This Element focuses on some core conceptual and ontological issues related to pantheistic conceptions of God by engaging with recent work in analytic philosophy of religion on this topic. The conceptual and ontological commitments of pantheism are contrasted with those of other conceptions of God. The concept of God assumed by pantheism is clarified and the question about what type of unity the universe must exhibit in order to be identical with God receives the most attention. It is argued that (...) the sort of unity the universe must display is the sort of unity characteristic of conscious cognitive systems. Some alternative ontological frameworks for grounding such cognitive unity are considered. Further, the question of whether God can be understood as personal on pantheism is explored. (shrink)
In her recent paper, “A Defense of Substance Causation,” Ann Whittle makes a case for substance causation. In this paper, assuming that causation is a generative or productive relation, I argue that Whittle’s argument is not successful. While substances are causally relevant in causal processes owing to outcomes being counterfactually dependent upon their role in such occurrences, the real productive work in causal processes is accomplished by the causal powers of substances.
The causal theory of action is widely recognized in the literature of the philosophy of action as the "standard story" of human action and agency -- the nearest approximation in the field to a theoretical orthodoxy. This volume brings together leading figures working in action theory today to discuss issues relating to the CTA and its applications, which range from experimental philosophy to moral psychology. Some of the contributors defend the theory while others criticize it; some draw from historical sources (...) while others focus on recent developments; some rely on the tools of analytic philosophy while others cite the latest empirical research on human action. All agree, however, on the centrality of the CTA in the philosophy of action. The contributors first consider metaphysical issues, then reasons-explanations of action, and, finally, new directions for thinking about the CTA. They discuss such topics as the tenability of some alternatives to the CTA; basic causal deviance; the etiology of action ; teleologism and anticausalism; and the compatibility of the CTA with theories of embodied cognition. Two contributors engage in an exchange of views on intentional omissions that stretches over four essays, directly responding to each other in their follow-up essays. As the action -oriented perspective becomes more influential in philosophy of mind and philosophy of cognitive science, this volume offers a long-needed debate over foundational issues. Contributors: Fred Adams, Jesús H. Aguilar, John Bishop, Andrei A. Buckareff, Randolph Clarke, Jennifer Hornsby, Alicia Juarrero, Alfred R. Mele, Michael S. Moore, Thomas Nadelhoffer, Josef Perner, Johannes Roessler, David-Hillel Ruben, Carolina Sartorio, Michael Smith, Rowland Stout The hardcover edition does not include a dust jacket. (shrink)
In some recent work on omissions, it has been argued that the causal theory of action cannot account for how agency is exercised in intentionally omitting to act in the same way it explains how agency is exercised in intentional action. Thus, causalism appears to provide us with an incomplete picture of intentional agency. I argue that causalists should distinguish causalism as a general theory of intentional agency from causalism as a theory of intentional action. Specifically, I argue that, while (...) intentional actions may best be understood as the causal products or outcomes of causings, we should identify exercises of intentional agency with causal processes. With a causalist account of intentional agency sketched, I respond to the challenge to causalism from omissions. I argue that when an agent intentionally omits there is a causal process that has a zero-sum outcome. But the causal process is sufficient to make it true that the agent exercises intentional agency in intentionally omitting. (shrink)
ABSTRACT: Defending the distinction between believing and accepting a proposition, I argue that cases where agents allegedly exercise direct voluntary control over their beliefs are instances of agents exercising direct voluntary control over accepting a proposition. The upshot is that any decision to believe a proposition cannot result directly in one’s acquiring the belief. Accepting is an instrumental mental action the agent performs that may trigger belief. A model of the relationship between acceptance and belief is sketched and defended. The (...) consequences of the distinction between belief and acceptance, and the model of belief control sketched are then applied to the recent case made by Carl Ginet in defense of the conceptual and psychological possibility of agents exercising direct voluntary control over their beliefs. n. (shrink)
We examine Sophie Gibb’s emergent property-dualist theory of mental causation as double-prevention. Her account builds on a commitment to a version of causal realism based on a powers metaphysic. We consider three objections to her account. We show, by drawing out the implications of the ontological commitments of Gibb’s theory of mental causation, that the first two objections fail. But, we argue, owing to worries about cases where there is no double-preventive role to be played by mental properties, her account, (...) which solely affords mental properties a double-preventive role, is incomplete and vulnerable to a causal exclusion objection. We propose a friendly modification to her theory of mental causation that is consistent with her theory’s ontological commitments. Specifically, we sketch an account on which mental properties have a more pronounced causal-structuring role that is not exhausted by the role Gibb assigns them as double-preventers. The result is a novel emergentist theory of mental causation. (shrink)
By “pantheism” I mean to pick out a model of God on which God is identical with the totality of existents constitutive of the universe. I assume that, on pantheism, God is an omnispatiotemporal mind who is identical with the universe. I assume that, given divine omnispatiotemporality, God knows everything that can be known in the universe. This includes having knowledge de se of the minds of every conscious creature. Hence, if God has knowledge de se of the minds of (...) every conscious creature, then divine omniscience implies omnisubjectivity. Assuming that eternalism is true, robust temporal passage is an illusion. But, conscious creatures, such as human persons, experience robust temporal passage. If God has the attribute of omnisubjectivity, then God experiences temporal passage. However, God also has a unified experience of the entire spatiotemporal continuum. God’s having these two perspectives creates a tension for pantheism given that God would seem to experience both temporal passage and an absence of temporal passage. I compare non-personal pantheism and personal pantheism and consider which one has better resources to answer the foregoing puzzle. I argue that personal pantheism is better equipped to address this problem than non-personal pantheism. (shrink)
Many powers-realists assume that the powers of objects are identical with the dispositions of objects and, hence, that ‘power’ and ‘disposition’ are interchangeable. In this article, I aim to disentangle dispositions from powers with the goal of getting a better sense of how powers and dispositions relate to one another. I present and defend a modest realism about dispositions built upon a standard strong realism about powers. I argue that each correct disposition-ascription we can make of an object is made (...) true by the manifestations towards which a given power or collection of powers of the object is directed.RésuméDe nombreux réalistes des pouvoirs supposent que les pouvoirs des objets sont identiques aux dispositions des objets et, par conséquent, que le « pouvoir » et la « disposition » sont interchangeables. Dans cet article, j'ai pour objectif de démêler les dispositions des pouvoirs dans le but d'avoir une meilleure idée de la façon dont les pouvoirs et les dispositions se rapportent les uns aux autres. Je présente et défends un réalisme des dispositions modeste fondées sur un réalisme des pouvoirs standard fort. Je soutiens que chaque disposition-ascription correcte que nous pouvons faire d'un objet est rendue vraie par les manifestations vers lesquelles un pouvoir donné ou une collection de pouvoirs de l'objet est dirigé. (shrink)
The ways in which we exercise intentional agency are varied. I take the domain of intentional agency to include all that we intentionally do versus what merely happens to us. So the scope of our intentional agency is not limited to intentional action. One can also exercise some intentional agency in omitting to act and, importantly, in producing the intentional outcome of an intentional action. So, for instance, when an agent is dieting, there is an exercise of agency both with (...) respect to the agent’s actions and omissions that constitute her dieting behavior and in achieving the intended outcome of losing weight. In our mental lives we exercise intentional agency both in performing mental actions and when we intentionally produce certain outcomes at which our mental actions are aimed. The nature and scope of our intentional agency in our mental lives with respect to controlling the acquisition of mental states such as belief, desire, and intention is a topic that is of interest in its own right. In this essay, I will focus solely on our control over coming to believe. Understanding what sort of control we have our beliefs has far-reaching implications. For instance, theorizing about self-deception and wishful thinking is aided by theorizing about what if any intentional agency we can exercise with respect to acquiring beliefs. Another often mentioned concern that motivates thinking about doxastic agency comes from religion (when conversion requires a change of belief). We also hold persons morally and epistemically responsible for beliefs they have or fail to have. Finally, some deontological theories of epistemic justification require that agents be able to exercise a robust form of doxastic control. Fruitful work on any of these problems requires that we have an account of our intentional agency in acquiring beliefs. There are at least three loci of doxastic control. The first is over acquiring beliefs. The second is over maintaining beliefs. The third is over how we use our beliefs. I am chiefly concerned with the first locus of doxastic control in this essay, but I will say something about the second locus along the way. Also, I will only consider one way we might exercise control over acquiring beliefs. Specifically, I will present an argument against direct doxastic voluntarism (DDV). By “DDV” I mean to refer to the thesis that it is conceptually possible for agents to consciously exercise the same sort of direct voluntary control over coming to acquire a doxastic attitude—such as belief, suspension of belief, and disbelief—that they exercise over uncontroversial basic actions. If DDV is correct, then coming to believe can be a basic action-type. DDV, or something very close to it, was Bernard Williams’ target in his 1973 paper, “Deciding to Believe.” Williams’s argument is widely regarded as having been a failure. But I think that Williams was on to something in his paper. Hence, in this paper, while I do not attempt to resurrect Williams’s argument, I develop and defend a revised argument for a thesis that is quite close to Williams’s. I will proceed as follows. First, I will discuss Bernard Williams’ (1973) failed attempt at showing that DDV is conceptually impossible. This will be followed by a discussion of some constraints on our belief-forming activities. I will then clarify my target a bit more than Williams does in his original paper. Finally, I will present my own argument against the conceptual possibility of DDV. (shrink)
Humean compatibilism combines a Humean conception of laws of nature with a strong dual-ability condition for free will that requires that agents possess the ability to decide differently when they make a free decision. On the Humean view of laws of nature, laws of nature are taken to be contingent non-governing descriptions of significant regularities that obtain in the entire history of the universe. On Humean compatibilism, agents are taken to possess dual ability when making free decisions because what the (...) laws of nature will finally be is (at least partially) dependent upon how an agent decides. In this paper, I argue that the tenability of Humean compatibilism depends in part upon what theory of time is correct. More specifically, I argue that Humean compatibilism is untenable in a deterministic universe if eternalism is true. (shrink)
Research on the nature of dispositionality or causal power has flourished in recent years in metaphysics. This trend has slowly begun to influence debates in the philosophy of agency, especially in the literature on free will. Both sophisticated versions of agent-‐causalism and the new varieties of dispositionalist compatibilism exploit recently developed accounts of dispositionality in their defense. In this paper, I examine recent work on agent-‐causal power, focusing primarily on the account of agent-‐causalism developed and defended by Timothy O’Connor’s in (...) his work on free will. Assuming the existence of irreducible causal powers, I offer an. (shrink)
In a recent article in this journal, John Bishop argues in defence of conceiving of Christian faith as a ‘doxastic venture’. That is, he defends the claim that, in exercising faith, agents believe beyond ‘what can be established rationally on the basis of evidence and argument’. Careful examination reveals that Bishop fails adequately to show that faith in the face of inadequate epistemic reasons for believing is, or can even be, a uniquely doxastic venture. I argue that faith is best (...) conceived of as a sub-doxastic venture that involves pragmatically assuming that God exists. (shrink)
I examine Galen Strawson's recent work on mental action in his paper, 'Mental Ballistics or The Involuntariness of Spontaneity'. I argue that his account of mental action is too restrictive. I offer a means of testing tokens of mental activity types to determine if they are actional. The upshot is that a good deal more mental activity than Strawson admits is actional.
I critique Matthias Steupâs account of exercising direct voluntary control over coming to have doxastic attitudes via doxastic decisions. I show that the sort of agency Steup argues is exercised in doxastic decision-making is not sufficient for agents to exercise direct voluntary control over their doxastic attitudes. This counts against such putative decisions being the locus of direct control in doxastic agency. Finally, I briefly consider what, if any, consequences the failure of Steupâs theory of doxastic agency may have for (...) epistemic deontologism. (shrink)
The case is discussed for the doctrine of hell as posing a unique problem of evil for adherents to the Abrahamic religions who endorse traditional theism. The problem is particularly acute for those who accept retributivist formulations of the doctrine of hell according to which hell is everlasting punishment for failing to satisfy some requirement. Alternatives to retributivism are discussed, including the unique difficulties that each one faces.
In his landmark book on philosophical theology, Saving God: Religion After Idolatry, Mark Johnston develops a panentheistic metaphysic of the divine that he contends is compatible with ontological naturalism. On his view, God is the universe, but the ‘is’ is the ‘is’ of constitution, not identity. The universe and God are coinciding objects that share properties but have different essential modal properties and, hence, different persistence conditions. In this paper, I address the problem of accounting for what it is about (...) the organization or structure of the universe that makes it sufficient to constitute the Divine Mind. Specifically, I consider what kind of unity the universe exhibits in virtue of which it constitutes the Divine Mind. I consider how Johnston’s hylomorphic account of the unity of composite objects might be applied to provide a solution and offer an alternative that emends the Johnstonian proposal I present by exploiting a variant of a neo-Aristotelian ontology of causal powers that takes properties to be powerful qualities. On the framework I defend, we can understand the universe as a constellation of powers that displays the sort of unity sufficient to truthfully described it as a Divine Mind. The approach I recommend will, however, ultimately lend itself to a pantheistic metaphysic of the divine rather than Johnston’s preferred panentheism. (shrink)
In our paper, ‘Escaping hell: divine motivation and the problem of hell’, we defended a theory of hell that we called ‘escapism’. We argued that given God’s just and loving character it would be most rational for God to maintain an open door policy to those who are in hell, allowing them an unlimited number of chances to be reconciled with God and enjoy communion with God. In this paper we reply to two recent objections to our original paper. The (...) first is an argument from religious luck offered by Rusty Jones. The second is an argument from Kyle Swan that alleges that our commitments about the nature of reasons for action still leaves escapism vulnerable to an objection we labeled the ‘Job objection’ in our original paper. In this paper we argue that escapism has the resources built into it needed to withstand the objections from Jones and Swan. (shrink)
Some philosophers working on the metaphysics of agency argue that if agency is understood in terms of settling the truth of some matters, then the power required for the exercise of intentional agency is an irreducible two-way power to either make it true that p or not-p. In this paper, the focus is on two-way powers in decision-making. Two problems are raised for theories of decision-making that are ontologically committed to irreducible two-way powers. First, recent accounts lack an adequate framework (...) for explaining decisions by the reasons of agents. Second, accepting ontologically irreducible two-way powers into one’s metaphysic of agency implies an ontological commitment to substance dualism. An ontologically less-costly alternative to irreducible two-way powers is offered. It is argued that a reductive account of two-way powers in terms of what George Molnar called “derivative powers” should be accepted. The reductive account can provide us with the truthmakers for talk about two-way powers. Moreover, the reductive account does not share the liabilities of accepting irreducible two-way powers. (shrink)
This paper identifies and critiques a theory of mental causation defended by some proponents of nonredutive physicalism that I call “intralevelism.” Intralevelist theories differ in their details. On all versions, the causal outcome of the manifestation of physical properties is physical and the causal outcome of the manifestation of mental properties is mental. Thus, mental causation on this view is intralevel mental to mental causation. This characterization of mental causation as intralevel is taken to insulate nonreductive physicalism from some objections (...) to nonreductive physicalism, including versions of the exclusion argument. This paper examines some features of three recent versions of intralevelism defended by John Gibbons, Markus Schlosser, and Amie Thomasson. This paper shows that the distinctive problems faced by these three representative versions of intralevelism suggest that the intralevelist strategy does not provide a viable solution to the exclusion problem. (shrink)
We reply to Andrew Sneddon’s recent criticism of the causal theory of action (CTA) and critically examine Sneddon’s preferred alternative, minimal causalism. We show that Sneddon’s criticism of CTA is problematic in several respects, and therefore his conclusion that “the prospects for CTA look poor” is unjustified. Moreover, we show that the minimal causalism that Sneddon advocates looks rather unpromising and its merits that Sneddon mentions are untenable.
In this article, I challenge the dominant view of the importance of the debate over action-individuation. On the dominant view, it is held that the conclusions we reach about action-individuation make little or no difference for other debates in the philosophy of action, much less in other areas of philosophy. As a means of showing that the dominant view is mistaken, I consider the implications of accepting a given theory of action-individuation for thinking about doxastic agency. In particular, I am (...) interested in the implications for thinking about the variety of evaluative control we can exercise over the formation of our doxastic attitudes. I show that our assumptions about how to individuate actions matters for how we think about doxastic agency and, hence, the conclusions we reach about action-individuation are of greater significance than some have thought. (shrink)
Many philosophers of action afford intentions a central role in theorizing about action and its explanation. Furthermore, current orthodoxy in the philosophy of action has it that intentions play a causal role with respect to the etiology and explanation of action. But action theory is not without its heretics. Some philosophers have challenged the orthodox view. In this paper I examine and critique one such challenge. I consider David-Hillel Ruben's case against the need for intentions to play a causal role (...) in the etiology and explanation of mental actions. Contra Ruben, I defend the orthodox view that intentions play an indispensable causal and explanatory role with respect to mental actions. (shrink)
We focus on the recent non-causal theory of reasons explanationsof free action proffered by a proponent of the agency theory, Timothy O'Connor. We argue that the conditions O'Connor offersare neither necessary nor sufficient for a person to act for a reason. Finally, we note that the role O'Connor assigns toreasons in the etiology of actions results in further conceptual difficulties for agent-causalism.
In this paper we examine and critique the constitution view of the metaphysics of resurrection developed and defended by Lynne Rudder Baker. Baker identifies three conditions for an adequate metaphysics of resurrection. We argue that one of these, the identity condition, cannot be met on the constitution view given the account of personal identity it assumes. We discuss some problems with the constitution theory of personal identity Baker develops in her book, Persons and Bodies. We argue that these problems render (...) the constitution theory of personal identity as stated by Baker untenable. The upshot for the debate over the metaphysics of resurrection is that the constitution view of the metaphysics of resurrection must either be rejected or modified. (shrink)
Most work at the intersection of law and the philosophy of action focuses on criminal responsibility. Unfortunately, this focus has been at the expense of reflecting on how the philosophy of action might help illuminate our understanding of issues in civil law. In this essay, focusing on Anglo-American jurisprudence, we examine the conditions under which a party to a legal agreement is deemed to have the capacity required to be bound by that agreement. We refer to this condition as the (...) capacity condition. We begin by showing how recent work on the metaphysics of powers might ground an account of the role of capacities in the metaphysics of intentional agency. After discussing the capacity to contract in Anglo-American jurisprudence, we show how the general ontology of capacities and agency sketched can ground and help clarify legal thinking about capacity. We argue that when we couple our understanding of capacity with relevant recent data from developmental neuropsychology, a lacuna in Anglo-American contract law becomes evident. Specifically, it appears that persons in early adulthood do not clearly satisfy the conditions requisite for them to satisfy the capacity condition. In the light of this, we sketch some potential solutions that are compatible with existing legal standards and would contribute to a more consistent application of the capacity condition in contract law. (shrink)
In this paper, I examine Mark Johnston’s panentheistic account of the metaphysics of the divine developed in his recent book, Saving God: Religion After Idolatry. On Johnston’s account, God is the ‘Highest One’ and is identified with ‘the outpouring of Being by way of its exemplification in ordinary existents for the sake of the self-disclosure of Being’. Johnston eschews supernaturalism and takes his position to be consistent with what he calls ‘legitimate naturalism’ which he takes to be some version of (...) ontological naturalism. But, as I will argue in what follows, Johnston’s legitimate naturalism is not clearly ontological naturalism. In what follows, given the other general features of his account, I argue that if we assume ontological naturalism, we should prefer a pantheistic conception of God over a panentheistic conception of God such as the one Johnston proffers. I take it that we can preserve everything Johnston wants in his account of divinity if we accept pantheism; but, if we wish to purge our conception of God of any supernaturalism, we should accept pantheism. (shrink)
Benjamin Matheson has recently critiqued the escapist account of hell that we have defended. In this paper we respond to Matheson. Building on some of our work in defense of escapism that Matheson does not discuss we show that the threat posed by Matheson’s critique is chimerical. We begin by summarizing our escapist theory of hell. Next, we summarize both Matheson’s central thesis and the main arguments offered in its defense. We then respond to those arguments.
A knowledge argument is offered that presents unique difficulties for Christians who wish to assert that God is essentially omniscient. The difficulties arise from the doctrine of the incarnation. Assuming that God the Son did not necessarily have to become incarnate, then God cannot necessarily have knowledge de se of the content of a non-divine mind. If this is right, then God’s epistemic powers are not fixed across possible worlds and God is not essentially omniscient. Some options for Christian theists (...) are discussed, including rejecting traditional theism in favour of some version of pantheism or panentheism. (shrink)
Mark Heller has recently offered a proposal in defense of a fairly strong version of doxastic voluntarism. Heller looks to the compatibilist theory of free will proposed by R.E. Hobart in the first half of the twentieth century for an account of doxastic control. Heller’s defense of Hobartian Voluntarism is motivated by an appeal to epistemic deontologism. In this paper I argue that Heller’s defense of a version of strong or direct doxastic voluntarism ultimately fails. I finally argue that the (...) failure of his theory of epistemic agency does not imply the untenability of epistemic deontologism. (shrink)
In our paper, ‘Escaping hell: divine motivation and the problem of hell’, we defended a theory of hell that we called ‘escapism’. We argued that, given God's just and loving character, it would be most rational for Him to maintain an open-door policy to those who are in hell, allowing them an unlimited number of chances to be reconciled with God and enjoy communion with Him. In this paper we reply to two recent objections to our original paper. The first (...) is an argument from religious luck offered by Russell Jones. The second is an argument from Kyle Swan that alleges that our commitments about the nature of reasons for action still leaves escapism vulnerable to an objection we labelled the ‘Job objection’ in our original paper. In this paper we argue that escapism has the resources built into it needed to withstand the objections from Jones and Swan. (shrink)
The concept of divine agency is central to the narrative traditions inherited by Jews, Christians, and Muslims. The scriptures of the Abrahamic religions include repeated references to the intentional actions and intentional outcomes of the actions of God. For instance, in the “Song of Moses” (Exodus 15:1-18), Moses celebrates the freedom of the Hebrews from bondage, declaring that Yahweh is “awesome in splendor, doing wonders” (5:11 NRSV). Alongside the picture of God as an agent who performs actions is a conception (...) of God that developed over the centuries as a simple, immutable, impassable, timelessly eternal being. To many philosophers and theologians, this conception of God as a being who exists in a durationless eternity is inconsistent with the way God is characterized in the scriptures, viz., as an agent who acts in time, often in direct response to the actions of other agents. In this paper, I will assume that if the God of Judeo-Christian-Islamic theism exists, then God is an agent who has performed intentional actions. I will argue that if God is such an agent, then God cannot exist outside of time.1 This is because of how.. (shrink)
Managerial doxastic agency is one species of indirect doxastic agency. In this article, the author builds on some earlier work and sketches an account of managerial doxastic agency. In particular, he argues that fairly robust doxastic agency can be exercised by performing metamental actions of non-doxastically accepting propositions as true as part of a general strategy involving various means of mental control. That the sort of control counts as a form of internal control and, hence, as a form of genuine (...) doxastic agency is defended against an objection. (shrink)
On the Causal Theory of Action (CTA), internal proper parts of an agent such as desires and intentions are causally responsible for actions. CTA has increasingly come under attack for its alleged failure to account for agency. A recent version of this criticism due to François Schroeter proposes that CTA cannot provide an adequate account of either the executive control or the autonomous control involved in full-fledged agency. Schroeter offers as an alternative a revised understanding of the proper role of (...) consciousness in agency. In this paper we criticize Schroeter’s analysis of the type of consciousness involved in executive control and examine the way in which the conscious self allegedly intervenes in action. We argue that Schroeter’s proposal should not be preferred over recent versions of CTA. (shrink)
I take it that the following is a desideratum of our theories in the philosophy of mind. A theory in the philosophy of mind should help us better understand ourselves as agents and aid in our theorizing about the nature of action and agency. In this paper I discuss a strategy adopted by some defenders of nonreductive physicalism in response to the problem of causal exclusion. The strategy, which I refer to as “intralevelism,” relies on treating mental causation as intra (...) level mental to mental causation, rather than as involving any inter level mental to physical causation. I raise problems for intralevelist theories of mental causation that stem from action-theoretic considerations. Specifically, I focus on the failure of intralevelist proposals to account for the problem of basic causal deviance in the etiology of action. To the extent that intralevelism fails to make room for basic causal deviance, the strategy fails to satisfy the aforementioned desideratum, viz ., that our theories in the philosophy of mind should be of use in theorizing about action and agency. The upshot is that intralevelism is a less promising strategy for nonreductive physicalists than it appears at first glance. (shrink)
The mentalistic orthodoxy about reason-explanations of action in the philosophy of mind has recently come under renewed attack. Julia Tanney is among those who have critiqued mentalism. The alternative account of the folk practice of giving reason-explanations of actions she has provided affords features of an agent’s external environment a privileged role in explaining the intentional behaviour of agents. The authors defend the mentalistic orthodoxy from Tanney’s criticisms, arguing that Tanney fails to provide a philosophically satisfying or psychologically realistic account (...) of reason-explanation of action. (shrink)
In Crossing the Threshold of Divine Revelation,1 William Abraham offers a rich, subtle defense of an epistemology of divine revelation. While I believe there is much about Abraham’s work that is commendable, my remarks in this paper will be primarily critical. But the fact that Abraham’s work is worthy of critical comment should be evidence enough of the importance of Abraham’s book. My focus here will be on a cluster of metaepistemological claims made by Abraham. Specifically, I will argue that (...) Abraham’s remarks about epistemic fit and the epistemic standards we bring to bear in making evaluations of divine revelation claims commit him to a species of epistemic relativism. This may not be a problem. I am not interested in offering an argument against epistemic relativism.2 I suspect, however, that Abraham does not think of himself as an epistemic relativist.3 If this is the case, then I believe Abraham needs to rethink his metaepistemological commitments that imply epistemic relativism. (shrink)
According to theistic consubstantialism, the universe and God are essentially made of the same stuff. If theistic consubstantialism is correct, then God possesses the essential power to have knowledge de se of the contents of the mind of every conscious being internal to God. If theistic consubstantialism is false, then God lacks this essential property. So either God is essentially corporeal and possesses greater essential epistemic powers than God would have otherwise or God is essentially incorporeal and has a diminished (...) range of essential epistemic powers. In light of this dilemma, I argue that theists should accept theistic consubstantialism. (shrink)
In their recent book, Epistemology and the Psychology of Human Judgment, Michael Bishop and J.D. Trout have challenged Standard Analytic Epistemology (SAE) in all its guises and have endorsed a version of the "replacement thesis"--proponents of which aim at replacing the standard questions of SAE with psychological questions. In this article I argue that Bishop and Trout offer an incomplete epistemology that, as formulated, cannot address many of the core issues that motivate interest in epistemological questions to begin with, and (...) so is not a fit replacement. (shrink)
Broadly characterized, the philosophy of action encompasses a host of problems about the nature and scope of human action and agency, including, but not limited to, intention and intentional action, the ontology of action, reason-explanations of action, motivation and practical reason, free will and moral responsibility, mental agency, social action, controlling attitudes, akrasia and enkrasia, and many other issues. Philosophy of Action: 5 Questions is a collection of short interviews based on 5 questions presented to some of the most influential (...) and prominent scholars in this philosophical field. We hear their views on philosophy of action, its aim, scope, use, the future, and how their work fits in these respects. (shrink)
The problem of doxastic agency concerns what sort of agency humans can exercise with regard to forming doxastic attitudes such as belief. In this essay I defend a version of what James Montmarquet calls "The Asymmetry Thesis": Coming to believe and action are asymmetrical with respect to direct voluntary control. I argue that normal adult human agents cannot exercise direct voluntary control over the acquisition of any of their doxastic attitudes in the same way that they exercise such control over (...) their actions, particularly basic actions. I argue, however, that normal adult human agents can exercise indirect voluntary control over coming to have some of their doxastic attitudes just as they can exercise indirect voluntary control over the outcomes of actions. Furthermore, coming to believe as the outcome of some agency performed with the goal of acquiring a particular doxastic attitude towards a specific proposition can be the intentional outcome of some doxastic agency. So if an agent intends to come to believe that p, under some circumstances she can bring it about that she comes to believe that p as the outcome of her exercise of agency. In critiquing the thesis that agents can exercise direct voluntary control over forming their doxastic attitudes, I argue that some ways of exercising such control are conceptually impossible. But even if other ways of exercising direct voluntary control over the formation of doxastic attitudes are not conceptually impossible, I argue that it is psychologically impossible to exercise direct voluntary control over the acquisition of any doxastic attitudes. I consider proposals offered in defense of the claim that normal adult human agents can exercise direct voluntary control over acquiring doxastic attitudes by Carl Ginet, Mark Heller, Sharon Ryan, and Matthias Steup. I argue that none of the theories of doxastic agency defended by these authors is tenable. So while I argue that the variety of doxastic agency normal adult humans can exercise is fairly robust, the most we can hope for is indirect voluntary control over our doxastic attitudes. (shrink)
This collection consists of original contributions that represent the state of the art of philosophical research on agency, free will, and moral responsibility. It should be of interest to both specialists and students with research interests in the philosophy of action and moral psychology.