Heaven and Hell

Edited by K. Mitch Hodge (Masaryk University, Queen's University, Belfast)
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Summary

Although the English words “heaven” and “hell” are used to describe similar ideas in numerous religions and various philosophies, in philosophy of religion, they usually refer to eternal post-mortem spiritual realms in the Judeo-Christian-Islamic theological traditions.  Heaven is a permanent, eternal divine reward reserved for those who lived (in their Earthly life) morally upright, whereas Hell is a permanent, eternal divine punishment for those who have committed moral transgressions (commonly called “sins”) and have remained unrepentant.  In Catholic theology, a third spiritual realm is added called Purgatory in which the souls of those who have committed some (perhaps minor) moral transgressions can be purged of sins for some period of time and then allowed to join the blessed in Heaven.  It is often held that a soul with any amount of sin cannot be rewarded with a heavenly existence, since this existence is believed to be in the immediacy of God’s presence.  It is generally believed that any repentant soul can be completely forgiven by God; thus, no matter the moral transgression, if one were to repent prior to their death, she would be rewarded by being allowed to enter Heaven.  Heaven and Hell in these traditions are parts of philosophical/theological theodicies which aid in addressing the problem of evil.

Numerous philosophical problems arise from the doctrines of Heaven and Hell.  First, is it just for a divine being to punish infinitely (i.e., eternally) an individual for a finite sin?  Second, when coupled with the St. Paul’s doctrine of the resurrection of the body, how is the reward or punishment meted out to the actual individual rather than a replica (see the entry on resurrection concerning the replica problem)?  Third, would it really be just for someone who (most would believe) was an “evil” person (e.g., Hitler, Ted Bundy) to go to Heaven simply if they chose to repent immediately prior to their death? Fourth, is it just for a divine being to eternally punish an individual for a sin he was unaware he committed (for instance, a Buddhist who never believed in, or heard of, Jesus, which is required in Christianity)?  Along with these, many other problems concerning the Heaven and Hell have been discussed in theological and philosophical literature.

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  1. added 2020-03-08
    Свети Августин: admirabile commercium и обожење (St. Augustine: Admirabile commercium and Deification).Aleksandar Djakovac - 2019 - Bogoslovlje 78 (2):64-85.
    The teaching of deification has long been emphasized as a peculiarity of Eastern Orthodox theology, which is unmatched by Latin fathers. Protestanttheologians reduced this teaching to the influence of paganism and explained it asone of the indicators of the unhealthy Hellenization of Gospel science. Accordingto the general agreement of contemporary scholars, St. Augustine not only speaksof deification but deification occupies a significant place in his theological system.We will try to analyze the most significant aspects of Augustine’s teaching on dei-fication in (...)
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  2. added 2020-03-06
    Apocatastasis and Predestination Ontological Assumptions of Origen’s and Augustine’s Soteriologies.Aleksandar Djakovac - 2016 - Bogoslovska Smotra 86 (4):813-826.
    As Augustine himself testifies, he did not know Origen’s work so well. However, this does not mean that he was not acquainted with his key soteriological hypotheses, especially his teachings on apocatastasis. Although Augustine’s doctrine of predestination has completely opposite consequences in comparison to Origen’s teaching about apocatastasis, we believe that these teachings share the common ontological basis, which is the subject of this study. While Origen’s Christology is often called into question, Augustine’s Christology is considered correct. However, with both (...)
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  3. added 2020-02-19
    Will We Be Free (to Sin) in Heaven?Michaël Bauwens - 2017 - In Simon Cushing (ed.), Heaven and philosophy. pp. 231-254.
    Since heaven is the most perfect state or position possible – namely of loving God perfectly – and sinning is failing to love God, it will not be possible to sin in heaven. However, if freedom is a mark of perfection, and loving God is only possible when one freely loves God, will we be loving God at all if we are not free not to love him? Three cumulative arguments for an affirmative answer are developed. The first is to (...)
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  4. added 2020-01-24
    Cartesian Dualism and the Intermediate State: A Reply to Turner Jr.Alejandro Pérez - 2019 - Forum: Supplement to Acta Philosophica 5 (1):269-281.
    In this paper, I propose to analyse two objections raised by Turner Jr in his paper “On Two Reasons Christian Theologians Should Reject The Intermediate State” in order to show that the intermediate state is an incoherent theory. As we shall see, the two untoward consequences that he mentions do not imply a metaphysical or logical contradiction. Consequently, I shall defend an Intermediate State and I shall propose briefly one metaphysical conception of the human being able to reply to Turner (...)
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  5. added 2020-01-17
    Annihilationism and the Eradication of All Sin.Alberto Oya - 2019 - Cauriensia 14 (1):551-556.
    Annihilationism claims that earthly death is followed by a divine judgment after which the wicked are condemned to a second death, while those who have lived their earthly life according to God's commands are blessed with a heavenly eternal existence. The aim of this essay is to show that, contrary to what defenders of annihilationism argue, the claim that God's victory over evil requires the complete eradication of all sin does not suffice alone to justify annihilationism.
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  6. added 2019-10-14
    What Does the Happy Life Require? Augustine on What the Summum Bonum Includes.Caleb Cohoe - forthcoming - Oxford Studies in Medieval Philosophy.
    Many critics of religion insist that believing in a future life makes us less able to value our present activities and distracts us from accomplishing good in this world. In Augustine's case, this gets things backwards. It is while Augustine seeks to achieve happiness in this life that he is detached from suffering and dismissive of the body. Once Augustine comes to believe happiness is only attainable once the whole city of God is triumphant, he is able to compassionately engage (...)
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  7. added 2019-09-08
    The Free Will Defense Revisited: The Instrumental Value of Significant Free Will.Frederick Choo & Esther Goh - 2019 - International Journal of Theology, Philosophy and Science (4):32-45.
    Alvin Plantinga has famously responded to the logical problem of evil by appealing to the intrinsic value of significant free will. A problem, however, arises because traditional theists believe that both God and the redeemed who go to heaven cannot do wrong acts. This entails that both God and the redeemed in heaven lack significant freedom. If significant freedom is indeed valuable, then God and the redeemed in heaven would lack something intrinsically valuable. However, if significant freedom is not intrinsically (...)
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  8. added 2019-09-01
    Heaven and the Problem of Eternal Separation.Eric Yang - 2017 - In Simon Cushing (ed.), Heaven and Philosophy. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.
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  9. added 2019-07-25
    Purgatory, Hypertime, and Temporal Experience.Jonathan Curtis Rutledge - 2018 - Journal of Analytic Theology 6:151-161.
    Recently, JT Turner has argued that proponents of temporally-extended models of purgatory are committed to denying the doctrine of the parousia. Such persons typically argue that temporally-extended models of purgatory are needed to prevent the possibility that a morally imperfect human might become morally perfect too abruptly. In this article, I argue that Turner is mistaken and that by invoking hypertime and a clarification of the sort of abruptness at issue, temps can affirm both purgatory and the doctrine of the (...)
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  10. added 2019-06-06
    Eternity, Boredom, and One’s Part-Whole-Reality Conception.William A. Lauinger - 2014 - American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 88 (1):1-28.
    Bernard Williams famously argued that eternal life is undesirable for a human because it would inevitably grow intolerably boring. I will argue against Williams and those who share his view. To make my case, I will provide an account of what staves off boredom in our current, earthly-mortal lives, and then I will draw on this account while advancing reasons for thinking that eternal life is desirable, given certain conditions. Though my response to Williams will partly overlap with some prior (...)
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  11. added 2019-06-06
    Personal Identity and Resurrection: How Do We Survive Our Death? Edited by Georg Gasser . Pp. Xvi, 277, Farnham, Ashgate, 2010, £55.00/$99.95. [REVIEW]Derek Michaud - 2013 - Heythrop Journal 54 (2):330-331.
    Book review of Georg Gasser, ed. “Personal Identity: How do we Survive Our Death?” (Ashgate, 2010).
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  12. added 2019-06-06
    Light in Darkness: Hans Urs Von Balthasar and the Catholic Doctrine of Christ's Descent Into Hell. By Alyssa Lyra Pitstick: Book Reviews. [REVIEW]Robert C. Hill - 2008 - Heythrop Journal 49 (1):158-160.
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  13. added 2019-06-06
    Warranting Christian Belief in Afterlife: Testing Newman’s Grammar of Assent.Edward Jeremy Miller - 2006 - Newman Studies Journal 3 (1):12-22.
    Most people believe in an afterlife, but is such a belief warranted? While Newman did not specifically treat the doctrine of afterlife, his Grammar of Assent furnishes a trajectory that shows that Christians can believe in this doctrine with a warranted assent, precisely because the Church is a warranted belief.
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  14. added 2019-06-06
    The Hero as a Visitor to Hell: Descent Into Death in Film Fantasy.Antonio Sánchez-Escalonilla - 2005 - The Chesterton Review 31 (3/4):185-195.
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  15. added 2019-06-06
    The Heaven of Heaven and the Unity of St. Augustine’s Confessions.S. J. Roland J. Teske - 2000 - American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 74 (1):29-45.
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  16. added 2019-06-06
    The Heaven of Heaven and the Unity of St. Augustine’s Confessions.Roland J. Teske - 2000 - American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 74 (1):29-45.
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  17. added 2019-06-06
    Hans Urs von Balthasar's Theodrama: A Contribution to Dramatic Criticism.Ed Block Jr - 1996 - Renascence 48 (2):153-171.
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  18. added 2019-06-06
    An Exploration of the Notion of Objectivity in Hans Urs von Balthasar.Christophe Potworowski - 1996 - Renascence 48 (2):137-151.
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  19. added 2019-06-06
    We Shall Bear the Image of the Man of Heaven‘: Theology and the Concept of Truth.Bruce D. Marshall - 1995 - Modern Theology 11 (1):93-117.
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  20. added 2019-06-06
    "Where in Hell Are We?": Chesterton on Dante.Dominic Manganiello - 1994 - The Chesterton Review 20 (1):65-81.
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  21. added 2019-06-06
    Dante's Hell, Aquinas's Moral Theory, and the Love of God.Eleonore Stump - 1986 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 16 (2):181-198.
    ‘Abandon all hope, ye who enter here’ is, as we all recognize, the inscription over the gate of Dante's hell; but we perhaps forget what precedes that memorable line. Hell, the inscription says, was built by divine power, by the highest wisdom, and by primordial love. Those of us who remember Dante's vivid picture of Farinata in the perpetually burning tombs or Ulysses in the unending and yet unconsuming flames may be able to credit Dante's idea that Hell was constructed (...)
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  22. added 2019-06-06
    The Hell of Not Loving: Purdy's Modern Tragedy.Regina Pomeranz - 1964 - Renascence 16 (3):149-153.
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  23. added 2019-06-05
    Paradise Understood: New Philosophical Essays About Heaven.T. Ryan Byerly & Eric J. Silverman (eds.) - 2017 - Oxford University Press.
    A collection of seventeen philosophical essays that systematically investigate heaven, or paradise, as conceived within theistic religious traditions.
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  24. added 2019-06-05
    Hell and its Afterlife: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives. Edited by Isabel Moreira and Margaret Toscano. Pp. Xvi, 266, Farnham, Ashgate, 2010, £55.00. The Problem of Hell: A Philosophical Anthology. Edited by Joel Buenting. Pp. Ix, 236, Farnham, Ashgate, 2010, £50.00. [REVIEW]Jonathan Wright - 2015 - Heythrop Journal 56 (1):159-160.
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  25. added 2019-06-05
    Book Review: Hell Without Fires: Slavery, Christianity, and the Antebellum Spiritual NarrativeHell Without Fires: Slavery, Christianity, and the Antebellum Spiritual NarrativebyPierceYolandaHistory of African American Religions University of Florida Press. Gainesville, 2005151 Pp $59 95 ISBN 978-0-8130-2806-4. [REVIEW]Angela D. Sims - 2007 - Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology 61 (4):458-459.
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  26. added 2019-05-29
    Salvaging Pascal’s Wager.Elizabeth Jackson & Andrew Rogers - 2019 - Philosophia Christi 21 (1):59-84.
    Many think that Pascal’s Wager is a hopeless failure. A primary reason for this is because a number of challenging objections have been raised to the wager, including the “many gods” objection and the “mixed strategy” objection. We argue that both objections are formal, but not substantive, problems for the wager, and that they both fail for the same reason. We then respond to additional objections to the wager. We show how a version of Pascalian reasoning succeeds, giving us a (...)
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  27. added 2019-05-28
    Divine Retribution in Evolutionary Perspective.Isaac Wiegman - 2016 - In Wm Curtis Holtzen & Matthew Nelson Hill (eds.), In Spirit and Truth. Claremont: CST Press. pp. 181-202.
  28. added 2019-04-12
    Recension "Between Death and Resurrection A Critical Response to Recent Catholic Debate Concerning the Intermediate State". [REVIEW]Alejandro Pérez - forthcoming - Revue Théologique de Louvain 50.
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  29. added 2019-03-05
    The Concept of Hell.Robert Arp & Benjamin McGraw (eds.) - 2015 - Palgrave-Macmillan.
    The Concept of Hell examines a wide range of topics, problems, and concepts of interest to philosophers, theologians, and anyone curious about religious thinking concerning damnation. Acting as a platform for philosophers from many different views and traditions, this book provides a myriad of approaches to thinking about Hell. From the nature of Hell to philosophical justifications of damnation, to the way in which Hell informs us about our relationships with each other, the discussions offer a tantalizing exploration of how (...)
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  30. added 2019-02-17
    ONT Vol 9.Paul Bali - manuscript
    contents -/- i. Day of the Locust / Triffids -/- ii. we're wide on a Paramount soundstage -/- iii. HOLLYWOOD, an ecologic history -/- iv. yet one more site of end-time art -/- v. he's "a bookworm with bulging lobes" -/- vi. apartment is my state of being apart -/- vii. enlightenment means a weight's release .
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  31. added 2018-10-29
    Recension: “Chalamet C., Dettwiler A., Mazzocco M., Waterlot G., (Eds.), Game Over? Reconsidering Eschatology, coll. Theologische Bibliothek Töpelmann, Belin/Boston, De Gruyter, 2017.”. [REVIEW]Alejandro Pérez - 2018 - Nouvelle Revue Théologique 140:688.
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  32. added 2018-10-29
    ADN ou 'me? L’identité et la résurrection.Alejandro Pérez - 2018 - Proceedings of the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy 61:183-193.
    Comment un homme pourrait-il changer qualitativement (voire perdre tous ses composants) et demeurer numériquement identique après la résurrection ? L’ADN étant l’identité de l’homme, serait-ce la solution ? Nous essayons d’y apporter une réponse à partir de l’essentialisme sérieux d’E. J. Lowe et l’hylémorphisme de Thomas d’Aquin. On propose d’établir la résurrection corporelle et le principe d’Inwagen comme deux étapes fondamentales pour la réflexion d’une ontologie de la résurrection. Cela nous conduit à penser une ontologie de l’âme, la thèse la (...)
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  33. added 2018-09-28
    Eternal Punishment, Universal Salvation and Pragmatic Theology in Leibniz.Paul Lodge - 2017 - In Lloyd Strickland, Erik Vynckier & Julia Weckend (eds.), Tercentenary Essays on the Philosophy & Science of G.W. Leibniz. London, UK: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 301-24.
    This paper explores the issue of Leibniz's commitment to the doctrines of eternal punishment and universal salvation. I argue against the dominant view that Leibniz was committed to eternal punishment, but rather than defending the minority position that Leibniz believed in universal salvation, I suggest that the evidence for his adherence to each is indicative of the way in which he regards religious doctrine as instrumentally valuable. My hypothesis is that Leibniz thought that the appropriateness of advocating eternal damnation, universal (...)
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  34. added 2018-09-17
    Review of "Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory" by Jerry L. Walls. [REVIEW]Lloyd Strickland - 2016 - Reading Religion 1.
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  35. added 2018-07-24
    Heavenly Freedom, Derivative Freedom, and the Value of Free Choices.Simon Kittle - unknown - Religious Studies:1-20.
    Sennett (1999) and Pawl & Timpe (2009; 2013) attempt to show how we can praise heavenly agents for things they inevitably do in heaven by appealing to the notion of derivative freedom. Matheson (2017) has criticized this use of derivative freedom. In this essay I show why Matheson's argument is inconclusive but also how the basic point may be strengthened to undermine the use Sennett and Pawl & Timpe make of derivative freedom. I then show why Matheson is mistaken to (...)
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  36. added 2018-06-09
    The Morally Difficult Notion of Heaven.Amir Saemi - 2018 - American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 92 (3):429-444.
    I will argue that Avicenna’s and Aquinas’s faith-based virtue ethics are crucially different from Aristotle’s virtue ethics, in that their ethics hinges on the theological notion of heaven, which is constitutively independent of the ethical life of the agent. As a result, their faith-based virtue ethics is objectionable. Moreover, I will also argue that the notion of heaven that Avicenna and Aquinas deploy in their moral philosophy is problematic; for it can rationally permit believers to commit morally horrendous actions. Finally, (...)
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  37. added 2018-05-24
    Some Problems of Heavenly Freedom.Simon Kittle - 2018 - TheoLogica: An International Journal for Philosophy of Religion and Philosophical Theology 2 (2):97-115.
    In this essay I identify four different problems of heavenly freedom; i.e., problems that arise for those who hold that the redeemed in heaven have free will. They are: the problem arising from God's own freedom, the problem of needing to praise the redeemed for not sinning in heaven, the problem of needing to affirm that the redeemed freely refrain from sinning, and the problem arising from a commitment to the free will defence. I explore how some of these problems (...)
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  38. added 2018-03-24
    The Agony of the Infinite: The Presence of God as Phenomenological Hell.A. G. Holdier - 2018 - In Simon Cushing (ed.), Heaven & Philosophy. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. pp. 119-135.
    Much recent academic literature on the afterlife has been focused on the justice of eternity and whether a good God could allow a person to experience eternal suffering in Hell. Two primary escapes are typically suggested to justify never-ending punishment for sinners: the traditional view focuses the blame for an individual’s condemnation away from God onto the sinner’s freely chosen actions; the universalist position denies the eternality of the punishment on the grounds that God’s inescapable love and eventual victory over (...)
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  39. added 2018-03-23
    Heaven and Philosophy.Simon Cushing (ed.) - 2017 - Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.
    This volume is a collection of essays analyzing different issues concerning the nature, possibility, and desirability of heaven as understood by the Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity. and Islam. Topics include whether or not it is possible that a mortal could, upon bodily death, become an inhabitant of heaven without loss of identity, where exactly heaven might be located, whether or not everyone should be saved, or if there might be alternative destinations (including some less fiery versions of Hell). Chapter (...)
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  40. added 2018-03-19
    Universalism and the Bible.Keith DeRose - manuscript
    I should be clear at the outset about what I'll mean -- and won't mean -- by "universalism." As I'll use it, "universalism" refers to the position that eventually all human beings will be saved and will enjoy everlasting life with Christ. This is compatible with the view that God will punish many people after death, and many universalists accept that there will be divine retribution, although some may not. What universalism does commit one to is that such punishment won't (...)
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  41. added 2018-01-22
    On Eternal Punishment: A Brief Dialogue.Richard Oxenberg - manuscript
    In this brief dialogue I consider the humanity and morality of the doctrine of eternal punishment.
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  42. added 2018-01-10
    Love and Death.Helen Daly - 2018 - In Simon Cushing (ed.), Heaven and Philosophy. Lexington Books. pp. 137-52.
    Imagine you find yourself in heaven after death, only to discover that the soul of your dearest love is suffering in hell. Would your bliss be marred by the suffering of your loved one? The “argument from love” challenges the traditional Christian conception of heaven and hell as places of perfect bliss and terrible suffering, respectively, on the grounds that no lover in heaven could be very happy if she were aware that her beloved was suffering in hell. Love requires (...)
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  43. added 2017-12-26
    Alpträume der Vernunft. Über Geisterseher, Mystiker und Philosophen.Christian Jung - 2015 - der Blaue Reiter 38:52-57.
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  44. added 2017-10-31
    There Could Be a Light That Never Goes Out. The Metaphysical Possibility of Disembodied Existence.Michele Paolini Paoletti - 2018 - Argumenta 3 (2):353-366.
    According to many philosophers, even if it is metaphysically possible that I exist without my present body or without my present brain, it is not metaphysically possible that I exist without any physical support. Thus, it is not metaphysically possible that I exist in some afterlife world, where I do not have any physical support. I shall argue against such a thesis by distinguishing two different notions of physical and by examining two strategies used by those who defend the thesis. (...)
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  45. added 2017-09-18
    Paradise and Growing in Virtue.Kevin Timpe & Timothy Pawl - 2017 - In T. Ryan Byerly & Eric Silverman (eds.), Paradise Understood: New Philosophical Essays about Heaven. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 97-109.
    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 (...)
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  46. added 2017-09-07
    Flint’s ‘Molinism and the Incarnation’ is Still Too Radical — A Rejoinder to Flint.R. T. Mullins - 2017 - Journal of Analytic Theology 5:515-532.
    I greatly appreciate Thomas Flint’s reply to my paper, “Flint’s ‘Molinism and the Incarnation’ is too Radical.” In my original paper I argue that the Christology and eschatology of Flint’s paper “Molinism and the Incarnation” is too radical to be considered orthodox. I consider it an honor that a senior scholar, such as Flint, would concern himself with my work in the first place. In this response to Flint’s reply I will explain why I still find Flint’s Christology and eschatology (...)
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  47. added 2017-07-13
    Character-Development and Heaven.Luke Henderson - 2014 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 76 (3):319-330.
    Numerous philosophers in recent decades have argued that a partial explanation for how the blessed in heaven are impeccable while remaining free and responsible is that they have cultivated or developed such a virtuous character prior to heaven that once in heaven they are incapable of acting contrary to their virtuously cultivated characters. Further, because the agents are at least partially responsible for the construction of their characters, they can be considered free and responsible with regard to the choices or (...)
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  48. added 2017-06-29
    Impeccability and Perfect Virtue.Luke Henderson - 2017 - Religious Studies 53 (2):261-280.
    Whatever else a theory of impeccability assumes about the moral life of heavenly agents, it seems to imply something about the type of actions possible for such agents, along with the quality of their moral characters. Regarding these characters, there are many that have argued impeccable and heavenly agents must also be perfectly virtuous agents. Michael Slote has recently argued, however, that perfect virtue is impossible. Assuming Slote’s argument is successful, a theory of impeccability that relies on the possibility of (...)
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  49. added 2017-04-14
    The “Death” of Monads: G. W. Leibniz on Death and Anti-Death.Roinila Markku - 2016 - In Charles Tandy (ed.), Death and Anti Death, vol. 14: Four Decades after Michael Polanyi, Three Centuries after G. W. Leibniz. Ann Arbor: RIA University Press. pp. 243-266.
    According to Leibniz, there is no death in the sense that the human being or animal is destroyed completely. This is due to his metaphysical pluralism which would suffer if the number of substances decreased. While animals transform into other animals after “death”, human beings are rewarded or punished of their behavior in this life. This paper presents a comprehensive account of how Leibniz thought the “death” to take place and discusses his often unclear views on the life after death. (...)
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  50. added 2017-02-17
    Wagering Against Divine Hiddenness.Elizabeth Jackson - 2016 - European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 8 (4):85-108.
    J.L. Schellenberg argues that divine hiddenness provides an argument for the conclusion that God does not exist, for if God existed he would not allow non-resistant non-belief to occur, but non-resistant non-belief does occur, so God does not exist. In this paper, I argue that the stakes involved in theistic considerations put pressure on Schellenberg’s premise that non-resistant non-belief occurs. First, I specify conditions for someone’s being a resistant non-believer. Then, I argue that many people fulfill these conditions because, given (...)
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