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presidential address
1. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 85
Dominic J. Balestra Galileo’s Legacy: Finding an Epistemically Just Relationship In-Between Science and Religion
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The paper explores the question of the relationship between science and religion today in light of its modern origin in the Galileo affair. After first presenting Ian Barbour’s four standard models for the possible relationships between science and religion, it then draws on the work of Richard Blackwell and Ernan McMullin to consider the Augustinian principles at work in Galileo’s understanding of science and religion. In light of this the paper proposes a fifth, hybrid model, “dialogical convergence,” as a more adequate model of the relationship in-between science and religion because it is epistemically just in its coherence with the last fifty years of philosophy of science by which it affords more than the mere tolerance of an independence view which leaves no space for the possibility of a theological understanding of nature.
presentation of the aquinas medal
2. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 85
Eleonore Stump Introduction of the Aquinas Medalist
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aquinas medalist’s address
3. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 85
Jorge J. E. Gracia Does Philosophy Have a Role to Play in Contemporary Society?: The Challenges of Science and Culture
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plenary sessions
4. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 85
John Cottingham Confronting the Cosmos: Scientific Rationality and Human Understanding
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A long tradition maintains that knowledge of God is naturally available to any human being, without the aid of special divine grace or revelation. St Paul declares that those who fail to recognize the divine authorship of the world are “without excuse.” But the universe as scrutinized by an impartial and rational spectator can seem blank or inscrutable, and those who do not see it as the work of a divine creator do not seem guilty of any error of logic or observation. This paper suggests that in order to defend the idea of natural knowledge of God we need a different kind of religious epistemology—one that, rather than trying to make religious knowledge conform to a neutral, secular-style epistemic template, takes account of the special conditions under which God, if he exists, might be expected to manifest himself. The paper concludes by arguing that our responses to value, including our experience of natural beauty and of moral goodness, can be construed as manifestations of the divine. Such ‘intimations of the transcendent,’ do not qualify as scientific evidence on the one hand, nor on the other hand do they presuppose divine intervention or miraculous revelation; nevertheless they are a part of our human experience that, if we are open and attentive, we cannot in integrity ignore.
5. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 85
Michael Ruse Making Room For Faith In An Age Of Science: The Science-Religion Relationship Revisited
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Are science and religion necessarily in conflict? This essay, by stressing the importance of metaphor in scientific understanding, argues that this is not so. There are certain important questions about existence, ethics, sentience and ultimate meaning and purpose that not only does science not answer but that science does not even attempt to answer. One does not necessarily have to turn to religion—one could remain agnostic or skeptical—but nothing in science precludes religion from offering answers. One may criticize the answers of religion, but so long as religion is not attempting surreptitiously to offer scientific answers, the criticisms must be theological or philosophical or of like nature, and cannot simply be purely scientific.
6. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 85
John F. Haught Darwin, Faith, and Critical Intelligence
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Evolutionary biology has considerably altered our understanding of life, and it now promises to enhance our understanding of human existence by providing new insights into the meaning of intelligence, ethical aspiration and religious life. For some scientific thinkers, especially those who espouse a physicalist worldview, Darwin’s science seems so impressive that it now replaces theology by providing the deepest available explanation of all manifestations of life, including human intelligence. By focusing on human intelligence this essay asks whether a theological perspective on the universe can still have an illuminating role to play alongside of biology (and other scientific perspectives) in contemporary attempts to understand human intelligence.
session i: the beginning of the world
7. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 85
Travis Dumsday Why Thomistic Philosophy of Nature Implies (Something Like) Big-Bang Cosmology
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I argue that two components of Thomistic philosophy of nature (specifically, hylomorphism combined with a relational ontology of space) entail a core claim of big-bang cosmology. I then consider some implications of this fact for natural theology.
8. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 85
Robert C. Koons, Logan Paul Gage St. Thomas Aquinas on Intelligent Design
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Recently, the Intelligent Design (ID) movement has challenged the claim of many in the scientific establishment that nature gives no empirical signs of having been deliberately designed. In particular, ID arguments in biology dispute the notion that neo-Darwinian evolution is the only viable scientific explanation of the origin of biological novelty, arguing that there are telltale signs of the activity of intelligence which can be recognized and studied empirically. In recent years, a number of Catholic philosophers, theologians, and scientists have expressed opposition to ID. Some of these critics claim that there is a conflict between the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas and that of the ID movement, and even an affinity between Aquinas’s ideas and theistic Darwinism. We consider six such criticisms and find each wanting.
session ii: sensation and the neural system
9. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 85
Daniel D. De Haan Thomistic Hylomorphism, Self-Determination, Neuroplasticity, and Grace: The Case of Addiction
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This paper presents a Thomistic analysis of addiction that incorporates scientific, philosophical, and theological features of addiction. I will argue first, that a Thomistic hylomorphic anthropology provides a cogent explanation of the causal interactions between human action and neuroplasticity. I will employ Karol Wojtyła’s account of self-determination to further clarify the kind of neuroplasticity involved in addiction. Next, I will elucidate how a Thomistic anthropology can accommodate, without reductionism, both the neurophysiological and psychological elements of addiction, and finally, I will make clear how Thomism can provide an ethics and a theology of grace that can be integrated with these ontological and scientific considerations into a holistic theory of addiction.
10. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 85
Robert E. Wood What Is Seeing?: A Phenomenological Approach to Neuro-Psychology
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With a myriad of others, Francis Crick has sought the nature of the soul in the observable functioning of the nervous system, beginning with seeing. In contrast, this paper explores the nature of the soul through the grounding of the act of seeing in the power of seeing as its “soul” and folds in the kinds of attention we pay through seeing. We begin with the eidetic characteristics of the visual field. We then explore three theoretical positions on where what is seen presents itself: within the brain, on things, or between awareness and things. What makes possible the appearance of things is the self-presence of the seer revealed in the nature of touch which suffuses the functional, self-directive body. Objectifying the eyes by the ophthalmologist abstracts from their essential expressivity and from the speech that can explain that expression. In the situation of encounter, focus upon the empirical features breaks the character of the encounter where we live “outside” ourselves and within the space of common meaning expressed in language. Even in the empirical focus, the ophthalmologist recognizes, through her seeing, deviations from normality of functioning and uses techniques that follow from her having intellectually mastered the field of practice. As a native power, seeing is a universal orientation towards all instances of the colored kind, cutting through the problem of universals by finding them in powers and correlative kinds. Recognition of this is made possible by the functioning of the notion of Being that grounds both intellectual and volitional activities. A concluding section explores several tasks for neuro-psychological research and expands into the grounds of a general cosmology centered upon the free and intelligent commitment of neuro-psychologists.