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articles
1. Philo: Volume > 17 > Issue: 1
Dan Flores Correlations and Conclusions: Neuroscience and the Belief in God
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Interest in the nature of religious and mystical experiences (henceforth RMEs) is old. Recently, this interest has shifted toward understanding the relationship between brain function and RMEs. In the first section, I introduce neurocognitive data from three experiments that strongly correlate the report of religious mystical experiences with specific neural activity. Although correlations cannot be considered as “absolute” proof, strong correlations provide us with inductive grounds for justifying the belief or nonbelief of some proposition. These data suggest that the human brain plays a key role in having an RME and will provide support for the claim that our explanations for phenomena should be located in the natural world. In the next section, I explore the meaning of an RME from a Jamesian perspective and discuss the use of RMEs and the apparent design of the world as proof for God’s existence. My point is to show that the whole enterprise of using phenomena “that only God could have brought about” as the proof for God’s existence is inherently question begging and so is no proof that God exists. In the third section, I lay out in detail my assumptions for my main argument in the final section. There, I argue that belief in the supernatural is not justifiable given the data we have from contemporary science and basic rules of reasoning.
2. Philo: Volume > 17 > Issue: 1
Mark Glouberman ‘O God, O Montreal!’: Secularity and Turbo-Charged Humanism
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In the book A Secular Age, Charles Taylor argues that: (1) modern secularism carries in it more than a trace residue of the explicitly religious way of thinking that it supersedes, and (2) the secular ensemble would not survive if the residue were filtered out. Modern secularism is not, in short, exclusively humanistic. Many who profess exclusive humanism, even perhaps the majority, are therefore—according to Taylor—exclusive humanists in name alone. My position is that Judeo-Christianity, in its teachings about men and women, is humanism. Humanism is what Western religion is all about at its core. This I defend by close examination of Taylor’s argument and by exposing some of the philosophical core of the Bible.
3. Philo: Volume > 17 > Issue: 1
Tony Houston Renaissance Humanism: Obscurantist Impieties
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What Neoplatonism and scholasticism did for Plato and Aristotle, Renaissance humanism did for Cicero and Epicurus. Renaissance humanists were critical of efforts to reconcile Plato and Aristotle with Christianity, yet their own efforts to reconcile philosophy with Christianity were hardly faith­ful to the originals. Plato’s idealism was easily appropriated for Neoplatonist dualism. Aristotle’s metaphysics became orthodoxy for the scholastics. The Renaissance humanists transformed Stoic constancy into acquiescence, aca­demic skepticism into learned ignorance, and Epicureanism into an affirma­tion of material pleasure without the philosophical materialism. The further from Plato’s idealism, the more obscurantism was required to reconcile phi­losophy with dualist theology.
4. Philo: Volume > 17 > Issue: 1
R. Zachary Manis The Problem of Epistemic Luck for Naturalists
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According to a (once) venerable tradition, our knowledge of the external world is crucially dependent on divine favor: our ability to obtain knowledge of the world around us is made possible by God’s having so ordered things. I argue that this view, despite its unpopularity among con­temporary philosophers, is supported by a certain inference to the best explanation: namely, it provides an effective way of reconciling two widely held beliefs that, on the assumption of naturalism, appear incompatible: (1) that knowledge is incompatible with the kind of luck present in Gettier sce­narios and (2) that arguments for external world skepticism can be effectively rebutted by “shifting” them in the style of G. E. Moore.
5. Philo: Volume > 17 > Issue: 1
Steve Petersen A Normative Yet Coherent Naturalism
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Naturalism is normally taken to be an ideology, censuring non-naturalistic alternatives. But as many critics have pointed out, this ideological stance looks internally incoherent, since it is not obviously endorsed by naturalistic methods. Naturalists who have addressed this problem universally foreswear the normative component of naturalism by, in effect, giving up science’s exclusive claim to legitimacy. This option makes naturalism into an empty expression of personal preference that can carry no weight in the philosophical or political spheres. In response to this dilemma, I argue that on a popular (but largely unarticulated) construal of naturalism as a commitment to inference to the best explanation, methodological naturalism can be both normative and internally coherent.
6. Philo: Volume > 17 > Issue: 1
CP Ruloff Against Mind-Dependence
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Paul Gould has recently defended Quentin Smith’s conceptualist argument for a single omniscient mind by developing a sub-argument for a crucial premise of Smith’s argument, namely, a premise that asserts that, nec­essarily, for any proposition p, p must be the effect of a mind. In this paper, I argue via reductio that Gould’s argument for this particular premise fails.
7. Philo: Volume > 17 > Issue: 1
Lawrence Torcello On the Virtues of Inhospitality: Toward an Ethics of Public Reason and Critical Engagement
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This article seeks to reconceptualize Rawlsian public reason as a critical tool against ideological propaganda. The article proposes that public reason, as a standard for public discourse, must be conceptualized beyond its mandate for comprehensive neutrality to additionally emphasize critique of ideologically driven ignorance and propaganda in the public realm. I connect uncritical hospitality to such ideological propaganda with Harry Frankfurt’s concept of bullshit. This paper proposes that philosophers have a unique moral obligation to engage bullshit critically in the public sphere. The obligation for such critique, I argue, represents philosophy’s essential moral component in a society committed to the protection of free speech and deliberative democracy.
8. Philo: Volume > 16 > Issue: 2
Loren Meierding Evidential Arguments from Ignorance and Knowledge
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In his Dialogues and Natural Religion, David Hume offered an inductive argument claiming that the observed mixture of good and evil in the world inductively justifies belief in indifferent first causes. The existence of a benevolent, omniscient God is rejected because it is much less probable. I show that a more comprehensive analysis of Hume’s argument applying Bayes’s Theorem indicates that if the good in our world greatly outweighs the evil, theists can then claim the inductive evidence actually provides confirmation for classical theism. I provide some reasons for believing that good greatly exceeds evil. Views that good modestly exceeds evil or is balanced by evil are also considered.
9. Philo: Volume > 16 > Issue: 2
Lawrence Cahoone Physicalism, the Natural Sciences, and Naturalism
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The most common definitions of the physical lead to a problem for physicalism. If the physical is the objects of physics, then unique objects of other sciences are not physical and, if the causal closure of the physical is accepted, cannot cause changes in the physical. That means unique objects of chemistry, the Earth sciences, and biology cannot causally affect physical states. But physicalism’s most reliable claim, the nomological dependence of nonphysical entities and properties on the physical, can be accepted by a naturalism that avoids such problems.
10. Philo: Volume > 16 > Issue: 2
John Mizzoni Birds Trust Their Wings, Sharks Their Teeth, and Humans Their Minds: A Critique of Haught’s Critical Intelligence Argument against Naturalism
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John Haught offers a “critical intelligence” argument against naturalism. In this article, I outline Haught’s version of theistic evolution. Then I discuss the case he makes against naturalism with his critical intelligence argument. He uses two versions of the argument to make his case: a trustworthiness of critical intelligence argument and an ineffectiveness of naturalistic theories of the mind argument. I evaluate both versions of his critical intelligence argument against naturalism and find that they contain false premises. They thus come up short in making a strong case against naturalism.
11. Philo: Volume > 16 > Issue: 2
Ben Cordry The Argument from Unjust Hiddennesss
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In this article, I argue that if God existed as an absolute, cosmic sovereign, there would be a right to know this, which God would fulfill either by giving people such knowledge or positioning them so that they can achieve it. I then argue that there are many cases of different types in which this right, were it to exist, would be unfulfilled. Therefore, there is no God in this sense. While I focus on the right to know, my argument generalizes that no being or force oversees the world in such a way as to ensure the achievability of spiritual fulfillment.
12. Philo: Volume > 16 > Issue: 2
Richard Brian Davis, W. Paul Franks Layman’s Lapse: On an Incomplete Moral Argument for Theism
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C. Stephen Layman contends that an argument supporting theism over naturalism can be constructed based on three defensible, non–question-begging premises about the moral order. Previous critics of Layman’s argument have challenged the truth of these premises. We stipulate them arguendo but go on to show that there is a deeper problem: a fourth premise introduced to complete the argument—the “completion premise,” as we call it—is true only if we assume that God exists (begging the question about naturalism) or we concede that there is no afterlife (contrary to theism). We close with suggestions for how Layman’s argument must be strengthened to meet with dialectical success.
13. Philo: Volume > 16 > Issue: 2
John Lemos Hard-heartedness and Libertarianism
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Richard Double argues that (1) libertarians believe we should hold people morally responsible for their actions and we must possess libertarian free will (LFW) to be morally responsible for our actions; (2) most libertarians believe there is scant epistemic justification for the belief that any of us possess LFW; and (3) morally conscientious persons hold people responsible for their actions only if they have epistemic justification for their guilt. Thus, he concludes most libertarians are not being morally conscientious when they hold people responsible for their actions. Double considers a possible pragmatic, moral argument against his position, but in so doing he only considers a consequentialist version of the pragmatic response. I show that there is a plausible nonconsequentialist way of responding to Double’s argument, and I defend it in the article.
14. Philo: Volume > 16 > Issue: 2
J. Edward Hackett The Lived-Experience of Humanism in Husserl and James
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In this paper, I will argue that the experiential-based approaches of Edmund Husserl’s phenomenology and William James’s radical empiricism can help inform an account of humanism more rooted in concrete experience. Specifically, I will outline a form of humanism closely connected to the conceptual similarities between James’s radical empiricism and the general character of Husserl’s phenomenology of experience. Whereas many forms of humanism are underscored by an eliminativist impulse, I sketch a humanism of lived-experience more motivated by the restrictive and experiential impetus closer to pragmatism and phenomenology than humanism defended on metaphysically eliminativist grounds.This paper is organized in the following way. In the first section, I explain the general character of Husserl’s phenomenology and explain the methodological commitments that underscore his concept of experience. In the second section, I outline the conceptual similarities between James’s later radical empiricism and Husserl’s thought. Finally, in the third section, James’s critique of metaphysics and his radical empiricism allow for a limited acceptability of religious interests in experience as well as scientific interests. These interests result from how we experience the world and affirm freedom and individuality of every person’s lived-experience.
book review
15. Philo: Volume > 16 > Issue: 2
Raphael Lataster Philosophy and the Study of Religions: A Manifesto by Kevin Schilbrack
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guest editor’s preface
16. Philo: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Rik Peels A New Case for Atheism
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articles
17. Philo: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Herman Philipse A Decision Tree for Religious Believers
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I discuss the primary aims of my book God in the Age of Science? A Critique of Religious Reason, which critically assesses the most promising apologetic strategies defending the reasonable endorsement of religious creeds. These apologetic strategies may be schematized as the end nodes of a decision tree for religious believers, as I explain in section 2. In section 3, the structure of the book is elucidated, and in section 4 I illustrate its argumentative strategy by some examples.
18. Philo: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Gijsbert van den Brink What Is Wrong with Revelation? Herman Philipse on the Priority of Natural Theology
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According to Herman Philipse, well-educated Western people can no longer reasonably accept a religious faith on the basis of special revelation. Rather, they (or at least some experts in their community) should account for their religious views in terms of natural theology—i.e., using only arguments based on evidence that is generally accessible. Many believers, however, do not base their faith on natural theology. I argue that there is a sound reason for their reluctance: when it comes to views of life, rationality and faith commitments are inextricably interconnected. Drawing on an analysis of George Mavrodes, I argue that this is due to the fact that “proofs” are person-relative. From this perspective, I briefly show why each of Philipse’s six arguments for the priority of natural theology over revealed theology is mistaken.
19. Philo: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Jeroen de Ridder, Mathanja Berger Shipwrecked or Holding Water? In Defense of Alvin Plantinga’s Warranted Christian Believer
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Herman Philipse argues that Christian belief cannot be warranted in Alvin Plantinga’s sense. More specifically, he thinks it is impossible for intellectually responsible and modern believers to hold their religious beliefs in the manner of properly basic beliefs, not on the basis of explicit evidence or arguments. In this paper, we consider his objections to Plantinga’s work and argue that they all fail.
20. Philo: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Rik Peels A Bodiless Spirit? Meaningfulness, Possibility, and Probability
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The main conclusion of Herman Philipse’s God in the Age of Science? is that we should all be atheists. Remarkably, however, the book contains no argument whatsoever for atheism. Philipse defends the argument from evil and the argument from divine hiddenness, but those arguments count only against an omnibenevolent and omnipotent God, not against just any god. He also defends the claim that there cannot be any bodiless spirits, but, of course, not all religions take their gods to be bodiless. However, because his main target of criticism is monotheism and adherents of monotheism usually claim that God is a bodiless spirit, this paper discusses Philipse’s arguments against the existence of a bodiless spirit. I argue that his three main claims about religious belief in a bodiless spirit are false. First, contrary to what he says, there is good reason to think that the expression “bodiless spirit” is meaningful. Among other things, the Wittgensteinian semantic theory of psychological attribute ascription on which his argument relies turns out to be untenable. Second, Philipse’s thesis that the existence of a bodiless spirit is impossible is also problematic. We can properly use the word person for bodiless spirits. Also, an attribute such as presence or omnipresence can be understood metaphorically without the definition of “God “thereby losing too much meaning. And we do not need any criterion for diachronic personal identity of bodiless spirits; such identity may very well be a primitive fact. Third and finally, there is no reason to think that the existence of a bodiless spirit is improbable. The fact that science has discovered a dependence relation between mental states and brain states and the fact that science has never been able to detect bodiless spirits provide no reason to think otherwise.