Peter Byrne presents a detailed study of the role of the concept of God in Kant's Critical Philosophy. After a preliminary survey of the major interpretative disputes over the understanding of Kant on God, Byrne explores his critique of philosophical proofs of God¿s existence. Examining Kant¿s account of religious language, Byrne highlights both the realist and anti-realist elements contained within it. The notion of the highest good is then explored, with its constituent elements - happiness and virtue, in pursuit of (...) an assessment of how far Kant establishes that we must posit God. The precise role God plays in ethics according to Kant is then examined, along with the definition of religion as the recognition of duties as divine commands. Byrne also plots Kant¿s critical re-working of the concept of grace. The book closes with a survey of the relation between the Critical Philosophy and Christianity on the one hand and deism on the other. (shrink)
Peter Byrne tells the story of Hugh Everett III (1930-1982), whose "many worlds" theory of multiple universes has had a profound impact on physics and philosophy. Using Everett's unpublished papers (recently discovered in his son's basement) and dozens of interviews with his friends, colleagues, and surviving family members, Byrne paints, for the general reader, a detailed portrait of the genius who invented an astonishing way of describing our complex universe from the inside. Everett's mathematical model (called the "universal wave function") (...) treats all possible events as "equally real", and concludes that countless copies of every person and thing exist in all possible configurations spread over an infinity of universes: many worlds. Afflicted by depression and addictions, Everett strove to bring rational order to the professional realms in which he played historically significant roles. In addition to his famous interpretation of quantum mechanics, Everett wrote a classic paper in game theory; created computer algorithms that revolutionized military operations research; and performed pioneering work in artificial intelligence for top secret government projects. He wrote the original software for targeting cities in a nuclear hot war; and he was one of the first scientists to recognize the danger of nuclear winter. As a Cold Warrior, he designed logical systems that modeled "rational" human and machine behaviors, and yet he was largely oblivious to the emotional damage his irrational personal behavior inflicted upon his family, lovers, and business partners. He died young, but left behind a fascinating record of his life, including correspondence with such philosophically inclined physicists as Niels Bohr, Norbert Wiener, and John Wheeler. These remarkable letters illuminate the long and often bitter struggle to explain the paradox of measurement at the heart of quantum physics. In recent years, Everett's solution to this mysterious problem - the existence of a universe of universes - has gained considerable traction in scientific circles, not as science fiction, but as an explanation of physical reality. (shrink)
This book surveys the thesis that all religions are alike in referring and relating to a single, common transcendent and sacred reality. It treats this thesis as one in the philosophy of religion. In the first chapter pluralism is defined and its core is distinguished from its particular character and defence in the writings of John Hick and others. The underpinnings of pluralism are held to lie in an understanding of reference in religion, the definition of religion, the nature of (...) salvation, the character of religious language, an appropriate epistemology for the philosophy of religion, and, crucially, the nature of a realist perspective on the religions. A notion of referential realism is set out which when applied to religion makes the pluralist thesis plausible. A chapter is devoted to each of these main themes. The conclusion offers a brief survey of the implications of pluralism for our general view of religion. (shrink)
This study offers students of religion and philosophy introductory chapters concerning the concept of natural religion. It holds that we can’t engage in useful discussion about the present concept of religion without a knowledge of the philosophical history that has shaped that concept. This is discussed with reference to the notion of natural religion to illustrate certain aspects of deism and its legacy. Originally published in 1989.
The fifth volume of essays in medical ethics and law produced by the King's College Centre of Medical Law and Ethics. Issues addressed include a discussion of the ethics and epistemology of clinical research, the validation of therapies and topical concern.
This paper surveys the argument that a secular world-view that is committed to a neo-Darwinian account of human origins generates a vicious form of moral skepticism. The argument turns around the claim that Darwinism entails the unreliability of moral sense or conscience. This argument is analyzed and found wanting. It rests on a major error about the scope of evolutionary biology in explaining human thought.
This paper explores the main contours of recent work in English-speaking philosophy of religion on the justification of religious belief. It sets out the main characteristics of the religious epistemologies of such writers as Alston, Plantinga, and Swinburne. It poses and seeks to answer the question of how far any or all of these epistemologies are indebted or similar to the epistemology of the Scottish Enlightenment thinker Thomas Reid. It concludes that while there are some links to Reid in recent (...) writing, contemporary approaches depart from Reid’s views on the specific topic of the justification of religious belief. (shrink)
The theme of this paper can be introduced in this way: does a pluralist approach to religion entail a pluralist approach to religion? My theme is not that odd, because I have two notions of pluralism in mind. There is what I will call ‘tolerant pluralism’ and what I will call ‘religious pluralism’. And thus my question is ‘Does tolerant pluralism re religion entail religious pluralism?’.
This article explores and defends some of f r leavis's ideas about the nature of reasoning in literary criticism. In particular, It examines leavis's contention that the validity of literary criticism does not wait upon a theoretical defence of its canons of judgments of standards. It aims to show that this eschewal of theoretical thought is rationally justifiable and that the form of reasoning leavis advocates for literary criticism has respectable parallels elsewhere, Not least in philosophy itself. Throughout, Reference is (...) made to the work of wittgenstein and john wisdom for elucidation and justification of leavis's point of view. (shrink)
This is the third volume of King's College Studies in medical law and ethics and covers the following topics: AIDS; contraception and family planning; human rights and the role of the judiciary in medical law; a national commission for medical ethics; defensive medicine and medical malpractice; the ethics of the allocation of resources in health care; and the legal status of the unborn. Within these diverse themes challenging ideas about rights and resources in contemporary society and medical practice are introduced (...) and explored. The essays summarise existing debates and go on to discuss further these vital issues in medical law and ethics. (shrink)
This is the second of the annual series on medical law and ethics, based on lectures given at the Centre for Medical Law and Ethics at King's College, London. The contributors, who come from a wide range of disciplines and represent diverse interests, review important issues in the forefront of recent controversy.
This volume in the King's College Studies in Medical Law and Ethics series covers a wide range of issues while focusing on a series of related themes. Contributors to this collection of essays include doctors, lawyers, theologians and philosophers and their viewpoints will be of immense interest to a wide range of professionals in related fields and/or students of medicine, philosophy and nursing.
This study is an introduction to the problems of moral philosophy designed particularly for those interested in theology and religious studies. It offers an account of the nature and subject matter of moral reasoning and of the major types of moral theory in contemporary moral philosophy. The account aims to bring out the major issues in moral theory, to present a clear, non-technical articulation of the structure of moral knowledge, and to explore the relation between religious belief and morality.
The paper comments on Scott Dunbar's "An obstructed death and medical ethics," arguing contra Dunbar that we should not view truth-telling to the terminally ill as primarily governed by principles of veracity and respect for autonomy. All such rules are of limited value in medical ethics. We should instead turn to an ethics deriving from the centrality of moral relationships and virtues. A brief analysis of the connections between moral relationships and moral rules is offered. Such an ethics would lower (...) the value that philosophical fashion places on truth-telling and autonomy and leave decisions about truth-telling and the terminally ill more dependent on the circumstances of particular cases. (shrink)
THIS ARTICLE ATTEMPTS TO SHOW THAT A BELIEF IN MIRACLES AS VIOLATIONS OF THE LAWS OF NATURE IS COMPATIBLE WITH A DUE RESPECT FOR SCIENTIFIC METHOD. SOME MODERN THEOLOGIANS HAVE THOUGHT THAT SCIENTIFIC DETERMINISM INVOLVES A RIGID INSISTENCE THAT EVERY EVENT HAS A CAUSE AND THUS THAT RESPECT FOR SCIENCE CALLS FOR REINTERPRETATION OF THE CONCEPT OF MIRACLE. THE AUTHOR CONTENDS THAT A WEAKER COMMITMENT TO DETERMINISM IS RATIONALLY MORE ACCEPTABLE AND THAT THIS COMMITMENT LEAVES THE TRADITIONAL CONCEPT OF MIRACLE (...) UNSCATHED. SCIENCE COULD SURVIVE THE RECOGNITION THAT THERE WERE UNREPEATABLE EXCEPTIONS TO SOME LAWS OF NATURE. (shrink)