Modal Quandaries
April 23, 2015 — 13:28

Author: Michael Almeida  Category: Uncategorized  Tags: , ,   Comments: 12

Here’s a modal quandary. Both modal arguments seem correct. Both arguments seem valid.

(I)

1. Necessarily, God actualizes the best world.

2. There is no best possible world.

3. :. God does not exist.

(II)

1. There is no best possible world.

2. It is impossible that God actualizes the best possible world.

3. :. It is not necessary that God actualizes the best world.

The problem arises because we are (implicitly) reasoning counterfactually (strictly, counterpossibly), and there’s room for different ways to resolve the vagueness involved.

more…

Philosophers and their religious practices, part 8: religious naturalism
April 16, 2015 — 14:52

Author: Helen De Cruz  Category: Religion and Life Religious Belief  Tags: , , , ,   Comments: 1

This is the eighth installment of a series of interviews I am conducting with academic philosophers about their religious practices. In this series of interviews, I ask philosophers about their religious practices and the influence on their philosophical work. Follow the links for parts 1, 2, 3, 456 and 7. The contributors are in various stages of their career, tenured and untenured. Interviews were conducted through e-mail and responses are not edited.

This interview is with Eric Steinhart, full Professor of Philosophy at William Paterson University.

Can you tell me something about your  current religious affiliation/self-identification? 

I was raised as a conservative Evangelical Protestant (many of my close male family members are conservative Evangelical ministers). When I was young I was extremely immersed in my Christianity. But I essentially left Christianity when I was 18. However, I maintained a vaguely Christian theology for a long time. By the time I was in my 40s I had completely lost interest in classical theism.

Much of my interest in philosophy of religion has been driven by a series of religious or mystical experiences. I have had five or six of these. Of them, three have been overpowering, ego-shattering experiences, while three have been gentler. But all have been profoundly moving. None of them have involved God. Other philosophers, such as Wittgenstein, Hick, and Plantinga have reported their own mystical experiences. So it’s worth thinking more about how such experiences inspire philosophies.

I would not say that I really gained much new knowledge during these experiences. The content of my experiences was shaped by what I had already studied and found interesting in philosophy, theology, and mathematics. I already thought that reality was a certain way, but my thoughts were merely very abstract outlines of that way. During my mystical experiences, I saw with intense vividness that reality is this way. Much of what I have written philosophically is an effort to verbally express the content of these visions. I regard all these efforts as failures. The vision really is ineffable.

more…

Philosophers and their religious practices, part 7: Circumventing the philosopher
April 8, 2015 — 6:01

Author: Helen De Cruz  Category: Religion and Life Religious Belief  Tags: , , , , ,   Comments: 1

This is the seventh installment of a series of interviews I am conducting with academic philosophers about their religious practices. In this series of interviews, I ask philosophers about their religious practices and the influence on their philosophical work. Follow the links for parts 1, 2, 3, 45 and 6. The contributors are in various stages of their career, tenured and untenured. Interviews were conducted through e-mail and responses are not edited.

This interview is with Terence Cuneo, Professor at the University of Vermont.

more…

Philosophers and their religious practices, part 6: An eastward-looking Anglican
April 2, 2015 — 10:42

Author: Helen De Cruz  Category: Religion and Life Religious Belief  Tags: , , , ,   Comments: 1

This is the sixth installment of a series of interviews I am conducting with academic philosophers about their religious practices. In this series of interviews, I ask philosophers about their religious practices and the influence on their philosophical work. Follow the links for parts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. The contributors are in various stages of their career, tenured and untenured. Interviews were conducted through e-mail and responses are not edited.

This interview is with Steven Horst, Professor of Philosophy at Wesleyan University.

more…

Can atheism be properly basic?
March 21, 2015 — 4:44

Author: Rik Peels  Category: Atheism & Agnosticism Uncategorized  Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,   Comments: 41

I’ve recently been wondering whether atheism – the belief that God does not exist – could be properly basic. By that, I mean whether it could be a belief that is not based on arguments, but nonetheless formed by a reliable mechanism that is truth-oriented.

I doubt whether atheism could be properly basic. If I am right, then, in order for atheism to be warranted (or maybe even merely rational; see below), atheism has to be based on arguments—whereas, perhaps, such a thing is not required for theism.

Now, here’s my line of thought. It seems we need to consider two mutually exclusive and jointly exhaustive scenarios: one in which God exists and one in which he does not.

We can be rather short about the first scenario. If God exists, then it seems impossible that humans have a truth-oriented reliable mechanism that produces the basic belief that God does not exist. Such a mechanism could never be both truth-oriented and reliable, for all of its deliverances – each instance of the basic belief that God does not exist – would be false.

more…

Philosophers and their religious practices, part 5 – The ethics and justice of mitzvot
March 20, 2015 — 15:38

Author: Helen De Cruz  Category: Religious Belief  Tags: , , , ,   Comments: 0

This is the fifth installment of a series of interviews I am conducting with academic philosophers about their religious practices. In this series of interviews, I ask philosophers about their religious practices and the influence on their philosophical work. Follow the links for parts 1, 2, 3 and 4. The contributors are in various stages of their career, tenured and untenured. Interviews were conducted through e-mail and responses are not edited.

The fifth interview is with Anya Topolski, postdoctoral fellow at the University of Leuven.

more…

A Theistic Dilemma
March 17, 2015 — 14:02

Author: Michael Almeida  Category: Concept of God Existence of God Free Will Problem of Evil Uncategorized  Tags: , , ,   Comments: 2

Here’s a dilemma that might be worrisome for theists. It’s, in any case, a worry for me. Consider, first, the thesis in  (1).

1. Possibly, God actualizes a morally perfect possible world or a morally very good possible world.

Most of us believe that (1) is true, indeed, many of us believe that (1) is necessarily true. But if we affirm (1), we have to deny (2).

more…

Philosophers and their religious practices, part 4: The embodiment of the sacraments
March 17, 2015 — 5:27

Author: Helen De Cruz  Category: Religion and Life Religious Belief  Tags: , , , ,   Comments: 2

This is the fourth installment of a series of interviews I am conducting with academic philosophers about their religious practices. In this series of interviews, I ask philosophers about their religious practices and the influence on their philosophical work (follow these links for parts 1, 2 and 3). The contributors are in various stages of their career, tenured and untenured. Interviews were conducted through e-mail and responses are not edited, except for some occasional shortenings (indicated by ellipses).

The fourth interview is with Jennifer Frey, assistant professor of philosophy at the University of South Carolina.

more…

What do philosophers think about personhood and the afterlife?
March 15, 2015 — 8:47

Author: Helen De Cruz  Category: Afterlife  Tags: ,   Comments: 2

To help me find out, please fill out this survey. Note, this survey is specifically for people who are philosophers (including graduate students)  https://surveys.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_eRiMII67vCsFOPH

The survey is conducted for my Immortality Project grant The philosophy and psychology of afterlife beliefs. I’ll post a digest of the results on this blog.

Philosophers and their religious practices, part 3: The SCP is my Church
March 11, 2015 — 8:45

Author: Helen De Cruz  Category: Religion and Life  Tags: , , , ,   Comments: 25

This is the third installment of a series of interviews I am conducting with academic philosophers about their religious practices (see here and here for previous installments). In this series of interviews, I ask philosophers  about their religious practices and the influence on their philosophical work. I have interviewed (and am in the course of interviewing) agnostics, theists and atheists, hopefuls and skeptics. The contributors are in various stages of their career, tenured and untenured. Interviews were conducted through e-mail and responses are not edited, except for some occasional shortenings (indicated by ellipses)

The third interview is with H.E. Baber, who is a full professor at the University of San Diego.

more…