The knowledge argument is an argument against physicalism that was first formulated by Frank Jackson in 1982. While Jackson no longer endorses it, it is still regarded as one of the most important arguments in the philosophy of mind. Physicalism is the metaphysical thesis that, roughly speaking, everything in this world—including tables, galaxies, cheese cakes, cars, atoms, and even our sensations— are ultimately physical. The knowledge argument attempts to undermine this thesis by appealing to the following simple imaginary scenario: Mary (...) is confined to a black-and-white room, is educated through black-and-white books and through lectures relayed on black-and white television. In this way she learns everything there is to know about the physical nature of the world. She knows all the physical facts about us and our environment, in a wide sense of ‘physical’ which includes everything in completed physics, chemistry, and neurophysiology, and all there is to know about the causal and relational facts consequent upon all this, including of course functional roles. (Jackson 1986, p. 291) The knowledge argument says that if physicalism is true, Mary knows everything in this world. However, it seems obvious that her knowledge is not yet complete. Suppose that.. (shrink)
The performance records of cardiac surgeons have been disclosed publicly in several states in the USA, for example New York and Pennsylvania, since the early 1990s. In response to the growing interest in the quality of healthcare, such records have also begun to be disclosed in the UK, starting in 2004. Various studies seem to show that disclosure has, indeed, contributed to the improvement of the quality of healthcare.1 However, at the same time, disclosure does have its critics.2 In this (...) paper, I discuss what I call the ‘defensive medicine objection’ to the disclosure of performance data; that disclosure is not justified because it could cause surgeons to experience high levels of anxiety3, which might eventually lead to the practice of defensive medicine. Although this objection is often mentioned by ethicists and medical professionals4 it has never been carefully analysed or evaluated. The aim of this paper is to consider it in detail. I argue in favour of the objection; disclosure could, indeed, lead to the practice of defensive medicine if it is not conducted properly.5 This paper has the following structure. In Section 2 I discuss the anxiety that surgeons may experience regarding the disclosure of performance data. In Section 3 I introduce a traditional definition of defensive medicine. In Section 4 I argue that disclosure could encourage surgeons to perform a new form of defensive medicine, one that is not captured by the traditional definition. In Section 5 I undermine the claim that surgeons have no good reason to be anxious about disclosure. In Section 6 I consider a possible way of avoiding.. (shrink)
In his very interesting article Steve Clarke (1999) examines various views about a patient’s trust of a doctor, including Edwin R. DuBose’s view (1995), according to which trust in medicine is closely related to religious faith. Clarke finds them unconvincing and provides his own, more elaborate view of trust. In this short reply to Clarke’s paper I argue that his view is not compelling because it faces a difficulty that is similar to the one he believes DuBose’s view inherits.
John Hick is a mind-body dualist. He claims that reality consists of two ontologically distinct types of entities, the mental and the physical, which causally interact with each other. Yet he subscribes to monism in response to the diversity of religion. He maintains that every world religion provides a unique response to the same single transcategorial ultimate reality. He also contends that he has realised through his religious experience that, as monism says, everything is part of a single indivisible whole. (...) In this paper I propose and analyse three possible ways of solving this apparent tension between the dualistic and monistic elements in Hick’s metaphysical system. I argue that the first two solutions fail but their failures lead us to the third, successful solution, which entails a unique form of pantheistic or panentheistic monism. (shrink)
In his new book, Rowlands defines externalism roughly as the thesis that ‘not all mental things are exclusively located inside the head of the person or creature that has these things’ (2). The book has two distinctive features. One is that while philosophers’ discussions of externalism tend to be very technical, Rowlands presents his own discussion in an accessible manner. The second, more distinctive than the first, is that Rowlands treats the concept of externalism as a topic in both analytic (...) and continental traditions of philosophy. (shrink)
This is a concise guidebook to the mind-body problem in Acumen’s Series of Central Problems of Philosophy. Kirk’s writing style is clear and systematic and the book is to be recommended to anyone interested in the mind-body problem.
John Perry’s Knowledge, Possibility, and Consciousness is based on the Jean Nicod Lectures, which he gave in Paris in 1999. The main goal of this book is to defend what he calls ‘antecedent physicalism’ from various common objections to physicalism. I do not agree with Perry’s approach to the problem of phenomenal consciousness; in particular, I disagree with his approach to the knowledge argument. Nevertheless, I found his book extremely helpful in understanding complex issues in the recent debate on the (...) topic. Dualism had been regarded as a dead philosophical doctrine for a long time, but has regained a number of supporters in the last couple of years. Perry’s book provides one of the clearest and most systematic defences of physicalism against this neo-dualist force. (shrink)
The aim of this book is to defend ‘explanatory gap’, Levine’s own influential notion in the philosophical studies of phenomenal consciousness. The entire book proves how clear and systematic are Levine’s arguments in dealing with even as highly intractable an issue as the mystery of consciousness. The mind-body problem in a contemporary guise is rooted in two prima facie plausible but incompatible propositions that philosophers have reached: (1) Some form of materialism or physicalism is true. (2) Phenomenal consciousness, raw feel, (...) or qualia cannot be explained physicalistically. The traditional strategy for solving the problem is simply to reject one or the other of these propositions. Thus some philosophers reject (1) and become dualists accordingly, and others reject (2) and become materialists accordingly. Levine, however, ventures to accept both of them at the same time. That is, while he defends materialism he also believes that we can never make a priori derivations from physical facts to phenomenal facts. (shrink)
Michael Palmer’s The Question of God is an introductory textbook of the philosophy of religion. Textbooks on this subject typically cover a wide range of issues such as divine attributes, religious experiences, the problem of evil, life after death, and so on. Palmer’s book, however, solely focuses on a single problem: the existence of God. The book discusses six classic arguments for the existence of God: the ontological argument, the cosmological argument, the argument from design, the argument from miracles, the (...) moral argument and the pragmatic argument. Each chapter contains both a historical and a philosophical discussion of an argument and excerpts from a relevant philosophical literature. Palmer’s discussion is clear and sophisticated, and the sources drawn from philosophical texts are carefully selected. (shrink)
I have argued elsewhere that nearly all existing arguments against Anselmian theism—such as the paradox of the stone, the argument from God’s inability to sin, and the problem of evil—can be refuted all at once by holding that God possesses the maximal consistent set of knowledge, power and benevolence instead of insisting that He is omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent. Some critics suggest, however, that my strategy fails, at least with respect to the problem of evil, because that problem defeats not (...) only the version of theism that depends on God’s being omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent, but also versions of theism that do not depend on that thesis. In this paper I defend my strategy against such a criticism. (shrink)
It is widely recognised that Australia has produced a number of prominent physicalists, such as D. M. Armstrong, U. T. Place and J. J. C. Smart. It is sometimes forgotten, however, that Australia has also produced a number of prominent dualists. This entry introduces the views of three Australian dualists: Keith Campbell, Frank Jackson and David Chalmers. Their positions differ uniquely from those of traditional dualists because their endorsement of dualism is based on their sympathy with a naturalistic, materialistic worldview (...) rather than with a supernaturalistic, spiritual worldview. (shrink)
The so-called Anselmian thesis says that God is that than which no greater can be thought. This thesis has been widely accepted among traditional theists and it has for several hundred years been a central notion whenever philosophers debate the existence and nature of God. Proponents of the thesis are often silent, however, about exactly what it means to say that God is that than which no greater can be thought. The aim of this paper is to offer an answer (...) to this question by providing rigorous, systematic models of the Anselmian thesis. The most straightforward model, which I call the “Linear Model,” says that God is that than which no greater can be thought by virtue of occupying the top link in the “great chain of being,” a universal linear ranking of all possible beings. Most contemporary philosophers believe, however, that the Linear Model does not succeed because the notion of the great chain of being is untenable. I therefore explore alternatives to the Linear Model. I argue that what I call the “Extended Radial Model” characterizes the Anselmian thesis correctly, even though the model faces a powerful objection. I argue further that the Linear Model should be taken seriously as a backup option for Anselmian theists because (i) it is not vulnerable to the objection that the Extended Radial Model faces and (ii) what is widely regarded as a knock-down objection to the Linear Model is not as compelling as some have claimed. (shrink)
The book's contributors tackle perennial problems in philosophy of religion by referring to relevant findings and theories in cognitive science, anthropology, developmental psychology, decision theory, biology, physics and cosmology.
Skeptical theists purport to undermine evidential arguments from evil by appealing to the fact that our knowledge of goods, evils, and their interconnections is significantly limited. Michael J. Almeida and Graham Oppy have recently argued that skeptical theism is unacceptable because it results in a form of moral skepticism which rejects inferences that play an important role in our ordinary moral reasoning. In this reply to Almeida and Oppy's argument we offer some reasons for thinking that skeptical theism need not (...) lead to any such objectionable form of moral skepticism. (shrink)
Frank Jackson endorses epiphenomenalism because he thinks that his knowledge argument undermines physicalism. One of the most interesting criticisms of Jackson's position is what I call the 'inconsistency objection'. The inconsistency objection says that Jackson's position is untenable because epiphenomenalism undermines the knowledge argument. The inconsistency objection has been defended by various philosophers independently, including Michael Watkins, Fredrik Stjernberg, and Neil Campbell. Surprisingly enough, while Jackson himself admits explicitly that the inconsistency objection is 'the most powerful reply to the knowledge (...) argument' he knows of, it has never been discussed critically. The aim of this paper is to evaluate the objection and to identify and consider its implications. The objection is alleged to be based on a causal theory of knowledte. I argue that the objection fails by showing that any causal theory of knowledge is such that it is either false or does not support the inconsistency objection. In order to defend my argument, I offer a hypothesis concerning phenomenal knowledge. (shrink)
The 'parody objection' to the ontological argument for the existence of God advances parallel arguments apparently proving the existence of various absurd entities. I discuss recent versions of the parody objection concerning the existence of 'AntiGod' and the devil, as introduced by Peter Millican and Timothy Chambers. I argue that the parody objection always fails, because any parody is either (i) not structurally parallel to the ontological argument, or (ii) not dialectically parallel to the ontological argument. Moreover, once a parody (...) argument is modified in such a way that it avoids (i) and (ii), it is, ironically, no longer a parody – it is the ontological argument itself. (shrink)
In this paper we address Bernard Williams' argument for the undesirability of immortality. Williams argues that unavoidable and pervasive boredom would characterise the immortal life of an individual with unchanging categorical desires. We resist this conclusion on the basis of the distinction between habitual and situational boredom and a psychologically realistic account of significant factors in the formation of boredom. We conclude that Williams has offered no persuasive argument for the necessity of boredom in the immortal life. 1.
Anselmian theists, for whom God is the being than which no greater can be thought, usually infer that he is an omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent being. Critics have attacked these claims by numerous distinct arguments, such as the paradox of the stone, the argument from God's inability to sin, and the argument from evil. Anselmian theists have responded to these arguments by constructing an independent response to each. This way of defending Anselmian theism is uneconomical. I seek to establish a (...) new defence which undercuts almost all the existing arguments against Anselmian theism at once. In developing this defence, I consider the possibility that the Anselmian God is not an omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent being. (shrink)
In God and Phenomenal Consciousness, Yujin Nagasawa bridges debates in two distinct areas of philosophy: the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of religion. First, he introduces some of the most powerful arguments against the existence of God and provides new objections to them. He then presents a hitherto unrecognised parallel structure between these arguments and influential arguments offered by Thomas Nagel and Frank Jackson against the physicalist approach to phenomenal consciousness. By appealing to this structure, Nagasawa constructs novel objections (...) to Jackson’s and Nagel’s arguments. Finally, he derives, from the failure of these arguments, a unique metaphysical thesis, which he calls ‘non-theoretical physicalism’. Through this thesis, he shows that although this world is entirely physical, there are physical facts that cannot be captured even by complete theories of the physical sciences. (shrink)
When patients are in vegetative states and their lives are maintained by medical devices, their surrogates might offer proxy consents on their behalf in order to terminate the use of the devices. The so-called ’substituted judgment thesis’ has been adopted by the courts regularly in order to determine the validity of such proxy consents. The thesis purports to evaluate proxy consents by appealing to putative counterfactual truths about what the patients would choose, were they to be competent. The aim of (...) this paper is to reveal a significant limitation of the thesis, which has hitherto been recognised only vaguely and intuitively. By appealing to the metaphysics of counterfactuals I explain how the thesis fails to determine the validity of proxy consents in a number of actual cases. (shrink)
We imagine Zombies as beings identical to us with respect to all physical and behavioural facts but different with respect to phenomenal facts. For example, zombies might say, just like us, ‘this grapefruit is really sour’ or ‘my left knee hurts’, but, unlike us, they have no phenomenal experiences corresponding to these utterances or to the relevant physical states. The idea of zombies has been used to construct the following argument against the physicalist approach to consciousness.
Although one would not have guessed it from the amount of attention that the topic has received from recent philosophers of religion, the God of theism is first and foremost a being that is worthy of worship. In the paper that forms the target of Crowe’s discussion we attempted to shed some much-needed light on worship. Our focus was not on the question of whether theists hold that human beings are obliged to..
The aim of this paper is to evaluate the claim that the disclosure of surgeons' performance data could lead to the practice of defensive medicine. I argue that disclosure could actually encourage surgeons to practice a new form of defensive medicine, one that has not hitherto been noted. I explore a possible way of avoiding this problem.
Peter Millican (2004) provides a novel and elaborate objection to Anselm's ontological argument. Millican thinks that his objection is more powerful than any other because it does not dispute contentious 'deep philosophical theories' that underlie the argument. Instead, it tries to reveal the 'fatal flaw' of the argument by considering its 'shallow logical details'. Millican's objection is based on his interpretation of the argument, according to which Anselm relies on what I call the 'principle of the superiority of existence' (PSE). (...) I argue that (i) the textual evidence Millican cites does not provide a convincing case that Anselm relies on PSE and that, moreover, (ii) Anselm does not even need PSE for the ontological argument. I introduce a plausible interpretation of the ontological argument that is not vulnerable to Millican's objection and conclude that even if the ontological argument fails, it does not fail in the way Millican thinks it does. (shrink)
In this paper we respond to Benjamin Crowe's criticisms in this issue of our discussion of the grounds of worship. We clarify our previous position, and examine Crowe's account of what it is about God's nature that might ground our obligation to worship Him. We find Crowe's proposals no more persuasive than the accounts that we examined in our previous paper, and conclude that theists still owe us an account of what it is in virtue of which we have obligations (...) to worship God. (shrink)
Although worship has a pivotal place in religious thought and practice, philosophers of religion have had remarkably little to say about it. In this paper we examine some of the many questions surrounding the notion of worship, focusing on the claim that human beings have obligations to worship God. We explore a number of attempts to ground our supposed duty to worship God, and argue that each is problematic. We conclude by examining the implications of this result, and suggest that (...) it might be taken to provide an argument against God's existence, since theists generally regard it is a necessary truth that we ought to worship God. (Published Online July 10 2006). (shrink)
I argue that Gregg Rosenberg’s panexperientialism is either extremely implausible or irrelevant to the mystery of consciousness by introducing metaphysical and conceptual objections to his appeal to the notion of ‘protoconsciousness’.
The Argument from Inferiority holds that our world cannot be the creation of an omnipotent and omnibenevolent being; for if it were, it would be the best of all possible worlds, which evidently it is not. We argue that this argument rests on an implausible principle concerning which worlds it is permissible for an omnipotent being to create: roughly, the principle that such a being ought not to create a non-best world. More specifically, we argue that this principle is plausible (...) only if we assume that there is a best element in the set of all possible worlds. However, as we show, there are conceivable scenarios in which that assumption does not hold. (shrink)
In ‘Anthropocentrism and the Problem of Evil’ Timothy Chappell argues that one cannot advance the following two criticisms of Christianity at the same time: (1) Christianity is an implausibly anthropocentric religion, and (2) Christianity has no convincing answer to the problem of natural evil. I demonstrate that Chappell’s argument is unsuccessful by providing three possible, and consistent, interpretations of (1) and (2).