A thorough examination of John Wesley’s writings will show that he was not a biblical literalist or infallibilist, despite his own occasional suggestions to the contrary. His most important principles for interpreting the Bible were: We should take its words literally only if doing so is not absurd, in which case we should “look for a looser meaning;” and “No Scripture can mean that God is not love, or that his mercy is not over all his works.” Eleven instances of (...) his not taking biblical texts literally are examined. His real view was something like this: Biblical language is infallibly and literally true if and only if it does not contradict more basic scriptures and is not absurd, that is, not construed literally when metaphorical, or not misleadingly metaphorical, or not oversimplified or exaggerated, or not culture bound, or not contrary to reason and experience, or not ethically unconscionable and unloving. (shrink)
Formulations of Mill's principle of utility are examined, and it is shown that Mill did not recognize a moral obligation to maximize the good, as is often assumed. His was neither a maximizing act nor rule utilitarianism. It was a distinctive minimizing utilitarianism which morally obligates us only to abstain from inflicting harm, to prevent harm, to provide for others minimal essentials of well being (to which rights correspond), and to be occasionally charitable or benevolent.
In this article I clarify the concepts of ‘pain’, ‘suffering’. ‘pains of body’, ‘pains of soul’. I explore the relevance of an ethic to the clinical setting which gives patients a strong prima facie right to freedom from unnecessary and unwanted pain and which places upon medical professionals two concomitant moral obligations to patients. First, there is the duty not to inflict pain and suffering beyond what is necessary for effective diagnosis. treatment and research. Next, there is the duty to (...) do all that can be done to relieve all the pain and suffering which can be alleviated. I develop in some detail that individuality of pain sensitivity must be taken into account in fulfihing these obligations. I explore the issue of the relevance of informed consent and the right to refuse treatment to the matter of pain relief. And I raise the question of what conditions, if anv, should override the right to refuse treatment where pain relief is of paramount concern. (shrink)
This article introduces Formal Axiology, first developed by Robert S. Hartman, and explains its essential features—a formal definition of “good” (the “Form of the Good”), three basic kinds of value and evaluation—systemic, extrinsic, and intrinsic, and the hierarchy of value according to which good things having the richest quantity and quality of good-making properties are better than those having less. Formal Axiology is extended into moral philosophy by applying the Form of the Good to persons and showing how this culminates (...) in an Axiological Virtue Ethics. This involves the systemic, extrinsic, and intrinsic goodness of persons, the intrinsic-good-making properties of persons, and the moral virtues that respect the intrinsic worth of persons in thoughts, feelings, and actions. A few obstacles to being and becoming morally good persons are also identified and explained. (shrink)
This article approaches Judaism through Rabbi Bradley S. Artson’s book, God of Becoming and Relationships: The Dynamic Nature of Process Theology. It explores his understanding of how Jewish theology should and does cohere with central features of both process theology and Robert S. Hartman’s formal axiology. These include the axiological/process concept of God, the intrinsic value and valuation of God and unique human beings, and Jewish extrinsic and systemic values, value combinations, and value rankings.
In his Edifying Discourses, Soren Kierkegaard published a sermon entitled ‘The Unchangeableness of God’ in which he reiterated the dogma which dominated Catholic, Protestant and even Jewish expressions of classical supernaturalist theology from the first century A.D. until the advent of process theology in the twentieth century. The dogma that as a perfect being, God must be totally unchanging in every conceivable respect was expressed by Kierkegaard in such ways as: He changes all, Himself unchanged. When everything seems stable and (...) in the overturn of all things, He remains equally unchanged; no change touches Him, not even the shadow of a change; in unaltered clearness He, the father of lights, remained eternally unchanged. 1. (shrink)
Today's conflicts between religions are grounded largely in historical injustices and grievances but partly in serious conceptual disagreements. This essay agrees with Miroslav Volf that a nontritheistic Christian account of the Trinity is highly desirable. Three traditional models of the Trinity are examined. In their pure, unmixed form, two of them should logically be acceptable to Jews, Muslims, and strict monotheists who regard Christianity as inherently tritheistic, despite lip service to one God. In the social model, three distinct self-aware subjects (...) are unified by being in perfect harmony with each other. Despite Volf's best defense of this, to conceive of three gods, this is how one would go about it. In the psychological model, one divine subject has three psychological capacities—memory, understanding, and will. In the functional model, one subject relates to the world in three different ways—as creator, redeemer, and companion. These two are genuinely monotheistic. Finally, a monotheistic account of the unity of Jesus with God is proposed for consideration. (shrink)
This article examines the process theodicies of David Ray Griffin and Philip Clayton. It explains their differences on such issues as God’s primordial power and voluntary self-limitation, creativity as an independent metaphysical principle that limits God, creation out of nothing or out of chaos, and God’s voluntary causal naturalism. Difficulties with their positions are discussed. The Clayton-Knapp “no-not-once” principle is explained, and a more comprehensive process theodicy is outlined.
Modern bioethics is clearly dominated by deontologists who believe that we have some way of identifying morally correct and incorrect acts or rules besides taking account of their consequences. Robert M. Veatch is one of the most outspoken of those numerous modern medical ethicists who agree in rejecting all forms of teleological, utilitarian, or consequentialist ethical theories. This paper examines his critique of utilitarianism and shows that the utilitarianism of John Stuart Mill is either not touched at all by his (...) critique or can be defended against it. This article argues that the dominant deontological majority is mistaken and that a utilitarian theory of moral action very much like Mill’s is precisely what is needed by modern medical ethics and by those medical practitioners who are resolved to practice medicine in a reasonable and morally acceptable manner. (shrink)
Conservative opponents of abortion hold that from the moment of conception, developing fetuses have (or may have) full humanity or personhood that gives them a moral standing equal to that of postnatal human beings. To have moral standing is to be a recognized member of the human moral community, perhaps having moral duties to others or rights against them, at least as being the recipient of duties owed by others. Conservatives give neo-conceptuses full moral standing, including a right to life (...) that is equal to adults. They sincerely equate feticidal abortions with murder. This article presents both legal and philosophical considerations that count strongly against this conservative position. (shrink)
Originally titled “Is It Murder in Tennessee to Kill a Chimpanzee,” this article argues in some detail that typical legal definitions of “murder” as involving the intentional killing of “a reasonable being” would require classifying the intentional killing of chimpanzees as murder.
This article argues for the formal validity of and the truth of the premises and conclusion of a version of Aquinas' "Third Way" that says: If each of the parts of nature is contingent, the whole of nature is contingent. Each of the parts of nature is contingent. Therefore, the whole of nature is contingent--where "contingent" means having a cause and not existing self-sufficiently.
Philosophers might be misled by the title of this book, particularly philosophers of religion. Although the author argues that some religious ideas are natural, he does not try to vindicate "natural religion" or "natural theology." Instead, he argues that some religious concepts are natural in that they depend on "noncultural constraints" like genetics and the effects of evolution on human brain development, and that these ideas are considered to be "perfectly obvious" and "self-evident" to those who hold them. Boyer focuses (...) on a few religious concepts which, though not absolutely universal, are nevertheless very widespread in human cultures. He warns that his approach has no "philosophical relevance" to the truth or falsity of these ideas and little significance for systematized theology. Boyer pays little attention to major world religions and, aside from a few references to Catholicism, concentrates upon primitive religions like that of the Fang peoples of Cameroon or the Aguaruna of the Peruvian Amazon, including their religious practices and social categories or roles, as well as their religious ideas. (shrink)
This article explores a form of ethics and spirituality based on the nearly universal but often undeveloped human capacity for identifying self with others and with non-personal values. It begins with commonplace non-moral identification experiences, then describes identification with others in ethical and spiritual unions. Freud’s psychological emphasis on identification is linked with ethics and spirituality, though Freud would have objected. Robert S. Hartman’s three kinds of goodness—systemic, extrinsic, and intrinsic—are applied to abundant ethical and spiritual living through identification. Intrinsic (...) identification with intrinsic values is the highest moral ideal; intrinsic identification with ultimate reality and with goodness in all its forms is the highest spiritual ideal. (shrink)
This article argues that not all arguments from parts to wholes commit the informal logical fallacy of composition,and especially not the cosmological argument for God which moves from the contingent existence of all the parts of the cosmos to the contingent existence of the whole.
The theses of this paper i: I. that the attempt to found absolute norns on rationality presupposes the availability of a single universal absolute conception of rationality but that no such conception is available; and II. that any conception of rationality which might be available for justifying one's ultimate normative commitments is itself evaluative. “Rationality” itself is a value-laden concept, as are all its philosophical sub-divisions—logic, ethics, aesthetics, axiology, etc. Choosing ultimate value principles under conditions of freedom, enlightenment, and impartiality (...) presupposes that one positively values such things. (shrink)
Most process theologians have rejected the creation of the world out of nothing, holding that our universe was created out of some antecedent universe. This article shows how on process grounds, and with faithfulness to much of what Whitehead had to say, process theologians can and should affirm the creation of our universe out of nothing. Standard process objections to this are refuted.
This article defends Marjorie Suchocki’s position against two main objections raised by David E. Conner. Conner objects that God as a single actual entity must be temporal because there is succession in God’s experience ofthe world. The reply is that time involves at least two successive occasions separated by perishing, but in God nothing ever perishes. Conner also objects that Suchocki’s personalistic process theism is not experiential but is instead theoretical and not definitive. The reply is that his dismissal of (...) Part V of PR is arbitrary, the interpretation of all experience is theoretical, and no metaphysical interpretations are absolutely definitive, including PR as a whole. Also, Conner ignores religious experience. (shrink)
This article argues that process philosophy and Hartmanian formal axiology are natural allies that can contribute much to each other. Hartmanian axiology can bring much needed order and clarity to process thought about the definitions of “good,” “better,” and “best,” about what things are intrinsically good, and about the nature and value of unique, enduring, individual persons. Process thought can bring to axiology greater clarity about and emphasis on the relational and temporal features of human selfhood. The nature and significance (...) of personal endurance is emphasized throughout. (shrink)
This is a serious critque of Whitehead's "epochal theory of time." It argues that our human experience of time is more like Whitehead's divine continuous concrescence than it is like temporal atomism. It offers additional arguments against temporal atomism at either the human or divine levels, and arguments for conceiving selves at both the divine and human levels as actual entities.
Rather than eliminate the terms "mental health and illness" because of the grave moral consequences of psychiatric labeling, conservative definitions are proposed and defended. Mental health is rational autonomy, and mental illness is the sustained loss of such. Key terms are explained, advantages are explored, and alternative concepts are criticized. The value and descriptive components of all such definitions are consciously acknowledged. Where rational autonomy is intact, mental hospitals and psychotherapists should not think of themselves as treating an illness. Instead, (...) they are functioning as applied axiologists, moral educators, spiritual mentors, etc. They deal with what Szasz has called "personal, social, and ethical problems in living." But mental illness is real. CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
This book presents Robert S. Hartman’s formal theory of value and critically examines many other twentieth century value theorists in its light, including A.J. Ayer, Kurt Baier, Brand Blanshard, Paul Edwards, Albert Einstein, William K. Frankena, R.M. Hare, Nicolai Hartmann, Martin Heidegger, G.E. Moore, P.H. Nowell-Smith, Jose Ortega y Gasset, Charles Stevenson, Paul W. Taylor, Stephen E. Toulmin, and J.O. Urmson.
This book explains and advances formal axiology as originally developed by Robert S. Hartman. Formal axiology identifies the general patterns involved in the meaning of "good" and other value concepts, in what we value , and in how we value.
This article tries to show that commonplace economic, ethico-religious, anti-racist,and logical-consistency objections to public funding of abortions and abortion counseling for poor women are quite weak. By contrast, arguments appealing to basic human rights to freedom of speech, informed consent, protection from great harm, justice and equal protection under the law, strongly support public funding. Thus, refusing to provide abortions at public expense for women who cannot afford them is morally unacceptable and rationally unjustifiable, despite the opinions of former Presidents (...) Reagan and Bush, the more conservative members of the Supreme Court of the United States, the current Congress, and the majority of the American people. (shrink)
Tom Regan's seafaring dog that is justifiably thrown out of the lifeboat built for four to save the lives of four humans has been the topic of much discussion. Critics have argued in a variety of ways that this dog nips at Regan's Achilles heel. Without reviewing previous discussions, with much of which I certainly agree, this article develops an unexplored approach to exposing the vulnerability of the position that Regan takes on sacrificing the dog to save the humans. It (...) argues that when dealing with the seafaring dog, Regan abandons his own principles, and that this is exactly what he should do. Regan should abandon his view that all subjects-of-a-life have equal inherent worth. (shrink)
The process claim that matter is mentally infused and that mind or consciousness is spatially and temporally extended is explored. The views of Peirce, Whitehead, Hartshorne, Cobb, Ford and Griffin on the following questions are examined: If spacy, where are the occasions of human consciousness, how are they related to the brain, how large are they, and can they be externally perceived directly or with instruments? It is proposed that what is internally experienced as human consciousness is objectively identical with (...) the synthetic unity of those brain waves known to be correlated with wakeful awareness. If so, modern scanning technology can literally find us in our brains. Possible objections are discussed. (shrink)
This volume contains the editor’s informative “Preface to the Period”, the Quaestio that Edwards submitted in 1723 to complete his master’s degree at Yale, and 19 sermons. Some of the sermons were first preached during 1723 and 1724 in Bolton, Connecticut, but most were composed between 1726 and 1729 in Northampton, Massachusetts while Edwards was junior minister in the church of Solomon Stoddard, his grandfather; a few originated after Stoddard’s death in February, 1729, when Edwards became sole minister of the (...) Northampton congregation. (shrink)
In this promising and well written book, the author struggles with the question of how basic religious beliefs can be groundless without being irrational. He notes that the axiomatic beliefs--philosophical, scientific, or religious--which ground all areas of human knowledge, are groundless in the sense of being unsupported by more primitive evidential considerations. He wishes to avoid purely non-cognitivist accounts of religious belief as purely subjective expressions of tastes, preferences, values, or arbitrary decisions, insisting that it makes sense to speak of (...) fundamental religious beliefs as being informative, true, and reasonable even though unsupported. They are not "hypotheses" whose truth value can be ascertained by identifying logically independent truth conditions. Rather, they closely resemble Wittgenstein's "certainties" in being unprovable beliefs that are so fundamental to our ways of thinking that even doubts about them would be groundless if doubts about them were well founded. Yet, basic religious beliefs are not quite certainties since they can be doubted intelligently "from outside" a given religious outlook, and since secular and religious alternatives to them are readily available. They are best classified as "principles," the author maintains, noting that contemporary philosophers seldom use this term any more even though it was part of our traditional stock-in-trade. Principles resemble certainties in being not grounded in other beliefs more basic than themselves and in sustaining, regulating, and informing other judgments and beliefs. The uniformity of nature, nothing vanishes without a trace, every event has a cause, the principle of sufficient reason, etc., are offered as examples of non-religious principles. Like these, religious principles "help believers to organize, to interpret, or to make sense out of their experience," and "their reasonableness depends on their power of illumination". Various religious principles are discussed which "vouch for a worthwhile ground or end in all that is, thereby enabling believers to pursue a meaningful existence". Belief in divine creation, and belief in predestination are discussed in some detail as examples of religious principles. It is reasonable to adopt principles if they are capacitating and to reject them if they are not, the author insists; so we are not irrational if we do not adopt every principle which comes our way. Basic religious beliefs such as belief in a Creator God, etc., are capacitating, we are told, in the sense that "they are discoveries of purpose and intimations of life's redeeming worth. If they are genuine, they show themselves in 'spiritual', inward capacities, such as the ability to consolidate one's selfhood, to resist despair, and to extend one's concern to others". (shrink)
This book critically explores answers to the big question, What produced our universe around fifteen billion years ago in a Big Bang? It critiques contemporary atheistic cosmologies, including Steady State, Oscillationism, Big Fizz, Big Divide, and Big Accident, that affirm the eternity and self-sufficiency of the universe without God. This study defends and revises Process Theology and arguments for God's existence from the universe's life-supporting order and contingent existence.
A typical dispute between a libertarian and a determinist will usually involve some reference to ‘self-determination’. The libertarian will perhaps claim that I am free when I am not determined in my choices by anything outside myself but instead determine my choices ‘myself’. To this the determinist is likely to reply that ‘self-determination’ is determination all the same and that he cannot see how the freedom of choice defended by the libertarian is an exception to determinism. This is where the (...) discussion usually ends in frustration. The belief may persist that something is being disputed, but no one is very sure what that thing is. From the frequency that the term ‘self-determination’ appears in discussions of freedom, it might be gathered that the notion is one of primary importance. Unfortunately, in spite of its centrality, the meaning of the term is often left extremely vague. Nevertheless, underlying every appearance of the term is a special theory of some kind about the nature of the self, and where there is no such theory the term is probably used without any meaning at all. (shrink)
Stephen H. Daniel's novel approach interprets the thought of Jonathan Edwards thorough semiotics, the theory of signs. He explicates the theory of signs that pervades Edwards' thought and associates it with elements of post-modernist semiotics in Foucault, Kristeva, and Peirce. He contends that Edwards himself developed a viable alternative to the classical-modern philosophical outlook by drawing explicitly upon the pre-modernist Renaissance propositional logic of Peter Ramus.
The book is written by members of the R.S. Hartman Institute for Formal and Applied Axiology to explain the significant advances which Hartman made in theoretical and applied axiology, to forge ahead where he left problems unsolved, and to develop applications of his theory of value in business, investments, psychology, education, ethics, cross cultural studies, and theology. Contents: Part I. Axiological Theory; Part II Applications of Axiology.