Praised for its accessibility and comprehensiveness, Philosophy: The Quest for Truth provides an excellent selection of classical and contemporary readings on nineteen key problems in philosophy. Louis P. Pojman has carefully organized the essays in each section so that they present pro/con dialogues that allow students to compare and contrast the philosophers' positions. Topics covered include the nature of philosophy, the existence of God, immortality, knowledge, the mind-body question, personal identity, free will and determinism, ethics, political philosophy, and the (...) meaning of life. The sixth edition offers selections from Plato, Reni Descartes, John Locke, David Hume, William James, Bertrand Russell, John Hick, John Hospers, and James Rachels--as well as essays by Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, Blaise Pascal, Thomas Hobbes, George Berkeley, Immanuel Kant, Gilbert Ryle, Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre, Alvin Plantinga, and many others. In Philosophy: The Quest for Truth, Sixth Edition, Pojman offers substantial introductions to each of the nineteen philosophical problems. In addition, each of the seventy-six readings is accompanied by an individual introduction with a biographical sketch of the philosopher, study questions, and reflective questions that challenge students to analyze and critique the material. Short bibliographies following each major section and a detailed glossary further enhance the text's pedagogical value. Invaluable for introductory courses in philosophy, this highly acclaimed text inspires and guides students' quest for wisdom. New to the Sixth Edition:: * Six selections: William Lane Craig: The Kalam Cosmological Argument and the Anthropic Principle William Rowe: An Analysis of the Ontological Argument Daniel Dennett: Postmodernism and Truth William James: The Dilemma of Determinism Harry Frankfurt: Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person John Rawls: The Contemporary Liberal Answer * A student companion website -- http://www.oup.com/us/quest -- featuring study and review questions, discussion questions, chapter overviews and summaries, topical links, suggestions for further reading, and PowerPoint lecture aids * More exercises in the excursus on logic. (shrink)
In May 2010, philosophers, family and friends gathered at the University of Notre Dame to celebrate the career and retirement of Alvin Plantinga, widely recognized as one of the world's leading figures in metaphysics, epistemology, and the philosophy of religion. Plantinga has earned particular respect within the community of Christian philosophers for the pivotal role that he played in the recent renewal and development of philosophy of religion and philosophical theology. Each of the essays in this volume engages with (...) some particular aspect of Plantinga's views on metaphysics, epistemology, or philosophy of religion. Contributors include Michael Bergman, Ernest Sosa, Trenton Merricks, Richard Otte, Peter VanInwagen, Thomas P. Flint, Eleonore Stump, Dean Zimmerman and Nicholas Wolterstorff. The volume also includes responses to each essay by Bas van Fraassen, Stephen Wykstra, David VanderLaan, Robin Collins, Raymond VanArragon, E. J. Coffman, Thomas Crisp, and Donald Smith. (shrink)
In his recently published Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, & Naturalism 2011 Alvin Plantinga criticises Paul Draper’s evolutionary argument against theism as part of a larger project to show that evolution poses no threat to Christian belief. Plantinga focuses upon Draper’s probabilistic claim that the facts of evolution are much more probable on naturalism than on theism, and with regard to that claim makes two specific points. First, Draper’s probabilistic claim contradicts theism’s necessary falsehood; unless Draper wishes (...) to acknowledge that theism is necessarily true, his claim commits him to theism’s contingency and so sets him at odds with a mainstream that sees God’s existence as decidedly noncontingent. Second, Plantinga argues that Draper’s probabilistic claim is, even if true, overwhelmed by counterclaims about facts that are more likely on theism than naturalism. I argue this critique of Draper depends upon a serious error, and that Plantinga overlooks the full implications of his own presuppositions. Correcting these shortcomings shows that Plantinga’s own probabilistic-apologetics (e.g., the ‘Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism’) requires theism’s contingency no less than does Draper’s atheology. (shrink)
The philosophy of pattern cladism has been variously explained by reference to the work of Louis Agassiz. The present study analyzes Agassiz's attempt to combine an empirical approach to the study of nature with an idealistic philosophy. From this emerges the problem of empiricism and of the isomorphy between the order of nature and human thinking. The analysis of the writings of Louis Agassiz serves as the basis for discussion of the reality of natural groups as postulated by (...) pattern cladists. (shrink)
Harris and Brokmeyer met in 1858 at the St. Louis Mercantile Library, where Harris was offering a public lecture. Brokmeyer convinced Harris of the significance of Hegel’s system, and its relevance to the historical trends of American society. They immediately joined forces, attracting a number of other youthful followers with intellectual ambitions, many of whom were, like Harris, teachers in the public schools. The nascent Hegelian movement was temporarily stalled when Brokmeyer went off to serve as a Colonel in (...) the Union Army during the Civil War, but it rebounded in full force upon his return with the formation of the St. Louis Philosophical Society in 1866, and the launching of the Journal of Speculative Philosophy, the official organ of the Society, in 1867. (shrink)
The reputations of scientists among their contemporaries depend not only on accomplishment, but also on interactions affected by influence and personality. The historical lore of most fields of scientific endeavor preserve these reputations, often through the identification of founders, innovators, and prolific workers whose contributions are considered fundamental to progress in the field. Historians frequently rely on the historical lore of scientists to guide their studies of the development of ideas, exhibiting justifiable caution in reassessing reputations in the light of (...) current knowledge. However, the transmission of historical lore can obscure the relative importance of accomplishment, influence and personality in shaping contemporary reputations, leaving the historian to either accept reputations at face value or attempt to reconstruct the context in which they were created. The science of taxonomy, because of its rules of priority, leaves a relatively accurate record of historical accomplishment through the persistence of taxa in catalogues and faunal guides. These records allow the modern historian an unbiased means to assess the relative accomplishments of historical figures and therefore a means to critically reassess reputations independent of personality and influence. In the historical lore of North American ichthyology, Louis Agassiz at Harvard and Spencer Baird at the Smithsonian emerge as central figures in the early development of the field during the mid-1800s, contributing not only through the quality and quantity of their science, but also through their roles as institutional leaders and mentors to workers who followed. Charles Girard, originally a student of Agassiz's and later a coworker with Baird, receives little notice in the history of ichthyology, and his reputation is that of a minor player in the initial description of the North American fish fauna, and one whose work appears to have been flawed or even careless when compared to his contemporaries. However, a review of both contemporary and modern taxonomic works reveals that Girard's productivity far exceeded that of either Agassiz or Baird. Furthermore, an examination of the tendency of Girard and his contemporaries to introduce synonymous names into the literature, which might reflect careless or uncritical work, suggests that Girard was among the more accomplished workers of his era, including Agassiz and Baird. Girard's low ranking in the folklore of North American ichthyology, therefore, can not be attributed to discernible shortcomings in his scientific work, but rather to a public and private campaign of criticism waged by Agassiz after Girard's departure from Harvard. While Agassiz's dispute with Girard stemmed from their personal interactions, he expressed them as criticisms of Girard's work, and thus helped shape Girard's scientific reputation as it has been transmitted through the lore of ichthyology. This case study reveals how scientific reputation may not always rest on accomplishment, but can be influenced by personal interactions obscured by time but nonetheless important to history. (shrink)
Why should a citizen vote? There are two ways to interpret this question: in a prudential sense, and in a moral sense. Under the first interpretation, the question asks why—or under what circumstances—it is in a citizen's self-interest to vote. Under the second interpretation, it asks what moral reasons citizens have for voting. I shall mainly try to answer the moral version of the question, but my answer may also, in some circumstances, bear on the prudential question. Before proceeding to (...) my own approach, let me briefly survey alternatives in the field. (shrink)
By focussing on the logical relations between scientific theories and religious beliefs in his book Where the Conflict Really Lies, Alvin Plantinga overlooks the real conflict between science and religion. This conflict exists whenever religious believers endorse positive factual claims to truth concerning the supernatural. They thereby violate an important rule of scientific method and of common sense, according to which factual claims should be endorsed as true only if they result from validated epistemic methods or sources.
1. Mainstream Epistemology and Social Epistemology Epistemology has had a strongly individualist orientation, at least since Descartes. Knowledge, for Descartes, starts with the fact of one’s own thinking and with oneself as subject of that thinking. Whatever else can be known, it must be known by inference from one’s own mental contents. Achieving such knowledge is an individual, rather than a collective, enterprise. Descartes’s successors largely followed this lead, so the history of epistemology, down to our own time, has been (...) a predominantly individualist affair. There are scattered exceptions. A handful of historical epistemologists gave brief space to the question of knowing, or believing justifiably, based on the testimony of others. Testimony-based knowledge would be one step into a more social epistemology. Hume took it for granted that we regularly rely on the factual statements of others, and argued that it is reasonable to do so if we have adequate reasons for trusting the veracity of these sources. However, reasons for such trust, according to Hume, must rest on personal observations of people’s veracity or reliability.1 Thomas Reid took a different view. He claimed that our natural attitude of trusting others is reasonable even if we know little if anything about others’ reliability. Testimony, at least sincere testimony, is always prima facie credible (Reid, 1970: 240-241). Here we have two philosophers of the 18th century both endorsing at least one element of what nowadays is called “social epistemology.” But these points did not much occupy either Hume’s or Reid’s corpus of philosophical writing; nor were these passages much studied or cited by their contemporaries and immediate successors. Fast forward now to the second half of the 20th century. Here we find intellectual currents pointing toward the socializing of epistemology. Several of these movements, however, were centered outside of philosophy and never adopted the label of “social epistemology,” or adopted it only belatedly. (shrink)
In his recent work in social epistemology, Alvin Goldman argues that truth is the fundamental epistemic end of education, and that critical thinking is of merely instrumental value with respect to that fundamental end. He also argues that there is a central place for testimony and trust in the classroom, and an educational danger in over-emphasizing the fostering of students’ critical thinking. In this paper I take issue with these claims, and argue that critical thinking is a fundamental end (...) of education, independently of its instrumental tie to truth, and it is critical thinking, rather than testimony and trust,that is educationally basic. (shrink)
What are experts? Are there only experts in a subjective sense or are there also experts in an objective sense? And how, if at all, may non-experts recognize experts in an objective sense? In this paper, I approach these important questions by discussing Alvin I. Goldman's thoughts about how to define objective epistemic authority and about how non-experts are able to identify experts. I argue that a multiple epistemic desiderata approach is superior to Goldman's purely veritistic approach.
Alvin Plantinga è uno dei più importanti metafisici e filosofi della religione viventi. In questo profilo, dopo aver brevemente narrato la sua formazione intellettuale, considererò alcuni aspetti del suo pensiero: la teoria di Plantinga dei mondi possibili; la sua teoria della garanzia epistemica delle credenze, fondata sul concetto di funzione propria; la versione di Plantinga dell’argomento ontologico per provare l’esistenza di Dio; la sua critica dell’argomento del male per provare l'inesistenza di Dio; l’argomento di Plantinga contro il naturalismo.
The term “technological fix”, coined by technologist/administrator Alvin Weinberg in 1965, vaunted engineering innovation as a generic tool for circumventing problems commonly conceived as social, political or cultural. A longtime Director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, government consultant and essayist, Weinberg also popularized the term “Big Science” to describe national goals and the competitive funding environment after the Second World War. Big Science reoriented towards Technological Fixes, he argued, could provide a new “Apollo project” to address social problems of (...) the future. His ideas – most recently echoed in “solutionism” – have channeled confidence and controversy ever since. This paper traces the genesis and promotion of the concept by Weinberg and his contemporaries. It argues that, through it, the marginal politics and technological confidences of interwar scientists and technocrats were repositioned as mainstream notions closer to the heart of Big Science policy. (shrink)
ABSTRACTTo some extent, the early twentieth century revival of universal languages was the work of logicians and mathematicians. Pioneers of modern logic such as Frege, Russell and Peano wanted to overcome the diversity and deficiencies of natural languages. Through the rigour of formal logic, they aimed at providing scientific thinking with a reliable medium free from the ambiguity and inconsistencies of ordinary language. This article shows some interconnections between modern logic and the search for a common tongue that would unite (...) scientists and people of all nations. The French mathematician and philosopher Louis Couturat is a key figure in understanding the interplay between these two movements. Through his work in composing the Ido language as an alternative to Esperanto, Couturat gave a new life to the Leibnizian idea of a universal characteristics. In addition, his multifaceted work provides a valuable insight into some political implications of early analytic philosophy. (shrink)
This article examines a thesis of interest to social epistemology and some articulations of First Amendment legal theory: that a free market in speech is an optimal institution for promoting true belief. Under our interpretation, the market-for-speech thesis claims that more total truth possession will be achieved if speech is regulated only by free market mechanisms; that is, both government regulation and private sector nonmarket regulation are held to have information-fostering properties that are inferior to the free market. After discussing (...) possible counterexamples to the thesis, the article explores the actual implications of economic theory for the emergence of truth in a free market for speech. When confusions are removed about what is maximized by perfectly competitive markets, and when adequate attention is paid to market imperfections, the failure of the market-for-speech thesis becomes clear. The article closes by comparing the properties of a free market in speech with an adversarial system of discourse. (shrink)
In Warranted Christian Belief, Alvin Plantinga makes use of his earlier two books, Warrant: the Current Debate and Warrant and Proper Function, to show how it is possible for someone to have a warranted belief that God exists and that all of the great things of the Christian Gospel are true even if the believer is unable to give any argument to support these beliefs. Three objections are lodged against Plantinga’s position. First, the alleged sensus divinitatis and the internal (...) instigation of the Holy Spirit are crucially disanalogous to the cognitive faculties, such as memory and perception, in the standard package, thereby destroying his argument based on an analogy between the former and the latter. Second, in order to defeat defeaters for these beliefs one must give arguments, thus merely relocating the point at which the believer must produce argumentative support for her belief. Third, there are moral defeaters for exclusivist basic theistic and Christian beliefs based on the undesirable consequences of such beliefs. (shrink)
In this paper, I investigate Louis de La Forge's argument against body–body causation. His general strategy exploits the impossibility of bodies communicating their movement by transfer of motion. I call this the ‘non-transfer’ argument . NT allows La Forge both to reinterpret continuous creation in an occasionalistic fashion and to support his non-occasionalistic view concerning mind–body union. First, I present how NT emerges in Descartes’ own texts. Second, I show how La Forge recasts it to draw an occasionalistic account (...) of body–body interactions, and I discuss how La Forge supports NT with continuous creation. Third, I conclude by suggesting that this further step of his argument does not undermine his non-occasionalistic account of mind–body union. (shrink)
The title of this article is ambiguous in the sense that it may direct the attention to either theism as a system of beliefs of persons who are referring to particular facts that serve as external grounds for the foundation of theist beliefs or to theism as a system of beliefs of persons who are convinced of theism’s truth on grounds that are intrinsic to their belief . Traces of both conceptions of theism can be found in Alvin Plantinga’s (...) thesis of the ‘proper basicality’ of religious belief, for instance in the distinction between evidence of the ‘on the basis of …’- type and evidence of the ‘inclination’- type. However, these two types of evidence do only lead to doxastic experience. In order to be warranted with respect to a particular knowledge claim, beliefs must be produced by noetic capacities that function properly, i.e. according to their design plan and in contexts that are appropriate to these capacities. This externalist epistemology exerts its greatest power in the criticism of the ‘evidentialist objection to belief in God’. However, it raises a number of objections with respect to its positive account of theism. When every community of thinkers creates its own relevant set of examples in order to establish criteria of proper basicality, does this not lead to skepticism? And, can doxastic experience not be honoured as a proper response to being called by divine discourse and, correspondingly, be seen as the relational foundation of theist belief? (shrink)
In his recent two volumes on epistemology, Alvin Plantinga surveys contemporary theories of knowledge thoroughly, and carefully defends an externalist epistemology. He promises that in a third volume, Warranted Christian Belief, he will present John Calvin's sensus divinitatis as an epistemic module akin to sense perception, a priori knowledge, induction, testimony and other epistemic modules. Plantinga defines the sensus divinitatis as a ‘many sided disposition to accept belief in God in a variety of circumstances’. Like other epistemic modules, it (...) produces beliefs in an appropriate cognitive environment, aims at the production of true beliefs, and generates beliefs which have a high statistical probability of being true. (shrink)
In a careful exposition of French Marxism, William Lewis places Althusser and his thought alongside the pre- and post-war French communist intellectual climate: the result is an excellent and unique work. Part theoretical treatise on some of Althusser's more complicated and less explored ideas, part intellectual history, Louis Althusser and the Traditions of French Marxism is, in total, an important text for philosophy, French and francophone studies, political thought, cultural studies, marxist thought, and several other disciplines interested in the (...) intellectual life and times of the twientieth century. (shrink)
In this article, I argue that Wang Yangming'sNeo-Confucian religious beliefs can bewarranted, and that the rationality of hisreligious beliefs constitutes a significantdefeater for the rationality of Christianbelief on Alvin Plantinga's theory of warrant. I also question whether the notion of warrantas proper function can adequately account fortheories of religious knowledge in which theaffections play an integral role. Idemonstrate how a consideration of Wang'sepistemology reveals a difficulty forPlantinga's defense of the rationality ofChristian belief and highlights a limitation ofPlantinga's current conception (...) of warrant asproper function. (shrink)
This book is a tribute to the thought and person of Louis Dupré. The editors caution that this “is not a Festschrift” because the work and wisdom of Dupré continue to expand even after his retirement from Yale as T. Lawrason Riggs Professor in the Philosophy of Religion.
In eighteenth-century French natural history, the notion of preformation was not only a model for a small preexisting embryo that gradually extended its shape through the influx of particles, but also for an order that coordinated the dynamic relation between organic parts. Preformation depended therefore also on a hidden order behind the continuity of visible forms. Louis Bourguet, Charles Bonnet, and Georges Cuvier distinguished three organizational levels: First, the synchronic or functional order of organic systems; second, the diachronic order (...) of the initiation of mechanical processes; and third, the hierarchical order that regulates the interaction of organic parts. In this essay, I reconstruct and compare the three organizational levels in the writings of Bourguet, Bonnet and Cuvier, relate their models of organic unity to the principle of perfection, and contrast these models with Georges Buffon's critique of system theories. (shrink)
James Beilby’s Epistemology as Theology is the first monograph to address Alvin Plantinga’s completed Warrant Trilogy. The book provides a thorough introduction to Plantinga’s current religious epistemology, but readers hoping for a critical treatment of Plantinga will be largely disappointed: while Beilby does level criticisms against Plantinga, he often underestimates their significance. One of Beilby’s main goals is to sketch out how a version of Reformed epistemology, even if not exactly Plantinga’s version, can withstand its critics. I provide a (...) chapter-by-chapter examination of Beilby’s book, and argue his defense of Reformed epistemology is not obviously a significant improvement over Plantinga’s. (shrink)
In theological and philosophical circles, religious experience has often been described in terms of a direct encounter with the supernatural that exceeds the possibilities of normal human experience. More recently, however, select scholars have endeavored to explore the respects in which ordinary aesthetic experiences might serve as a site for mediated encounters with the divine. In this paper, I will argue that any attempt to establish the legitimacy of both direct and aesthetic religious experiences depends upon their placement within a (...) larger context, which recognizes the sense in which all forms of ordinary human experience may mediate an experience of God. In order to bolster this claim, I will begin with a critical assessment of the relevant work of Alvin Plantinga and Mark Wynn, who respectively offer accounts of direct and aesthetic religious experience. I will then show that neither account fully evades two main objections that tend to be leveled against accounts of religious experience. Following this discussion, I will develop an account of the way all ordinary human experiences may mediate religious experience, in conversation with Thomas Aquinas. Far from precluding narrower accounts of religious experience as direct or aesthetic, this account includes them in a way that makes it possible to determine their validity. (shrink)