One of the standard puzzles in ordinary-object metaphysics concerns what happens when an object and one of its undetached parts apparently begin to coincide. I distinguish two versions of this puzzle: the problem of extraordinary undetached parts and the problem of ordinary undetached parts. Then I present a novel phasalist solution to the problem of ordinary undetached parts. My solution is designed to supplement the recently-defended view that ordinary undetached parts exist but extraordinary ones do not.
I introduce a new approach to fission puzzles called the Diversified Approach that proceeds by distinguishing different kinds of fission and assimilating each kind to a different ordinary phenomenon, such as breaking apart, replication, or part loss. To illustrate this approach, I apply it to the case of amoebic fission. The upshot is a novel account of amoebic fission according to which the dividing amoeba ceases to exist because it breaks apart. After developing this solution and highlighting some of its (...) advantages, I discuss briefly how the Diversified Approach can be extended to other varieties of fission. (shrink)
The phasalist solution to the puzzle of the statue and the piece of clay claims that being a statue is a phase sortal property of the piece of clay, just like being a child is a phase sortal property of a human being. Some philosophers reject this solution because it cannot account for cases where the statue seems to gain and lose parts that the piece of clay does not. I rebut this objection by arguing, contrary to the prevailing view, (...) that the piece of clay is not mereologically constant, and might even be highly mereologically flexible. (shrink)
One paradigmatic argument from evil against theism claims that, (1) if God exists, then there is no gratuitous evil. But (2) there is gratuitous evil, so (3) God does not exist. I consider three deontological strategies for resisting this argument. Each strategy restructures existing theodicies which deny (2) so that they instead deny (1). The first two strategies are problematic on their own, but their primary weaknesses vanish when they are combined to form the third strategy, resulting in a promising (...) new approach to the problem of evil. (shrink)
ABSTRACT One simple but relatively neglected solution to the notorious coincidence puzzle of the statue and the piece of clay claims that the property of being a statue is a phase sortal property that the piece of clay instantiates temporarily. I defend this view against some standard objections, by reinforcing it with a novel counterpart-theoretic account of identity under a sortal. This proposal does not require colocation, four-dimensionalism, eliminativism, deflationism, or unorthodox theses about classical identity.
Stringent non-consequentialist constraints on permitting horrendous evils pose a formidable challenge to the project of theodicy by limiting the ways in which it is permissible for God to do or allow evil for the sake of bringing about a greater good. I formulate a general and potent argument against all greater-good theodicies from the existence of robust side constraints on permitting evil. Then I contend that the argument fails. I begin by distinguishing between side constraints on doing evil and side (...) constraints on allowing evil, and then I draw on the work of David Lewis and Fiona Woollard to argue that, because of the unique ways that God is related to the world, it is plausible that God can both create and sustain our universe, despite all of its evils, without violating any of these constraints. (shrink)
Many philosophers believe that the criteria of identity over time for ordinary objects entail that such objects are permanent members of certain sortal kinds. The sortal kinds in question have come to be known as substance sortal kinds. But in this article, I defend a criterion of identity that is suited to phasalism, the view that alleged substance sortals are in fact phase sortals. The criterion I defend is a sortal‐weighted version of a change‐minimizing criterion first discussed by Eli Hirsch. (...) I present this criterion and then argue that it withstands attempts to show that it is inferior to non‐phasalist rivals. (shrink)
I present Ned Markosian's episodic account of identity under a sortal, and then use it to sketch a new model of the Trinity. I show that the model can be used to solve at least three important Trinitarian puzzles: the traditional ‘logical problem of the Trinity’, a less-discussed problem that has been dubbed the ‘problem of triunity’, and a problem about the divine processions that has been enjoying increased attention in the recent literature.
Byerly has proposed a novel solution to the gap problem for cosmological arguments. I contend that his strategy can be used to strengthen a wide range of other theistic arguments as well, and also to stitch them together into a cumulative case for theism. I illustrate these points by applying Byerly’s idea about cosmological arguments to teleological arguments.
Contemporary metaphysics is dominated by the view that every object belongs to a kind permanently in the sense that it cannot cease to belong to that kind without thereby ceasing to exist. For example, some philosophers think that a person is destroyed if they cease to be a person, a statue is destroyed if it ceases to be a statue, and so on. I believe that this standard view is false. Being a person, or a statue, or etc., is like (...) being a child: just as I did not cease to exist when I ceased to be a child, so people and statues need not cease to exist when they cease to be people and statues. Borrowing a term from Daniel Korman, I call this view phasalism because it entails that the kind-properties which ordinary objects instantiate are phase sortal properties, i.e., kind-properties that an object can instantiate for a temporary phase of its career. This dissertation is a partial defense of phasalism. I develop a phasalist metaphysics in detail, highlighting its virtues and rebutting objections along the way. After some stage-setting, I defend a phasalist criterion of identity over time for ordinary objects, as well as a phasalist account of the role that sortal properties play in the identity over time of ordinary objects. Then I defend a phasalist-friendly approach to the identity over time of lumps, hunks, pieces, etc. of matter. The material in these chapters amounts to a phasalist solution to certain material coincidence puzzles, such as the puzzle of the statue and the piece of clay. I go on to show that familiar puzzles about undetached parts and fission can be solved within the confines of my phasalist metaphysics as well. (shrink)
It is widely held that the classic reassembly model of resurrection faces intractable problems. What happens to someone if God assembles two individuals at the resurrection which are equally good candidates for being the original person? If two or more people, such as a cannibal and the cannibal’s victim, were composed of the same particles at their respective deaths, can they both be resurrected? If they can, who gets the shared particles? And would an attempt to reassemble a long-gone individual (...) result in a genuine resurrection, or merely an intrinsic duplicate of the original person? In this paper, I argue that the first of these problems has, in effect, been solved by defenders of a rival view; I propose a novel solution to the second problem; and I show that the third can be solved by upgrading the naïve reassembly model to a novel variety of reassembly model. (shrink)
One objection to the thesis that multilocation is possible claims that, when combined with a preference for parsimonious theories, it leads to the absurd result that we ought to believe the material universe is composed of just one simple particle. I argue that this objection fails.
Recently, some authors have argued that experiences of poignant evils provide non-inferential support for crucial premisses in arguments from evil. Careful scrutiny of these experiences suggests that the impermissibility of permitting a horrendous evil might be characterized by a deontological insensitivity to consequences. This has significant implications for the project of theodicy.
John Martin Fischer has argued that Molinism does not constitute a response to the argument that divine foreknowledge is incompatible with human freedom. I argue that T. Ryan Byerly’s recent work on the mechanics of foreknowledge sheds light on this issue. It shows that Fischer’s claim is ambiguous, and that it may turn out to be false on at least one reading, but only if the Molinist can explain how God knows true counterfactuals of freedom.
The phasalist solution to the classic puzzle of the statue and the piece of clay only works for some coincidence puzzles and not others. To address this limitation of phasalism, I develop a novel approach to coincidence puzzles that permits different kinds of coincidence puzzles to be solved in different ways, provided that each solution satisfies certain constraints inspired by the phasalist solution to the statue puzzle. I apply my approach to four different kinds of coincidence puzzles, and I argue (...) that it is no less plausible than rival approaches in the literature. (shrink)
One problem for Molinism that critics of the view have pressed, and which Molinists have so far done little to address, is that even if there are true counterfactuals of freedom, it is puzzling how God could possibly know them. I defuse this worry by sketching a plausible model of the mechanics of middle knowledge which draws on William Alston’s direct acquaintance account of divine knowledge.
The recent literature on the nature of persistence features a handful of imaginative cases in which an object seems to colocate with itself. So far, discussion of these cases has focused primarily on how they defy the standard endurantist approaches to the problem of temporary intrinsics. But in this article, I set that issue aside and argue that cases of apparent self-colocation also pose another problem for the endurantist. While the perdurantist seems to have a fairly straightforward account of self-colocation, (...) the endurantist has a hard time saying exactly what it would be for an object to be self-colocated. After introducing this problem and explaining how the perdurantist can circumvent it with little difficulty, I discuss a number of tempting endurantist solutions that ultimately fail. Then I suggest an endurantist solution which I think is more promising, but which requires the endurantist to deny that apparent cases of self-colocation are genuine cases of self-colocation. (shrink)
Although much has been written about divine knowledge, and some on divine beliefs, virtually nothing has been written about divine credences. In this essay we comparatively assess four views on divine credences: (1) God has only beliefs, not credences; (2) God has both beliefs and credences; (3) God has only credences, not beliefs; and (4) God has neither credences nor beliefs, only knowledge. We weigh the costs and benefits of these four views and draw connections to current discussions in philosophical (...) theology. (shrink)
In this article I develop a new problem for the doctrine of the Trinity that I call the Problem of Triunity. Rather than proceeding from the fact that God is one and the persons are many, as the traditional problem of the Trinity does, the problem of triunity proceeds from the fact that, in one sense or another, God is many, and yet each divine person on his own is just one.
I develop a model of providence on which God brings about good states of affairs by means of evil states of affairs, but without intending the latter. The model's key ingredient is a backward-looking counterpart of the distinction between intended and merely foreseen consequences of an action: namely, a distinction between intended and merely foreseen means to an end. The model enables greater-good theodicies to avoid worries about whether a perfect being could intend evil.
Some philosophers defend the possibility of synchronic multilocation, and have even used it to defend other substantive metaphysical theses. But just how strong is the case for the possibility of synchronic multilocation? The answer to this question depends in part on whether synchronic multilocation is wedded to other controversial metaphysical notions. In this paper, I consider whether the possibility of synchronic multilocation depends on the possibility of time travel, and I conclude that the answer hinges on the nature of time (...) and persistence. (shrink)
William L. Rowe’s argument against divine freedom has drawn considerable attention from theist philosophers. One reply to Rowe’s argument that has emerged in the recent literature appeals to modified accounts of libertarian freedom which have the result that God may be free even if he necessarily actualizes the best possible world. Though in many ways attractive, this approach appears to lead to the damning consequence of modal collapse i.e., that the actual world is the only possible world. But appearances can (...) be deceiving, and in this paper I argue that the threat of modal collapse dissolves when we consider Alvin Plantinga’s critique of the purportedly Leibnizian notion that God can actualize any possible world, and incorporate the implications of this critique into the divine freedom debate. Developing a suggestion by Edward R. Wierenga, I argue first that the modal collapse objection fails within a Molinist context, and then I extend the discussion beyond that context to show that the objection also fails on the assumption that Molinism is false. (shrink)