descartes/ Descartes, Discourse on Method , Parts 1–3 Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy , First Meditation. Week 2: Descartes' Scientific Treatises • Mechanization and mathematization of nature • Primary–secondary quality distinction Readings: Discourse on Method, Parts 4–6 Selections from Descartes' Scientific Essays: The World or Treatise on Light (ATXI 3–48); Treatise on Man (ATXI 119–202); Optics (ATVI 82–147). Slowik, Edward, 'Descartes' Physics', The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Winter 2008 ed. Ed. Edward N. Zalta; URL: http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2008/entries/descartes-physics/ Henry, John, 'The Mechanical Philosophy,' chapter 5. The Scientific Revolution and the Origins of Modern Science . 3rd ed. Macmillan, 2008. Week 3: Descartes' Theory of Nature • Descartes' derivation of the law of conservation and the three laws of motion • God's role in the metaphysics and physics of nature Readings: Selections from Principles of Philosophy, Preface (all); Letter to Elizabeth; Part I: 1–8; Part II: 1–45, 55, 64; Part III: 1–4, 15–19, 45–47; Part IV: 187–207. John Henry, 'Religion and Science,' chapter 6. The Scientific Revolution and the Origins of Modern Science . 3rd ed. Macmillan, 2008. Week 4: Post-1650 Cartesian Science: Necessity and Contingency in Nature • Debates on God, Creation, and Causes Readings: Easton, Patricia, 'What is at Stake in the Cartesian Debates on the Eternal Truths?' Philosophy Compass 4.2 (2009): 348–62. Malebranche, Nicolas, 'Elucidation 10', from The Search after Truth (1674). Note: All selections available in Nicolas Malebranche (1992). Philosophical Selections , edited by S. Nadler, Hackett. Gottfried Leibniz (1714) Monadology . Week 5: Causes in Nature and Morals • Theodicy as an explanation of defect and evil in a lawful universe: Malebranche v. Leibniz Readings: Nicolas Malebranche, Elucidation XVI (on occasionalism), and Treatise on Nature and Grace, Discourse One, Part 1. Gottfried Leibniz (1706), Theodicy. Focus Questions Weekly questions can be used to focus the readings. This can be done in a web or e-mail discussion thread, as a weekly assignment, or for in class discussion. I require students to post a short paragraph in response to the question or some posting by a classmate on the question. Students are required to post by 10 a.m. the day before we meet for class on a course website. Week 1: According to Descartes, what role does skepticism play in scientific reasoning? Week 2: Comment on the following: 'But I am supposing this machine to be made by the hands of God, and so I think you may reasonably think it capable of a greater variety of movements than I could possibly imagine in it, and of exhibiting more artistry than I could possibly ascribe to it' [ Treatise on Man ; ATXI 120]. Week 3: What is Descartes' conception of the relation between the metaphysics and physics of nature? Week 4: Critically discuss the positions of Descartes, Malebranche, and Leibniz on what provides the foundation for the certitude of natural knowledge? Week 5: Explain why both Malebranche and Leibniz consider moral sin to be analogous to natural defect? Seminar/Project Idea Hold a debate on the question of the status of the eternal truths. The proposition will be Descartes' position: 'Eternal truths must be both created and necessary if certainty in science is to be possible'. Format: 1. At the beginning of the 5-week module, students will be assigned to one of three roles: Team A, Team B, and judge's panel. Students will be given the debate proposition, but will not be told which team will take the affirmative and which team the negative until the time of the debate. 2. Recommend a variation on the Classic Debate Format to encourage the development of argument: sequence begins with affirmative construction (8 minutes), negative construction (8 minutes), second affirmative construction (8 minutes), second negative construction (8 minutes), first negative rebuttal (4 minutes), first affirmative rebuttal (4 minutes), final negative rebuttal (4 minutes) and final affirmative rebuttal (4 minutes). 3. Judges Panel: will consist of 3–4 judges who will assess the performance of Teams A and B. Judgment should be based on the persuasiveness of the team position. 4. Debate will be held at the end of the fifth week, or semester, whichever makes most sense given the course length and structure. Acknowledgements The author gratefully acknowledges the immensely helpful comments and suggestions by the participants in her graduate seminar on the Scientific Revolution: Benjamin Chicka, Sarah Jacques-Ross, Richard Ross, Marcella Stockstill, and Zohra Wolters. (shrink)
This paper offers a critical investigation of the theological assumptions that lie within three forms of modern feminist ethics, with a view to challenging feminist ethics to enter the new theological possibilities opened up in postmodernity for the conceiving of god. The first part of the paper considers the conceiving of god in modern feminisms, in which theology becomes ethics. The consequences of this development are considered. The second part of the paper investigates the turn into postmodernity which (...) hears the saying of the death of god and the critique of onto-theology. This disturbance to the foundations of feminist ethics is understood as part of a wider critique of humanism manifest particularly in gender theory. That the end of the modern human subject might allow a conceiving of god through an understanding of the performative is the restored orthodoxy to which the paper points. (shrink)
The proposition that Jesus was ‘Bad, Mad or God’ is central to C.S. Lewis's popular apologetics. It is fêted by American Evangelicals, cautiously endorsed by Roman Catholics and Protestants, but often scorned by philosophers of religion. Most, mistakenly, regard Lewis's trilemma as unique. This paper examines the roots of this proposition in a two thousand year old theological and philosophical tradition (that is, aut Deus aut malus homo), grounded in the Johannine trilemma (‘unbalanced liar’, or ‘demonically possessed’, or ‘the (...) God of Israel come amongst his people’). Jesus can only be understood in the context of the Jewish religious categories he was born into; therefore, for Lewis, Jesus is who he reveals himself to be. Jesus' self-understanding reflects his identity, his triune salvific role; this is for Lewis, the transposed reality of divine Sonship. Reason and logic are paramount here, reflected in the structure of Lewis's argument. Lewis's trilemma is not so much a proof of God's existence, but a question, a dilemma, where each and every person must come to a decision. For all its perceived faults, its simplistic language, Lewis's trilemma still is a very successful piece of Christian apologetic, grounded in a serious philosophical and theological tradition. (shrink)
In this paper, I consider how a Kierkegaardian could respond critically to the question of strong theological universalism, i.e., the belief that all individuals must eventually be reconciled to God and experience everlasting happiness. A Kierkegaardian would likely reject what Thomas Talbott has called “conservative theism,” but has the resources to mount a sustained attack on the view that all individuals must experience everlasting happiness. Some have seen that Kierkegaard has some potential in this regard, but a full Kierkegaardian (...) response to strong theological universalism has yet to be given. In this paper, I give such an account. (shrink)
Michael Rota has identified a problem in my argument for theological incompatibilism, and claims that it also undermines my argument against divinetimeless knowledge. I acknowledge the problem, but show that it is easily corrected and leaves my arguments unscathed.
Mainstream currents within Christianity havelong insisted that humans, among all creatures, areneither fully identified with their physical bodiesnor fully at home on earth. This essay outlines theparticular characteristics of Christian notions ofhuman nature and the implications of this separationfor environmental ethics. It then examines recentefforts to correct some damaging aspects oftraditional Christian understandings of humanity''splace in nature, especially the notions of physicalembodiment and human embeddedment in earth. Theprimary goal of the essay is not to offer acomprehensive evaluation of Christian thinking (...) aboutnature but rather to identify theological anthropologyas a crucial dimension of, and problem for, Christianenvironmental ethics. (shrink)
Traditionalist and radical orthodox critiques of the Enlightenment assert that the modern discourse on moral self-government constitutes a radical break with the theocentric model of morality which preceded it. Against this view, this paper argues that the conceptions of autonomy emerged from the effort to reconcile commitments within the Christian tradition. Through an analysis of the moral thought of the Cambridge Platonist Ralph Cudworth, this paper contends that distinctively Christian theological concerns concerning moral accountability to God and the character (...) of divine-human moral relationships produced a theory of moral autonomy which anticipates that of Kant. This paper highlights the role of anti-voluntarism in the creation of this moral standpoint, and argues that the resultant moral view is an “internalization” of the voluntarist model of sovereignty. (shrink)
Kant's relation to Hobbesian voluntarism has recently become a source of controversy for the interpretation of Kant's practical philosophy. Realist interpreters, most prominently Karl Ameriks, have attacked the genealogies of Kantian autonomy suggested by J. B. Schneewind and Christine Korsgaard as misleadingly voluntarist and unacceptably anti-realist. In this debate, however, there has been no real discussion of Kant's own views about Hobbes. By examining the relation of Hobbes' voluntarism to a kind of conventionalism, and through a reading of (...) Kant's most explicit discussion of Hobbes, in “Theory and Practice,“ 1 I argue that Kant's criticism of Hobbes is much more limited than it might first appear. Rather than rejecting Hobbes' voluntarism and conventionalism entirely, Kant ends up criticizing only Hobbes' understanding of the relation between these doctrines. The essay thus defends Schneewind's and Korsgaard's histories of modern moral philosophy, and raises doubts about realist readings of Kant's practical philosophy. (shrink)
It is sometimes said that changes in academic philosophy in the twentieth century reflected a process in which a discipline that had been earlier closely tied to institutional religion became increasingly laicized and secularized.1 In line with this idea, the idealist philosophy that had flowered within British philosophy at the end of the nineteenth century can look like the last and ill-fated attempt of a Victorian religious sensibility to guard itself against a post-Darwinian God-less view of the world and ourselves.2 (...) Such a view generally represents, I believe, the attitudes of many contemporary philosophers to British philosophy prior to the transforming work of Russell and Moore of about one hundred years ago. Against the luxuriant and mystical metaphysics of the idealists, fuelled by religious longing, the “new philosophy”, it is thought, affirmed the brute materiality of the world and its independence from mind, be it divine or human. A similar development is commonly understood as carrying from Hegel through the “<span class='Hi'>young</span> Hegelians” to the mature Marx. Thus for Feuerbach, for example, Hegel’s idealist doctrine that “nature or reality is posited by the idea” was “merely the rational expression of the theological doctrine that nature is created by God”.3 Hegel’s philosophy had thus provided a “last place of refuge and ... rational support of theology”, and escaping from this condition (more prison than refuge) required rejecting idealism and confronting the fact that “the true relation of thinking and being is simply this. Being is subject and thinking a predicate but a predicate such as.. (shrink)
In this article a case is made for considering the liturgy as theological norm par excellence. The case is built up by relying on an emphatic current of thought within the field of liturgical studies, namely the ‘liturgical theology’ as it was developed by Alexander Schmemann, Aidan Kavanagh, and David W. Fagerberg. After presenting the concept of ‘liturgical theology’ and the context out of which it emerged, its major characteristics are discussed. Particular attention is devoted to the radicalness of (...) their position. It can be called radical because the reversal of the relation between doctrine and liturgy is by no means evident for the vast majority of modern believers and theologians. However, ‘liturgical theology’ claims that it is not doctrine which determines liturgy but liturgy which determines doctrine. According to liturgical theologians, the liturgy is not simply the ritual expression of the content of faith, but itself theology, even theologia prima . Correspondingly, liturgical theologians point to the original wording of the famous adage lex orandi lex credendi , which is the following: ut legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi . Whereas the usual formulation suggests equality and mutual dependence, the original context lays bare a clear priority of the rule of prayer over the rule of faith. In the final part of the article I explore some avenues to the evaluation of ‘liturgical theology’. I argue that there is need for a more profound philosophical underpinning and historical adequacy. But nevertheless the idea that the liturgy constitutes a theological norm stands firmly and should be considered far more broadly and seriously among contemporary systematic theologians. (shrink)
Over the last two decades, scientific accounts of religion have received a great deal of scholarly and popular attention both because of their intrinsic interest and because they are widely as constituting a threat to the religion they analyse. The Believing Primate aims to describe and discuss these scientific accounts as well as to assess their implications. The volume begins with essays by leading scientists in the field, describing these accounts and discussing evidence in their favour. Philosophical and theological (...) reflections on these accounts follow, offered by leading philosophers, theologians, and scientists. This diverse group of scholars address some fascinating underlying questions: Do scientific accounts of religion undermine the justification of religious belief? Do such accounts show religion to be an accidental by-product of our evolutionary development? And, whilst we seem naturally disposed toward religion, would we fare better or worse without it? Bringing together dissenting perspectives, this provocative collection will serve to freshly illuminate ongoing debate on these perennial questions. (shrink)
While “scientism” is typically regarded as a position about the exclusive epistemic authority of science held by a certain class of “cultured despisers” of “religion”, we show that only on the assumption of this sort of view do purportedly “scientific” claims made by proponents of “intelligent design” appear to lend epistemic or apologetic support to claims affirmed about God and God’s action in “creation” by Christians in confessing their “faith”. On the other hand, the hermeneutical strategy that better describes the (...) practice and method of Christian theologians, from the inception of theological reflection in the Christian tradition, acknowledges the epistemic authority of the best available tests for truth in areas of human inquiry such as science and history. But this strategy does not assume that such tests, whose authority must be regarded as provisional, provides authority for the warrant of affirming claims constituting the confessed “faith”. By attributing theological import to claims advanced by appeal to the best available tests for truth in the practice of science, supporters of ID not only confuse the epistemic authority of these tests with the normative authority of a faith community’s confessional identity, but impute to scientific tests for truth a sort of authority that even goes beyond the “methodological naturalism” against which they counterpose their claims. (shrink)
Abstract Theology may well provide useful insights into the question of human autonomy?if one is willing to entertain the existence and authority of God as expressed through the scriptures. Accordingly, the Bible presents humanity as designed to exercise much autonomy. But, humanity immediately abused that freedom, resulting in the present universal captivity of the human will to sin and death. The will can now only be liberated from its self-centered bondage through the substitutionary death and resurrection of the God?Man Jesus (...) Christ, received by grace through faith (according to the Protestant soteriological framework). With the acceptance of Christ by faith, the Holy Spirit enters into the believer, causing the will to begin a process of regeneration in which the old self-centered deformation of the will is gradually liberated to a restoration of its original design?a God-centered existence characterized by freedom in pursuing a life of genuine love and righteousness. Within this general theological anthropology, Christians often disagree about the relative level of self-determination at the most crucial point?the decision of faith. Philipp Melanchthon (1497?1560) provides an excellent snapshot of this theological debate, due to the evolutionary character of his own teachings on the subject. In 1519, he taught that human beings had no freedom in the choice of faith. At his death in 1560, he taught that human beings did have (at least some) self-determination in this decision. A survey of this doctrinal transformation allows for an in-depth exploration of human autonomy from a theological perspective. (shrink)
The Spirit of the Laws —Montesquieu’s huge, complex, and enormously influential work—is considered one of the central texts of the Enlightenment, laying the foundation for the liberally democratic political regimes that were to embody its values. In his penetrating analysis, Thomas L. Pangle brilliantly argues that the inherently theological project of Enlightenment liberalism is made more clearly—and more consequentially— in Spirit than in any other work. _ In a probing and careful reading, Pangle shows how Montesquieu believed that rationalism, (...) through the influence of liberal institutions and the spread of commercial culture, would secularize human affairs. At the same time, Pangle uncovers Montesquieu’s views about the origins of humanity’s religious impulse and his confidence that political and economic security would make people less likely to sacrifice worldly well-being for otherworldly hopes. With the interest in the theological aspects of political theory and practice showing no signs of diminishing, this book is a timely and insightful contribution to one of the key achievements of Enlightenment thought. (shrink)
Emergence, a hot topic of discussion for the last several years, has implications not only for the study of science but also for theology. I survey Philip Clayton's book Mind & Emergence , drawing from it and applying some of its philosophical principles to a theological interpretation of emergence. This theological interpretation is supplemented by a brief examination of relevant biblical usages of the term kenosis. From this exploration of kenosis, I assert that the Spirit is kenotically poured (...) into creation, which onsets the long and laborious process of prebiotic evolution, leading to biological evolution toward increasing complexity. The complexification of matter, then, has its ontological origin in and through the agency of the Spirit of God. As such, the concept of creatio continua , continuing creation, is defended. The Spirit enables emergence by endowing creation and creatures with the ability to unfold by apparent natural processes according to their own inherent potentialities and possibilities. This essay contributes to a systematic theology of creation by constructing a theological synthesis between kenosis and emergence. (shrink)
Jerónimo Pardo's analysis of the problems raised by some popular trinitarian paralogisms is studied in this paper. The purpose is to show how the notions employed by the theologians in order to solve theological problems were introduced into a textbook on logic to deal with some genuinely logical problems. First, the problem, common to all logical approaches, of achieving a fine-grained analysis of the logical form of syllogistical inferences. Second, the problem, typical of the terminist approach to logic, of (...) guaranteeing that Latin is an adequate vehicle for logical analysis. (shrink)
Anticipating Mikhail Bakhtin’s appreciation for the unfinalizability of Fedor Dostoevskij’s universe, prominent Protestant theologian Karl Barth celebrates the Russian novelist’s presentation of “the impenetrable ambiguity of human life” characteristic of both the ending of Dostoevsky’s novels and Paul’s Epistle to the Romans. Barth’s unique reading of The Brothers Karamazov not only demonstrates the barrenness of the “theocratic dream” but also complements Bakhtin’s discussion of polyphony with an explicitly theological dimension by focusing on the dialogue between Creator and the created. (...) Dostoevsky’s prophetic voice provides Barth with a poetic expression of the divine command that highlights the ethical dimension inherent in every theological choice. (shrink)
This paper is a sequel to my 'Theological Misinterpretations of Current Physical Cosmology' (Foundations of Physics , 26 (4); revised in Philo , 1 (1)). There I argued that the Big Bang models of (classical) general relativity theory, as well as the original 1948 versions of the steady state cosmology, are each logically incompatible with the time-honored theological doctrine that perpetual divine creation (creatio continuans') is required in each of these two theorized worlds. Furthermore, I challenged the perennial (...)theological doctrine that there must be a divine creative cause (as distinct from a transformative one) for the very existence of the world, a ratio essendi. This doctrine is the theistic reply to the question: 'Why is there something, rather than just nothing?' I begin my present paper by arguing against the response by the contemporary Oxford theist Richard Swinburne and by Leibniz to what is, in effect, my counter-question: 'But why should there by just nothing, rather than something?' Their response takes the form of claiming that the a priori probability of there being just nothing, vis-à-vis the existence of alternative states, is maximal, because the non-existence of the world is conceptually the simplest. On the basis of an analysis of the role of simplicity in scientific explanations, I show that this response is multiply flawed, and thus provides no basis for their three contentions that (i) if there is a world at all, then its 'normal', natural, spontaneous state is one of utter nothingness or total non-existence, so that (ii) the very existence of matter, energy and living beings constitutes a deviation from the allegedly 'normal', spontaneous state of 'nothingness', and (iii) that deviation must thus have a suitably potent (external) divine cause. Related defects turn out to vitiate the medieval Kalam Argument for the existence of God, as espoused by William Craig. Next I argue against the contention by such theists as Richard Swinburne and Philip L. Quinn that (i) the specific content of the scientifically most fundamental laws of nature, including the constants they contain, requires supra-scientific explanation, and (ii) a satisfactory explanation is provided by the hypothesis that the God of theism willed them to be exactly what they are. Furthermore, I contend that the theistic teleological gloss on the 'Anthropic Principle' is incoherent and explanatorily unavailing. Finally, I offer an array of considerations against Swinburne's attempt to show, via Bayes's theorem, that the existence of God is more probable than not. (shrink)
Paul Ricoeur's understanding of the relations of faith, love, and hope suggests a unique approach to theological ethics, one that holds fresh promise for bringing together considerations of the good (teleology) and the right (deontology) around the notion of an "economy of the gift." The economy of the gift articulates Ricoeur's distinctively dialectical understanding of the relation of the human and the divine, and the resulting dialectical moral relation of the self and the other. Despite our fallen condition, Ricoeur (...) suggests, we are called by the divine to embrace the radical possibility of the reconciliation of human goods under the requirement of accountability to human diversity and otherness. (shrink)
This is a review of John Leslie's 'Infinite Minds: A Philosophical Cosmology' (OUP, 2001). It was commissioned by the London Review of Books in 2002, but rejected by the commissioning editor, apparently because he disliked its anti-theological stance. (See the Postscript to the present version for more details.).
This paper presents positivistic, normative/theological, and strategic analyses of the application of religion to the practice of strategic leadership in business. It is argued that elements of religion can enrich several components of strategic leadership. Furthermore, it is argued that the question of whether religion ought to be applied involves the more basic question of whether there is a common basis or a meta-framework relating theological and normative analyses. Finally, because the strategic value of religion in strategic leadership (...) involves varying costs and benefits, an optimal level of integration can be established by applying a cost/benefit analysis to a framework of four ways of relating religion to the business arena based on the degree of integration. (shrink)
I take the APA publication A Spiritual Strategy for Counseling and Psychotherapy (Richards and Bergin 2005), along with a devoted issue of Journal of Psychology and Theology (Nelson and Slife 2006), as a paradigmatic example of a trend. Other instances include the uncritical use of "Eastern" philosophy in Humanistic and Transpersonal Psychology, almost normative appeal to the "Sacred" within the psychology of spirituality, talk of "God in the brain" within neurological research, the neologism entheogen referring to psychedelic drugs, and calls (...) for new specializations such as neurotheology and theobiology. In response to the legitimate ethical requirements of respect and openness regarding clients' religious worldviews, the trend is to make God an essential component in psychological theory. The argument is that God is active in the universe and especially in human affairs to such an extent that any accurate account of strictly psychological matters, not just a comprehensive, interdisciplinary purview that could include a distinct theological dimension, must include God as an explanatory factor. Less nuanced than standard theological thought about divine intervention—including a range of opinions from supernaturalism, to occasionalism, to providential and deistic naturalism—this trend would blur the epistemological differences between religion and science by appeal to claimed knowledge sources such as inspiration and revelation and thus undermine the achievements of evidence-based science and establish particularistic religious beliefs as standard explanatory accounts. The concern to include a spiritual, in contrast to a religious or theist, dimension in psychological theory is welcome; but elaborated approaches, such as my own and those of Roberto Assagioli, Viktor Frankl, and Ken Wilber, open to varied theological applications, already exist. (shrink)
The famous triad of ‘rational proofs’ of God’s existence may, if their underlying intuitions are taken at face value, be reversed to prove the contrary, namely the non-existence of God. The ontological argument, for example, proceeds from the notion of God as the ‘real most’ or ‘absolutely real’ being. However, the existence of an entity thus defined must be beyond doubt, for if distinguishing between ‘levels of reality’ makes any sense at all, ‘more real’ must also mean ‘more manifest’. And (...) since a being whose existence is beyond doubt is greater than that whose existence is in doubt, God, to fit the definition provided by St. Anselm, must be a being the existence of which cannot be doubted or, more strictly, the existence of which can only come to be doubted if He did not exist to dispel all doubts. Hence it follows that God does not exist, because it is an undeniable fact that His existence is subject to doubt. This paper is not, however, about theexistence of God, it is about the inherent dialectic of theological reason that seeks non-natural or supernatural explanations for natural phenomena. (shrink)
This article seeks in the Platonic philosophers of late antiquity insights applicable to a new discipline, the philosophy of Pagan religion. An impor¬tant element of any such discipline would be a method of mythological hermeneutics that could be applied cross-culturally. The article draws par¬ticular elements of this method from Sallust and Olympiodorus. Sallust’s five modes of the interpretation of myth (theological, physical, psychical, material and mixed) are discussed, with one of them, the theological, singled out for its applicability (...) to all myths and because it interprets myth in reference exclusively to the nature of the Gods and their relationship to a model of the cosmos in its totality. The other modes of interpretation, while useful in particular contexts, are not uniformly applicable to all myths, interpret the myths as concerning things other than the Gods themselves, and interpret the myths with reference to particular sectors of the cosmos. Accordingly, it is from Sallust’s theological mode of interpre¬tation that the new method draws its inspiration. From Olympiodorus the method derives strategies for interpreting basic narrative attributes that myths share with all stories. Thus temporal sequence is interpreted as an ascent, from our perspective, from less perfect to more perfect manifestations of the powers of the Gods. Passivity, conflict, and transitive relations in general between the Gods are interpreted as expressing attributes of the cosmos to the constitution of which the Gods dedicate their energies, rather than as placing constraint upon the Gods themselves. The article concludes with a series of broad principles meant to guide the new method. (shrink)
In this essay I explore the need for transforming the Christian theological symbols of the Trinity, Incarnation, and Redemption, which arose in the context of neo-Platonic metaphysics, in light of late modern, especially Peircean, metaphysics and categories. I engage and attempt to complement the proposal by Andrew Robinson and Christopher Southgate (in this issue of Zygon) with insights from the Peircean-inspired philosophical theology of Robert Neville. I argue that their proposal can be strengthened by acknowledging the way in which (...)theological symbols themselves have a transformative (pragmatic) effect as they are “taken” in context and “break” on the Infinite. (shrink)
In theological discourse of sexuality, queer theory has often been regarded as an extension of the project of gay and lesbian liberation, when it actually challenges an organizing value of the entire discourse, because it challenges any ascription of ultimate value to “sex,” an imaginative formation of power relations. Rather than appeal to God to authorize the privileged status of sex, queer commentary suggests that theological writers should refuse assertions of the absolute importance of any particular formation of (...) human imagination as a basis of relation between self and God. The goal is to recognize the violence—symbolized and real—that enforces the worth of certain imaginations of intelligibly sexed personal identity and stunts the formation of alternative imaginations of intelligible personal identity. Critical account of this violence as sentimental-homicidal-suicidal opens space to confess a theological discourse of personal identities that is entirely beyond sex. (shrink)
The book Time and Eternity , the English version of Zeit und Ewigkeit , by Antje Jackelén, contains scientific and theological treatments of these two topics, starting with the usage of such ideas in German, Swedish, and English hymns. This essay describes her work and explains how the scientific ideas provide a coherent framework for understanding the place of time.
Antje Jackelén's Time and Eternity successfully employs the method of correlation and a close study of the question of time to enter the dialogue between science and theology. Hermeneutical attention to language is a central element of this dialogue, but we must be aware that much science is untranslatable into ordinary language; it is when we get to the bigger metaphysical assumptions of science that true dialogue begins to happen. Thus, although the method of correlation is a useful way to (...) approach this dialogue, there is not a strict equivalence in this relationship. Theology needs science more than science needs theology. In speaking of time and God we must keep in mind the relational nature of classical Christian theism, even in its most austere forms. We should not read Enlightenment ideas of God back into the classical Christian tradition or neglect the apophatic emphasis in Christian theism, which warned against assuming knowledge of the divine nature. God's relation to time always lies beyond our understanding. Studying the effects of either the Newtonian or Einsteinian concepts of time on our theological concepts should not detract our attention from the "lived time" that characterizes human experience. Consideration of the notion of time in the Madhyamaka Buddhist tradition reminds us that we cannot control the inner reality of time and that for humans time is something to be considered pragmatically. (shrink)
In the first part elements and entailments of an adequate thesis of physicalism are presented. In the second part an argument against these is elaborated. Based on this argument a thesis of theological idealism is sketched.
This article shows that Held's central philosophical concern is with the manner in which the withdrawal of world is apparent in kairological moments disclosed in fundamental moods. The phenomenology of world is for him a way of overcoming voluntarist nominalism. World is of its nature a limit to will and is experienced in the passivity of being acted upon. It is shown how Held emphasizes the common origins of philosophy and politics in the fundamental moods of wonder and awe. In (...) the final section it is argued - with reference to his more recent encounter with theological and scriptural themes - that Held's understanding of kairos and doxa is one-sided. By failing to account for the biblical transformation of both terms, especially St Paul's conception of the kairos as a suspension of world and by equating the Judaeo-Christian God with its voluntaristic conception, Held fails to give sufficient weight to the singularity of the kairos in the kenotic humbling of will implicit in the Christian notions of creation and incarnation. (shrink)
It is often difficult to balance the conflicting interests of freedom and equality in the public domain. This article attempts to provide a Christian perspective on freedom and equality that might help to reconcile some of the conflicts between freedom and equality that are likely to arise. The first section discusses the significance of religious ethics for social justice, the second section attempts to provide a conceptual framework for freedom and equality from a theological perspective. The third section offers (...) a societal framework within which conflicts between freedom and equality can be resolved. The conclusion arrived at is that freedom and equality are compatible values as long as they are used in a conceptually correct manner which upholds the inherent principles governing societal processes. (shrink)
A number of arguments have been put forward by D. Z. Phillips which purportedly establish that the problems that lie at the heart of the theological realism/nonrealism controversy are confused, and that realism itself is incoherent and may be refuted. These arguments are assessed and several different theories of realism are considered. The questions of the nature of religious belief and whether God is an object are addressed. Phillips' arguments are shown to fail to supply a substantial objection to (...) any interesting variety of theological realism. (shrink)
In a theological understanding of nature, what is the significance of herons? This article reflects on the question of herons by first describing how bird migration can be included in a theological approach to nature. To explore the theological meaning of migration, theology must model nature as defined by the idea of 'emplacement'. Next, it investigates how the migration of herons challenges and complements our sense of dwelling by detailing the different ways that herons are emplaced as (...) migratory birds. It concludes by offering three insights into the place of herons in a philosophical theology of nature. First, migrating herons and other non-human animals penetrate into nature as both radically particular creatures and anonymously general ones. Second, herons push us to understand the theological meaning of the otherness of Otherness. Third, non-human animals remind us to move beyond solipsistic views of our emplacement. Together with a general description of the elements of emplacement that are added by the migration of herons, we see how we are theologically influenced by the 'intimate distance' of herons. (shrink)
This paper attempts to clarify some issues about what is usually called “doxastic voluntarism”. This phrase often hides a confusion between two separate (although connected) issues: whether beliefis or can be, as a matter of psychological fact, under the control of the will, on the one hand, and whether we can have practical reasons to believe something, or whether our beliefs are subject to any sort of “ought”, on the other hand. The first issue -- which I prefer to (...) call the issue of volitionism about belief -- is psychological, and I take the answer to be negative, along the lines of the conceptual arguments against believing at will adduced by writers such as Bernard Williams. The second issue -- which I call voluntarism proper -- is normative, and the answer that I give is a qualified yes. Belief is not a matter of the will, although there are certain things that we ought to believe. (shrink)
Moral philosophers have frequently criticized theological ethics for its dependence upon divine authority and its consequent lack of autonomy. To test their perception of religious ethics and mentality, this paper examines the ways in which Paul justifies his ethical advice in I Corinthians 7. Analysis of his reasoning reveals that Paul invokes his own authority as well as the Lord's rulings and the commands of God. These are, however, related in ways which encourage freedom of interpretation and (...) application. In this text at least, theological ethics cannot be reduced to simple obedience to religious authority. (shrink)