December 9, 2013
Oppy on Theism, Naturalism, and ExplanationIn his contribution to Goldschmidt's The Puzzle of Existence, Graham Oppy argues that, "as [a] hypothes[i]s about the contents of global causal reality" (p. 51), naturalism is ceteris paribus preferable to theism. Oppy's strategy for defending this claim is to consider three hypotheses about the structure of global causal reality, and argue that naturalism is superior to theism on each hypothesis. Here are his three hypotheses: Regress: Causal reality does not have an initial maximal part. That is, it is not the case that there is a part of causal reality which has no parts that stand in causal relations...
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Topic(s): Causation , Contemporary Thinkers , Cosmological Argument , Creation and Conservation , Existence of God , Graham Oppy , Grounding , Karen Bennett , Metaphysics , Modality , Philosophical Theology , Philosophy , Philosophy of Religion , Shieva Kleinschmidt , Timothy O'Connor , Tyron Goldschmidt
Posted by Kenny at 6:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Posted by Kenny at 6:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
December 6, 2013
O'Connor on Explaining EverythingGoldschmidt's volume opens with an essay by Timothy O'Connor who defends the traditional answer to the question of why there is something rather than nothing: God. More specifically, the traditional answer O'Connor defends holds that a necessarily existent immaterial agent chose that contingent beings should exist. There are several well-known difficulties for this kind of view. The first difficulty is, if there must be an explanation of why there are contingent beings, then mustn't there be an explanation of why there is a God? This is, of course, a version of the much-ridiculed 'what caused God?' retort, and O'Connor's (implicit)...
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November 27, 2013
Introducing The Puzzle of ExistenceI am currently in the process of putting together a review of The Puzzle of Existence: Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing?, edited by Tyron Goldschmidt, for Faith and Philosophy. For edited volumes like this, reviews never allow enough space for substantive discussion every contribution, which is prima facie unfortunate. (I say prima facie because if the reviews were that long, I, at least, would probably read a lot fewer of them.) In light of this situation, I have resolved, before writing my review, to write blog posts with critical comments on each of the chapters. This post is...
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November 19, 2013
Some Historical Context to Locke on Faith and ReasonMost debates about faith and reason in the Western tradition carry the background assumption that 'faith' is or involves believing the teachings of the Bible. This gives rise to a rather obvious strategy for resolving any apparent conflicts between faith and reason: reinterpret the Bible. Much of what Locke says in "Of Faith and Reason, and their distinct Provinces" (EHU 4.18) depends crucially on this assumption, and this is why, in the 4th edition, Locke saw fit to add a chapter "Of Enthusiasm" (4.19) against those who claimed a direct revelation from God not mediated by language. In this post,...
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November 7, 2013
Berkeley's Second-Order Anti-SkepticismConsider the following parallel passages from Berkeley's Principles and Dialogues: so long as men thought that real things subsisted without the mind, and that their knowledge was only so far forth real as it was conformable to real things, it follows, they could not be certain that they had any real knowledge at all. For how can it be known that the things which are perceived, are conformable to those which are not perceived or exist without the mind? (PHK sect. 86) It is your opinion, the ideas we perceive by our senses are not real things but images or...
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October 3, 2013
Update on CommentsAfter an extremely slow and unhelpful exchange with my web host's technical support, in which I was told that it was "not possible" to install the Image::Magick Perl module on this server (not possible? really?), I've decided to try doing without CAPTCHA for a while by setting my spam filter to be more aggressive. If your comment gets rejected and/or doesn't appear within a few hours, please email me and let me know so I can keep fiddling with the settings...
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September 27, 2013
Quote of the Day: Margaret Cavendish on Rational AnimalsThat all other animals, besides man, want reason, [Descartes] endeavours to prove in his discourse on method, where his chief argument is, that other animals cannot express their mind, thoughts or conceptions, either by speech or any other signs, as man can do: For, says he, it is not for want of organs belonging to the framing of words, as we may observe in parrots and 'pies, which are apt enough to express words they are taught, but understand nothing of them. My answer is, that one man expressing his mind by speech or words to another, doth not declare...
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September 21, 2013
Comments Temporarily DisabledI've just upgraded my blog software and CAPTCHA is presently not working. This is resulting in such an awful deluge of spam that I have temporarily disabled comments altogether. Hopefully, I will get the problem fixed within a few days and be able to turn comments back on....
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Substances, Events, and CausesIrreducible agent causation is quite a slippery notion. Many philosophers hold that it is not merely slippery, but unintelligible or incoherent. I take it that these philosophers have stated genuine problems which a proponent of irreducible agent causation needs to answer. However, in pressing objections to agent causation, philosophers sometimes make what seem to me to be pretty serious mistakes. First, sometimes they fail to include (explicitly) the qualifier 'irreducible.'* Second, they sometimes claim that the problem (or one of the problems) with agent causation is that it's a species of substance causation, and substance causation is unintelligible or bad...
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September 16, 2013
That's Not How We Do Things in the Kingdom of Ends...The Russian news agency Ria Novosti is reporting (via the LA Times) that an individual in the Russian city of Rostov-On-Don put an end to an argument about Kant by shooting his opponent. (The opponent's injuries are not critical; that means it's ok to laugh, right?) I love the last paragraph of the article: The attacker now faces up to a decade in prison for intentional infliction of serious bodily harm, police said. That sentence would give him time to more thoroughly study the works of Kant, who contemplated a universal law of morality. If our friend spends a little...
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September 9, 2013
"Berkeley's Meta-Ontology: Bodies, Forces, and the Semantics of 'Exists'"I've posted a new draft to my (recently reorganized) writings page, "Berkeley's Meta-Ontology: Bodies, Forces, and the Semantics of 'Exists'." This paper defends, in a relatively short space, some of the central conclusions which I defend at much greater length in my dissertation, Language and the Structure of Berkeley's World. Here is the abstract of the paper: To the great puzzlement of his readers, Berkeley begins by arguing that nothing exists other than minds and ideas, but concludes by claiming to have defended the existence of bodies. How can Berkeley's idealism amount to such a defense? I introduce resources from...
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September 5, 2013
Quote of the Day: Childs on Miracles[I]n the Old Testament a miracle is not some purely supernatural event, but rather something that evokes surprise and astonishment by which God is revealed as its source.
- Brevard S. Childs, commentary on Isaiah 29:13-14
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September 4, 2013
Philosophical PortraitureIt turns out that one of my USC philosophy colleagues is an accomplished painter! Check out Renee Bollinger's portraits of famous philosophers in the style of famous painters on the Huffington Post here.
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August 28, 2013
Three Responses to the Argument from ContingencyIn my view, the cosmological argument from contingency is the most powerful philosophical argument for the existence of God. By a 'philosophical' argument, in this context, I mean a way of giving reasons for something that does not depend on detailed empirical investigation, or on idiosyncratic features of a particular individual's experience or psychology. Thus I do not hold that the argument from contingency is the best reason anyone has for believing in God. I think, for instance, that some people have had religious experiences which provide them with stronger reasons than the argument from contingency could, even making very...
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June 25, 2013
Vision : Touch :: Written Words : Spoken Words?In a very interesting, if rather bizarre, paper called "Berkeley's Metaphysical Grammar," Colin Turbayne develops an interpretation of Berkeley's 'language of nature' theory which takes extremely seriously Berkeley's remark, in the New Theory of Vision, "that visible figures represent tangible figures much after the same manner that written words do sounds" (sect. 143). The relation of vision to touch is, in other words, the same as the relation of written English to spoken English. A particular visible idea signifies a particular tangible idea not in the way a word signifies its referent, but rather in the way a written word...
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