Traditional theistic proofs are often understood as evidence intended to compel belief in a divinity. John Clayton explores the surprisingly varied applications of such proofs in the work of philosophers and theologians from several periods and traditions, thinkers as varied as Ramanuja, al-Ghazali, Anselm, and Jefferson. He shows how the gradual disembedding of theistic proofs from their diverse and local religious contexts is concurrent with the development of natural theologies and atheism as social and intellectual options in early modern Europe (...) and America. Clayton offers a fresh reading of the early modern history of philosophy and theology, arguing that awareness of such history, and the local uses of theistic argument, offer important ways of managing religious and cultural difference in the public sphere. He argues for the importance of historically grounded philosophy of religion to the field of religious studies and public debate on religious pluralism and cultural diversity. (shrink)
On the day before Christmas, 1170, Robert de Broc, member of a family of royal servants that had taken up King Henry II's fierce opposition to Thomas Becket, seized a horse bringing goods to the archbishop and cut off its tail. The next day, Archbishop Thomas noted this incident after his Christmas sermon when renewing his excommunication of Robert and several others, and he discussed it again four days later in his initial meeting with the men who would (...) shortly murder him. The excision of the horse's tail appears in five of the biographies of the martyr and subsequently in the national chronicles of Roger of Howden and Ralph of Diceto. Why did a minor act of cruelty inflicted on a horse seem so noteworthy to contemporaries? The sources recording it resound with the rich Latin vocabulary of shame: “dedecus, contemptus, ignominia, dehonestatio, opprobrium.” Robert's highly symbolic act, part of a pattern of harassment by the Brocs, was designed not just to threaten Becket but also to humiliate him. (shrink)
What rights govern heterosexual and homosexual behaviors? Two distinguished philosophers debate this important issue in Sexual Orientation and Human Rights. Laurence M. Thomas argues that a society which has the constitutional resources to protect hate groups can protect homosexuals without valorizing the homosexual life-style. He defends the view that the Bible cannot warrant the venom that, in the name of religion, is often expressed against homosexuals. Michael E. Levin defends the unorthodox view that the aversion some people experience toward (...) homosexuality deserves respect. He further argues that while homosexuals enjoy the same rights as others to be free of violence and discrimination, they do not have more extensive rights. (shrink)
Moreau sketches here with enthusiasm the large features of Aquinas’s epistemology. He is not, as he makes clear, a Thomist either by training or by avowal. The book is not, then, a specialist’s monograph or dogmatic treatise. It is Moreau’s attempt to hear what Aquinas will say to the great questions. The attempt is largely successful in attending to Aquinas’s remarks, though it does not catch their ambiguities.