This paper develops a challenge to theism. The challenge is to explain why the hypothesis that there exists an omnipotent, omniscient and all-good god should be considered significantly more reasonable than the hypothesis that there exists an omnipotent, omniscient and all-evil god. Theists typically dismiss the evil-god hypothesis out of hand because of the problem of good–there is surely too much good in the world for it to be the creation of such a being. But then why doesn't the problem (...) of evil provide equally good grounds for dismissing belief in a good god? I develop this evil-god challenge in detail, anticipate several replies, and correct errors made in earlier discussions of the problem of good. (shrink)
The aim of the article is to intervene in debates about the digital and, in particular, framings that imagine the digital in terms of epochal shifts or as redefining life. Instead, drawing on recent developments in digital methods, we explore the lively, productive and performative qualities of the digital by attending to the specificities of digital devices and how they interact, and sometimes compete, with older devices and their capacity to mobilize and materialize social and other relations. In doing so, (...) our aim is to explore the implications of digital devices and data for reassembling social science methods or what we call the social science apparatuses that assemble digital devices and data to ‘know’ the social and other relations. Building on recent work at CRESC on the social life of methods, we recommend a genealogical approach that is alive to the ways in which digital devices are simultaneously shaped by social worlds, and can in turn become agents that shape those worlds. This calls for attending to the specificities of digital devices themselves, how they are varied and composed of diverse socio-technical arrangements, and are enrolled in the creation of new knowledge spaces, institutions and actors. Rather than exploring what large-scale changes can be revealed and understood through the digital, we argue for explorations of how digital devices themselves are materially implicated in the production and performance of contemporary sociality. To that end we offer the following nine propositions about the implications of digital data and devices and argue that these demand rethinking the theoretical assumptions of social science methods: transactional actors; heterogeneity; visualization; continuous time; whole populations; granularity; expertise; mobile and mobilizing; and non-coherence. (shrink)
Skeptical theism is a leading response to the evidential argument from evil against the existence of God. Skeptical theists attempt to block the inference from the existence of inscrutable evils to gratuitous evils by insisting that given our cognitive limitations, it wouldn’t be surprising if there were God-justifying reasons we can’t think of. A well-known objection to skeptical theism is that it opens up a skeptical Pandora’s box, generating implausibly wide-ranging forms of skepticism, including skepticism about the external world and (...) past. This paper looks at several responses to this Pandora’s box objection, including a popular response devised by Beaudoin and Bergmann. I find that all of the examined responses fail. It appears the Pandora’s box objection to skeptical theism still stands. (shrink)
Plantinga's Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism aims to show that naturalism is, as he puts it, ‘incoherent or self defeating’. Plantinga supposes that, in the absence of any God-like being to guide the process, natural selection is unlikely to favour true belief. Plantinga overlooks the fact that adherents of naturalism may plausibly hold that there exist certain conceptual links between belief content and behaviour. Given such links, natural selection will favour true belief. A further rather surprising consequence of the existence of (...) such links is this: even if semantic properties are epiphenomenal, unguided evolution will still favour true belief. (shrink)
The vast majority of Biblical historians believe there is evidence sufficient to place Jesus’ existence beyond reasonable doubt. Many believe the New Testamentdocuments alone suffice firmly to establish Jesus as an actual, historical figure. I question these views. In particular, I argue (i) that the three most popular criteria by which various non-miraculous New Testament claims made about Jesus are supposedly corroborated are not sufficient, either singly or jointly, to place his existence beyond reasonable doubt, and (ii) that a prima (...) facie plausible principle concerning how evidence should be assessed—a principle I call the contamination principle—entails that, given the large proportion of uncorroborated miracle claims made about Jesus in the New Testament documents, we should, in the absence of good independent evidence for an historical Jesus, remain sceptical about his existence. (shrink)
We examined participants' reading and recall of informed consent documents presented via paper or computer. Within each presentation medium, we presented the document as a continuous or paginated document to simulate common computer and paper presentation formats. Participants took slightly longer to read paginated and computer informed consent documents and recalled slightly more information from the paginated documents. We concluded that obtaining informed consent online is not substantially different than obtaining it via paper presentation. We also provide suggestions for improving (...) informed consent-in both face-to-face and online experiments. (shrink)
Law's article begins by restating the classical ANT position that objects do not exist `in themselves' but are the effect of a performative stabilization of relational networks. In addition, these material enactments inevitably have a spatial dimension; they simultaneously establish spatial conditions for objectual identity, continuity, and difference. Space must not be reified as a natural, pre-existing container of the social and the material, but is itself a performance. Moreover, there are multiple forms of spatiality beyond the Euclidean space of (...) regions , and objects may exist and achieve homeomorphism within several different spatial systems. Technologies such as the Zimbabwe Bush Pump present a fluid object which is able to exist and cohere without the presence of fixed boundaries or the permanence of a particular functional definition. The network logic, however, which gravitates towards stability and functionality, tends to exclude and silence this spatial Other. An alternative political ontology is needed which goes beyond the reification of network space in order to give voice to the fluid objects which escape its unidimensional functionality. (shrink)
This paper distinguishes five key interpretations of the argument presented by Wittgenstein in Philosophical Investigations I, §258. I also argue that on none of these five interpretations is the argument cogent. The paper is primarily concerned with the most popular interpretation of the argument: that which that makes it rest upon the principle that one can be said to follow a rule only if there exists a 'useable criterion of successful performance' (Pears) or 'operational standard of correctness' (Glock) for its (...) correct application. This principle, I suggest, is untrue. The private language argument upon which it rests therefore fails. (shrink)
1. Kierkegaard as theologian and the question of kenosis -- 2. The nature of kenotic Christology -- 3. Kierkegaard's knowledge of kenotic Christology -- 4. Kenosis in Philosophical fragments -- 5. Kenosis in Practice in Christianity -- 6. Kierkegaard's existential kenoticism.
This paper suggests the adoption of a ‘capability approach’ to key concepts in healthcare. Recent developments in theoretical approaches to concepts such as ‘health’ and ‘disease’ are discussed, and a trend identified of thinking of health as a matter of having the capability to cope with life’s demands. This approach is contrasted with the WHO definition of health and Boorse’s biostatistical account. We outline the ‘capability approach’, which has become standard in development ethics and economics, and show how existing work (...) in those areas can profitably be adapted to healthcare. Cases are used to illustrate the value of adopting a capability approach. (shrink)
This paper presents an extension of Putnam's account of how substance terms such as ‘water’ and ‘gold’ function and of how a posteriori necessary truths concerning the underlying microstructures of such kinds may be derived. The paper has three aims. I aim to refute a familiar criticism of Putnam's account: that it presupposes what Salmon calls an ‘irredeemably metaphysical, and philosophically controversial, theory of essentialism’. I show how all of the details of Putnam's account—including those that Salmon believes smuggle in (...) such essentialist commitments—can be squared with a rejection of any such essentialist metaphysics. I aim to reveal why Steward is wrong to suppose that, by helping himself to the claim that ‘H2O’ is a rigid designator of a substance, Kripke, too, presupposes something controversially ‘metaphysical’. I aim to show how my proposed account also sidesteps a variety of objections raised by Needham and others who argue that Kripke's and Putnam's accounts of how ‘water’ and.. (shrink)
This is an article that explores the question "what is the meaning of life?" particularly with respect to humanism and theism. It defends a humanist position, and refutes a number of arguments for the conclusion that a meaningful human existence requires the existence of God.
Brian Loar believes he has refuted all those antiphysicalist arguments that take as their point of departure observations about what is or isn't conceivable. I argue that there remains an important, popular and plausible-looking form of conceivability argument that Loar has entirely overlooked. Though he may not have realized it, Saul Kripke presents, or comes close to presenting, two fundamentally different forms of conceivability argument. I distinguish the two arguments and point out that while Loar has succeeded in refuting one (...) of Kripke's arguments he has not refuted the other. Loar is mistaken: physicalism still faces an apparently insurmountable conceptual obstacle. (shrink)
Many computational tools for the simulation and design of emergency evacuation and egress are now available. However, due to the scarcity of human and social behavioral data, these computational tools rely on assumptions that have been found inconsistent or unrealistic. This paper presents a multi-agent based framework for simulating human and social behavior during emergency evacuation. A prototype system has been developed, which is able to demonstrate some emergent behaviors, such as competitive, queuing, and herding behaviors. For illustration, an example (...) application of the system for safe egress design is provided. (shrink)
Hudson has formulated two local deterministic theses and argued that both are incompatible with freedom. We argue that Hudson has half the story right. Moreover, reflection on Hudson’s theses brings out an important point for debates about freedom generally: that instead of focusing on the notion of entailment, debates about freedom should focus on the notions of explanation and sourcehood. Hudson’s theses provide an excellent case study for why the latter notions ought to take precedence over the former in debates (...) about freedom. (shrink)
Playing the mystery card -- "But it fits!" -- Going nuclear -- Moving the semantic goalposts -- "But I just know!" -- Pseudo-profundity -- Piling up the anecdotes -- Pressing your buttons -- Conclusion -- The Tapescrew letters.
Increasingly, taxonomies are being developed and used by industry practitioners to facilitate information interoperability and retrieval. Within a single industrial domain, there exist many taxonomies that are intended for different applications. Industry specific taxonomies often represent the vocabularies that are commonly used by the practitioners. Their jobs are multi-faceted, which include checking for code and regulatory compliance. As such, it will be very desirable if industry practitioners are able to easily locate and browse regulations of interest. In practice, multiple sources (...) of government regulations exist and they are often organized and classified by the needs of the issuing agencies that enforce them rather than the needs of the communities that use them. One way to bridge these two distinct needs is to develop methods and tools that enable practitioners to browse and retrieve government regulations using their own terms and vocabularies, for example, via existing industry taxonomies. The mapping from a single taxonomy to a single regulation is a trivial keyword matching task. We examine a relatedness analysis approach for mapping a single taxonomy to multiple regulations. We then present an approach for mapping multiple taxonomies to a single regulation by measuring the relatedness of concepts. Cosine similarity, Jaccard coefficient and market basket analysis are used to measure the semantic relatedness between concepts from two different taxonomies. Preliminary evaluations of the three relatedness analysis measures are performed using examples from the civil engineering and building industry. These examples illustrate the potential benefits of regulatory usage from the mapping between various taxonomies and regulations. (shrink)
This paper examines recent attempts to defend Rule-Consequentialism against a traditional objection. That objection takes the form of a dilemma, that either Rule-Consequentialism collapses into Act-Consequentialism or it is incoherent. Attempts to avoid this dilemma based on the idea that using RC has better results than using AC are rejected on the grounds that they conflate the ideas of a criterion of rightness and a decision procedure. Other strategies, Brad Hooker's prominent amongst them, involving the thought that RC need contain (...) no overarching concern to maximize the good are acknowledged to avoid the original dilemma, but lead to further problems of motivating and justifying RC in the absence of such a concern. The paper argues that Hooker's attempt to deal with these problems by using a 'Reflective Equilibrium plus method is unsuccessful. (shrink)