Inspired by Stephen J. Gould’s NOMA thesis, it is commonly maintained among academic theists that religion and science are not in conflict. This essay will argue, by analogy, that science and religion undeniably are in conflict. It will begin by quickly defining religion and science and then present multiple examples that are unquestionable instances of unscientific reasoning and beliefs and show how they precisely parallel common mainstream orthodox religious reasoning and doctrines. It will then consider objections. In essence, this article (...) will show that religion and science conflict when religion encroaches into the scientific domain. But in closing, it will show that they might also conflict when science encroaches into domains traditionally reserved for religion. (shrink)
David Johnson seeks to overthrow one of the widely accepted tenets of Anglo-American philosophy—that of the success of the Humean case against the rational credibility of reports of miracles. In a manner unattempted in any other single work, he meticulously examines all the main variants of Humean reasoning on the topic of miracles: Hume's own argument and its reconstructions by John Stuart Mill, J. L. Mackie, Antony Flew, Jordan Howard Sobel, and others. Hume's view, set forth in his essay "Of (...) Miracles," has been widely thought to be correct. Johnson reviews Hume's thesis with clarity and elegance and considers the arguments of some of the most prominent defenders of Hume's case against miracles. According to Johnson, the Humean argument on this topic is entirely without merit, its purported cogency being simply a philosophical myth. (shrink)
Disagreements about abortion are often assumed to reduce to disagreements about fetal personhood (and mindedness). If one believes a fetus is a person (or has a mind), then they are “pro-life.” If one believes a fetus is not a person (or is not minded), they are “pro-choice.” The issue, however, is much more complicated. Not only is it not dichotomous—most everyone believes that abortion is permissible in some circumstances (e.g. to save the mother’s life) and not others (e.g. at nine (...) months of a planned pregnancy)—but scholars on both sides of the issue (e.g. Don Marquis and Judith Thomson) have convincingly argued that fetal personhood (and mindedness) are irrelevant to the debate. To determine the extent to which they are right, this article will define “personhood,” its relationship to mindedness, and explore what science has revealed about the mind before exploring the relevance of both to questions of abortion’s morality and legality. In general, this article does not endorse a particular answer to these questions, but the article should enhance the reader’s ability to develop their own answers in a much more informed way. (shrink)
Some theists maintain that they need not answer the threat posed to theistic belief by natural evil; they have reason enough to believe that God exists and it renders impotent any threat that natural evil poses to theism. Explicating how God and natural evil coexist is not necessary since they already know both exist. I will argue that, even granting theists the knowledge they claim, this does not leave them in an agreeable position. It commits the theist to a very (...) unpalatable position: our universe was not designed by God and is instead, most likely, a computer simulation. (shrink)
Skeptical theists argue that no seemingly unjustified evil (SUE) could ever lower the probability of God's existence at all. Why? Because God might have justifying reasons for allowing such evils (JuffREs) that are undetectable. However, skeptical theists are unclear regarding whether or not God's existence is relevant to the existence of JuffREs, and whether or not God's existence is relevant to their detectability. But I will argue that, no matter how the skeptical theist answers these questions, it is undeniable that (...) the skeptical theist is wrong; SUEs lower the probability of God's existence. To establish this, I will consider the four scenarios regarding the relevance of God's existence to the existence and detectability of JuffREs, and show that in each—after we establish our initial probabilities, and then update them given the evidence of a SUE—the probability of God's existence drops. (shrink)
Theological incompatibility arguments suggest God's comprehensive foreknowledge is incompatible with human free will. Logical incompatibility arguments suggest a complete set of truths about the future is logically incompatible with human free will. Of the two, most think theological incompatibility is the more severe problem; but hardly anyone thinks either kind of argument presents a real threat to free will. I will argue, however, that sound theological and logical incompatibility arguments exist and that, in fact, logical incompatibly is the more severe (...) problem. A deep analysis of the arguments will reveal that, to avoid a fatalist conclusion, we must reject bivalence and adopt a specific kind of temporal ontology (presentism), which also forces the theist to embrace open theism. (shrink)
The valencies of the lanthanides vary more than was once thought. In addition to valencies associated with a half-full shell, there are valencies associated with a quarter- and three-quarter-full shell. This can be explained on the basis of Slater’s theory of many-electron atoms. The same theory explains the variation in complexing constants in the trivalent state. Valency in metallic and organometallic compounds is also discussed.
Entrepreneurs of contested commodities often face stakeholders engaged in market excluding boundary work driven by ethical considerations. For example, the conversion of academic scientific knowledge into technologies that can be owned and sold is a growing global trend and key stakeholders have different ethical responses to this contested commodity. Commercialization of science can be viewed as a good thing because people believe it bolsters economic growth and broadly benefits society. Others view it as bad because they believe it discourages basic (...) research that ought to be freely shared without concern for profit. Taking a descriptive sociological approach, we posit that the stance of a religious tradition toward capitalism will help shape individual scientists’ views on science commercialization and test whether the religious tradition of scientists correlates with their attitude toward the commercialization of science. To maximize variance on the religious tradition dimension, we analyze pooled data from a cross-national survey of university biologists and physicists encompassing France, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Taiwan, Turkey, UK and the USA. We indeed find religious tradition differences. Hindus and scientists with no religious tradition are more likely to agree that commercialization of science “harms a university’s commitment to knowledge production” than Protestants. We end with a discussion on business ethics and the moral limits of the market as well as implications for entrepreneurs of contested commodities. (shrink)
Drawing on 171 in-depth interviews with physicists at universities in the United States and the UK, this study examines the narratives of 48 physicists to explain the concept of ethical ambiguity: the border where legitimate and illegitimate conduct is blurred. Researchers generally assume that scientists agree on what constitutes both egregious and more routine forms of misconduct in science. The results of this study show that scientists perceive many scenarios as ethically gray, rather than black and white. Three orientations to (...) ethical ambiguity are considered—altruism, inconsequential outcomes, and preserving the status quo—that allow possibly questionable behavior to persist unchallenged. Each discursive strategy is rationalized as promoting the collective interest of science rather than addressing what is ethically correct or incorrect. The results of this study suggest that ethics training in science should focus not only on fabrication, falsification, and plagiarism and more routine forms of misconduct, but also on strategies for resolving ethically ambiguous scenarios where appropriate action may not be clear. (shrink)
In ‘Do Souls Exist?’ and ‘Does Free Will Exist?’ I laid out the reasons most philosophers doubt the existence of souls and free will. Here, in ‘Does God Exist?’, to complete the trilogy, I will lay out the reasons most philosophers doubt the existence of God: the best arguments for God fail, the most well-known argument against God succeeds, and philosophers are not keen to take things on faith.
One of the most important accomplishments of philosophical hermeneutics has been the recovery of forms of truth fully apart from those reached by method or presented in science. This is an achievement made possible, in part, by a conception of language as essentially disclosive rather than referential. In an encounter with a text, for example, the horizons of reader and text intersect in a linguistically mediated experience that can uncover new aspects of the self and its world. In the experience (...) of dialogue at its best, too, new truths are opened up in the shared linguistic space constituted by the participants in a conversation.Despite the importance of linguistic disclosure for philosophical hermeneutics... (shrink)
Is the market civilizing or destructive? The increased salience of science commercialization is forcing scientists to address this question. Benefiting from the sociology of morality literature’s increased attention to specific kinds of morality and engaging with economic sociology’s moral markets literature, we generate competing hypotheses about scientists’ value-driven attitudes toward patenting. The Civilizing Market thesis suggests scientists who prioritize universalism will tend to support patenting. The Destructive Market thesis, by contrast, suggests universalism will be correlated with opposition to patenting. We (...) analyze survey data from biologists and physicists nested within academic organizations, which are nested within the following regions: France, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Taiwan, Turkey, UK, and the USA. Employing multilevel analysis, we find correlational evidence to support the Destructive Market thesis. Universalism is associated with anti-patenting attitudes, suggesting scientists expect patenting to have deleterious effects on science and society. We end with a discussion of this article’s implications for the moral markets literature, sociology of morality and business ethics. (shrink)
‘The soul hypothesis’ enjoys near unanimous support in the general population. Among philosophers and scientists, however, belief in the soul is far less common. The purpose of this essay to explain why many philosophers and scientists reject the soul hypothesis and to consider what the non-existence of the soul would entail.
In C. S. Lewis’s Christian Apologetics: Pro and Con, I took the con in a debate with Victor Reppert about the soundness of Lewis’s famous “argument from reason.” Reppert then extended his argument in an article for Philosophia Christi; this article is my reply. I show that Reppert’s argument fails for three reasons. It “loads the die” by falsely assuming that naturalism, by definition, can't include mental causation "on the basic level.". Physical processes can reliably produce true beliefs. And reasoning (...) isn’t necessarily mental. (shrink)
ABSTRACTThis essay critically develops Watsuji’s nondual ontology of the self through the lens of ‘topological’ thought. Through close description of the embeddedness of the self in, and its emergence from, an intersubjective space which, in turn, is rooted in a particular place, Watsuji shows that the self is constituted by its relational contact with others, on the one hand, and by its immersion in a wider geo-cultural environment, on the other. Yet Watsuji himself had difficulty in smoothly bringing together and (...) integrating these themes. By showing how these domains work together to constitute the self, we bring into view the unity at the ground of Watsuji’s thought. Foremost among the difficulties in this account of the self is the question of how transcendence, the distance and difference that makes possible freedom and individuation, can be convincingly accounted for if the self is so completely identified with its insertion into social and natural structures. Beyond problems such as these, however,... (shrink)
The basic idea of the particular way of understanding mental phenomena that has inspired the "cognitive revolution" is that, as a result of certain relatively recent intellectual and technological innovations, informed theorists now possess a more powerfully insightful comparison or model for mind than was available to any thinkers in the past. The model in question is that of software, or the list of rules for input, output, and internal transformations by which we determine and control the workings of a (...) computing machine's hardware. Although this comparison and its many implications have dominated work in the philosophy, psychology, and neurobiology of mind since the end of the Second World War, it now shows increasing signs of losing its once virtually unquestioned preeminence. Thus we now face the question of whether it is possible to repair and save this model by means of relatively inessential "tinkering", or whether we must reconceive it fundamentally and replace it with something different. In this book, twenty-eight leading scholars from diverse fields of "cognitive science"-linguistics, psychology, neurophysiology, and philosophy- present their latest, carefully considered judgements about what they think will be the future course of this intellectual movement, that in many respects has been a watershed in our contemporary struggles to comprehend that which is crucially significant about human beings. Jerome Bruner, Noam Chomsky, Margaret Boden, Ulric Neisser, Rom Harre, Merlin Donald, among others, have all written chapters in a non-technical style that can be enjoyed and understood by an inter-disciplinary audience of psychologists, philosophers, anthropologists, linguists, and cognitive scientists alike. (shrink)
The Empiricist or Lockean view says natural kinds do not exist objectively in nature but are practical categories reflecting use of words. The Modern, Ostensive view says they do exist, and one can refer to such a kind by ostention and recursion, assuming his designation of it is related causally to the kind itself. However, this leads to a problem: Kinds are abstract repeatables, and it seems impossible that abstractions could have causal force. In defence of the Modern view, I (...) suggest we can think of kinds as — or as like — ecological niches existing in nature, which are causally effective by virtue of the fact that they predictively determine (some) properties of the things that happen to occupy them. (shrink)
One of Gadamer's largest and most characteristic concerns has been to show that hermeneutics is a form of practical philosophy. The central task of hermeneutics as practical philosophy for Gadamer is to reflectively appropriate the moral resources of our tradition in order to respond to the skepticism—characteristic of our age—about our ability to reach the truth in our normative judgments. Practical philosophy in this sense depends upon Gadamer’s conception of language as disclosive of truth. The form of disclosure that is (...) especially important in this regard is the uncovering of truth in the space between conversation partners, a space that is opened up and constituted by the merging of the horizons of the participants in a dialogue. The claim that truth is disclosed in the search for, and discovery of, a shared language in and through which the matter at issue between the participants in a conversation can come to presentation is grounded in Gadamer’s account of the “belonging together” of word and thing. Gadamer maintains in this respect that the thing itself is given in language. To help us understand this claim I turn to Gadamer’s discussion of the image, since—in a comparison that Gadamer explicitly makes—here, too, the image “gives” the thing. Notwithstanding this, the disclosure of things in language is always only partial. The concluding section of this essay brings into focus this finite and limited character of linguistic disclosure and hence of language itself. (shrink)
In, I suggested that, while the non-existence of the soul does threaten free will, the threat it possess is inconsequential. Free will faces so many other hurdles that, if those were overcome, the soul's non-existence would be a non-threat. In this paper, I establish this; and to do so, I define the common libertarian notion of free will, and show how neuroscience, determinism, indeterminism, theological belief, axioms in logic, and even Einstein's theory of relativity each entail that libertarian free will (...) does not exist. I conclude by demonstrating why some philosophers reject alternate understandings of free will, and so believe that the notion we are free is an illusion. (shrink)
In my 2013 article ‘A Refutation of Skeptical Theism,’ I argued that observing seemingly unjustified evils always reduces the probability of God’s existence. When figuring the relevant probabilities, I used a basic probability calculus that simply distributes the probability of falsified hypotheses equally. In 2015, Timothy Perrine argued that, since Bayes Theorem doesn’t always equally distribute the probability of falsified hypotheses, my argument is undermined unless I can also show that my thesis follows on a Bayesian analysis. It is the (...) purpose of this paper to meet that burden. (shrink)
In two passages from Xenophon’s Memorabilia, Socrates refutes Aristippus, first by a rather brutal brand of Realpolitik, then by refusing to answer Aristippus’ questions about the good and the beautiful. This article argues that the nasty politics that emerge in Memorabilia 2.1 are not Socratic, but rather the natural consequence of Aristippean hedonism. Political considerations of another sort drive Socrates’ tactics in Memorabilia 3.8, where his evasive manoeuvres are driven by his desire to avoid a direct confrontation with hedonism. ocrates’ (...) own views are hedonistic in some sense, as revealed by his otherwise irrelevant discussion of pleasing home plans and altar sites at the end of 3.8, but Socrates does not wish to reveal as much to companions lacking his self-control. Socrates’ treatment of Aristippus has as much to do with politics as with pleasure. (shrink)
This essay considers what the logical implications for God's free will would be if God possessed the characteristics that he is often said to have, such as Immutability. If God does not have free will it undermines the Free Will Defense for the Problem of Evil and the case for free will generally. Those who believe in human free will often believe that it exists because humans possess an immaterial soul; however, if God does not have free will then the (...) religious case for free will is weakened. For more content, including original artwork, works of fiction, and more philosophy essays, please visit saintlouisschool.net. (shrink)
The multiverse hypothesis is growing in popularity among theistic philosophers because some view it as the preferable way to solve certain difficulties presented by theistic belief. In this paper, I am concerned specifically with its application to Rowe’s problem of no best world, which suggests that God’s existence is impossible given the fact that the world God actualizes must be unsurpassable, yet for any given possible world, there is one greater. I will argue that, as a solution to the problem (...) of no best world, the multiverse hypothesis fails. To defend my thesis, I will first define the multiverse hypothesis and articulate the problem of no best world and how the multiverse hypothesis is thought to solve it. I will then show that the solution fails by articulating two problems that have been mentioned, but not developed, in the literature—what I call the problem of no highest standard and the problem of multiverse cardinality. In each case, after articulating the problem, I will offer possible responses to the problem and show why those responses are inadequate. (shrink)
We consider the use ofevolving algebra methods of specifying grammars for natural languages. We are especially interested in distributed evolving algebras. We provide the motivation for doing this, and we give a reconstruction of some classic grammar formalisms in directly dynamic terms. Finally, we consider some technical questions arising from the use of direct dynamism in grammar formalisms.
The South Park “Go God Go” saga raises some very important questions. In these episodes, the scientific worldview stamps out religion. But are science and religion really in such irreconcilable conflict? Would the supremacy of a scientific worldview really lead to atheism? And in the South Park future of 2546, a cartoon version of Richard Dawkins has pioneered efforts which culminate in religion’s demise and atheism becomes its own religion. But is atheism—and specifically “The New Atheism” that Dawkins champions—really just (...) a religion? The article tackles those questions. (shrink)
This article draws on Nishida’s ontology to shed light on some problems with Gadamer’s concept of dialogical truth. This form of truth relies on the claim that self and world ‘belong together’ as aspects of a single, unitary phenomenon, one which is made manifest in language. This view has difficulty, however, accounting for the expression in language of that which is distorted, mistaken, or untruthful. To get past these difficulties, I suggest that we turn to the more dynamic and developmental (...) vision of the continuity of being found in Nishida’s work. One can cultivate or neglect this relational continuity, and so achieve or fail to achieve it in its fullest forms. I argue that we can cultivate our perceptual capacity along similar lines, bringing the self and world together into a kind of harmony so that the expression of such perceptions comes to be the expression of truth. (shrink)
What can South Park tell us about Socrates and the nature of evil? How does The Office help us to understand Sartre and existentialist ethics? Can Battlestar Galactica shed light on the existence of God? Introducing Philosophy Through Pop Culture uses popular culture to illustrate important philosophical concepts and the work of the major philosophers With examples from film, television, and music including South Park, The Matrix, X-Men, Batman, Harry Potter, Metallica and Lost, even the most abstract and complex philosophical (...) ideas become easier to grasp Features key essays from across the Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture series, as well as helpful editorial material and a glossary of philosophical terms From metaphysics to epistemology; from ethics to the meaning of life, this unique introduction makes philosophy as engaging as popular culture itself. (shrink)
Arguments against our free will pose a serious problem. Although there are not very many philosophers who call themselves fatalists, quite a few are convinced that fatalism follows from common assumptions. Assuming that most believe themselves to be free, identifying ways to avoid the conclusion of such fatalist arguments is quite an important task. I begin by dealing specifically with theological fatalism. I present many versions of theological fatalism, but come to the conclusion that only one version constitutes a genuine (...) problem. That version, I argue, is reducible to a deeper fatalist dilemma that follows from assumptions so common that it must be faced by even the atheist: the mutually incompatibility of human freedom, the principle of alternate possibilities and bi-valance. After considering other objections to my argument, I conclude that the only way to avoid the fatalist conclusion is to either deny the principle of alternate possibilities or deny bi-valance. I argue that, although each option is somewhat problematic, denying bivalence is the more defensible of the two options. (shrink)
Television pictures of starvation and depredation are not the only way that famine and political instability in the horn of Africa have affected the United States. Many people from that region of the world are seeking political or economic refuge here, and they are exposing us to a culture that is in some ways — most notably, in the practice of female circumcision – so radically different from the prevailing American cultures that we have been stunned. They are also forcing (...) hospital ethics committees to face issues that cannot be resolved by the facile application of the settled principles that have guided those institutions for the past several years. Autonomy and multiculturalism, long the foundations of most ethics committee decision making, have started to give way to a list of formally articulated rights and wrongs – perhaps to a restatement and adoption of rules said to be based in natural law. Female circumcision, argues one newspaper letter writer, “is just a sickening display of male power disguised as legitimate dogma. (shrink)
This exploration of the Family Guy character Francis Griffin (Peter's father) reveals the pitfalls of his evangelical mindset, and the epistemic shortcomings of evangelical epistemology. Scripture, Historical Tradition, and religious Experience (SHiTE) can't justify religious belief.