Nick Trakakis and Yujin Nagasawa criticise the argument in Almeida and Oppy . According to Trakakis and Nagasawa, we are mistaken in our claim that the sceptical theist response to evidential arguments from evil is unacceptable because it would undermine ordinary moral reasoning. In their view, there is no good reason to think that sceptical theism leads to an objectionable form of moral scepticism. We disagree. In this paper, we explain why we think that the argument of Nagasawa and Trakakis (...) fails to overthrow our objection to sceptical theism. (shrink)
In ‘The Kalam Cosmological Argument Neither Bloodied nor Bowed’ , David Oderberg provides four main criticisms of the line of argument which I developed in ‘Time, Successive Addition, and Kalam Cosmological Arguments’ . I argue here that none of these lines of criticism succeeds. Further I re-emphasise the point that those who maintain that the temporal series of past events is formed by ‘successive addition’ are indeed thereby committed to a highly contentious strict finitist metaphysics.
Sceptical theists--e.g., William Alston and Michael Bergmann--have claimed that considerations concerning human cognitive limitations are alone sufficient to undermine evidential arguments from evil. We argue that, if the considerations deployed by sceptical theists are sufficient to undermine evidential arguments from evil, then those considerations are also sufficient to undermine inferences that play a crucial role in ordinary moral reasoning. If cogent, our argument suffices to discredit sceptical theist responses to evidential arguments from evil.
William Lane Craig has argued that there cannot be actual infinities because inverse operations are not well-defined for infinities. I point out that, in fact, there are mathematical systems in which inverse operations for infinities are well-defined. In particular, the theory introduced in John Conway's *On Numbers and Games* yields a well-defined field that includes all of Cantor's transfinite numbers.
This paper presents an attempt to integrate theories of causal processes—of the kind developed by Wesley Salmon and Phil Dowe—into a theory of causal models using Bayesian networks. We suggest that arcs in causal models must correspond to possible causal processes. Moreover, we suggest that when processes are rendered physically impossible by what occurs on distinct paths, the original model must be restricted by removing the relevant arc. These two techniques suffice to explain cases of late preëmption and other cases (...) that have proved problematic for causal models. (shrink)
This book is a unique contribution to the philosophy of religion. It offers a comprehensive discussion of one of the most famous arguments for the existence of God: the ontological argument. The author provides and analyses a critical taxonomy of those versions of the argument that have been advanced in recent philosophical literature, as well as of those historically important versions found in the work of St Anselm, Descartes, Leibniz, Hegel and others. A central thesis of the book is that (...) ontological arguments have no value in the debate between theists and atheists. There is a detailed review of the literature on the topic (separated from the main body of the text) and a very substantial bibliography, making this volume an indispensable resource for philosophers of religion and others interested in religious studies. (shrink)
Latest version of my SEP entry on ontological arguments, which first appeared in 1996. General discussion of ontological arguments. Includes a brief historical overview, a taxonomy of different kinds of ontological arguments, a brief survey of objections to the different kinds of ontological arguments identified in the taxonomy, and more extended discussions of Anselm's ontological argument (Proslogion 2), Godel's ontological argument, and Plantinga's ontological argument.
There has been a recent explosion of interest in the epistemology of disagreement. Much of the recent literature is concerned with a particular range of puzzle cases (discussed in the Cases section of my paper). Almost all of the papers that contribute to that recent literature make mention of questions about religious disagreement in ways that suggest that there are interesting connections between those puzzle cases and real life cases of religious disagreement. One important aim of my paper is to (...) cast doubt on that suggestion. More generally, the aim of my paper is to give a reasonably full account of the recent literature on the epistemology of disagreement, and then to give a serious discussion of some of the epistemological issues that are raised by real world religious disagreements. (shrink)
This paper begins with a fairly careful and detailed discussion of the conditions under which someone who presents an argument ought to be prepared to concede that the argument is unsuccessful. The conclusions reached in this discussion are then applied to William Lane Craig’s defense of what he calls “the kalam cosmological argument.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, the chief contention of the paper is that Craig ought to be prepared to concede that “the kalam cosmological argument” is not a successful argument. The (...) paper pays particular attention to Craig’s recent criticisms of Adolf Grünbaum’s contention that “the kalam cosmological argument” presupposes “the normalcy of nothingness”; and it also addresses some methodological issues raised by Craig’s response to my previous criticisms of his replies to critiques of “the kalam cosmological argument” provided by Grünbaum, Hawking, and Davies. (shrink)
Anselmian theists claim (a) that there is a being than which none greater can be conceived; and (b) that it is knowable on purely—solely, entirely—a priori grounds that there is a being than which none greater can be conceived. In this paper, I argue that Anselmian Theism gains traction by conflating different interpretations of the key description ‘being than which no greater can be conceived’. In particular, I insist that it is very important to distinguish between ideal excellence and maximal (...) possible excellence. At the end of my paper, I illustrate the importance of this distinction by applying my discussion to the recent defence of Anselmian Theism in Nagasawa (Philos Q 58:577–591, 2008). (shrink)
Some people -- including the present author -- have proposed and defended alternative restricted causal principles that block Robert Koons’s ’new’ cosmological argument without undermining the intuition that causation is very close to ubiquitous. In "Epistemological Foundations for the Cosmological Argument", Koons argues that any restricted causal principles that are insufficient for the purposes of his cosmological argument cause epistemological collapse into general scepticism. In this paper I argue, against Koons, that there is no reason to suppose that my favourite (...) restricted causal principle precipitates epistemological collapse into general scepticism. If we impose the ’same kinds’ of restrictions on causal epistemological principles and on principles of general causation, then we cannot be vulnerable to the kind of argument that Koons develops. (shrink)
Among challenges to Molinism, the challenge posed by divine prophecy of human free action has received insufficient attention. We argue that this challenge is a significant addition to the array of challenges that confront Molinism.
Recently, many philosophers have supposed that the divine attribute of omnipotence is properly understood as some kind of maximal power. I argue that all of the best known attempts to analyse omnipotence in terms of maximal power are multiply flawed. Moreover, I argue that there are compelling reasons for supposing that, on orthodox theistic conceptions, maximal power is not one of the divine attributes.
This book begins with a careful taxonomy of divine attributes. It continues with detailed examinations of: divine infinity; divine simplicity; divine perfection; divine necessity; omnipotence; omniscience; divine goodness; divine beauty; divine fundamentality; divine will; divine freedom; etc.
In , Quentin Smith claims that `the Hartle-Hawking cosmology' is inconsistent with classical theism in a way which redounds to the discredit of classical theism; and, moreover, that the truth of `the Hartle- Hawking cosmology' would undermine reasonsed belief in any other varieties of theism which hold that the universe is created.
Kalam cosmological arguments have recently been the subject of criticisms, at least inter alia, by physicists---Paul Davies, Stephen Hawking---and philosophers of science---Adolf Grunbaum. In a series of recent articles, William Craig has attempted to show that these criticisms are “superficial, iII-conceived, and based on misunderstanding.” I argue that, while some of the discussion of Davies and Hawking is not philosophically sophisticated, the points raised by Davies, Hawking and Grunbaum do suffice to undermine the dialectical efficacy of kalam cosmological arguments.
In ‘Professor Mackie and the Kalam Cosmological Argument’ , 367–75), Professor William Lane Craig undertakes to demonstrate that J. L. Mackie's analysis of the kalam cosmological argument in The Miracle of Theism is ‘superficial’, and that Mackie ‘has failed to provide any compelling or even intuitively appealing objection against the argument’ . I disagree with Craig's judgement; for it seems to me that the considerations which Mackie advances do serve to refute the kalam cosmological argument. Consequently, the purpose of this (...) paper is to reply to Craig's criticisms on Mackie's behalf. (shrink)
This chapter discusses the two most prominent recent evidential arguments from evil, due, respectively, to William Rowe and Paul Draper. I argue that neither of these evidential arguments from evil is successful, i.e. such that it ought to persuade anyone who believes in God to give up that belief. In my view, theists can rationally maintain that each of these evidential arguments from evil contains at least one false premise.
I provide a classification of varieties of pantheism. I argue that there are two different kinds of commitments that pantheists have. On the one hand, there is an ontological commitment to the existence of a sum of all things. On the other hand, there is an ideological commitment: either collectively or distributively, the sum of all things is divine.
Richard Gale and Alexander Pruss contend that their ‘new cosmological argument’ is an improvement over familiar cosmological arguments because it relies upon a weaker version of the Principle of Sufficient Reason than that used in those more familiar arguments. However, I note that their ‘weaker’ version of the Principle of Sufficient Reason entails the ‘stronger’ version of that principle which is used in more familiar arguments, so that the alleged advantage of their proof turns out to be illusory. Moreover, I (...) contend that, even if their argument did rely on a weaker version of the Principle of Sufficient reason, nontheists would still be perfectly within their rights to refuse to accept the conclusion of the argument. (shrink)
In “On Oppy’s Objections to the Modal Perfection Argument,” Philo 8, 2, 2005, 123–30, Robert Maydole argues that his modal perfection argument—set out in his “The Modal Perfection Argument for a Supreme Being,” Philo 6, 2, 2003, 299–313—“remains arguably sound” in the face of the criticisms that I made of this argument in my “Maydole’s 2QS5 Argument,” Philo 7, 2, 2004, 203–11. I reply that Maydole is wrong: his argument is fatally flawed, and his attempts to avoid the criticisms that (...) I have made of his argument are to no avail. (shrink)
This paper is a reply to Robert Maydole’s “The Modal Perfection Argument for the Existence of a Supreme Being,” published in Philo 6, 2, 2003. I argue that Maydole’s Modal Perfection Argument fails, and that there is no evident way in which it can be repaired.
In On the Nature and Existence of God, Richard Gale follows majority opinion in giving very short shrift to the doctrine of divine simplicity: in his view, there is no coherent expressible doctrine of divine simplicity. Rising to the implicit challenge, I argue that---contrary to what is widely believed---there is a coherently expressible doctrine of divine simplicity, though it is rather different from the views that are typically expressed by defenders of this doctrine. At the very least, I think that (...) I manage to show that there are ways of understanding the doctrine of divine simplicity that have not yet been adequately examined. (shrink)
There seems to be a widespread conviction — evidenced, for example, in the work of Mackie, Dawkins and Sober — that it is Darwinian rather than Humean considerations which deal the fatal logical blow to arguments for intelligent design. I argue that this conviction cannot be well-founded. If there are current logically decisive objections to design arguments, they must be Humean — for Darwinian considerations count not at all against design arguments based upon apparent cosmological fine-tuning. I argue, further, that (...) there are good Humean reasons for atheists and agnostics to resist the suggestion that apparent design — apparent biological design and/or apparent cosmological fine-tuning — establishes (or even strongly supports) the hypothesis of intelligent design. (shrink)
This paper compares the doxastic credentials of the claim that nothing comes from nothing with the doxastic credentials of the claim that there is no causing without changing. I argue that comparison of these two claims supports my contention that considerations about causation do nothing to make theism more attractive than naturalism.
I hold that the considerations adduced in kalam cosmological arguments do not embody reasons for reflective atheists and agnostics to embrace the conclusion of those arguments, viz. that the universe had a cause of its existence. I do not claim to be able to show that reflective theists could not reasonably believe that those arguments are sound; indeed, I am prepared to concede that it is epistemically possible that the arguments procede validly from true premises. However, I am prepared to (...) make the same concession about the following argument: Either 2+2=5 or God exists; 2+2?5; therefore God exists . But nobody could think that this argument deserves to be called a proof of its conclusion (even if it is sound). Of course, this latter argument is obviously circular: (almost) no one who was not antecedently persuaded of the truth of the conclusion would (have reason to) believe the first premise. But this fact does not entail that admittedly non circular arguments, such as the kalam cosmological arguments, cannot fail to be equally dialectically ineffective. And, indeed, that is the view which I wish to defend: there is not the slightest reason to think that kalam cosmological arguments should be dialectically effective against reasonable and reflective opponents. (shrink)
This paper consider three families of arguments for atheism. First, there are direct arguments for atheism: arguments that theism is meaningless, or incoherent, or logically inconsistent, or impossible, or inconsistent with known fact, of improbable given known fact, or morally repugnant, or the like. Second, there are indirect arguments for atheism: direct arguments for something that entails atheism. Third, there are comparative arguments for atheism: e.g., arguments for the view that (atheistic) naturalism is more theoretically virtuous than theism.
This paper is a detailed examination of some parts of J. P. Moreland's book on "the argument from consciousness". (There is a companion article that discusses the parts of the book not taken up in this critical notice.).
This paper is a response to William Lane Craig's criticisms of my previous paper "Uncaused Beginnings". I argue that Craig's criticisms do not inflict any damage on the arguments of that earlier paper.
Robert Koons claims that my previous critique of his “new” cosmological argument is vitiated by confusion about the nature of defeasible argumentation.In response, I claim that Koons misrepresents—and perhaps misunderstands—the nature of my objections to his “new” cosmological argument. The main claims which I defend are: (1) that the move from a non-defeasible to a defeasible causal principle makes absolutely no difference to the success of the cosmological argument in which it is contained; and (2) that, since it is perfectly (...) well understood that non-theists have many reasons for rejecting the defeasible causal principle, it is pointless to claim that the move to a defeasible principle brings about a shift in the “burden of proof”. (Since some people may have forgotten—or may choose to ignore—the fact that non-theists do have reasons for rejecting the defeasible causal principle, I also provide a discussion of a modest sample of these reasons.). (shrink)
This chapter is a critical discussion of the third chapter of Tim O ' Connor ' s * Theism and Ultimate Explanation *. In this chapter, O ' Connor advances the & quot ; existence stage & quot ; of his cosmological argument from contingency. I argue that naturalists have good reason to think that on each of the live hypotheses -- infinite regress, brute contingency, brute necessity -- naturalism is preferable to theism.
This paper is a response to David Oderberg's discussion of the Tristram Shandy paradox. I defend the claim that the Tristram Shandy paradox does not support the claim that it is impossible that the past is infinite.
The main aim of this paper is to examine an almost universal assumption concerning the structure of Paley’s argument for design. Almost all commentators suppose that Paley’s argument is an inductive argument---either an argument by analogy or an argument by inference to the best explanation. I contend, on the contrary, that Paley’s argument is actually a straightforwardly deductive argument. Moreover, I argue that, when Paley’s argument is properly understood, it can readily be seen that it is no good. Finally---although I (...) do not stress this very much---I note that the points that I make about Paley’s argument can carryover to modern design arguments that are based upon the argument that Paley actually gives. (shrink)
This paper is an extended critical discussion of Jerrold Levinson's historical definition of art. I try out various different avenues of attack; it is not clear whether any of them is ultimately successful.
Millican (Mind 113(451):437–476, 2004) claims to have detected ‘the one fatal flaw in Anselm’s ontological argument.’ I argue that there is more than one important flaw in the position defended in Millican (Mind 113(451):437–476, 2004). First, Millican’s reconstruction of Anselm’s argument does serious violence to the original text. Second, Millican’s generalised objection fails to diagnose any flaw in a vast range of ontological arguments. Third, there are independent reasons for thinking that Millican’s generalised objection is unpersuasive.
This paper is a companion to an article that I published in *Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion*. The OSPR discusses the third chapter of Tim O'Connor's *Theism and Ultimate Explanation. This paper discusses a range of other issues that are not picked up in the OSPR discussion.
I argue that the only proper role for traditional arguments for and against the existence of God in philosophy of religion is in demonstrating that given worldviews -- theism, naturalism -- are inconsistent.
Kevin Harrelson's book commences with the following words: This book provides a philosophical analysis of the several debates concerning the "ontological argument" from the middle of the seventeenth to the beginning of the nineteenth century. My aim in writing it was twofold. First, I wished to provide a detailed and comprehensive account of the history of these debates, which I perceived to be lacking in the scholarly literature. Second, I wanted also to pursue a more philosophically interesting question concerning the (...) apparent unassailability of ontological arguments. In pursuit of this latter problem, the driving question that my account addresses is "why has this argument, or kind of argument, been such a constant in otherwise diverse philosophical contexts and periods?" I think that there is no doubt that Harrelson succeeds in the first of these aims. He has, indeed, produced a detailed scholarly account of the history of debates about ontological arguments from the middle of the seventeenth century to the beginning of the nineteenth. His history is engaging and interesting, covering a wide range of authors with diverse philosophical orientations: Descartes, Arnauld, Caterus, Gassendi, Hobbes, Mersenne, More, Geulincx, Cudworth, Locke, Clarke, Malebranche, Huet, Spinoza, Leibniz, Wolff, Baumgarten, Eberhard, Crusius, Kant, Mendelssohn, and Hegel, among others. It seems to me that anyone who works on the treatment of. (shrink)
This paper is an examination of the contingent a priori and the necessary a posteriori. In particular, it considers -- and assesses -- the criticisms that Nathan Salmon makes of the views of Saul Kripke.