The situationist movement in psychology and, more recently, in philosophy has been associated with a number of striking claims, including that most people do not have the moral virtues and vices, that any ethical theory which is wedded to such character traits is empirically inadequate, and that much of our behavior is causally influenced, to significant degrees, by psychological influences about which we are often unaware. Yet Christian philosophers have had virtually nothing to say about situationist claims. The goal (...) of this paper is to consider whether Christians should start to be worried about them. (shrink)
Contemporary Christian ethics encounters the challenge to communicate genuinely Christian normative orientations within the scientific debate in such a way as to render these orientations comprehensible, and to maintain or enhance their plausibility even for non-Christians. This essay, therefore, proceeds from a biblical motif, takes up certain themes from the Christian tradition (in particular the idea of social justice), and connects both with a compelling contemporary approach to ethics by secular moral philosophy, i.e. with Axel Honneth's reception (...) of Hegel, as based on Hegel's theory of recognition. As a first step, elements of an ethics of recognition are developed on the basis of an anthropological recourse to the conditions of intersubjective encounters. These conditions are then brought to bear on the idea of social justice, as developed in the social-Catholic tradition, and as systematically explored in the Pastoral Letter of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Economic Justice For All (1986). Proceeding from this basis, aspects of a Christian ethics of community service with regard to long-term care can be defined. (shrink)
This paper considers the popular visual jurisprudence of bumper stickers. Drawing upon a sample sticker/driver/vehicle assemblages observed at the Gold Coast, Australia in 2014, we argue that the meanings and messages projected by the assemblages have a significant legal dimension. The argument is located at the intersection of past research into bumper stickers, increased scholarly interest in the relation of law to automobility and especially recent considerations of the popular visual jurisprudence of the motor vehicle, its cultures and semiotics. In (...) particular we argue that the sticker/driver/vehicle assemblage represents an engagement with law and legality. We suggest this goes beyond immediate denotations of brands with intellectual property or flags and the sovereign nation state to more essential engagement with consumer capitalisms law of the image, the friend/enemy distinction, the ouroboros of rights and the essential legality of living in a polis. (shrink)
This is the third volume in Alvin Plantinga's trilogy on the notion of warrant, which he defines as that which distinguishes knowledge from true belief. In this volume, Plantinga examines warrant's role in theistic belief, tackling the questions of whether it is rational, reasonable, justifiable, and warranted to accept Christian belief and whether there is something epistemically unacceptable in doing so. He contends that Christian beliefs are warranted to the extent that they are formed by properly functioning cognitive (...) faculties, thus, insofar as they are warranted, Christian beliefs are knowledge if they are true. (shrink)
Are companies, churches, and states genuine agents? Or are they just collections of individuals that give a misleading impression of unity? This question is important, since the answer dictates how we should explain the behaviour of these entities and whether we should treat them as responsible and accountable on the model of individual agents. Group Agency offers a new approach to that question and is relevant, therefore, to a range of fields from philosophy to law, politics, and the social sciences. (...)Christian List and Philip Pettit argue that there really are group or corporate agents, over and above the individual agents who compose them, and that a proper approach to the social sciences, law, morality, and politics must take account of this fact. Unlike some earlier defences of group agency, their account is entirely unmysterious in character and, despite not being technically difficult, is grounded in cutting-edge work in social choice theory, economics, and philosophy. (shrink)
In recent centuries Christians of various denominations have endorsed many different political philosophies that they see as being truly biblical in their approach. Over this time there has been an increasing hostility, by some Christians, towards free markets and political philosophies that hold human liberty as the highest goal such as libertarianism and classical liberalism. This criticism is unwarranted and misplaced as libertarianism and free markets are not only compatible with Christianity, they are also the most biblically sound of all (...) economics systems and political philosophies endorsed by Christians today. Therefore, this paper will argue that Christians of all denominations should endorse free markets and libertarianism if they wish to create a world that follows biblical principles and the teachings of Jesus. (shrink)
Priest has provided a simple tableau calculus for Chellas's conditional logic Ck. We provide rules which, when added to Priest's system, result in tableau calculi for Chellas's CK and Lewis's VC. Completeness of these tableaux, however, relies on the cut rule.
Christian concern about how we treat animals has increased strikingly in recent years. More and more Christians are deciding that our attitudes towards animals must change. Here is a book which presents, for the first time, a comprehensive and well-argued theological case for the rights of animals, and offers a challenging critique of our existing insensitivity toward animal life. Everyone who cares about the rights of animals, particularly clergy and ministers who are constantly being asked for answers on the (...) issue, will welcome this new and important book. (shrink)
What is it for there to be a God, and what reason is there for supposing him to conform to the claims of Christian doctrine? In this pivotal volume of his tetralogy, Richard Swinburne builds a rigorous metaphysical system for describing the world, and applies this to assessing the worth of the Christian tenets of the Trinity and the Incarnation. Part I is dedicated to analyzing the categories needed to address accounts of the divine nature--substance, cause, time, and (...) necessity. Part II begins by setting out, in terms of these categories, the fundamental doctrine of Western religions--that there is a God. After pointing out some of the different ways in which this doctrine can be developed, Swinburne spells out the simplest possible account of divine nature. He then goes on to clarify the implications of this account for the specifically Christian doctrines of the Trinity (that God is "three persons in one substance") and of the Incarnation (that God became incarnate in Jesus Christ). Swinburne finds that there are good reasons to believe the Christian additions to the core Western idea of God. The Christian God builds upon Swinburne's acclaimed previous work to form a self-contained text which will no doubt become a classic in the philosophy of religion. (shrink)
Philosophers have argued about the nature and the very existence of free will for centuries. Today, many scientists and scientifically minded commentators are skeptical that it exists, especially when it is understood to require the ability to choose between alternative possibilities. If the laws of physics govern everything that happens, they argue, then how can our choices be free? Believers in free will must be misled by habit, sentiment, or religious doctrine. Why Free Will Is Real defies scientific orthodoxy and (...) presents a bold new defense of free will in the same naturalistic terms that are usually deployed against it. -/- Unlike those who defend free will by giving up the idea that it requires alternative possibilities to choose from, Christian List retains this idea as central, resisting the tendency to defend free will by watering it down. He concedes that free will and its prerequisites—intentional agency, alternative possibilities, and causal control over our actions—cannot be found among the fundamental physical features of the natural world. But, he argues, that’s not where we should be looking. Free will is a “higher-level” phenomenon found at the level of psychology. It is like other phenomena that emerge from physical processes but are autonomous from them and not best understood in fundamental physical terms—like an ecosystem or the economy. When we discover it in its proper context, acknowledging that free will is real is not just scientifically respectable; it is indispensable for explaining our world. (shrink)
Spirituality connotes praxis informed by religious or faith convictions. This can transform the individual and society at large. Christian spirituality is centered on how a person’s relationship with the God of Jesus Christ informs and directs one’s approach to existence and engagement with the world. The ecosystem concerns humanity and relationship with it is invariably influenced by faith or religious informed praxis. The reality of climate change is convincing many people that humankind’s common homeland needs to be treated with (...) care and respect if created beings are to have a congenial habitat now and in the future. This article avers that Christian spirituality can contribute to eco-friendly behavior through re-formation of the behavior of people and emboldening their goodwill as regards the responsibility of all towards the care of the earth. Finally, this research proffers a three-fold model of eco-spirituality - scriptural, selfcontrol, and sacramental approaches to the earth – as a contribution towards stemming the tide of ecological assaults on creation. Textual analysis is the method used in this research. (shrink)
The shift of interest from community to individuality and freedom brought by modernity challenged the central place once occupied by religion, pushing it to the outskirts of human life. All these led to an increased indifference towards any transcendental guarantor that could act in a neutral reason-governed space. In the case of Islam, such a situation is impossible to tolerate, because it would mean God’s desecration by reducing the Qur’an to the statute of a simple book like many others that (...) offer an opinion on a Supreme Being who does not decide the destiny of humanity any more, but becomes a simple matter of opinion. While Western Christianity adjusted to modernity reaching even to justify the developments which led to a dissolution of sacred, stating that they were consistent with its essence, Islam accepted modernity only to the extent of this one’s capacity to verify the realities stated by the Qur’an. (shrink)
What is a person? This fundamental question is a perennial concern of philosophers and theologians. But, Christian Smith here argues, it also lies at the center of the social scientist’s quest to interpret and explain social life. In this ambitious book, Smith presents a new model for social theory that does justice to the best of our humanistic visions of people, life, and society. Finding much current thinking on personhood to be confusing or misleading, Smith finds inspiration in critical (...) realism and personalism. Drawing on these ideas, he constructs a theory of personhood that forges a middle path between the extremes of positivist science and relativism. Smith then builds on the work of Pierre Bourdieu, Anthony Giddens, and William Sewell to demonstrate the importance of personhood to our understanding of social structures. From there he broadens his scope to consider how we can know what is good in personal and social life and what sociology can tell us about human rights and dignity. Innovative, critical, and constructive,_ What Is a Person?_ offers an inspiring vision of a social science committed to pursuing causal explanations, interpretive understanding, and general knowledge in the service of truth and the moral good. (shrink)
Richard Swinburne is one of the most influential contemporary proponents of the analytical philosophy of religion. He is, above all, a traditional theist. However, his interests are very wide-ranging. He has written about nearly all central theological and philosophical issues such as epistemology, metaphysics, theory of mind and ethics. During the “Münstersche Vorlesungen 2007” students and faculty members of the Department of Philosophy at Münster University entered into a skilful and interesting discussion concerning most of Swinburne’s positions. This volume presents (...) their contributions as well as Swinburne's replies. (shrink)
Contemporary Nigerian society is in its doldrums as regards the culture of violence and distrust among peoples from various ethnic groups that make-up this nation. To an extent, religio-political reasons are fueling this culture of violence and distrust. The thrust of this paper is that: Christian military chaplains are stakeholders as promoters of peace and mutual co-existence in Nigeria with regard to controlling the culture of violence and disunity. The core of this thesis remains Jesus’ convictions concerning non-resistance to (...) the evil one as documented in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5: 38-42, and His life as the Peace-Builder. Therefore, contemporary Nigerian context calls for Christian military chaplains to be more conscious that being messengers of peace and promoters of peaceful coexistence in our country, they have ethical responsibility to build bridges to harmony. Since Christ (God) is love, the chaplains should rediscover the poetics of testimony as a principle for building and reconstructing paths that lead to mutual co-existence in view of encouraging the reign of justice, unity, and peace in Nigeria. (shrink)
In the moral and spiritual vacuum left in Russia by the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989-1991, some of the thinkers who first opposed the Leninist revolution of 1917 have come to a new prominence, and among these is the religious philosopher Nikolai Berdyaev (1874-1948). He expressed a passionate protest against the revolution and was clearly the most comprehensive contemporary critic of the revolutionary project from a Christian perspective. From his consistently religious perspective he foresaw with precision much (...) of the inhuman and tyrannical potential of the revolutionary project. (shrink)
Scientists and philosophers frequently speak about levels of description, levels of explanation, and ontological levels. This paper presents a framework for studying levels. I give a general definition of a system of levels and discuss several applications, some of which refer to descriptive or explanatory levels while others refer to ontological levels. I illustrate the usefulness of this framework by bringing it to bear on some familiar philosophical questions. Is there a hierarchy of levels, with a fundamental level at the (...) bottom? And what does the answer to this question imply for physicalism, the thesis that everything supervenes on the physical? Are there emergent higher-level properties? Are higher-level descriptions reducible to lower-level ones? Can the relationship between normative and non-normative domains be viewed as one involving levels? And might a levelled framework shed light on the relationship between third-personal and first-personal phenomena? (shrink)
Can we design a perfect democratic decision procedure? Condorcet famously observed that majority rule, our paradigmatic democratic procedure, has some desirable properties, but sometimes produces inconsistent outcomes. Revisiting Condorcet’s insights in light of recent work on the aggregation of judgments, I show that there is a conflict between three initially plausible requirements of democracy: “robustness to pluralism”, “basic majoritarianism”, and “collective rationality”. For all but the simplest collective decision problems, no decision procedure meets these three requirements at once; at most (...) two can be met together. This “democratic trilemma” raises the question of which requirement to give up. Since different answers correspond to different views about what matters most in a democracy, the trilemma suggests a map of the “logical space” in which different conceptions of democracy are located. It also sharpens our thinking about other impossibility problems of social choice and how to avoid them, by capturing a core structure many of these problems have in common. More broadly, it raises the idea of “cartography of logical space” in relation to contested political concepts. (shrink)
Humean reductionism about laws of nature is the view that the laws reduce to the total distribution of non-modal or categorical properties in spacetime. A worry about Humean reductionism is that it cannot motivate the characteristic modal resilience of laws under counterfactual suppositions and that it thus generates wrong verdicts about certain nested counterfactuals. In this paper, we defend Humean reductionism by motivating an account of the modal resilience of Humean laws that gets nested counterfactuals right.
Applied Christian Ethics addresses selected themes in Christian social ethics. Part one shows the roots of contributors in the realist school; part two focuses on different levels of the significance of economics for social justice; and part three deals with both existential experience and government policy in war and peace issues.