The situationist movement in psychology and, more recently, in philosophy has been associated with a number of striking claims, including that most people do not have the moral virtues and vices, that any ethical theory which is wedded to such character traits is empirically inadequate, and that much of our behavior is causally influenced, to significant degrees, by psychological influences about which we are often unaware. Yet Christian philosophers have had virtually nothing to say about situationist claims. The goal of (...) this paper is to consider whether Christians should start to be worried about them. (shrink)
In recent centuries Christians of various denominations have endorsed many different political philosophies that they see as being truly biblical in their approach. Over this time there has been an increasing hostility, by some Christians, towards free markets and political philosophies that hold human liberty as the highest goal such as libertarianism and classical liberalism. This criticism is unwarranted and misplaced as libertarianism and free markets are not only compatible with Christianity, they are also the most biblically sound of (...) all economics systems and political philosophies endorsed by Christians today. Therefore, this paper will argue that Christians of all denominations should endorse free markets and libertarianism if they wish to create a world that follows biblical principles and the teachings of Jesus. (shrink)
Contemporary Christian ethics encounters the challenge to communicate genuinely Christian normative orientations within the scientific debate in such a way as to render these orientations comprehensible, and to maintain or enhance their plausibility even for non-Christians. This essay, therefore, proceeds from a biblical motif, takes up certain themes from the Christian tradition (in particular the idea of social justice), and connects both with a compelling contemporary approach to ethics by secular moral philosophy, i.e. with Axel Honneth's reception of Hegel, as (...) based on Hegel's theory of recognition. As a first step, elements of an ethics of recognition are developed on the basis of an anthropological recourse to the conditions of intersubjective encounters. These conditions are then brought to bear on the idea of social justice, as developed in the social-Catholic tradition, and as systematically explored in the Pastoral Letter of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Economic Justice For All (1986). Proceeding from this basis, aspects of a Christian ethics of community service with regard to long-term care can be defined. (shrink)
I argue that free will and determinism are compatible, even when we take free will to require the ability to do otherwise and even when we interpret that ability modally, as the possibility of doing otherwise, and not just conditionally or dispositionally. My argument draws on a distinction between physical and agential possibility. Although in a deterministic world only one future sequence of events is physically possible for each state of the world, the more coarsely defined state of an agent (...) and his or her environment can be consistent with more than one such sequence, and thus different actions can be “agentially possible”. The agential perspective is supported by our best theories of human behaviour, and so we should take it at face value when we refer to what an agent can and cannot do. On the picture I defend, free will is not a physical phenomenon, but a higher-level one on a par with other higher-level phenomena such as agency and intentionality. (shrink)
The shift of interest from community to individuality and freedom brought by modernity challenged the central place once occupied by religion, pushing it to the outskirts of human life. All these led to an increased indifference towards any transcendental guarantor that could act in a neutral reason-governed space. In the case of Islam, such a situation is impossible to tolerate, because it would mean God’s desecration by reducing the Qur’an to the statute of a simple book like many others that (...) offer an opinion on a Supreme Being who does not decide the destiny of humanity any more, but becomes a simple matter of opinion. While Western Christianity adjusted to modernity reaching even to justify the developments which led to a dissolution of sacred, stating that they were consistent with its essence, Islam accepted modernity only to the extent of this one’s capacity to verify the realities stated by the Qur’an. (shrink)
This is the third volume in Alvin Plantinga's trilogy on the notion of warrant, which he defines as that which distinguishes knowledge from true belief. In this volume, Plantinga examines warrant's role in theistic belief, tackling the questions of whether it is rational, reasonable, justifiable, and warranted to accept Christian belief and whether there is something epistemically unacceptable in doing so. He contends that Christian beliefs are warranted to the extent that they are formed by properly functioning cognitive faculties, thus, (...) insofar as they are warranted, Christian beliefs are knowledge if they are true. (shrink)
Are companies, churches, and states genuine agents? Or are they just collections of individuals that give a misleading impression of unity? This question is important, since the answer dictates how we should explain the behaviour of these entities and whether we should treat them as responsible and accountable on the model of individual agents. Group Agency offers a new approach to that question and is relevant, therefore, to a range of fields from philosophy to law, politics, and the social sciences. (...) Christian List and Philip Pettit argue that there really are group or corporate agents, over and above the individual agents who compose them, and that a proper approach to the social sciences, law, morality, and politics must take account of this fact. Unlike some earlier defences of group agency, their account is entirely unmysterious in character and, despite not being technically difficult, is grounded in cutting-edge work in social choice theory, economics, and philosophy. (shrink)
Applied Christian Ethics addresses selected themes in Christian social ethics. Part one shows the roots of contributors in the realist school; part two focuses on different levels of the significance of economics for social justice; and part three deals with both existential experience and government policy in war and peace issues.
In the moral and spiritual vacuum left in Russia by the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989-1991, some of the thinkers who first opposed the Leninist revolution of 1917 have come to a new prominence, and among these is the religious philosopher Nikolai Berdyaev (1874-1948). He expressed a passionate protest against the revolution and was clearly the most comprehensive contemporary critic of the revolutionary project from a Christian perspective. From his consistently religious perspective he foresaw with precision much of (...) the inhuman and tyrannical potential of the revolutionary project. (shrink)
What is a person? This fundamental question is a perennial concern of philosophers and theologians. But, Christian Smith here argues, it also lies at the center of the social scientist’s quest to interpret and explain social life. In this ambitious book, Smith presents a new model for social theory that does justice to the best of our humanistic visions of people, life, and society. Finding much current thinking on personhood to be confusing or misleading, Smith finds inspiration in critical realism (...) and personalism. Drawing on these ideas, he constructs a theory of personhood that forges a middle path between the extremes of positivist science and relativism. Smith then builds on the work of Pierre Bourdieu, Anthony Giddens, and William Sewell to demonstrate the importance of personhood to our understanding of social structures. From there he broadens his scope to consider how we can know what is good in personal and social life and what sociology can tell us about human rights and dignity. Innovative, critical, and constructive,_ What Is a Person?_ offers an inspiring vision of a social science committed to pursuing causal explanations, interpretive understanding, and general knowledge in the service of truth and the moral good. (shrink)
ABSTRACTThe article discusses the reception of Schelling’s philosophy by the young Paul Tillich. During his study on the theological faculty of the University of Halle from 1905 until 1907 Tillich was influenced by the Fichte interpretation of Fritz Medicus. Tillich uses Fichte’s philosophy as a theoretical frame for a modern theology. The problems from this Fichte reception lay in the concept of freedom as autonomy. In Schelling’s philosophy, especially in his concept of freedom as the possibility to come into contradiction (...) with oneself, the young Tillich finds the solution for these problems. (shrink)
What is it for there to be a God, and what reason is there for supposing him to conform to the claims of Christian doctrine? In this pivotal volume of his tetralogy, Richard Swinburne builds a rigorous metaphysical system for describing the world, and applies this to assessing the worth of the Christian tenets of the Trinity and the Incarnation. Part I is dedicated to analyzing the categories needed to address accounts of the divine nature--substance, cause, time, and necessity. Part (...) II begins by setting out, in terms of these categories, the fundamental doctrine of Western religions--that there is a God. After pointing out some of the different ways in which this doctrine can be developed, Swinburne spells out the simplest possible account of divine nature. He then goes on to clarify the implications of this account for the specifically Christian doctrines of the Trinity (that God is "three persons in one substance") and of the Incarnation (that God became incarnate in Jesus Christ). Swinburne finds that there are good reasons to believe the Christian additions to the core Western idea of God. The Christian God builds upon Swinburne's acclaimed previous work to form a self-contained text which will no doubt become a classic in the philosophy of religion. (shrink)
This work investigates the distinctiveness of virtues as illuminated by Christian practise using a discussion of Aristotle's ethics with contemporary scholars. It contrasts non-Christian accounts of virtue with Christian accounts of key virtues, including obedience, hope, courage, and patience.
My object is to suggest some ways of amplifying and applying Bochenski's account, 1 in order to bring out its value for philosophical investigation of the doctrines of particular religious communities.
Christian concern about how we treat animals has increased strikingly in recent years. More and more Christians are deciding that our attitudes towards animals must change. Here is a book which presents, for the first time, a comprehensive and well-argued theological case for the rights of animals, and offers a challenging critique of our existing insensitivity toward animal life. Everyone who cares about the rights of animals, particularly clergy and ministers who are constantly being asked for answers on the issue, (...) will welcome this new and important book. (shrink)
Philosophers have argued about the nature and the very existence of free will for centuries. Today, many scientists and scientifically minded commentators are skeptical that it exists, especially when it is understood to require the ability to choose between alternative possibilities. If the laws of physics govern everything that happens, they argue, then how can our choices be free? Believers in free will must be misled by habit, sentiment, or religious doctrine. Why Free Will Is Real defies scientific orthodoxy and (...) presents a bold new defense of free will in the same naturalistic terms that are usually deployed against it. -/- Unlike those who defend free will by giving up the idea that it requires alternative possibilities to choose from, Christian List retains this idea as central, resisting the tendency to defend free will by watering it down. He concedes that free will and its prerequisites—intentional agency, alternative possibilities, and causal control over our actions—cannot be found among the fundamental physical features of the natural world. But, he argues, that’s not where we should be looking. Free will is a “higher-level” phenomenon found at the level of psychology. It is like other phenomena that emerge from physical processes but are autonomous from them and not best understood in fundamental physical terms—like an ecosystem or the economy. When we discover it in its proper context, acknowledging that free will is real is not just scientifically respectable; it is indispensable for explaining our world. (shrink)