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Res Philosophica

Volume 98, Issue 2, April 2021
Special Issue: Islamic Philosophy and Contemporary Philosophy of Religion

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Displaying: 1-10 of 10 documents

1. Res Philosophica: Volume > 98 > Issue: 2
Billy Dunaway, Jon McGinnis Editors' Note
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2. Res Philosophica: Volume > 98 > Issue: 2
T. Ryan Byerly Recovering a Role for Moral Character and Ascetic Practice in Religious Epistemology
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Moral character and ascetic practice have not been major themes in contemporary analytic religious epistemology, but they have been major themes in the religious epistemologies of several influential historical figures, including the medieval Islamic philosopher al-Ghazalı. This article will be concerned with the place of moral character and ascetic practice in both al-Ghazalı’s religious epistemology and in contemporary analytic religious epistemology. By reading al-Ghazalı alongside contemporary work, I aim to highlight some fruitful ideas about how moral character and ascetic practice could play important roles in religious epistemology. I argue that the exploration of these ideas may be enriched via engagement with recent developments in mainstream epistemology and virtue theory, pointing toward future avenues for such work.
3. Res Philosophica: Volume > 98 > Issue: 2
Reza Hadisi Creative Imagining as Practical Knowing: An Akbariyya Account
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I argue that ‘practical knowledge’ can be understood as constituted by a kind of imagining. In particular, it is the knowledge of what I am doing when that knowledge is represented via extramental imagination. Two interesting results follow. First, on this account, we can do justice both to the cognitive character and the practical character of practical knowledge. And second, we can identify a condition under which imagination becomes factive, and thus a source of objective evidence. I develop this view by extracting an account of self-knowledge via extramental imagination from the writings of Ibn ‘Arabi (1165-1240).
4. Res Philosophica: Volume > 98 > Issue: 2
Joshua Lee Harris Ontological Pluralism and Divine Naming: Insights from Avicenna
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In this article, I defend a version of ontological pluralism, specifically with an eye toward laying metaphysical groundwork for an account of divine naming inspired by Avicenna. I try to show (1) that Avicenna’s pluralism is well-motivated as a metaphysical thesis and (2) that it offers substantive philosophical support for a correlatively pluralist approach to divine naming. My argument proceeds by identifying two influential objections to ontological pluralism, and then offering replies to these objections with the help of Avicenna. The first objection pertains to pluralism as a position in general metaphysics, whereas the second pertains to pluralism as a position in theological epistemology or divine naming. To the extent that these replies are successful, I argue that Avicennian pluralism is compelling on both counts as a philosophical position.
5. Res Philosophica: Volume > 98 > Issue: 2
Laura Hassan In Pursuit of the World's Creator: Fakhr al-Din al-Razi on the Origins of the Universe in al-Matalib al-'Aliya
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Fakhr al-Dın al-Razı’s (d. 606/1210) final theological treatise, al-Matalib al-‘Aliya min al-‘Ilm al-Ilahiyya, is sufficient justification for the assertion of his towering significance as interpreter of Ibn Sına (d. 428/1037) and in the development of new theological paradigms. Yet such is its richness and subtlety that al-Razı’s views in the Matalib on key doctrinal issues such as the creation of the world require much further study. Previously, scholars have maintained that al-Razı refrains from affirming any one doctrine of creation. I argue to the contrary, that despite al-Razı’s epistemological caution on matters pertaining to the action of God, he ultimately deems creation ex nihilo most probable on the balance of evidence, and therefore the doctrine that is to be believed.
6. Res Philosophica: Volume > 98 > Issue: 2
Kirk Lougheed Epistemic Paternalism, Open Group Inquiry, and Religious Knowledge
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Epistemic paternalism occurs when a decision is made for an agent which helps them arrive at the truth, though they didn’t consent to that decision (and sometimes weren’t even aware of it). Common defenses of epistemic paternalism claim that it can help promote positive veritistic results. In other words, epistemic paternalism is often good for inquiry. I argue that there is often a better alternative available to epistemic paternalism in the form of what I call Open Group Inquiry. I then examine how Open Group Inquiry can be applied to cases of religious inquiry, while noting that epistemic paternalism is impermissible in cases of general religious inquiry. I argue that in the case of religious inquiry, there are serious questions about what constitutes evidence along with how to evaluate it. Rather than posing a particular worry for Open Group Inquiry, I suggest these questions pose a problem for religious inquiry in general. I conclude that while it very much matters how concepts like religious knowledge, religious faith, scepticism, etc., are defined, these considerations may well pave the way for a novel argument for religious scepticism.
7. Res Philosophica: Volume > 98 > Issue: 2
Amir Saemi Revelation, Moral Skepticism, and the Mu'tazilites
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Facing morally controversial passages in Scripture, many Muslims find themselves forced to choose between accepting the dictates of Scripture and trusting their modern moral sensibilities. Let’s call the view that our independent moral judgment is not reliable when it is in conflict with the apparent meaning of Scripture, moderate moral skepticism. Assuming the falsity of the divine command theory, I will explore the argument for moderate moral skepticism by discussing the ideas of the Mu‘tazilite theologian, Qadi ‘Abd al-Jabbar al-Hamadani (935–1025). My hope is that the discussion of the ideas of ‘Abd al-Jabbar helps us to see why the argument for moderate moral skepticism is appealing and what is the best way to resist the argument.
8. Res Philosophica: Volume > 98 > Issue: 2
Julie Loveland Swanstrom Illumination of the Heart: Doubt, Certainty, and Knowledge Acquisition in al-Ghazali and Augustine
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Though al-Ghazalı is often superficially compared to Descartes, Ghazalı’s epistemological project echoes—in consonance or dissonance—Augustine’s, warranting a clear exploration of the depths of these echoes. For both Augustine and Ghazalı the epistemological and theological quest starts with an interior turn, and divine illumination provides the tools for and content of knowledge. Both recount skeptical leanings resolved by divine illumination; both employ philosophy as a tool in theological disputes; both see knowledge as dynamic and transformative; and both assert that God’s direct illumination is a necessary precursor to and a final capstone upon knowledge. Ghazalı’s use of illumination is more circumscribed and specified than Augustine’s. I argue that Ghazalı and Augustine take similar approaches to the role of divine illumination and the importance of interiority or the subjective grasp on knowledge, but despite these differences, Ghazalı and Augustine deal distinctly with the question of authority and certitude of knowledge.
9. Res Philosophica: Volume > 98 > Issue: 2
Seyma Yazici Can al-Ghazali's Conception of Modality Propose a Solution to Rowe's Argument against Divine Freedom?
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William L. Rowe poses a dilemma between God’s freedom and essential moral goodness by arguing that God cannot satisfy the arguably accepted condition for libertarian freedom, namely, ability to do otherwise. Accordingly, if God does a morally good action A freely, then there is at least a possible world in which God refrains from doing A and thereby does the morally wrong action. And if God does a morally wrong action in one of the possible worlds, he ceases to be essentially morally perfect. I will argue that Rowe’s conclusion is based on a specific possible world semantics, and we might avoid Rowe’s conclusion with an alternative understanding of modality. In doing so, I will examine the conception of modality proposed by al-Ghazalı in which the possibility of a state of affairs does not entail its actuality in at least one possible world.
10. Res Philosophica: Volume > 98 > Issue: 2
Billy Dunaway, Jon McGinnis Knowledge and Theological Predication: Lessons from the Medieval Islamic Tradition
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This article sketches how the debate over divine predications should be informed by the medieval Islamicate tradition. We emphasize the focus not only on the metaphysics and language of divine predications by al-Ghazali, Maimonides, and others, but also on the epistemology of divine predications. In particular, we emphasize the importance of a theory that explains not only what it takes to make a divine predication true, but also whether these predications are knowable. The epistemological element is central, because traditional views of theology aim to avoid theological skepticism, which is the view that, even if there are theological truths, these truths are unknowable. We pursue this point by emphasizing the role of substantives in al-Ghazalı’s theory of divine predicates, and Maimonides’s discussion of negative predications. In closing we apply these lessons to some recent discussions of theological predication.