What is intellectual humility? In this essay, we aim to answer this question by assessing several contemporary accounts of intellectual humility, developing our own account, offering two reasons for our account, and meeting two objections and solving one puzzle.
Reprinted in Philosophy of Religion: An Anthology, Wadsworth 2015, 6th edition, eds Michael Rea and Louis Pojman. What is propositional faith? At a first approximation, we might answer that it is the psychological attitude picked out by standard uses of the English locution “S has faith that p,” where p takes declarative sentences as instances, as in “He has faith that they’ll win”. Although correct, this answer is not nearly as informative as we might like. Many people say that there (...) is a more informative answer. They say that, at the very least, propositional faith requires propositional belief. More precisely, they say that faith that p requires belief that p or that it must be partly constituted by belief that p. This view is common enough; call it the Common View. I have two main aims in this paper: (i) to exhibit the falsity of the Common View and the paucity of reasons for it, and (ii) to sketch a more accurate and comprehensive account of what propositional faith is. (shrink)
Does faith that p entail belief that p? If faith that p is identical with belief that p, it does. But it isn’t. Even so, faith that p might be necessarily partly constituted by belief that p, or at least entail it. Of course, even if faith that p entails belief that p, it does not follow that faith that p is necessarily partly constituted by belief that p. Still, showing that faith that p entails belief that p would be (...) a significant step in that direction. Can we take that step? In this essay, I assess, and reject, seven reasons to think we can. Along the way, I discuss having faith in a person, being a person of faith, believing something by faith, and believing a person. (shrink)
According to many accounts of faith—where faith is thought of as something psychological, e.g., an attitude, state, or trait—one cannot have faith without belief of the relevant propositions. According to other accounts of faith, one can have faith without belief of the relevant propositions. Call the first sort of account doxasticism since it insists that faith requires belief; call the second nondoxasticism since it allows faith without belief. The New Testament may seem to favor doxasticism over nondoxasticism. For it may (...) seem that, according to the NT authors, one can have faith in God, as providential, or faith that Jesus is the Messiah, or be a person of Christian faith, and the like only if one believes the relevant propositions. In this essay, I propose to assess this tension, as it pertains to the Gospel of Mark. The upshot of my assessment is that, while it may well appear that, according to Mark, one can have faith only if one believes the relevant propositions, appearances are deceiving. Mark said no such thing. Rather, what Mark said—by way of story—about faith fits nondoxasticism at least as well as doxasticism, arguably better. More importantly, the account of faith that emerges from Mark is that faith consists in resilience in the face of challenges to living in light of the overall positive stance to the object of faith, where that stance consists in certain conative, cognitive, and behavioral-dispositional elements. (shrink)
Can fictionalists have faith? It all depends on how we disambiguate ‘fictionalists’ and on what faith is. I consider the matter in light of my own theory. After clarifying its central terms, I distinguish two fictionalists – atheistic and agnostic – and I argue that, even though no atheistic fictionalist can have faith on my theory, agnostic fictionalists arguably can. After rejecting Finlay Malcolm's reasons for thinking this is a problem, I use his paradigmatic agnostic fictionalist as a foil to (...) explore a variety of ways in which to describe agnostic fictionalists, none of whom pose a problem for my theory. (shrink)
On doxastic theories of propositional faith,necessarily,S has faith that p only if S believes that p. On nondoxastic theories of propositional faith, it’s false that,necessarily,S has faith that p only if S believes that p. In this article, I defend three arguments for nondoxastic theories of faith and I respond to published criticisms of them.
Is evil evidence against the existence of God? Even if God and evil are compatible, it remains hotly contested whether evil renders belief in God unreasonable. The Evidential Argument from Evil presents five classic statements on this issue by eminent philosophers and theologians and places them in dialogue with eleven original essays reflecting new thinking by these and other scholars. The volume focuses on two versions of the argument. The first affirms that there is no reason for God to permit (...) either certain specific horrors or the variety and profusion of undeserved suffering. The second asserts that pleasure and pain, given their biological role, are better explained by hypotheses other than theism. -/- Contributors include William P. Alston, Paul Draper, Richard M. Gale, Daniel Howard-Snyder, Alvin Plantinga, William L. Rowe, Bruce Russell, Eleonore Stump, Richard G. Swinburne, Peter van Inwagen, and Stephen John Wykstra. (shrink)
This essay is a detailed study of William P. Alston’s view on the nature of Christian faith, which I assess in the context of three problems: the problem of the skeptical Christian, the problem of faith and reason, and the problem of the trajectory. Although Alston intended a view that would solve these problems, it does so only superficially. Fortunately, we can distinguish Alston’s view, on the one hand, from Alston’s illustrations of it, on the other hand. I argue that, (...) although Alston’s view only superficially solves these problems, Alston’s illustrations of it suggest a substantive way to solve them, a way that I sketch briefly. (shrink)
In some circles, faith is said to be one of three theological virtues, along with hope and agape. But not everyone thinks faith is a virtue, theological or otherwise. Indeed, depending on how we understand it, faith may well conflict with the virtues. In this chapter we will focus on the virtue of humility. Does faith conflict with humility, or are they in concord? In what follows, we will do five things. First, we will sketch a theory of the virtue (...) of humility. Second, we will summarize a common view of faith, arguably held by Thomas Aquinas among others, and we will argue that Thomistic faith is not an intellectual virtue and that it conflicts with humility in the domain of inquiry. Third, we will plump for an older view of faith, one that predates Aquinas by at least 1500 years, Markan faith. Fourth, we will argue that Markan faith is an intellectual virtue and it is in concord with humility in the domain of inquiry. Fifth, we will argue that Markan faith, unlike Thomistic faith, is a personal virtue and that it is in concord with humility in the domain of personal relationships, both human-human and human-divine. (shrink)
What are faith and faithfulness, and how are they related? We consider two views that express very different answers to these questions. On our view, faith and faithfulness are distinct and yet complement each other. Faith is resilient reliance and faithfulness is resilient reliability, both of which involve conative and/or affective elements. In contrast, while Jonathan Kvanvig also holds that faith involves conative and/or affective elements, he identifies faith with a disposition to act in service of an ideal in the (...) face of difficulty. However, this view of faith leads to some puzzling claims about how faith relates to faithfulness. We evaluate several claims suggested by what Kvanvig says, arguing both that his view loses sight of the distinctness of faith and faithfulness and that the inferences he wants to draw from faithfulness or faithful behaviour to faith are unjustified. Instead, we aim to show how the insights he calls to our attention can be better accommodated and explained by a more comprehensive, unified theory of faith and faithfulness and their relations. (shrink)
Until recently, psychologists have conceptualised and studied trust in God (TIG) largely in isolation from contemporary work in theology, philosophy, history, and biblical studies that has examined the topic with increasing clarity. In this article, we first review the primary ways that psychologists have conceptualised and measured TIG. Then, we draw on conceptualizations of TIG outside the psychology of religion to provide a conceptual map for how TIG might be related to theorised predictors and outcomes. Finally, we provide a research (...) agenda for future empirical work in this area, as well as practical applications for counsellors and religious leaders. (shrink)
Infallibilism is the view that a belief cannot be at once warranted and false. In this essay we assess three nonpartisan arguments for infallibilism, arguments that do not depend on a prior commitment to some substantive theory of warrant. Three premises, one from each argument, are most significant: (1) if a belief can be at once warranted and false, then the Gettier Problem cannot be solved; (2) if a belief can be at once warranted and false, then its warrant can (...) be transferred to an accidentally true belief; (3) if a belief can be at once warranted and false, then it can be warranted and accidentally true. We argue that each of these is either false or no more plausible than its denial. Along the way, we offer a solution to the Gettier Problem that is compatible with fallibilism. (shrink)
This paper assesses J. L. Schellenberg’s account of propositional faith and, in light of that assessment, sketches an alternative that avoids certain objections and coheres better with Schellenberg’s aims.
J.L. Mackie’s version of the logical problem of evil is a failure, as even he came to recognize. Contrary to current mythology, however, its failure was not established by Alvin Plantinga’s Free Will Defense. That’s because a defense is successful only if it is not reasonable to refrain from believing any of the claims that constitute it, but it is reasonable to refrain from believing the central claim of Plantinga’s Free Will Defense, namely the claim that, possibly, every essence suffers (...) from transworld depravity. (shrink)
Reprinted in Philosophy of Religion: An Anthology, Wadsworth, 2013, 6th edition, eds. Michael Rea and Louis Pojman. In this essay, I argue that the moral skepticism objection to what is badly named "skeptical theism" fails.
We might be tempted to think that, necessarily, if God unsurpassably loves such created persons as there may be, then for any capable created person S and time t, God is at t open to being in a positively meaningful and reciprocal conscious relationship with S at t, where one is open to relationship with another only if one never does anything (by commission or omission) that would have the result that the other was prevented from being able, just by (...) trying, to participate in that relationship. I argue that we should resist the temptation. (shrink)
It is common for young Christians to go off to college assured in their beliefs but, in the course of their first year or two, they meet what appears to them to be powerful defenses of scientific naturalism and crushing critiques of the basic Christian story (BCS), and many are thrown into doubt. They think to themselves something like this: "To be honest, I am troubled about the BCS. While the problem of evil, the apparent cultural basis for the diversity (...) of religions, the explanatory breadth of contemporary science, naturalistic explanations of religious experience and miracle reports, and textual and historical criticism of the Bible, among other things, don’t make me believe the BCS is false , I am in serious doubt about it, so much so that I lack belief of it. In that case, how can I have Christian faith? And if I don’t have faith, how can I keep on praying, attending church, affirming the creed, confessing my sins, taking the sacraments, singing the hymns and songs, and so on? I can’t, unless I’m a hypocrite. So integrity requires me to drop the whole thing and get out." Of course, our student is not alone. Many Christians find themselves for some portion of their lives somewhere on the trajectory from doubt to getting out. Indeed, Christians in the West struggle with intellectual doubt more than they used to, especially university-educated Christians. What should we say to them? Some will say “Get out!,” welcoming the development as a path to liberation. We explore a different response in this essay. (shrink)
Do we rightly expect a perfectly loving God to bring it about that, right now, we reasonably believe that He exists? It seems so. For love at its best desires the well-being of the beloved, not from a distance, but up close, explicitly participating in her life in a personal fashion, allowing her to draw from that relationship what she may need to flourish. But why suppose that we would be significantly better off were God to engage in an explicit, (...) personal relationship with us? Well, first, there would be broadly moral benefits. We would be able to draw on the resources of that relationship to overcome seemingly everpresent flaws in our character. And we would be more likely to emulate the self-giving love with which we were loved. So loved, we would be more likely to flourish as human beings. Secondly, there would be experiential benefits. We would be, for example, more likely to experience peace and joy stemming from the strong conviction that we were properly related to our Maker, security in suffering knowing that, ultimately, all shall be well, and there would be the sheer pleasure of God's loving presence. As a consequence of these moral and experiential benefits, our relationships with others would likely improve. Thirdly, to be personally related to God is intrinsically valuable, indeed, according to the Christian tradition, the greatest intrinsic good. In these ways our well-being would be enhanced if God were to relate personally to us. Moreover, the best love does not seek a personal relationship only for the sake of the beloved. As Robert Adams rightly notes, "It is an abuse of the word 'love' to say that one loves a person, or any other object, if one does not care, except instrumentally, about one's relation to that object."1 Thus, God would want a personal relationship with us not only for the benefit we would receive from it but for its own sake as well. So, if a perfectly loving God exists, He wants a personal relationship with us, or more accurately, every capable creature, those cognitively and affectively equipped to relate personally with Him.. (shrink)
For many people the existence of God is by no means a sufficiently clear feature of reality. This problem, the fact of divine hiddenness, has been a source of existential concern and has sometimes been taken as a rationale for support of atheism or agnosticism. In this collection of essays, a distinguished group of philosophers of religion explore the question of divine hiddenness in considerable detail. The issue is approached from several perspectives including Jewish, Christian, atheist and agnostic. There is (...) coverage of the historical treatment of divine hiddenness as found in the work of Maimonides, St. John of the Cross, Jonathan Edwards, Kierkegaard, and various Biblical writers. A substantial introduction clarifies the main problems of and leading solutions to divine hiddenness. Primarily directed at philosophers of religion, theologians, and scholars of religious studies, this collection could also serve as a textbook for upper-level courses in philosophy of religion. (shrink)
The fact that our asking God to do something can make a difference to what he does underwrites the point of petitionary prayer. Here, however, a puzzle arises: Either doing what we ask is the best God can do or it is not. If it is, then our asking won’t make any difference to whether he does it. If it is not, then our asking won’t make any difference to whether he does it. So, our asking won’t make any difference (...) to whether God does it. Our asking is therefore pointless. In this paper, we try to solve this puzzle without denying either that God must do the best he can or that petitioning God can make a difference to what he does. (shrink)
Recent scholarship in intellectual humility (IH) has attempted to provide deeper understanding of the virtue as personality trait and its impact on an individual's thoughts, beliefs, and actions. A limitations-owning perspective of IH focuses on a proper recognition of the impact of intellectual limitations and a motivation to overcome them, placing it as the mean between intellectual arrogance and intellectual servility. We developed the Limitations-Owning Intellectual Humility Scale to assess this conception of IH with related personality constructs. In Studies 1 (...) (n= 386) and 2 (n = 296), principal factor and conﬁrmatory factor analyses revealed a three-factor model – owning one's intellectual limitations, appropriate discomfort with intellectual limitations, and love of learning. Study 3 (n = 322) demonstrated strong test-retest reliability of the measure over 5 months, while Study 4 (n = 612) revealed limitations-owning IH correlated negatively with dogmatism, closed-mindedness, and hubristic pride and positively with openness, assertiveness, authentic pride. It also predicted openness and closed-mindedness over and above education, social desirability, and other measures of IH. The limitations-owning understanding of IH and scale allow for a more nuanced, spectrum interpretation and measurement of the virtue, which directs future study inside and outside of psychology. (shrink)
Imagine that there exists a good, essentially omniscient and omnipotent being named Jove, and that there exists nothing else. No possible being is more powerful or knowledgable. Out of his goodness, Jove decides to create. Since he is all-powerful, there is nothing but the bounds of possibility to prevent him from getting what he wants. Unfortunately, as he holds before his mind the host of worlds, Jove sees that for each there is a better one. Although he can create any (...) of them, he can't create the best of them because there is no best. Faced with this predicament, Jove first sorts the worlds according to certain criteria. For example, he puts on his left worlds in which some inhabitants live lives that aren't worth living and on his right worlds in which every inhabitant's life is worth living; he puts on his left worlds in which some horrors fail to serve an outweighing good and on his right worlds in which no horror fails to serve an outweighing good. (We encourage the reader to use her own criteria.) Then he orders the right hand worlds according to their goodness and assigns to each a positive natural number, the worst of the lot receiving '1', the second worst '2', and so on. Next, he creates a very intricate device that, at the push of a button, will randomly select a number and produce the corresponding world. Jove pushes the button; the device hums and whirs and, finally, its digital display reads '777': world no. 777 comes into being. (shrink)
This 9,000+ word entry briefly assesses five models of the Trinity, those espoused by (i) Richard Swinburne, (ii) William Lane Craig, (iii) Brian Leftow, (iv) Jeff Brower and Michael Rea, and (v) Peter van Inwagen.
Evil, it is often said, poses a problem for theism, the view that there is an omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good being, "God," for short. This problem is usually called "the problem of evil." But this is a bad name for what philosophers study under that rubric. They study what is better thought of as an argument, or a host of arguments, rather than a problem. Of course, an argument from evil against theism can be both an argument and a (...) problem. Some people realize this for the first time when they assert an argument from evil in print and someone publishes a .reply in which numerous defects and oversights are laid bare for the public eye. And if it turns out that there is a God and He doesn't take kindly to such arguments, then an argument from evil might be a big problem, a very big problem, for one who sincerely propounds it. Typically, however, an argument from evil is not thought to be a problem for the atheist. But if not for the atheist, for whom is an argument from evil a "problem"? (shrink)
Foundationalism is false; after all, foundational beliefs are arbitrary, they do not solve the epistemic regress problem, and they cannot exist withoutother (justified) beliefs. Or so some people say. In this essay, we assess some arguments based on such claims, arguments suggested in recent work by Peter Klein and Ernest Sosa.
Reprinted in Philosophical and Theological Essays on the Trinity, Oxford, 2009, eds Michael Rea and Thomas McCall. In this essay, I assess a certain version of ’social Trinitarianism’ put forward by J. P. Moreland and William Lane Craig, ’trinity monotheism’. I first show how their response to a familiar anti-Trinitarian argument arguably implies polytheism. I then show how they invoke three tenets central to their trinity monotheism in order to avoid that implication. After displaying these tenets more fully, I argue (...) that Trinitarians would do well to hold Moreland’s and Craig’s trinity monotheism at arms length. (shrink)
This collection of essays is dedicated to William Rowe, with great affection, respect, and admiration. The philosophy of religion, once considered a deviation from an otherwise analytically rigorous discipline, has flourished over the past two decades. This collection of new essays by twelve distinguished philosophers of religion explores three broad themes: religious attitudes of faith, belief, acceptance, and love; human and divine freedom; and the rationality of religious belief. Contributors include: William Alston, Robert Audi, Jan Cover, Martin Curd, Peter van (...) Inwagen, Norman Kretzmann, George Nakhnikian, John Hawthorne, Philip Quinn, James Ross, Eleonore Stump, and William Wainwright. (shrink)
We argue that Michael Peterson's and William Hasker's attempts to show that God and gratuitous evil are compatible constitute miserable failures. We then sketch Peter van Inwagen's attempt to do the same and conclude that, to date, no one has shown his attempt a failure.
Can faith be valuable and, if so, under what conditions? We know of no theory-neutral way to address this question. So, we offer a theory of relational faith, and we supplement it with a complementary theory of relational faithfulness. We then turn to relationships of mutual faith and faithfulness with an eye toward exhibiting some of the ways in which, on our theory, faith and faithfulness can be valuable and disvaluable. We then extend the theory to other manifestations of faith (...) and faithfulness, propose a way to unify them under a theory of faith and faithfulness simpliciter, and sketch how they can be neo-Aristotelian virtues and vices. We close with our solution to the value problem and avenues for further research. (shrink)
In this short essay, we sketch a theory of faith that features resilience in the face of challenges to relying on those in whom you have faith. We argue that it handles a variety of both religious and secular faith-data, e.g., the value of faith in relationships of mutual faith and faithfulness, how the Christian and Hebrew scriptures portray pístis and ʾĕmûnāh, and the character of faith as it is often expressed in popular secular venues.
Dennis Whitcomb argues that there is no God on the grounds that God is supposed to be omniscient, yet nothing could be omniscient due to the nature of grounding. We give a formally identical argument that concludes that one of the present co-authors does not exist. Since he does exist, Whitcomb’s argument is unsound. But why is it unsound? That is a difficult question. We venture two answers. First, one of the grounding principles that the argument relies on is false. (...) Second, the argument equivocates between two kinds of grounding: instance-grounding and quasi-mereological grounding. Happily, the equivocation can be avoided; unhappily, avoidance comes at the price of a false premise. (shrink)
Suppose that you are engaging with someone who is your oppressor, or someone who espouses a heinous view like Nazism or a ridiculous view like flat-earthism. In contexts like these, there is a disparity between you and your interlocutor, a dramatic normative difference across which you are in the right and they are in the wrong. As theorists of humility, we find these contexts puzzling. Humility seems like the *last* thing oppressed people need and the *last* thing we need in (...) dealing with those whose views are heinous or ridiculous. Responding to such people via humility seems uncalled for, even inappropriate. But how could this be, given that humility is a *virtue*? The purpose of the paper is to explore this puzzle. We explain what the puzzle is and then attempt to draw some lessons from it: first, the lesson that the importance of humility is limited in several ways, and second, the lesson that humility nonetheless has several important roles to play, even for people who are in the right in contexts of disparity. (shrink)
According to Agnosticism with a capital A, even if we don’t see how any reason we know of would justify God in permitting all the evil in the world and even if we lack evidential and non-evidential warrant for theism, we should not infer that there probably is no reason that would justify God. That’s because, under those conditions, we should be in doubt about whether the goods we know of constitute a representative sample of all the goods there are, (...) among relevantly similar things. In my "Epistemic Humility, Arguments from Evil, and Moral Skepticism" (2009), I defended Agnosticism against the charge that it leaves us in doubt about whether we are obligated to intervene to prevent horrific suffering we can prevent at no risk to ourselves. In his “Agnosticism, Skeptical Theism, and Moral Obligation” (2014), Stephen Maitzen argues that, in light of my defense, Agnosticism is at odds with commonsense morality’s insistence that we have an obligation to intervene in such cases. In the present essay, I argue that the moral principle Maitzen seems to impute to commonsense (it's hard to tell what principle he has in mind) is false and that a moral principle much more in keeping with commonsense is compatible with Agnosticism and my defense of it. Along the way, I mention multiple misrepresentations Maitzen makes of Agnosticism and my defense of it. (shrink)
Nonskeptical foundationalists say that there are basic beliefs. But, one might object, either there is a reason why basic beliefs are likely to be true or there is not. If there is, then they are not basic; if there is not, then they are arbitrary. I argue that this dilemma is not nearly as decisive as its author, Peter Klein, would have us believe.
In my contribution to the symposium on Teresa Morgan's Roman Faith and Christian Faith, I set the stage for three questions. First, in the Graeco-Roman view, when you put/maintain faith in someone, is the cognitive aspect of your faith compatible with scepticism about the relevant propositions? Second, did some of the New Testament authors think that one could put/maintain faith in God while being sceptical about the relevant propositions? Third, in her private writings, Saint Teresa of Calcutta described herself as (...) living by faith and yet not believing; even so, by all appearances, she was an exemplar of faith in God. Would people during the period of your study tend to see her as an exemplar of faith in God? -/- . (shrink)
A descriptive polytheist thinks there are at least two gods. John Hick and Richard Swinburne are descriptive polytheists. In this respect, they are like Thomas Aquinas and many other theists. What sets Swinburne and Hick apart from Aquinas, however, is that unlike him they are normative polytheists. That is, Swinburne and Hick think that it is right that we, or at least some of us, worship more than one god. However, the evidence available to me shows that only Swinburne, and (...) not Hick, is a cultic polytheist: he actually worships more than one god. I conclude that only Swinburne is a polytheist par excellence. (shrink)
I summarize John Hick’s pluralistic theory of the world’s great religions, largely in his own voice. I then focus on the core posit of his theory, what he calls “the Real,” but which I less tendentiously call “Godhick”. Godhick is supposed to be the ultimate religious reality. As such, it must be both possible and capable of explanatory and religious significance. Unfortunately, Godhick is, by definition, transcategorial, i.e. necessarily, for any creaturely conceivable substantial property F, it is neither an F (...) nor a non-F. As a result, Godhick is impossible, as shown by the Self-Identity Problem, the Number Problem, and the Pairing Problem. Moreover, even if Godhick is possible, it faces the Insignificance Problem. The upshot is that, so far as I can see, John Hick’s God is unworthy of any further interest. (shrink)
Many Christian theodicists believe that God's creating us with the capacity to love Him and each other justifies, in large part, God's permitting evil. For example, after reminding us that, according to Christian doctrine, the supreme good for human beings is to enter into a reciprocal love relationship with God, Vincent Brummer recently wrote: In creating human persons in order to love them, God necessarily assumes vulnerability in relation to them. In fact, in this relation, he becomes even more vulnerable (...) than we do, since he cannot count on the steadfastness of our love the way we can count on his steadfastness.... If God did not grant us the ability to sin and cause affliction to him and to one another, we would not have the kind of free and autonomous existence necessary to enter into a relation of love with God and with one another.... Far from contradicting the value which the free will defence places upon the freedom and responsibility of human persons, the idea of a loving God necessarily entails it. In this way we can see that the free will defence is based on the love of God rather than on the supposed intrinsic value of human freedom and responsibility.1 And Peter van Inwagen recently put the same point this way. (shrink)
Among the things that students of the problem of evil think about is whether explanatory versions of the evidential argument from evil are better than others, better than William Rowe’s famous versions of the evidential argument, for example. Some of these students claim that the former are better than the latter in no small part because the former, unlike the latter, avoid the sorts of worries raised by so-called “skeptical theists”. Indeed, Trent Dougherty claims to have constructed an explanatory version (...) that is “fundamentally immune to considerations pertaining to skeptical theism”. I argue that he has done no such thing. (shrink)