In a series of articles, Wes Morriston has launched what can only be considered a full-scale assault on the divine command theory (DCT) of morality. According to Morriston, proponents of this theory are committed to an alarming counterpossible: that if God did command an annual human sacrifice, it would be morally obligatory. Since only a ‘terrible’ deity would do such a ‘terrible’ thing, we should reject DCT. Indeed, if there were such a deity, the world would be a terrible place—certainly (...) far worse than it is. We argue that Morriston’s non-standard method for assessing counterpossibles of this sort is flawed. Not only is the savvy DCT-ist at liberty to reject it, but Morriston’s method badly misfires in the face of theistic activism—a metaphysical platform available to DCT-ists, according to which if God didn’t exist, neither would anything else. (shrink)
In this paper I shall argue two things. First, it is plausible to think that Conceptualism holds with respect to propositions; in any event, it does a much better job than its closest competitors in accounting for the truthbearing nature of propositions. Secondly, it is wholly implausible to take the added step and equate properties and relations with divine concepts. Here I offer additional reasons, beyond “divine bootstrapping,” for theists to resist this tempting reduction. Thus, a limited Conceptualism emerges as (...) the most natural and defensible way for a theist to think about God’s relation to abstract objects. (shrink)
In this paper, we attempt to show that if Plantinga’s free will defence succeeds, his O Felix Culpa theodicy fails. For if every creaturely essence suffers from transworld depravity, then given that Jesus has a creaturely essence (as we attempt to show), it follows that Incarnation and Atonement worlds cannot be actualized by God, in which case we have anything but a felix culpa.
In this paper we examine a puzzle recently posed by Aaron Preston for the traditional realist assay of property (quality) instances. Consider Socrates (a red round spot) and red1—Socrates’ redness. For the traditional realist, both of these entities are concrete particulars. Further, both involve redness being `tied to’ the same bare individuator. But then it appears that red1 is duplicated in its ‘thicker’ particular (Socrates), so that it can’t be predicated of Socrates without redundancy. According to Preston, this suggests that (...) a concrete particular and its property instances aren’t genuinely related. We argue that Preston’s proffered solution here—to treat property instances as “mental constructs”—is fraught with difficulty. We then go on to show how, by fine-tuning the nature of bare particulars, treating them as abstract modes of things rather than concrete particulars, the traditional realist can neatly evade Preston’s puzzle. (shrink)
In this article I examine an as yet unexplored aspect of J.P. Moreland’s defense of so-called bare particularism — the ontological theory according to which ordinary concrete particulars (e.g., Socrates) contain bare particulars as individuating constituents and property ‘hubs.’ I begin with the observation that if there is a constituency relation obtaining between Socrates and his bare particular, it must be an internal relation, in which case the natures of the relata will necessitate the relation. I then distinguish various ways (...) in which a bare particular might be thought to have a nature and show that on none of these is it possible for a bare particular to be a constituent of a complex particular. Thus, Moreland’s attempt to resurrect bare particulars as ontologically indispensable entities is not wholly without difficulties. (shrink)
In a recent series of articles, J. P. Moreland has attempted to revive the idea that bare particulars are indispensable for individuating concrete particulars. The success of the project turns on Moreland's proposal that while bare particulars are indeed 'partially clad'--that is, exemplify at least some properties--they are nevertheless 'bare' in that they lack internal constituents. I argue that 'partially clad' bare particulars (PCBPs) are impervious not only to traditional objections, but also those recently urged in this journal by D. (...) W. Mertz. The real problem with Moreland's view, I contend, is that together with his containment model of predication, it leads to the unwanted conclusion that PCBPs actually contain themselves as constituents, thereby ensnaring them in a vicious (individuative) circularity. (shrink)
In this paper we explore the idea that Pentecostalism is best supported by conjoining it to a postmodern, narrative epistemology in which everything is a text requiring interpretation. On this view, truth doesn’t consist in a set of uninterpreted facts that make the claims of Christianity true; rather, as James K. A. Smith says, truth emerges when there is a “fit” or proportionality between the Christian story and one’s affective and emotional life. We argue that Pentecostals should reject this account (...) of truth, since it leads to either a self-refuting story-relativism or the equally problematic fallacy of story-ism: favoring one’s own story over others without legitimate reason. In either case, we contend, the gospel itself is placed at risk. (shrink)
In a recent article in this journal, J. P. Moreland extends his theory of individuation to include universals. In this note, I show how Moreland’s novel proposal leads to the unwanted conclusion that every concrete particular exists of necessity and has but a single essential property.
Initially introduced to the philosophical world as elusive, we-know-notwhats—substrata underlying the properties had or exemplified by things, but themselves bereft of properties—bare particulars have been dismissed as undetectable, unnecessary, and even incoherent. Hardly a warm welcome. It appears, however, that times are changing. In a recent series of articles, for example, J. P. Moreland has argued that “bare particulars are crucial entities in any adequate overall theory of individuation”;’ that is, concrete particulars cannot be individuated without them. In the same (...) vein, Oaklander and Rothstein,2 drawing upon elements of Moreland’s new theory, have defended bare particulars against Loux’s grounding objection’—that if the theory is correct, bare particulars are qualitatively indiscernible; in which case we either have no basis for saying that they arc numerically diverse, or we must introduce lower-level substrata to ground that diversity, thereby raising the spectre of an infinite regress of individuators. (shrink)
Clouser and Gert’s 'A Critique of Principlism’ (1990) has ignited debate over the adequacy of substituting principlism for moral theory as a means for dealing with biomedical dilemmas. Clouser and Gert argue that this sort of substitution is not adequate to the task. I examine their argument in light of recent defences of principlism on this score, those of B. Andrew Lustig (1992), David Degrazia (1992), and Beauchamp and Childress (1994). I argue that both sides in the debate have assumed (...) differing conceptions of a moral theory that virtually guarantee their respective conclusions. These differing conceptions are motivated by antecedent epistemological commitments. The present debate over principlism is therefore inconclusive. Future discussion should focus on the underlying epistemological issues. (shrink)
I argue that Graham Oppy’s attempt to redefend his charge that all modal theistic arguments “must be question-begging” is unsuccessful. Oppy’s attempt to show that theism and modal concretism are compatible is not only tangential for his purposes, it is marred by a misunderstanding of theism, and vulnerable to a counterexample that actually demonstrates incompatibility. Moreover, the notion of begging the question employed by Oppy against the theist is seen to be far too permissive.
According to David Lewis, we all believe there are countless ways in which things might have been different from the way they are in fact. Surely, for example, the world could have existed even if, say, Quine had been a politician, or if there had been one less page in Word and Object, or indeed if there had been no such person as Quine at all. All these things, we are inclined to think, might have been the case. And thus (...) we find ourselves saying, “There are many ways things could have been.” However, as Lewis notes, this sentence involves an existential quantification over objects of a peculiar sort: “ways things could have been”—”possible worlds,” if you like. At face value, then, our modal discourse commits us to belief in possible worlds—as peculiar as that may seem. Those who feel squeamish at this prospect can perhaps console themselves with the fact that failure to believe in real, live alternate possibilities ends in Spinozism: the view that (in Samuel Clarke’s words) “nothing which is not, could possibly have been; and nothing which is, could possibly not have been; and that no mode or circumstance of the existence of anything could possibly have been in any respect otherwise than it now actually is.” For most of us, I dare say, this is a difficult pill to swallow. (shrink)
In this paper I critically examine Brian Leftow's attempt to construct a theistic semantics for counterpossibles, one that can be used to make sense of the fact that propositions, which exist necessarily, nevertheless depend on God as their cause. I argue that the impressive theoretical framework erected by Leftow cannot guarantee an asymmetrical dependence of propositions on God, and ultimately leads to a semantic collapse in which every counterpossible comes out false. I end by defending an alternative account of God (...) and propositions -- what I call 'theistic existentialism'. It is shown how this account underwrites a semantics for counterpossibles that conveniently avoids the problems attending Leftow's theory. (shrink)
In this paper we respond to three objections raised by Joshua Harris to our article, “Against a Postmodern Pentecostal Epistemology,” in which we express misgivings about the conjunction of Pentecostalism with James K. A. Smith’s postmodern, story-based epistemolo- gy. According to Harris, our critique: 1) problematically assumes a correspondence theory of truth, 2) invalidly concludes that “Derrida’s Axiom” conflicts with “Peter’s Axiom,” and 3) fails to consider an alternative account of the universality of Christian truth claims. We argue that Harris’s (...) objections either demonstrate a deficient interpretation of the relevant biblical pas- sages or are not directed at us at all. (shrink)
In his Moderate Realism and Its Logic (Yale, 1996), Donald Mertz argues that the traditional ontology of nonpredicable substances and predicable universals is beset by “intractable problems,” “harbors an insidious error,” and constitutes a “stumbling block” for the ontologist. By contrast, a onecategory ontology consisting of relation instances (and combinations thereof) is sustainable, and indeed the only way of avoiding commitment to bare particulars. The success of the project turns on Mertz’s claim that every relation instance has a linking aspect, (...) so that (in a sense) even Socrates is a predicate. I argue that, ironically, it is this very feature of a relation instance that undermines Mertz’s entire theory of predication, effectively preventing any connections from being formed between the instances that allegedly compose an ordinary individual such as Socrates. (shrink)
In this paper I reply to Keith Yandell's recent charge that Anselmian theists cannot also be Trinitarians. Yandell's case turns on the contention that it is impossible to individuate Trinitarian members, if they exist necessarily. Since the ranks of Anselmian Trinitarians includes the likes of Alvin Plantinga, Robert Adams, and Thomas Flint, Yandell's claim is of considerable interest and import. I argue, by contrast, that Anselmians can appeal to what Plantinga calls an essence or haecceity – a property essentially unique (...) to an object – to distinguish Trinitarian members. I go on to show that the main Yandellian objection to this individuative strategy is not successful. (shrink)
This dissertation explores various attempts to solve the Dependence Problem problem posed by the following question: How can necessary truths stand to God in a one-way relation of dependence, given that neither they nor God could have failed to exist?
A Scientific Approach The facts detailed in this briefing are the results of scientific exploration of terror networks and sacred values and their association to political violence. The research is sponsored by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the National Science Foundation.
Can a Darwinian be a Christian? "Absolutely," says Michael Ruse. Ruse is perhaps best known for his participation in the infamous Arkansas "Scopes II" trial in 1981, where he provided expert testimony on behalf of the ACLU in their attempt to strike down a law requiring balanced treatment of creation and evolution in public schools. (The ACLU won their case.) For many years professor of philosophy at Guelph University, Ruse now holds the Lucyle T. Werkmeist chair in philosophy at Florida (...) State University. In this brisk and exciting book, he makes a valiant effort to create some conceptual elbow room in the respective contents of Darwinism and Christianity, in order to show that Christians and Darwinians have nothing to fear from each other. (shrink)
In April, 2007, 15 Royal Navy sailors and marines were taken prisoner and held hostage for nearly two weeks by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. Their crime? Allegedly crossing over into Iranian waters. Within 48 hours a British sailor was plastered all over Iranian TV publicly confessing that the Britons were entirely at fault in the matter. Another sailor wrote a letter—no doubt under some duress— calling for the UK to withdraw all of its troops from Iraq. Then to cap things off, (...) the British soldiers were paraded in front of the Iranian President, where they gave him a big “thumbs up” before being allowed to go home. If you were one of the captives, what would you have done? Would you have cooperated with your captors? Or would you have resisted them, possibly putting your own life at risk? Not surprisingly, the British people recoiled in shame. As one commentator put it, “The honorable thing would have been to renounce their coerced behavior, denounce the Iranians’ use of them for propaganda, and acknowledge that anything they endured was nothing.. (shrink)
In this chapter, I attempt to show that evil exists only if what I call Agent Causal Theism (ACT) is true. According to ACT, human beings are immaterial, conscious agents endued (by God) with a power of self-motion: the power to think, decide, and act for ends in light of reasons, but without being externally caused to do so (even by God himself). By contrast, I argue that there is no space for evil in the worldviews of naturalistic Darwinism or (...) theistic Calvinism. (shrink)
Philosophy and Christianity make truth claims about many of the same things. They both claim to provide answers to the deep questions of life. But how are they related to one another? Four Views on Christianity and Philosophy introduces readers to four predominant views on the relationship between philosophy and the Christian faith and their implications for life. Each author identifies the propositional relation between philosophy and Christianity along with a section devoted to the implications for living a life devoted (...) to the pursuit of wisdom. -/- The contributors and views include: -/- Graham Oppy—Conflict: Philosophy Trumps Christianity K. Scott Oliphint—Covenant: Christianity Trumps Philosophy Timothy McGrew—Convergence: Philosophy Confirms Christianity Paul Moser—Conformation: Philosophy Reconceived Under Christianity. (shrink)
In his recent book Christian Hermeneutics, James Fodor observes that ‘although Christians have from the very beginning been interested in living truthful, obedient lives … they have not exhibited the same passion for developing their own distinctive theory of truth’.1 Yet ‘the task confronting contemporary theology … is that of the rehabilitation or recovery of a distinctively Christian vision of truth’.2 To his credit, Fodor has attempted to rectify this state of affairs: first, by critiquing some of the more prominent (...) theories of truth from a Christian point of view, and secondly, by sketching some of the essential elements of a uniquely Christian understanding or conception of truth. In this article, I present a detailed analysis of Fodor’s alethic musings, and argue that they are both logically and theologically unsound. (shrink)
The ‘task confronting contemporary theology’, says James Fodor, ‘is that of the rehabilitation or recovery of a distinctively Christian vision of truth’. In this paper I examine Fodor's attempt to construct a Christian or transformational theory of truth. I argue that his analysis of truth in terms of transformation leads to a concept of truth which is both subjective and relative. I argue further that Fodor's truth theory is either committed to a version of creative anti‐realism, according to which the (...) existence of basic structure of the world is determined by our linguistic activities, or it implies that although our language doesn't correspond to the world, we should go on making our theological truth claims anyway. I conclude that Fodor's Christian theory of truth is in most crucial respects not Christian at all. (shrink)
C. Stephen Layman contends that an argument supporting theism over naturalism can be constructed based on three defensible, non–question-begging premises about the moral order. Previous critics of Layman’s argument have challenged the truth of these premises. We stipulate them arguendo but go on to show that there is a deeper problem: a fourth premise introduced to complete the argument—the “completion premise,” as we call it—is true only if we assume that God exists or we concede that there is no afterlife. (...) We close with suggestions for how Layman’s argument must be strengthened to meet with dialectical success. (shrink)
My gratitude to Timothy Pickavance for his provocative remarks; they take the discussion of individuation and individuators into interesting areas, far more in fact than I have the space to deal with here.1 In my response, therefore, I do not propose to stubbornly defend myself in line-by-line fashion; rather, I shall take up the topics I consider to be of greatest interest and importance, hopefully nudging the discussion forward.