May 20, 2013
Omnipotence and the 'Delimiter of Possibilities' ViewAquinas notes that some analyses of omnipotence have a serious problem: they reduce the apparently substantive claim "God is omnipotent" to the trivial claim that God "can do all that He is able to do." Now, perhaps it is true that to be omnipotent is to be able to do everything God is able to do (or at least that omnipotence entails this), but this is hardly an illuminating analysis. In several places in his Anselmian Explorations, Thomas Morris defends the view that the Anselmian God is the 'delimiter of possibilities.' This view has been endorsed by other Anselmians, and...
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Topic(s): Alexander R. Pruss , Alfred J. Freddoso , Alvin Plantinga , Contemporary Thinkers , Divine Attributes , Divine Necessity , Historical Thinkers , James F. Ross , Metaphysics , Modality , Omnipotence , Philosophical Theology , Philosophy , Thomas Aquinas , Thomas P. Flint , Thomas V. Morris
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Posted by Kenny at 7:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
April 12, 2013
Does Religious Experience Have an Expiration Date?A fairly common position in philosophy of religion is that religious experience can provide justification for religious belief of a sort that cannot be transmitted by testimony. (We here use the term 'religious experience' non-factively; that is, we leave open the possibility that these experiences might provide misleading evidence.) This is not necessarily to deny that testimony of religious experience can provide evidence in favor of religious belief; it is just to say that, no matter how credible the testimony, this won't provide the same sort of justification as actually having the experience oneself. Often it is thought that at...
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March 13, 2013
Quote of the Day: Enns on Religious Fear of EvolutionAt present there is a lot of fear about the implications of bringing evolution and Christianity together, and this fear needs to be addressed head-on. Many fear that we are on a slippery slope, to use the hackneyed expression. Perhaps the way forward is not to resist the slide so much as to stop struggling, look around, and realize that we may have been on the wrong hill altogether.
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March 12, 2013
Being Greater and Doing BetterConsider the following attempted reductio of Anselmian theism (based on Rowe, Can God be Free?):
- God exists and actualized the actual world and no being could possibly be greater than God actually is (assumption for reductio)
- There is a possible world, w, which is better than the actual world (premise)
- Possibly, God actualizes w (premise)
- Therefore, possibly, God does better than God in fact did (from 1-3)
- Therefore, possibly, God is greater than God in fact is (from 4)
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March 9, 2013
Philosophers' Carnival 149Welcome to Philosophers' Carnival 149! The Philosophers' Carnival is a monthly showcase of the best philosophical blog posts. First up is Derk Pereboom's "The Free Will Debate and the Limits of Philosophical Method" at Flickers of Freedom. Glenn Carruthers explains delusions of alien control and their relevance to the theory of agency at Philosophy of Brains. Speaking of mind and action, I should note an important event in 'virtual philosophy' in the past month: the Fifth Online Consciousness Conference. Also in philosophy of mind, we have Richard Brown's discussion of phenomenal concepts at Philosophy Sucks! Our final philosophy of mind...
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February 23, 2013
Berkeley, Analogy, Matter, and GodOn May 15, 1709 William King, archbishop of Dublin, preached a famous sermon (it was really more of a lecture in philosophical theology with a Scripture quotation at the beginning, but this was not too unusual in the Anglican Communion at the time) entitled "Divine Predestination and Fore-knowledg, consistent with the Freedom of Man's Will." The sermon was published shortly thereafter in both Dublin and London and is therefore now available on Google books. (I have written about King before.) King considers three atheistic arguments: the argument from the inconsistency of divine foreknowledge with human freedom, the argument from the...
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January 29, 2013
A Theistic Argument for CompatibilismOne often hears it asserted that most theists are metaphysical libertarians. This seems to be supported, at least in the case of theistic philosophers, by the PhilPapers survey where target faculty specializing in philosophy of religion, who were overwhelmingly more likely to be theists than their peers in other specializations (72.3% for religion specialists vs. 14.6% overall), were also overwhelmingly more likely to be libertarians (57.4% vs. 13.7%). (Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a way to compare theists to non-theists across the board, so we just have this correlation among religion specialists.) Now, I suppose there are some reasons...
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January 15, 2013
A Hypothesis about the History of the Concept of VoluntarinessIn Aristotelian physics, natural objects are characterized by their teleology, i.e. their tending toward certain ends. According to St. Thomas, what makes an event a voluntary action is that the subject of the event has knowledge of the end toward which the action is directed. Post-Galileo, physics is not about teleology in this way. Instead, physics is about laws, rules according to which events unfold. Accordingly, many early modern philosophers hold that a voluntary action is an event which unfolds according to a rule which has been adopted by the subject of the event. The clearest statement of this idea...
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January 11, 2013
The Bible as Dialogue?Over the holiday, I read Peter Enns' Inspiration and Incarnation. (Enns also writes an excellent blog.) I have also been reading Brevard Childs' commentary on Isaiah. These two books have set me off on an interesting train of reflections. I'll first summarize the relevant points from each book, then proceed with my own reflections. The central point of Enns book is a familiar but important one: the Bible simply isn't the sort of book the fundamentalists want it to be. That is, fundamentalists (and, interestingly, certain atheist polemicists) have a certain a priori conception of what a revelation from God...
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January 2, 2013
Blog Year 2012 in ReviewIt is now, believe it or not, 2013, and time for my annual review of this blog's activity. Posting has been quite light here for the last few months. The reason is that I spent the fall semester teaching at Pepperdine. I actually thought, going into it, that this would lead to more blogging, since I would be going back through important texts and thinking about how to present them to students and so forth. But it turned out quite to the contrary, probably because of some combination of spending all of my very limited spare time trying to get...
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November 30, 2012
Divine Power, Alternate Possibilities, and Necessary Frankfurt CasesMuch of the difficulty in analyzing the notion of power comes from the various limitations of creaturely power: our powers come and go, and they are not infallible (sometimes we have the power or ability to do something, and nevertheless fail to do it when we try). These are the sorts of cases which derailed conditional analyses of power. However, an omnipotent being would have none of these limitations. In our paper, Alexander Pruss and I exploited this fact to develop an analysis of omnipotence, or unlimited power, without the need for a prior analysis of power. This approach has...
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November 27, 2012
Quote of the Day: Swift on LawyersThere [is] a society of men among us, bred up from their youth in the art of proving, by words multiplied for the purpose, that white is black, and black is white, according as they are paid. To this society all the rest of the people are slaves. For example, if my neighbour has a mind to my cow, he has a lawyer to prove that he ought to have my cow from me. I must then hire another to defend my right, it being against all rules of law that any man should be allowed to speak for himself....
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November 6, 2012
Quote of the Day for Election DayWoe to those enacting crooked statutes and writing oppressive laws to keep the poor from getting a fair trial and to deprive the afflicted of my people of justice, so that widows can be their spoil and they can plunder the fatherless. What will you do on the day of punishment when devastation comes from far away? Who will you run to for help? Where will you leave your wealth? - Isaiah 10:1-3, HCSB In the present American context, this passage demands to be combined with 1 Peter 4:17: "the time has come for judgment to begin with God's household."...
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October 4, 2012
A Linguistic Argument for ImmaterialismI think Berkeley would endorse the following argument: The rules governing a bit of language cannot tell agents to perform or refrain from actions in certain circumstances unless the agents can recognize the obtaining or not obtaining of those circumstances prior to the introduction of that bit of language. A word refers to an object only if the rules governing that word tell the agent to behave differently with respect to the use of that word depending on whether that object is present. (E.g. a necessary condition of 'rabbit' referring to rabbits is that the rules governing 'rabbit' specify that...
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September 28, 2012
The Value Component of Plantinga's Free Will DefenseA defense (in Plantinga's sense) against the logical problem of evil requires two components: a metaphysical component, which claims that a certain scenario is logically possible, and a value component, which claims that if the scenario in question were actual then it would be consistent with God's goodness to weakly actualize a world containing evil. In Plantinga's Free Will Defense (FWD), the scenario in question is one in which every creaturely essence suffers from transworld depravity (TWD). Now, in both The Nature of Necessity and God, Freedom, and Evil Plantinga's focus is squarely on the metaphysical component, defending the coherence...
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