We will give a new cosmological argument for the existence of a being who, although not proved to be the absolutely perfect God of the great Medieval theists, also is capable of playing the role in the lives of working theists of a being that is a suitable object of worship, adoration, love, respect, and obedience. Unlike the absolutely perfect God, the God whose necessary existence is established by our argument will not be shown to essentially have the divine perfections (...) of omnipotence, omniscience, omnibenevolence, and sovereignty. Furthermore, it is not even shown that he is contingently omnipotent and omniscient, just powerful and intelligent enough to be the supernatural designer-creator of the exceedingly complex and wondrous cosmos that in fact.. (shrink)
There has been in recent years a plethora of defenses of theism from analytical philosophers such as Plantinga, Swinburne, and Alston. Richard Gale's important book is a critical response to these writings. New versions of cosmological, ontological, and religious experience arguments are critically evaluated, along with pragmatic arguments to justify faith on the grounds of its prudential or moral benefits. A special feature of the book is the discussion of the atheological argument that attempts to deduce a contradiction from the (...) theist's way of conceiving of God's nature. In considering arguments for and against the existence of God, Gale is able to clarify many important philosophical concepts including exploration, time, free will, personhood, actuality, and the objectivity of experience. (shrink)
Our paper ‘A new cosmological argument’ gave an argument for the existence of God making use of the weak Principle of Sufficient Reason (W-PSR) which states that for every proposition p, if p is true, then it is possible that there is an explanation for p. Recently, Graham Oppy, as well as Kevin Davey and Rob Clifton, have criticized the argument. We reply to these criticisms. The most interesting kind of criticism in both papers alleges that the W-PSR can be (...) justifiably denied by the atheist, and constitutes no improvement on the strong Principle of Sufficient Reason (S-PSR) which claims that every true proposition in fact has an explanation. The criticism is predicated on the fact that it can be shown that the W-PSR entails the S-PSR. We argue that the W-PSR's plausibility remains despite the criticisms. From this it can be seen to follow that the entailment relation between the W-PSR and the S-PSR gives one reason to believe the S-PSR. (shrink)
It was important to James's philosophy, especially his doctrine of the will to believe, that we could believe at will. Toward this end he argues in The Principles of Psychology that attending to an idea is identical with believing it, which, in turn, is identical with willing that it be realized. Since willing is identical with believing and willing is an intentional action, it follows by Leibniz's Law that believing also is an intentional action. This paper explores the problems with (...) James's thesis that attending=will=belief. An attempt is made to show that it has a salvageable core that is of considerable philosophical interest and importance. (shrink)
This book offers a powerful interpretation of the philosophy of William James. It focuses on the multiple directions in which James's philosophy moves and the inevitable contradictions that arise as a result. The first part of the book explores a range of James's doctrines in which he refuses to privilege any particular perspective: ethics, belief, free will, truth and meaning. The second part of the book turns to those doctrines where James privileges the perspective of mystical experience. Richard Gale then (...) shows how the relativistic tendencies can be reconciled with James's account of mystical experience. An appendix considers the distorted picture of James's philosophy that has been refracted down to us through the interpretations of his work by John Dewey. (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)
Within each of the great religions there is a well established doxastic practice (DP) of taking experiential inputs consisting of apparent direct perceptions of God (M experiences) as giving prima facie justification, subject to defeat by overriders supplied by that religion, for belief outputs that God exists and is as he presents himself. (This DP is abbreviated as "MP.") William Alston's primary aim in his excellent book, Perceiving God, is to establish that we have epistemic justification for believing that MPs (...) are reliable in that for the most part their belief outputs are true and moreover true of an objective or experience independent reality, unlike the belief outputs of the DPs based on sensations and feelings, along with the introspective DP whose intentional accusatives, although existing independently of being introspected, fail to be objective because they are themselves conscious states. (shrink)
__ __ __The Blackwell Guide to Metaphysics__ is a definitive introduction to the core areas of metaphysics. It brings together sixteen internationally respected philosophers that demonstrate how metaphysics is done as they examine topics including causation, temporality, ontology, personal identity, idealism, and realism.
Introduction -- Part I: Growth, inquiry, and unity -- Problems with inquiry -- Aesthetic inquiry -- Inquiry, inquiry, inquiry -- Why unification? -- Part II: The metaphysics of unity -- The quest for being QUA being -- Time and individuality -- The Humpty-Dumpty intuition -- The mystical.
This book is essential reading for all interpreters of William James. Too often they, myself included, sadly neglect the historical setting of his work. Bordogna's erudite and often brilliant scholarly forays in the history of science and intellectual history, which make effective use of concepts from the sociology of science and the history of disciplinarity, go a long way to compensate for this deficiency.This is a real book, and a bold one at that, because it has an exciting underlying thesis (...) that runs throughout, everything being an illustration and deepening of it; however, the numerous formulations fluctuate between a weak and strong version. The following quotations present the weak thesis: James' "general philosophy, properly conducted, would facilitate new modes of social relationships and new ways of collaboration and communication among the diverse kind of inquirers. These new modes of engagement would bring together philosophers, psychologists, practitioners of the other sciences, and people with practical concerns, making them into a community that would engage in cross-disciplinary and cross-divisional discussion" ; "James located philosophers in interstitial knowledge spaces, and made philosophy … into a form of mediation between diverse modes of inquiry". (shrink)
Fiction has been of concern to both the aesthetician and the ontologist. The former is concerned with the criteria or standards by which we judge the aesthetic worth of a fictional work, the latter with whether our ontology must be enlarged to include possible or imaginary worlds in which are housed the characters and incidents referred to and depicted in such works. This is a paper on the ontology of fiction. It will attempt to answer these ontological questions concerning truth (...) and reference in fiction by clarifying the use of language. Our paradigm case of the fictive use of language will be one in which the story-teller orally relates the fictional story in the presence of his audience, rather than one in which he inscribes his story so that it may be read at a later date. The value of considering the use of language in a face-to-face situation is that it brings before us in their full explicitness all of the different facets of a speech act, many of which often lie dormant in non-face-to-face uses and therefore are hard to discover from a consideration of such uses. (shrink)
__ The Blackwell Guide to Metaphysics__ is a definitive introduction to the core areas of metaphysics. It brings together sixteen internationally respected philosophers that demonstrate how metaphysics is done as they examine topics including causation, temporality, ontology, personal identity, idealism, and realism.
A Deweyan inquiry begins with an indeterminate situation and terminates, when successful, with a determinate situation, both of which Dewey holds to be unique and therefore ineffable. This ineffability requirement has the disastrous consequences that Dewey’s beloved collective inquiry is impossible and that there are no objective criteria for the success of inquiry. It is found that Dewey’s ineffability requirement results from his misbegotten attempt to aestheticize inquiry so that it is an act of artistic creation. It is suggested that (...) things would go better if he dropped the ineffability requirement. (shrink)
James' pragmatism attempts to reconcile his tough--and tender-minded selves. It does not, however, assuage a deeper conflict between his promethean pragmatic self and his mystical self. It is argued that James' philosophy up until the late 1890's is almost exclusively promethean, being based on his brand of "humanistic" pragmatism, and that his later writings tend, though not without important exceptions, for he never succeeded in becoming a unified self, to give voice to a competing anti-promethean type of mysticism of the (...) sort that will assuage his deep cosmic and personal anxieties by giving him absolute assurance that higher spiritual powers reign supreme and thus all is well. (shrink)
R. M. Adams’s essay, “Must God Create the Best?” can be interpreted as offering a theodicy for God’s creating morally less perfect beings than he could have created. By creating these morally less perfect beings, God is bestowing grace upon them, which is an unmerited or undeserved benefit. He does so, however, in advance of the free moral misdeeds that render them undeserving. This requires that God have middle knowledge, pace Adams’s version of the Free Will Theodicy, of what would (...) result from his actualization of possible free persons. It is argued that God’s possession of such middle knowledge negates the freedom of created beings, since God completely determines every action of every created person. And since they are not free, they cannot qualify as morally unmeritorious or undeserving. And, with that, Adams’s theodicy of grace-in-advance collapses. (shrink)
It is my purpose to explore some of the problems concerning the relation between divine creation and creaturely freedom by criticizing various versions of the Free Will Defense (FWD hereafter).1 The FWD attempts to show how it is possible for God and moral evil to co-exist by describing a possible world in which God is morally justified or exonerated for creating persons who freely go wrong. Each version of the FWD has its own story to tell of how it is (...) possible that God be frustrated in his endeavor to create a universe containing moral good sans moral evil. The value of free will is supposed to be so great that God is morally exonerated under such circumstances for creating the Mr. Rogers type persons you know, the very same people who are good sometimes are bad sometimes. If it is objected that God could not be unlucky in this manner, that it necessarily is within his power to create goody-goody persons, either by supernaturally willing in his own inimitable manner that it be so, which is the theological compatibilist objection, or by a judicious selection of the initial state of the universe and operant causal laws which together entail that every free action be morally right, which is the causal compatibilist objection, the response is that it is logically incompatible that a creaturely free action be determined by God or by anything external to the agent, such as causes outside of the agent. (shrink)
The cosmological and teleological argument both start with some contingent feature of the actual world and argue that the best or only explanation of that feature is that it was produced by an intelligent and powerful supernatural being. The cosmological argument starts with a general feature, such as the existence of contingent being or the presence of motion and uses some version of the Principle of Sufficient Reason to conclude that this feature must have an explanation. The debate then focuses (...) on two points: first, whether the PSR in question is true, and second, whether the explanation must involve God or at least some God-like being. The teleological argument begins with a general feature of the cosmos judged to have value, such as the existence of intelligent life or the presence of order in the universe, and argues, usually inductively but sometimes deductively, that this feature is to be explained by the agency of a powerful supernatural being. Here, the debate tends to focus on whether there are alternate naturalistic explanations, such as Darwinian evolution. (shrink)