The world contains objective causal relations and universals, both of which are intimately connected. If these claims are true, they must have far-reaching consequences, breathing new life into the theory of empirical knowledge and reinforcing epistemological realism. Without causes and universals, Professor Fales argues, realism is defeated, and idealism or scepticism wins. Fales begins with a detailed analysis of David Hume's argument that we have no direct experience of necessary connections between events, concluding that Hume was mistaken on this fundamental (...) point. Then, adopting the view of Armstrong and others that causation is grounded in a second-order relation between universals, he explores a range of topics for which the resulting analysis of causation has systematic implications. In particular, causal identity conditions for physical universals are proposed, which generate a new argument for Platonism. The nature of space and time is discussed, with arguments against backward causation and for the view that space and time can exist independently of matter or causal process. Many of Professor Fales's conclusions seem to run counter to received opinion among contemporary empiricists. Yet his method is classically empiricist in spirit, and a chief motive for these metaphysical explorations is epistemological. The final chapters investigate the perennial question of whether an empiricist, internalist and foundational epistemology can support scientific realism. (shrink)
It has been nearly a decade and a half since Fred Dretske, David Armstrong and Michael Tooley, having each rejected the Regularity theory, independently proposed that natural laws are grounded in a second-order relation that somehow binds together universals.' (l shall call this the ‘DTA theory’). In this way they sought to overcome the major - and notorious — shortcomings of every version of the Regularity theory: how to provide truth conditions for laws that lack instances; how to distinguish laws (...) from accidental generalizations; how to provide truth conditions for the counterfactuals and disposition statements that laws apparently ‘support’; how to justify inductive inferences from past events to laws and future events. For each of these puzzles, an apparently key element in the solution seems to be missing from Regularity theories. That missing element is a genuine connection, a relation with more than merely spatial and/or temporal content, linking the antecedent of a law to its consequent. Once such an additional objective element - however understood — is admitted to be essential to the analysis of laws, one is forced to give up the idea that the logical form of laws can be given in terms of quantiﬁers ranging over events or states of alfairs, and truth-functions. (shrink)
The “doctrine of the given” that Fales defends holds that there are certain experiences such that we can have justified beliefs about their “contents” that are not based on any other beliefs, and that the rest of our justified empirical beliefs rest on those “basic beliefs.” The features of experience basic beliefs are about are said to be “given.” Fales holds that some basic beliefs are infallible, having a kind of clarity that guarantees their truth to the believer. In addition, (...) some basic beliefs are fallible, typically due to failure to devote full attention to one’s experience. (shrink)
This study is a new look at the question of how God can act upon the world, and whether the world can affect God, examining contemporary work on the metaphysics of causation and laws of nature, and current work in the theory of knowledge and mysticism. It has been traditional to address such questions by appealing to God’s omnipotence and omniscience, but this book claims that this is useless unless it can be shown how these two powers "work." Instead of (...) treating the familiar problems associated with omnipotence and omniscience, this book asks directly whether, and how, causal interactions between God and His world could occur: both between God and the physical world and between God and other minds, as well as between the world and God. Fales examines current thinking about the very nature of causation, laws of nature, and agency. (shrink)
This chapter examines arguments for the view that any science of the supernatural must be a pseudoscience. It shows that many of these arguments are not good arguments. It also argues that, contrary to recent philosophical discussions, the appeal to the supernatural should not be ruled out as science for methodological reasons, but rather because the notion of supernatural intervention probably suffers from fatal flaws.
In Warrant and Proper Function, Alvin Plantinga claims that metaphysical naturalism, when joined to a naturalized epistemology, is self-undermining. Plantinga argues that naturalists are committed to a neoDarwinian account of our origins, and that the reliability of our cognitive faculties is improbable or unknown relative to that theory. If the theory is true, then we are in no position to know that, whereas theism, if true, underwrites cognitive reliability. I seek to turn the tables on Plantinga, showing that neoDarwinism provides (...) strong reasons for expecting general cognitive reliability, whereas the likelihood of that relative to theism is unknowable. (shrink)
In “Justification Without Awareness”, Michael Bergmann divides internalist epistemologies into those with a strong awareness requirement and those with a weak awareness requirement; he presents a dilemma, hoisting the “strongs” on one horn, and the “weaks” on the other. Here I reply on behalf of the strong-awareness view, presenting what I take to be a more satisfactory, and more fundamental, reply to Bergmann than I believe has been offered by his other critics, and in particular by Rogers and Matheson in (...) their “Bergmann’s dilemma: exit strategies for internalists,” with which I am in partial agreement. (shrink)
Theodicies can be distinguished as “hard-nosed” or “good-hearted.” Typical features of each are given. I reject the former; they set the bar too low for God. Considerable discussion is devoted to Eleonore Stump's recent Wandering in Darkness, which sets the standard for good-hearted theodicies. I then develop the notion of a “perfect creature”, a possible being indistinguishable from God except lacking aseity, and argue that God should have created only perfect creatures. Since He did not, He is not. Theodicies, therefore, (...) are in trouble if there is a best possible world and it is a perfect creature world. (shrink)
Essentialism--understood as the doctrine that there are natural kinds--can be sustained with respect to the most fundamental physical entities of the world, as I elsewhere argue. In this paper I take up the question of the existence of natural kinds among complex structures built out of these elementary ones. I consider a number of objections to essentialism, in particular Locke's puzzle about the existence of borderline cases. A number of recent attempts to justify biological taxonomy are critically examined. I conclude (...) that theory partially justifies such taxonomies but supports only a weaker form of essentialism. (shrink)
Several writers have argued for the implausibility of there being naturalistic explanations of mystical experience. These writers recognize that the evidential significance of mystical experiences for theism depends upon whether explanations that exclude supernatural agency can be discounted; but they seem unaware of some of the best scientific work done in this area. Part I of the present paper introduces the theory of I. M. Lewis, an anthropologist, and tests it against the case of St Teresa. I use Teresa because (...) of her prominence, and because we have considerable biographical data for her. I conclude that Lewis's approach, suitably supplemented, is strikingly successful in explaining this case. (shrink)
Some philosophers deny that science can investigate the supernatural - specifically, the nature and actions of God. If a divine being is atemporal, then, indeed, this seems plausible - but only, I shall argue, because such a being could not causally interact with anything. Here I discuss in detail two major attempts, those of Stump and Kretzmann, and of Leftow, to make sense of theophysical causation on the supposition that God is eternal. These views are carefully worked out, and their (...) failures are instructive for any attempt to reconcileeternality with causal efficacy. I conclude by arguing that if knowledge of God is possible, in virtue of His effects upon the world, then it is science that must play the preeminent role in producing that knowledge. (shrink)
This paper presents an argument for the claim that historical events are unique in a nontrivial sense which entails the inapplicability of the Hempelian D-N model to historical explanations. Some previous criticisms of Hempel are shown to be general criticisms of the D-N model which can be outflanked in cases where a reduction to fundamental laws is available. I then survey grounds for denying that explanations by reasons can be effectively reduced to causal explanations, and for rejecting methodological individualism. I (...) conclude with some positive remarks concerning the structure of historical explanations and sense in which historical events are unique. (shrink)
This critical study of the third book of Plantinga's trilogy on proper-function epistemology begins by denying that classical foundationalism proposes a deontic conception of justification. Nor is it subject to Gettier counterexamples, as, I show, Plantinga's fallibilism is and must be. Plantinga's central thesis is that there's no way of attacking the rationality of central Christian beliefs without attacking their truth. That, I argue, is not so on several grounds, e.g., because one can demand independent evidence for the existence of (...) the _sensus divinitatis and Holy Spirit, because of doctrinal disagreements, and because of the morally checkered character of "saved" Christians. (shrink)
Foundationalist epistemologies, whether internalist or externalist, ground noetic structures in beliefs that are said to be foundational, or properly basic. It is essential to such epistemologies that they provide clear criteria for proper basicality. This proves, 1 argue, to be a thorny task, at least insofar as the goal is to provide a psychologically realistic reconstruction of our actual doxastic practices. I examine some of the difficulties, and suggest some implications, in particular for the externalist epistemology of Alvin Plantinga.
Theoretical simplicity is difficult to characterize, and evidently can depend upon a number of distinct factors. One such desirable characteristic is that the laws of a theory have relatively few "counterinstances" whose accommodation requires the invocation of a ceteris paribus condition and ancillary explanation. It is argued that, when one theory is reduced to another, such that the laws of the second govern the behavior of the parts of the entities in the domain of the first, there is a characteristic (...) gain in simplicity of the sort mentioned: while I see no way of quantitatively measuring the "amount" of defeasibility of the laws of a theory, microreduction can be shown to decrease that "amount.". (shrink)
A popular proof for the existence of God assumes that there are objective moral duties, arguing that this can only be explained by there being a supreme law-giver, namely God. The upshot is either a Divine command theory (DCT) -- or something similar -- or a natural-law theory. I discuss two prominent theories, Robert Adams’s DCT and Stephen Evans’s hybrid DCT/natural-law theory. I argue that they suffer from fatal difficulties. Natural-law theories are plausible, if God exists, but can’t be used (...) to prove His existence; and are less plausible, on the evidence, than a naturalistic natural-law theory, which has the best prospects for providing an objective foundation for morality. (shrink)
The Case for Humanism is the premier textbook to introduce and help students think critically about the 'big ideas' of Western humanism—secularism, rationalism, materialism, science, democracy, individualism, and others—all powerful themes that run through Western thought from the ancient Greeks and the Enlightenment to the present day.
In Part I of this paper, I argued that the mystical experiences of Teresa of Avila are well explained by the anthropological theory of I. M. Lewis. In Part II, I discuss how the causal gap between the social circumstances identified by Lewis and individual phenomenology can be filled in. I then show that Lewis's theory, thus supplemented, is a genuine competitor to the theistic understanding of mystical experience, and that it is much more strongly confirmed by the available evidence (...) than the latter view. If that is right, then Alston and Wainwright, among others, are mistaken in claiming that science cannot offer serious competition to theism in this arena. (shrink)
In Part I of this paper, I took up a challenge posed by Alston , Wainwright , Yandell , and other theists who hold the rather natural view that mystical experiences provide perceptual contact with God, roughly on a par with the access sense experience affords to the natural world. These theists recognize, at the same time, that the plausibility of this view would be significantly compromised by the possibility of scientifically explaining mystical experiences – especially if a scientific explanation (...) were incompatible with, ruled out, or made unlikely the supposition that God has anything special to do with the occurrences of these experiences. (shrink)
Jerome Gellman has recently disputed my claim that a naturalistic explanation for mystical experiences is available, a better explanation than any current attempt to show that God is sometimes perceived in those experiences. Gellman argues (i) that some mystics do not 'fit' the sociological explanation of I. M. Lewis; (ii) that the sociological analysis of tribal mysticism cannot properly be extended to theistic experiences; and (iii) that mystical experiences merit prima facie credence, so the burden of proof falls on the (...) naturalist. I reply (i) that the alleged counter-examples either do fit Lewis's explanation or are too poorly known to judge; (ii) that Lewis's theory, supplemented by recent neurophysiological findings, provides a strong explanation for all mystical experiences; and (iii) that the burden of proof, if there is one, now falls on the theist. (shrink)
Animistic religious thought is extremely widespread, and can be found even in religions practiced by “modern” societies. But it is commonly thought to bear the hallmarks of “primitive” thinking processes, which in the anthropological tradition have typically been taken to involve various cognitive errors. Here I am going to argue that this misunderstands and misrepresents the content of such thinking, which is by no means as unsophisticated as it is usually considered to be. I shall be using Robin Horton’s interesting (...) proposals as my stalking-horse. (shrink)
Literal-minded Christians are enjoying resurgent respectability in intellectual circles. Darwin isn’t the only target: also under attack is the application of modern historiography to Scripture According to Reformed epistemologists, ordinary Christians can directly know that, e.g., Jesus rose from the dead, and evidential concerns can be dismissed. This reversion to a sixteenth century hermeneutic deserves response.
Theories of how organisms learn about cause-effect relations have a history dating back at least to the associationist/mechanistic hypothesis of David Hume. Some contemporary theories of causal learning are descendants of Hume's mechanistic models of conditioning, but others impute principled, rule-based reasoning. Since even primitive animals are conditionable, it is clear that there are built-in mechanical algorithms that respond to cause/effect relations. The evidence suggests that humans retain the use of such algorithms, which are surely adaptive when causal judgments must (...) be rapidly made. But we know very little about what these algorithms are and about when and with what ratiocinative procedures they are sometimes replaced. Nor do we know how the concept of causation originates in humans. To clarify some of these issues, this paper surveys the literature and explores the behavioral predictions made by two contrasting theories of causal learning: the mechanical Rescorla-Wagner model and the sophisticated reasoning codified in Bayes' Theorem. (shrink)
The attraction between religion and politics is perennial. Sometimes, in its long and checkered history, it has led to an adulterous affair. I want to ask what lies at the heart of this attraction, and whether that can shed any light on the current religious/political scene. But the romance metaphor is at bottom not a good one. I shall argue that, in their originary condition, religion and politics are "closer," both ontologically and in their motivation, than woman and man, closer (...) than siblings. Perhaps the image of siamese identical twins would serve best as a figure for the union which binds together these domains, in spite of the peculiar political history which has, in the West and especially in this country, attempted to sunder them. Let me emphasize right here that my project is a descriptive one: I am seeking a deeper understanding of the phenomena, not attempting to develop a prescriptive or normative position concerning what is to be done. Indeed, I shall only be able to sketch the outlines of the descriptive position I shall propose. (shrink)
I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you my name 'the LORD'; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But ... you cannot see my face; for man shall not see me and live. Exodus 33:19-20, RSV..