In this paper I show that two arguments for the inconsistency of skeptical theism fail. After setting up the debate in Introduction section, I show in The initial debate section why Mylan Engel’s argument (Engel 2004) against skeptical theism does not succeed. In COST section I strengthen the argument so that it both avoids my reply to Engel and parallels Jon Laraudogoitia’s argument against skeptical theism (Laraudogoitia 2000). In COST* section, I provide three replies—one by an evidentialist theist, one by (...) a closure-denying theist, and one by a necessitarian theist, and argue that the necessitarian’s reply successfully rebuts the inconsistency charge. I conclude that skeptical theism which accepts God’s necessary existence is immune to both kinds of arguments for its inconsistency. (shrink)
In this paper I show that two arguments for the inconsistency of skeptical theism fail. After setting up the debate, I show why Mylan Engel's argument (Engel 2004) against skeptical theism does not succeed. I then strengthen the argument so that it both avoids my reply to Engel and parallels Jon Laraudogoitia's argument against skeptical theism (Laraudogoitia 2000). In the final section I provide three replies—one by an evidentialist theist, one by a closure-denying theist, and one by a necessitarian theist, (...) and argue that the necessitarian's reply successfully rebuts the inconsistency charge. I conclude that skeptical theism which accepts God's necessary existence is immune to both kinds of arguments for its inconsistency. (shrink)
Next SectionCharlie Pelling presents an impropriety paradox for the truth account of assertion. After solving his paradox I show that it is a version of the liar paradox. I then show that for any account of truth there is a strengthened liar-like paradox, and that for any solution to the strengthened liar paradox, there is a parallel solution to each of these “new” paradoxes.
Jeff Jordan has recently challenged the idea, widely accepted among theistic philosophers, that “God’s love must be maximally extended and equally intense.” By way of a response, I suggest a way to sidestep Jordan’s argument entirely and then try to show that his own argument is multiply flawed. I thus conclude that his challenge is unsuccessful.
In his new book on Pascal's Wager, Jeff Jordan argues that only the ‘Jamesian’ version of the wager argument, as he sees it presented in William James' essay The Will to Believe , constitutes a sound pragmatic argument in favour of theism, whereas Pascal's original wager argument is doomed to fail on various grounds. This article argues that Jordan's theory is untenable. The many-gods objection is used as an example: it is demonstrated that the Jamesian Wager argument too is (...) powerless to rebut this objection. (shrink)
The juxtaposition of strong and weak critique, which is so common today, represents the somewhat fruitless attempt to bring to a head a multifaceted discussion. For years now—in fact, since the end of Marxism as an autonomous theory—there has been a question regarding the possibility of finding an appropriate standpoint for a probing critical examination of the underlying assumptions of liberal-democratic society without relying upon a philosophy of history. On the one hand, material questions play a large role in the (...) discussion since it is difficult to envision alternatives to the institutional framework of highly developed societies of the West that are both desirable and efficient. On the other hand, philosophical questions play an eminent role in this debate, and these philosophical questions are often of a methodological nature. Specifically, at the center of the debate stands the problem of how to describe and justify a standpoint from which one can fruitfully critique society and its institutional practices. (shrink)
This paper focuses on the defection of nuclear physicist Bruno Pontecorvo from Britain to the USSR in 1950 in an attempt to understand how government and intelligence services assess threats deriving from the unwanted spread of secret scientific information. It questions whether contingent agendas play a role in these assessments, as new evidence suggests that this is exactly what happened in the Pontecorvo case. British diplomatic personnel involved in negotiations with their US counterparts considered playing down the case. Meanwhile, the (...) press decided to play it up, claiming that Pontecorvo was an atom spy. Finally, the British secret services had evidence showing that this was a fabrication, but they did not disclose it. If all these manipulations served various purposes, then they certainly were not aimed at assessing if there was a threat and what this threat really was. (shrink)
Recently Jeff Jordan has argued against the view that divine perfection would require God to love every human with equal maximal intensity. He asserts that his argument depends on principles of perfect being theology which he develops and defends. In this paper I argue that Jordan’s case can be better understood as two conceptually distinct arguments, only one of which depends on his proffered principles of perfect being theology. I then critically evaluate each of these arguments, arguing that both (...) are unsuccessful. (shrink)
From picture to photography and back. Tableau vivants, in their gestural synthetic dimension, represent for Diderot the apex of expression that the image can make explicit. Nothing closer to Wall’s poetics. His works show outstanding attention to detail: from scenic design to protagonists’ costumes, from light to actors’ action. And the result is exactly what Diderot saw in the eyes of people observing Chardin’s art: imagination at work.
The article begins with a summary of Jeffrey Bishop’s The Anticipatory Corpse. Bishop traces the malady of contemporary medicine to its reliance on the corpse as the “epistemologically normative body” and its “metaphysics of efficient causation.” He displays care for the dying as symptomatic of medicine’s malady. He closes the book with the provocative question of whether “only theology can save medicine.” The article then turns to the theology of John Calvin as a possible resource for the re-imagining of medicine, (...) for the revision of its epistemology and metaphysics, and for reforming care for the dying. Calvin’s epistemology, as developed by “Reformed epistemology,” is examined as a response to medicine’s epistemology and metaphysics. Four points are emphasized: 1) that faith is knowledge, that there is no divide between faith and knowledge; 2) that faith’s knowledge is properly basic, providing the context and standard for all knowing; 3) that faith’s knowledge is intimately related to the moral life; and 4) that faith’s knowledge is therapeutic for medicine’s malady and can provide remedies for what Bishop regards as symptomatic of its malady. (shrink)
Analytic just war theorists often attempt to construct ideal theories of military justice on the basis of intuitions about imaginary and sometimes outlandish examples, often taken from non-military contexts. This article argues for a sharp curtailment of this method and defends, instead, an empirically and historically informed approach to the ethical scrutiny of armed conflicts. After critically reviewing general philosophical reasons for being sceptical of the moral-theoretic value of imaginary hypotheticals, the article turns to some of the special problems that (...) this method raises for appraisals of warfare. It examines some of the hypothetical examples employed in the construction of Jeff McMahan’s revisionist just war theory, and finds that they sometimes stipulate incompre- hensible conditions, lead to argumentative impasses of diverging yet uncertain intuitions, and distract attention away from the real problems of war as we empirically know it. In contrast, empirical and historical studies of warfare rein- force the deep connections between facts and values, and compel theorists to face uncomfortable moral ambiguities. Perhaps most importantly, the analytic method of focusing on imaginary hypothetical examples can not only be distracting, but it can also be genuinely dangerous. Hence, the article pays special attention to the way in which a seemingly innocuous fiction like the famous Ticking Time Bomb scenario can come to frame a new paradigm of inhumanity in the treatment of prisoners of war. (shrink)
Jeff McMahan has recently provided a forceful defense of methodological anti-speciesism against speciesists’ claim that species standard is a meaningful criterion to assess the value of lives and the nature of deprivation. In this paper I discuss McMahan’s favored account (the Intrinsic Potential Account) to assess the value of life and the nature of deprivation and challenge its overall ethical and methodological tenability. I level three charges against the Intrinsic Potential Account. I argue, first, that it cannot be consistent (...) with some widely held egalitarian moral intuitions. Second, it is unconvincing in its justification of the idea of equal respect for persons. Third, it is unclear how it can make sense of the value of individual capacities without referring to some species-based standard. Although I remain neutral with respect to the debate between anti-speciesists and speciesists, I argue that anti-speciesists cannot rely on McMahan’s arguments. (shrink)
The essay focuses on Jeff Wall’s theoretical writings and artistic productions. The inquiry on the photograph’s medium has been re-enacted in the late 1970s and 1980s by the use of the large scale and the “tableau-form”; in Wall’s work the large scale of the images, coupled with the light box, stimulates at the same time a new relationship with the beholder’s gaze and the possibility of a historical dialogue with other media, like painting and cinema. By the analysis of (...) photographs like Mimic and A view from an Apartment the interplay between document and fiction, capture of everyday and mise en scène appears at the core of Wall’s research and a main subject in contemporary photography. (shrink)
This paper discusses how Wittgenstein’s thinking informs recent conversations about art and aesthetic practice by examining his influence on the work of the noted modernist art critic, Michael Fried. Fried considers an excerpt from Wittgenstein’s Culture and Value, with a puzzling thought experiment, to help us see more clearly the Canadian artist Jeff Wall’s photographic vision and aesthetic. I consider Fried’s account of the photographic practice of Jeff Wall, especially his photograph Morning Cleaning, Mies van der Rohe Foundation (...) (1999). (shrink)