I took it that the definitions Swinburne quotes imply that all of a person's basic beliefs are rational; Swinburne demurs. It still seems to me that these definitions have this consequence. Let me briefly explain why. According to Swinburne, a person's evidence consists of his basic beliefs, weighted by his confidence in them. So presumably we are to think of S's evidence as the set of the beliefs he takes in the basic way, together with a sort of index indicating, (...) for each of those beliefs, his degree of confidence in that belief. Now it is clear, first, that different basic beliefs can be held with different degrees of confidence. I believe 2+1 = 3 more firmly than there are presently some large trees in my backyard, and I believe that second proposition more firmly than I played bridge last night. Nevertheless, I believe all three propositions; I don't just believe them probably. So, the set of my basic beliefs contains propositions, all of which I believe. Further, a belief of mine is ‘rendered probable by [my] evidence’, I take it, just if it is probable with respect to the set of my basic beliefs. But of course probability of 1 with respect to that set; the degree of confidence with which I hold those beliefs does not seem to be relevant. Hence my conclusion that on these definitions all of my basic beliefs are rational. Swinburne points out that some of my basic beliefs may be improbable with respect to the rest of my basic beliefs; these beliefs, then, might be thought irrational, at least if they are not held as firmly as those with respect to which they are improbable. But this seems to me an uninteresting sense of ‘irrational’. Many of my basic beliefs are improbable with respect to my other basic beliefs; they are none the worse for that. I now remember, as it seems to me, that in the second bridge hand last night I was dealt three aces, three jacks, and three deuces. This is unlikely on the rest of my basic beliefs. It is, nonetheless, not irrational in any useful sense; memory is an important and independent source of rational belief, a source such that its deliverances do not necessarily depend, for warrant or rationality, on their probability with respect to other basic beliefs. I believe the same goes for some of my Christian beliefs. They may be improbable with respect to other beliefs, basic or otherwise, that I hold; but that need be nothing whatever against them. Footnotes1 Note: This brief discussion arises out of Richard Swinburne's critical notice of Alvin Plantinga 's Warranted Christian Belief and Plantinga 's reply in Religious Studies, 37, 203–214, 215–222. (shrink)
In this companion volume to Warrant: The Current Debate, Plantinga develops an original approach to the question of epistemic warrant; that is what turns true belief into knowledge. He argues that what is crucial to warrant is the proper functioning of one's cognitive faculties in the right kind of cognitive environment.
This book, one of the first full-length studies of the modalities to emerge from the debate to which Saul Kripke, David Lewis, Ruth Marcus, and others are contributing, is an exploration and defense of the notion of modality de re, the idea that objects have both essential and accidental properties. Plantinga develops his argument by means of the notion of possible worlds and ranges over such key problems as the nature of essence, transworld identity, negative existential propositions, and the (...) existence of unactual objects in other possible worlds. He also applies his logical theories to the elucidation of two problems in the philosophy of religion: the problem of evil and the ontological argument. (shrink)
This is the third volume in Alvin Plantinga's trilogy on the notion of warrant, which he defines as that which distinguishes knowledge from true belief. In this volume, Plantinga examines warrant's role in theistic belief, tackling the questions of whether it is rational, reasonable, justifiable, and warranted to accept Christian belief and whether there is something epistemically unacceptable in doing so. He contends that Christian beliefs are warranted to the extent that they are formed by properly functioning cognitive (...) faculties, thus, insofar as they are warranted, Christian beliefs are knowledge if they are true. (shrink)
Plantinga examines the nature of epistemic warrant; whatever it is that when added to true belief yields knowledge. This volume surveys current contributions to the debate and paves the way for his owm positive proposal in Warrant and Proper Function.
A long-awaited major statement by pre-eminent analytic philosopher Alvin Plantinga, Where the Conflict Really Lies illuminates one of our society's biggest debates---the conflict between science and religion.Plantinga examines where this conflict is said to exist---looking at areas such as evolution, divine action in the world, and the scientific study of religion---and he considers claims by Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins, and Philip Kitcher that evolution and theistic belief cannot co-exist. He makes a case that their arguments are not only (...) inconclusive, but that the supposed conflicts themselves are superficial, due to the methodological naturalism used by science. On the other hand, science can actually offer support to theistic doctrines---for instance, some versions or intepretations of quantum mechanics provide useful model for divine action. He goes on to outline the deep and massive consonance between theism and the entire scientific enterprise. In the last chapter, Plantinga argues that one can't rationally or sensibly accept both current evolutionary theory and naturalism, the thought that there is no such person as God or anything like God.The book concludes that there is superficial conflict but deep concord between science and religion, in particular theistic religion, and superficial concord but deep conflict between naturalism and religion. (shrink)
An enlightening discussion that will motivate students to think critically, the book opens with Plantinga's assertion that Christianity is compatible with evolutionary theory because Christians believe that God created the living world, and it is entirely possible that God did so by using a process of evolution.
Perhaps no one has done more in the last 30 years to advance thinking in the metaphysics of modality than has Alvin Plantinga. Collected here are some of his most important essays on this influential subject. Dating back from the late 1960's to the present, they chronicle the development of Plantinga's thoughts about some of the most fundamental issues in metaphysics: what is the nature of abstract objects like possible worlds, properties, propositions, and such phenomena? Are there possible (...) but non-actual objects? Can objects that do not exist exemplify properties? Plantinga gives thorough and penetrating to all of these questions and many others. This volume contains some of the best work in metaphysics from the past 30 years, and will remain a source of critical contention and keen interest among philosophers of metaphysics and philosophical logic for years to come. (shrink)
The problem of evil has challenged religious minds and hearts throughout the ages. Just how can the presence of suffering, tragedy, and wrongdoing be squared with the all-powerful, all-loving God of faith? This book gathers some of the best, most meaningful recent reflections on the problem of evil, with contributions by shrewd thinkers in the areas of philosophy, theology, literature, linguistics, and sociology. In addition to bringing new insights to the old problem of evil, Christian Faith and the Problem of (...) Evil is set apart from similar volumes by the often-novel approaches its authors take to the subject. Many of the essays pursue classic lines in speculative philosophy, but others address the problem of evil through biblical criticism, the thought of Simone Weil, and the faith of battered women and African American slaves. As a result, this book will interest a wide range of readers. Contributors: Paul Draper Eduardo J. Echeverria Laura Waddell Ekstrom Stephen Griffith Del Kiernan-Lewis Richard T. McClelland Barbara Omolade Richard Otte Alvin Plantinga John R. Schneider Robert Stanley Peter van Inwagen Carol Winkelmann Keith D. Wyma. (shrink)
Paul Churchland argues that Plantinga’s evolutionary argument against naturalism is unsuccessful and so we need not accept its conclusion. In this paper, we respond to Churchland’s argument. After we briefly recapitulate Plantinga’s argument and state Churchland’s argument, we offer three objections to Churchland’s argument: (1) its first premise has little to recommend it, (2) its second premise is false, and (3) its conclusion is consistent with, and indeed entails, the conclusion of Plantinga’s argument.
The following is a synopsis of the paper presented by Alvin Plantinga at the RATIO conference on The Meaning of Theism held in April 2005 at the University of Reading. The synopsis has been prepared by the Editor, with the author’s approval, from a handout provided by the author at the conference. The paper reflects on whether religious belief of a traditional Christian kind can be maintained consistently with accepting our modern scientific worldview. Many theologians, and also many scientists, (...) maintain that the idea of divine intervention is at odds with the framework of natural laws disclosed by science. The paper argues that this notion of a ”religion/science problem’ is misguided. When properly understood, neither the classical (Newtonian) picture of natural laws, nor the more recent quantum mechanical picture, rules out divine intervention. There is nothing in science, under either the old or the new picture, that conflicts with, or even calls in to question, special divine action, including miracles. (shrink)
In issue one, Richard Dawkins attacked the Alabama State Board of Education for pasting into biology schoolbooks an insert that explained that the theory of evolution is an ‘unproven’ and ‘controversial’ theory that ‘some’ scientists accept. The insert also raised a number of important questions that the theory of evolution still struggles to answer. Here, philosopher Alvin Plantinga responds to Dawkins' criticisms of the insert.
The author replies to Michael Tooley's comments ('Alvin Plantinga and the argument from evil', Australasian journal of philosophy, December 1980) on his treatment of the argument from evil in The nature of necessity; he argues that Toole's remarks constitute at best a mere galimatias.
The following is a synopsis of the paper presented by Alvin Plantinga at the Ratioconference on The Meaning of Theism held in April 2005 at the University of Reading. The synopsis has been prepared by the Editor, with the author's approval, from a handout provided by the author at the conference. The paper reflects on whether religious belief of a traditional Christian kind can be maintained consistently with accepting our modern scientific worldview. Many theologians, and also many scientists, maintain (...) that the idea of divine intervention is at odds with the framework of natural laws disclosed by science. The paper argues that this notion of a ‘religion/science problem’ is misguided. When properly understood, neither the classical picture of natural laws, nor the more recent quantum mechanical picture, rules out divine intervention. There is nothing in science, under either the old or the new picture, that conflicts with, or even calls in to question, special divine action, including miracles. (shrink)
These essays, dating from the late 1960's to the present, chronicle the development of Plantinga's thoughts about some of the most fundamental issues in metaphysics: what is the nature of abstract objects like possible worlds, properties, propositions, and such phenomena? Are there possible but non-actual objects? Can objects that do not exist exemplify properties? Plantinga gives thorough and penetrating answers to these and other questions.
Until recently, moral case deliberation (MCD) sessions have mostly been facilitated by external experts, mainly professional ethicists. We have developed a train the facilitator programme for healthcare professionals aimed at providing them with the competences needed for being an MCD facilitator. In this paper, we present the first results of a study in which we evaluated the programme. We used a mixed methods design. One hundred and twenty trained healthcare professionals and five trainers from 16 training groups working in different (...) healthcare organisations throughout the Netherlands were included. After completion of the programme, participants feel sufficiently confident and equipped to facilitate an MCD session. Feeling competent does not mean that participants have no doubts or questions left. Rather, they are aware of their limitations and see the need for continuous learning. According to the respondents, the actual exercise of facilitating MCD during and in between the training sessions contributed most to the development of competences necessary for being an MCD facilitator. Respondents without prior experience of participating in MCD sessions felt less competent after the training than those who had participated in MCD sessions before. Self-attributed competence varied between participants with different professional backgrounds. (shrink)
Take naturalism to be the idea that there is no such person as God or anything like God. Many philosophers hold that naturalism can accommodate serious moral realism. Many philosophers (and many of the same philosophers) also believe that moral properties supervene on non-moral properties, and even on naturalistic properties (where a naturalistic property is one such that its exemplification is compatible with naturalism). I agree that they do thus supervene, and argue that this makes trouble for anyone hoping to (...) argue that naturalism can accommodate morality. (shrink)
My question is simple: how shall we Christians deal with apparent conflicts between faith and reason, between what we know as Christians and what we know in other ways, between teaching of the Bible and the teachings of science? As a special case, how shall we deal with apparent conflicts between what the Bible initially seems to tell us about the origin and development of life, and what contemporary science seems to tell us about it? Taken at face value, the (...) Bible seems to teach that God created the world relatively recently, that he created life by way of several separate acts of creation, that in another separate act of creation, he created an original human pair, Adam and Eve, and that these our original parents disobeyed God, thereby bringing ruinous calamity on themselves, their posterity and the rest of creation. (shrink)
Suppose there were a set T of all truths, and consider all subsets of T --all members of the power set T. To each element of this power set will correspond a truth. To each set of the power set, for example, a particular truth T1 either will or will not belong as a member. In either case we will have a..
The philosophical doctrine of methodological naturalism holds that, for any study of the world to qualify as "scientific," it cannot refer to God's creative activity (or any sort of divine activity). The methods of science, it is claimed, "give us no purchase" on theological propositions--even if the latter are true--and theology therefore cannot influence scientific explanation or theory justification. Thus, science is said to be religiously neutral, if only because science and religion are, by their very natures, epistemically distinct. However, (...) the actual practice and content of science challenge this claim. In many areas, science is anything but religiously neutral; moreover, the standard arguments for methodological naturalism suffer from various grave shortcomings. [This is the first part of a two-part article.]. (shrink)
Only in rational creatures is there found a likeness of God which counts as an image . . . . As far as a likeness of the divine nature is concerned, rational creatures seem somehow to attain a representation of [that] type in virtue of imitating God not only in this, that he is and lives, but especially in this, that he understands (ST Ia Q.93 a.6).