In the nineteenth century, William Whewell claimed that his confirmation criterion of consilience was a truth-guarantor: we could, he believed, be certain that a consilient theory was true. Since that time Whewell has been much ridiculed for this claim by critics such as J. S. Mill and Bas van Fraassen. I have argued elsewhere that, while Whewell's claim that consilience can guarantee the truth of a theory is clearly wrong, consilience is indeed quite useful as a confirmation criterion ( (...) class='Hi'>Snyder 2005). Here I will show that, even when consilience gives evidence for a theory that turns out to be false, there is an important sense in which consilience shows that the theory has captured something correct about the natural-kind structure of the physical world. Whewell was therefore correct to claim that consilience provides a "criterion of reality" (Whewell  1967, vol. 2, 68). Consilience provides this by giving justification for the claim that we have really `cut nature at its causal joints', to adapt Plato's famous phrase. Because of this, consilience can play a role in an argument for scientific realism. (shrink)
: Dr. Smith is an internist in private practice who works at an inner city clinic affiliated with a university hospital. He is also a member of the university faculty. Many of Dr. Smith’s patients have type 2 diabetes mellitus and struggle with health care and other costs. Thinking about opportunities to better serve his patients and advance his career, Dr. Smith considers conducting clinical research in his office. ACME is a respected pharmaceutical company that for decades has engaged in (...) research, development, and production of widely used drugs. Several of ACME’s oral agents for type 2 diabetes will soon go off patent. In an effort to retain its market share in this class of drugs, ACME wants to complete clinical trials expeditiously and obtain approval for its new oral hypoglycemic medicine. The company approaches Dr. Smith to be a coinvestigator in its multicenter clinical trial. (shrink)
This paper is an examination of the theory of materia prima of the fifteenth century Platonist Marsilio Ficino. It limits its discussion of Ficino's theory to the ontological and epistemic status of prime matter in his Platonic Theology. Ficino holds a "robust" theory of prime matter that makes two fundamental assertions: First, prime matter exists independent of form, and second, it is, at least in principle, intelligible. Ficino's theory of prime matter is framed in this paper with a discussion of (...) the divergence among Scholastic philosophers over the nature of prime matter. (shrink)
In this paper I demonstrate that, contrary to the standard interpretations, William Whewell's view of scientific method is neither that of the hypothetico-deductivist nor that of the retroductivist. Rather, he offers a unique inductive methodology, which he calls "discoverers' induction." After explicating this methodology, I show that Kepler's discovery of his first law of planetary motion conforms to it, as Whewell claims it does. In explaining Whewell's famous phrase about "happy guesses" in science, I suggest that Whewell intended a (...) distinction between "inductions," which can be empirically verified, and "mere hypotheses"--or guesses--which cannot. Finally, I argue that Whewell's discoverers' induction is a view worthy of our attention today, because it avoids a number of problems faced by prominent alternative methodologies. (shrink)
Arthur Danto’s recent book, Andy Warhol, leads the reader through the story of the iconic American’s artistic life highlighted by a philosophical commentary, a commentary that merges Danto’s aesthetic theory with the artist himself. Inspired by Warhol’s Brillo Box installation, art that in Danto’s eyes was indiscernible from the everyday boxes it represented, Danto developed a theory that is able to differentiate art from non-art by employing the body of conceptual art theory manifest in what he termed the ‘artworld’. The (...) strength of Danto’s theory is found in its ability to explain the art of the post-modern era. His body of work weaves philosophy, art history and art criticism together, merging his aesthetic philosophy with his extensive knowledge of the world of art. Danto’s essentialist theory of embodied meaning provides him with a critical tool that succeeds in explaining the currents of contemporary art, a task that many great thinkers of art history were unable to do. If Warhol inspired Danto to create a philosophy of art, it is appropriate that Danto write a tribute to Warhol that traces how Warhol brought philosophy into art. Danto’s account of ‘Warhol as philosopher’ positions him as a pivotal figure in the history of twentieth-century art, effecting a sea change in how art was made and viewed. Warhol achieved this by conceiving of works that embodied the answers to a series of philosophical puzzles surrounding the nature of art. Warhol, as Danto describes him, manifests himself in his art because he had transformed himself, in a way, into an icon of the times. This pragmatist notion that art should undermine the dichotomies that exist between art and life would, by some accounts, position Warhol to be the philosopher that Danto claims him to be, for he dissolved the philosophical questions posted by late modern aesthetic thinkers by creating art that imploded the accepted notions of art at the time. One of Danto’s greatest contributions to aesthetics is his theory’s ability to distinguish art from non-art, recognizing that it is the artist’s intention that levels the sublimity of art into the commonplace, thereby transfiguring the everyday. However, acknowledging this achievement, I argue that Warhol’s philosophical contribution actually manifests itself in a manner different from that proposed by Danto. Danto maintains that the internal drive of art leads to the unfolding of art theoretical concepts that ineluctably shift the terrain of world of art. I would agree with Danto that Warhol, almost as Hegel viewed Napoleon as Geist on a horse, pushed forward the boundaries of art through the actualization of art’s internal drive. But I would disagree that the conceptual nature of art is one that unfolds merely as a relation of concepts that artists trace through a connection to the meaning of history they forge using their unmediated grasp of style. Rather, I would argue that the artist’s style is not bound so narrowly to the meanings they express. Through their aesthetic articulations, artists initiate a process of social interaction. This process employs the philosophical logic which Danto attributes to Warhol indirectly, and through it, it is able to transfigure the vocabulary of art—the concepts of the artworld—by superseding the language of modernism. Warhol’s philosophical contribution is seen in his mastery of both the medium of art and the underlying logic of the medium’s expression and reception. (shrink)
A philosophically and historically sensitive account of the engagement of the major protagonists of Victorian British philosophy, Reforming Philosophy considers the controversies between William Whewell and John Stuart Mill on the topics of science, morality, politics, and economics. By situating their debate within the larger context of Victorian society and its concerns, Laura Snyder shows how two very different men—Whewell, an educator, Anglican priest, and critic of science; and Mill, a philosopher, political economist, and parliamentarian—reacted to the challenges (...) of their times, each seeking to reform science as a means of reforming society as a whole. The first book-length examination of the dispute between Mill and Whewell in its entirety, Reforming Philosophy provides a rich and nuanced understanding of the intellectual spirit of Victorian Britain and will be welcomed by philosophers and historians of science, scholars of Victorian studies, and students of the history of philosophy and political economy. (shrink)
In this paper, we present an ethical and strategic approach to managing organizational crises. The proposed crisis management model (1) offers a new approach to guide an organization’s strategic and ethical response to crisis, and (2) provides a two-by-two framework for classifying organizational crises. The ethically rational approach to crisis draws upon strategic rationality, crisis, and ethics literature to understand and address organizational crises. Recent examples of corporate crises are employed to illustrate the theoretical claims advanced. Finally, the paper provides (...) guidelines for a morally optimal outcome for the organization and its stakeholders. (shrink)
The authors co-organized (Snyder and Crooks) and gave a keynote presentation at (Turner) a conference on ethical issues in medical tourism. Medical tourism involves travel across international borders with the intention of receiving medical care. This care is typically paid for out-of-pocket and is motivated by an interest in cost savings and/or avoiding wait times for care in the patient’s home country. This practice raises numerous ethical concerns, including potentially exacerbating health inequities in destination and source countries and disrupting (...) continuity of care for patients. In this report, we synthesize conference presentations and present three lessons from the conference: 1) Medical tourism research has the potential for cross- or inter-disciplinarity but must bridge the gap between researchers trained in ethical theory and scholars unfamiliar with normative frameworks; 2) Medical tourism research must engage with empirical research from a variety of disciplines; and 3) Ethical analyses of medical tourism must incorporate both individual and population-level perspectives. While these lessons are presented in the context of research on medical tourism, we argue that they are applicable in other areas of research where global practices, such as human subject research and health worker migration, are occurring in the face of limited regulatory oversight. (shrink)
This article investigates a tension that arises in Hegel’s aesthetic theory between theoretical and practical forms of reason. This tension, I argue, stems from Hegel’s appropriation of an Aristotelian framework for a historically unfolding social teleology which puts practical reason to work for the aims of theoretical reason. Recognizing that this aspect of Hegel’s dialectic is essential in overcoming problems left in Kant’s transcendental idealism, the appearance of incongruence does not lessen. Grouped together with absolute spirit, Hegel positions art as (...) a transitory mode of mind, a vehicle, which aims to raise spirit to the higher cognition of philosophy. When the unfolding absolute concept becomes too complex for articulation in the material, art must end, as spirit’s message can be expressed only through the non-material form of philosophy. This study focuses on the ambivalence found in Hegel’s writings regarding his account of historical completion. Though Hegel sees in the Absolute a metaphysical solution to the unity of subject and object, the practical aspects of the unity appear to falter when philosophy becomes the dominant mode of expression at the close of a historical cycle. In Lectures on the History of Philosophy, Hegel links his notion of the Absolute, albeit with modification, to Aristotle’s nous. As described in De Anima, this entails a progression in which active and possible intellect rise to the level of the eternal, while passive intellect, the imaginative element, passes on with the body. Because the architecture of Aristotle’s nous, which is not in line with his defense of poetry, is integrated into the blueprint of Hegel’s absolute, an unresolved tension emerges in the spirit of art. A divergence of aims is forced to the surface through Hegel’s application of a template for achievement of theoretical knowledge, with an end in the universal, to a form of practical knowing which has an end in the particular. (shrink)
Background: Medical tourism involves patients travelling internationally to receive medical services. This practice raises a range of ethical issues, including potential harms to the patient's home and destination country and risks to the patient's own health. Medical tourists often engage the services of a facilitator who may book travel and accommodation and link the patient with a hospital abroad. Facilitators have the potential to exacerbate or mitigate the ethical concerns associated with medical tourism, but their roles are poorly understood. -/- (...) Methods: 12 facilitators were interviewed from 10 Canadian medical tourism companies. -/- Results: Three themes were identified: facilitators' roles towards the patient, health system and medical tourism industry. Facilitators' roles towards the patient were typically described in terms of advocacy and the provision of information, but limited by facilitators' legal liability. Facilitators felt they played a positive role in the lives of their patients and the Canadian health system and served as catalysts for reform, although they noted an adversarial relationship with some Canadian physicians. Many facilitators described personally visiting medical tourism sites and forming personal relationships with surgeons abroad, but noted the need for greater regulation of their industry. -/- Conclusion: Facilitators play a substantial and evolving role in the practice of medical tourism and may be entering a period of professionalisation. Because of the key role of facilitators in determining the effects of medical tourism on patients and public health, this paper recommends a planned conversation between medical tourism stakeholders to define and shape facilitators' roles. (shrink)
During the mid 1980s, the renowned American documentary filmmaker Fred Wiseman produced a four-part series of films that sought to record the operations of institutions in Talladega, Alabama, devoted to the care and training of people with disabilities. These filmsâdesignated as the Multi-handicapped Seriesâhave received much less attention than Wiseman's earlier work, as if films about disability mark a drastic departure from his previous award-winning productions, such as Titicut Follies (1965) and Hospital (1970). The Multi-handicapped Series takes up general categories (...) of disabled populations as discrete documentary topics, Deaf (1986), Blind (1986), Multi-handicapped (1986) and Adjustment & Work (1986) as opposed to a specific location as in his earlier films. As a result, the latter series of films identify social and interpersonal structures developed in the name of specific conditions. Like Foucault's research on disciplinary tactics, Wiseman's films seek out many of the segregated social spaces typically occupied by persons classified as deviant: prisons, hospitals, charity networks, sheltered workshops, resident facilities, and vocational training structures. The Multi-handicapped Series focuses on the activities of professions and practitioners in education, administration, and therapy, as well as the institutional roles designed for bodies marked as disabled. Unlike its 19th century predecessor classification, feebleminded, the latter twentieth century U.S. policy answer has been waged as a matter of dividing disabilities into a binary structure of orthopedic or cognitive categories. Such a development has left many crossover bodies in a diagnostic no-body's-land. To analyze the history of these developments, this essay recognizes the formation of today's disability category as an effect of new regimes of power; a form of domination based upon the application of particularized diagnostic pathologies that provide the basis for cordoning off bodies which fail to fit neatly within the cognitive/orthopedic binary. As documents of the social spaces that are occupied by disabled people, Wiseman's films offer a rare contemplation of institutional practices and their application to populations viewed as nonnormative. (shrink)
When prices for basic commodities increase following a disaster, these price increases are often condemned as ‘price gouging’. In this paper, I discuss what moral wrongs, if any, are most reasonably ascribed to accusations of price gouging. This discussion keeps in mind both practical and moral defenses of price increase following disasters. I first examine existing antigouging legislation for commonalities in their definitions of gouging and then present arguments in favor of the permissibility of gouging, focusing on the economic benefits (...) of price increases following disasters. I argue that gouging takes the form of a specific failure of respect for persons by undercutting equitable access to essential goods. While I discuss anti-gouging legislation throughout this paper, my aim is to give an account of the moral wrongs associated with gouging rather than guidance for developing morally defensible anti-gouging legislation. (shrink)
Our paper presents a novel theory of weak crossover effects, based entirely on quantifier scope preferences and their consequences for variable binding. The structural notion of 'crossover' play no role. We develop a theory of scope preferences which ascribes a central role to the AGR-P System.
The preparation of layers of amorphous Se by plasma-enhanced CVD using the hydride H2Se as precursor gas is described. Information concerning the structure of the films was obtained from Raman spectroscopy. The spectra of amorphous Se indicated that the dominant molecular structure is the eight-membered ring and/or a chain with Se8 molecular fragments. This material exhibited reversible photodarkening when illuminated at 77 K. In order to explain this phenomenon, we propose a mechanism which takes into (...) account the role of the lone-pair electron orbitals of Se in their contribution to structural ordering. Illumination can cause a distortion in the normal bonding direction between nearest-neighbour Se atoms and induce in this way intrinsic defect states located at the band edges. In the photo-darkened state, optical transition will occur between these defect states. (shrink)
William Rowe’s a posteriori arguments for the non-existence of God are well-known. Rather less attention has been given, however, to Rowe’s intriguing a priori argument for atheism. In this paper, I examine the three published responses to Rowe’s a priori argument (due to Bruce Langtry, William Morris, and Daniel and Frances Howard-Snyder, respectively). I conclude that none is decisive, but I show that Rowe’s argument nevertheless requires more defence than he provides.
William Whewell was clearly wrong to claim that his confirmation criterion of consilience was a truth-guarantor. I argue here, however, that even when consilience gives evidence for a theory that turns out to be false, there is an important sense in which consilience shows that the theory has gotten something right. Consilience is a sign that a theory has uncovered something about the natural-kind structure of the physical world. Because of this, Whewell was correct to claim that consilience provides (...) a “criterion of reality.” In this way consilience can play a role in an argument for scientific realism. (shrink)
Corroborating Testimony, Probability and Surprise’, Erik J. Olsson ascribes to L. Jonathan Cohen the claims that if two witnesses provide us with the same information, then the less probable the information is, the more confident we may be that the information is true (C), and the stronger the information is corroborated (C*). We question whether Cohen intends anything like claims (C) and (C*). Furthermore, he discusses the concurrence of witness reports within a context of independent witnesses, whereas the witnesses in (...) Olsson's model are not independent in the standard sense. We argue that there is much more than, in Olsson's words, ‘a grain of truth’ to claim (C), both on his own characterization as well as on Cohen's characterization of the witnesses. We present an analysis for independent witnesses in the contexts of decision-making under risk and decision-making under uncertainty and generalize the model for n witnesses. As to claim (C*), Olsson's argument is contingent on the choice of a particular measure of corroboration and is not robust in the face of alternative measures. Finally, we delimit the set of cases to which Olsson's model is applicable. 1 Claim (C) examined for Olsson's characterization of the relationship between the witnesses 2 Claim (C) examined for two or more independent witnesses 3 Robustness and multiple measures of corroboration 4 Discussion. (shrink)
In ‘Corroborating Testimony, Probability and Surprise’, Erik J. Olsson ascribes to L. Jonathan Cohen the claims that if two witnesses provide us with the same information, then the less probable the information is, the more confident we may be that the information is true (C), and the stronger the information is corroborated (C*). We question whether Cohen intends anything like claims (C) and (C*). Furthermore, he discusses the concurrence of witness reports within a context of independent witnesses, whereas the witnesses (...) in Olsson’s model are not independent in the standard sense. We argue that there is much more than, in Olsson’s words, ‘a grain of truth’ to claim (C), both on his own characterization as well as on Cohen’s characterization of the witnesses. We present an analysis for independent witnesses in the contexts of decision-making under risk and decision-making under uncertainty and generalize the model for n witnesses. As to claim (C*), Olsson’s argument is contingent on the choice of a particular measure of corroboration and is not robust in the face of alternative measures. Finally, we delimit the set of cases to which Olsson’s model is applicable. (shrink)
Biological evolution allegedly requires a genealogical conception of species (i.e., that species are descent-based "historical entities" rather than similarity-based "natural kinds"). After considering David Hull's arguments for this view, this paper opts instead for individuating species primarily via genetic similarities, but in a way which avoids charges of "Essentialism". It is suggested that a genealogical conception of species actually derives from a biological version of Behaviorism plus an interrelated pair of confusions regarding evolution and identity. Current taxonomic method may favor (...) the genealogical conception, but evolutionary theory-- as well as genetics and molecular biology--count against it. (shrink)
Numerous writers on photography and motion pictures have claimed that photographically originated pictures are essentially different from handmade pictures. Arguments made on behalf of the essential difference of photographs from other kinds of pictures generally depend upon one or another of two models of the photographic process: the visual model claims that photographs are closely allied to vision and show what we would have seen from the standpoint of the camera at the time of exposure; the mechanical or automatic model (...) claims that irrespective of what a photograph looks like, it is a reliable index of what was the case at the moment of exposure. Each of these models is examined and shown to be faulty on either or both factual and/or conceptual grounds. Stanley Cavell's assertions about the "automatic" nature of photography are examined in some detail and shown to be either equivocal or false. It is suggested, in closing, that sharp, categorial differences between photographs and handmade pictures do not exist and that questions about the differences between photographs and, say, paintings, can be solved only within the context of viewing particular photographs and particular paintings. In sum, claims about the ontological distinctions between photographs and handmade pictures cannot be warranted. (shrink)
Many theists hold that for any world x that God has the power to actualize, there is a better world, y, that God had the power to actualize instead of x. Recently, however, it has been suggested that this scenario is incompatible with traditional theism: roughly, it is claimed that no being can be essentially unsurpassable on this view, since no matter what God does in actualizing a world, it is possible for God (or some other being) to do better, (...) and hence it is possible for God (or some other being) to be better. In reply to an argument of this sort, Daniel and Frances Howard-Snyder offer the surprising claim that an essentially unsurpassable being could – consistently with his goodness and rationality – select a world for actualization at random. In what follows, I respond to the most recent contributions to this discussion. I criticize William Rowe’s new reply to the Howard-Snyders (but I endorse the spirit of one of his arguments), and I claim that Edward Wierenga’s new defence of the Howard-Snyders fails. I conclude that the Howard-Snyders’ argument fails to show that an essentially unsurpassable being could randomly choose a world for actualization. Accordingly, it fails to block an important argument for atheism. (shrink)
In “How an Unsurpassable Being can Create a Surpassable World,” Daniel and Frances Howard-Snyder employ a fascinating thought experiment in anattempt to show that a morally unsurpassable being can create a surpassable world. Imagine that for each positive integer there is a world that a good,omnipotent, omniscient being can create. Jove randomly selects a number and creates the corresponding world; Thor simply creates world 888. The Howard-Snyders argue that it is logically possible that Jove is morally unsurpassable. William (...) Rowe counters that Thor morally surpasses Jove, thus contradictingthe claim that Jove is morally unsurpassable. Does either Jove or Thor morally surpass the other? How do their strategies compare? Could a morally unsurpassable being employ Jove’s strategy? The purpose of this paper is to answer these questions. (shrink)
It used to be widely held by philosophers that God and evil are incompatible.1 Not any longer. Alvin Plantinga's Free Will Defense is largely responsible for this shift. Indeed, Robert Adams avers that "it is fair to say that Plantinga has solved this problem. That is, he has argued convincingly for the consistency of [God and evil]."2 And William Alston writes that "Plantinga...has established the possibility that God could not actualize a world containing free creatures that always do the (...) right thing."3 You might expect praise like this from Christian philosophers. You might not expect it from William Rowe, one of the foremost atheistic philosophers of our day, but this is precisely what we find. Rowe writes. (shrink)
As a response to what I see as the challenge posed by constructivist and narrative pedagogies, this paper seeks to sympathetically reconstruct Bernard Williams' Absolute Conception from the scattered texts in which he briefly sketched it. While ultimately defending the Absolute Conception or something close enough to it, the paper criticizes and distances itself from some aspects of Williams' version, notably his conception of philosophy as insurmountably perspectival. Williams' understanding of perspectival knowledge as contrasted to absolute knowledge is illustrated with (...) the concrete, if fictional case of the Dr Manhattan character from Zack Snyder's Watchmen (2009). Adrian Moore's reading, and Hilary Putnam's criticisms of Williams' Absolute Conception are amongst the positions engaged with. (shrink)
We argue that Michael Peterson's and William Hasker's attempts to show that God and gratuitous evil are compatible constitute miserable failures. We then sketch Peter van Inwagen's attempt to do the same and conclude that, to date, no one has shown his attempt a failure.
Reprinted in Philosophical and Theological Essays on the Trinity, Oxford, 2009, eds Michael Rea and Thomas McCall. In this essay, I assess a certain version of ’social Trinitarianism’ put forward by J. P. Moreland and William Lane Craig, ’trinity monotheism’. I first show how their response to a familiar anti-Trinitarian argument arguably implies polytheism. I then show how they invoke three tenets central to their trinity monotheism in order to avoid that implication. After displaying these tenets more fully, I (...) argue that Trinitarians would do well to hold Moreland’s and Craig’s trinity monotheism at arms length. (shrink)
In an earlier paper, I objected to certain elements of L. Jonathan Cohen's account of corroborating testimony (Olsson ). In their response to my article, Bovens, Fitelson, Hartmann and Snyder () suggest some significant improvements of the probabilistic model which I used in assessing Cohen's theses and answer some additional questions which my study raised. More problematically, they also seek to defend Cohen against my criticism. I argue, in this reply, that their attempts in this direction are unsuccessful.
I respond to Daniel and Frances Howard-Snyder’s criticisms of my arguments in another place for the conclusion that human supplicants would have little responsibility (if any) for the result of answered petitionary prayer, and criticize their defense of the claim that God would have good reasons for creating an institution of petitionary prayer.
Preprinted in God and the Problem of Evil(Blackwell 2001), ed. William Rowe. Many people deny that evil makes belief in atheism more reasonable for us than belief in theism. After all, they say, the grounds for belief in God are much better than the evidence for atheism, including the evidence provided by evil. We will not join their ranks on this occasion. Rather, we wish to consider the proposition that, setting aside grounds for belief in God and relying only (...) on the background knowledge shared in common by nontheists and theists, evil makes belief in atheism more reasonable for us than belief in theism. Our aim is to argue against this proposition. We recognize that in doing so, we face a formidable challenge. It’s one thing to say that evil presents a reason for atheism that is, ultimately, overridden by arguments for theism. It’s another to say that it doesn’t so much as provide us with a reason for atheism in the first place. In order to make this latter claim seem initially more plausible, consider the apparent design of the mammalian eye or the apparent fine-tuning of the universe to support life. These are often proposed as reasons to believe in theism. Critics commonly argue not merely that these supposed reasons for theism are overridden by arguments for atheism but rather that they aren’t good reasons for theism in the first place. Our parallel proposal with respect to evil and atheism is, initially at least, no less plausible than this proposal with respect to apparent design and theism. (shrink)
Agnes's brakes fail. Should she continue straight into the busy intersection or should she swerve into the field? Add to the story, what Agnes does not and cannot know, that continuing into the intersection will cause no harm, whereas swerving into the apparently empty field will cause a death. I evaluate arguments for the claim that she should enter the intersection, i.e. for objectivism about right and wrong; and arguments for the claim that she should swerve, i.e. for subjectivism about (...) right and wrong, and conclude that subjectivism is more plausible. I also consider the view that ‘ought’ and ‘wrong’ are systematically ambiguous, that she subjectively ought to swerve and that she objectively ought to enter the intersection. I argue that most versions of this suggestion are unworkable, and that even the best version is less plausible than pure subjectivism. (shrink)
In this essay, I assess Keith Lehrer's case against Foundationalism, which consists of variations on three objections: The Independent Information or Belief Objection, The Risk of Error Objection, and the Hidden Argument Objection. I conclude that each objection fails for reasons that can be endorsed – indeed, I would say for reasons that should be endorsed – by antifoundationalists and foundationalists alike.
Many Christian theodicists believe that God's creating us with the capacity to love Him and each other justifies, in large part, God's permitting evil. For example, after reminding us that, according to Christian doctrine, the supreme good for human beings is to enter into a reciprocal love relationship with God, Vincent Brummer recently wrote: In creating human persons in order to love them, God necessarily assumes vulnerability in relation to them. In fact, in this relation, he becomes even more vulnerable (...) than we do, since he cannot count on the steadfastness of our love the way we can count on his steadfastness.... If God did not grant us the ability to sin and cause affliction to him and to one another, we would not have the kind of free and autonomous existence necessary to enter into a relation of love with God and with one another.... Far from contradicting the value which the free will defence places upon the freedom and responsibility of human persons, the idea of a loving God necessarily entails it. In this way we can see that the free will defence is based on the love of God rather than on the supposed intrinsic value of human freedom and responsibility.1 And Peter van Inwagen recently put the same point this way. (shrink)
Dennis Whitcomb argues that there is no God on the grounds that (i) God is omniscient, yet (ii) nothing could be omniscient due to the nature of grounding. We give a formally identical argument that concludes that one of the present co-authors does not exist. Since he does exist, Whitcomb’s argument is unsound. But why is it unsound? That is a difficult question. We venture two answers. First, one of the grounding principles that the argument relies on is false. Second, (...) the argument equivocates between two kinds of grounding: instance-grounding and quasi-mereological grounding. Happily, the equivocation can be avoided; unhappily, avoidance comes at the price of a false premise. (shrink)
By my lights, there is much to be happy about in GAFCON’s Final Statement and the Jerusalem Declaration. There are several sources of concern, however. These documents (i) misrepresent the traditional, biblical teaching on marriage, (ii) appear to add to the apostolic gospel and may well in fact do so, (iii) focus on a teaching that pales in comparison with much weightier heterodoxy that runs rampant amongst the leadership of the present North American Anglican provinces, (iv) reject the authority of (...) the Archbishop of Canterbury, with all that entails with respect to the Instruments of Unity and Anglican identity, and (v) affirm Articles 1, 5, 8, 21, and 37 of the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, all of which contain dubious elements. With a pedigree like this it seems neither wise nor right for orthodox, biblically faithful Anglicans to assent to the Statement or Declaration, nor for the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans and the Anglican Church in North America to require such assent for membership. In light of these concerns, I make several friendly suggestions to the leaders of these new Anglican bodies. (shrink)
Preprinted in God and the Problem of Evil (Blackwell 2001), ed. William Rowe. In this article, we reply to Bill Rowe's "Evil is Evidence Against Theistic Belief" in Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Religion (Blackwell 2003).
Donald Davidson’s epistemology is predicated on, among other things, the rejection of Experiential Foundationalism, which he calls ‘unintelligible’. In this essay, I assess Davidson’s arguments for this conclusion. I conclude that each of them fails on the basis of reasons that foundationalists and antifoundationalists alike can, and should, accept.
According to the Christian religion, Jesus was “crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again”. I take it that this rising again—the Resurrection of Jesus, as it’s sometimes called—is, according to the Christian religion, an historical event, just like his crucifixion, death, and burial. And I would have thought that to investigate whether the Resurrection occurred, we would need to do some historical research: we would need to assess the reliability of (...) the New Testament documents and related manuscripts; we would need to look into the credibility of the witnesses to his post-mortem appearances, the empty tomb, and the like. The task looks rather daunting. But, according to David Hume, we don’t have to do anything of the kind. For no matter how strong the testimony in favor of a miracle is—indeed, even if we “suppose…that the testimony considered apart and in itself, amounts to an entire proof”—we have at our disposal a “full proof…against the existence of any miracle”. So we can avoid all that tedious historical work. We can simply use Hume’s shortcut, a proof against the existence of any miracle, and hence a proof against the Resurrection. So Hume says he has a “a decisive argument,” “an everlasting check to all kinds of superstitious delusion,” superstitious delusions like the Resurrection. There is good news and bad news in Hume’s proclamation. The good news is that he really has two arguments, not just one—or, at any rate, many scholars discern in his writings two arguments. The bad news is that neither succeeds; at any rate, try as I might, I can’t see how they do. (shrink)
I know that the GAFCON leaders would want us to express the various questions that naturally come to mind as we contemplate what they have said to us. Just as they wouldn’t want anyone to swallow uncritically the latest pronouncement from Canterbury or New York, so clearly they wouldn’t want us merely to glance at their document, see that it’s ‘all about the gospel’, and then conclude that we must sign up without thinking through what’s being said and why. It (...) is in that spirit that I raise certain questions…. (shrink)
Is evil evidence against the existence of God? Even if God and evil are compatible, it remains hotly contested whether evil renders belief in God unreasonable. The Evidential Argument from Evil presents five classic statements on this issue by eminent philosophers and theologians and places them in dialogue with eleven original essays reflecting new thinking by these and other scholars. The volume focuses on two versions of the argument. The first affirms that there is no reason for God to permit (...) either certain specific horrors or the variety and profusion of undeserved suffering. The second asserts that pleasure and pain, given their biological role, are better explained by hypotheses other than theism. -/- Contributors include William P. Alston, Paul Draper, Richard M. Gale, Daniel Howard-Snyder, Alvin Plantinga, William L. Rowe, Bruce Russell, Eleonore Stump, Richard G. Swinburne, Peter van Inwagen, and Stephen John Wykstra. (shrink)
Two meanings of "subjective consequentialism" are distinguished: conscious deliberation with the aim of producing maximally-good consequences, versus acting in ways that, given one's evidence set and reasoning capabilities, is subjectively most likely to maximize expected consequences. The latter is opposed to "objective consequentialism," which demands that we act in ways that actually produce the best total consequences. Peter Railton's arguments for a version of objective consequentialism confuse the two subjective forms, and are only effective against the first. After reviewing the (...) arguments of Eric Wiland and Frances Howard-Snyder against objective consequentialism, two of Railton's arguments which might seem to count against the second form of subjective consequentialism are shown to be ineffective. This leaves subjective consequentialism as a viable theory to replace objective consequentialism with. (shrink)
This paper develops my position on the ethics of price gouging in response to Jeremy Snyder's article, "What's the Matter with Price Gouging." First, it explains how the "nonworseness claim" supports the moral permissibility of price gouging, even if it does not show that price gougers are morally virtuous agents. Second, it argues that questions about price gouging and distributive justice must be answered in light of the relevant possible institutional alternatives, and that Snyder's proposed alternatives to price (...) gouging fare worse on the dimension of justice than a system in which goods are allocated by a system of market prices. (shrink)
Frances Howard-Snyder has argued that objective consequentialism violates the principle that ‘ought’ implies ‘can’. In most situations, she claims, we cannot produce the best consequences available, although objective consequentialism says that we ought to do so. Here I try to show that Howard-Snyder's argument is unsound. The claim that we typically cannot produce the best consequences available is doubtful. And even if there is a sense of ‘producing the best consequences’ in which we cannot do so, (...) objective consequentialism does not entail that we ought, in this sense, to produce the best consequences. (shrink)
lnfallibilism is the view that a belief cannot be at once warranted and false. In this essay we assess three nonpartisan arguments for infallibilism, arguments that do not depend on a prior commitment to some substantive theory of warrant. Three premises, one from each argument, are most significant: (1) if a belief can be at once warranted and false, then the Geltier Problem cannot be solved; (2) if a belief can be at once warranted and false, then its warrant can (...) be transferred to an accidentally true belief; (3) if a belief can be at once warranted and false, then it can be warranted and accidentally true. We argue that each of these is either false or no more plausible than its denial. Along the way, we offer a solution to the Gettier Problem that is compatible with fallibilism. (shrink)
Chapter 1: "Reason for Hope (in the Post-modern World)" by Michael J. Murray Chapter 2: "Theistic Arguments" by William C. Davis Chapter 3: "A Scientific Argument for the Existence of God: The Fine- Tuning Design Argument" by Robin Collins Chapter 4: "God, Evil and Suffering" by Daniel Howard Snyder Chapter 5: "Arguments for Atheism" by John O'Leary Hawthorne Chapter 6: "Faith and Reason" by Caleb Miller Chapter 7: "Religious Pluralism" by Timothy O'Connor Chapter 8: "Eastern Religions" by (...) Robin Collins Chapter 9: "Divine Providence and Human Freedom" by Scott A. Davison Chapter 10: "The Incarnation and the Trinity" by Thomas D. Senor Chapter 11: "The Resurrection of the Body and the Life Everlasting" by Trenton Merricks Chapter 12: "Heaven and Hell" by Michael J. Murray Chapter 13: "Religion and Science" by W. Christopher Stewart Chapter 14: "Miracles and Christian Theism" by J. A. Cover Chapter 15: "Christianity and Ethics" by Frances Howard-Snyder Chapter 16: "The Authority of Scripture" by Douglas Blount.. (shrink)
It seems that the debate between objective and subjective consequentialists might be resolved by appealing to the ought implies can principle. Howard-Snyder has suggested that if one does not know how to do something, cannot do it, and thus one cannot have an obligation to do it. I argue that this depends on an overly rich conception of ability, and that we need to look beyond the ought implies can principle to answer the question. Once we do so, it (...) appears that Prichard might have been at least partly right when he claimed that obligations are tryings. I go some way to defending a diluted version of Prichard's view. (shrink)
Laurence BonJour observes that critics of foundationalism tend to argue against it by objecting to "relatively idiosyncratic" versions of it, a strategy which has "proven in the main to be superficial and ultimately ineffective" since answers immune to the objections emerge quickly (1985: 17). He aims to rectify this deficiency. Specifically, he argues that the very soul of foundationalism, "the concept of a basic empirical belief," is incoherent (1985: 30). This is a bold strategy from which we can learn even (...) if, in the end, as I shall argue, it fails. (shrink)
This paper provides a model of the transition from hegemonic trade to contemporary (or fair) trade. Hegemonic trade is an instance of the two player game called Bully (Poundstone 1992) and Called Bluff (Snyder and Diesing 1977); contemporary trade is an instance of Prisoner's Dilemma (Krugman and Obstfeld 1991). In this paper, I show that a nation under the thumb of a hegemon, called the conciliatory nation, can induce fair trade. Further, I show that to induce fair trade, the (...) conciliatory nation must not be timied. (shrink)
Nietzsche, I once read, used to have nightmares about not being able to speak. My son has nightmares about tornadoes. I have nightmares about issues that can only be resolved by appeal to Hegel’s speculative logic. Stephen Snyder might indeed present us with several such issues, but fortunately his presentation is complex enough that I should be able to distract you by focusing on other things. First, let me review what I take to me the structure of Snyder’s (...) argument. Snyder’s argument, as I understand it, is (1) Danto offers an (essentialist) “definition” of art, where “definition” of course means something like “ontological account.” (2) That definition is borrowed (“directly”) from Hegel. (3) Because it is borrowed from Hegel, Danto’s definition is inherently problematic. (3a) The problem with the definition is that it is the same as Hegel’s. (3b) The problem with the definition is that it is different from Hegel’s. This diagnosis is no dialectical kettle logic, however. Snyder’s claim, rather, is that Hegel’s account comes with difficulties that could only be resolved through some grand “metaphysical” gesture. So Danto, in effect, offers us the cream cheese without the bagel. It’s not clear where Snyder thinks that this leaves us: we could metaphysicalize Danto or get rid of embodied meaning or do something else entirely. The distinctive part of Snyder’s account is accordingly the diagnosis: Danto’s definition of art is troubled because he adopts elements of Hegel’s account without the systematic context, leaving him without the resources to solve its inherent problems. I can therefore grant myself leave to skip over some Hegel and Danto, and focus on the problematic. As far as I can tell, Snyder identifies two problems – alternately called “oppositions”(5) or “contradictions”(1) or “dualisms”(4) or possibly “antinomies”(8) – within the Hegel/Danto complex of art theory. The first is that of Particular and Universal. According to Snyder, the Hegel-Danto theory requires the artwork to be a weird kind of thing, namely: “a particular universal, an impossible object”(1).. (shrink)
Applying Snyder and Feldman's 1984 consolidation?transition model to moral judgement development has enabled further understanding of how moral judgement translates to moral functioning. In this study, 178 college students were identified as being in consolidated versus transitional phases of moral judgement development using Rest's Defining Issues Test (DIT). Participant moral functioning was inferred through an honest decision?making index along with Attitudes Towards Human Rights Inventory (ATHRI) and Volunteer Functions Inventory (VFI) scores. Multivariate Analyses of Variance revealed that the consolidated (...) group was significantly more honest than the transitional group. No differences attributable to moral judgement phase were seen for ATHRI and VFI scores. Findings support the claim that consolidated phases improve the explanatory power of moral judgement for certain moral functional outcomes?particularly those involving ambiguity and minimal time for decision?making. (shrink)
: In Section I, I provide a brief historical sketch of tragedy and its relationship to Socratic philosophy and comedy. II focuses on one aspect of tragedy, namely, its view that morality transcends natural limitations. This understanding of morality is with us still. III presents the central concerns of the world religions as evidence of a widespread feeling of alienation from the sacred and the wild, and contrasts world religions with indigenous spirituality. IV moves us away from the understanding of (...) philosophy as argument and counterargument and toward an ecosystemic, or wild, conception of philosophy as story in the mode of comedy. V offers a Buddhist understanding of tragic alienation that sees it as expressive of something deeply problematic about humans. This something is actualized throughout Western culture but seems to exist only as a potentiality in indigenous cultures. This is reason enough to take indigenous cultures and comedy seriously. VI brings us back to earth with a sketch of comedy in the lives of dear friends. VII sketches some of the attributes of functional communities that give support to comedy. I also point out a number of features of indigenous so-called worldviews that would greatly enhance the ability of comedy to displace tragedy in the West. VIII portrays picaresque comedy as exemplifying the lessons of comedy taught by wilderness. Examples from indigenous cultures of Africa and Gary Snyder's The Practice of the Wild underscore the importance of picaresque strategies and understandings of comedy. A look at Tom Birch's enigmatic statement, "wilderness treats us like human beings," setting it alongside some lines from Thoreau's Walden, rounds out my discussion of comedy. IX poses a challenge: Can we survive "The News" that pours in upon us from tragic seats of power? (shrink)
This commentary develops my position on the ethics of price gouging in response to Jeremy Snyder’s article, “What’s the Matter with Price Gouging.” First, it explains how the “nonworseness claim” supports the moral permissibility of price gouging, even if it does not show that price gougers are morally virtuous agents. Second, it argues that questions about price gouging and distributive justice must be answered in light of the relevant possible institutional alternatives, and that Snyder’s proposed alternatives to price (...) gouging fare worse on the dimension of justice than a system in which goods are allocated by a system of market prices. (shrink)
Biologists, historians, lawyers, art historians, and literary critics all voice arguments in the critical dialogue about what constitutes evidence in research and scholarship. They examine not only the constitution and "blurring" of disciplinary boundaries, but also the configuration of the fact-evidence distinctions made in different disciplines and historical moments the relative function of such concepts as "self-evidence," "experience," "test," "testimony," and "textuality" in varied academic discourses and the way "rules of evidence" are themselves products of historical developments. The essays and (...) rejoinders are by Terry Castle, Lorraine Daston, Carlo Ginzburg, Ian Hacking, Mark Kelman, R. C. Lewontin, Pierre Vidal-Naquet, Mary Poovey, Donald Preziosi, Simon Schaffer, Joan W. Scott, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, and Barbara Herrnstein Smith. The critical responses are by Lauren Berlant, James Chandler, Jean Comaroff, Arnold I. Davidson, Harry D. harootunian, Elizabeth Helsinger, Thomas C. Holt, Francoise Meltzer, Robert J. Richards, Lawrence Rothfield, Joel Snyder, Cass R. Sunstein, and William Wimsatt. (shrink)
This collection of essays is dedicated to William Rowe, with great affection, respect, and admiration. The philosophy of religion, once considered a deviation from an otherwise analytically rigorous discipline, has flourished over the past two decades. This collection of new essays by twelve distinguished philosophers of religion explores three broad themes: religious attitudes of faith, belief, acceptance, and love; human and divine freedom; and the rationality of religious belief. Contributors include: William Alston, Robert Audi, Jan Cover, Martin Curd, (...) Peter van Inwagen, Norman Kretzmann, George Nakhnikian, John Hawthorne, Philip Quinn, James Ross, Eleonore Stump, and William Wainwright. (shrink)
Skeptical theists argue that no seemingly unjustified evil (SUE) could ever lower the probability of God's existence at all. Why? Because God might have justifying reasons for allowing such evils (JuffREs) that are undetectable. However, skeptical theists are unclear regarding whether or not God's existence is relevant to the existence of JuffREs, and whether or not God's existence is relevant to their detectability. But I will argue that, no matter how the skeptical theist answers these questions, it is undeniable that (...) the skeptical theist is wrong; SUEs lower the probability of God's existence. To establish this, I will consider the four scenarios regarding the relevance of God's existence to the existence and detectability of JuffREs, and show that in each—after we establish our initial probabilities, and then update them given the evidence of a SUE—the probability of God's existence drops. (shrink)
J.L. Mackie’s version of the logical problem of evil is a failure, as even he came to recognize. Contrary to current mythology, however, its failure was not established by Alvin Plantinga’s Free Will Defense. That’s because a defense is successful only if it is not reasonable to refrain from believing any of the claims that constitute it, but it is reasonable to refrain from believing the central claim of Plantinga’s Free Will Defense, namely the claim that, possibly, every essence suffers (...) from transworld depravity. (shrink)
Many people are perplexed that God (if such there be) does not make His existence more evident. For many of them, the hiddenness of God puts their faith in God to the test. Others, however, claim that God’s hiddeness is the basis of an argument against God’s existence. While this claim is no newcomer to religious reflection, it has been the focus of renewed debate since the 1990’s. In this essay, I examine J.L. Schellenberg's version of the argument from divine (...) hiddenness for atheism. (shrink)
The Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA), whose leaders govern well over half of the 80 million Anglicans worldwide, have put forward ‘a contemporary rule,’ called The Jerusalem Declaration, to guide the Anglican realignment movement. The FCA and its affiliates, e.g. the newly-formed Anglican Church in North America, require assent to the Declaration. To date, there has been little serious appraisal of the Declaration and the status accorded to it. I aim to correct that omission. Unlike ap-praisals in the social media, (...) however, mine grants the FCA’s conservative stand on same-sex unions and homosexual practice. Nevertheless, I argue, the Declaration mischaracterizes the traditional Christian teaching on marriage, binds Anglicans to falsehoods and dubieties in the Thirty-Nine Articles, and adds to the gospel. Two things follow. First, no one—especially no Anglican who identifies herself as con-servative, traditional, orthodox, evangelical, Anglo-catholic or simply concerned with the truth—should assent to the Jerusalem Declaration. Second, since the FCA and its affiliates know that these defects ex-ist in the Declaration, they should fess up to these shortcomings and retract the Declaration’s status as ‘a contemporary rule’ and they should stop requiring assent to it. Anything less constitutes intellectual dis-honesty of a most egregious sort. (shrink)
Contemporary foundationalists prefer Moderate Foundationalism over Strong Foundationalism. In this paper, we assess two arguments against the former which have been recently defended by Timothy McGrew. Three theses are central to the discussion: that only beliefs can be probabilifying evidence, that justification is internal, in McGrew’s sense of the term, and that only beliefs can be nonarbitrary justifying reasons.
I argue for a version of “ought” implies “can”. In particular, I argue that it is necessarily true that if an agent, S, ultima facie ought to do A at T’, then there is a time T* such that S can at T* do A at T’. In support of this principle, I have argued that without it, we cannot explain how it is that, in cases where agents cannot do the best thing, they often ought to do some alternative (...) action – such as get help or do the promised action later; nor can we explain the phenomenon of necessary enablers or the phenomenon of more stringent prima facie obligations overriding less stringent ones in cases where the agent cannot fulfill both. (shrink)
This paper discusses the Principle of Normative Invariance: ‘An action’s moral status does not depend on whether or not it is performed.’ I show the importance of this principle for arguments regarding actualism and other variations on the person-affecting restriction, discuss and rebut arguments in favor of the principle, and then discuss five counterexamples to it. I conclude that the principle as it stands is false; and that if it is modified to avoid the counterexamples, it is gutted of any (...) interest or power. (shrink)
Michael J. Murray defends the traditional doctrine of hell by arguing directly against its chief competitor, universalism. Universalism, says Murray, comes in “naïve” and “sophisticated” forms. Murray poses two arguments against naïve universalism before focusing on sophisticated universalism, which is his real target. He proceeds in this fashion because he thinks that his arguments against sophisticated universalism are more easily motivated against naïve universalism, and once their force is clearly seen in the naïve case they will be more clearly seen (...) in the sophisticated. In this essay, I argue that Murray’s arguments against naïve universalism have no force whatsoever. (shrink)
Imagine that there exists a good, essentially omniscient and omnipotent being named Jove, and that there exists nothing else. No possible being is more powerful or knowledgable. Out of his goodness, Jove decides to create. Since he is all-powerful, there is nothing but the bounds of possibility to prevent him from getting what he wants. Unfortunately, as he holds before his mind the host of worlds, Jove sees that for each there is a better one. Although he can create any (...) of them, he can't create the best of them because there is no best. Faced with this predicament, Jove first sorts the worlds according to certain criteria. For example, he puts on his left worlds in which some inhabitants live lives that aren't worth living and on his right worlds in which every inhabitant's life is worth living; he puts on his left worlds in which some horrors fail to serve an outweighing good and on his right worlds in which no horror fails to serve an outweighing good. (We encourage the reader to use her own criteria.) Then he orders the right hand worlds according to their goodness and assigns to each a positive natural number, the worst of the lot receiving '1', the second worst '2', and so on. Next, he creates a very intricate device that, at the push of a button, will randomly select a number and produce the corresponding world. Jove pushes the button; the device hums and whirs and, finally, its digital display reads '777': world no. 777 comes into being. (shrink)
Reprinted in Philosophy of Religion: An Anthology, Wadsworth 2013, 6th edition, with an additional section entitled, "Reasons for the Common View," eds Michael Rea and Louis Pojman. What is propositional faith? At a first approximation, we might answer that it is the psychological attitude picked out by standard uses of the English locution “S has faith that p,” where p takes declarative sentences as instances, as in “He has faith that they’ll win”. Although correct, this answer is not nearly as (...) informative as we might like. Many people say that there is a more informative answer. They say that, at the very least, propositional faith requires propositional belief. More precisely, they say that faith that p requires belief that p or that it must be partly constituted by belief that p. This view is common enough; call it the Common View. I have two main aims in this paper: (i) to exhibit the falsity of the Common View and the paucity of reasons for it, and (ii) to sketch a more accurate and comprehensive account of what propositional faith is. (shrink)
Following Hume’s lead, Paul Draper argues that, given the biological role played by both pain and pleasure in goal-directed organic systems, the observed facts about pain and pleasure in the world are antecedently much more likely on the Hypothesis of Indifference than on theism. I examine one by one Draper’s arguments for this claim and show how they miss the mark.
This paper assesses J. L. Schellenberg’s account of propositional faith and, in light of that assessment, sketches an alternative that avoids certain objections and coheres better with Schellenberg’s aims.
Revisionary ontologists are making a comeback. Quasi-nihilists, like Peter van Inwagen and Trenton Merricks, insist that the only composite objects that exist are living things. Unrestriced universalists, like W.V.O. Quine, David Lewis, Mark Heller, and Hud Hudson, insist that any collection of objects composes something, no matter how scattered over time and space they may be. And there are more besides.1 The result, says Eli Hirsch, is that many commonsense judgments about the existence or identity of highly visible physical objects (...) are a priori necessarily false. In a “last ditch effort” to bring revisionary ontologists back to their senses, Hirsch marshalls what he calls the Argument from Charity.2 We can be sure that there are tables and chairs and that there are no fusions of Plato’s nose and the Eiffel Tower, says Hirsch, because these commonsense platitudes are a logical consequence of the well-known principle of interpretive charity applied to natural languages, like English. In what follows, I assess the Argument from Charity. My conclusion is that if this is the best we can do to save revisionary ontologists, they are surely lost forever. (shrink)