Descartes, Boyle and Hooke shared, with many other seventeenth-century figures, the view that mechanical explanations were the only intellectually satisfactory ones. They also all accepted the view that we have incorporeal souls. This generated a problem for them when they wrote about perception. In this area, indeed, Descartes seems to be almost a reluctant Cartesian. When we read his scientific writings, the incorporeal soul is not stressed, and Descartes happily speaks of physical, or of corporeal, ideas in discussing sensation, memory (...) and imagination. (shrink)
In John Schellenberg’s important trilogy he offers us reasons, individually and cumulatively impressive, for adopting a sceptical attitude towards religious claims, both positive and negative. Part of Schellenberg’s argument consists in reminding us of the necessity of not overestimating our present state of intellectual development. In this paper, while allowing the force of the overestimation points, I consider the very real strength of the arguments he develops for atheism, and suggest that they outweigh his sceptical arguments in favour of non-commitment.Whenever (...) I hear that a writer of real ability has demonstrated away the... existence of God, I am eager to read the book, for I expect him by his talents to increase my insight into these matters. Already, before having opened it, I am perfectly certain that he has not justified... his specific [claim] because... as reason is incompetent to arrive at affirmative assertions in this field, it is equally unable, indeed even less able, to establish any negative conclusion in regard to these questions. (shrink)
There are five main claims that may be made about life after death: We are reincarnated in the self-same body we had in life. We are reincarnated in another body. We are revived, or continue to live in a disembodied form.
Abstract Boyle distinguished clearly between the areas which we would call scientific and theological. However, he felt that they overlapped seamlessly, and that the truths we discovered (or which were revealed to us) in one of these areas would be relevant to us in the other. In this paper I outline and discuss Boyle's views on the limitations of human knowing, Boyle's arguments in favour of accepting the revelations of the Christian faith, and his views on the kind of epistomological (...) standing that scientific knowledge claims have. Given this background I then consider the relation between hypotheses, theories and facts in Boyle's work, and consider a particular case, that of Boyle's Law, as an exemplification of the claims made in the rest of the paper. (shrink)
In the first section of this paper I offer a necessary condition for members of a particular class of arguments to be acceptable asproofs. In the second section, I point out that a plausible extension of this principle reveals that a number of additional arguments cannot function successfully as proofs. Finally, I note that a number of theological arguments, particularly cosmological and ontological arguments, are suspect in the light of this extended principle. Standardly in the ontological argument, criticism falls on (...) the conditional, modality-enriching premise which involves a move from possibility to actuality. I offer two defences of this premise, and argue that—as the use of Moore's extended maxim shows—the problem lies with the premise that asserts mere possibility. (shrink)
In Warranted Christian Beliet Alvin Plantinga claims that “The Enlightenment looked askance at testimony and tradition; Locke saw them as a preeminent source of error.” Locke, Plantinga suggests, is the “fountainhead” of this stance. This is importantly wrong about Locke and Locke”s views, and an examination of the views of Locke’s much admired friend and slightly older contemporary, Robert Boyle, reveals that the claim is mistaken about him as well, reinforcing the view that Plantinga is in general mistaken about the (...) intellectual milieu in which Locke wrote. In this paper I consider the views of Locke and Boyle on demonstration, observation, experiment, and testimony with a view to showing what, in the case of science and religion, their views actually were. For Locke I draw mainly on the Essay, while for Boyle I draw heavily on the MSS in the Royal Society Library, as well as on the printed works. (shrink)
Philosophy’s relation to its history is unique in academia, inasmuch as we expect practising historians of philosophy to be also practising philosophers, though we do not expect art historians to be artists, nor specialists in the history of physics to be physicists. Indeed, experience shows that practitioners of a given subject are often over-enthusiastically whiggish when wearing their historical hats.
The Arguments of Aquinas is intended for readers with philosophical interests, who may not be specialists in medieval philosophy. Some think that a medieval saint must be, as such, wrong, dated, and boring; others feel that a saint, any saint, must be right, relevant, and inspirational. Both groups are likely to misread Aquinas, if indeed they read him at all. The works of great philosophers are products of their times, but that does not lessen their value for us. We profit (...) by reading the works of St Thomas in the same interested but critical way that we read the works of our contemporaries. MacIntosh does not hesitated to compare Thomas's arguments with those of later philosophers as well as with those of his contemporaries and earlier philosophers. He chooses topics from a variety of still interesting problem areas: the existence and attributes of God, including God's foreknowledge and human free will, causality and the origin of the universe, time and necessity, human souls, angels, and the problem of evil. Additionally, the volume looks at his views on honesty and lying, and on human sexuality, on which he is, as ever, philosophically interesting whether or not we accept his conclusions. (shrink)
Robert Boyle, one of the most important intellectuals of the seventeenth century, was a gifted experimenter, an exceptionally able philosopher, and a dedicated Christian. In Boyle's two Excellencies, The Excellency of Theology Compared with Natural Philosophy and About The Excellency and Grounds of the Mechanical Hypothesis, he explains and justifies his new philosophy of science while reconciling it with Christian theology. These pioneering works of early science and theology are now available in a modernized and accessible new edition. This Broadview (...) edition brings spelling and punctuation into line with current conventions and includes notes and references to set the works in their historical and philosophical context. The appendices include works by Boyle's predecessors in the philosophy of science, other philosophical writings by Boyle, and an appendix of the other figures mentioned in the texts. (shrink)
I propose, in this paper, to offer a simple, even perhaps a simplified, version of Spinoza's metaphysical views, and to show how these views sometimes affected his epistemological views. When they did affect his epistemological views the effect was always a bad one, since Spinoza's metaphysical system is quite unworkable. It is helpful, and sometimes even inspiring, but it is wrong. In the end, with the epistemology as with the metaphysics, nothing of substance will be salvageable, but Spinoza's new and (...) even radical perspective is worth observing for its own sake, and there are points of detail along the way, ranging from inspired falsehoods to cloudy truths, that still deserve the effort to untangle them. (shrink)
In Religious Studies xxvi Harold W. Noonan and Charles B. Daniels severally take issue with my ‘Reincarnation and Relativized Identity’. Both make valuable points but both, I think, have somewhat missed the point of my original article. In that paper I singled out five different views on the possibility of life after death: that we are reincarnated in the self-same body we had in our pre-mortem state; that we are reincarnated in another — in a different — body; that we (...) continue to exist in a disembodied form, which may or may not culminate in re-embodiment; that pre-mortem life is a dream from which postmortem life is the awakening; that none of the above holds: there is no life after death. (shrink)
In early life, the philosopher, theologian and scientist Robert Boyle wrote extensively on moral matters. One of the extant early documents written in Boyle's hand deals with the morality of our treatment of non-human animals. In this piece Boyle offered a number of arguments for extending moral concern to non-human animals. Since the later Boyle routinely vivisected or otherwise killed animals in his scientific experiments, we are left with the biographical questions, did his views change, and if so, why? as (...) well as with the philosophical questions, what were his arguments and how good are they? (shrink)