We argue that there is a conflict among classical theism's commitments to divine simplicity, divine creative freedom, and omniscience. We start by defining key terms for the debate related to classical theism. Then we articulate a new argument, the Aloneness Argument, aiming to establish a conflict among these attributes. In broad outline, the argument proceeds as follows. Under classical theism, it's possible that God exists without anything apart from Him. Any knowledge God has in such a world would be wholly (...) intrinsic. But there are contingent truths in every world, including the world in which God exists alone. So, it's possible that God contingently has wholly intrinsic knowledge. But whatever is contingent and wholly intrinsic is an accident. So, God possibly has an accident. This is incompatible with classical theism. Finally, we consider and rebut several objections. (shrink)
I defend a new argument for causal finitism, the view that nothing can have an infinite causal history. I begin by defending a number of plausible metaphysical principles, after which I explore a host of novel variants of the Littlewood-Ross and Thomson’s Lamp paradoxes that violate such principles. I argue that causal finitism is the best solution to the paradoxes.
Modal collapse arguments are all the rage in certain philosophical circles as of late. The arguments purport to show that classical theism entails the absurdly fatalistic conclusion that everything exists necessarily. My first aim in this paper is bold: to put an end to action-based modal collapse arguments against classical theism. To accomplish this, I first articulate the ‘Simple Modal Collapse Argument’ and then characterize and defend Tomaszewski’s criticism thereof. Second, I critically examine Mullins’ new modal collapse argument formulated in (...) response to the aforementioned criticism. I argue that Mullins’ new argument does not succeed. Third, I critically examine a powers-based modal collapse argument against classical theism that has received much less attention in the literature. Fourth, I show why God’s being purely actual, as well God’s being identical to each of God’s acts, simply cannot entail modal collapse given indeterministic causation. This, I take it, signals the death of modal collapse arguments. But not all hope is lost for proponents of modal collapse arguments—for the death is a fruitful one insofar as it paves the way for new inquiry into at least two new potential problems for classical theism. Showing this is my paper’s second aim. (shrink)
We draw out significant consequences of a relatively popular theory of metaphysical modality—branching actualism—for cosmological arguments for God’s existence. According to branching actualism, every possible world shares an initial history with the actual world and diverges only because causal powers (or dispositions, or some such) are differentially exercised. We argue that branching actualism undergirds successful responses to two recent cosmological arguments: the Grim Reaper Kalam argument and a modal argument from contingency. We also argue that branching actualism affords a response (...) to one popular defense of the classic contingency argument. What results are new difficulties for several cosmological arguments arising from the metaphysics of modality. (shrink)
José Benardete developed a famous paradox involving a beginningless set of items each member of which satisfies some predicate just in case no earlier member satisfies it. The Grim Reaper version of this paradox has recently been employed in favor of various finitist metaphysical theses, ranging from temporal finitism to causal finitism to the discrete nature of time. Here, I examine a new challenge to these finitist arguments—namely, the challenge of implying that the future cannot be endless. In particular, I (...) develop future-oriented Benardete paradoxes and examine their epistemic symmetry with past-oriented paradoxes. (shrink)
James Henry Collin recently developed a new symmetry breaker favouring the ontological argument’s possibility premiss over that of the reverse ontological argument. The symmetry breaker amounts to an undercutting defeater for the reverse possibility premiss based on Kripkean cases of a posteriori necessity. I argue, however, that symmetry re-arises in two forms. First, I challenge the purported asymmetry in epistemic entitlements to the original and reverse possibility premisses. Second, relevantly similar Kripkean cases equally undercut the original possibility premiss.
Benardete paradoxes involve a beginningless set each member of which satisfies some predicate just in case no earlier member satisfies it. Such paradoxes have been wielded on behalf of arguments for the impossibility of an infinite past. These arguments often deploy patchwork principles in support of their key linking premise. Here I argue that patchwork principles fail to justify this key premise.
Edward Feser defends the ‘Neo-Platonic proof ’ for the existence of the God of classical theism. After articulating the argument and a number of preliminaries, I first argue that premise three of Feser’s argument—the causal principle that every composite object requires a sustaining efficient cause to combine its parts—is both unjustified and dialectically ill-situated. I then argue that the Neo-Platonic proof fails to deliver the mindedness of the absolutely simple being and instead militates against its mindedness. Finally, I uncover two (...) tensions between Trinitarianism and the Neo-Platonic proof. (shrink)
Edward Feser defends the ‘Aristotelian proof’ for the existence of God, which reasons that the only adequate explanation of the existence of change is in terms of an unchangeable, purely actual being. His argument, however, relies on the falsity of the Existential Inertia Thesis, according to which concrete objects tend to persist in existence without requiring an existential sustaining cause. In this article, I first characterize the dialectical context of Feser’s Aristotelian proof, paying special attention to EIT and its rival (...) thesis—the Existential Expiration Thesis. Next, I provide a more precise characterization of EIT, after which I outline two metaphysical accounts of existential inertia. I then develop new lines of reasoning in favor of EIT that appeal to the theoretical virtues of explanatory power and simplicity. Finally, I address the predominant criticisms of EIT in the literature. (shrink)
What explains change? Edward Feser argues in his ‘Aristotelian proof’ that the only adequate answer to these questions is ultimately in terms of an unchangeable, purely actual being. In this paper, I target the cogency of Feser’s reasoning to such an answer. In particular, I present novel paths of criticism—both undercutting and rebutting—against one of Feser’s central premises. I then argue that Feser’s inference that the unactualized actualizer lacks any potentialities contains a number of non-sequiturs.
This book critically assesses arguments for the existence of the God of classical theism, develops an innovative account of objects’ persistence, and defends new arguments against classical theism. The authors engage the following classical theistic proofs: Aquinas’s First Way, Aquinas’s De Ente argument, and Feser’s Aristotelian, Neo-Platonic, Augustinian, Thomistic, and Rationalist proofs. The authors also provide the first systematic treatment of the ‘existential inertia thesis’. By connecting the thesis to relativity theory and recent developments in the philosophy of physics, and (...) by developing a variety of novel existential-inertia-friendly explanations of persistence, they mount a formidable new case against classical theistic proofs. Finally, they defend new arguments against classical theism based on abstract objects and changing divine knowledge. The text appeals to students, researchers, and others interested in classical theistic proofs, the existence and nature of God, and the ultimate explanations of persistence, change, and contingency. (shrink)
Surely God, as a perfectly rational being, created the universe for some _reason_. But is God’s creating the universe for a reason compatible with divine impassibility? That is the question I investigate in this article. The _prima facie_ tension between impassibility and God’s creating for a reason arises from impassibility’s commitment to God being uninfluenced by anything _ad extra_. If God is uninfluenced in this way, asks the detractor, how could he be moved to create anything at all? This _prima (...) facie_ tension has recently been formalized and dubbed the ‘Problem of Arbitrary Creation’. In this article, I defend a new extension of this problem. I begin by characterizing classical theism, divine simplicity, and divine impassibility. I then spell out the Problem of Arbitrary Creation as developed by R. T. Mullins. I next raise a worry for Mullins’ version of the argument. Finally, I extend the argument and show how my extension avoids the aforementioned worry. (shrink)
The modal collapse objection to classical theism has received significant attention among philosophers as of late. My aim in this paper is to advance this blossoming debate. First, I briefly survey the modal collapse literature and argue that classical theists avoid modal collapse if and only if they embrace an indeterministic link between God and his effects. Second, I argue that this indeterminism poses two challenges to classical theism. The first challenge is that it collapses God’s status as an intentional (...) agent who knows and intends what he is bringing about in advance. The second challenge is that it collapses God’s providential control over which creation obtains. (shrink)
Enric F. Gel has recently argued that classical theism enjoys a significant advantage over Graham Oppy's naturalism. According to Gel, classical theism – unlike Oppy's naturalism – satisfactorily answers two questions: first, how many first causes are there, and second, why is it that number rather than another? In this article, I reply to Gel's argument for classical theism's advantage over Oppy's naturalism. I also draw out wider implications of my investigation for the gap problem and Christian doctrine along the (...) way. (shrink)