This work presents a historically informed, systematic exposition of the Christology of the first seven Ecumenical Councils of undivided Christendom, from the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD to the Second Council of Nicaea in 787 AD. Assuming the truth of Conciliar Christology for the sake of argument, TimothyPawl considers whether there are good philosophical arguments that show a contradiction or incoherence in that doctrine. He presents the definitions of important terms in the debate and a (...) helpful metaphysics for understanding the incarnation. -/- In Defense of Conciliar Christology discusses three types of philosophical objections to Conciliar Christology. Firstly, it highlights the fundamental philosophical problem facing Christology: how can one thing be both God and man, when anything deserving to be called "God" must have certain attributes, and yet it seems that nothing that can aptly be called "man" can have those same attributes? It then considers the argument that if the Second Person of the Holy Trinity were immutable or atemporal, as Conciliar Christology requires, then that Person could not become anything, and thus could not become man. Finally, Pawl addresses the objection that if there is a single Christ then there is a single nature or will in Christ. However, if that conditional is true, then Conciliar Christology is false, since it affirms the antecedent of the conditional to be true, but denies the truth of the consequent. Pawl defends Conciliar Christology against these charges, arguing that all three philosophical objections fail to show Conciliar Christology inconsistent or incoherent. (shrink)
[paragraph 3 of the article] The goal of this article is to flesh out that initial understanding of incarnational immutability. The method I employ to attain this goal is to consider cases of predications from the texts of conciliar Christology. I show potential ontological truth conditions for those predications being true that do not require the truth conditions I propose for immutability to be unsatisfied. Put otherwise, I show ontological truth conditions for predications that imply Christ’s mutability and Incarnation that (...) are also consistent with the truth of “Christ is immutable.” Since the truth conditions for the incarnational texts do not require the falsity of the claim that “Christ is immutable,” the incarnational claims do not require the rejection of immutability. In other words, the Incarnation is no reason to deny divine immutability, and vice versa. (shrink)
In a recent issue of Faith and Philosophy, Steven Cowan calls into question our success in responding to what we called the “Problem of Heavenly Free- dom” in our earlier “Incompatibilism, Sin, and Free Will in Heaven.” In this reply, we defend our view against Cowan’s criticisms.
The traditional view of heaven holds that the redeemed in heaven both have free will and are no longer capable of sinning. A number of philosophers have argued that the traditional view is problematic. How can someone be free and yet incapable of sinning? If the redeemed are kept from sinning, their wills must be reined in. And if their wills are reined in, it doesn’t seem right to say that they are free. Following James Sennett, we call this objection (...) to the traditional view of heaven ‘the Problem of Heavenly Freedom’. In this paper, we discuss and criticize four attempts to respond to the Problem of Heavenly Freedom. We then offer our own response to this problem which both preserves the traditional view of heaven and avoids the objections which beset the other attempts. (shrink)
I consider the fundamental philosophical problem for Christology: how can one and the same person, the Second Person of the Trinity, be both God and man. For being God implies having certain attributes, perhaps immutability, or impassibility, whereas being human implies having apparently inconsistent attributes. This problem is especially vexing for the proponent of Conciliar Christology – the Christology taught in the Ecumenical Councils – since those councils affirm that Christ is both mutable and immutable, both passible and impassible, etc. (...) Many extant solutions to this problem approach it by claiming that the predicates are incompatible when said of the same thing without qualification, but that once the appropriate qualification is added, compatibility is achieved. I provide a different approach. Here I argued that the predicates can be understood so that they are compatible. I then work out the logical relations between the predicates, so understood, showing that no contradiction follows from understanding them in the way I suggest. After that, I consider some of the motivations we have for believing the purportedly incompatible pairs to be, in fact, incompatible, and argue that, on the view offered here, we can salvage most of our intuitions that motivate taking the predicates as incompatible. Finally, I consider three objections. (shrink)
In this article I canvas the options available to a proponent of the traditional doctrine of the incarnation against a charge of incoherence. In particular, I consider the charge of incoherence due to incompatible predications both being true of the same one person, the God-man Jesus Christ. For instance, one might think that any- thing divine has to have certain attributes – perhaps omnipotence, or impassibility. But, the charge continues, nothing human can be omnipotent or impassible. And so nothing can (...) be divine and human. So Christ is not both God and man, contrary to the traditional doctrine of the incarnation. To do so, first, in Section II, I will present the problem as a deductively valid argument. I then, in that section, go on to show that the proponent of traditional Christology should grant all but one premise of the argument. In the remaining sections I will canvas possible solutions to the problem. In Section III I discuss three ways to deny Premise 3 of the forthcoming argument. These ways include a Kenotic response, qua-modification (in four versions), and finally a response that accepts the compatibility of the allegedly incompatible predicates. (shrink)
In this article I present St. Thomas Aquinas’s views on the possibility of multiple incarnations. First I disambiguate four things one might mean when saying that multiple incarnations are possible. Then I provide and justify what I take to be Aquinas’s answers to these questions, showing the intricacies of his argumentation and concluding that he holds an extremely robust view of the possibility of multiple incarnations. According to Aquinas, I argue, there could be three simultaneously existing concrete rational natures, each (...) of which is assumed by all three of the Divine Persons, all at the same time. (shrink)
I argue that Traditional Christian Theism is inconsistent with Truthmaker Maximalism, the thesis that all truths have truthmakers. Though this original formulation requires extensive revision, the gist of the argument is as follows. Suppose for reductio Traditional Christian Theism and the sort of Truthmaker Theory that embraces Truthmaker Maximalism are both true. By Traditional Christian Theism, there is a world in which God, and only God, exists. There are no animals in such a world. Thus, it is true in such (...) a world that there are no zebras. That there are no zebras must have a truthmaker, given Truthmaker Maximalism. God is the only existing object in such a world, and so God must be the truthmaker for this truth, given that it has a truthmaker. But truthmakers necessitate the truths they make true. So, for any world, at any time at which God exists, God makes that there are no zebras true. According to Traditional Christian Theism, God exists in our world. In our world, then, it is true: there are no zebras. But there are zebras. Contradiction! Thus, the conjunction of Traditional Christian Theism with Truthmaker Necessitation and Truthmaker Maximalism is inconsistent. (shrink)
In this paper I show that the problem of temporary intrinsics and a fundamental philosophical problem concerning the doctrine of the incarnation are isomorphic. To do so, I present the problem of temporary intrinsics, along with five responses to the problem. I then present the fundamental problem for Christology, which I call the problem of natural intrinsics. I present six responses to that problem, all but the last analogous to a response to the problem of temporary intrinsics. My goal is (...) not to argue that any individual response to either problem is correct. Instead, my goal is to present and defend an interesting and unnoticed similarity between two different problems, and to note how work on one problem can help with work on the other. -/- This is a penultimate manuscript, and not a final version, of a forthcoming article in Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion. As such, please do not cite this version; cite the official version, due out in OSPR VII in 2015. (shrink)
In this paper, we explore how free will should be understood within the Christian doctrine of the Incarnation, particularly on the assumption of traditional Christology. We focus on two issues: reconciling Christ's free will with the claim that Christ's human will was subjected to the divine will in the Incarnation; and reconciling the claims that Christ was fully human and free with the belief that Christ, since God, could not sin.
Call the claim, common to many in the Christian intellectual tradition, that Christ, in virtue of his created human intellect, had certain, infallible exhaustive foreknowledge the Foreknowledge Thesis. Now consider what I will call the Conditional: If the Foreknowledge Thesis is true, then Christ’s created human will lacked an important sort of freedom that we mere humans have. Insofar as many, perhaps all, of the people who affirm the Foreknowledge Thesis also wish to affirm the robust freedom of Christ’s human (...) will, the truth of the Conditional would be most unwelcome to them. I consider an argument in support of the Conditional from the necessary conditions for deliberation, arguing that the argument fails. (shrink)
Abstract. This article addresses a difficult case at the intersection of philosophical theology and truthmaker theory. I show that three views, together, lead to difficulties in providing truthmakers for truths of contingent predication, such as that the bread is white. These three views are: the Catholic dogma of transubstantiation, a standard truthmaker theory, and a trope (or accident) view of properties. I present and explain each of these three views, at each step noting their connections to the thought of St. (...) Thomas Aquinas. After presenting the three views, I show why they entail a difficulty for providing truthmakers for truths of contingent predication, drawing on two cases that are not impossible, for all we know. I then present four ways that one can respond to this difficulty, afterward noting some shortcomings of those responses. (shrink)
In this article I present two arguments from Brian Hebblethwaite for the conclusion that multiple incarnations are impossible, as well as the analyses of those arguments provided by three other thinkers: Oliver Crisp, Peter Kevern, and Robin Le Poidevin. I argue that both of Hebblethwaite's arguments are unsound.
Call the claim, common to many in the Christian intellectual tradition, that Christ, in virtue of his created human intellect, had certain, infallible, exhaustive foreknowledge the Foreknowledge Thesis. Now consider what I will call the Conditional: if the Foreknowledge Thesis is true, then Christ's created human will was not free. In so far as many, perhaps all, of the people who affirm the Foreknowledge Thesis also wish to affirm the freedom of Christ's human will, the truth of the Conditional would (...) be most unwelcome to them. I consider an argument in support of the Conditional; I argue that it is not successful. (shrink)
Many Christians seem to have difficulty in their worldview insofar as they affirm: (1) If a person cannot do something, then that person is not blameworthy for not doing that action, (2) No one has it within his or her power to acquire faith, and (3) Some individuals who do not have the virtue of faith are nevertheless blameworthy for not having faith. These propositions together appear to entail a contradiction. In this paper I show how the Christian philosopher, St. (...) Thomas Aquinas, affirms these propositions but avoids the contradiction because of his understanding of faith, blame, and grace. (shrink)
This paper analyzes Catholic philosophy by investigating the parameters that Catholic dogmatic claims set for theories of truthmaking. First I argue that two well-known truthmaker views—the view that properties alone are the truthmakers for contingent predications, and the view that all truths need truthmakers—are precluded by Catholic dogma. In particular, the doctrine of transubstantiation precludes the first, and the doctrines of divine causality and divine freedom together preclude the second. Next, I argue that the doctrine of the Incarnation, together with (...) an admittedly-contested theological premise, requires a vast and sweeping revision to the standard view of truthmakers for predicative truths. (shrink)
In this paper we present the standard Thomistic view concerning substances and their parts. We then note some objections to that view. Afterwards, we present Aquinas’s Christology, then draw an analogy between the relation that holds between the Second Person and the assumed human nature, on the one hand, and the relation that holds between a substance whole and its substance parts, on the other. We then show how the analogy, which St. Thomas himself drew at points, is useful for (...) providing a theory that answers the objections that the standard Thomistic view faces. Finally we answer objections to our approach. We conclude that there is a hylomorphic theory, founded on an analogy from Aquinas’s Christology, that fits well with the empirical data concerning substance parts, on which some complete created material substances have other complete created material substances as parts. (shrink)
Divine immutability, the claim that God is immutable, is a central part of traditional Christianity, though it has come under sustained attack in the last two hundred years. This article first catalogues the historical precedent for and against this claim, then discusses different answers to the question, “What is it to be immutable?” Two definitions of divine immutability receive careful attention. The first is that for God to be immutable is for God to have a constant character and to be (...) faithful in divine promises; this is a definition of “weak immutability.” The second, “strong immutability,” is that for God to be immutable is for God to be wholly unchanging. After showing some implications of the definitions, the article focuses on strong immutability and provides some common arguments against the claim that God is immutable, understood in that way. While most of the historical evidence discussed in this article is from Christian sources, the core discussion of what it is to be strongly immutable, and the arguments against it, are not particular to Christianity. (shrink)
A necessary part of David Armstrong's account of truthmakers for modal truths is his Possibility principle: any truthmaker for a contingent truth is also a truthmaker for the possibility of the complement of that contingent truth (if T makes _p_ true and _p_ is contingent, then T makes ⋄∼_p_ true). I criticize Armstrong's Possibility principle for two reasons. First, his argument for the Possibility principle both relies on an unwarranted generalization and vitiates his desire for relevant truthmakers. His argument undercuts (...) relevant truthmakers by entailing that each contingent being is a truthmaker for all modal truths. Second, even if the argument seems successful, the Possibility principle is subject to counterexamples. Armstrong's being composed of more than fifty atoms makes it true _that something composed of more than fifty atoms exists_ and that truth is contingent, but his being composed of more than fifty atoms does not make it true _that it is possible that it is not the case that something composed of more than fifty atoms exists_. (shrink)
The present volume is devoted to philosophical reflection on the nature of paradise. Our contribution to this larger project is an extension of previous work that we’ve done on the nature of human agency and virtue in heaven. Here, we’d like to focus on three things. First, we will discuss in greater detail what it is we mean by “growth in virtue.” Second, we will answer a number of objections to that understanding of growth in virtue. Third, we will show (...) two benefits of this understanding of growth in virtue. Along the way, we’ll also draw a number of comparisons between our understanding of the nature of heavenly character and some of the other chapters in the present volume. (shrink)
In a pair of recent articles, Jim Stone presents a new version of the Evidential Argument from Evil. I provide two arguments against Stone’s Evidential Problem of Evil, one from the dialectical standpoint of a theist, the second from a dialectical standpoint that is neutral between theism and atheism. In neither case, I argue, should an interlocutor accept all the premises of the argument.
This article addresses a difficult case at the intersection of philosophical theology and truthmaker theory. I show that three views, together, lead to difficultiesin providing truthmakers for truths of contingent predication, such as that the bread is white. These three views are: the Catholic dogma of transubstantiation, astandard truthmaker theory, and a trope view of properties. I present and explain each of these three views, at each step noting their connections to the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas. After presenting the (...) three views, I show why they entail a difficulty for providing truthmakers for truths of contingent predication,drawing on two cases that are not impossible, for all we know. I then present four ways that one can respond to this difficulty, afterward noting some shortcomingsof those responses. (shrink)
In a recent issue of Faith and Philosophy, TimothyPawl and Kevin Timpe seek to respond to the so-called “Problem of Heavenly Freedom,” the problem ofexplaining how the redeemed in heaven can be free yet incapable of sinning. In the course of offering their solution, they argue that compatibilism is inadequateas a solution because it (1) undermines the free will defense against the logical problem of evil, and (2) exacerbates the problem of evil by making God the “author (...) of sin.” In this paper, I respond to these charges and argue that compatibilism can offer a satisfactory explanation for the sinlessness of the redeemed in heaven. I also raise some problems for Pawl’s and Timpe’s incompatibilist solution. (shrink)
In a recent paper, “Incompatiblism, Sin, and Free Will in Heaven,” TimothyPawl and Kevin Timpe discuss and propose a novel solution to a problem posed for traditional Christian theism that they call the Problem of Heavenly Freedom. In short, Christian tradition contains what seems to be a contradiction, namely, the redeemed in heaven are free but nonetheless can’t sin. Pawl and Timpe’s solution to the Problem of Heavenly Freedom is particularly attractive for two reasons: it shows (...) great respect for the Christian tradition’s teaching on heaven, and it entails that the redeemed in heaven act with morally weighty libertarian free will. Nonetheless, I think their solution can be improved upon. By drawing on some of the teachings of the Catholic tradition on heaven, particularly those of St. Thomas Aquinas, I raise three objections to Pawl and Timpe’s solution and introduce a modified version of their solution. In doing so, I have attempted to make their “best” solution to the Problem of Heavenly Freedom even better. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that adherents of Patrick Toner’s hylemorphic animalism who also assent to orthodox Christology and a thesis about the necessity of identity must reject a prima facie plausible theological possibility held by Ockham, entertained in one form by St. Thomas Aquinas, and recently held by Richard Cross, Thomas Flint,, and, and TimothyPawl and concerning which individual concrete human natures an omnipotent God could assume.
Necessitists hold that, necessarily, everything is such that, necessarily, something is identical to it. Timothy Williamson has posed a number of challenges to contingentism, the negation of necessitism. One such challenge is an argument that necessitists can more wholeheartedly embrace possible worlds semantics than can contingentists. If this charge is correct, then necessitists, but not contingentists, can unproblematically exploit the technical successes of possible worlds semantics. I will argue, however, that the charge is incorrect: contingentists can embrace possible worlds (...) semantics as wholeheartedly as necessitists. Williamson offers a criterion for a class of models of quantified modal logic to be intended, and argues on its basis that contingentists must deny that there is an intended class of models. I argue that Williamson’s criterion is objectionable, supply an alternative that does not support Williamson’s argument, and adapt Williamson’s construction of an intended model structure to the needs of contingentist metaphysics. (shrink)
In this paper I explore the connection between narrative ethics and the increasing emphasis on historical consciousness as a way to cultivate moral responsibility in history education. I use Timothy Findley’s World War I novel, The Wars, as an example of how teachers might help students to see history neither simply as a collection of artefacts from the past, nor as an effort to construct an objective view about what went on in those other times and places, but rather (...) as something that makes ethical demands on us here and now. Theoretically, this paper draws on Adam Zachary Newton’s conception of narrative ethics and Roger Simon’s conception of historical consciousness, both of which rest on the Levinasian themes of irreducible difference, the face, and subjectivity as a position of ethical responsibility to and for the other. (shrink)
An interview with Timothy Williamson on Modality and other matters. Williams is asked three main questions: the first about the difference between philosophical and non-philosophical knowledge, the second concerns the epistemology of modality, and the third is on the emerging metaphysical picture.
The claim that a miracle is a violation of a law of nature has sometimes been used as part of an a priori argument against the possibility of miracle, on the grounds that a violation is conceptually impossible. I criticize these accounts but also suggest that alternative accounts, when phrased in terms of laws of nature, fail to provide adequate conceptual space for miracles. It is not clear what a ???violation??? of a law of nature might be, but this is (...) not relevant to the question of miracles. In practice, accounts of miracle tend to be phrased in terms of God's act not in terms of laws of nature. Finally, I suggest that the a priori argument reflects an intellectual commitment that is widely held, though wrongly built into the argument itself. (shrink)
In his essay ‘“Conceptual Truth”’, Timothy Williamson (2006) argues that there are no truths or entailments that are constitutive of understanding the sentences involved. In this reply I provide several examples of entailment patterns that are intuitively constitutive of understanding in just the way that Williamson rejects, and I argue that Williamson’s argument does nothing to show otherwise. Williamson bolsters his conclusion by appeal to a certain theory about the nature of understanding. I argue that his theory fails to (...) consider the role that the structure of a sentence plays in determining its meaning. The cases I present suggest that this role imposes greater cognitive requirements on understanding than Williamson can acknowledge. (shrink)
Timothy Smiley has made ground-breaking contributions to modal logic, free logic, multiple-conclusion logic, and plural logic. He has illuminated Aristotle’s syllogistic, the ideas of logical form and consequence, and the distinction between assertion and rejection, and has worked to debunk the theory of descriptions. This volume brings together new articles by an international roster of leading logicians and philosophers in order to honour Smiley’s work. Their essays will be of significant interest to those working across the logical spectrum—in philosophy (...) of language, philosophical and mathematical logic, and philosophy of mathematics. (shrink)
Timothy Michael Fowler has argued that, as a consequence of their commitment to neutrality in regard to comprehensive doctrines, political liberals face a dilemma. In essence, the dilemma for political liberals is that either they have to give up their commitment to neutrality (which is an indispensible part of their view), or they have to allow harm to children. Fowler’s case for this dilemma depends on ascribing to political liberals a view which grants parents a great degree of freedom (...) in deciding on the education of their children. I show that ascribing this view to political liberals rests upon a misinterpretation of political liberalism. Since political liberals have access to reasons based upon the interests of children, they need not yield to parent’s wishes about the education of their children. A correct understanding of political liberalism thus shows that political liberals do not face the dilemma envisaged by Fowler. (shrink)
The book is primarily an essay on the epistemology of the sort of armchair knowledge that we can hope to achieve in philosophy. The possibility of such knowledge is not to be explained by reinterpreting philosophical questions as questions about words or concepts. Although there are philosophical questions about words and concepts, most philosophical questions are not about words or concepts: they are, just as they seem to be, about the things, many of them independent of us, to which the (...) words or concepts refer. Nor is our linguistic or conceptual competence the basis for our philosophical knowledge; such competence merely …. (shrink)
If you keep removing single grains of sand from a heap, when is it no longer a heap? From discussions of the heap paradox in classical Greece, to modern formal approaches like fuzzy logic, Timothy Williamson traces the history of the problem of vagueness. He argues that standard logic and formal semantics apply even to vague languages and defends the controversial, realist view that vagueness is a form of ignorance - there really is a grain of sand whose removal (...) turns a heap into a non-heap, but we can never know exactly which one it is. (shrink)