We argue that there is a conflict among classical theism's commitments to divine simplicity, divine creative freedom, and omniscience. We start by defining key terms for the debate related to classical theism. Then we articulate a new argument, the Aloneness Argument, aiming to establish a conflict among these attributes. In broad outline, the argument proceeds as follows. Under classical theism, it's possible that God exists without anything apart from Him. Any knowledge God has in such a world would be wholly (...) intrinsic. But there are contingent truths in every world, including the world in which God exists alone. So, it's possible that God contingently has wholly intrinsic knowledge. But whatever is contingent and wholly intrinsic is an accident. So, God possibly has an accident. This is incompatible with classical theism. Finally, we consider and rebut several objections. (shrink)
The End of the Timeless God considers two approaches to the philosophy of time, presentism and eternalism. It is often held that God cannot be timeless if presentism is true, but can be if eternalism is true. R. T. Mullins draws on recent work in the philosophy of time as well as the work of classical Christian thinkers such as Augustine, Anselm, and Aquinas to contend that the Christian God cannot be timeless in either case.
In recent years the doctrine of divine simplicity has become a topic of interest in the philosophical theological community. In particular, the modal collapse argument against divine simplicity has garnered various responses from proponents of divine simplicity. Some even claiming that the modal collapse argument is invalid. It is our contention that these responses have either misunderstood or misstated the argument, and have thus missed the force of the objection. Our main aim is to clarify what the modal collapse argument (...) in fact says, and explain why the recent responses do not succeed. In order to argue our case, we will proceed in several steps. First, we aim to systematically articulate the doctrine of divine simplicity. Second, articulate the Christian conviction that God is free to create any feasible world or no world at all. Third, argue that divine simplicity suffers a modal collapse and thus undermines God's freedom. Fourth, respond to potential objections to modal collapse. Fifth, we offer some concluding remarks. (shrink)
In certain theological circles today, panentheism is all the rage. One of the most notorious difficulties with panentheism lies in figuring out what panentheism actually is. There have been several attempts in recent literature to demarcate panentheism from classical theism, neo-classical theism, open theism, and pantheism. I shall argue that these attempts to demarcate panentheism from these other positions fail. Then I shall offer my own demarcation.
An introductory exploration on the nature of emotions, and examination of some of the critical issues surrounding the emotional life of God as they relate to happiness, empathy, love, and moral judgments. Covering the different criteria used in the debate between impassibility and passibility, readers can begin to think about which emotions can be predicated of God and which cannot.
Christian theism claims that God is in some sense responsible for the existence and nature of time. There are at least two options for understanding this claim. First, the creationist option, which says that God creates time. Second, the identification view, which says that time is to be identified with God. Both options will answer the question, “what is time?” differently. I shall consider different versions of the creationist option, and offer several objections that the view faces. I will also (...) consider different versions of the identification view, and argue that the objections it faces can be refuted. (shrink)
The paper proposes a revised logic of rights in order to accommodate moral conflict. There are often said to be two rival philosophical accounts of rights with respect to moral conflict. Specificationists about rights insist that rights cannot conflict, since they reflect overall deontic conclusions. Generalists instead argue that rights reflect pro tanto constraints on behaviour. After offering an overview of the debate between generalists and specificationists with respect to rights, I outline the challenge of developing a logic of rights-reasoning (...) that is compatible with generalism. I then proceed to offer a new logical framework, which utilizes a simple non-monotonic logic of practical reasoning. Both generalist and specificationist interpretations of the logic are explored. The revised logic shows that traditional characterizations of the debate between specificationists and generalists obscure other relevant philosophical positions. (shrink)
Four-dimensionalism and eternalism are theories on time, change, and persistence. Christian philosophers and theologians have adopted four-dimensional eternalism for various reasons. In this paper I shall attempt to argue that four-dimensional eternalism conflicts with Christian thought. Section I will lay out two varieties of four-dimensionalism—perdurantism and stage theory—along with the typically associated ontologies of time of eternalism and growing block. I shall contrast this with presentism and endurantism. Section II will look at some of the purported theological benefits of adopting (...) four-dimensionalism and eternalism. Section III will examine arguments against four-dimensional eternalism from the problem of evil. Section IV will argue that four-dimensional eternalism causes problems for Christian eschatology. (shrink)
Within contemporary evangelical theology, a peculiar controversy has been brewing over the past few decades with regard to the doctrine of the Trinity. A good number of prominent evangelical theologians and philosophers are rejecting the doctrine of divine processions within the eternal life of the Trinity. In William Hasker’s recent Metaphysics and the Tri-Personal God, Hasker laments this rejection and seeks to offer a defense of this doctrine. This paper shall seek to accomplish a few things. In section I, I (...) shall first set the stage for a proper understanding of the discussion. Section II will articulate the basic Trinitarian desiderata that must be satisfied by any model of the doctrine of the Trinity. This will help one understand the debate between Hasker and the procession deniers. Section III will offer an articulation of what the doctrine of divine processions teaches. Section IV will examine Hasker’s defense of the doctrine point by point. I shall argue that his defense of the doctrine of the divine processions fails. (shrink)
ABSTRACTAccording to the prioritized reason model of precedent, precedential constraint is explained in terms of the need for decision-makers to reconcile their decisions with a settled priority order extracted from past cases. The prioritized reason model of precedent departs from the view that common law rules comprise protected reasons for action. In this article I show that a model utilizing protected reasons and the prioritized reason model of precedential constraint are, in an important sense, equivalent. I then offer some reflections (...) on the philosophical significance of this result. I argue that the protected reason model is consistent with the phenomenology of precedential constraint. I suggest an account of precedential reasoning that reconciles the prioritized reason and protected reason models. (shrink)
Proclus (c.412-485) once offered an argument that Christians took to stand against the Christian doctrine of creation ex nihilo based on the eternity of the world and God’s perfection. John Philoponus (c.490-570) objected to this on various grounds. Part of this discussion can shed light on contemporary issues in philosophical theology on divine perfection and creation. First I will examine Proclus’ dilemma and John Philoponus’ response. I will argue that Philoponus’ fails to rebut Proclus’ dilemma. The problem is that presentism (...) is incompatible with divine simplicity, timelessness, and a strong doctrine of immutability. From there I will look at how this discussion bears on contemporary understandings of divine perfection and creation, and argue that there are at least two possible ways contemporary philosophical theologians can try to get around the dilemma. One option is to adopt four-dimensional eternalism and maintain the traditional account of the divine perfections. I argue that this option suffers from difficulties that are not compatible with Christian belief. The other option is to keep presentism and modify the divine perfections. I argue that this option is possible and preferable since our understanding of the divine perfections must be modified in light of divine revelation and the incarnation. (shrink)
Some legal philosophers regard the use of deontic language to describe the law as philosophically significant. Joseph Raz argues that it gives rise to ‘the problem of normativity of law’. He develops an account of what he calls ‘detached’ legal statements to resolve the problem. Unfortunately, Raz’s account is difficult to reconcile with the orthodox semantics of deontic language. The article offers a revised account of the distinction between committed and detached legal statements. It argues that deontic statements carry a (...) Gricean generalized conversational implicature to the effect that the rules in question reflect the speaker’s own commitments. Detached legal statements are made when this implicature is either explicitly cancelled or when the conversational context is sufficient to defeat the implicature. I conclude by offering some tentative reflections on the theoretical significance of deontic language in the law. (shrink)
Sam Lebens offers an intriguing set of arguments from theism to idealism. In this paper, I shall focus on the argument from perfect rationality to Hassidic Idealism. I will offer a critical analysis of this argument and draw out a series of conflicts between Hassidic Idealism and divine freedom, the divine ideas, and creation ex nihilo.
I greatly appreciate Thomas Flint’s reply to my paper, “Flint’s ‘Molinism and the Incarnation’ is too Radical.” In my original paper I argue that the Christology and eschatology of Flint’s paper “Molinism and the Incarnation” is too radical to be considered orthodox. I consider it an honor that a senior scholar, such as Flint, would concern himself with my work in the first place. In this response to Flint’s reply I will explain why I still find Flint’s Christology and eschatology (...) to be too radical. Below I shall attempt to address various issues raised by Flint in his reply. (shrink)
Divine temporality is all the rage in certain theological circles today. Some even suggesting that the doctrine of the Trinity entails divine temporality. While I find this claim a bit strong, I do think that divine temporality can be quite useful for developing a robust model of the Trinity. However, not everyone agrees with this. Paul Helm has offered an objection to the so-called Oxford school of divine temporality based on the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. He has argued that (...) this form of divine temporality entails Arianism. In other words, divine temporality suffers from an inadequate doctrine of the Trinity. In this paper I shall first articulate the so-called Oxford school of divine temporality. From there I shall develop some of the Oxford school’s theological benefits that help flesh out the doctrine of the Trinity, and assuage the charge of Arianism. Then I shall offer an examination and refutation of the Arian charge to divine temporality in order to show that the divine temporalist can maintain a robust Trinitarian theology. (shrink)
In a recent paper on panentheism, Raphael Lataster and Purushottama Bilimoria offer a critique of several contemporary attempts to define what panentheism is and what panentheism is not. Lataster and Bilimoria find the recent attempts to define panentheism deficient. In particular, they find my approach to panentheism to be riddled with problems. In my reply, I explain that Lataster and Bilimoria have failed to explain what panentheism is and what it is not.
Dean Zimmerman has made significant contributions to metaphysics, philosophy of time, and philosophy of religion. In this paper, I set my focus on Zimmerman’s approach to God, time, and creation. Zimmerman has defended a model of God called open theism on which God is essentially temporal. In this paper, I will first articulate open theism. Then I will explore a series of puzzles related to God’s perfect rationality and creation. These can be stated as the following three questions. Why didn’t (...) God create sooner? Why did God create anything at all? Why did God create this universe in particular? (shrink)
In this paper, I offer some brief reflections on Jordan Wessling’s book, Love Divine: A Systematic Account of God’s Love for Humanity. I explain what I take to be its strengths in articulating an account of divine love that solves a variety of problems that classical theism cannot solve. Then I articulate a potential problem for Wessling’s account of divine love and hell.
Have you ever wondered what God’s inner emotional life might be like? Within Christian thought, there are conflicting answers to this question. The majority of Christian theologians throughout history have said that God cannot be moved by creatures to feel anything. God does not literally have empathy, mercy, or compassion. Instead, God only feels pure undisturbed happiness. This view is called divine impassibility. In the 20 th Century, Christian theologians by and large came to reject this understanding of God in (...) favour of divine passibility which affirms that God can be moved by creatures, and God can literally have empathy, mercy, and compassion. Yet the 21 st Century has seen a renewed interest in this more historical understanding of God. How Christianity came to have two radically different portrayals of God is a puzzle, to be sure, but that is not one that I shall try to address here. Instead, my interest is in unpacking these two different conceptions of God, and briefly offering reasons for affirming divine passibility. The reasons that I discuss centre around a central theme within Christian thought—the goal of entering into a close, personal relationship with God. I start by defining some key terms, and then proceed to offer two arguments in favour of divine passibility. The first is the problem of knowing God well, and the second is based on the human desire for empathy. (shrink)
Reasons-based accounts of our normative conclusions face difficulties in distinguishing between what ought to be done and what is required. This article addresses this problem from a formal perspective. I introduce a rudimentary formalization of a reasons-based account and demonstrate that that the model faces difficulties in accounting for the distinction between oughts and requirements. I briefly critique attempts to distinguish between oughts and requirements by appealing to a difference in strength or weight of reasons. I then present a formalized (...) reasons-based account of permissions, oughts and requirements. The model exploits Joshua Gert (2004; 2007) and Patricia Greenspan’s (2005; 2007; 2010) suggestion that some reasons perform a purely justificatory function. I show that the model preserves the standard entailment relationships between requirements, oughts and permissions. (shrink)
The thesis that law necessarily claims authority is popular amongst legal philosophers. Some distinguished legal philosophers, including the late John Gardner, Joseph Raz and Scott Shapiro, have suggested that support for this thesis is found in legal officials’ use of deontic language. This article begins by considering the merits of this suggestion. I discuss two unpromising arguments for the claim thesis based on the use of deontic language in law. I then suggest that a more plausible basis for the claim (...) thesis lies in the felicity conditions of the speech acts that legal officials perform. In the absence of an explicit claim to authority, legal officials make a presupposition to authority over their subjects. The presupposition arises from interaction between the felicity conditions of legal speech acts and basic norms of cooperative communication. I consider some implications of this conclusion for our understanding of legal authority. (shrink)
The article considers two different interpretations of the reason model of precedent pioneered by John Horty. On a plausible interpretation of the reason model, past cases provide reasons to prioritize reasons favouring the same outcome as a past case over reasons favouring the opposing outcome. Here I consider the merits of this approach to the role of precedent in legal reasoning in comparison with a closely related view favoured by some legal theorists, according to which past cases provide reasons for (...) undercutting (or ‘excluding’) reasons favouring the opposing outcome. After embedding both accounts within a general default logic, I note some important differences between the two approaches that emerge as a result of plausible distinctions between rebutting and undercutting defeat in formal models of legal reasoning. These differences stem from the ‘preference independence’ of undercutting defeat. Undercutting reasons succeed in defeating opposing reasons irrespective of their relative strength. As a result, the two accounts differ in their account of the way in which precedents constrain judicial reasoning. I conclude by suggesting that the two approaches can be integrated within a single model, in which the distinction between undercutting and rebutting defeat is used to account for the distinction between strict and persuasive forms of precedential constraint. (shrink)
Open theism denies that God has definite exhaustive foreknowledge, and affirms that God takes certain risks when creating the universe. Critics of open theism often complain that the risks are too high. Perhaps there is something morally wrong with God taking a risk in creating a universe with an open future. Open theists have tried to respond by clarifying how much risk is involved in God creating an open universe, though we argue that it remains unclear how much risk is (...) actually involved. We claim that open theists need to start developing theories about how God manages risks in order to bring about His purposes for the universe. In this article, we will take a philosophical and biological perspective on risk management that adds plausibility to open theism. We will consider how God can use different risk‐management, surveillance, and redundancy systems in the natural world in order to accomplish His goals. (shrink)
I consider a puzzle that arises when the logical principle known as “deontic detachment” is applied to the law. It is not possible to accept the principle of deontic detachment in a legal setting while also accepting that the so-called “social facts thesis” applies to all legal propositions. According to the social facts thesis, the existence and content of law is determined by the attitudes or practices of legal officials. Abandoning deontic detachment is not an appropriate solution to the problem—the (...) puzzle can be recreated with other plausible closure principles. The problem can be solved by restricting the social facts thesis to legal rules, rather than applying it to all legal propositions. Properly construed the social facts thesis does not apply to facts about what legally ought to be the case. (shrink)
In this paper, we conduct a secondary analysis of The Institute of Educational Sciences’ (IES) 2011-2012 Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) data, a self-reported, nationally representative database to examine: (a) the average caseload of students with disabilities and emergent bilingual learners within and across social studies content areas, as well how social studies teachers’ caseloads compare with other content area disciplines and (b) the extent and perceived utility of professional development opportunities social studies teachers receive to support both students with (...) disabilities and emergent bilingual learners. (shrink)
In a previous publication, I offered a novel argument against physicalist approaches to the Incarnation called “the Two Sons Worry.” In brief, I argued that a physicalist who is committed to the ecumenical teachings about the Incarnation cannot easily escape the worry that there are two persons in Jesus Christ. Keith Hess has recently pointed out a flaw in the argument that I present. In this paper, I offer a reply that fixes the argument, thus leaving the problem for the (...) physicalist intact. (shrink)
I argue that rights that protect our performance of roles are grounded in our interests in performing that role. Many of valuable roles are partly constituted by duties or obligations. Nonetheless these roles—even apparently burdensome roles—contribute to our interests. Once it is bestowed upon them, the role has special value to its bearer. Under certain conditions, the individual’s interest in performing their role is sufficient to ground rights. I conclude by briefly discussing the possibility of detached or non-committed rights attributions. (...) Within law and other systems of positive norms, role-based rights may also be attributed in a non-committed way in situations where it is believed by others that the roles in question are grounded in the interests of their bearers. (shrink)
According to the prioritized reason model of precedent, precedential constraint is explained in terms of the need for decision-makers to reconcile their decisions with a settled priority order extracted from past cases. The prioritized reason model of precedent departs from the view that common law rules comprise protected reasons for action. In this article I show that a model utilizing protected reasons and the prioritized reason model of precedential constraint are, in an important sense, equivalent. I then offer some reflections (...) on the philosophical significance of this result. I argue that the protected reason model is consistent with the phenomenology of precedential constraint. I suggest an account of precedential reasoning that reconciles the prioritized reason and protected reason models. (shrink)
William Hasker and I have a friendly disagreement over the doctrine of the Trinity. We both reject classical theistic attributes like divine timelessness and divine simplicity. Instead, we affirm that God is temporal and unified. Further, we reject so-called Latin models of the Trinity, and prefer social models of the Trinity. Where we disagree is over the doctrine of the processions of the Trinitarian persons. In this essay, I articulate some problems for the doctrine of the processions.
This book review is a thorough analysis of The Political Classroom: Evidence and Ethics in Democratic Education by Diana E. Hess and Paula McAvoy. These authors conducted a study that emphasizes the importance of deliberation of controversial political issues in the social studies classroom. This review analyzes the process of the study the authors conducted, what they discovered, and the implications of their findings for social studies educators and researchers. The authors shed light on how to implement empirical based strategies (...) and practices that support and foster deliberation. They also explain which methods should be avoided and why. This work is a significant contribution to the field of social studies and is part of an ongoing work in which Diana E. Hess continues to illuminate the need for more deliberation in the social studies classroom. (shrink)