Sceptical theists--e.g., William Alston and Michael Bergmann--have claimed that considerations concerning human cognitive limitations are alone sufficient to undermine evidential arguments from evil. We argue that, if the considerations deployed by sceptical theists are sufficient to undermine evidential arguments from evil, then those considerations are also sufficient to undermine inferences that play a crucial role in ordinary moral reasoning. If cogent, our argument suffices to discredit sceptical theist responses to evidential arguments from evil.
The main aim in the forthcoming discussion is to contrast theistic modal realism and theistic actualist realism. Actualist realism is the dominant view among theists and presents the most serious challenge to theistic modal realism. I discuss various prominent forms of theistic actualist realism. I offer reasons for rejecting the view of metaphysical reality that actualist realism affords. I discuss theistic modal realism and show that the traditional conception of God is perfectly consistent with the metaphysics of genuine modal realism. (...) Indeed theistic modal realism is more suited to traditional theism than is any version of actualist realism. (shrink)
In Sections 1–7, I provide a detailed description of some of the advantages of theistic modal realism. The aim is to show specifically how theistic modal realism solves many of the intractable problems of philosophical theology. A detailed description of all of the advantages would require a much longer treatment. The aim is to give a good sense of the theoretical benefits that theistic modal realism affords traditional theists. I offer some concluding remarks in Section 8.
_The Metaphysics of Perfect Beings_ addresses the problems an Anselmian perfect being faces in contexts involving unlimited options. Recent advances in the theory of vagueness, the metaphysics of multiverses and hyperspace, the theory of dynamic or sequential choice, the logic of moral and rational dilemmas, and metaethical theory provide the resources to formulate the new challenges and the Anselmian responses with an unusual degree of precision. Almeida shows that the challenges arising in the unusual contexts involving unlimited options sometimes produce (...) metaphysical surprise. (shrink)
Nick Trakakis and Yujin Nagasawa criticise the argument in Almeida and Oppy . According to Trakakis and Nagasawa, we are mistaken in our claim that the sceptical theist response to evidential arguments from evil is unacceptable because it would undermine ordinary moral reasoning. In their view, there is no good reason to think that sceptical theism leads to an objectionable form of moral scepticism. We disagree. In this paper, we explain why we think that the argument of Nagasawa and Trakakis (...) fails to overthrow our objection to sceptical theism. (shrink)
Property-identical divine-command theory (PDCT) is the view that being obligatory is identical to being commanded by God in just the way that being water is identical to being H2O. If these identity statements are true, then they express necessary a posteriori truths. PDCT has been defended in Robert M. Adams (1987) and William Alston (1990). More recently Mark C. Murphy (2002) has argued that property-identical divine-command theory is inconsistent with two well-known and well-received theses: the free-command thesis and the supervenience (...) thesis. I show that Murphy's argument is vitiated by mistaken assumptions about the substitutivity of metaphysical identicals in contexts of supervenience. The free-command thesis and the supervenience thesis therefore pose no serious threat to PDCT. (Published Online August 11 2004). (shrink)
The book discusses the structure, content, and evaluation of cosmological arguments. The introductory chapter investigates features essential to cosmological arguments. Traditionally, cosmological arguments are distinguished by their appeal to change, causation, contingency or objective becoming in the world. But none of these is in fact essential to the formulation of cosmological arguments. Chapters 1-3 present a critical discussion of traditional Thomistic, Kalam, and Leibnizian cosmological arguments, noting various advantages and disadvantages of these approaches. Chapter 4 offers an entirely new approach (...) to the cosmological argument - the approach of theistic modal realism. The proper explananda of cosmological arguments on this approach is not change, causation, contingency or objective becoming in the world. The proper explananda is the totality of metaphysical reality - all actualia and all possibilia. The result is the most compelling and least objectionable version of the cosmological argument. (shrink)
A Moderate Anselmian Plea -- Metaphysical Atheological Arguments and the Free Will Defense -- Three Important Objections -- Unrestricted Actualization, Freedom and Morally Perfect Worlds -- The Logical Problem of Evil Redux -- Four Important Objections -- Four More Objections -- Redeeming Worlds -- Conclusions.
I distinguish restrictive and permissive multiverse solutions to the problems of evil and no best world. Restrictive multiverses do not admit a single instance of gratuitous evil and they are not improvable. I show that restrictive multiverses unacceptably entail that all modal distinctions collapse. I consider Timothy O’Connor’s permissive multiverse. I show that a perfect creator minimizes aggregative suffering in permissive multiverses only if the actual universe is not included in any actualizable multiverse. I conclude that permissive multiverses do not (...) offer a credible solution to the problems of evil and no best world. (shrink)
There is an intriguing recent effort to develop a valid cosmological argument on the basis of quite minimal assumptions.1 Indeed, the basis of the new cosmological argument is so slight that it is likely to make even a conscientious theist suspicious – to say nothing of our vigilant atheists. In Section 1 we present the background assumptions and central premises of the new cosmological argument. We are sympathetic to the conclusion that there necessarily exists an intelligent and powerful creator of (...) the actual universe, but we show in Section 2 that the new cosmological argument cannot establish this claim. Speciﬁcally, we show by reductio ad absurdum that the new argument is unsound, and that every plausibly modiﬁed version of the argument is also unsound.2 We close our discussion with a diagnosis of what went wrong in the new cosmological argument. Our conclusion is that this intriguing new argument promises considerably more than it can show. (shrink)
I argue that Anselmians ought to abandon traditional Anselmianism in favor of Moderate Anselmianism. Moderate Anselmianism advances the view that a being x = God iff for every essential property P of x, it is secondarily necessary that x has P, for most essential properties of x, it is not primarily necessary that x has P and the essential properties of x include omnipotence, omniscience, perfect goodness and necessary existence. Traditional Anselmians have no cogent response to most a priori atheological (...) arguments. But a priori atheological arguments present no serious problem for moderate Anselmians. Unlike traditional Anselmianism, Moderate Anselmianism explains why a priori atheological arguments can be convincing and nonetheless illusory. (shrink)
In a recent article in Philo I critique William Rowe’s new evidential argument from evil. Richard Carrier claims I advance an argument for theism in that article and proposes a counterexample to that argument. I show that Carrier’s counterexample fails for reasons that are fairly obvious. I then offer help. The best chance for a counterexample to the argument I offer comes from the possibility of cryptid creatures. But it is not difficult to show that counterexamples from cryptic creatures also (...) fail. I conclude that these critical observations present no interesting problem for the defeat of Rowe’s new argument. (shrink)
Standard dyadic deontic logic (as well as standard deontic logic) has recently come under attack by moral philosophers who maintain that the axioms of standard dyadic deontic logic are biased against moral theories which generate moral conflicts. Since moral theories which generate conflicts are at least logically tenable, it is argued, standard dyadic deontic logic should be modified so that the set of logically possible moral theories includes those which generate such conflicts. I argue that (1) there are only certain (...) types of moral conflicts which are interesting, and which have worried moral theorists, (2) the modification of standard dyadic deontic logic along the lines suggested by those who defend the possibility of moral conflicts makes possible only uninteresting types of moral conflicts, and (3) the general strategy of piecemeal modification standard dyadic deontic logic is misguided: the possibility of interesting moral conflicts cannot be achieved in that way. (shrink)
Recent work in moral theory includes an intriguing new argument that the vagueness of moral properties, together with two well-known and well-received metaethical principles, entails the incredible conclusion that it is impossible to be moral. I show that the argument equivocates between “it is true that A and B are morally indistinguishable” and “it is not false that A and B are morally indistinguishable.” As expected the argument is interesting but unsound. It is therefore not impossible to be moral.Les travaux (...) récents en théorie morale comprennent un nouvel argument intrigant voulant que le caractère vague des propriétés morales, joint à deux principes métaéthiques bien connus et généralement admis, entraîne une conclusion incroyable, soit qu’il est impossible d’être moral. Je montre que cet argument entretient l’équivoque entre «il est vrai que A et B sont moralement impossibles à distinguer» et «il n’est pas faux que A et B soient moralement impossibles à distinguer». Comme on s’y attendait, l’argument est intéressant mais mal fondé. Il n’est donc pas impossible d’être moral. (shrink)
ABSTRACT: Recent work in moral theory includes an intriguing new argument that the vagueness of moral properties, together with two well-known and well-received metaethical principles, entails the incredible conclusion that it is impossible to be moral. I show that the argument equivocates between “it is true that A and B are morally indistinguishable” and “it is not false that A and B are morally indistinguishable.” As expected the argument is interesting but unsound. It is therefore not impossible to be moral.RÉSUMÉ: (...) Les travaux récents en théorie morale comprennent un nouvel argument intrigant voulant que le caractère vague des propriétés morales, joint à deux principes métaéthiques bien connus et généralement admis, entraîne une conclusion incroyable, soit qu’il est impossible d’être moral. Je montre que cet argument entretient l’équivoque entre «il est vrai que A et B sont moralement impossibles à distinguer» et «il n’est pas faux que A et B soient moralement impossibles à distinguer». Comme on s’y attendait, l’argument est intéressant mais mal fondé. Il n’est donc pas impossible d’être moral. (shrink)
The celebrated free-will defence was designed to show that the ideal-world thesis presents no challenge to theism. The ideal-world thesis states that, in any world in which God exists, He can actualize a world containing moral good and no moral evil. I consider an intriguing two-stage argument that Michael Bergmann advances for the free-will defence, and show that the argument provides atheologians with no reason to abandon the ideal-world thesis. I show next that the existence of worlds in which every (...) essence is transworld untrustworthy provides atheologians with no better reason to abandon the ideal-world thesis. I conclude that neither the free-will defence nor Bergmann's revised free-will defence is a convincing response to the atheological challenge. (Published Online February 17 2004). (shrink)
Michael Martin introduces a non-Humean conception of miracles according to which miracles are events that need not violate a law of nature and are brought about by the exercise of a possibly non-theistic, supernatural power. Call those m-miracles. I consider Martin’s argument that the occurrence of an m-miracle would not confirm the existence of God. Martin presents an interesting argument, but it does not establish that m-miracles would not confirm the existence God. I argue that, on the contrary, it is (...) quite reasonable to conclude that Martin’s m-miracles provide at least some confirmation for the hypothesis that God exists. (shrink)
William Rowe argues that an essentially perfectly good being could not actualize a world unless there is no better world it could actualize instead. According to Rowe’s Argument from Improvability, if there is an infinite series of ever-improving and actualizable worlds then a perfect being could actualize exactly none of them. I argue that there is no reason to believe Rowe’s argument is sound. It therefore presents no important objection to theism.
The standard position on moral perfection and gratuitous evil makes the prevention of gratuitous evil a necessary condition on moral perfection. I argue that, on any analysis of gratuitous evil we choose, the standard position on moral perfection and gratuitous evil is false. It is metaphysically impossible to prevent every gratuitously evil state of affairs in every possible world. No matter what God does—no matter how many gratuitously evil states of affairs God prevents—it is necessarily true that God coexists with (...) gratuitous evil in some world or other. Since gratuitous evil cannot be eliminated from metaphysical space, the existence of gratuitous evil presents no objection to essentially omnipotent, essentially omniscient, essentially morally perfect, and necessarily existing beings. (shrink)
Ted Sider’s Proportionality of Justice condition requires that any two moral agents instantiating nearly the same moral state be treated in nearly the same way. I provide a countermodel in supervaluation semantics to the proportionality of justice condition. It is possible that moral agents S and S' are in nearly the same moral state, S' is beyond all redemption and S is not. It is consistent with perfect justice then that moral agents that are not beyond redemption go determinately to (...) heaven and moral agents that are beyond all redemption go determinately to hell. I conclude that moral agents that are in nearly the same moral state may be treated in very unequal ways. (shrink)