This paper develops a challenge to theism. The challenge is to explain why the hypothesis that there exists an omnipotent, omniscient and all-good god should be considered significantly more reasonable than the hypothesis that there exists an omnipotent, omniscient and all-evil god. Theists typically dismiss the evil-god hypothesis out of hand because of the problem of good–there is surely too much good in the world for it to be the creation of such a being. But then why doesn't the problem (...) of evil provide equally good grounds for dismissing belief in a good god? I develop this evil-god challenge in detail, anticipate several replies, and correct errors made in earlier discussions of the problem of good. (shrink)
There is an old and powerful argument for the claim that divine foreknowledge is incompatible with the freedom to do otherwise. A recent response to this argument, sometimes called the “dependence response,” centers around the claim that God’s relevant past beliefs depend on the relevant agent’s current or future behavior in a certain way. This paper offers a new argument for the dependence response, one that revolves around different cases of time travel. Somewhat serendipitously, the argument also paves the way (...) for a new reply to a compelling objection to the dependence response, the challenge from prepunishment. But perhaps not so serendipitously, the argument also renders the dependence response incompatible with certain views of providence. (shrink)
Recently, several authors have utilized the notion of dependence to respond to the traditional argument for the incompatibility of freedom and divine foreknowledge. However, proponents of this response have not always been so clear in specifying where the incompatibility argument goes wrong, which has led to some unfounded objections to the response. We remedy this dialectical confusion by clarifying both the dependence response itself and its interaction with the standard incompatibility argument. Once these clarifications are made, it becomes clear both (...) (1.) that the dependence response does not beg the question against the proponent of the incompatibility argument and (2.) that the dependence response advances the dialectic whether it is developed as a version of Ockhamism or as a version of multiple-pasts compatibilism. (shrink)
There is an old but powerful argument for the claim that exhaustive divine foreknowledge is incompatible with the freedom to do otherwise. A crucial ingredient in this argument is the principle of the “Fixity of the Past”. A seemingly new response to this argument has emerged, the so-called “dependence response,” which involves, among other things, abandoning FP for an alternative principle, the principle of the “Fixity of the Independent”. This paper presents three arguments for the claim that FI ought to (...) be preferred to FP. (shrink)
The aim of the article is to intervene in debates about the digital and, in particular, framings that imagine the digital in terms of epochal shifts or as redefining life. Instead, drawing on recent developments in digital methods, we explore the lively, productive and performative qualities of the digital by attending to the specificities of digital devices and how they interact, and sometimes compete, with older devices and their capacity to mobilize and materialize social and other relations. In doing so, (...) our aim is to explore the implications of digital devices and data for reassembling social science methods or what we call the social science apparatuses that assemble digital devices and data to ‘know’ the social and other relations. Building on recent work at CRESC on the social life of methods, we recommend a genealogical approach that is alive to the ways in which digital devices are simultaneously shaped by social worlds, and can in turn become agents that shape those worlds. This calls for attending to the specificities of digital devices themselves, how they are varied and composed of diverse socio-technical arrangements, and are enrolled in the creation of new knowledge spaces, institutions and actors. Rather than exploring what large-scale changes can be revealed and understood through the digital, we argue for explorations of how digital devices themselves are materially implicated in the production and performance of contemporary sociality. To that end we offer the following nine propositions about the implications of digital data and devices and argue that these demand rethinking the theoretical assumptions of social science methods: transactional actors; heterogeneity; visualization; continuous time; whole populations; granularity; expertise; mobile and mobilizing; and non-coherence. (shrink)
Although much recent social science and humanities work has been a revolt against simplification, this volume explores the contrast between simplicity and complexity to reveal that this dichotomy, itself, is too simplistic. John Law and Annemarie Mol have gathered a distinguished panel of contributors to offer—particularly within the field of science studies—approaches to a theory of complexity, and at the same time a theoretical introduction to the topic. Indeed, they examine not only ways of relating to complexity but complexity _in (...) practice._ Individual essays study complexity from a variety of perspectives, addressing market behavior, medical interventions, aeronautical design, the governing of supranational states, ecology, roadbuilding, meteorology, the science of complexity itself, and the psychology of childhood trauma. Other topics include complex wholes in the sciences, moral complexity in seemingly amoral endeavors, and issues relating to the protection of African elephants. With a focus on such concepts as multiplicity, partial connections, and ebbs and flows, the collection includes narratives from Kenya, Great Britain, Papua New Guinea, the Netherlands, France, and the meetings of the European Commission, written by anthropologists, economists, philosophers, psychologists, sociologists, and scholars of science, technology, and society. _Contributors._ Andrew Barry, Steven D. Brown, Michel Callon, Chunglin Kwa, John Law, Nick Lee, Annemarie Mol, Marilyn Strathern, Laurent Thévenot, Charis Thompson. (shrink)
Plantinga's Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism aims to show that naturalism is, as he puts it, ‘incoherent or self defeating’. Plantinga supposes that, in the absence of any God-like being to guide the process, natural selection is unlikely to favour true belief. Plantinga overlooks the fact that adherents of naturalism may plausibly hold that there exist certain conceptual links between belief content and behaviour. Given such links, natural selection will favour true belief. A further rather surprising consequence of the existence of (...) such links is this: even if semantic properties are epiphenomenal, unguided evolution will still favour true belief. (shrink)
We all know that we have and are our bodies. But might it be possible to leave this common place? In the present article we try to do this by attending to the way we do our bodies. The site where we look for such action is that of handling the hypoglycaemias that sometimes happen to people with diabetes. In this site it appears that the body, active in measuring, feeling and countering hypoglycaemias is not a bounded whole: its boundaries (...) leak. Bits and pieces of the outside get incorporated within the active body; while the centre of some bodily activities is beyond the skin. The body thus enacted is not self-evidently coherent either. There are tensions between the body’s organs; between the control under which we put our bodies and the erratic character of their behaviour; and between the various needs and desires single bodies somehow try to combine. Thus to say that a body is a whole, or so we conclude, skips over a lot of work. One does not hang together as a matter of course: keeping oneself together is something the embodied person needs to do. The person who fails to do so dies. (shrink)
Skeptical theism is a leading response to the evidential argument from evil against the existence of God. Skeptical theists attempt to block the inference from the existence of inscrutable evils to gratuitous evils by insisting that given our cognitive limitations, it wouldn’t be surprising if there were God-justifying reasons we can’t think of. A well-known objection to skeptical theism is that it opens up a skeptical Pandora’s box, generating implausibly wide-ranging forms of skepticism, including skepticism about the external world and (...) past. This paper looks at several responses to this Pandora’s box objection, including a popular response devised by Beaudoin and Bergmann. I find that all of the examined responses fail. It appears the Pandora’s box objection to skeptical theism still stands. (shrink)
If there is a second dimension of time – a so-called ‘hypertime’ – is it logically possible for the past to change? Some have said yes; others have said no. I say yes provided that one has the appropriate ontological view of hypertime. So far, the ontology of hypertime has seldom been discussed. As such, this paper not only defends the logical possibility of a changing past, but aims to start a discussion on what ontological commitments are required to make (...) sense of a changing past. (shrink)
This article argues that it is a mistake to assume that atheism entails naturalism, that naturalism is what leads someone to embrace atheism, and that atheists must sign up to a ‘naturalistic world-view’.
Law's article begins by restating the classical ANT position that objects do not exist `in themselves' but are the effect of a performative stabilization of relational networks. In addition, these material enactments inevitably have a spatial dimension; they simultaneously establish spatial conditions for objectual identity, continuity, and difference. Space must not be reified as a natural, pre-existing container of the social and the material, but is itself a performance. Moreover, there are multiple forms of spatiality beyond the Euclidean space of (...) regions, and objects may exist and achieve homeomorphism within several different spatial systems. Technologies such as the Zimbabwe Bush Pump present a fluid object which is able to exist and cohere without the presence of fixed boundaries or the permanence of a particular functional definition. The network logic, however, which gravitates towards stability and functionality, tends to exclude and silence this spatial Other. An alternative political ontology is needed which goes beyond the reification of network space in order to give voice to the fluid objects which escape its unidimensional functionality. (shrink)
The vast majority of Biblical historians believe there is evidence sufficient to place Jesus’ existence beyond reasonable doubt. Many believe the New Testamentdocuments alone suffice firmly to establish Jesus as an actual, historical figure. I question these views. In particular, I argue (i) that the three most popular criteria by which various non-miraculous New Testament claims made about Jesus are supposedly corroborated are not sufficient, either singly or jointly, to place his existence beyond reasonable doubt, and (ii) that a prima (...) facie plausible principle concerning how evidence should be assessed—a principle I call the contamination principle—entails that, given the large proportion of uncorroborated miracle claims made about Jesus in the New Testament documents, we should, in the absence of good independent evidence for an historical Jesus, remain sceptical about his existence. (shrink)
Hudson has formulated two local deterministic theses and argued that both are incompatible with freedom. We argue that Hudson has half the story right. Moreover, reflection on Hudson’s theses brings out an important point for debates about freedom generally: that instead of focusing on the notion of entailment, debates about freedom should focus on the notions of explanation and sourcehood. Hudson’s theses provide an excellent case study for why the latter notions ought to take precedence over the former in debates (...) about freedom. (shrink)
This paper distinguishes five key interpretations of the argument presented by Wittgenstein in Philosophical Investigations I, §258. I also argue that on none of these five interpretations is the argument cogent. The paper is primarily concerned with the most popular interpretation of the argument: that which that makes it rest upon the principle that one can be said to follow a rule only if there exists a 'useable criterion of successful performance' (Pears) or 'operational standard of correctness' (Glock) for its (...) correct application. This principle, I suggest, is untrue. The private language argument upon which it rests therefore fails. (shrink)
Playing the mystery card -- "But it fits!" -- Going nuclear -- Moving the semantic goalposts -- "But I just know!" -- Pseudo-profundity -- Piling up the anecdotes -- Pressing your buttons -- Conclusion -- The Tapescrew letters.
This paper suggests the adoption of a ‘capability approach’ to key concepts in healthcare. Recent developments in theoretical approaches to concepts such as ‘health’ and ‘disease’ are discussed, and a trend identified of thinking of health as a matter of having the capability to cope with life’s demands. This approach is contrasted with the WHO definition of health and Boorse’s biostatistical account. We outline the ‘capability approach’, which has become standard in development ethics and economics, and show how existing work (...) in those areas can profitably be adapted to healthcare. Cases are used to illustrate the value of adopting a capability approach. (shrink)
In Beck, focus intervention is used as an argument for reducing Hamblin’s semantics for questions to Rooth’s focus semantics. Drawing on novel empirical evidence from Mandarin and English, we argue that this reduction is unwarranted. Maintaining both Hamblin’s original semantics and Rooth’s focus semantics not only allows for a more adequate account for focus intervention in questions, but also correctly predicts that focus intervention is a very general phenomenon caused by interaction of alternatives in different dimensions.
An in-depth study of Kierkegaard's thinking on Christology, emphasising the radical nature of his approach to the incarnation, with an emphasis on the call of the Christian believer to a life of 'kenotic' (self-emptying) discipleship in imitation of Christ.
Skeptical theism is a popular - if not universally theistically endorsed - response to the evidential problem of evil. Skeptical theists question how we can be in a position to know God lacks God-justifying reason to allow the evils we observe. In this paper I examine a criticism of skeptical theism: that the skeptical theists skepticism re divine reasons entails that, similarly, we cannot know God lacks God-justifying reason to deceive us about the external world and the past. This in (...) turn seems to supply us with a defeater for all our beliefs regarding the external world and past? Critics argue that either the skeptical theist abandon their skeptical theism, thereby resurrecting the evidential argument from evil, or else they must embrace seemingly absurd skeptical consequences, including skepticism about the external world and past. I look at various skeptical theist responses to this critique and find them all wanting. (shrink)
Interest in science and math plays an important role in encouraging STEM motivation and career aspirations. This interest decreases for girls between late childhood and adolescence. Relatedly, positive mentoring experiences with female teachers can protect girls against losing interest. The present study examines whether visitors to informal science learning sites differ in their expressed science and math interest, as well as their science and math stereotypes following an interaction with either a male or female educator. Participants were visitors to one (...) of four ISLS in the United States and United Kingdom. Following an interaction with a male or female educator, they reported their math and science interest and responded to math and science gender stereotype measures. Female participants reported greater interest in math following an interaction with a female educator, compared to when they interacted with a male educator. In turn, female participants who interacted with a female educator were less likely to report male-biased math gender stereotypes. Self-reported science interest did not differ as a function of educator gender. Together these findings suggest that, when aiming to encourage STEM interest and challenge gender stereotypes in informal settings, we must consider the importance of the gender of educators and learners. (shrink)
This paper presents an extension of Putnam's account of how substance terms such as ‘water’ and ‘gold’ function and of how a posteriori necessary truths concerning the underlying microstructures of such kinds may be derived. The paper has three aims. I aim to refute a familiar criticism of Putnam's account: that it presupposes what Salmon calls an ‘irredeemably metaphysical, and philosophically controversial, theory of essentialism’. I show how all of the details of Putnam's account—including those that Salmon believes smuggle in (...) such essentialist commitments—can be squared with a rejection of any such essentialist metaphysics. I aim to reveal why Steward is wrong to suppose that, by helping himself to the claim that ‘H2O’ is a rigid designator of a substance, Kripke, too, presupposes something controversially ‘metaphysical’. I aim to show how my proposed account also sidesteps a variety of objections raised by Needham and others who argue that Kripke's and Putnam's accounts of how ‘water’ and.. (shrink)
Human rights discourse has been likened to a global lingua franca, and in more ways than one, the analogy seems apt. Human rights discourse is a language that is used by all yet belongs uniquely to no particular place. It crosses not only the borders between nation-states, but also the divide between national law and international law: it appears in national constitutions and international treaties alike. But is it possible to conceive of human rights as a global language or lingua (...) franca not just in a figurative or metaphorical sense, but in a literal or linguistic sense as a legal dialect defined by distinctive patterns of word choice and usage? Does there exist a global language of human rights that transcends not only national borders, but also the divide between domestic and international law? Empirical analysis suggests that the answer is yes, but this global language comes in at least two variants or dialects. New techniques for performing automated content analysis enable us to analyze the bulk of all national constitutions over the last two centuries, together with the world’s leading regional and international human rights instruments, for patterns of linguistic similarity and to evaluate how much language, if any, they share in common. Specifically, we employ a technique known as topic modeling that disassembles texts into recurring verbal patterns. The results highlight the existence of two species or dialects of rights talk—the universalist dialect and the positive-rights dialect—both of which are global in reach and rising in popularity. The universalist dialect is generic in content and draws heavily on the type of language found in international and regional human rights instruments. It appears in particularly large doses in the constitutions of transitional states, developing states, and states that have been heavily exposed to the influence of the international community. The positive-rights dialect, by contrast, is characterized by its substantive emphasis on positive rights of a social or economic variety, and by its prevalence in lengthier constitutions and constitutions from outside the common law world, especially those of the Spanish-speaking world. Both dialects of rights talk are truly transnational, in the sense that they appear simultaneously in national, regional, and international legal instruments and transcend the distinction between domestic and international law. Their existence attests to the blurring of the boundary between constitutional law and international law. (shrink)
Libertarian views of freedom claim that, although determinism would rule out our freedom, we are nevertheless free on some occasions. An odd implication of such views (to put it mildly) seems to be that indeterminism somehow enhances or contributes to our agency. But how could that be? What does indeterminism have to offer agency? This paper develops a novel answer, one that is centred around the notion of explanation. In short, it is argued that, if indeterminism holds in the right (...) places, then the best explanation of the history of the world necessarily cites facts about our agency. Along the way, alternative proposals regarding the significance of indeterminism are considered and, ultimately, rejected in favour of the one developed in this paper. (shrink)
Women are drastically underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and this underrepresentation has been linked to gender stereotypes and ability related beliefs. One way to remedy this may be to challenge male bias gender stereotypes around STEM by cultivating equitable beliefs that both female and male can excel in STEM. The present study implemented a growth mindset intervention to promote children’s incremental ability beliefs and investigate the relation between the intervention and children’s gender stereotypes in an informal science learning (...) site. Participants were visitors to a science museum who took part in an interactive space science show. Participants who were exposed to a growth mindset intervention, compared to the participants in the control condition, reported significantly less gender stereotyping around STEM by reporting equitably in the stereotype awareness measure. Relatedly, participants in the control condition reported male bias gender stereotype in the stereotype awareness measure. Further, children between 5 and 8-years-old reported greater male bias stereotypes awareness and stereotype flexibility in space science compared to children between 9 and 12-years-old. Lastly, children demonstrated in-group bias in STEM ability. Male participants reported gender bias favoring males’ ability in stereotype flexibility and awareness measures, while female participants reported bias toward females’ ability in stereotype flexibility and awareness measures. These findings document the importance of a growth mindset intervention in buffering against STEM gender stereotyping amongst children, as well as the significant role a growth mindset intervention can play within an informal science learning site. (shrink)
In this contribution to the Common Knowledge symposium “Fuzzy Studies,” the authors, all of whom work in the field of science, technology, and society, begin from the assumption that, as Bruno Latour has put it, “we have never been modern.” They accept the STS thesis that, while modern practices purport to be entirely rational and coherent, on closer inspection they turn out to be as much noncoherent as coherent. This article poses the question of what forms “noncoherences” take and how (...) they are managed. The basic argument is that there is a range of styles of noncoherence or “modes of syncretism.” In small case studies, the authors identify six such modes or styles, which they term denial, domestication, separation, care, conflict, and collapse. Given that consistency and coherence seem less important now than they were once taken to be — and given that the conditions of possibility for purity are, in any case, in decline — this list and its supporting case studies, while not meant to be definitive, are offered as a way of understanding how practices that do not cohere may still function and fit together admirably. (shrink)
We examined participants' reading and recall of informed consent documents presented via paper or computer. Within each presentation medium, we presented the document as a continuous or paginated document to simulate common computer and paper presentation formats. Participants took slightly longer to read paginated and computer informed consent documents and recalled slightly more information from the paginated documents. We concluded that obtaining informed consent online is not substantially different than obtaining it via paper presentation. We also provide suggestions for improving (...) informed consent-in both face-to-face and online experiments. (shrink)
This article asks how contexts are made in science as well as in social science, and how the making of contexts relates to political agency and intervention. To explore these issues, it traces contexting for foot-and-mouth disease and the strategies used to control the epidemic in the United Kingdom in 2001. It argues that to depict the world is to assemble contexts and to hold them together in a mode that may be descriptive, explanatory, or predictive. In developing this argument, (...) it explores how contexts are assembled in a series of different descriptive and explanatory narratives in epidemiology, policy, critical social science, and social studies of science. (shrink)