July 22, 2015

"Mereological Idealism"

I've posted a new draft on my writings page, "Mereological Idealism." This paper is expected to appear in a collection of essays on idealism in contemporary metaphysics that Tyron Goldschmidt and I are editing for Oxford University Press....
Continue reading ""Mereological Idealism""

June 15, 2015

Understanding Sentences: Port-Royal, Locke, and Berkeley

According to the Port-Royal Logic, "words are distinct and articulated sounds that people have made into signs to indicate what takes place in the mind" (Buroker 74). Similarly, according to Locke, the use of language requires that one ``be able to use [articulate] Sounds, as Signs of internal Conceptions; and to make them stand as marks for the Ideas within his own Mind, whereby they might be made known to others, and the Thoughts of Men's Minds be conveyed from one to another" (EHU 3.1.2). Passages like these support Berkeley's interpretation of his predecessors as holding that, in the proper...
Continue reading "Understanding Sentences: Port-Royal, Locke, and Berkeley"

May 19, 2015

Molinism and Circularity

Yesterday, I discussed Thomas Flint's response to the grounding objection in chapter 5 of Divine Providence: The Molinist Account. Today, I want to discuss his response to Robert Adams in chapter 7. Adams' objection turns on a notion of explanatory priority which, Flint complains, is not adequately defined. Flint argues that there is an equivocation in the argument, and that Adams relies on a transitivity assumption which is not plausible when applied across the different sorts of priority involved. I think, however, that Flint is mistaken on both counts: first, the notion in question is not equivocal. Rather, it is...
Continue reading "Molinism and Circularity"

May 18, 2015

Future Contingents and the Grounding Objection to Molinism

In chapter 5 of Divine Providence: The Molinist Account (1998), Thomas Flint defends a response to the grounding objection which he attributes to Alfred Freddoso. According to the Flint-Freddoso line, there are difficulties about future contingents which are exactly parallel to the difficulties about counterfactuals of creaturely freedom, and solutions to the problems about future contingents can be adapted to provide equally plausible solutions to the problems about counterfactuals of creaturely freedom. This claim is false. The exact formulation of the grounding objection is a little tricky. Some philosophers take it to be based on the (questionable) assumption of some...
Continue reading "Future Contingents and the Grounding Objection to Molinism"

May 11, 2015

Some Reflections on Teaching Modern Philosophy

I have just finished teaching the survey of early modern philosophy for the first time. Here at Valpo, this course is required for philosophy majors and minors and is offered at the 200 (sophomore) level. There are a lot of ways to teach a class like this, and a lot of opinions about which ways are better, so I wanted to offer here a description of what I did and how I think it worked. (If there's anything really surprising in my evaluations when I get them at the end of this week, I may come back and revisit some...
Continue reading "Some Reflections on Teaching Modern Philosophy"

April 12, 2015

What Science-Fiction is About

The Hugo Award is one of the longest-running and most prestigious awards in Science-Fiction. As some readers may by now be aware there is a major controversy regarding this year's award process: a right-wing group organized a campaign against 'social justice' inspired nominees and was mostly successful in getting their own slate nominated. Some people have called for "No Award" votes in all categories. It's always hard to say what (or whom) an award like this is supposed to be for, and that's part of what the so-called 'Sad Puppies' group says this controversy is about. However, given the group's...
Continue reading "What Science-Fiction is About"

March 25, 2015

"Matter, God, and Nonsense: Berkeley's Polemic Against the Freethinkers in the Three Dialogues"

I have posted a new draft to my writings page, "Matter, God, and Nonsense: Berkeley's Polemic Against the Freethinkers in the Three Dialogues". The final version of the paper is expected to appear in Berkeley's Three Dialogues: New Essays, ed. Stefan Storrie (Oxford University Press). In the meantime, comments are welcome.
Continue reading ""Matter, God, and Nonsense: Berkeley's Polemic Against the Freethinkers in the Three Dialogues""

February 18, 2015

Machine Consciousness in "Supertoys Last All Summer Long"

I've gotten myself scheduled to teach an interdisciplinary honors college seminar on science-fiction and philosophy in the coming fall. I've started working on a syllabus, which means I have the enjoyable task of looking through a lot of science-fiction stories to think about which ones provide the most interesting explorations of philosophical questions. Along the way, I noticed something very interesting about Brian Aldiss's "Supertoys Last All Summer Long". This 1969 short story was the basis for the 2001 movie A. I. Artificial Intelligence, which was begun by Kubrick and finished by Spielberg after Kubrick's death. According to Aldiss's introduction...
Continue reading "Machine Consciousness in "Supertoys Last All Summer Long""

January 1, 2015

Blog Year 2014

It's 2015 already, and as the new year starts it appears to have been more than 2 months since I posted anything here. I did a lot of 'serious' writing in 2014, and this is probably part of the reason why I've done less blog writing - only 29 posts, and most of those in the first three months of the year. (This covers the tail-end of my blogging about The Puzzle of Existence, and also the lull between submission and defense of my dissertation.) Despite the light blogging, traffic is up significantly from last year with nearly 590,000 visits...
Continue reading "Blog Year 2014"

October 20, 2014

"How Berkeley's Gardener Knows his Cherry Tree"

I have posted a new draft, "How Berkeley's Gardener Knows his Cherry Tree" to my writings page. As always, comments and criticisms are welcome.
Continue reading ""How Berkeley's Gardener Knows his Cherry Tree""

October 1, 2014

Theisms, Metaphysical and Religious

Both in the classical tradition and in recent analytic philosophy, much of philosophical theology is concerned with what we might call metaphysical theism, that is, with the notion of God as a metaphysical theory which explains certain facts about the world. This is most visible in the cosmological argument for contingency, where the ability of the theistic hypothesis to explain something that (allegedly) cannot be explained (or explained equally well) without God is given as a reason for belief in God. A lot of our theorizing about God (in this metaphysical mode) then has to do with the question of...
Continue reading "Theisms, Metaphysical and Religious"

September 1, 2014

July 25, 2014

Regarding All Those Possible Arnaulds

One of the main topics of the Leibniz-Arnauld correspondence is the question how, on Leibniz's theory, it can be true that Arnauld might have had children and been a physician rather than being a celibate theologian (see Arnauld's letter of May 13, 1686). One of the curious things that happens in this discussion is that both Leibniz and Arnauld start talking about the many Adams and many Judases and many Arnaulds in the various possible worlds, with Leibniz insisting that none of them is identical to the actual Adam/Judas/Arnauld. In that May 13 letter, Arnauld even speaks of 'several mes',...
Continue reading "Regarding All Those Possible Arnaulds"

July 12, 2014

"Berkeley's Lockean Religious Epistemology" in JHI

My paper "Berkeley's Lockean Religious Epistemology" has now (finally!) appeared in Journal of the History of Ideas! In accord with the journal's self-archival policy, I have removed the online preprint I had posted; apologies to those without subscriptions. I will put the official version of the paper up after the one year embargo has expired.
Continue reading ""Berkeley's Lockean Religious Epistemology" in JHI"

May 12, 2014

Return to kennypearce.net