This paper discusses the normative ethical theory of the business firm advanced principally by William E. Evan and R. Edward Freeman. According to their stakeholder theory, the firm should be managed for the benefit of its stakeholders: indeed, management has a fiduciary obligation to stakeholders to act as their agent. In this paper I seek to clarify the theory by discussing the concept of a stakeholder and by distinguishing stakeholder theory from two varieties of stockholder theory-I call them ‘pure’ and (...) ‘tinged.’ I argue that the distinctive claims of stakeholder theory, as contrasted with tinged stockholder theories, have been inadequately supported by argument. (shrink)
God, the Best, and Evil is an original treatment of notable problems about God and his actions towards human beings. Three main topics are investigated in detail. First, if God exists, is God in some sense necessarily a value-maximizer? Second, Does a serious difficulty for the existence of God arise from the apparent fact that if God exists then God could have actualized a better possible world than this one? Thirdly are there strong objections top the existence of God based (...) on evil? In the course of tackling the problem of evil, Langtry provides a partial theodicy for evil -- one that is neutral between Theological Compatibilism, Molinism and and Open Theism. (shrink)
The paper reaches two main conclusions: Firstly, even if there are one or more possible worlds than which there are none better, God cannot actualise any of them. Secondly, if there are possible worlds which God can actualise, and than which God can actualise none better, then God must actualise one of them. The paper is neutral between compatibilist and libertarian views of creaturely freedom. The paper's main ideas have been used, with modifications, in my book "God, the Best, and (...) Evil" (OUP 2008). (shrink)
The paper defends the claim that it is metaphysically possible that continuants of at least some kinds can have life-histories that incorporate temporal gaps -- i.e., the continuants can go out of existence and then come into existence again. Opponents of this view have included Graham Nerlich and Bernard Williams, whose writings I discuss.i.
This paper addresses a line of argument in Hume's Enquiry, Section X Part 2 -- specifically, on pp.121-222 of Selby-Bigge's edition. In September 2021 I read it for the first time in several decades, and realized that the argument is seriously flawed. Although I cannot recommend that anyone else read it in its current state, perhaps by the end of 2021 I'll be in a position upload a revised version of the paper to this site.
The paper investigates how greater good theodicies are supposed to work, and argues that, in principle, appeal to greater goods can explain why God, if he exists, is justified in refraining from ensuring that there is little or no evil. (Readers interested in objections from alternative goods might also want to look at the rather different discussion of them in Section 7.11 of my book God, The Best, and Evil (OUP 2008).
Hume, in the Enquiry Section X Part 1, claims that ’all probability supposes an opposition of experiments and observations, where one side is found to overbalance the other and to produce a degree of evidence proportioned to the superiority’. He concludes that in assessing miracle-claims one should weigh the historical testimony supporting the miracle against the testimony supporting the regularity to which it is an exception. I argue that both his premise and his conclusion are false.
The version uploaded to this site is a late draft. The paper arises both from William L. Rowe's classic 1979 discussion of the problem of evil, argues that there exist instances of intense suffering which an omnipotent, omniscient being could have prevented without thereby losing some greater good or permitting some evil equally bad or worse, and also from Steven Wykstra's response, in the course of which he argues for the following Condition of Reasonable Epistemic Access (CORNEA): "On the basis (...) of cognized situation s, human H is entitled to claim 'It appears that p' only if it is reasonable for H to believe that, given her cognitive faculties and the use she has made of them, if p were not the case, s would likely be different in some way discernible by her." My paper discusses CORNEA, and proposes a replacement principle. (shrink)
This paper argues that (1) Richard Swinburne’s general account of the simplicity of empirical hypotheses fails because it involves a deeply problematic notion of postulating a property, while there is a wide range of hypotheses where the assessment of simplicity rests entirely on the number and kinds of postulated properties, (2) Swinburne’s main argument in ’The Christian God’ for the simplicity of theism, the one based on considerations about pure limitless intentional power, is significantly weaker than he seems to believe. (...) The paper does not draw a conclusion about whether theism is simple. (shrink)
J. L. Schellenberg, in “A New Logical Problem of Evil,” published in The Blackwell Companion to the Problem of Evil, argues that (if God exists) God has, of necessity, a disappreciation of evil, operating at a metalevel in such a way as to give God a non-defeasible reason to rule out actualizing a world containing evil. He also argues that since God’s motive in creating the world is to share with finite beings the good that God experiences prior to creation, (...) which is good without evil, it follows that God will create a world that contains no evil. I investigate in detail the foregoing lines of argument and provide grounds for rejecting them. My paper is published in Vol 38 No.2, whose date is nominally April 2021 although the issue is not in fact available yet. (shrink)
This paper concerns some claims by Hume in the Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding Section X Part II -- specifically, what he says on pp.121-122 of Selby-Bigge's edition. Today (in September 2021) I have re-read the paper for the first time in decades. I cannot recommend that anyone else now read it: my argument was seriously defective. I still think, however, that its conclusion is correct, and accordingly may eventually write a new paper on the topic.
Hume’s main argument against rational belief in miracles might seem to rule out rational belief in other antecedently improbable occurrences as well--for example, a certain person’s having won the lottery. Dorothy Coleman has recently defended Hume against the lottery counterexample, invoking Hume’s distinction between probability of chances and probability of causes. I argue that Coleman’s defence fails.
Michael Tooley, in Plantinga & Tooley, "Knowledge of God" (Blackwell 2008) argues that, in the absence of strong evidence in favour of the existence of God, the logical probability of God's existence is extremely low. His argument focusses on rightmaking and wrongmaking properties of divine actions, and employs Carnap's inductive logic to reach his conclusion. I argue that Tooley's argument's conceptual foundations are problematic, and that his application of Carnap's inductive logic is flawed. I then provide an alternative analysis of (...) the relevant inductive issues. (shrink)
J.L. Schellenberg argues that since God, if God exists, possesses both full knowledge by acquaintance of horrific suffering and also infinite compassion, the occurrence of horrific suffering is metaphysically incompatible with the existence of God. In this paper I begin by raising doubts about Schellenberg’s assumptions about divine knowledge by acquaintance and infinite compassion. I then focus on Schellenberg’s claim that necessarily, if God exists and the deepest good of finite persons is unsurpassably great and can be achieved without horrific (...) suffering, then no instances of horrific suffering bring about an improvement great enough to outweigh their great disvalue. I argue that there is no good reason, all things considered, to believe this claim. Thus Schellenberg’s argument from horrors fails. (shrink)
Arc there cases in which an object x is thc same F as an object y but x is not the same G as y, cvcn though x is a G? A11 aihrmativc answer will have drastic repercussions 011 0ne’s account of identity and on one’s quantification theory. For suppose that the expression ‘x is the same F as y’ can be understood as ‘x is an F and y is an F and x is identical with y’, and that (...) ‘x is not the same G as y’ can be understood as ‘it is not the case that x is a G and y is a G and x is identical with y’. Then one may reason as follows. (shrink)
I EXAMINE VARIOUS SUGGESTED PRINCIPLES FOR WEIGHING TESTIMONY TO PAST EVENTS AND IDENTIFY ONE WHICH SEEMS TO BE BOTH TRUE AND ROUGHLY IN THE SPIRIT OF DAVID HUME’S ESSAY. I ARGUE THAT HUME FAILS TO PROVIDE GOOD REASONS FOR SAYING THAT THIS PRINCIPLE, WHEN APPLIED TO REPORTS OF MIRACLES PURPORTING TO SUPPORT RELIGIOUS BELIEFS, WILL ALWAYS LEAD US TO REJECT THE OCCURRENCE OF THE MIRACLE.
This paper is a rejoinder to Michael Almeida's reply to my chapter "Unrestricted Actualization and Divine Providence" in Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion Volume 9 (where his reply also appears).
My reply corrects one misstatement in Oppy’s summary of my book, abandons a footnote in the light of one of Oppy’s criticisms, and argues that Oppy’s other criticisms do not succeed in showing either that my claims are mistaken or that the arguments by which I supported them are defective.
Richard M.Gale reviewed my book in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews in May 2009. The overall conclusion of my reply is that although Gale repeatedly claims that the book is defective, his review has not identified any genuine defects.
My main conclusion is that the prospects for a successful Free Will Defence employing Alvin Plantinga’s basic strategy are poor. The paper explains how the Defence is supposed to work, and pays special attention both to the definition of Transworld Depravity and also to whether is is possible that God actualizes a world containing moral good.
This paper is a critique of David Wiggins's treatment of essentialism in his book Identity and Spatio-Temporal Continuity (Blackwell 1967). I argue in detail that he has not provided an adequate account either of the concept of a sortal term or of the concept of a substance-concept, even though both concepts play important roles in his case for essentialism. I also discuss Wiggins's views on how substance-concepts are related to judgments of identity through time.
In tyhis book chapterI provides concise overviews of Richard Swinburne's views on topics in natural theology and also in distinctively Christian philosophical theology; changes in his views are identified. I explain Swinburne's positive, cumulative case for the existence of God, and his discussion of objections to God based on evil, and then move on to outline his views on A tonement, Revelation, the Trinity, and the Incarnation. I then sketch his case for the truth of Christianity, and and his views (...) on faith and its relationship with reason. (shrink)
Michael Almeida, in his book "Freedom, God, and Worlds" (OUP 2012) argues that (C) Necessarily, God has available an infallible method, Unrestricted Actualization, by which God can bring about whatever undetermined events God chooses, except those which it is metaphysically or accidentally necessary that God does not bring about. I argue that we have no reason to believe either of the two premises of Almeida's main argument for (C).
This paper is the second of two in which I address Keith Chrzan's criticisms of what Alvin Plantinga says, in Chapter 9 Section 11 of The Nature of Necessity, about probabilistic arguments from evil. l clarify the issues and defend Plantinga and myself from Chrzan's criticisms.
The Two-Envelope Paradox is classically presented as a problem in decision theory that turns on the use of probabilities in calculating expected utilities. I formulate a Maximin Version of the paradox, one that is decision-theoretic but omits considerations of probability. I investigate the source of the error in this new argument, and apply the insights thereby gained to the analysis of the classical version.
Without embracing Reformed Epistemology (advocated by Plantinga and others), I argue against two claims: (1) A person S is epistemically justified in believing that God exists only if S has a good argument for the existence of God. (2) There are no professional philosophers in our culture today who are justified in believing that God exists even though they do not have, and have never had, a good argument for the existence of God. Likely evidentialist objections are discussed at length.
J. L. Mackie, in "The Miracle of Theism" (OUP 1981), chapter 1, argues that "it is pretty well impossible that reported miracles should provide a worthwhile argument for theism addressed to those who are initially inclined to atheism or even to agnosticism." I argue that Mackie fails to establish this conclusion. All that he can show is that those who are initially inclined to theism or agnosticism may be justified in predicting that the next miracle report they examine will not (...) be such as to form the basis for a worthwhile argument for theism. (shrink)
Karl Popper, in "The Logic of Scientific Discovery" Section *vii, argues that if you find that some objecta a,b, c ... have a specific property P, then this discovery by itself does not increase the probability that some other object also has P. He concludes that there can be no effective principle of induction. My paper disproves Popper's claim, using very elementary considerations..
Religious outlooks are combinations of theological, moral and political principles, individuated in a medium-grained way. Distinguish between religious outlooks that are friendly to the fundamental political principles characteristic of liberal democracy, and those that are hostile to, or knowingly subversive of, them. I claim that (1) in some respects, but not all, governments are justified in discriminating against 'hostile' religious outlooks, but (2) governments should not intentionally favour some 'friendly' ones over others, and (3) governments should respect all 'friendly' faith-based (...) organisations with which it deals, but may on various grounds favour some over others. (shrink)
John Rawls, in A Theory of Justice, sometimes asserts each of the two premises of the following argument, and also the conclusion: (1) The parties in the original position would adopt the maximin rule. (2) The maximin rule, when applied to the task pof the parties in the original position, enjoins the choice of Rawls's two principles of justice in preference to the lother listed alternative. (3) Therefore the parties would choose Rawls's two principles. In this paper I argue against (...) premise (2). I distinguish three mutually incompatible interpretations of the task of the parties. Each is consistent with much of what says but none of them is consistent with everything he says. I argue that on none of the interpretations is there good reason to suppose that premise (2) is true. (shrink)
This paper has been superseded by Chapter 5 (especially section 5.4) of my book "God, the Best, and Evil" (OUP 2008). The chapter, like the journal article, is concerned with objections to the existence of God that are based on the apparent improvability of the world, yet are independent of the problem of evil.