In the autumn of 1915 at Princeton, the graduate student, Charles Hendel, and the professor, Norman Kemp Smith, went for a walk. Hendel thought the time auspicious to announce his desire to write a dissertation on Rousseau. As happens not infrequently between an adviser and a student, Kemp Smith attempted to dissuade his student from his intention and advised him to look into David Hume's Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion , instead. The professor noted that a ‘deadlock’ had long existed (...) between those who thought the sceptic, Philo, spoke for Hume, and those who thought the theistic views of Cleanthes most nearly echoed Hume's true opinions on religion. Perhaps through researching the problem, Kemp Smith suggested, Hendel could ‘resolve that impasse and establish Hume's position on the religious question’. (shrink)
Advance directives are useful ways to express one's wishes about end of life care, but even now most people have not completed one of the documents. David Doukas and William Reichel strongly encourage planning for end of life care. Although Planning for Uncertainty is at times fairly abstract for the general reader, it does provide useful background and practical steps.
David Cheetham's text, 'John Hick: A Critical Introduction and Reflection' is an extensive introduction to the equally extensive work of philosopher of religion, John Hick. Cheetham traces the development of Hick's thinking from Hick's early adoption of phenomenological approaches to his articulation of a religious pluralism that attempts to read together the world's major religious traditions. Cheetham engages with Hick's defenders and critics, painstakingly analysing the themes which have occupied the minds of philosophers of religion during the (...) twentieth century. Hence we are introduced to the work of Augustine, Irenaeus, Anthony Flew, Terence Penelhum, Richard Swinburne, amongst others.The themes around which these philosophers have focused their work,many of which are 'mainstream' philosophical issues, and which Hick highlights in his own work: realism and anti-realism, metaphysical dualism, belief and knowledge, soul-making and life after death, are some of the most difficult questions on the philosophical agenda. (shrink)
The Library of Scottish Philosophy: Volumes 1 – 6, Exeter: Imprint Academic, 2004 James Otteson , ed. Adam Smith: Selected Philosophical Writings, 247pp. Paperback £12.95. ISBN 184540-001-1 James Harris , ed. James Beattie: Selected Philosophical Writings, 204pp. Paperback £12.95. ISBN 0907845-711 David Boucher , ed. The Scottish Idealists: Selected Philosophical Writings, 201pp. Paperback £12.95. ISBN 0907845-72X Jonathan Friday , ed. Art and Enlightenment: Scottish Aesthetics in the 18th century, 212pp. Paperback £12.95. ISBN 0907845-762 Gordon Graham , ed. Scottish Philosophy: (...) Selected Writings 1690–1960, 253pp. Paperback £12.95. ISBN 0907845-746 Esther McIntosh , ed. John Macmurray: Selected Philosophical Writings, 198pp. Paperback £12.95. ISBN 0907845-738. (shrink)
The author seeks to make the fewest changes that would allow Christianity to withstand the challenges of the problem of evil . The project includes a critical review of the theodicies of John Hick and David Griffin, and also draws upon the thought of Sri Aurobindo. ;From Augustinian thought, the author retains the emphasis upon moral evil. He argues that any theodicy resolving moral evil also resolves natural evil, and that natural evil, as such, would not create major (...) barriers to religious faith. ;The author accepts John Hick's ideas of epistemic distance and soul-making, with supplementation. But he rejects Hick's use of the Greater Good Defense, instead positing that evil cannot be justified. The only question is whether it can be healed. ;David Griffin's strategy of adjusting divine traits to solve the POE is rejected. Instead, the author modifies Christian ideas of human identity and human destiny. Griffin's definition of evil is also rejected. Instead, the author defines evil as "a horrendous violation of an important human value." ;The author posits that Aurobindo correctly identified the Christian doctrine of "one lifetime only" as posing major problems for theodicy. The Indian view of multiple lifetimes helps to resolve dysteleological evil. Karma does not solve the POE all by itself, the author holds, but a revised notion of karma as "a law of appropriate experience" can make an essential contribution. The Indian view of human identity in terms of Self and ego personality is also adopted, again with some modification. ;The author uses an analogy of evil with a wound to argue that all evil can be healed, and must be healed in the process of psycho-spiritual growth. The conclusion is that evil may be ultimate to the ego personality, but is not ultimate to the soul, as such. From the perspective of the Soul or Self, suffering can be self-chosen for important and positive reasons. ;In short, a total picture of human identity and destiny gained by borrowing and revising Indian doctrines enables the author to suggest a new format for the interpretation of evil. (shrink)
Wisely, the authors begin this book by describing it as a polemic. They argue that most contemporary analytic metaphysics is a waste of time and resources since contemporary ‘neo-scholastic’ metaphysical theorizing cannot hope to attain objective truth given its penchant for making a priori claims about the nature of the world which are backed up by appeal to intuition. In engaging in this activity, metaphysicians have, the authors claim, abandoned hope of locating any interesting connection between their metaphysical pronouncements and (...) how our best empirical theories describe the world. Moreover, the success attained by empirical science just cannot be matched by metaphysical theorizing and so, faced with this asymmetry, empirical science wins: a priori metaphysical theorizing must give way to a naturalistic form of metaphysics, a positive account of which the authors attempt to elucidate in the second and third, rather lengthy chapters of the book.The first chapter consists of a statement of the authors’ negative view, a vigorous, sustained and sometimes withering attack upon contemporary a priori metaphysics. Most ire is reserved for those who indulge in what the authors call ‘pseudo-scientific metaphysics’; that is, those who pay lip service to keeping their metaphysical speculation in tune with physics, only to constrain their ontology in such a way that the entities and processes within it do not even play a role in current physical theory, or are in straightforward contradiction with it. Much philosophy of science and scientific metaphysics is too superficial and simplistic to deserve the name and bears more relation to ‘the philosophy of “A” Level chemistry’. The guilty in this respect include David Lewis, Jaegwon Kim, Jonathan Lowe, Donald Davidson, Jerry Fodor, Crawford Elder, Trenton Merricks among …. (shrink)
The violation of the Bell inequality means that measurement-results in the two wings of the experiment cannot be screened off from one another, in the sense of Reichenbach. But does this mean that there is causation between the results? I argue that it does, according to Lewis's counterfactual analysis of causation and his associated views. The reason lies in his doctrine that chances evolve by conditionalization on intervening history. This doctrine collapses the distinction between the conditional probabilities that are used (...) to state screening off, and the counterfactuals with chance consequents that are used to state lack of causation. I briefly discuss ways to evade my argument. (shrink)
Metaphysics is definitely back on the agenda of contemporary philosophy. It is a metaphysics in the full traditional sense, seeking to provide the means to gain knowledge that covers being as a whole, not just parts of it. Oxford University Press published three books in 2011 and 2012 each of which spells out that ambition. The present review sums up the main topics covered in these books and offers some comments.