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Philosophia Christi

Volume 12, Issue 2, 2010
Theism and Ultimate Explanation

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Displaying: 1-20 of 25 documents


1. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
Craig J. Hazen Editor’s Introduction
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book symposium on theism and ultimate explanation
2. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
Jeremy Evans Guest Editor’s Introduction
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3. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
Timothy O’Connor Theism and Ultimate Explanation: The Necessary Shape of Contingency
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Twentieth-century analytic philosophy was dominated by positivist antimetaphysics and neo-Humean deflationary metaphysics, and the nature of explanation was reconceived in order to fit these agendas. Unsurprisingly, the explanatory value of theism was widely discredited. I argue that the long-overdue revival of a modalized, broadly neo-Aristotelian metaphysics and an improved perspective on modal knowledge dramatically changes the landscape. In this enriched context, there is no sharp divide between physics and metaphysics, and the natural end of the theoretician’s quest for a unified explanation of the universe is God, an absolutely necessary, transcendent, and personal source of all contingent reality.
4. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
Thomas D. Senor On the Tenability of Brute Naturalism and the Implications of Brute Theism
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Timothy O’Connor’s book Theism and Ultimate Explanation offers a defense of a new version of the cosmological argument. In his discussion, O’Connor argues against the coherence of a brute fact “explanation” of the universe and for the claim that the God of theism cannot be logically contingent. In this paper, I take issue with both of these arguments. Regarding the former, I claim that contrary to what O’Connor asserts, we have no good reason to prefer an account according to which the universe is explained via a necessary being to that of a naturalist who thinks that the universe is contingent and ultimately unexplained. Regarding the latter, I argue that the possibility of a logically contingent God is fully consistent with traditional theism.
5. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
Graham Oppy The Shape of Causal Reality: A Naturalistic Adaptation of O’Connor’s Cosmological Argument
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In Theism and Ultimate Explanation, Tim O’Connor sets out and defends a cosmological argument from contingency. In my paper—which might have been titled “Naturalism and Ultimate Explanation: The Necessary Shape of Contingency”—I argue that, even if you grant O’Connor his various controversial assumptions about modality and causality, the argument that he sets out provides stronger support for naturalism than it does for theism. In particular, I claim that considerations about theoretical and ontological parsimony favour a naturalistic necessary shape for contingency over a theistic necessary shape for contingency.
6. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
Hugh McCann Modality and Sovereignty: On Theism and Ultimate Explanation
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Two important aspects of O’Connor’s Theism and Ultimate Explanation are explored. The first is whether God’s existence should be considered ontologically necessary. I suggest that although existence is essential to God, it is not a matter of ontological necessity. The second is whether prior to creating God deliberates about what universe or universes to create. I argue that he does not, that to say he does is to mistake creation for a kind of manufacturing. Implications of these claims regarding divine sovereignty are briefly discussed.
7. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
Michael J. Almeida O’Connor’s Permissive Multiverse
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I distinguish restrictive and permissive multiverse solutions to the problems of evil and no best world. Restrictive multiverses do not admit a single instance of gratuitous evil and they are not improvable. I show that restrictive multiverses unacceptably entail that all modal distinctions collapse. I consider Timothy O’Connor’s permissive multiverse. I show that a perfect creator minimizes aggregative suffering in permissive multiverses only if the actual universe is not included in any actualizable multiverse. I conclude that permissive multiverses do not offer a credible solution to the problems of evil and no best world.
8. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
Timothy O’Connor Is God’s Necessity Necessary?: Replies to Senor, Oppy, McCann, and Almeida
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I briefly defend the following claims in response to my critics: (1) We cannot make a principled division between features of contingent reality that do and features that don’t “cry our for explanation.” (2) The physical data indicating fine-tuning provide confirmation of the hypothesis of a personal necessary cause of the universe over against an impersonal necessary cause, notwithstanding the fact that the probability of either hypothesis, if true, would be 1. (3) Theism that commits to God’s necessary existence makes more sense than theism that denies it. (4) God is likely to have created an infinity of universes, and this conclusion helps with (though does not solve) the many problems of evil.
articles
9. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
R. Scott Smith Intentionality and Our Fashionable Philosophies: Constructivist Implications for Naturalism, Physicalism, Moderate Nominalism, and Postmodern Epistemologies
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Many understand intentionality as the ofness or aboutness of mental states yet disagree about it metaphysically. I will argue that (1) intentionality seems best understood as an abstract universal; (2) it is needed to have factual knowledge of reality, yet (3) metaphysical treatments (or uses) of intentionality by several fashionable philosophies land us in constructivism. I will focus on Daniel Dennett’s treatment of intentionality and then extend my findings to other naturalist and physicalist views, postmodern epistemologies, and nominalism. I also will sketch show how we use intentionality to know reality before suggesting an implication for epistemic externalism.
10. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
Mark Nowacki, Jared Poon Against Voluntarism: Or, Why a Free Will Is Subject to Natural Necessity
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The will, while free, is nonetheless subject to natural necessity: when presented with its object, the will necessarily chooses that which reason judges to be better. A presumption in favor of this view, which we call intellectualism, is established by eliminating its main rival, namely, an indifference theory of the will, which we call voluntarism. William of Ockham, who holds a sophisticated indifference theory, is adduced as an example. Criticisms leveled against Ockham apply, mutatis mutandis, to other voluntarist-inspired accounts.
11. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
Travis Dumsday Divine Hiddenness and the Responsibility Argument: Assessing Schellenberg’s Argument against Theism
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J. L. Schellenberg’s “problem of divine hiddenness” has generated much discussion. Swinburne has replied with his “responsibility argument,” according to which God allows some nonresistant nonbelief in order to foster the good of human responsibility, with some people tasked with leading others to belief in God. Schellenberg has supplied detailed replies to Swinburne. My goal is to provide a new formulation of the responsibility argument that defuses Schellenberg’s objections.
12. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
Gregory L. Bock Understanding David Hume’s Argument against Miracles: Establishing a Religion on the Testimony of a Miracle
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The proper interpretation of Hume’s argument against miracles in Section 10 of An Inquiry concerning Human Understanding has been heavily debated. In this paper, I argue that Hume’s main argument has the intended conclusion that there can never be a sufficient justification for believing that a miracle has occurred on the basis of testimony sufficient to make it a basis for a religion. I also consider and argue against other common readings.
13. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
Bruce Reichenbach Rethinking the Basis of Christian-Buddhist Dialogue: Understanding Metaphysical Realism and Nonrealism Issues
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Interreligious dialogue presupposes that discourse functions the same for both parties. I argue that what makes Christian-Buddhist dialogue so difficult is that whereas Christians have a realist view of theoretical concepts, Buddhists generally do not. The evidence for this is varied, including the Buddha’s own refusal to respond to metaphysical questions and the Buddhist constructionist view of reality. I reply to two objections, that Buddhists do conduct metaphysical debate, and that the Buddha adopted a correspondence rather than a pragmatic theory of truth. In the end I develop the implications of this realist/nonrealist dichotomy for commencing and conducting interreligious dialogue.
philosophical notes
14. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
William Lane Craig Much Ado about Nothing: A Review Essay on The Grand Design
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While declaring philosophy to be dead, Hawking and Mlodinow are deeply engaged in philosophical speculation. Their treatment of the origin and fine-tuning of the universe, though unsympathetic to theism, turns out upon examination to be quite supportive of natural theology.
15. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
Patrick T. Smith The Enduring Challenge of Religious Skepticism: An Evaluation of a Recent Model
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J. L. Schellenberg has provided a rigorous and robust philosophical defense of religious skepticism through various modes of reasoning and employs an epistemic defeat strategy that appeals to unrecognized evidence. He contends on this framework that reason requires religious skepticism. This essay focuses on Schellenberg’s basic epistemic defeat strategy. I argue that his methodology is problematic because his key skeptical argument rests on an equivocation on the notion of total evidence, which makes it difficult to implement his epistemic defeat strategy in favor of his claim that reason requires us to be religious skeptics.
16. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
Francis J. Beckwith Guidance for Doting and Peeping Thomists: A Review Essay of Aquinas: A Beginner’s Guide
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This essay is a review of Edward Feser’s Aquinas: A Beginner’s Guide. In the first part, the author summarizes the book’s five chapters, drawing attention to Feser’s application of Aquinas’s thought to contemporary philosophical problems. Part 2 is dedicated to Feser’s Thomistic analysis of Intelligent Design (ID). The author explains Feser’s case and why Aquinas’s “Fifth Way,” which is often labeled a “design argument,” depends on a philosophy of nature that ID’s methods implicitly reject.
17. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
Marie George An Aristotelian-Thomist Responds to Edward Feser’s “Teleology”
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I argue that Edward Feser misconstrues the Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition on issues relevant to the arguments for God’s existence that proceed from finality in nature because he misapplies the A-T view that ordering to an end is inherent in natural things: (1) Feser speaks as if human action in no way serves as a model for understanding action for an end in nature; (2) he misreads, and ultimately undermines, the Fifth Way, by substituting intrinsic end-directedness in place of end-directedness; (3) he overlooks striking similarities between Paley’s argument from design and the Fifth Way. He also fails to consider the role of the good in the Fifth Way.
18. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
Kevin Corcoran A Critical Appraisal of Francis Beckwith’s Defending Life
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In his book Defending Life, Francis Beckwith claims that the question of personhood and human nature is the central question in the abortion debate. He further asserts that the unborn entity, from the moment of conception, is a full-fledged member of the human community. In this paper I try to show that the argument Beckwith offers for the moral wrongness of abortion in Defending Life is unpersuasive, his elucidation of key terms question-begging, and his claims concerning embryology and zygotic (and postzygotic) development highly controversial.
19. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
Gary Hartenburg Rethinking Athens and Jerusalem: A Review Essay on When Athens Met Jerusalem
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In When Athens Met Jerusalem, John Mark Reynolds makes (1) a claim about Plato’s account of the relation between myth and argument, (2) a claim about Plato’s account of knowledge and science, and (3) a claim about the relation between faith and reason. I criticize each of these claims. Regarding the first claim, I show that Reynolds’s explanation of the role of a person’s experience of Platonic forms is unclear. Regarding the second, I indicate some tensions between the antirealist character of Platonic philosophy of science and Reynolds’s insistence that some claims about the empirical world are true. Lastly, I attempt to clarify Reynolds’s explanation of the relation between faith and reason by thinking of them as two parts of a single whole whose goal is to comprehend truths about God.
book reviews
20. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
J. B. Stump The Evidence for God: Religious Knowledge Reexamined
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