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41. Philo: Volume > 11 > Issue: 1
Franklin Mason Presentism and the Special Theory
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Presentism—the thesis that only those things that are present exist—seems to face an insurmountable barrier in the Special Theory ofRelativity (STR). For the STR entails that simultaneity, and so the present, are relative to inertial frame. But if the present is the real and the present is relative, so too is in the real relative. But this cannot be. The real is absolute. But what is the Presentist to do? I suggest that she craft an alternative to the STR that is empirically equivalent to it but makes rooms for a present, and a real, that are absolute.
42. Philo: Volume > 11 > Issue: 1
David Macarthur Quinean Naturalism in Question
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This paper is a critical discussion of Quine’s naturalist credos: (1) physicalism; (2) there is no first philosophy; (3) philosophy is continuous with science; and (4) the only responsible theory of the world as a whole is scientific theory. The aim is to show that Quine’s formulations admit of two readings: a strong reading (often Quine’s own) which is compatible with reductive forms of naturalism but implausible; and a mild reading which is plausible but suggestive of more liberal forms of naturalism. The paper ends by claiming that naturalism is a normative doctrine that is inconsistent by its own lights.
43. Philo: Volume > 11 > Issue: 2
Wes Morriston Must an ‘Origins Agnostic’ Be Skeptical About Everything?
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Plantinga claims to give a person who is agnostic about the ultimate source of his cognitive faculties an undefeatable defeater for all his beliefs. This argument of Plantinga’s bears a family resemblance to his much better known argument for saying that naturalism is self-defeating, but it has a much more ambitious conclusion. In the present paper, I try to show both that Plantinga’s argument for this conclusion fails, and that even if an “origins agnostic” were to succumb to it, a cure for his skepticism is ready at hand—one that does not involve believing in anything like God.
44. Philo: Volume > 11 > Issue: 2
Franklin Mason The Grounds of Moral Considerability
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Not all beings matter from the moral point of view. But how are we to distinguish those that do from those that do not? Some argue that mere sentience alone makes a being matter morally. Others argue that an ability to set ends and thus to place value on those ends is necessary for moral value. I break from these views and argue for a radically more inclusive account of the source of moral value. What makes a being matter morally is that it has a good of its own.
45. Philo: Volume > 11 > Issue: 2
Wesley Cooper An Eldritch Tale: Kafka’s The Metamorphosis and the Self
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This essay continues Kafka’s tale of a human being who metamorphoses into a beetle. The tale is developed in the light of some recent theory about personal identity and rational choice, particularly Robert Nozick’s Closest-Continuer theory and Mark Johnston’s Relativism about the self. These are potentially complementary conceptions of relativity about the self, Nozick’s focusing on the individual’s ‘metric’ as a criterion of personal continuity, Johnston’s on social standards. When the individually authentic determination about ‘closeness’ coincides with the community’s standards for continuity, the two accounts are complementary. The tale concludes with reference to applying the concept of personal identity for branching selves in the Many-Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics. Application of the concept of personal identity in an MWI context implies that there is a bad end in store for us all, as David Lewis argued in his last essay.
46. Philo: Volume > 11 > Issue: 2
Jerome Gellman Critical Study of Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion
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I examine the two main arguments that Richard Dawkins offers in The God Delusion to convince believers that God does not exist. Dawkins’ arguments, as stated, are not successful. Neither do sympathetic extensive reformulations have what it takes to require a believer to admit that God probably does not exist. I further argue against Dawkins’ assuming that belief in God, if legitimate, can be only a scientific hypothesis.
47. Philo: Volume > 11 > Issue: 2
Richard T. McClelland Critical Study of Michael Novak, No One Sees God: The Dark Night of Atheists and Believers
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This study develops a concept of “justificatory respect” and applies it to a recent theistic response to contemporary presentations ofatheism and agnosticism. The related concepts of reflexive justificatory respect (applying to one’s own positions) and of an associated epistemic virtue as necessary but not sufficient conditions for theists and unbelievers to engage one another in successful dialogical inquiry are also developed. Novak’s book signally fails to exercise both kinds of respect. His failures serve to partially delineate the condition for success in the project he desiderates. They also highlight the special qualifications of agnostics for engaging in that project.
48. Philo: Volume > 11 > Issue: 2
Stephen J. Sullian Christian Morality and Slave Morality
49. Philo: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1
Jim D. Shelton Beauty, Play, and the Meaning of Life
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This paper discusses the views of Moritz Schlick connecting aesthetics with the meaning of life. The fundamental question that Schlick asks is how anything appears beautiful. The discussion of the beautiful comes down to a discussion of aesthetic pleasure. Aesthetic pleasure has the characteristic of having no use defined in survival terms of self-preservation and propagation. Art, for Schlick, is seen as essentially play. Schlick addressed how his view that connects aesthetic pleasure and play essentially to the non-useful, can be explained in light of the theory of natural selection. Then this is related to the meaning of life as play or youth.
50. Philo: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1
Joshua W. Seachris The Meaning of Life as Narrative: A New Proposal for Interpreting Philosophy’s ‘Primary’ Question
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Even if the question, “What is the meaning of life?” is coherent, the fact remains that it is vague. Its vagueness largely centers on the use of the term “meaning.” The most prevalent strategy for addressing this vagueness is to discard the word “meaning” and reformulate the question entirely into questions such as, “What is the purpose of life?” or “What makes life valuable?” among others. This approach has philosophical merit but does not account for the intuitions and sub-questions driving the original question as plausibly as does an interpretation that I call the narrative interpretation. I will argue that the question, “What is the meaning of life?” should be understood as the request for a narrative that narrates across those elements and accompanying questions of life of greatest existential import to human beings.
51. Philo: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1
Agnieszka Rostalska, Rafal Urbaniak Swinburne’s Modal Argument for the Existence of a Soul: Formalization and Criticism
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This paper evaluates Richard Swinburne’s modal argument for the existence of souls. After a brief presentation of the argument, wedescribe the main known objection to it, which is called the substitution objection (SO for short), and explain Swinburne’s response to that objection. With this as background, we formalize Swinburne’s argument in a quantified propositional modal language, modifying it so that it is logically valid and contains no tacit assumptions, and we explain why we find Swinburne’s response to SO unsatisfactory. Next, we indicate that, even though SO is quite compelling, a weakening of one of the premises yields a valid argument for the same conclusion which is immune to SO. This version of the argument, however, is epistemically circular.
52. Philo: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1
Matthew Carey Jordan Theistic Ethics: Not as Bad as You Think
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Critics of theological accounts of the nature of morality have argued that such accounts must be rejected, even by theists, because such accounts (i) have the unacceptable implication that nothing is morally wrong in possible worlds in which atheism is true, (ii) render the substantive content of morality arbitrary, and (iii) make it impossible or redundant to attribute moral properties to God or God’s actions. I argue that none of these criticisms constitute good reason for theists to abandon theological accounts of the nature of morality.
53. Philo: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1
D.S. Clarke Reductionism and Discourse Relativity
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This paper is an interpretation and defense of Putnam’s claim that reductionist sentences identifying experiences with physical events or processes are meaningless. Discourses are formulated within frameworks that are characterized by their methods of justification, types of term introduction, and vocabularies. Examples of both meaningful intra-framework and meaningless cross-framework identities are considered, along with examples of theoretical identities across sub-frameworks. In agreement with Putnam, mental/physical identities are classified as cross-framework. But I qualify Putnam’s thesis by arguing that they can be meaningful to theextent they provide guides to beneficial social actions.’
54. Philo: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1
Sanford Levy Metaethical Naturalism and Thick Moral Arguments
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There has long been interest in deriving evaluative conclusions from nonevaluative premises. I revisit two classic attempts at this derivation by Philippa Foot and John Searle. They try the derivation using “thick arguments.” I argue that all thick arguments fail. Their failure is not due to a special feature of morality or of moral language, as many critics have charged. Rather it is because the thick evaluative terms are theoretical terms.
55. Philo: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1
Christopher Grau Critical Study of Alice Crary: Beyond Moral Judgment
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This study offers a comprehensive summary and critical discussion of Alice Crary’s Beyond Moral Judgment. While generally sympathetic to her goal of defending the sort of expansive vision of the moral previously championed by Cora Diamond and Iris Murdoch, concerns are raised regarding the potential for her account to provide a satisfactory treatment of both “wide” objectivity and moral disagreement. Drawing on the work of Jonathan Lear and Jonathan Dancy, I suggest possible routes by which her position could be expanded and possibly strengthened.
56. Philo: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
Graham Oppy Craig’s Kalam Cosmology
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Hypotheses about the shape of causal reality admit of both theistic and non-theistic interpretations. I argue that, on the simplest hypotheses about the causal shape of reality—infinite regress, contingent initial boundary, necessary initial boundary—there is good reason to suppose that non-theism is always either preferable to, or at least the equal of, theism, at least insofar as we restrict our attention merely to the domain of explanation of existence. Moreover, I suggest that it is perfectly proper for naturalists to be undecided between these simple hypotheses about the causal shape of reality: contrary to the proponents of cosmological arguments, there are no decisive objections to any of these simple hypotheses. (I argue this case in detail in connection with objections offered by William Lane Craig; however, I believe that the case holds quite generally.)
57. Philo: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
Paul Churchland Is Evolutionary Naturalism Epistemologically Self-Defeating
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Alvin Plantinga argues that our cognitive mechanisms have been selected for their ability to sustain reproductively successful behaviors, not for their ability to track truth. This aspect of our cognitive mechanisms is said to pose a problem for the biological theory of evolution by natural selection in the following way. If our cognitive mechanisms do not provide any assurances that the theories generated by them are true, then the fact that evolutionary theory has been generated by them, and even accepted by them, provides no assurance whatever that evolutionary theory is true. Plantinga’s argument, I argue, innocently assumes that the (problematic) “truth-tracking character” of our native cognitive mechanisms is the only possible or available source of rational warrant or justification for evolutionary theory. But it isn’t. Plantinga is ignoring the artificial mechanisms for theorycreation and theory-evaluation embodied in the complex institutions andprocedures of modern science.
58. Philo: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
John Leslie A Cosmos Existing Through Ethical Necessity
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The paper develops a Platonic and Spinozistic metaphysics. With an unprovable yet absolute necessity, the cosmos exists just because of the ethical need for it. We, and all the intricate structures of our universe, exist as intricately structured thoughts in a divine mind. This mind could contain infinitely many other universes as well, and minds of the same kind could exist in infinite number. Evidence for this is supplied by the finely tuned orderliness of our universe, and by the sheer fact that any universe exists.
59. Philo: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
Andrew Melnyk Naturalism as a Philosophical Paradigm
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I develop the conjecture that “naturalism” in philosophy names not a thesis but a paradigm in something like Thomas Kuhn’s sense, i.e., a set of commitments, shared by a group of investigators, whose acceptance by the members of the group powerfully influences their day-to-day investigative practice. I take a stab at spelling out the shared commitments that make up naturalism, and the logical and evidential relations among them.
60. Philo: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
Robin Collins God and the Laws of Nature
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This paper argues that theism and related axiarchic hypotheses provide the only promising solution to the problems of cosmic coincidence and induction raised by necessitarians against the regularity view of the laws of nature. Hence, it is argued, the fundamental order of the world provides significant support for theism and these related hypotheses.