Most Important Philosophy of Religion Articles
September 13, 2006 — 20:11

Author: Matthew Mullins  Category: General  Comments: 10

It’s been a bit quiet around here of late. I’m sure many of us are back to regular work, swamped with a backlog of projects, and enjoying the first hints of fall. So, here is an easy but fun project post that I started thinking about after reading a similar post at Right Reason. The project is to answer the following question. “What are the most important philosophy of religion articles published since 1950? I know there were many influential books written during this period, but that’s a list for another day. I’ve answered only for the period 1950-1979 but I’d like to extend this list up trough the 90’s. I’m interested to see what other people would add or subtract from the list. The list is below the fold.

JL Mackie, Evil and Omnipotence, 1955
JJC Smart, The Existence of God, 1955
Majid Fakry, The Classical Islamic Arguments for the Existence of God, 1957
Nicholas Rescher, The Ontological Proof Revisited, 1959
Jaakko Hintikka, On the Logic of the Ontological Argument, 1969
GEM Anscombe, Modern Moral Philosophy, 1958
William Alston, The Ontological Argument Revisited, 1960
Norman Malcolm, Anselm’s Ontological Arguments, 1960
Jan Berg, An Examination of the Ontological Proof, 1961
George Mavrodes, Some Puzzles Concerning Omnipotence, 1963
Frederick Fitch, The Perfection of Perfection, 1963
George Schlesinger, The Problem of Evil and the Problem of Suffering, 1964
Michael Dummett, Bringing About the Past, 1964
Nelson Pike, Divine Omniscience and Voluntary Action, 1965
Alvin Plantinga, The Free Will Defense, 1965
Haig Khatchadourian, God, Happiness and Evil, 1966
Kai Nielsen, Wittgensteinian Fideism, 1967
Marilyn Adams, Is the Existence of God a ‘Hard’ Fact?, 1967
Roderick Chisholm, The Defeat of Good and Evil, 1968
Nelson Pike, Omnipotence and God’s Ability to Sin, 1969
D Bennett, The Divine Simplicity, 1969
Anthony Kenny. Divine Foreknowledge and Human Freedom, 1969
David Lewis, Anselm and Actuality, 1970
William Mann, The Ontological Presuppositions of the Ontological argument, 1972
Ian Hacking, The Logic of Pascal’s Wager, 1972
Robert Adams, Must God Create the Best?, 1972
Antony Flew, The Presumption of Atheism, 1972
Robert Adams, A Modified Divine Command Conception of Ethical Wrongness, 1973
G. Stanley Kane, The Failure of Soul-Making Theodicy, 1975
Robin Attfield, The God of Religion and the God of Philosophy, 1975
William Rowe, The Ontological Argument and Question-Begging, 1976
Bruce Reichenbach, Natural Evils and Natural Law: A Theodicy for Natural Evils, 1976
Norman Malcolm, The Groundlessness of Belief, 1977
Peter van Inwagen, Ontological Arguments, 1977
Richard LaCroix, Augustine on the Simplicity of God, 1977
Robert Adams, Middle Knowledge and the Problem of Evil, 1977
Richard Swinburne, Natural Evils, 1978
Peter van Inwagen, The Possibility of Resurrection, 1978
Robert Adams, Existence, Self-Interest, and the Problem of Evil, 1979
Robert Adams, Moral Arguments for Theistic Belief, 1979
William Wainwright, Augustine on God’s Simplicity: A Reply, 1979
William Rowe, The Problem of Evil and Some Varieties of Atheism, 1979
Joshua Hoffman, Can God Do Evil?, 1979
Alvin Plantinga, The Probabilistic Argument from Evil, 1979
Philip Quinn, Divine Command Ethics: A Causal Theory, 1979
Norman Kretzmann & Eleonore Stump, Eternity, 1981
Alvin Plantinga, Is Belief in God Properly Basic?, 1981
Theodore Guleserian, God and Possible Worlds: The Modal Problem of Evil, 1983
Norman Kretzmann & Isaac Abraham, Euthyphro: God and the Basis of Morality, 1983
William Alston, Perceiving God, 1986
Peter van Inwagen, The Place of Chance in a World Sustained by God, 1988
Peter van Inwagen, The Magnitude, Duration and Distribution of Evil, 1988
Marilyn Adams, Horrendous Evils and the Goodness of God, 1989
Paul Draper, Pain and Pleasure: An Evidential Problem for Theists, 1989
William Alston, Some Suggestions for Divine Command Theorists, 1990
Peter van Inwagen, The Problem of Evil, the Problem of Air, and the Problem of Silence, 1991
David Lewis, Evil for Freedom’s Sake?, 2000
Lynne Rudder Baker, Why Christians Should Not be Libertarians: An Augustinian Challenge, 2003
Linda Zagzebski, Omniscience and the Arrow of Time, 2002

  • I’d include Lewis’ paper on the problem of evil, van Inwagen’s two papers in the 90s on the problem of evil (I believe one was called “The Problem of Evil, the Problem of Air, and the Problem of Silence”; I don’t remember the other one), Plantinga’s first presentation of belief in God as a basic belief, Alston’s paper on the Euthyphro dilemma (“Advice to Divine Command Theorists”) and Robert Adams on the same issue.
    Lynn Rudder Baker had a paper on compatibilism with respect to divine providence sometimes in the last few years in Faith and Philosophy that I think is one of the best papers on that subject. Linda Zabzebski had one several years ago (maybe around 2000) about how the foreknowledge problem is really just an issue of whether future contingents are true that makes most work on that issue obsolete. I consider these two papers the two most important papers in philosophy of religion that have been published while I’ve been in graduate school (which is now a nine-year period).
    I don’t remember the names of most of these and don’t have the time to check them now, but I wanted to register my suggestions while I’m thinking of them.
    One of the biggest problems with this sort of list is that it leaves off work like Plantinga’s work on warrant, Alston’s work on religious experience, Zabzebski and Hasker’s books on the foreknowledge problem, Leftow’s book on atemporality, and other good work that has been published in book form and not in paper form.

    September 13, 2006 — 22:18
  • Sorry, I missed Adams on divine command theory in your list. I would also add Stump and Kretzmann’s first paper on timelessness, since that initiated a whole cottage industry of work, even if many today (even among atemporalists) don’t consider much of that work to have been in the right direction. But one measure of influence is how many papers it spawns.
    I’d add Rowe’s book on the cosmological argument and Mackie’s The Miracle of Theism to the list of books in the last comment.

    September 13, 2006 — 22:23
  • Matthew

    I knew you’d have some good suggestions. I think I’ve added them all except for the Baker and Zagzebski, which I couldn’t find.
    A book list would be great too, but I wanted to get an article list done first. I think this list draws out two things that a book list might miss. The first is that you can see a real explosion of work towards the end of the 70’s, and with that you can pick out trends in what direction work in the field was and is headed. The second is that an article list draws out the names of some fantastic philosopher who never published book length work in the field. That said there are plenty of must read books.

    September 13, 2006 — 23:35
  • Kevin Timpe

    Here is the info on Baker’s article–or, at least, the Baker article that I think Jeremy is referencing:
    Lynne Rudder Baker, “Why Christians Should Not be Libertarians: An Augustinian Challenge,” Faith and Philosophy 20 (2003)

    September 14, 2006 — 10:34
  • Among the books/collections you might want to include are Tom Morris’s Anselmian Explorations (UND ’87) and his, Our Idea of God (IVP, ’91) and his, The Logic of God Incarnate (Wipf, ’86). Superb, all. Also JH Sobel’s Logic and Theism (CUP, ’04), David Johnson’s Hume, Holism, and Miracles (Cornell ’99), J. Earman’s, Hume’s Abject Failure, (OUP, ’00). Among papers, Rowe’s ‘The Evidential Argument from Evil: A Second Look’ (in H-Snyder (ed.) EEA, Indiana, ’96). Alston’s ‘The Inductive Argument from Evil and the Human Cognitive Condition’ (Snyder, same). PvI’s , ‘The Magnitude, Duration and Distribution of Evil’ Philosophical Topics, ’88. I’d also include Sobel’s, ‘Godel’s Ontological Proof’ in Being and Saying (ed. JJ Thomson, ’87). Also Godel’s ‘Ontologischer Beweis’ in Kurt Godel’s Collected Works Vol. III, OUP, ’95).

    September 14, 2006 — 13:07
  • Kevin, I think that is indeed the paper I was thinking of.
    The Zagzebski paper was called “Omniscience and the Arrow of Time”, and it was in Faith and Philosophy in 2002.

    September 14, 2006 — 20:39
  • Matthew,
    I should also have mentioned Bob Kane’s much lauded paper (and deservedly so) ‘The Modal Ontological Argument’ Mind, 1984.

    September 14, 2006 — 21:46
  • skeptical

    1970’s: James Rachels, “God and Human Attitudes”
    Peter Geach, “Omnipotence”
    1980’s: George Mavrodes, “Religion and the Queerness of Morality”

    September 14, 2006 — 22:40
  • One more occurred to me: Michael Dummett, “Bringing About the Past” (1964)

    September 15, 2006 — 7:40
  • What about Plantinga’s “An evolutionary argument against naturalism.” 1991. Logos 12: 27-49.

    September 19, 2006 — 17:25