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Showing posts from May, 2011

Your Newest Favorite Thing

You're welcome.

HT: Philosophers Anonymous

Modal Epistemology and Plantinga's Free Will Defense

A key claim in Plantinga’s free will defense is that:

(TWD) Possibly, every creaturely essence suffers from transworld depravity.

To elaborate a bit: Say that a world is feasible if and only if it’s a possible world that God can at least weakly actualize. Then TWD asserts that there is a possible world W such that, from W, there is no feasible world W’ at which libertarianly free creatures freely do right on every occasion.

For our purposes, it’s important to note that TWD crucially involves the metaphysical possibility of libertarian agency. But suppose that knowledge of what’s possible is grounded in basic and inferential knowledge of what’s actual, and that knowledge of the possibility of libertarian agency isn’t grounded in basic or inferential knowledge of what’s actual. If so, then we don’t know whether libertarian agency is possible. And if not, then since Plantinga’s free will defense requires the metaphysical possibility of libertarian agency, it follows that we don’t know whe…

New Journal: International Journal for the Study of Skepticism

Readers of this blog may be interested to know of an excellent new journal:International Journal for the Study of Skepticism. Below is some pertinent information from the Editor's Note:

The International Journal for the Study of Skepticism will publish articles on any topic related to the problem of skepticism, including both radical forms of skepticism and local skepticism, and also the contemporary debates regarding the history, nature, and viability of skepticism.

Forthcoming issues will include articles on Moore’s proof of the existence of the external world, Boghossian’s refutation of relativism, whether speech act theory can refute Pyrrhonian skepticism, and whether skepticism’s import is merely methodological; a symposium on contrastivism and skepticism with contributions from Steven Luper and Martijn Blaauw; and a book symposium on Ernest’s Sosa Reflective Knowledge with contributions from Richard Fumerton, John Greco, and Michael Williams, and a reply from Sosa.

The contents…

Furor Brewing Over Special Issue of Synthese on Evolution and Intelligent Design

(MOVING TO THE FRONT: For those interested in the Synthese Affair)

SIXTH UPDATE: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here. Also, Wesley Elsberry's posts on his personal experiences, reactions, and reflections on the Synthese Affair -- i.e., as an author with a paper in the relevant issue -- are definitely worth a look.

FIFTH UPDATE: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here.

FOURTH UPDATE: here.

THIRD UPDATE: Here, here, and here.

SECOND UPDATE: As Brian Leiter has pointed out, the editors at Synthese have issued a statement on the issue. The statement, and Leiter's remarks on it, can be found here. Further reactions can be found here and here.

UPDATE: As expected, the furor continues to grow. See, e.g., here, here, here, here, and here. for more reactions.

...over here and elsewhere. Stay tuned...

Senor's Counterexample to Plantinga's Account of Warranted Christian Belief

God might have made us so that when we consider evidence for the non-existence of God or the unreliability of the Scriptures or the illusory nature of religious experience, the strength of our theistic belief would actually increase. Maybe all such evidence is in the end deeply misleading and God does not want us to err in matters of ultimate importance. So a student, call her “Faith", takes a philosophy of religion class from a brilliant atheist who presents convincing versions of arguments for all the above theses. She cannot see a thing wrong with any of them. But in accordance with her design-plan, the strength of Faith’s conviction in the central tenets of Christianity is thereby strengthened, not weakened. Indeed, perhaps with enough apparently sound arguments for the falsity of Christianity her belief will become maximally warranted!

Now Plantinga can, of course, say that her design plan is not like this. There are potential defeaters for God’s existence and the claims of …

Historical Apologetics: The Standard Evangelical Case

Here is a sketch of standard conservative evangelical historical apologetics. I've also included appendices outlining (i) standard tools employed in New Testament criticism, and common supposed misuses of them by non-conservative NT critics (ii) supposed assumptions of non-conservative NT critics that may skew their conclusions, (iii) standard evangelical criticisms of the Jesus Seminar, and (iv) the main lines of reasoning in standard evangelical defenses of the bodily resurrection of Jesus. The notes are a bit of a mess at the moment, but I hope to beat them into shape some time soon. (I offered a short outline of this sort of case here.)

Stages in Establishing the Reliability of the Gospel Portraits of Jesus:

Stage One: Textual Criticism: Checking the quantity, quality and antiquity of manuscripts:

Preliminary Observations: We have 25,000 manuscripts and fragments (5,000 of them Greek), dating from the present and going back to 100-150 AD (The Magdalen papyri, a fragment of one of…

2011 Bellingham Lectures in Philosophy of Religion: Plantinga on God and Evolution

In 2009, Western Washington University began the annual Bellingham Lectures in Philosophy of Religion. Alvin Plantinga is the guest lecturer for 2011. Plantinga gave the first of his two lectures yesterday, which appears to cover the core argument of his new book, Where the Conflict Really Lies. Here is a link to a video of the lecture, as well as downloadable lecture notes. He'll give the second and final lecture tomorrow night. The notes for tomorrow's lecture are already up (here).

P.S., If you don't know already, Western Washington University is home to a number of people who do excellent work in philosophy of religion: Daniel Howard-Snyder, Frances Howard-Snyder, Hud Hudson, and Dennis Whitcomb. In addition, while neither appear to have publications in philosophy of religion, Ryan Wasserman and Ned Markosian are excellent philosophers who dabble in philosophy of religion. Lots of Christians aspiring to become professional philosophers go through the undergraduate pr…

Scott Aikin on the Problem of Worship

In "The Problem of Worship" (Think 25:9 (2010)), Scott Aikin argues that no being could be a proper object of worship, and that therefore theism is false. The paper can be found here.

P.S., Scott Aikin is a co-author of the new book, Reasonable Atheism, as well as the co-author of the blog of the same name. (We noted the book and the blog on another occasion).

P.P.S., Over at Philosophical Disquisitions, John Danaher has an excellent expository post on Aikin's article, as well as this exegetical note on it.

Hume's Birthday (and Mine)

Today is the 300th anniversary of Hume's birthday. Incidentally, it's my birthday as well. I find it fascinating that our general philosophical outlook and aims largely overlap: we're both mitigated skeptics of sorts (although I go further in extending mitigated skepticism to our knowledge of modality), and we both have large-scale projects aimed at the criticism of traditional theism.

Happy Birthday, Hume!

Graham's New Critique of Plantinga's Argument from Proper Function

Peter Graham recently offered an excellent critique of Plantinga's argument from proper function in his "Intelligent Design and Selective History: Two Sources of Purpose and Plan" (in Jonathan Kvanvig, ed. Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion, Volume 3, 2011).

(On previous occasions, we've noted critiques of the argument from Adrian Bardon and Tyler Wunder).