Wes Morriston has argued that given the mixture of goods and evils found in the world, the probability of God’s existence is much less than the probability of a creator who is indifferent to good and evil. One of my goals here is, first, to show how, by bringing in the concept of dispositions, Morriston’s argument can be expressed in a rigorous, step-by-step fashion, and then, second, to show how one can connect the extent to which different events are surprising (...) to conclusions concerning the probabilities of those events. My second goal is to evaluate two important objections to Morriston’s argument advanced by Timothy Perrine in his article, ‘Skeptical Theism and Morriston’s Humean Argument from Evil.’ Perrine’s first objection involves comparing how probable the evils in the world are if God exists with the probability if there is a deity who is indifferent to good and evil, and Perrine argues that given the version of skeptical theism that he and Stephen Wykstra have defended, the probability given theism is greater than the probability given an indifferent deity. Perrine’s second objection focuses instead on the probability of the mixture of goods and evils found in the world, and here he argues that there is no way of assigning a probability to that, either given the God-hypothesis or given the indifferent deity hypothesis, and therefore no way of comparing the probabilities of those two hypotheses. I then set out arguments that show that neither of Perrine’s objections is sound. (shrink)
This paper develops an internal critique of Graham Oppy’s metaphilosophy of religion – his theories of argumentation, worldview comparison, and epistemic justification. First, it presents Oppy’s views and his main reasons in their favor. Second, it argues that Oppy is committed to two claims – that only truth-conducive reasons can justify philosophical belief and that such justification depends entirely on one’s judgments about the theoretical virtues of comprehensive worldviews – that jointly entail the unacceptable conclusion that philosophical beliefs cannot be (...) justified. Third, it briefly argues that of his two claims, it is his thoroughgoing coherentism that should be rejected. (shrink)
Synthetic biologists attempt to apply engineering principles to biological systems. This involves treating organisms as “chassis” – neutral frames into which synthetic constructs can be inserted, rather than living entities with distinctive features. Here we focus on a particularly charismatic organism – Saccharomyces cerevisiae (brewer's yeast) – and the attempt to make a synthetic version of its genome. We argue that the “personality” of the yeast and the affective relationship scientists (and others) have to it, challenges the “organism agnosticism” of (...) synthetic biology. This leads us to ask whether synthetic biologists have straightforwardly exploitative relationships to the organisms they work on. We connect this “feeling for the (micro)organism” to the activity of engineering whole genomes, rather than discrete genetic parts. We argue that this connection is significant because we are likely to see an escalation in attempts to synthesize complete genomes in the future, including the human genome. (shrink)
I endorse the following claims in this paper. (1) Agnosticism is suspension of judgment on existence claims concerning gods and God. (2) Historical agnostics accepted (1) but unwisely insisted on further conditions best set aside. (3) Particular case agnosticism is less problematic than general principle-based agnosticism. (4) Agnostics should suspend judgment on—or, on occasion, reject—atomic claims of the form ‘God is F’.
This paper attempts to provide a high-level comparison of Eastern and Western conceptions of deity. It finds some significant similarities—involving worshipworthiness and the ideal shape of human lives—and some important differences—concerning the ultimate nature of reality, the relation of supreme deity to the rest of reality, and the relative frequency of divine incarnation.
This is an initial survey of some philosophical questions about divine language. Could God be a language producer and language user? Could there be a divine private language? Could there be a divine language of thought? The answer to these questions that I shall tentatively defend are, respectively: Yes, No and No. (Because I use some technical terms from recent philosophy of language, there is an appendix to this chapter in which I explain my use of those terms.).
There is an important distinction between two different kinds of expressions of gratitude: propositional expressions of gratitude and prepositional expressions of gratitude. I argue that there is a corresponding distinction between two different kinds of expression of resentment: propositional expressions of resentment and prepositional expressions of resentment. I then argue that theists should suppose neither that propositional expressions of gratitude are prepositional expressions of gratitude to God, nor that propositional expressions of resentment are prepositional expressions of resentment of God.
New Muslim movements in South India, such as the Solidarity Youth movement, re-formulated Muslim priorities towards human rights, democracy, development, environmental activism, and minorities. I read Solidarity Youth Movement as proposing an ethic of Islam’s conception of justice, while also drawing inspiration from the influential Islamist Abul A’la Maududi. Focusing on jurisprudential debates, I look at the ways in which Maududi’s intervention informs the praxis of Solidarity Youth Movement. This paper seeks the possibility of examining their activism as an instance (...) of juristic deliberation, linked to the revival of maqāṣid al-sharī’ah in the latter part of the twentieth century. I suggest a reading of their maqāṣid approach, born out of praxis in a Muslim minority context, as potentially informing the development of fiqh al-aqalliyah. (shrink)
William P. Alston.Daniel Howard-Snyder - 2009 - In Graham Oppy & Nick Trakakis (eds.), The History of Western Philosophy of Religion, Volume 5, Twentieth-Century Philosophers of Religion. New York: Routledge. pp. 221-232.details
This is a 12-page article on the life and work in philosophy of religion by William P. Alston (1921-2009).
Moral realism faces a well known genealogical debunking challenge. I argue that the moral realist’s best response may involve abandoning metaphysical naturalism in favor of some form of axiarchism—the view, very roughly, that the natural world is “ordered to the good.” Axiarchism comes in both theistic and non-theistic forms, but all forms agree that the natural world exists and has certain basic features because it is good for it to exist and have those features. I argue that theistic and non-theistic (...) forms of axiarchism are better positioned than metaphysical naturalism to avoid two commitments that a moral realist should seek to avoid: that the correctness of our moral beliefs is a major coincidence, and that there is a complete explanation of our moral beliefs that does not mention any moral truths. (shrink)
How can something finite mediate an infinite God? Weaving patristics, theology, art history, aesthetics, and religious practice with the hermeneutic phenomenology of Hans-George Gadamer and Jean-Luc Marion, Stephanie Rumpza proposes a new answer to this paradox by offering a fresh and original approach to the Byzantine icon. She demonstrates the power and relevance of the phenomenological method to integrate hermeneutic aesthetics and divine transcendence, notably how the material and visual dimensions of the icon are illuminated by traditional practices of prayer. (...) Rumpza's study targets a problem that is a major fault line in the continental philosophy of religion – the integrity of finite beings I relation to a God that transcends them. For philosophers, her book demonstrates the relevance of a cherished religious practice of Eastern Christianity. For art historians, she proposes a novel philosophical paradigm for understanding the icon as it is approached in practice. (shrink)
In this brief review it is not possible to do full justice to this lively and lucidly presented study. It is fair to say, I think, that the considerable merits of this work rest primarily with its intelligent and reliable selection of material, most of which is already available and familiar. This study does not aim to challenge any orthodoxies or present new material of some significant kind. Rasmussen does not need to do this since his real concern is to (...) tell a story about two great thinkers in an engaging manner – a task which he achieves with great success. This is a book that scholars will thoroughly enjoy and appreciate and which will also find many appreciative readers well beyond these boundaries. (shrink)
Sixteenth-century Christological debates sought to clarify the philosophical implications of the hypostatic union thesis formulated at Chalcedon. The genus maiesticatum, in particular, permitted that Christ’s created human nature could be said to possess divine attributes and powers. Other systematic regions like theological anthropology were implicated in this concept as well; the elevation of Christ’s human nature provided a conceptual framework for understanding the way divine indwelling might elevate human moral capacities in the elect. Medieval Scholastics after Lombard sought to clarify (...) what type of relation indwelling might be. Was it a hypostatic union as in Christology or something else? At the start of the sixteenth-century, Protestant reformers inherited this question. Their engagement with it demonstrates the systematic implications of Christological metaphysics and clarifies conceptual continuities and shifts that occurred across this historical moment of reform. (shrink)