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Displaying: 1-18 of 18 documents

1. The Modern Schoolman: Volume > 88 > Issue: 3/4
Thomas M. Lennon Volition: Malebranche’s Thomist Inclination
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Malebranche’s doctrine of the will can be illuminated by consideration of the views both of Aquinas and early modern would-be Thomists. Three Malebranchian themes are considered here: his conception of the will as an inclination toward general and indeterminate good, his intellectualism (the view that that the locusof morality lies ultimately with the intellect), and his attempt to avoid the extreme views of Jansenism and Quietism, both condemned in the period as theologically unacceptable. Two little-known Thomists in particular are examined: Antonin Massoulié, whose work helps to explain why Malebranche rejected Quietism and the libertarian view of the will typical of it, and Laurent-François Boursier, whom Malebranche criticized for failing to provide a conception of the will and its freedom that avoids Jansenism.
2. The Modern Schoolman: Volume > 88 > Issue: 3/4
Kristen Irwin Amyraut on Reason and Religious Belief
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Moses Amyraut’s 1640 work On the Elevation of Faith and the Humbling of Reason is often misread as advocating the position suggested by its title. In fact, Amyraut constructs a tripartite classification of religious beliefs according to their relation to reason, such that he can affirm truths that are incomprehensible toreason, while maintaining that reason is the ultimate ground of their truth. He divides religious truths into those delivered by reason, those consistent with reason, and those incomprehensible to reason, as against religious beliefs contrary to reason, which cannot be true; the rationality of each class of truths depends on the rationality of those in the previous class. This classification helps to make sense of the seventeenth-century debate between those (such as Leibniz) who argue that incomprehensible religious beliefs are simply above reason, and those (such as Bayle) who argue that incomprehensible religious beliefs are actually contrary to reason.
3. The Modern Schoolman: Volume > 88 > Issue: 3/4
Michael W. Hickson Reductio ad Malum: Bayle’s Early Skepticism about Theodicy
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Pierre Bayle is perhaps most well-known for arguing in his Dictionary (1697) that the problem of evil cannot be solved by reason alone. This skepticism about theodicy is usually credited to a religious crisis suffered by Bayle in 1685 following the unjust imprisonment and death of his brother, the death of his father, and the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. But in this paper I argue that Bayle was skeptical about theodicy a decade earlier than these events, from at least the time of his Sedan philosophy course (1675–77). I then argue that both the Various Thoughts on the Comet (1683) and Philosophical Commentary on Luke 4:23 (1686–88), which are usually read as treatments of superstition and toleration respectively, are works that also closely engage the problem of evil and demonstratethe skepticism of Bayle toward theodicy.
4. The Modern Schoolman: Volume > 88 > Issue: 3/4
Rico Vitz Thomas More and the Christian ‘Superstition’: A Puzzle for Hume’s Psychology of Religious Belief
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In this paper, I examine one particular element of Hume’s psychology of religious belief. More specifically, I attempt to elucidate his account of what I call the sustaining causes of religious belief—that is, those causes that keep religious beliefs alive in modern human societies. In attempting to make some progress at clarifying this element of Hume’s psychology, I examine one particular ‘experiment’— namely, the case of Thomas More, a man who is, by Hume’s own admission, a person of remarkable virtue. I contend that the most salient Humean explanations of More’s religious convictions are implausible but that Humehas at his disposal three more plausible hypotheses to account for More’s faith. I conclude, however, by suggesting that these hypotheses alone are insufficient to solve the puzzle More poses for this particular element of Hume’s psychology of religious belief.
5. The Modern Schoolman: Volume > 88 > Issue: 3/4
Marcy P. Lascano Damaris Masham and “The Law of Reason or Nature”
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Emphasis on reason is pervasive in Damaris Masham’s writings. However, her various assertions regarding the use and importance of reason sometimes seem in tension with her emphasis on its limitations and weaknesses. In this paper, I examine Masham’s views concerning the role of reason in knowledge of the existence and nature of God, moral duty, and human happiness. First, I show one way in which Masham uses reason in her works—in her argument for the existence of God. Here, we see that Masham’s proof makes use of the notion of the “law of reason or nature.” After discussing Masham’s general account of reason, I turn to the role that reason plays in our knowledge more generally, in morality, and in providing for human happiness. Finally, I address Masham’s contention that human reason is weak by looking at the ways our reason is limited and perverted.
6. The Modern Schoolman: Volume > 88 > Issue: 3/4
Julia von Bodelschwingh Leibniz on Concurrence, Spontaneity, and Authorship
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Leibniz holds that creatures require divine concurrence for all their actions, and that this concurrence is ‘special,’ that is, directed at the particular qualities of each action. This gives rise to two potential problems. The first is the problem of explaining why special concurrence does not make God a co-author of creaturelyactions. Second, divine concurrence may seem incompatible with the central Leibnizian doctrine that substances must act spontaneously, or independently of other substances. Concurrence, in other words, may appear to jeopardize creaturely substancehood. I argue that Leibniz can solve both of these problems by invoking final and formal causation. The creature is the sole author of its actions because it alone contributes the formal and final cause to these actions. Similarly, because it contributes the formal and final cause, the creature possesses what I call explanatory spontaneity. Leibniz, I contend, considers this type of spontaneity sufficient for substancehood.
7. The Modern Schoolman: Volume > 88 > Issue: 3/4
Liz Goodnick Cleanthes’s Propensity and Intelligent Design
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A persuasive argument that theism is a Humean “natural belief” relies on the assertion that belief in intelligent design is caused by “Cleanthes’s propensity,” introduced in Hume’s Dialogues—a universal propensity to believe in a designer triggered by the observation of apparent telos in nature. But Hume neverclaims in his own voice that religious belief is founded on anything like Cleanthes’s propensity. Instead, in the Natural History, he argues that the belief in invisible intelligent power is caused by the psychological propensity to anthropomorphize triggered by the observation of disorder. I argue that religious belief is among theHumean natural beliefs only if this propensity is relevantly similar to the propensity responsible for inductive beliefs—the paradigmatic case of natural belief. Evidence from the Natural History and Treatise confirm that this is not the case. I conclude that belief in intelligent design is not, for Hume, a natural belief.
8. The Modern Schoolman: Volume > 88 > Issue: 3/4
Ryan Nichols, Robert Callergård Thomas Reid on Reidian Religious Belief Forming Faculties
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The role of epistemology in philosophy of religion has transformed the discipline by diverting questions away from traditional metaphysical issues and toward concerns about justification and warrant. Leaders responsible for these changes, including Plantinga, Alston and Draper, use methods and arguments fromScottish Enlightenment figures. In general theists use and cite techniques pioneered by Reid and non-theists use and cite techniques pioneered by Hume, a split reduplicated among cognitive scientists of religion, with Justin Barrett and Scott Atran respectively framing their results in Reid’s and in Hume’s language and argument. This state of affairs sets our agenda. First we identify Reid’s use in the epistemology of religion and in the cognitive science of religion. Then we turn to Reid’s texts in an effort to assess the interpretations and extrapolations of Reid given by participants in these debates. The answers to our research questions shed light on what Reid would believe today, were he apprised of the latest research in epistemology of and cognitive science of religion.
9. The Modern Schoolman: Volume > 88 > Issue: 1/2
William C. Charron An Editor’s Farewell
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10. The Modern Schoolman: Volume > 88 > Issue: 1/2
Kevin Timpe Tracing and the Epistemic Condition on Moral Responsibility
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In “The Trouble with Tracing,” Manuel Vargas argues that tracing-based approaches to moral responsibility are considerably more problematic than previously acknowledged. Vargas argues that many initially plausible tracing-based cases of moral responsibility turn out to be ones in which the epistemic condition for moral responsibility is not satisfied, thus suggesting that contrary to initial appearances the agent isn’t morally responsible for the action in question. In the present paper, I outline two different strategies for responding to Vargas’s trouble with tracing. I then show how further consideration of the epistemic condition for moral responsibility renders tracing significantly less problematic than Vargas claims.
11. The Modern Schoolman: Volume > 88 > Issue: 1/2
Daniel Speak Libertarianism, Luck, and Gift
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According to libertarianism, free will requires indeterminism. Many opponents of libertarianism have suggested that indeterminism would inject luck or chance into human action in a problematic way. Alfred Mele’s recent “contrast argument” is an especially clear effort to make this kind of objection to libertarianism precise. This paper is response to the contrast argument on behalf of libertarianism. I argue that worries about luck and chance, enshrined in the contrast argument, arise largely from confusion and lack of imagination. I address the confusion by disambiguating various conclusions the contrast argument is supposed to support. In each case, I claim the libertarian turns out to be on solid ground. I address the lack of imagination by developing (rather tentatively) a hint from William James regarding the relationship between chance and gift.
12. The Modern Schoolman: Volume > 88 > Issue: 1/2
C. P. Ragland Softening Fischer’s Hard Compatibilism
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According to “hard” compatibilists, we can be responsible for our actions not only when they are determined by mindless natural causes, but also when some agent other than ourselves intentionally determines us to act as we do. “Soft” compatibilists consider freedom compatible with merely natural determinism, but not with intentional determinism (e.g., theological determinism). Because he believes there is no relevant difference (NRD) between a naturally determined agent and a relevantly similar intentionally determined agent, John Martin Fischer is a hard compatibilist. However, he argues for “historical” compatibilism by appealing to the intuition that certain manipulated agents are not responsible. By considering a new type of manipulation case, I show that Fischer’s appeal to ordinary intuitions about manipulation conflicts with NRD, so that he must choose between the two. The closing section explains why I think going “soft” is Fischer’s better option.
13. The Modern Schoolman: Volume > 88 > Issue: 1/2
Neal A. Tognazzini Understanding Source Incompatibilism
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Source incompatibilism is an increasingly popular version of incompatibilism about determinism and moral responsibility. However, many self-described source incompatibilists formulate the thesis differently, resulting in conceptual confusion that can obscure the relationship between source incompatibilism and other views in the neighborhood. In this paper I canvas various formulations of the thesis in the literature and argue in favor of one as the least likely to lead to conceptual confusion. It turns out that accepting my formulation has some surprising (but helpful) taxonomical consequences.
14. The Modern Schoolman: Volume > 88 > Issue: 1/2
Christopher Evan Franklin Masks, Abilities, and Opportunities: Why the New Dispositionalism Cannot Succeed
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Conditional analyses of ability have been nearly entirely abandoned by philosophers of action as woefully inadequate attempts of analyzing the concept of ability. Recently, however, Vihvelin (2004) and Fara (2008) have appealed to the similarity between dispositions and abilities, as well as recent advances in the metaphysics of dispositions, in order to construct putatively superior conditional analyses of ability. Vihvelin and Fara claim that their revised conditional analysesof ability enable them to show that Frankfurt-style cases fail to sever the connection between freedom and responsibility, and that compatibilism about free will and determinism is true. I argue, however, that even granting the truth of their dispositional analyses, they cannot achieve these aims. Vihvelin and Fara’s fundamental error lies in their failing to appreciate the complex nature of free will and moral responsibility—specifically that agents’ freedom and responsibility depend not only on their abilities, but also their opportunities.
15. The Modern Schoolman: Volume > 88 > Issue: 1/2
Andrei A. Buckareff How Does Agent-Causal Power Work?
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Agent-causalism or the agency theory is the thesis that agents qua objects/substances cause at least some of their decisions (or at least their coming to have an intention that is constitutive of a decision). In this paper, I examine the tenability of an attractive agent-causal account of the metaphysics of the springs of free action developed and defended in the recent work of Timothy O’Connor. Against the backdrop of recent work on causal powers in ontology, I argue that, however attractive the account, O’Connor’s agent-causal theory of free agency is ultimately untenable.
16. The Modern Schoolman: Volume > 88 > Issue: 1/2
Rebekah L. H. Rice What is a Causal Theorist to Do about Omissions?
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Most philosophers concede that one can properly be held morally responsible for intentionally omitting to do something. If one maintains that omissions are actions (negative actions, perhaps), then assuming the requisite conditions regarding voluntariness are met, one can tell a familiar story about how/why this is. In particular, causal theorists can explain the etiology of an intentionalal omission in causal terms. However, if one denies that omissions are actions of any kind,then the familiar story is no longer available. Some have suggested that this poses a special problem for causal theorists of action. I argue that it does not and, even more interestingly, that it renders a more nuanced understanding of voluntariness (since it no longer applies strictly to actions) and moral responsibility (since you might be to blame, but not for anything you’ve done).
17. The Modern Schoolman: Volume > 88 > Issue: 1/2
Alicia Finch Experimental Philosophy and the Concept of Moral Responsibility
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In recent years, so-called experimental philosophers have argued that participants in the moral responsibility debate ought to adopt a new methodology. In particular, they argue, the results of experimental surveys ought to be introduced into the debate. According to the experimental philosophers, these surveys are philosophically relevant because they provide information about the moral responsibility judgments that ordinary people make. Moreover, they argue, anaccount of moral responsibility is satisfactory only if it is tightly connected to ordinary judgments. The purpose of this paper is to undermine this argument. I will argue that experimental philosophers have not adequately acknowledged the distinction between metaphysics and conceptual analysis; they have not carefully distinguished what-it-is-to-be morally responsible from the concept of moral responsibility. I will draw this distinction, and then argue that metaphysicians quametaphysicians may both ignore experimental data and offer an account of moral responsibility that satisfies the tight connection desideratum.
18. The Modern Schoolman: Volume > 88 > Issue: 1/2
Randolph Clarke Responsibility, Mechanisms, and Capacities
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Frankfurt-style cases are supposed to show that an agent can be responsible for doing something even though the agent wasn’t able to do otherwise. Neil Levy has argued that the cases fail. Agents in such cases, he says, lack a capacity that they’d have to have in order to be responsible for doing what they do. Here it’s argued that Levy is mistaken. Although it may be that agents in Frankfurt-style cases lack some kind of capability, what they lack isn’t required for them to be responsible for doing what they do. Differences between actions and omissions, and between the requirements for responsibility for these two, are also discussed.