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121. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 4
Robert Audi Ethics and Religion: Philosophical, Psychological, and Political Connections
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The aim of this paper is to offer a framework for discussing the connections between ethics and religion and to propose some broad substantive theses about how they may be related philosophically, politically, and psychologically. Section I outlines some ontological, epistemological and conceptual connections between ethics and religion, focusing particularly on the question of whether either is dependent on the other. Section II mainly addresses the motivational capacities of religious as opposed to secular ethics. In Section III the main concern is to assess the extent to which conflict between religious and secular ethics should be expected, given certain plausible assumptions about the grounds of both. The final section makes some proposals for reducing conflict between religious and secular standards for structuring democratic societies and for the conduct of their citizens.
122. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 4
Philip L. Quinn Epistemological Problems of Religious Pluralism
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The world religions make conflicting claims about the nature of ultimate reality, and they all appeal to experience for justification of their claims. The experiential justifications for conflicting religious beliefs thus seem to be mutually destructive. One response to this situation, advocated by John Hick, is to reinterpret traditional religious claims in ways that eliminate the conflicts; another, favored by William P. Alston, is to defend the rationality of continuing, despite the conflicts, to engage in the doxastic practice of one’s own religion. I begin this paper with a summary of the criticism of Alston’s defense that I have spelled out in greater detail elsewhere. After arguing that Alston’s conclusions require significant modification, I go on to defend the modified Alstonian conclusions against objections recently raised by Hick. I conclude by suggesting a view that seems to me to combine the best features of Alston’s and Hick’s approaches to religious pluralism.
123. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 4
Kai Nielsen On Being a Secularist All the Way Down
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I explicate and argue for a way of looking at life, and responding to it, that is uncompromisingly secularist. It is an atheism and a social naturalism: a distinctive form of naturalism that I argue answers better than religious orientations or “scientific” forms of naturalism to both our cognitive interests and to our moral and political and other affective interests. It is a thoroughly anti-metaphysical naturalism rejecting metaphysical realism and physicalism without taking an antirealistor dualist turn. How it is a social naturalism is explained and defended as well as the senses in which it is non-scientistic, historicist, and contextualist. It will alsoseek to make clear what really grips some religiously sensitive people, even people fully attuned to modernity, about religion and then to show how we can live full well and even flourishingly without religion. However, I do not only argue that we can so live, but that we should so live. We should be secularists all the way down.
124. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 4
Charles Taliaferro The Ideal Observer’s Philosophy of Religion
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Philosophical assessments of different religious traditions face two substantial objections, among others. According to one, the very nature of religious traditions as embedded forms of life prevents this philosophical undertaking. According to the other, a philosophical inventory is possible but under its guise no religious tradition will be left standing. I reply to both and then comment on whether there is (or can be) an ideal observation post from which to philosophically elucidate and compare different religious beliefs and practices.
125. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 4
William E. Mann Believing Where We Cannot Prove: Duns Scotus On The Necessity Of Supernatural Belief
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In the Prologue to his Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard, John Duns Scotus considered five arguments for the claim that humans, equipped only with their native intellectual capacities, would be incapable of discovering the truths most important for their salvation. Scotus endorsed three of the arguments,regarding them as ‘more probable’ than the other two. I shall not attempt detailed analyses of the arguments. Rather, my purpose is to embed the arguments in a more general picture of the epistemology of religious belief. In the course of doing that, I shall suggest that Scotus should have taken one of the two less probable arguments more seriously. I shall argue, finally, that Scotus’s position on belief formation is rationally defensible.
126. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 4
Stephen F. Barker James’ “The Will To Believe”
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In “The Will to Believe,” William James affirms that we have some control over what we believe and asks how this control should be exercised. He rejects the evidentialists’ view that we ought to believe only when intellectual grounds make it quite sure that the belief is true. For him, “options” are choices among contrary beliefs. Some options are “living,” “forced,” and “momentous.” James’ thesis concerns belief-options that have these three features and where proof as to the truth is unavailable. He holds that in such cases we have a right to believe, provided believing has better consequences than not believing would. James is correct that sometimes it is permissible to believe without adequate grounds. His view is misleading, though, when he leaves the impression that this is so only where the option is living, forced, momentous, and not settleable by evidence. The right to believe has broader scope than this. Moreover, James’ right to believe presupposes a view of truth at odds with his later pragmatism.
127. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 4
Guy Axtell Courage, Caution and Heaven’s Gate: Testing James’ Pragmatic Defense of Religious Belief
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The criteria of “forced, live, and momentous options,” as William James utilized them in his pragmatic defense of religious belief, cannot, I argue, both support religious pluralism and acknowledge lessons about failure of epistemic responsibility in Heaven’s Gate-followers. But I attempt to re-vitalize the pragmatic argument, showing it capable of walking this narrow line. I proceed (1) by developing the distinction and relationship between a commitment to a particular religious system or community, and a commitment to the generic “religious hypothesis” itself; and (2) by explicating and expanding upon the “experimental” status—and associated pragmatic criteria for success or failure—that James already recognized for commitments to particular religious communities. I thus show how the “pragmatic argument” takes on heightened significance—and renewed promise—in light of problems associated with New Age and so-called “cult” religiosity.
128. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 4
William P. Alston What Is Distinctive About the Epistemology of Religious Belief?
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In what follows, I discuss the extent to which the epistemology of religious belief differs from the epistemology of other areas of our belief, as well as the extent to which it is similar. There will be important similarities: for example, the standards for the application of terms of epistemic assessment like ‘justified’, ‘warranted’,and ‘rational’. But in this essay, I concentrate on delineating some important differences between religious and non-religious epistemology.
129. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 4
Gary Gutting An Historical Perspective on Religious Epistemology
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The project of “religious epistemology,” as it has developed and thrived among certain analytic philosophers over the last thirty years, has seldom exhibited a strong historical sensibility. Nonetheless, contemporary discussions of the rationality of religious belief obviously have important antecedents in the history of modern philosophy, particularly in the history of the Enlightenment project that so strongly challenged traditional religious belief. This paper develops two themes from this history that I will try to show are particularly important for understanding contemporary issues about the rationality of religious belief: the affirmation of ordinary life, and the question of radical evil in human nature.
130. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 4
Howard Wettstein Against Theodicy
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The problem of theodicy is a philosophical classic. I argue that not only are the classical answers suspect, but that the question itself is problematic. In its classical form, the problem presupposes a conception of divinity—call it “perfect-being theology”—that does not go without saying. Even so, there is a significant gap between what the Western religions tell us about the reign of justice and what we seem to find in the world. I argue that approaches to evil need to maintain focus on this discrepancy. I conclude with some suggestions for the shape of “nonopiate” ways of coming to terms with evil.
131. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 4
Michael P. Levine The Problem of Evil: Strange Mutations, Strange Solutions
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The shift from the logical to the empirical argument from evil against the existence of God has been seen as a victory by analytic philosophers of religion who now seek to establish that the existence of evil fails to make the existence of God improbable. I examine several arguments in an effort to establish the following: (i) Their victory is pyrrhic. They distort the historical, philosophical and religious nature of the problem of evil. (ii) In attempting to refute the empirical argument they rely on disguised but well-worn strategies. (iii) A refusal to let evil count in any way against the probability of the existence of God indicates that their rejection is ideological and contrary to traditional theism. (iv) Aspects of their arguments are morally repugnant. (v) Their arguments are indicative of a lack of vitality, relevance and “seriousness” in Christian analytic philosophy of religion.
132. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 4
Keith E. Yandell God, Freedom, and Creation in Cross-Cultural Perspective: Ramanuja, Madhva, Augustine, Aquinas
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Crossculturally, monotheistic traditions view God as occupying the apex of power, knowledge and goodness, and as enjoying independent existence. This conceptual context provides room for maneuvering concerning God’s nature (e.g., does God have logically necessary existence?) and God’s creatures (e.g., do created persons have libertarian freedom?). Logical consistency is always a constraint on such maneuvering. With that constraint in mind, our purpose here is to consider different conceptual maneuvers concerning God, created persons, and freedom (both human and divine) within Christian and Hindu Vedantic monotheism.
133. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 4
Gary Iseminger The Aesthetic Function of Art
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Like most aestheticians today I begin by firmly separating the concept of art from the concept of the aesthetic; unlike them, I conclude by reuniting these concepts in the thesis that the function of art is to promote the aesthetic. I understand the existence of artworks and of artists to be “institutional facts” (though the institution of art is an informal one, not to be confused with formal institutions to which it has given rise, such as museums, academies, etc.), while I take “aesthetic situations,” involving appreciators and objects made, at least in part, to be appreciated, to constitute something approaching a natural kind. Rather than dealing directly with the concept of a function I argue for three theses closely related to the idea that the function of art is aesthetic: that art is better than any other institution at promoting the aesthetic; that art is better at promoting the aesthetic than it is at doing anything else; and that art was intended by its instituters to promote the aesthetic.
134. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 4
Peg Zeglin Brand Glaring Omissions in Traditional Theories of Art
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I investigate the role of feminist theorizing in relation to traditionally-based aesthetics. Feminist artworks have arisen within the context of a patriarchal Artworld dominated for thousands of years by male artists, critics, theorists, and philosophers. I look at the history of that context as it impacts philosophical theorizing by pinpointing the narrow range of the paradigms used in defining “art.” I test the plausibility of Danto’s After the End of Art vision of a post-historical, pluralistic future in which “anything goes,” a future that unfortunately rests upon the same outdated foundation as the concept “art.”
135. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 4
Barry Hallen “Handsome Is as Handsome Does”: Interrelations of the Epistemic, the Moral, and the Aesthetic in an African Culture
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Today the study of African aesthetics constitutes one of the most exciting and dynamic subdisciplines in African and intercultural studies. Yet, because it is also a discipline in which African meanings must of necessity be translated into and expressed by one of the few ‘world’ languages (English, French), it is in the interests of all concerned—Africans and non-Africans—to work together to ensure that the highest possible professional standards are maintained. For it is intercultural dialogue based upon reciprocal language fluency that will best enable researchers to see where Western and African values and beliefs overlap and where they diverge.
136. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 4
Andrew Chignell The Problem of Particularity in Kant’s Aesthetic Theory
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In moving away from the objective, property-based theories of earlier periods to a subject-based aesthetic, Kant did not intend to give up the idea that judgments of beauty are universalizable. Accordingly, the “Deduction of Judgments of Taste” (KU, §38) aims to show how reflective aesthetic judgments can be “imputed” a priori to all human subjects. The Deduction is not successful: Kant manages only to justify the imputation of the same form of aesthetic experience to everyone; he does not show that this experience will universally occur in response to the same objects. This is what I call Kant’s problem of particularity. After critiquing Anthony Savile’s attempt to overcome this problem by linking Kant’s aesthetics to the theory of rational ideas, I elucidate the concept of (the oft-unnoticed) aesthetic attributes (§49) in a way that suggests a possible resolution to the problem of particularity.
137. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 6
Luciano Floridi Mathematical Skepticism: The Cartesian Approach
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I argue that, according to Descartes, even mathematics is not immune from doubt and absolutely reliable, and hence fails to grant the ultimate justification of science. Descartes offers two arguments and a corollary to support this view. They are sufficient to show that the mathematical atheist cannot justifiably claim to have absolutely certain knowledge even of simple mathematical truths. Philosophical reflection itself turns out to be the only alternative means to provide knowledge with a stable foundation.
138. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 6
Daniel Andler The Undefinability of Analytic Philosophy
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Many attempts have been made to define analytic philosophy in a nonhistorical or otherwise deictic way, and to provide a set of necessary and sufficient conditions for a piece of philosophical work to be part of analytic philosophy. This is more difficult than might appear, for the conditions appealed to are normative and must be claimed by non-analytic philosophers to apply to their production as well. In fact, no such set of conditions has been forthcoming, and it is unlikely that it ever will. Instead, I offer a holistic characterization of analytic philosophy as a mode of organization of philosophical work modeled on science. This accounts for analytic philosophy’s success in the academic world, its pedagogic virtues, and its ability to expand beyond its initial boundaries. Two related questions remain: one about the indirect justification analytic philosophy might be granted from outside of philosophy, the other about its ability to make contact with cultural realms other than those with which it has until now established a fruitful exchange. The answers are crucial for the potential renewal of analytic philosophy.
139. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 6
João Branquinho On the Individuation of Fregean Propositions
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My aim is to sketch a principle of individuation which is intended to serve the Fregean notion of a proposition, a notion I take for granted. A salient feature of Fregean propositions, i.e., complexes of modes of presentation of objects (individuals, properties), is that they are finegrained items, so fine-grained that even synonymous sentences might express different Fregean propositions. My starting point is the principle labelled by Gareth Evans the Intuitive Criterion of Difference, which states that it is impossible coherently to take conflicting mental attitudes to the same proposition. As a logical truth (a consequence of Leibniz’s Law), this is a synchronic principle, the application of which is restricted to attitudes held at a single time. I argue that such a restriction might be reasonably lifted and, on the basis of an adequate notion of attitude-retention, I propose an admissible diachronic extension of the principle.
140. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 6
W. V. Quine Three Networks: Similarity, Implication, and Membership
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This essay addresses the problem of how to account for our meeting of minds, for our being able to linguistically express agreement regarding external events despite wild dissimilarity of our nerve nets. An explanation is provided based on the instinct of induction, the instinct of similarity, and natural selection. There are three networks at play in the meeting of minds: perceptual similarity, the intersubjective harmony of similarity standards and thus the relation structuring the intake of perceptions; implication, the relation expressed by the universally quantified conditional and structuring our system of the world; and class membership, the relation structuring the domain of pure mathematics.