The gift of life argument, the claim that suicide is immoral because our lives are not ours to dispose of as we are their guardians or stewards, is a persistent theme in debates about the morality of suicide, assisted-suicide, and euthanasia. I argue that this argument suffers from a fatal internal incoherence. The gift can either be interpreted literally or analogically. If it is interpreted literally there are serious problems in understanding who receives the gift. If it is understood analogically (...) the question arises whether the gift is understood to be a finite or everlasting existence. If it is finite then it is hard to see how one can be punished for bringing that existence to an end for one will not be around to be punished. If the existence is infinite it is impossible to see how one can be punished for ending one’s life because one cannot end it. However, there is still ethical mileage to be gained from the description of life as a gift and in the concluding section I indicate one way in which this is so. (shrink)
Russellian monism offers a distinctive perspective on the relationship between the physical and the phenomenal. For example, on one version of the view, phenomenal properties are the categorical bases of fundamental physical properties, such as mass and charge, which are dispositional. Russellian monism has prominent supporters, such as Bertrand Russell, Grover Maxwell, Michael Lockwood, and David Chalmers. But its strengths and shortcomings are often misunderstood. In this paper we try to eliminate confusions about the view and defend it from criticisms. (...) We present its core and distinguish different versions of it. We then compare these versions with traditional theories, such as physicalism, dualism, and idealism. We also argue that the knowledge argument and the conceivability argument are consistent with Russellian monism and that existing arguments against the view, such as the argument from weirdness, are not decisive. We conclude that Russellian monism is an attractive view that deserves serious consideration. (shrink)
Frank Jackson endorses epiphenomenalism because he thinks that his knowledge argument undermines physicalism. One of the most interesting criticisms of Jackson's position is what I call the 'inconsistency objection'. The inconsistency objection says that Jackson's position is untenable because epiphenomenalism undermines the knowledge argument. The inconsistency objection has been defended by various philosophers independently, including Michael Watkins, Fredrik Stjernberg, and Neil Campbell. Surprisingly enough, while Jackson himself admits explicitly that the inconsistency objection is 'the most powerful reply to the knowledge (...) argument' he knows of, it has never been discussed critically. The aim of this paper is to evaluate the objection and to identify and consider its implications. The objection is alleged to be based on a causal theory of knowledte. I argue that the objection fails by showing that any causal theory of knowledge is such that it is either false or does not support the inconsistency objection. In order to defend my argument, I offer a hypothesis concerning phenomenal knowledge. (shrink)
According to one antitheist argument, the necessarily omniscient, necessarily omnipotent, and necessarily omnibenevolent Anselmian God does not exist, because if God is necessarily omnipotent it is impossible for Him to comprehend fully certain concepts, such as fear, frustration and despair, that an omniscient being needs to possess. Torin Alter examines this argument and provides three elaborate objections to it. I argue that theists would not accept any of them because they con ict with traditional Judaeo-Christian doctrines concerning divine attributes.
Anselmian theists, for whom God is the being than which no greater can be thought, usually infer that he is an omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent being. Critics have attacked these claims by numerous distinct arguments, such as the paradox of the stone, the argument from God's inability to sin, and the argument from evil. Anselmian theists have responded to these arguments by constructing an independent response to each. This way of defending Anselmian theism is uneconomical. I seek to establish a (...) new defence which undercuts almost all the existing arguments against Anselmian theism at once. In developing this defence, I consider the possibility that the Anselmian God is not an omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent being. (shrink)
In this paper we address Bernard Williams' argument for the undesirability of immortality. Williams argues that unavoidable and pervasive boredom would characterise the immortal life of an individual with unchanging categorical desires. We resist this conclusion on the basis of the distinction between habitual and situational boredom and a psychologically realistic account of significant factors in the formation of boredom. We conclude that Williams has offered no persuasive argument for the necessity of boredom in the immortal life. 1.
John Perry’s Knowledge, Possibility, and Consciousness is based on the Jean Nicod Lectures, which he gave in Paris in 1999. The main goal of this book is to defend what he calls ‘antecedent physicalism’ from various common objections to physicalism. The book is organised as follows. In Chapter 1 Perry reviews a number of antiphysicalist arguments, which have been intensively discussed in the last few years among philosophers of mind. In Chapters 2 and 3 he formulates antecedent physicalism. Unlike eliminativism, (...) antecedent physicalism grants the subjective character of phenomenal experiences. It then tries to construct the best possible account of them on the assumption that they are physical (p. 27). However, according to Perry, it is a mistake to think that the antecedent physicalist is ‘a complete dogmatist for whom physicalism is a religious principle’. The antecedent physicalist is rather one ‘who is committed to physicalism in the sense that she or he sees some compelling reasons for it and will not give it up without seeing some clear reason to do so’ (p. 27). In the rest of the book Perry attempts to show how his antecedent physicalism can block existing antiphysicalist arguments. In PSYCHE: http://psyche.cs.monash.edu.au/ Chapter 4 he discusses the zombie argument, according to which physicalism is false because the existence of a zombie—someone physically identical to a human being but lacking conscious experience altogether—is a logical possibility. In Chapters 5, 6 and 7 Perry discusses the knowledge argument, according to which physicalism is false because there could be a scientist—call her Mary—who knows all the physical facts but does not know what it is like to see colour. In Chapter 8 Perry discusses the modal argument, according to which physicalism, the identity theory in particular, is false because psychophysical identity statements such as ‘pain=c-fibre stimulation’ cannot be true, even if we regard them as necessary and a posteriori.. (shrink)
Skeptical theists purport to undermine evidential arguments from evil by appealing to the fact that our knowledge of goods, evils, and their interconnections is significantly limited. Michael J. Almeida and Graham Oppy have recently argued that skeptical theism is unacceptable because it results in a form of moral skepticism which rejects inferences that play an important role in our ordinary moral reasoning. In this reply to Almeida and Oppy's argument we offer some reasons for thinking that skeptical theism need not (...) lead to any such objectionable form of moral skepticism. (shrink)
Although worship has a pivotal place in religious thought and practice, philosophers of religion have had remarkably little to say about it. In this paper we examine some of the many questions surrounding the notion of worship, focusing on the claim that human beings have obligations to worship God. We explore a number of attempts to ground our supposed duty to worship God, and argue that each is problematic. We conclude by examining the implications of this result, and suggest that (...) it might be taken to provide an argument against God's existence, since theists generally regard it is a necessary truth that we ought to worship God. (shrink)
In this paper we respond to Benjamin Crowe's criticisms in this issue of our discussion of the grounds of worship. We clarify our previous position, and examine Crowe's account of what it is about God's nature that might ground our obligation to worship Him. We find Crowe's proposals no more persuasive than the accounts that we examined in our previous paper, and conclude that theists still owe us an account of what it is in virtue of which we have obligations (...) to worship God. (shrink)
I argue that Gregg Rosenberg’s panexperientialism is either extremely implausible or irrelevant to the mystery of consciousness by introducing metaphysical and conceptual objections to his appeal to the notion of ‘protoconsciousness’.
In God and Phenomenal Consciousness, Yujin Nagasawa bridges debates in two distinct areas of philosophy: the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of religion. First, he introduces some of the most powerful arguments against the existence of God and provides objections to them. He then presents a parallel structure between these arguments and influential arguments offered by Thomas Nagel and Frank Jackson against the physicalist approach to phenomenal consciousness. By appealing to this structure, Nagasawa constructs novel objections to Jackson's and (...) Nagel's arguments. Finally, he derives, from the failure of these arguments, a unique metaphysical thesis, which he calls 'non-theoretical physicalism'. Through this thesis, he shows that although this world is entirely physical, there are physical facts that cannot be captured even by complete theories of the physical sciences. (shrink)
Peter Millican (2004) provides a novel and elaborate objection to Anselm's ontological argument. Millican thinks that his objection is more powerful than any other because it does not dispute contentious 'deep philosophical theories' that underlie the argument. Instead, it tries to reveal the 'fatal flaw' of the argument by considering its 'shallow logical details'. Millican's objection is based on his interpretation of the argument, according to which Anselm relies on what I call the 'principle of the superiority of existence' (PSE). (...) I argue that (i) the textual evidence Millican cites does not provide a convincing case that Anselm relies on PSE and that, moreover, (ii) Anselm does not even need PSE for the ontological argument. I introduce a plausible interpretation of the ontological argument that is not vulnerable to Millican's objection and conclude that even if the ontological argument fails, it does not fail in the way Millican thinks it does. (shrink)
Consciousness in the Physical World collects historical selections, recent classics, and new pieces on Russellian monism, a unique alternative to the physicalist and dualist approaches to the problem of consciousness.
i l l ustrat es t he di ffi cul t y of providing a purely physical characterisation of phenomenal experi ence wi t ha vi vi d exampl e about a bat ’ s sensory apparatus. Whi l e a number of obj ect i ons have al ready been made to Nagel.
Skeptical theists purport to undermine evidential arguments from evil by appealing to the fact that our knowledge of goods, evils, and their interconnections is significantly limited. Michael J. Almeida and Graham Oppy have recently argued that skeptical theism is unacceptable because it results in a form of moral skepticism which rejects inferences that play an important role in our ordinary moral reasoning. In this reply to Almeida and Oppy’s argument we offer some reasons for thinking that skeptical theism need not (...) lead to any such objectionable form of moral skepticism. (shrink)
The 'parody objection' to the ontological argument for the existence of God advances parallel arguments apparently proving the existence of various absurd entities. I discuss recent versions of the parody objection concerning the existence of 'AntiGod' and the devil, as introduced by Peter Millican and Timothy Chambers. I argue that the parody objection always fails, because any parody is either (i) not structurally parallel to the ontological argument, or (ii) not dialectically parallel to the ontological argument. Moreover, once a parody (...) argument is modified in such a way that it avoids (i) and (ii), it is, ironically, no longer a parody – it is the ontological argument itself. (shrink)
The so-called Anselmian thesis says that God is that than which no greater can be thought. This thesis has been widely accepted among traditional theists and it has for several hundred years been a central notion whenever philosophers debate the existence and nature of God. Proponents of the thesis are often silent, however, about exactly what it means to say that God is that than which no greater can be thought. The aim of this paper is to offer an answer (...) to this question by providing rigorous, systematic models of the Anselmian thesis. The most straightforward model, which I call the “Linear Model,” says that God is that than which no greater can be thought by virtue of occupying the top link in the “great chain of being,” a universal linear ranking of all possible beings. Most contemporary philosophers believe, however, that the Linear Model does not succeed because the notion of the great chain of being is untenable. I therefore explore alternatives to the Linear Model. I argue that what I call the “Extended Radial Model” characterizes the Anselmian thesis correctly, even though the model faces a powerful objection. I argue further that the Linear Model should be taken seriously as a backup option for Anselmian theists because (i) it is not vulnerable to the objection that the Extended Radial Model faces and (ii) what is widely regarded as a knock-down objection to the Linear Model is not as compelling as some have claimed. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to examine the difficulties that belief in a paradisiacal afterlife creates for orthodox theists. In particular, we consider the difficulties that arise when one asks whether there is freedom in Heaven, i.e. whether the denizens of Heaven have libertarian freedom in action. Our main contention is that this 'Problem of Heaven' makes serious difficulties for proponents of free will theodicies and for proponents of free will defences.
When patients are in vegetative states and their lives are maintained by medical devices, their surrogates might offer proxy consents on their behalf in order to terminate the use of the devices. The so-called ’substituted judgment thesis’ has been adopted by the courts regularly in order to determine the validity of such proxy consents. The thesis purports to evaluate proxy consents by appealing to putative counterfactual truths about what the patients would choose, were they to be competent. The aim of (...) this paper is to reveal a significant limitation of the thesis, which has hitherto been recognised only vaguely and intuitively. By appealing to the metaphysics of counterfactuals I explain how the thesis fails to determine the validity of proxy consents in a number of actual cases. (shrink)
Pa ul Boghos s i a n’ s ‘ Me mor y Ar gume nt ’ a l l ege dl y s hows , us i ng t he f ami l i a r s l ow-switching scenario, that externalism and authoritative self-knowledge are incompatible. The aim of this paper is to undermine the argument by examining..
Patrick Grim argues that God cannot beomniscient because no one other than me canacquire knowledge de se of myself. Inparticular, according to Grim, God cannot knowwhat I know in knowing that I am making amess. I argue, however, that given twoplausible principles regarding divineattributes there is no reason to accept Grim'sconclusion that God cannot be omniscient. Inthis paper I focus on the relationship betweendivine omniscience and necessaryimpossibilities, in contrast to the generaltrend of research since Aquinas, which hasconcentrated on the relationship (...) between divineomnipotence and necessary impossibilities. (shrink)
The knowledge argument is an argument against physicalism that was first formulated by Frank Jackson in 1982. While Jackson no longer endorses it, it is still regarded as one of the most important arguments in the philosophy of mind. Physicalism is the metaphysical thesis that, roughly speaking, everything in this world—including tables, galaxies, cheese cakes, cars, atoms, and even our sensations— are ultimately physical. The knowledge argument attempts to undermine this thesis by appealing to the following simple imaginary scenario: Mary (...) is confined to a black-and-white room, is educated through black-and-white books and through lectures relayed on black-and white television. In this way she learns everything there is to know about the physical nature of the world. She knows all the physical facts about us and our environment, in a wide sense of ‘physical’ which includes everything in completed physics, chemistry, and neurophysiology, and all there is to know about the causal and relational facts consequent upon all this, including of course functional roles. (Jackson 1986, p. 291) The knowledge argument says that if physicalism is true, Mary knows everything in this world. However, it seems obvious that her knowledge is not yet complete. Suppose that.. (shrink)
I have argued elsewhere that nearly all existing arguments against Anselmian theism—such as the paradox of the stone, the argument from God’s inability to sin, and the problem of evil—can be refuted all at once by holding that God possesses the maximal consistent set of knowledge, power and benevolence instead of insisting that He is omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent. Some critics suggest, however, that my strategy fails, at least with respect to the problem of evil, because that problem defeats not (...) only the version of theism that depends on God’s being omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent, but also versions of theism that do not depend on that thesis. In this paper I defend my strategy against such a criticism. (shrink)
The beauty of Anselm’s ontological argument is, I believe, that no matter how one approaches it, one cannot refute it without making a significant metaphysical assumption, one that is likely to be contentious in its own right. Peter Millican disagrees. He introduces an objection according to which one can refute the argument merely by analysing its shallow logical details, without making any significant metaphysical assumption. He maintains, moreover, that his objection does not depend on a specific reading of the relevant (...) Anselmian text; in fact, Millican claims that his objection is applicable to every version of the ontological argument. In this paper, I argue that millican’s objection does not succeed, because, contrary to what he says, in order to justify his objection he does have to make a deep metaphysical assumption and rely on a specific reading of Anselm’s text. (shrink)
ne ’ s a r gume nt s i n de a l i ng wi t h e ve n a s hi ghl y i nt r a c t a bl e an issue as the mystery of consciousness. The mind-body problem in a contemporary guise is rooted in two prima facie plausible but incompatible propositions that philosophers have reached: (1) Some form of materialism or physicalism is true. (2) Phenomenal consciousness, raw feel, or qualia cannot be (...) explained physicalistically. The traditional strategy for solving the problem is simply to reject one or the other of these propositions. Thus some philosophers reject (1) and become dualists accordingly, and others reject (2) and become materialists accordingly. Levine, however, ventures to accept both of them at the same time. That is, while he defends materialism he also believes that we can never make a priori derivations from physical facts to phenomenal facts. Chapter 1 of the book is devoted to establishing (1). In order to define his materialism Levine reflects nested dilemmas that materialism in general confronts. The di l e mma s go a s f ol l ows.. (shrink)
According to one antitheist argument, God cannot know what it is like to be me because He, who is necessarily unlimited and necessarily incorporeal, cannot have my point of view. In his recent article, William J. Mander tries to demonstrate that God can indeed have His own point of view and my point of view at the same time by providing examples that seem to motivate his claim. I argue that none of his examples succeeds in this task. I introduce (...) a different objection to the antitheist argument that appeals to the Thomistic principle regarding divine attributes. (shrink)
In ‘Anthropocentrism and the Problem of Evil’ Timothy Chappell argues that one cannot advance the following two criticisms of Christianity at the same time: (1) Christianity is an implausibly anthropocentric religion, and (2) Christianity has no convincing answer to the problem of natural evil. I demonstrate that Chappell’s argument is unsuccessful by providing three possible, and consistent, interpretations of (1) and (2).
John Hick is a mind-body dualist. He claims that reality consists of two ontologically distinct types of entities, the mental and the physical, which causally interact with each other. Yet he subscribes to monism in response to the diversity of religion. He maintains that every world religion provides a unique response to the same single transcategorial ultimate reality. He also contends that he has realised through his religious experience that, as monism says, everything is part of a single indivisible whole. (...) In this paper I propose and analyse three possible ways of solving this apparent tension between the dualistic and monistic elements in Hick’s metaphysical system. I argue that the first two solutions fail but their failures lead us to the third, successful solution, which entails a unique form of pantheistic or panentheistic monism. (shrink)
Kim Atkins argues that Thomas Nagel’s argument regarding a bat’s phenomenal experience is important for understanding the value placed on patient autonomy in medical ethics. In this paper I demonstrate that Atkins’s argument (a) is based on her misinterpretations of Nagel’s argument, and (b) can be established without appealing to such a controversial assumption as that which she makes.
Many theists believe that the so-called ‘free will defence’ successfully undermines the antitheist argument from moral evil. However, in a recent issue of Sophia Joel Thomas Tierno provides the ‘adequacy argument’ in order to show an alleged difficulty with the free will defence. I argue that the adequacy argument fails because it equivocates on the notion of moral evil.
This Introduction to a Journal of Consciousness Studies Special Issue on Monist Alternatives to Physicalism summarises some of the basic problems of Physicalism and common fallacies in arguments for its defence that are found in the philosophical and scientific literature. It then introduces six monist alternatives: 1) a form of emergent panpsychism developed by William Seager; 2) a novel introduction to the process philosophy of A.N. Whitehead by Anderson Weekes; 3) a review of current developments in Russellian Monism by Torin (...) Alter and Yujin Nagasawa; 4) an analysis of dual-aspect monism and its relation to quantum mechanics originally proposed developed by Pauli and Jung and given a modern interpretation by Harald Atmanspacher; 5) a form of processing monism that might help to resolve ontological differences in Indian philosophy and psychology between dualist Samkya Yoga and nondualist Advaita Vedanta by K. Ramakrisna Rao; and 6) an account of Reflexive Monism, which, viewed as a global system, can incorporate many of the seemingly opposed “isms” that currently populate Consciousness Studies by Max Velmans. Whatever the fundamental nature of Nature might be, it must have the power to give rise to its observable manifestations. Consequently, all the papers in this issue are concerned to give a “natural” account of the relationships among consciousness, mind, and the material world that is entirely consistent with the findings of science, and they all accept that for a unified understanding, mind, consciousness and the material world must have a common base. The aim of the Special Issue is to contribute to a deeper understanding of that base, and to stimulate novel thinking about its nature. (shrink)
In this article, I discuss Anselmian theism, which is arguably the most widely accepted form of monotheism. First, I introduce the core theses of Anselmian theism and consider its historical and developmental origins. I contend that, despite its name, Anselmian theism might well be older than Anselm. I also claim, supporting my argument by reference to research in the cognitive science of religion, that, contrary to what many think, Anselmian theism might be a natural result of human cognitive development rather (...) than a mere philosophical artefact. Second, in the course of explaining the merits of Anselmian theism, I argue that this doctrine seems to benefit from at least three virtues. Third, I discuss existing arguments against Anselmian theism and maintain that most of them can be classified into three types. Finally, I suggest a novel strategy on the basis of which it is possible to defend Anselmian theism from these arguments. (shrink)
We imagine Zombies as beings identical to us with respect to all physical and behavioural facts but different with respect to phenomenal facts. For example, zombies might say, just like us, ‘this grapefruit is really sour’ or ‘my left knee hurts’, but, unlike us, they have no phenomenal experiences corresponding to these utterances or to the relevant physical states. The idea of zombies has been used to construct the following argument against the physicalist approach to consciousness.
Mary is confined to a black-and-white room, is educated through black-and-white books and through lectures relayed on black-and white television. In this way she learns everything there is to know about the physical nature of the world. She knows all the physical facts about us and our environment, in a wide sense of 'physical' which includes everything in completed physics, chemistry, and neurophysiology, and all there is to know about the causal and relational facts consequent upon all this, including of (...) course functional roles. If physicalism is true, she knows all there is to know. For to suppose otherwise is to suppose that there is more to know than every physical fact, and that is just what physicalis. (shrink)
Paul Boghossian's‘Memory Argument’allegedly shows, using the familiar slow‐switching scenario, that externalism and authoritative self‐knowledge are incompatible. The aim of this paper is to undermine the argument by examining two distinct externalist responses. I demonstrate that the Memory Argument equivocates on the notion of forgetting.
Most contemporary philosophers are physicalists. They believe that, in a relevant sense, everything (including tables, clouds, cars, the universe and even our sensations) is ultimately physical. Recently, mainly because of David J. Chalmers' influential work on phenomenal consciousness (Chalmers 1996), some philosophers have started to take property dualism more seriously (the thesis that the mental and the physical are two fundamentally distinct kinds of property). They think that while there are a number of strong arguments for physicalism, the physical sciences (...) might not be able to account for everything in the world. However, very few contemporary philosophers take substance dualism seriously (the thesis that the mental--what Swinburne calls the soul--and the physical are two distinct kinds of substance that interact with each other). (shrink)
The book has two di sti ncti ve features. One is that while philosophers’discussions of externalism tend to be very technical, Rowlands presents his own discussion in an accessible manner. The second, more distinctive than the first, is that Rowlands treats the concept of externalism as a topic in both analytic and continental traditions of philosophy. In Chapter 2 Rowlands introduces the Cartesian internalist conception of the mind, which appears inconsistent with externalism. Rowlands claims that Cartesianism consists of three types (...) of thesis: ontological, epistemological and axiological. Throughout the book he focuses on the ontological thesis, except for Chapter 8, where he discusses the epistemological thesis, and Chapter 11, where he discusses the axiological thesis. The rest of the book is roughly divided into two parts. In the first, Rowlands discusses the relationship between externalism and idealism, the latter of which is, according to him, a natural development of internalism. Rowlands advances his discussion by treating Edmund Husserl as an internalist and idealist, and Jean-Paul Sartre and Wittgenstein as externalists. In the second, he examines content externalism. He finds content externalism unsatisfactory and tries to establish a more robust form of externalism, which he calls ‘ vehicle externalism’ . He shows that vehicle externalism is applicable to conscious experience, which, on the face of it, has nothing to do with externalism. There are at least two possible impressions that readers might have about this book. The first is that the book is unfocused because it covers a number of distinct topics in two different traditions by relying on the widest construal of the term ‘ external i sm’ . A reader only interested in recent topics on content externalism in epistemology and the philosophy of mind—i.e. externalism and authoritative self-knowledge, externalism and scepticism, externalism and memory and so on—might have this impression. The second is that this book is useful because it provides a comprehensive study of externalism, which has not previously been done effectively.. (shrink)