Timothy O’Connor presents a novel and powerful version of the cosmological argument from contingency. What distinguishes his argument is that it does not depend on the Principle of Sufficient Reason. This version thus avoids powerful objections facing the Principle. We present and develop the argument, strengthening it in various ways. We fill in big gaps in the argument and answer criticisms. These include the criticisms that O’Connor considers as well as new criticisms. We explain how his replies to a Kantian (...) criticism and to the demand for contrastive explanation fail, and properly answer the criticism and the demand. We develop two new criticisms, the objection from opaqueness and the objection from constitution, and explain how these objections can be answered. (shrink)
This paper addresses the most fundamental question in metaphysics, Why is there something rather than nothing? The question is framed as a question about concrete entities, Why does a possible world containing concrete entities obtain rather than one containing no concrete entities? Traditional answers are in terms of there necessarily being some concrete entities, and include the possibility of a necessary being. But such answers are threatened by metaphysical nihilism, the thesis that there being nothing concrete is possible, and the (...) subtraction argument for this thesis, an argument that is the subject of considerable recent debate. I summarize and extend the debate about the argument, and answer the threat it poses, turning the tables on it to show how the subtraction argument supports a cosmological argument for a necessary being. (shrink)
This groundbreaking volume investigates the most fundamental question of all: Why is there something rather than nothing? The question is explored from diverse and radical perspectives: religious, naturalistic, platonistic and skeptical. Does science answer the question? Or does theology? Does everything need an explanation? Or can there be brute, inexplicable facts? Could there have been nothing whatsoever? Or is there any being that could not have failed to exist? Is the question meaningful after all? The volume advances cutting-edge debates in (...) metaphysics, philosophy of cosmology and philosophy of religion, and will intrigue and challenge readers interested in any of these subjects. (shrink)
The doctrine of reincarnation is usually associated with Buddhism, Hinduism and other Eastern religions. But it has also been developed in Druzism and Judaism. The doctrine has been used by these traditions to explain the existence of evil within a moral order. Traversing the boundaries between East and West, we explore how Jewish mysticism has employed the doctrine to help answer the problem of evil. We explore the doctrine particularly as we respond to objections against employing it in a theodicy. (...) We show how it supplements traditional punishment, free will and soul-building theodicies, and helps these theodicies avoid various objections. (shrink)
The first part of the paper presents three little arguments from theism to idealism. The second part employs these arguments to make sense of a puzzling doctrine of Jewish mysticism: the doctrine of divine contraction (heb. tzimtzum).
This essay shows three things: first, that we cannot comply with a command from God to believe in God; second, that God cannot command us to believe in God; and, third, that the divine command theory is false. The third conclusion follows from the second, and the second follows from the first. The essay focuses on an argument from the medieval Jewish philosopher, Hasdai Crescas. It also draws from, and is something of a sequel to, an argument from Brown and (...) Nagasawa published previously in this journal. (shrink)
This essay outlines answers to the problem of evil from Jewish perspectives. The essay uses traditional Jewish sources to illustrate theodicies familiar in other religious traditions, and introduces a few less familiar Jewish theodicies besides. Other responses to the problem of evil are also considered. Jewish responses are not usually framed in contemporary philosophical categories, and mine is an attempt at categorization. The traditional Jewish sources might show some promise of contributing to contemporary philosophical debate.
The papers in this volume are largely about research ethics and cover questions of consent, reproduction, pediatric research, ethical codes, and clinical relationships. Half the papers have this common aspect: they are conservative—in the sense of supporting the standard, prevailing, or popular view—but they shift the focus—supporting the standard views in terms of moral factors generally neglected by the literature. The volume provides a diverse set of papers for the reader: variously addressing abstract and concrete problems from within different philosophical (...) traditions. (shrink)
Berkeley's Principles: Expanded and Explained includes the entire classical text of the Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge in bold font, a running commentary blended seamlessly into the text in regular font and analytic summaries of each section. The commentary is like a professor on hand to guide the reader through every line of the daunting prose and every move in the intricate argumentation. The unique design helps students learn how to read and engage with one of modern philosophy's (...) most important and exciting classics. (shrink)
Idealism is the view that reality is fundamentally mental. Idealism has been influential historically, but it has been neglected in contemporary metaphysical debate. This volume of 17 essays by leading philosophers rectifies the situation.