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articles
1. Faith and Philosophy: Volume > 36 > Issue: 4
Joseph Stenberg The All-Happy God
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Is God happy? In the tradition of classical theism, the answer has long been “Yes.” And, just as God is not merely powerful, but all-powerful, so too God is not merely happy, but all-happy or infinitely happy. Far from being empty praise, God’s happiness does important work, in particular, in explaining both human existence and human destiny. This essay is an attempt to give divine happiness the serious philosophical treatment it deserves. It turns out that, as with many divine traits, ascribing all-happiness to God is not without potential problems. I raise and attempt to address what I take to be the most serious problem, which I call “The Subjective Problem of Evil.”
2. Faith and Philosophy: Volume > 36 > Issue: 4
Justin Mooney How to Solve the Problem of Evil: A Deontological Strategy
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One paradigmatic argument from evil against theism claims that (1) if God exists, then there is no gratuitous evil. But (2) there is gratuitous evil, so (3) God does not exist. I consider three deontological strategies for resisting this argument. Each strategy restructures existing theodicies which deny (2) so that they instead deny (1). The first two strategies are problematic on their own, but their primary weaknesses vanish when they are combined to form the third strategy, resulting in a promising new approach to the problem of evil.
3. Faith and Philosophy: Volume > 36 > Issue: 4
James Dominic Rooney, OP What is the Value of Faith For Salvation? A Thomistic Response to Kvanvig
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Jonathan Kvanvig has proposed a non-cognitive theory of faith. He argues that the model of faith as essentially involving assent to propositions is of no value. In response, I propose a Thomistic cognitive theory of faith that both avoids Kvanvig’s criticism and presents a richer and more inclusive account of how faith is intrinsically valuable. I show these accounts of faith diverge in what they take as the goal of the Christian life: personal relationship with God or an external state of affairs. For this reason, more seriously, the non-cognitivist project likely requires rejecting traditional Christianity and its picture of salvation.
4. Faith and Philosophy: Volume > 36 > Issue: 4
Travis Dumsday Is the Cosmos Fine-Tuned for Life, Or For the Possibility of Life? (And Why Patristic and Medieval Demonology Might Hold Part of the Answer)
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Contemporary physics and cosmology have accumulated a great deal of empirical evidence for the claim that in order for our universe to contain life, an array of incredibly precise laws, constants, and specific initial conditions had to be in place. The minuscule odds of this happening purely by chance have prompted some Christian thinkers to suggest that this can be seen as novel evidence that the universe was fine-tuned specifically to give rise to biological life. And yet some Christian thinkers also wish to make the case that molecular biology provides new evidence to the effect that life could not have arisen naturally in our universe, but rather that the origin of life required additional special divine intervention. There is at least a prima facie tension between these two ideas. Relatedly, some have raised the question of why, if the universe were fine-tuned for life, it was also set up in such a way that the origin of life was preceded by more than 10 billion years of lifelessness. If life was the whole point, why the seeming delay? In this paper I suggest a way Christian thinkers might address both issues: namely, the cosmos was not fine-tuned for life, but merely for the possibility of life. Perhaps God wanted a universe in which biological organisms were possible (including intelligent organisms like us) but in which their non-existence was also a live possibility. I develop this solution in dialogue with related ideas arising from the demonologies of St. Augustine, Boethius, and St. Anselm.
5. Faith and Philosophy: Volume > 36 > Issue: 4
Richard Swinburne Stump On Forgiveness
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I claim that all the criticisms made by Eleonore Stump in her Atonement of my account of the nature and justification of human and divine forgiveness are entirely mistaken. She claims that God’s forgiveness of our sins is always immediate and unconditional. I argue that on Christ’s understanding of forgiveness as deeming the sinner not to have wronged one, God’s forgiveness of us is always conditional on our repenting and being willing to forgive others. Her account of forgiveness merely as the expression of love for the sinner leaves her without a separate word for the all-important act of “wiping the slate clean.” Unlike Stump, I endorse the account in The Letter to the Hebrews of Christ’s passion and death as a sacrifice for human sin.
6. Faith and Philosophy: Volume > 36 > Issue: 4
William Lane Craig Eleonore Stump’s Critique of Penal Substitutionary Atonement Theories
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The first three chapters of Eleonore Stump’s Atonement are devoted to a critique of atonement theories she styles “Anselmian,” including penal substitutionary theories. I focus on her critique of the latter. She presents three groups of objections labeled “internal problems,” “external problems,” and “further problems,” before presenting what she takes to be “the central and irremediable problem” facing such accounts. The external and further problems are seen to be irrelevant to penal substitutionary theories once they are properly understood. Her four internal problems are shown to be far from conclusive. Finally, her identified central problem is seen to be spurious because (i) given Stump’s definitions of love and forgiveness, it is not true that God, as characterized by penal substitutionary theories, fails to be perfectly loving and forgiving, and (ii) Stump’s entire approach to the doctrine of the atonement is mistakenly predicated on construing God as a private party involved in a personal dispute rather than as a Judge and Ruler.
book reviews
7. Faith and Philosophy: Volume > 36 > Issue: 4
Charles Guth III, Griffin Klemick Wittgenstein, Religion and Ethics: New Perspectives from Philosophy and Theology, edited by Mikel Burley
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8. Faith and Philosophy: Volume > 36 > Issue: 4
Heidi Chamberlin Giannini Religious Ethics and Constructivism: A Metaethical Inquiry, edited by Kevin Jung
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9. Faith and Philosophy: Volume > 36 > Issue: 4
Peter Furlong Thomas Aquinas on Moral Wrongdoing, by Colleen McCluskey
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10. Faith and Philosophy: Volume > 36 > Issue: 4
Dolores G. Morris Christian Philosophy: Conceptions, Continuations and Challenges, edited by J. Aaron Simmons
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11. Faith and Philosophy: Volume > 36 > Issue: 4
Kevin W. Sharpe Between Death and Resurrection: A Critical Response to Recent Catholic Debate Concerning the Intermediate State, by Stephen Yates
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articles
12. Faith and Philosophy: Volume > 36 > Issue: 3
Justin Morton Can Theists Avoid Epistemological Objections to Moral (and Normative) Realism?
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Epistemological objections to moral realism allege that realism entails moral skepticism. Many philosophers have assumed that theistic moral realists can easily avoid such objections. In this article, I argue that things are not so easy: theists run the risk of violating an important constraint on replies to epistemological objections, according to which replies to such objections may not rely on substantive moral claims of a certain kind. Yet after presenting this challenge, I then argue that theists can meet it, successfully replying to the objections without relying on the problematic kinds of substantive moral claims. Theists have a distinctive and plausible reply to epistemological objections to moral (and, in fact, normative) realism.
13. Faith and Philosophy: Volume > 36 > Issue: 3
Jon W. Thompson Divine Idealism as Physicalism? Reflections on the Structural Definition of Physicalism
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Hempel’s Dilemma remains at the center of the problem of defining physicalism. In brief, the dilemma asks whether physicalism should be defined by appeal to current or future physics. If defined by current physics, physicalism is almost certainly false. If defined by an ideal future physics, then physicalism has little determinable content. Montero and Papineau have innovatively suggested that the dilemma may be avoided by defining physicalism structurally. While their definition is one among many definitions, it is significant in that—if successful—it would break the impasse for defining physicalism. I argue, however, that the structural definition fails because it counts metaphysical frameworks (crucially, versions of divine idealism) as “physicalist”—an unwelcome result for physicalists. This paper thus furthers the debate on the definition of physicalism and sheds light on the relationship between physicalism and idealism.
14. Faith and Philosophy: Volume > 36 > Issue: 3
Robert C. Roberts Is Kierkegaard a “Virtue Ethicist”?
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Several readers of Kierkegaard have proposed that his works are a good source for contemporary investigations of virtues, especially theistic and Christian ones. Sylvia Walsh has recently offered several arguments to cast doubt on the thesis that Kierkegaard can be profitably read as a “virtue ethicist.” Examination of her arguments helps to clarify what virtues, as excellent traits of human character, can be in a moral outlook that ascribes deep sin and moral helplessness to human beings and their existence and salvation entirely to God’s grace. The examination also clarifies the relationship between virtues and character and between the practices of virtue ethics and character ethics. Such clarification also may provide a bridge of communication between Kierkegaard scholarship and scholars of virtue ethics beyond the theistic communities. In particular, I’ll argue that a character ethics that is not a virtue ethics would be suboptimal as an aid to the formation of Christian wisdom and sanctification. Kierkegaard’s character ethics is a virtue ethics.
15. Faith and Philosophy: Volume > 36 > Issue: 3
Hugh Burling The Reference of “God” Revisited
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I argue that the reference for “God” is determined by the definite description “the being that is worthy of our worship.” I describe two desiderata for rival theories of the reference of “God” to meet: accessibility and scope. I explain the deficiencies of a view where God is dubbed “God” and the name passed down by causal chains and a view where “God” picks out the unique satisfier of a traditional definite description. After articulating the “Worship-Worthiness” view, I show how it best satisfies the desiderata. I then respond to some putative counterexamples to the view.
16. Faith and Philosophy: Volume > 36 > Issue: 3
Frederick Choo The Prior Obligations Objection to Theological Stateism
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Theological stateist theories, the most well-known of which is Divine Command Theory (DCT), ground our moral obligations directly in some state of God. The prior obligations objection poses a challenge to theological stateism. Is there a moral obligation to obey God’s commands? If no, it is hard to see how God’s commands can generate any moral obligations for us. If yes, then what grounds this prior obligation? To avoid circularity, the moral obligation must be grounded independent of God’s commands; and therefore DCT fails to ground all moral obligations in God’s commands. I argue that DCT proponents should embrace “metaethical DCT.” On this view, there is no moral obligation to obey God. God creates our moral obligations out of normative nothingness. I argue that this helps DCT proponents to escape the prior obligations objection. Other theological stateist theories can modify their theory similarly to meet this objection.
book reviews
17. Faith and Philosophy: Volume > 36 > Issue: 3
Gregory E. Ganssle Philosophical Essays Against Open Theism, edited by Benjamin H. Arbour
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18. Faith and Philosophy: Volume > 36 > Issue: 3
Kate Finley Petitionary Prayer: A Philosophical Investigation, by Scott Davison
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19. Faith and Philosophy: Volume > 36 > Issue: 3
Dustin Crummett Does God Matter? Essays on the Axiological Consequences of Theism, edited by Klaas Kraay
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20. Faith and Philosophy: Volume > 36 > Issue: 3
Chris Tweedt Faith and Humility, by Jonathan Kvanvig
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