One of the most influential analytic philosophers of the late twentieth century, William P. Alston is a leading light in epistemology, philosophy of religion, and the philosophy of language. In this volume, twelve leading philosophers critically discuss the central topics of his work in these areas, including perception, epistemic circularity, justification, the problem of religious diversity, and truth.
Construing miracles as “violations,” I argue that a law of nature must specify some kind of possibility. But we must have here a sense of possibility for which the ancient rule of logic---ab esse ad posse valet consequentia---does not hold. We already have one example associated with the concept of statute law, a law which specifies what is legally possible but which is not destroyed by a violation. If laws of nature are construed as specifying some analogous sense of what (...) is naturally possible, then they need not be invalidated by a (rare) violation, and Humean miracles remain a genuine possibility. (shrink)
I examine Hume’s proposal about rationally considering testimonial evidence for miracles. He proposes that we compare the probability of the miracle (independently of the testimony) with the probability that the testimony is false, rejecting whichever has the lower probability. However, this superficially plausible proposal is massively ignored in our treatment of testimonial evidence in nonreligious contexts. I argue that it should be ignored, because in many cases, including the resurrection of Jesus, neither we nor Hume have any experience which is (...) at all relevant to assigning a prior probability to the alleged event. (shrink)
Hick professes now to be a “poly-something” and a “mono-something.” Most of my response is directed to these claims. I suggest that (contrary to my earlier assumption) Hick does not take any of the gods of the actual religions to be real. They are much more like fictional characters than like Kantian phenomena. He is “poly” about these insubstantia.I argue that Hick is not “mono” about anything at all of religious significance. In particular, he is not a mono-Realist.I conclude by (...) arguing that Hick has no satisfactory support for the sort of ineffability which he attributes to the Real. (shrink)
This chapter discusses the miraculous largely in the context of Western philosophy of religion and therefore largely in the context of a concern with Christianity. The main elements of the discussion are: A definition of the miraculous, basically a modified version of David Hume’s notion of a divinely caused violation of a law of nature; a brief discussion of the main functions which religious thought seems to assign to miracles. I divide these roles into two categories. One involves some epistemic (...) effect, such as providing someone with a basis or justification for belief. The other involves some other, non-epistemic, effect, such as providing physical healing,spiritual salvation, etc. A further discussion of epistemic concerns, mostly about the role of miracles as evidence for some belief, and the converse role of evidenceas justifying a belief in miracles; a further discussion of testimonial evidence in particular, and of how such evidence properly bears on judgments of probability. (shrink)
Jesus said to Peter, “Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven,” This looks like a noetic miracle which happened in (or to) Peter. Must all Christians have a comparable miracle in themselves, or does the Bible enable us to apprehend, in some “natural” way, the revelations made to prophets and apostles long ago?I suggest that we need not have a single answer to this question, and that the “mix” of revelation and (...) reason, natural and supernatural noetic elements, may be different in various believers. (shrink)
In this paper I examine one line of argument against the claim that (some) suicide may be morally legitimate. This argument appeals to a putative moral principle that it is never licit to assault an innocent human life. I consider some related arguments in St. Augustine and St. Thomas, and I explore two possible senses of “innocent.” I argue that in one sense the putative moral principle is very implausible, and in neither sense is it true that all suicides assault (...) an innocent life. So this line of argument fails to establish the desired universal prohibition of suicide. (shrink)
This book is an extended essay in the phenomenology of religion. It is an attempt to understand and describe what religion is like for the religious person, “the believing soul.” The author asks us to “bracket,” for the time being, our evaluative interests, setting aside questions of whether the religion is true, whether there really is a God, a divine reality, and so on. Instead, we are first to seek an understanding of the phenomenon of religion, primarily by letting the (...) believing soul, from many traditions, speak for itself. (shrink)
Ross describes his work as "the beginnings of an analytic reconstruction of scholastic natural theology". The heart of the book consists of the arguments for God's existence, at least those which Ross takes to be satisfactory. This is then supplemented by a discussion of God's omnipotence and of the problem of evil.
I argue that the problem of evil, As a problem with theological significance, Cannot be specified in terms simply of truth and logic. For a problem specified in this way can be seen to be either trivial or necessarily insoluble before any of the substantive issues are decided. I then argue that it should be construed as a special sort of rhetorical problem, One posed by beliefs about the compatibility of other beliefs. On the basis of the logic and truth (...) values involved I distinguish two sub-Classes of such problems, And discuss appropriate methods of resolving them. (shrink)
In this paper I examine various aspects of the proposal that scarce lifesaving medical resources should (morally) be allocated by some random procedure. I argue that a fundamental assumption of this approach is that there are no morally relevant differences among the candidates for such services, and I challenge this general claim. I also argue that there are a great many lotteries among which we must choose if we are to use a lottery at all, and that we should choose (...) among them on valuational grounds. (shrink)