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161. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 13 > Issue: 2
Kent Dunnington The Sacrament of Punishment: A Response to David Boonin’s Abolitionism
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David Boonin’s 2008 book, The Problem of Punishment, argues that punishment by the state is immoral and should be abolished. This article contends that Boonin’s position is dependent upon questionable presuppositions about the authority of the state. The article uses Boonin’s work to show that any defense of state punishment must move beyond “theories of punishment” to address questions of political philosophy. It argues that the view of state authority envisioned by St. Paul undercuts Boonin’s argument. At the same time, this Pauline view of the state’s role may undercut specific aspects of the contemporary exercise of criminal justice in America.
162. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 13 > Issue: 2
Matthew Flannagan Tooley, Plantinga, and the Deontological Argument from Evil
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This article criticizes the deontological argument from evil proposed by Michael Tooley in The Knowledge of God. I sketch Tooley’s distinction between deontological and axiological arguments from evil. Tooley rejects the axiological version because it rests on “controversial ethical claims,” claims that are “likely to be rejected by many theists” and formulates a deontological version in its place. I argue that Alvin Plantinga’s criticism of the moral premises of this argument can be reformulated by appealing to a divine command theory of ethics. So reformulated, I argue that Tooley’s argument relies on controversial moral assumptions that many theists reject.
163. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 13 > Issue: 2
Glenn Peoples The Epistemological Objection to Divine Command Ethics: Morriston on Reasonable Unbelievers and Moral Obligations
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According to the epistemological objection to divine command ethics, if morality is grounded in God’s commands, then those who do not believe in God cannot have moral knowledge. This objection has been raised—and answered before. However, the objection persists, and I argue here that it has not been substantially improved upon and does not deserve a second hearing. Whether or not God’s commands provide the basis of moral facts does not imply that unbelievers cannot have moral knowledge, since the ability to know that something is true does not depend on our ability to know what makes it true.
164. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 13 > Issue: 2
James S. Spiegel On Free Will and Soul Making: Complementary Approaches to the Problem of Evil
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I argue that the free-will defense and soul-making theodicy have more in common than traditionally has been thought and that their differences have more to do with their divergent aims than their relative merits as responses to the problem of evil. Moreover, I show how the two approaches are logically interdependent. The free-will defense depends for its success on some soul-making concepts, and the soul-making theodicy relies upon a prior concept of human freedom in order to succeed. These facts seem to recommend that we see these two approaches as complementary rather than as competitors when addressing the problem of evil.
165. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 13 > Issue: 2
Stephen Parrish Against a Naturalistic Causal Account of Reality: A Response to Graham Oppy
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Timothy O’Connor published an essay in Philosophia Christi recently that defends the notion of a necessary God as the explanation for a contingent universe. Graham Oppy and others wrote replies to the O’Connor’s paper. In this essay, I defend O’Connor’s position from Oppy’s criticism, and also argue that Oppy’s own naturalistic alternative is seriously flawed. Among other things, I argue that a contingent naturalist beginning to the universe is an inferior explanation than a necessarily existing God, and that naturalism cannot be coherently thought of as providing a necessary beginning to the universe.
166. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 13 > Issue: 2
John Jefferson Davis How Personal Agents Are Located in Space: Implications for Worship, Eucharist, and Union with Christ
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This article argues that the clarification and modification of some of our common-sense notions of “place” and “object” can shed light on controverted issues in the history of theology: how God is present in corporate worship; how the risen Christ is “really present” during the Lord’s Supper; and how the believer is really, and not merely metaphorically in union with Christ. Key distinctions discussed include the local, circumscriptive, and repletive modes of presence of an object or person; and the distinction between an empirical (or, “molecular”) self and an extended self.
167. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 13 > Issue: 2
Mark S. McLeod-Harrison Irrealism, Ontological Pluralism, and the Trinity: A Reply to Efird on Make/Believing the World(s)
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In response to my Make/Believing the World(s), Efird argues that theistic irrealism provides the grounds for solving the problem of the Trinity. I argue that Efird is wrong so long as theistic irrealism is to remain consistent with traditional, orthodox Christianity. On his reading of theistic irrealism, the best he can provide is a modalist version of the Trinity.
168. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 13 > Issue: 2
John Warwick Montgomery How Much Evidence to Justify Religious Conversion?: Some Thoughts on Burden and Standard of Proof vis-à-vis Christian Commitment
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When a religious believer presents to an unbeliever evidence on behalf of his or her claims, there may be a response in somewhat the following terms: “Fine. However, I simply do not find the evidence sufficient to make a commitment.” This paper deals with the question of the sufficiency of evidence, that is, what evidence should be regarded as adequate to change one’s religious perspective. Reliance is placed on the legal categories of burden and standard of proof, and a construct is offered to assist in establishing reasonable expectations in the presentation and marshaling of apologetics evidence.
169. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 14 > Issue: 1
Craig J. Hazen Editor’s Introduction
170. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 14 > Issue: 1
Jeremy Evans Guest Editor’s Introduction
171. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 14 > Issue: 1
Alvin Plantinga A New Argument against Materialism
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We ordinarily think that the content of a belief, or an intention, or an undertaking is relevant to the actions caused by beliefs, intentions, and undertakings. Not only do we ordinarily think these things; they are no more than the sober truth. I attempt to argue that if materialism about us human beings (either reductive or nonreductive) were true, then these things would be false: it would not be by virtue of their contents that beliefs, intentions, and undertakings cause what they do. If materialism were true, facts about the content of beliefs, intentions, and undertakings would be irrelevant to their causal powers. If this argument is correct, then embracing materialism exacts a substantial cost: giving up these obvious and commonsense truths.
172. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 14 > Issue: 1
Michael Tooley Plantinga’s New Argument against Materialism
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In this paper, I have attempted to do two main things. First, I argue that Alvin Plantinga’s new argument against materialism, though interesting, shares the fate of his earlier arguments in that it is, in the end, unsuccessful. Secondly, I then argue, contrary to Plantinga’s view that there is no strong argument for materialism, that there is in fact very strong scientific support that can be offered against the hypothesis that the human mind is an immaterial substance, and hence in support of the conclusion that some form of materialism is true.
173. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 14 > Issue: 1
Esther L. Meek Michael Polanyi and Alvin Plantinga: Help from Beyond the Walls
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This essay introduces Michael Polanyi’s work through contrasting his innovative epistemology of subsidiary-focal integration with key distinctives of Christian analytic philosopher Alvin Plantinga. Polanyi’s contrasting proposals helpfully bring to light shaping assumptions of the analytic tradition, contributing creatively to a larger common agenda. Polanyi disputes the unexamined assumption that the simplest epistemic experience is a focally apprehended “find-myself-believing” that is explicitly and propositionally expressed. I also contrast the two regarding infallibilism, foundationalism, externalism, justification, epistemic duty, creative antirealism, and ways of tapping Calvin’s notion of the sensus divinitatis
174. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 14 > Issue: 1
Alvin Plantinga Functionalism and Materialism: A Reply to Tooley
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My major dispute with Michael Tooley’s response (“Plantinga’s New Argument against Materialism”) to my original article is with his philosophy of mind. Tooley’s objection depends on a functionalist account of mental states such as beliefs, desires and intentions. I offer reasons to reject functionalism and, hence, the same goes for any objection to my argument that is based on or presupposes functionalism.
175. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 14 > Issue: 1
Nathan A. Jacobs Are Created Spirits Composed of Matter and Form?: A Defense of Pneumatic Hylomorphism
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In this essay, I argue that both human souls and angels are hylomorphic, a position I dub “pneumatic hylomorphism” (PH). Following a sketch of the history of PH, I offer both an analytic and a confessional defense of PH. The former argues that PH is the most cogent anthropology/angelology, given the Christian understanding of the intermediate state and angels. My confessional defense shows that PH plays a crucial role in pro-Nicene theology. I close with an assessment of contemporary anthropological alternatives, and conclude these do not advance the discussion beyond the patristic and medieval alternatives; thus PH remains the most cogent and confessional sound option.
176. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 14 > Issue: 1
Cristian Mihut Change of Heart: Forgiveness, Resentment, and Empathy
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This paper proposes an answer to a puzzle regarding robust notions of forgiveness. Robust forgiveness occurs when victims extend grace to perpetrators in the absence of moral reparation or repentance. If unmerited grace is one of its necessary features, is robust forgiveness a moral and rational response to perpetrators? The paper sketches an empathetic model of forgiveness as a plausible candidate for answering this puzzle. However, this particular model must be refined to handle cases where resentment infiltrates and cements deeply in our motivational structures. Still working broadly within an empathetic framework, the paper proposes a modification aimed to alleviate worries about the dispersing and entrenchment of resentment.
177. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 14 > Issue: 1
Christian Miller The Challenge to Virtue, Character, and Forgiveness from Psychology and Philosophy
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Much has been made of the situationist argument against virtue ethics by Gilbert Harman and John Doris, an argument which draws on empirical results from social psychology. After presenting their argument as well as the most plausible reply, I turn to what I believe is the real challenge to virtue ethics in this area, a challenge that needs to be addressed by both philosophers and theologians alike. The paper ends by applying this challenge to the specific virtue of forgiveness.
178. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 14 > Issue: 1
John Jefferson Davis Buddha, the Apostle Paul, and John Hick: The Challenge of Inter-Religious Epistemologies
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This paper proposes four postulates for assessing, in the context of Buddhist-Christian dialogue, the respective understandings of the nature of the Metaphysical Ultimate (MU): the postulates of Internal Coherence; Depth of Soteric Efficacy; Breadth of Epistemic Warrant; and Breadth of Explanatory Power. It is argued that the application of these postulates supports the conclusion that the notion of the MU exemplified in Christian theism, where the MU is conceived of as being characterized (analogically) as personal in nature, not strictly and completely ineffable, and cognizable by conceptual distinctions, has stronger and broader. epistemic warrants than that concept of the MU exemplified in Zen Buddhism.
179. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 14 > Issue: 1
Stewart Goetz Is N. T. Wright Right about Substance Dualism?
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According to N. T. Wright, anyone who is a Christian should at least think twice before he or she speaks about the soul, especially as an entity that is distinct from its physical body and can survive death in a disembodied intermediate state until the resurrection and reembodiment. In Wright’s mind, talk of the soul is talk about soul-body substance dualism (dualism, for short), which is the villain in Christian anthropological thought. As far as Wright is concerned, it is time for Christians to renounce dualism once and for all. In this paper, I take issue with Wright’s position on substance dualism.
180. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 14 > Issue: 1
Kirk R. MacGregor The Existence and Irrelevance of Gratuitous Evil
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This article breaks fresh ground on the probabilistic problem of evil, contesting its first premise (probably, if God exists, gratuitous evil does not exist) instead of the commonly contested second premise (probably, gratuitous evil exists). In so doing, it presents a rehabilitated version of Leibniz’s argument for the irrelevance of gratuitous evil vis-à-vis the existence of God, according to which it is logically impossible for any world God might create to be devoid of pointless evil. Accordingly, my argument provides theists a more fruitful strategy for dealing with evil than asking skeptics to deny their intuitive recognition of pointless suffering.