The authors of this lively and thorough introduction to philosophy from a Christian perspective introduce you to the principal subdisciplines of philosophy, including epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of science, ethics and philosophy ...
Not long ago, one of us has clarified and defended a bare particular theory of individuation. More recently, D. W. Mertz has raised a set of objections against this account and other accounts of bare particulars and proffered an alternative theory of individuation. He claims to have shown that 'the concept of bare particulars, and consequently substratum ontology that requires it, is untenable.' We disagree with this claim and believe there are adequate responses to the three arguments Mertz raises against (...) bare particulars. To substantiate this assertion, we clarify the nature of bare particulars as individuators, state Mertz's objections, and respond to them. We conclude that Mertz has failed to show that bare particular theory is untenable. (shrink)
In _Consciousness and the Existence of God_, J.P. Moreland argues that the existence of finite, irreducible consciousness provides evidence for the existence of God. Moreover, he analyzes and criticizes the top representative of rival approaches to explaining the origin of consciousness, including John Searle’s contingent correlation, Timothy O’Connor’s emergent necessitation, Colin McGinn’s mysterian ‘‘naturalism,’’ David Skrbina’s panpsychism and Philip Clayton’s pluralistic emergentist monism. Moreland concludes that these approaches should be rejected in favor of what he calls ‘‘the Argument from Consciousness.’’.
I advance a type of conceptualist argument for substance dualism – minimally, the view that we are spiritual substances that have bodies – based on the understandability of what it would be for something to be a spirit, e.g. what it would be for God to be a spirit. After presenting the argument formally, I clarify and defend its various premises with a special focus on what I take to be the most controversial one, namely, if thinking matter is metaphysically (...) possible, it is not the case that we have a distinct positive concept of God's being a divine spirit. (shrink)
There are two tasks for any adequate philosophy of mind: articulate one’s position and explain why dualism is the commonsense view; defend one’s position. I believe that there is an argument that simultaneously satisfies both desiderata in a non–ad hoc way and, thus, the argument can thereby claim the virtue of theoretical simplicity in its favor. In what follows, I shall present the argument and defend its most crucial premise, respond to three criticisms that have been raised against it, and (...) draw out one dialectical implication of the argument. (shrink)
The first premise of the Kalam cosmological argument has come under fire in the last few years. The premise states that the universe had a beginning, and one of two prominent arguments for it turns on the claim that an actual infinite collection of entities cannot exist. After stating the Kalam cosmological argument and the two approaches to defending its first premise, I respond to two objections against the notion that an actual infinite collection is impossible: a Platonistic objection from (...) abstract objects and a set-theoretic objection from an ambiguity in the definition of ‘=’ and ‘. (shrink)
For some time now, Nancey Murphy has been a major voice on behalf of a certain form of Christian physicalism. This is a part of her project of reconciling science with Christian faith. In what follows, I shall state and criticize the three central components of her Christian physicalism, followed by a presentation of a dualist alternative along with a clarification of its advantages over Murphy-style physicalism.
While my own philosophical views are largely in keeping with my mentor, Dallas Willard, nevertheless, I find his conception of the human person puzzling, hard to specify precisely, and prima facie contradictory in a few places. Dallas's central goal in formulating his anthropology was to develop a model that shed light on, allowed for deeper insight into, and fostered interest in spiritual formation, especially the role of the body in spiritual maturation. I share this goal, and agree with most of (...) his model. But in what follows, I will make more precise what his views were, try to clear up what, prima facie, seem to be contradictions in his theory, and, finally, recommend an alternative that captures the central concerns Dallas had for his own position. Thus, I will lay out a few general points of Dallas's ontology, provide a description of his philosophical/theological anthropology, along with two problems that seem to be present, and offer a slightly adjusted alternative to his position that accomplishes his main goal in a way with which I believe he would be satisfied. (shrink)
A widely adopted approach to end-of-life ethical questions fails to make explicit certain crucial metaphysical ideas entailed by it and when those ideas are clarified, then it can be shown to be inadequate. These metaphysical themes cluster around the notions of personal identity, personhood and humanness, and the metaphysics of substance. In order to clarify and critique the approach just mentioned, I focus on the writings of Robert N. Wennberg as a paradigm case by, first, stating his views of personal (...) identity, humanness, personhood, and the relations among them; second, offering a comparison of a view of humans as substances (understood in the classic interpretation of Aristotle and Aquinas) vs. a view of humans as property-things; third, applying the metaphysical distinctions surfaced in the second section towards a critique of Wennberg. (shrink)
In this article I offer a taxonomy of the major issues and options about qualities, quality-instances, and exemplification. So far as I know, this has not been done for some time and the task of offering such a taxonomy is a worthy one in its own right. But such a classification will also show that arguments such as the one above by Grossmann fail to make their case because of the tremendous vari? ety of positions about quality-instances. The mere fact (...) that a philosopher does not accept the identity of the referent of "the F of A" and "the F of B" does not entail that the philosopher is a nominalist. (shrink)
_Naturalism_ provides a rigorous analysis and critique of the major varieties of contemporary philosophical naturalism. The authors advocate the thesis that contemporary naturalism should be abandoned, in light of the serious objections raised against it. Contributors draw on a wide range of topics including: epistemology, the philosophy of science, the philosophy of mind and agency, and natural theology.
While most philosophers agree that libertarian agency and naturalism are incompatible, few attempts have been offered to spell out in some detail just why this is the case. My purpose in this article is to fill this gap in the literature by expanding on and clarifying the connection between naturalism as it is widely understood today and the rejection of libertarian agency. To accomplish this end I begin by clarifying different forms of libertarian agency and identity the key philosophical components (...) that constitute libertarian agency per se. Second, three different aspects of contemporary scientific naturalism are analyzed and the relations among them clarified: the naturalist epistemic attitude, etiology, and ontology. This is followed by a presentation of six arguments for the claim that libertarian agency should be rejected by advocates of scientific naturalism. Finally, I criticize a recent attempt by Randolf Clarke to reconcile libertarian agency and scientific naturalism. (shrink)
A leading evangelical thinker offers this brand-new way of addressing life's most important questions: Does God exist, and can we know Him? J.P. Moreland, distinguished professor of philosophy at Talbot School of Theology, abandons traditional didactic apologetics and entices skeptics and dissatisfied believers into a conversation about the emptiness and anxiety so many feel today. He invites them to the abundant life Jesus offers but that so few seem to be experiencing. Moreland shows that people are created by a benevolent (...) God and given a life-enhancing purpose. He empowers readers to... overcome obstacles to faith, including questions about science and religion embrace an enticing view of Jesus and the kingdom of God replace unhelpful images of God with the truth Readers will find practical and effective ways to experience intimacy with God, an effective life of prayer, and a confident hope in life after death. (shrink)
Recently, Clifford Williams has attempted to argue for the plausibility of a Christian form of physicalism. To make his case, Williams appropriates certain claims by John Locke regarding the possibility of thinking matter to argue for what Williams calls the parity theses: (1) God can make matter and nonmatter either to think or not to think. Given God's omnipotence, the justification for (1) is: (2) there is no contradiction in asserting either that matter or nonmatter thinks or that they do (...) not think. If we expand thinking to include other morally and religiously relevant operations of the mind, then we get: (3) God can make either a purely material being or a nonmaterial entity to have moral and religious characteristics. From this, Williams infers that: (4) there is an equal amount of mystery in thinking matter as there is in non-thinking matter. In response to Williams, I argue that his main arguments for the parity theses fail and his Lockean style argument must be judged a failure. To show this I, first, state Williams' Lockean parity argument and, second, criticize the three arguments he offers for its most important premise. (shrink)
Graham Oppy had criticized my argument for God from consciousness (AC) in my recent book ’Consciousness and the Existence of God’ (N.Y.: Routledge, 2008). In this article I offer a rejoinder to Oppy. Specifically, I respond to his criticisms of my presentation of three forms of AC, and interact with his claims about theism, consciousness and emergent chemical properties.
I criticize the view that top-down causation is a proper model for depicting and justifying belief in mental causation. When properly interpreted, I believe that there are no clear examples of top-down causation, and there is a persuasive case against it. In order to defend these claims, I, first, clarify three preliminary considerations; second, undermine alleged examples of top-down causation; third, present a case for why there is no top-down mental causation; fourth, explain an important option for moving forward in (...) preserving what we all know to be the case—that mental causation is real. (shrink)
The literature on the Knowledge Argument exhibits considerable confusion about the precise nature of the argument. I contend that a clarification of the essence of self-presenting properties provides an explanation of this confusion such that the confusion itself is evidence for dualism. I also claim that Mary gains six different sorts of knowledge after gaining sight, and I show how this claim provides a response to a physicalist undercutting defeater for the Knowledge Argument. I try to show that this defeater (...) is inadequate due to its failure to capture the epistemic richness of what happens to Mary. Finally, I indicate how my enriched version of the Knowledge Argument provides grounds for rejecting those varieties of physicalism that eschew a depiction of phenomenal propertiesas intrinsic attributes a subject exemplifies in favor of a view that treats them as functional roles a subject realizes. (shrink)
In recent years, Robert Adams and Richard Swinburne have developed an argument for God’s existence from the reality of mental phenomena. Call this the argument from consciousness. My purpose is to develop and defend AC and to use it as a rival paradigm to critique John Searle’s biological naturalism. The article is developed in three steps. First, two issues relevant to the epistemic task of adjudicating between rival scientific paradigms are clarified and illustrated. Second, I present a general version of (...) AC and identify the premises most likely to come under attack by philosophical naturalists. Third, I use the insights gained in steps one and two to criticize Searle’s claim that he has developed an adequate naturalistic theory of the emergence of mental entities. I conclude that AC is superior to Searle’s biological naturalism. (shrink)
In an important paper, Clifford Williams advanced a Lockean-style argument to justify the parity thesis, viz., that there is no intellectual advantage to Christian physicalism or Christian dualism. In an article in Religious Studies I offered a critique of Williams's parity thesis and he has published a rejoinder to me in the same journal centring on my rejection of topic neutrality as an appropriate way to set up the mind–body debate. In this surrejoinder to Williams, I present his three main (...) arguments and respond to each: The dualist rejection of topic neutrality is flawed because it expresses a conceptual approach to the mind–body problem instead of the preferable empirical approach. The latter favours physicalism and, in any case, clearly supports topic neutrality. If the dualist rejects the first argument, then a second parity thesis can be advanced in which an essentialist view of soul and the brain are presented in which each is essentially a thinking and feeling entity. Thus, an essentialist parity thesis is preserved. If the dualist rejects the second argument, a new topic neutrality emerges in the dialectic, so topic neutrality is unavoidable. Against the first argument, I claim that Williams makes two central confusions that undermine his case and that he fails to show how the mind–body debate can be settled empirically. Against the second argument, I claim that it leaves Williams vulnerable to a topic-neutral approach to God and it merely proffers a verbal shift with a new dualism between normal and ‘special’ matter. Against the third argument, I point out that it misrepresents the dualist viewpoint and leads to two counterintuitive features that follow from topic neutrality. (shrink)
In a previous article, I argue that on the assumption that God exercises libertarian agency, a primary causal divine miracle could, in principle, leave a scientifically detectable gap in the natural world. In a subsequent publication, Evan Fales offered a critique of my argument and this article is my rejoinder. I justify my employment of Divine libertarian agency and respond to Fales’s two, closely-related questions: How much energy could one add to a room by making a lot of decisions? Would (...) the increase in energy be measurable? (shrink)
Recently, Daniel Lim has published a thoughtful critique of one form of my argument for the existence of God from consciousness (hereafter, AC). After stating his presentation of the relevant contours of my argument, I shall present the main components of his critique, followed by my response. Since one purpose of my publications of AC has been to foster discussion about a neglected argument for God’s existence, I am thankful to Lim for his interesting article and the chance to further (...) the discussion. (shrink)
Graham Oppy has launched the most effective criticism to date of an argument for God’s existence from the existence of irreducible mental states or theirregular correlation with physical states (AC). I seek to undercut Oppy’s central defeaters of AC. In particular, I argue, first, that Oppy has not provided successful defeaters against the use of a distinctive form of explanation—personal explanation—employed in premise (3) of AC; second, I expose a confusion on Oppy’s part with respect to AC’s premise (5), and (...) show that this confusion results in a failure to grasp adequately the dialectical force of (5). As a result, Oppy fails to offer adequate rejoinders to (5), or so I shall argue. (shrink)
According to Nancey Murphy, advances in science have made substance dualism a position with very little justification. However, contra Murphy’s claims, I defend the following thesis: When the central issues in philosophy of mind are made clear, it becomes evident that cognitive neuroscience which is rooted in the empirical data offers very little help, if at all, for selecting, clarifying and arguing about the central metaphysical issues, especially questions about the existence and nature of consciousness and the soul. Thus, the (...) Autonomy Thesis seems warranted in philosophy of mind. To defend this thesis, I, first, show that the central metaphysical issues in philosophy of mind are largely autonomous with respect to neuroscientific discoveries; second, respond to claims made by Murphy that, if true, would undermine my thesis. (shrink)
Most philosophers agree that libertarian freedom and the ontology most naturally associated with it is not easily harmonized with epistemically robust versions of naturalism. And while he continues to remain a bit skeptical of such harmonizations efforts, John Searle has recently proffered hope for such reconciliation and the general contours to which any such attempt must conform. I state Searle’s views, criticize each step in his argument, and conclude that his attempt at a rapprochement is a failure.
I address an epistemic and related ontological dificulty with the doctrine of biblical inerrancy. The ontological problem: If biblical inerrancy applies to the original autographs, why would God allow these to disappear from the scene? The epistemological problem: Given that the original autographs are gone, we lack a way to know exactly what the original writings were. The first problem is solved by distinguishing text types and tokens, and claiming that semantic meaning and inerrancy are underivative features types. The second (...) is resolved by claiming that in the actual world, we are epistemically better off with the original tokens gone. (shrink)