Chris Tucker's paper on the hiddenness argument seeks to turn aside a way of defending the latter which he calls the value argument. But the value argument can withstand Tucker's criticisms. In any case, an alternative argument capable of doing the same job is suggested by his own emphasis on free will.
Mark McCreary has argued that I cannot consistently advance both the hiddenness argument and certain arguments for religious scepticism found in my book The Wisdom to Doubt . This reaction was expected, and in WD I explained its shortsightedness in that context. First, I noted how in Part III of WD , where theism is addressed, my principal aim is not to prove atheism but to show theists that they are not immune from the scepticism defended in Parts I and (...) II. To the success of this aim, McCreary's arguments are not so much as relevant, for a thoroughgoing scepticism embracing even the hiddenness argument is quite compatible with its success. But I also explained how someone convinced that the hiddenness argument does prove atheism escapes the grip of religious scepticism because of that argument's reliance on apparent conceptual truths. McCreary's critique obscures this point but does not defuse it. (shrink)
The influence of J. L. Austin on contemporary philosophy was substantial during his lifetime, and has grown greatly since his death, at the height of his powers, in 1960. Philosophical Papers, first published in 1961, was the first of three volumes of Austin's work to be edited by J. O. Urmson and G. J. Warnock. Together with Sense and Sensibilia and How to do things with Words, it has extended Austin's influence far beyond the circle who knew him or read (...) the handful of papers he published in journals. (shrink)
William Alston's Perceiving God: The Epistemology of Religious Experience is a most significant contribution to the philosophy of religion. The product of 50 years' reflection on its topic , this work provides a very thorough explication and defence of what Alston calls the ‘mystical perceptual practice’ – the practice of forming beliefs about the Ultimate on the basis of putative ‘direct experiential awareness’ thereof . Alston argues, in particular, for the rationality of engaging in the Christian form of MP . (...) On his view, those who participate in CMP are justified in forming beliefs as they do because their practice is ‘socially established’, has a ‘functioning overrider system’ and a ‘significant degree of self-support’; and because of the ‘lack of sufficient reasons to take the practice as unreliable’. (shrink)
What if human joy went on endlessly? Suppose, for example, that each human generation were followed by another, or that the Western religions are right when they teach that each human being lives eternally after death. If any such possibility is true in the actual world, then an agent might sometimes be so situated that more than one course of action would produce an infinite amount of utility. Deciding whether to have a child born this year rather than next is (...) a situation wherein an agent may face several alternatives whose effects could well ramify endlessly on such suppositions, for the child born this year would be a different person—one who preferred different things, performed different actions, and had different descendants—from a child born next year. It has recently been suggested that traditional utilitarianism stumbles on such cases of infinite utility. Specifically, utilitarianism seems to require, for its application, that all experience of pleasure and pain cease at some time in the future or asymptotically approach zero.2 If neither of these conditions holds, then the utility produced by each of two alternative actions may turn out to be infinite, and utilitarianism thus loses its ability to discriminate morally between them. (shrink)
This book is the one to put into the hands of those who have been over-impressed by Austin 's critics....[Warnock's] brilliant editing puts everybody who is concerned with philosophical problems in his debt.
Amongst Kant's lesser known early writings is a short treatise with the curious title Dreams of a Spirit-Seer Explained by Dreams of Metaphysics , in which, with considerable acumen and brilliance, and not a little irony, Kant exposes the empty pretensions of his contemporary, the Swedish visionary and Biblical exegete, Emanuel Swedenborg, to have access to a spirit world, denied other mortals. Despite his efforts, it must be feared, however, that Kant did not, alas, succeed in laying the spirit of (...) Swedenborg himself to rest once and for all, for there has arisen in our own day, and within philosophy itself, a movement of thought, if such it can be called, which, like that of Swedenborg, is founded upon an unbridled and unhealthy exercise of the imagination, and apparently believes that philosophical problems can be discussed and resolved by the elaboration of fantastical, and at times repulsive, examples; if we require a name for this contemporary pretence at philosophy, we could take as our model the Italian word for science fiction, fantascienza , and call it ‘fantaphilosophy’: it is my aim to show that this fantaphilosophy is a phantom philosophy. (shrink)
Substantial advances in our understanding of the neural bases of emotional processing have been made over the past decades. Overall, studies in humans and other animals highlight the key role of the amygdala in the detection and evaluation of stimuli with affective value. Nonetheless, contradictory findings have been reported, especially in terms of the exact role of this structure in the processing of different emotions, giving rise to different neural models of emotion. For instance, although the amygdala has traditionally been (...) considered as exclusively involved in fear (and possibly anger), more recent work suggests that it may be important for processing other types of emotions, and even nonemotional information. A review of the main findings in this field is presented here, together with some of the hypotheses that have been put forward to interpret this literature and explain its inconsistencies. (shrink)
In many places and times, and for many people, God's existence has been rather less than a clear fact. According to the hiddenness argument, this is actually a reason to suppose that it is not a fact at all. The hiddenness argument is a new argument for atheism that has come to prominence in philosophy over the past two decades. J. L. Schellenberg first developed the argument in 1993, and this book offers a short and vigorous statement of its central (...) claims and ideas. Logically sharp but so clear that anyone can understand, the book addresses little-discussed issues such as why it took so long for hiddenness reasoning to emerge in philosophy, and how the hiddenness problem is distinct from the problem of evil. It concludes with the fascinating thought that retiring the last of the personal gods might leave us nearer the beginning of religion than the end. (shrink)
There are doubtless many with personal experience of suffering, or of comforting others in distress, who would agree with Milton thus far that philosophic argument is powerless to satisfy those who in their anguish ask the question ‘Why did it happen to me?’ Yet to think so is to underestimate both the necessity and the power of reason: clarity of mind and the disposition to argue are commonly enhanced rather than diminished by suffering; and if reason is an essential part (...) of man's nature, it should serve him, if anywhere, in the trials of life. We have every justification, therefore, despite common opinion, for seeking a rational answer to the question proposed. It must, however, be admitted at the outset that there is no direct answer to the question which can both withstand critical scrutiny and bring genuine comfort to the afflicted, an answer, that is, which accepts the question as it stands with its attendant presuppositions; but there is an indirect answer, which, precisely by rejecting one or more of these presuppositions and restating the question, can indeed satisfy these two requirements. Before such an answer can be outlined, however, the question in its traditional form must be examined and the traditional answers to it critically reviewed. (shrink)
J.L. Ackrill's work on Plato and Aristotle has had a considerable influence upon ancient philosophical studies in the late twentieth century. This volume collects the best of Ackrill's essays on the two greatest philosophers of antiquity. With philosophical acuity and philological expertise he examines a wide range of texts and topics--from ethics and logic to epistemology and metaphysics--that continue to be in the focus of debate.
Analytical philosophers, if they are true to their training, never forget the first lesson of analytical philosophy: philosophers have no moral authority. In so far as analytical philosophers believe this, they find it easy to live with. For them even to assert, let alone successfully lay claim to, moral authority would require, first, hard work of some non-analytical and probably mistaken kind and, secondly, personality traits of leadership or confidence or even charisma, which philosophers may accidentally have but which they (...) are certainly not trained to have and had better not rely upon, while they live by analytical standards. Yet a further reason why analytical philosophers find the denial of their moral authority easy to accept is that they never forget the second lesson of analytical philosophy, either: nobody else has any moral authority. (shrink)
1. Causal knowledge is an indispensable element in science. Causal assertions are embedded in both the results and the procedures of scientific investigation. 2. It is therefore worthwhile to investigate the meaning of causal statements and the ways in which we can arrive at causal knowledge.
Ultimism and the aims of human immaturity -- Faith without details, or how to practice skeptical religion -- Simple faith and the complexities of tradition -- The structure of faith justification -- How skeptical faith is true to reason -- Anselm's idea -- Leibniz's ambition -- Paley's wonder -- Pascal's wager -- Kant's postulate -- James's will -- Faith is positively justified : the many modes of religious vision.
More than a few philosophers have sought to answer the atheistic argument from reasonable non-belief presented in my 1993 book Divine Hiddenness and Human Reason. In this first of two essays in response, I focus on objections sharing the defect – sometimes well-hidden – of irrelevance, using their shortcomings to highlight important features of the argument that are commonly overlooked.
On Kratzer’s canonical account, modal expressions (like “might” and “must”) are represented semantically as quantifiers over possibilities. Such expressions are themselves neutral; they make a single contribution to determining the propositions expressed across a wide range of uses. What modulates the modality of the proposition expressed—as bouletic, epistemic, deontic, etc.—is context.2 This ain’t the canon for nothing. Its power lies in its ability to figure in a simple and highly unified explanation of a fairly wide range of language use. Recently, (...) though, the canon’s neat story has come under attack. The challenge cases involve the epistemic use of a modal sentence for which no single resolution of the contextual parameter appears capable of accommodating all our intuitions.3 According to these revisionaries, such cases show that the canonical story needs to be amended in some way that makes multiple bodies of information relevant to the assessment of such statements. Here I show that how the right canonical, flexibly contextualist account of modals can accommodate the full range of challenge cases. The key will be to extend Kratzer’s formal semantic account with an account of how context selects values for a modal’s.. (shrink)
Prologue: Deep Time Religion -- Half a Revolution -- First Among Unequals? -- Evolutionary Skepticism -- The New Pessimism -- The New Optimism 6. Imagination is Key -- The "Chief Objections" -- Religion for Pioneers -- Epilogue: Darwin's Door and Hegel's Hinge.
In this second of two essays responding to critical discussion of my " Divine Hiddenness and Human Reason," I show how an ' accommodationist ' strategy can be used to defuse objections that were not exposed as irrelevant by the first essay. This strategy involves showing that the dominant concern of reasons for divine withdrawal can be met or accommodated within the framework of divine - human relationship envisaged by the hiddenness argument. I conclude that critical discussion leaves the argument (...) very much alive and kicking, and indeed strengthened as it moves into its second decade of life. (shrink)
I argue that Poston and Dougherty are mistaken in supposing that the hiddenness argument contains ambiguities about the nature of belief. And the attempt to extract from their mistaken account some reasons for favouring a broad, disjunctive view of divine -- creature relationship that will be convincing for individuals not in the grip of theological assumptions comes up dry.
The problem of Divine hiddenness, or the hiddenness problem, is more and more commonly being treated as independent of the problem of evil, and as rivalling the latter in significance. Are we in error if we acquiesce in these tendencies? Only a careful investigation into relations between the hiddenness problem and the problem of evil can help us see. Such an investigation is undertaken here. What we will find is that when certain knots threatening to hamper intellectual movement are unravelled, (...) the hiddenness problem emerges as a contender in its own right—one that may generate serious difficulties for theism regardless of conclusions drawn concerning the force of the problem of evil. (shrink)
There is no phenomenal consciousness; there is nothing 'that it is like' to be me. To believe in phenomenal consciousness or 'what-it's-like-ness' or 'for-me-ness' is to succumb to a pernicious form of the Myth of the Given. I argue that there are no good arguments for the existence of such a kind of consciousness and draw on arguments from Buddhist philosophy of mind to show that the sense that there is such a kind of consciousness is an instance of cognitive (...) illusion. (shrink)
Alice Crary has recently developed a radical reading of J. L. Austin's philosophy of language. The central contention of Crary's reading is that Austin gives convincing reasons to reject the idea that sentences have context-invariant literal meaning. While I am in sympathy with Crary about the continuing importance of Austin's work, and I think Crary's reading is deep and interesting, I do not think literal sentence meaning is one of Austin's targets, and the arguments that Crary attributes to Austin or (...) finds Austinian in spirit do not provide convincing reasons to reject literal sentence meaning. In this paper, I challenge Crary's reading of Austin and defend the idea of literal sentence meaning. (shrink)
In this brief reply I argue that criticisms of the hiddenness argument recently published in this journal by Imran Aijaz and Markus Weidler are without force. As will be shown, their critique of my conceptual version of the argument misses the mark by missing crucial distinctions. Their critique of my analogical version of the argument misunderstands that argument and also misapplies the work of W. H. Vanstone. And their critique of my view that belief is necessary for a certain kind (...) of relationship with God overlooks both some central features of that kind of relationship and some good reasons for not accepting acceptance or anything similarly nonbelieving as a substitute for belief in this context. (shrink)