According to a strong and unrestricted version of the principle of sufficient reason, everything that exists or occurs has a sufficient reason for its existence or occurrence, where sufficient reasons are taken to entail or necessitate the existence or occurrence of the entity in question. For our purposes, call this version PSR.
Peter van Inwagen famously argued that PSR is implausible, as it entails that everything exists or occurs of metaphysical necessity, and that this is absurd (since many things seem to be contingent and not necessary). Call this the PvI objection. Now people tend to react to the PvI objection in one of three ways:
(i) Hold on to PSR, while accepting that it entails everything exists or occurs of metaphysical necessity.
(ii) Restrict PSR so as to make conceptual space for things to occur contingently.
(iii) Reject PSR in order to make conceptual space for things to occur contingently.
However, it seems to me that there is another option:
(iv) Hold on to PSR …
I've argued for the live epistemic possibility that matter/energy (or, if matter/energy isn't fundamental, the stuff of which matter/energy is ultimately composed) is factually necessary. That is, it's a live epistemic possibility that while there might be possible worlds at which matter/energy does not exist, it's eternal, uncaused, existentially independent, and de facto indestructible at the actual world. I've also argued that factually necessary matter/energy satisfies a weaker version of PSR: (PSRfn): Every existing thing has an explanation of its existence, either in terms of the factual necessity of its own nature or in terms of an external cause.Finally, I've attempted to motivate this proposal and answer a number of objections to it on various occasions. Here, however, I'd like to set aside these points and defend PSRfn by means of a tu quoque argument of sorts. Here's a thumbnail sketch of the argument: A number of proponents of the principle o…
Leaving aside formal and final causes, there appear to be four possible scenarios for the origin of our universe:
(i) Both an efficient cause and a material cause
(ii) An efficient cause without a material cause
(iii) A material cause without an efficient cause
(iv) Neither an efficient nor a material cause
Now William Lane Craig thinks (iv) is prima facie implausible, and so the position of last resort. However, it should be noted that even Craig grants that (iv) is unobjectionable if the universe is a 4-dimensional block of some sort. But the worry is that many scientists and philosophers think that ours is such a universe. Many will therefore part company with Craig at this early stage of his argument. However, let's waive this objection for the moment, and grant, arguendo, that Craig is right. Now Craig ultimately wants to argue that (ii) is the most probable candidate scenario for the origin of the universe. What about the other options?
Thaddeus Metz's account of meaning in life is the focus of the October 2015 issue of The Journal of Philosophy of Life. The journal have kindly collected all of the papers into an open access book, which can be found here.
Ahmed, Arif. "Hume and the Independent Eyewitnesses",Mind (first published online August 2015). The paper offers a reply to the "independent witnesses" criticism raised by Earman, McGrew, et al. Here's the abstract: The Humean argument concerning miracles says that one should always think it more likely that anyone who testifies to a miracle is lying or deluded than that the alleged miracle actually occurred, and so should always reject any single report of it. A longstanding and widely accepted objection is that even if this is right, the concurring and non-collusive testimony of many witnesses should make it rational to believe in whatever miracle they all report. I argue that on the contrary, even multiple reports from non-collusive witnesses lack the sort of independence that could make trouble for Hume.
And if a copy should find its way to my inbox...
Morriston, Wes. "‘Terrible’ divine commands revisited: a response to Davisand Franks", Religious Studies (August 2015). Here's the abstract: If God commanded something that would ordinarily be classified as a terrible evil, would we have a moral obligation to obey? In two previous articles in this journal, I examined and evaluated several different ways in which a divine command theorist might answer this question. Richard Brian Davis and W. Paul Franks have now provided a vigorous rebuttal, in which they argue that my way of handling the relevant counterpossible conditionals is flawed, and that a divine command theorist who avails herself of the metaphysical platform of theistic activism can consistently say that if (per impossibile) God were to command some terrible evil, it would not be the case that we have a moral obligation to do it. In the present article, I clarify my own view and defend it against Davis and Franks's objections. I also argue that the core clai…
Helen De Cruz has a fascinating new paper on irrelevant influences on views in philosophy of religion. Here's the abstract:
To what extent do factors such as upbringing and education shape our philosophical views? And if they do, does this cast doubt on the philosophical results we have ob-tained? This paper investigates irrelevant inﬂuences in philosophy through a qualitativesurvey on the personal beliefs and attitudes of philosophers of religion. In the light of these ﬁndings, I address two questions: an empirical one (whether philosophers of religion are inﬂuenced by irrelevant factors in forming their philosophical attitudes), andan epistemological one (whether the inﬂuence of irrelevant factors on our philosophicalviews should worry us). The answer to the empirical question is a conﬁdent yes, to the epistemological question, a tentative yes.
The paper is still in draft, so the relevant norms about that apply.
What Difference Would - or Does - God's Existence Make? A Workshop on the Axiological Consequences of Theism Ryerson University Toronto, Canada September 11-12, 2015 For complete details, and to register, go to: www.ryerson.ca/~kraay/theismworkshop.html. Speakers: - Toby Betenson (Birmingham) - Richard Davis and Paul Franks (Tyndale University College) - Scott Davison (Morehead State University) - Guy Kahane (Oxford) - Stephen Maitzen (Acadia) - Myron A. Penner (Trinity Western) and Ben Arbour (Institute for Philosophical and Theological Research) - John Schellenberg (Mount Saint Vincent) - Meghan Sullivan (Notre Dame) - Michael Tooley (Colorado) - Erik Wielenberg (DePauw) This workshop is the capstone event of a three-year research project entitled "Theism: An Axiological Investigation", that was generously funded by the John Templeton Foundation.
Here. Below is the abstract: After rejecting substance dualism, some naturalists embrace patternism. It states that persons are bodies and that bodies are material machines running abstract person programs. Following Aristotle, these person programs are souls. Patternists adopt four-dimensionalist theories of persistence: Bodies are 3D stages of 4D lives. Patternism permits at least six types of life after death. It permits quantum immortality, teleportation, salvation through advanced technology, promotion out of a simulated reality, computational monadology, and the revision theory of resurrection.
(We've noted his podcast interview on Our Digital Afterlives on another occasion.)
...has recently come out at Philosophy Compass. Here's the abstract: Religious epistemology is the study of how subjects' religious beliefs can have, or fail to have, some form of positive epistemic status (such as knowledge, justification, warrant, and rationality) and whether they even need such status appropriate to their kind. The current debate is focused most centrally upon the kind of basis upon which a religious believer can be rationally justified in holding certain beliefs about God (whether God exists, what attributes God has, what God is doing, etc.) and whether it is necessary to be so justified to believe as a religious believer ought (in some sense of ‘ought’ more general than rational justification). Engaging these issues are primarily three groups of people who call themselves ‘fideists’, ‘Reformed epistemologists’, and ‘evidentialists’. Each group has a position, but the positions are not mutually exclusive in every case, and in the debate, the names better de…
...is due to come out next March. Here's the table of contents:
1. Evil and Evidence, Matthew A. Benton, John Hawthorne, and Yoaav Isaacs 2. Is Petitionary Prayer Superfluous?, Isaac Choi 3. Where Skeptical Theism Fails, Skeptical Atheism Prevails, Paul Draper 4. The Right, the Good, and the Threat of Despair: (Kantian) Ethics and the Need for Hope in God, Kyla Ebels-Duggan 5. A Problem with Theistic Hope, Jeff Jordan 6. Religious Skepticism and Higher-Order Evidence, Nathan L. King 7. Temporary Intrinsics and Christological Predication, Timothy Pawl 8. Can God Repent?, Rik Peels 9. Divine Creative Freedom, Alexander R. Pruss 10. The Permissibility of the Atonement as Penal Substitution, Jada Twedt Strabbing
Suppose for reductio that the existence of the god of classical Anselmian theism is metaphysically possible. Let's follow Plantinga's claim here that such a being has the property of maximal greatness, where: (i) a being's maximal greatness entails maximal excellence in every possible world, (ii) maximal excellence includes the classical attributes of omniscience, omnipotence, and moral perfection, and (iii) omnipotence includes the capacity to create or sustain concrete objects distinct from itself without a material cause. Therefore, if it's metaphysically possible that a maximally great being exists, then such a being exists in all metaphysically possible worlds. Therefore, a maximally great being exists in all metaphysically possible worlds. Now it's also part of the classical conception of the god of Anselmian theism that he is the creator of (at least) all concrete things distinct from himself. Therefore, for any world W that contains a universe of concrete …