Best PR Books in Last Decade
December 24, 2009 — 15:14

Author: Andrew Moon  Category: Books of Interest General Links  Comments: 40

Leiter‘s put up a “top ten philosophy books or articles in last decade” post on his blog, and other blogs are doing their own specialized versions. I thought it’d be fun to follow the trend. Basically, write what you think might qualify to be among the top ten books or articles in philosophy of religion in the last decade (starting at 2000) and some reasons why it is important and worth reading.
Warranted Christian Belief‘s left a big impact; it is probably the most thorough defense of the justification, rationality and warrant of both theistic and Christian belief. (W/r/t warrant, it argues that there is no good de jure argument apart from a good de facto argument against theistic or Christian belief; w/r/t justification and rationality, it argues that there is no good de jure argument simpliciter.) This defense, as far as I’ve seen, has had little by way of strong objection in the literature. The book also outlines a detailed model for how Christian belief can have warrant. In addition, the chapter on defeaters is a good contribution to epistemology, and the chapter on pluralism has some of the earliest and (in my opinion) some of the best work on the currently hot topic of epistemic disagreement (it includes the now standard charge of self-defeat that equal weight viewers have to deal with). There is also the valuable material on the problem of evil.

Comments:
  • lukeprog

    ‘Theism and Explanation’, Gregory Dawes
    The first major examination of the problem of theistic explanation, a hugely important and grossly understudied problem in philosophy of religion, relevant to most arguments for the existence of God.
    And ‘Warranted Christian Belief’, obviously.

    December 24, 2009 — 19:57
  • Mike Almeida

    I’d include Tom Flint’s, Divine Providence (though it is just out of the time limit, 11 years ago), Bill Rowe’s, Can God be Free?, Howard Sobel’s, Logic and Theism, and Van Inwagen’s, Christian Faith and the Problem of Evil.

    December 25, 2009 — 9:41
  • Matthew Mullins

    If only because so much publishing is done via articles, a good philosophy book can often be hard to find. This task would have been easier had we been asked to evaluate the 90’s, so maybe we’ll look back more kindly on the 00’s in a few years. Like Mike, Sobels’s Logic and Theism and PvI’s Problem of Evil both would have made my list along with WCB. I think I’d add J. L. Schellenberg’s trilogy Prolegomena to a Philosophy of Religion, The Wisdom to Doubt, and The Will to Imagine, as a sustained research program that all came out in the 00’s. While I don’t agree with Schellenberg’s conclusions, he’s garnered at least some response from contributors here.

    December 25, 2009 — 17:53
  • Sam Harris: The End of Faith
    Probably a controversial suggestion, so here’s my explanation.
    First, I happen to think it is by far the best of the original three “new atheist” books. Dawkins and Dennett both already had well established reputations when they entered the field. Dawkins was coasting when he wrote “The God Delusion”. Dennett’s “Breaking The Spell” is really a selective summary of work that’s being done by others on the psychology of religion.Harris however had no reputation at all until he published “The End of Faith”. It made an impact not because it came from an already well-known author, but on its own merits.
    So what are those merits?
    First, it is clearly written from the heart, with honesty. Anyone reading it will understand why these issues matter so much to Harris, and why they should matter to everybody. Clearly, it resonated with a lot of people: Harris became a spokesman for a significant minority. These factors have made it, in my opinion, an important book, in the sense that it has had, and probably will continue to have, a big cultural impact. But is it important as a contribution to philosophy of religion?
    It is often said that continental philosophy tends to be politically relevant, but lacking in rigour, whereas analytical philosophy achieves rigour at the expense of cultural relevance. Well, Harris has certainly achieved cultural impact and it is clear that he aims at rigour. I appreciate the fact that he does not place all religions on the same level, and attaches importance to the fact that beliefs matter becauses they help determine our actions, and therefore differences of belief are a matter of great significance. I appreciate the fact that, in defining “faith”, the object of his criticisms, he attempts to produce a definition that is in keeping with the Bible and everyday religious usage.
    Of course, he is not a specialist in the field. Indeed, there is a temptation to respond to the book by saying “Of course, analytical philosophers of religion have been engaging in this kind of discussion for decades: by all means join the club, and maybe you can learn something from some of its senior members.”
    I will close with an analogy. For a long time, anyone engaged in philosophy of religion had to have some kind of response to Ayer’s “Language, Truth and Logic”: it was one of the most influential books within the field of philosophy of religion, even if it was not primarily a work of philosophy of religion, and even if the influence it had was primarily that so many people felt compelled to argue against it. “The End of Faith” may have a similar impact on the field, and for these reasons, I think it should be considered for inclusion in a top-ten list.

    December 26, 2009 — 21:10
  • Anonymous

    There are a few recent and excellent books that treat philosophy of religion along with problems in other areas of philosophy:
    John Foster (2004) ‘The Divine Lawmaker’. This provides a theistic solution to the problem of induction. This is very elegantly written, and the argument is powerful.
    Yujin Nagasawa (2008) ‘God and Phenomenal Consciousness’. This is a comparison of and response to knowledge arguments in philosophy of mind and philosophy of religion. It is very carefully set forth and highly original.
    Michael Rea’s (2004) ‘World Without Design’ presents a very clever critique of naturalism. Could this also be included?

    December 27, 2009 — 6:55
  • I would second listing Nagasawa’s *God and Phenomenal Consciousness* and William Rowe’s *Can God Be Free?*.
    Both are excellent books.
    I would add two highly original books by philosophers from Australasia and one from a Yank.
    John Bishop, *Believing by Faith* (Oxford University Press, 2007)
    Peter Forrest, *Developmental Theism* (Oxford University Press, 2007)
    Mark Johnston, *Saving God* (Princeton University Press, 2009)
    All of these books go beyond the standard fare in religious epistemology (in the case of Bishoop) and the metaphysics of theism (Forrest and Johnston), defending highly original theses, laying down challenges for both traditional theists and atheists.

    December 28, 2009 — 11:45
  • Dan Speak

    I’m a big fan of Robert Adams’ Finite and Infinite Goods, but it came out initially in 1999, I think.
    Marilyn Adams’ Horrendous Evils and the Goodness of God deserves a mention.

    December 28, 2009 — 16:54
  • Ordered by year, not quality.
    1. William Lane Craig, Time and the Metaphysics of Relativity (Springer, 2000).
    *Craig is overlooked as producing some of the most brilliant and well-researched work on God’s relationship to time.
    2. Alvin Plantinga, Warranted Christian Belief (Oxford, 2000).
    3. John Foster, The Divine Lawmaker (Oxford, 2004).
    4. Alexander Pruss, The Principle of Sufficient Reason (Cambridge, 2006).
    5. Terence Cuneo, The Normative Web (Oxford, 2007).
    6. Timothy O’Connor, Theism and Ultimate Explanation: The Necessary Shape of Contingency (Blackwell, 2008).
    7. Paul Moser, The Elusive God (Cambridge, 2009).
    8. Graham Oppy, Arguing About Gods (Cambridge, 2009).
    9. Gregory Dawes, Theism and Explanation (Routeledge, 2009).
    10. Craig and Moreland, Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology (Blackwell, 2009).
    *A nice cap-off for the year, essays representing some of the finest work being done in philosophy of religion
    It is interesting to note that I haven’t seen one mention of Swinburne. It would also be interesting to get a final list and try to find common features.

    January 1, 2010 — 13:45
  • Andrew L

    I think William Lane Craig has been underrated while Plantinga overrated. I suggest Craig and Moreland, Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology (Blackwell, 2009), and Craig and Moreland, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview (IVP 2003), both of which provide so many helpful insights to so many questions.

    January 1, 2010 — 16:20
  • Trent Dougherty

    I’ll probably regret this, but I’m going to go contrarian and just register that I did not like Rowe’s _Can God be Free?_ or the Johnson book *at all*. I was also disappointed with much of PvI’s Evil book, though it clearly deserves to be on the list, that man’s mistakes are better than my successes, it’s just amazing. I disagree with most of what Andrew said about WCB, but think it magnificent for other reasons. I’ll also say what everyone else is thinking: Sam Harris doesn’t even deserve consideration.
    On a positive note, I’ll mention Swinburne’s _Resurrection of God Incarnate_ which is a model of how to think about the historical evidence for the resurrection (and no sneering at the numbers, they’re illustrative, and if you don’t like them, use your own.) Also, though _The Existence of God_ is a 2nd edition (not just a revised one), I think it ought to be mentioned. It is substantially the same, but with very important additions and changes. Among it’s virtues over and above its content–and I think it’s probably the best single-author PR book published in my lifetime–is the way it models how a great and erudite thinker evolves his position over time. Similar remarks apply to the other books he’s revised over the last decade which include his wonderful _Faith and Rason_ and the massively under-appriciated _Revelation: From Metaphor to Analogy_. And his little book _Is There a God?_, though a more popular work, is a fantastic overview of his thought. I use it for my intro classes sometimes, but I also just love to read it. Similar remarks apply to his _Was Jesus God?”_. Together, the two thin volumes make the best upper-lay reading in PR I think. And, no, neither he nor his publicist give me kickbacks!
    On the skeptical side, Sobol’s book is very good, full of great stuff, though way to rushed. Oppy’s boasted the same sorts of virtues, but suffered the same vice. The fact is, it takes *volumes* to do PR right. I was happy to see Foster’s book mentioned multiple times. It’s really out there, but I’d actually endorse the bulk of it (maybe because I’m out there?).
    No one mentioned _Knowledge of God_ by Plantinga and Tooley, which I think is one of the very best reads in PR in the last decade. We did well to do a study of it here. I think Hasker’s _Triumph of God over Evil_ is under-rated and deserves to be read by anyone thinking hard about evil (which ought to be everyone). Don’t know if anthologies count, but Dan Howard-Snyder’s hiddenness book is probably in my top three of the decade.

    January 1, 2010 — 22:36
  • Matthew Mullins

    Dan- I thought of including “Horrendous Evils and the Goodness of God” but didn’t because I thought the overall argument was circular, that said, Adams makes some nice points along the way.
    Chad- I think you’re the first I’ve heard of to have liked “The Elusive God”.
    Andrew- I imagine that Craig isn’t rated as highly among philosophers because he does a lot of apologetic work and the scope of his work hasn’t been as broad many other major contributors to philosophy of religion.
    Trent- Given that I know how old you are, it’s impressive that you find “The Existence of God” to be “the best single-author PR book published in my lifetime”. I’m wondering what the criterion for the ranking is. If the criterion is philosophical impact, I’d be tempted to counter with Plantinga’s “Nature of Necessity”. If I’m not mistaken, people pretty much quit working on the logical problem of evil after Plantinga’s argument in this book. It’s not often that you get those kinds of results in philosophy.
    I’ll second Howard-Snyder’s anthology if we’re doing anthologies.

    January 1, 2010 — 23:39
  • Tedla

    I think the following books deserve to be included to the list of good books on PR from the last decade:
    Bruce Langtry: God, the Best, and Evil (OUP, 2008); Michael Almeida: The Metaphysics of Perfect Beings (Routledge, 2008);
    Richard Brian Davis : The Metaphysics of Theism and Modality(New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2001), and
    Paul Moser, The Evidence for God: Religious Knowledge Reexamined (CUP, 2009).

    January 1, 2010 — 23:40
  • Wow, I can’t believe I forgot to mention Knowledge of God.
    Granted, not many have expressed warm feelings for Moser’s approach (I remember at last year’s EPS Paul Copan introducing Moser during the Plenary session, telling us to “take it easy” during the Q&A!). But I think Moser’s thought is underappreciated. He’s doing the same kind of work as others who are making a huge splash.
    Most philosophers, even Christian philosophers, have been preoccupied with the question of how some philosophical problem x squares with a generic Omni-God, whereas only recently have philosophers begun to do serious work on how differently x looks if we think about it in relation to *the Christian God*. This is part of what is distinctive about Horrendous Evils and the Goodness of God and PvI’s collection in the Christian Faith and the Problem of Evil. The same goes for Warranted Christian Belief. So why is Moser’s work ousted? It could just be overshadowed by Plantinga’s project. If the Christian God exists, much of what Moser says makes darned good sense.

    January 2, 2010 — 1:39
  • Mike Almeida

    On the skeptical side, [Sobel’s] book is very good, full of great stuff, though way [too] rushed.
    That’s an interesting criticism. It’s 652 pages long.

    January 2, 2010 — 8:15
  • Mike Almeida

    Just in case it wasn’t obvious, I take William Rowe’s Can God be Free? to be in at least the top two books in PR in the last 10 years.
    Chad, you write,
    Most philosophers, even Christian philosophers, have been preoccupied with the question of how some philosophical problem x squares with a generic Omni-God, whereas only recently have philosophers begun to do serious work on how differently x looks if we think about it in relation to *the Christian God*.
    It’s true that most of the work in PR (surely even now) concerns the omni-God. It’s logically odd that that should be so, since evidence for the omni-God is not in general evidence for the Christian God, even if the Christian God is an omni-God. Certainly possible that P(C|E) less than P(C), and P(O|E) greater than P(O), even if [](C -> O). So Christians fussing over proofs for an omni-God might not be doing the Christian God any favors.

    January 2, 2010 — 10:56
  • Thomas D. Carroll

    Philosophy of religion seems to be a very diverse subfield, especially if one considers both its APA and AAR practitioners. My list is thus, instead, a list of works I have found to be strong given my particular interests in the field.
    Through graduate school and following, I’ve been especially interested in works exploring the history of philosophy of religion. Two texts come immediately to mind, Eugene Thomas Long’s Twentieth Century Western Philosophy of Religion: 1900-2000 (Kluwer, 2003) and Charles Taliaferro’s Evidence and Faith: Philosophy and Religion since the Seventeenth Century (CUP, 2005). Given the diversity of the field at present, I find these texts helpful for remembering where the field has been (or at least, seeing how contemporary philosophers reconstruct the history of the field). I mention these two texts because they may be of interest to a good many philosophers of religion or historians of philosophy.
    My interest in historical-contextual work in philosophy of religion comes, no doubt, from studying with John Clayton and working on his posthumous book, Religions, Reasons and Gods: Essays in Cross-Cultural Philosophy of Religion (CUP, 2006). Above all, what I gained from Clayton’s work was an appreciation for how historical-contextual study can help scholars avoid simplistic cross-cultural or historical comparisons of philosophers or arguments. Clayton’s work was also useful as a model for how philosophy of religion can be pursued fruitfully in concert with the diverse fields studying religions (as one finds in Religious Studies departments). I should note that roughly half of the essays in the volume were published before the 00’s.
    There has also been a lot of great historical-contextual work in the last decade on particular philosophers (e.g. Kierkegaard, Wittgenstein). My favorite articles from the decade may well belong to this category, but these works can be very specialized.
    Lastly, I’d also like to mention Jeffrey Stout’s Democracy and Tradition (Princeton, 2004) and Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age (Harvard, 2007). After reading these books, I continue to puzzle over the problem of defining just what we mean by “secular”. These strike me as books with which I’ll continue to wrestle in the coming years.

    January 2, 2010 — 11:13
  • tedlagebreyesus

    Mike Almeida wrote,
    “It’s true that most of the work in PR (surely even now) concerns the omni-God. It’s logically odd that that should be so, since evidence for the omni-God is not in general evidence for the Christian God, even if the Christian God is an omni-God. Certainly possible that P(C|E) less than P(C), and P(O|E) greater than P(O), even if [](C -> O). So Christians fussing over proofs for an omni-God might not be doing the Christian God any favors.”
    I think things would look different depending on what one takes “E” to consist in when one reads your “Certainly possible that P(C|E) less than P(C)” and other refernces to evidence.
    Moser’s work in both *The Elusive God* and *The Evidence for God* takes issues with the standard way of thinking about evidence. If Moser is right and thinking about the Christian God and evidence for the Christian God is to be understood differently in a way Moser proposes in the above works, then works like Moser’s seem to make a dfference for arguments for the existence of the Christian God.

    January 2, 2010 — 11:41
  • Mike:
    It’s obviously the case that if x is the God described in the Christian tradition, then x is the omni-God. (The Church Fathers ascribe to God all the omni properties.) Thus, P(O|C)=1. Therefore, P(C|~O)=0. But then as long as P(C|O) is greater than zero and O is not antecedently certain, it follows that O is evidence for C.
    Matthew:
    “people pretty much quit working on the logical problem of evil after Plantinga’s argument in this book”
    I think that’s true, and it seems to be a bit of an odd sociological fact that they so did. After all, the argument as originally formulated depended on Molinism which was not, and is not, universally accepted by theists or non-theists. Maybe the really valuable contribution of the argument was showing that the theist has to make a distinction between what is possible and what is possible to create.

    January 2, 2010 — 12:16
  • Mike Almeida

    I think things would look different depending on what one takes “E” to consist in when one reads your “Certainly possible that P(C|E) less than P(C)” and other refernces to evidence.
    I’m not sure what you mean. My point is a formal logical (or perhaps epistemological) one. There’s no real dispute concerning the fact that, possibly, P(C|E) less than P(C), and P(O|E) greater than P(O), though [](C -> O). So you might well have evidence for an omni-God that makes it less probable that there’s a Christian God. It looks like (and this of course is a personal observation) Christian philosophers don’t worry much about that, or perhaps don’t think about it. So take this small observation as tilting in favor of the idea that Christians should focus on the Christian God.

    January 2, 2010 — 12:23
  • Mike Almeida

    It’s obviously the case that if x is the God described in the Christian tradition, then x is the omni-God.
    First, this is ambiguous. I take it you mean that the Christian God is an omni-God not the omni-God. The Christian God has properties associated with it that the omni-God–which is the God of the philosophers–does not. Second, it is not obvious at all. I’ve asked around a lot (Mike Rea, Tom Flint, etc.) for scriptural evidence that the Christian God has attributes of the omni-God (essential omnipotence, essential moral perfection, essential omniscience, necessary existence), and they really didn’t come up with much. So there’s nothing obvious about it.
    Thus, P(O|C)=1. Therefore, P(C|~O)=0. But then as long as P(C|O) is greater than zero and O is not antecedently certain, it follows that O is evidence for C.
    I did not say that O was not evidence for C. I said that evidence for O need not be evidence for C. More exactly I said,
    possibly, P(C|E) less than P(C), and P(O|E) greater than P(O), though [](C -> O)
    To offer one obvious example of this, A entails A v B, and I can have evidence E that increases the probability of A v B while it decreases the probability of A. So that stands.

    January 2, 2010 — 12:43
  • Alexander Pruss wrote:
    “I think that’s true, and it seems to be a bit of an odd sociological fact that they so did. After all, the argument as originally formulated depended on Molinism which was not, and is not, universally accepted by theists or non-theists. Maybe the really valuable contribution of the argument was showing that the theist has to make a distinction between what is possible and what is possible to create.”
    Perhaps originally, but both Plantinga and Adams came to agree that the best formulation of the FWD does not depend on molinism. See especially their exchange in Middle Knowledge: Theory and Applications (Peter Land, 2000).

    January 2, 2010 — 12:54
  • Andrew Moon

    Hi Trent,
    “I disagree with most of what Andrew said about WCB, but think it magnificent for other reasons.”
    I’m not surprised that you disagree with what I said. But I’m wondering what those other reasons were for your thinking WCB to be magnificent?

    January 2, 2010 — 13:01
  • Leonard Sidharta

    Hi,
    I just wonder why PR hasn’t produced many works on moral argument (John Hare’s Moral Gap and Adams’ Infinite and Finite Goods might be exceptions). Most of the works in PR are mainly epistemological or metaphysical in character (they’re chiefly about cosmological, epistemological etc., arguments). It’s quite interesting that Christian philosophers haven’t fully utilized contemporary/analytical metaethical issues to construe widely appealing moral arguments, while many religious believers intuitively believe that there must be some strong relationship between theistic beliefs and moral life. Some atheists (Wielenberg, Sinnott-Armstrong) wrote some good arguments against this intuition.

    January 2, 2010 — 13:28
  • Leonard,
    Though he might be classified more as an apologist (much like William Lane Craig was earlier in this thread), Paul Copan has written numerous essays on the moral argument. Also, I believe he is releasing a book in the (somewhat) near future on the topic of morality and the Old Testament.
    Finally, if I may, I would like to second J.L. Schellenberg’s trilogy and the Adams’ book for “the list.”

    January 2, 2010 — 18:56
  • Andrew Moon

    Matt,
    “I imagine that Craig isn’t rated as highly among philosophers because he does a lot of apologetic work and the scope of his work hasn’t been as broad many other major contributors to philosophy of religion.”
    I don’t see how his doing a lot of apologetic work would make him any less highly rated as a philosophical scholar.
    And Craig’s work, I think, is VERY broad, broader than many (probably most) of the philosophers of religion mentioned on this blog, both within philosophy of religion and in philosophy generally. There’s his work on the Kalam, including the OUP book with his and Quentin Smith’s articles. He wrote a whole history of the cosmological argument. There’s his work on divine foreknowledge (which he also wrote a whole history on), and his detailed defenses of Molinism. In Michael Rea’s two recent volumes, “Oxford Readings in Philosophical Theology”, he has three contributions, one on the Trinity, one on molinism, and one on the inspiration of scripture. He has numerous articles in philosophy of time (including his three books, one on the metaphysics of relativity), which are discussed in journals like Analysis and PPR and AJP.
    So, if there’s a reason that Craig isn’t rated highly, it can’t be because his work is not broad!

    January 2, 2010 — 19:40
  • Mike:
    It may not be easy to get all the omni properties from Scripture. That’s why I mentioned the Church Fathers.
    But I agree that I misread what you said: I agree that it is possible for p to entail q, but for a particular piece evidence for q not be evidence for p.
    Chad:
    Right–one can formulate FWDs without Molinism, and one should. My point was that this was not initially done, so it’s puzzling that the practice of offering deductive arguments from evil ended so quickly.

    January 2, 2010 — 19:51
  • Matthew Mullins

    Andrew,
    Let me just be clear that I’m not making any evaluation of Craig’s skills as a philosopher. I’m only offering an explanation as to why his reputation as a philosopher might be out shown by others. I think that a fair number of philosophers think of Craig more as an apologist than a philosopher. You might not think there is much of a distinction between the two, but some think that the methods, assumptions, and aims of the two come apart. Even if you don’t think there is a distinction between the two, it may be the case that Craig’s more popular level work and his debates have watered down the brand a bit
    Arguably, Craig’s most significant contribution to philosophy–the thing for which he’s broadly known–is his work on the Kalam argument. It’s probably his most anthologized work. While it’s true that Craig has made contributions to other areas of philosophy, I’d think it’s uncontroversial that the impact of that work hasn’t been as significant as Plantinga’s impact in epistemology and metaphysics, Van Inwagen’s contributions to metaphysics, Alston’s contributions to epistemology, etc. So perhaps I should have said his work hasn’t had as broad an impact, but this is all I was getting at with the broad remark.

    January 2, 2010 — 21:30
  • Andrew Moon

    Matt,
    Gotcha on your overall point; it’s hard to dispute that Craig’s impact has not been as broad as any of Plantinga/PvI/Alston’s.
    I do think it’s a silly idea that the fact that Craig does apologetics work in addition to (or overlapping with) his scholarly, philosophical work makes that scholarly, philosophical work less valuable. Not that you’re saying that.

    January 3, 2010 — 0:22
  • tedlagebreyesus

    Hi Andrew (& others):
    I think you’re right on about your being puzzled why would Craig’s work in apologetics make a difference to the valuable work he’s done in several areas of philosophy, most prominently in philosophy of religion. I’ve had an opportunity to study with both Bill Craig and Quentin Smith and one of the most frequent points of conversation with Quentin was about the breadth of Craig’s work in philosophy. Quentin said on many occasions that the reason his work (Quentin’s) has been dominated in philosophy of religion/time/cosmology has almost everything to do with Quentin’s intention (many years ago) to refute Craig’s 1979 work (KCA). Quentin’s professional career evolved in his intention and attempts at refuting Craig’s work.
    I bet one of the two most plausible explanations why Craig’s work has not had so much impact as Plantinga’s, and Alston’s, has something to do, first, with the timing of publication of his work. Craig’s more voluminous works are chronologically/temporally later than Plantinga’s and Alston’s. It took some years for Craig’s KCA to make massive impacts or to have come to be discussed widely. And, the second reason why Craig’s work has not had as much impact as Plantinga’s and Alston’s and also eventually PVI’s is more sociological than philosophical. In a philosophical environment where naturalism is a predominant view it’s not hard to imagine how much (less) a philosopher’s work would be appreciated when that philosopher (=Craig) is also working in apologetics at all levels. [Think about apologists for naturalism when naturalism is a predominant philosophical commitment of the majority of professional philosophers]. When a naturalist reads some of Craig’s popular works in apologetics, which is intended for a popular audience, it’s not hard to imagine how a naturalist can form a less than wholly positive attitude to such a work. I think these two reasons can go a long way in explaining why Craig’s work has not had as much impact in philosophy as the others some have been trying to compare with Craig’s. Both of these two reasons have no bearing on the quality of his scholarly work and his being a good philosopher.
    At the end of the day, how many philosophers do have among us who write extensively and also contribute to such areas of philosophy as philosophy of religion/philosophical theology, philosophy of time, philosophy of cosmology/philosophy of science, theology (New Testament/Resurrection), not to mention application of his philosophical work to apologetics? It’ll soon be seen that Craig will come up with several volumes of work in his research on abstract objects (with a contribution to the historical treatment on abstracta, with implications for metaphysics and philosophy of religion and mathematics).
    Another philosopher whose work has lately been seen with suspicion and dismissal is Paul Moser, esp. with the publication of his The Elusive God (2008) and The Evidence for God (2009). There are already many book reviews done and are being written on The Elusive God and most of the reviewers have reacted (in a way reminiscent of some of the reactions here when the book was discussed last summer or so) to this book with one thing common to almost all of them, with an exception of a couple or so, so far: Many do not/did not see any connection between Moser’s general works in philosophy (which have established him as one of the prominent figures esp., in epistemology ) and how much his general/mainstream work, esp., in epistemology, has been consistently applied to his latest work in Christian philosophy. It’s puzzling to see some of the reactions to Moser’s latest work when these reactions fail to take issues with the most fundamental philosophical commitments that Moser brings in from his earlier works, particularly, Knowledge and Evidence (CUP, 1989), and Philosophy after Objectivity (OUP, 1993) to his latest works. One can be seen as a fine and smart philosopher when his/her work has nothing to say about God but the moment this philosopher says something about God, esp., positively, and if such a philosopher dares to apply his earlier (apparently theistically neutral philosophical work) to issues and topics about God, then the verdict on the work in relation to God tends to be easily seen with suspicion and at times with outright derision or dismissal. I’m waiting to see philosophers refuting Moser’s latest works on the grounds of the philosophical claims he makes and has made for years before these latest works have received applications from his much earlier works. It’s almost impossible to refute his latest works without also refuting his earlier works since his latest works invariably presuppose the results of earlier works.

    January 3, 2010 — 2:28
  • Mike Almeida

    It may not be easy to get all the omni properties from Scripture. That’s why I mentioned the Church Fathers
    Alex,
    If you have specific citations in the fathers, I’d love to get them (I know that’s no small request). Clearly these would themselves be scripturally based, and I’d really like to see how they arrived at the omni-God view.

    January 3, 2010 — 8:31
  • Mike Almeida

    Right–one can formulate FWDs without Molinism, and one should. My point was that this was not initially done, so it’s puzzling that the practice of offering deductive arguments from evil ended so quickly.
    Actually, Plantinga offers a version of FWD that assumes that God does not know the CCF’s that obtain as early as 1985 (see Reidel, Profiles). That would have been enough to offer an FWD without Molinism. But in the same chapter he offers an FWD without the assumption that there are any true CCF’s! In the latter case it follows that, necessarily, God cannot weakly actualize a world including free agents (many years later M. Bergmann made a similar point in an F&P paper on FWD and might-counterfactuals). It actually makes FWD a stronger argument, since the immediate implication is that God cannot weakly actualize a world in which no one freely goes wrong.

    January 3, 2010 — 15:12
  • Mike:
    You probably won’t get modalized claims from the Fathers–I didn’t realize that was part of what you meant by the “omni God”. As for unmodalized omni properties, I am away from my references, but you might find something useful in Jurgens’ _Faith of the Early Fathers_ which has a really nice topical index.
    By the way, I’ve just looked at the Profiles argument for the exciting claim about what happens if there are no CCFs, and I think it may be invalid. The argument supposes:
    Definition: God weakly actualizes S iff there is an S* such that God strongly actualizes S* and S* → S, where → is “counterfactual implication”.
    Then the argument for “Lewis’s Lemma” begins thusly: “Suppose W is a world God could have weakly actualized; then there is a state of affairs A such that God could have strongly actualized A and such that if he had, then W would have been actual.” (p. 51)
    But the second part does not follow from the first. From the definition, all we are entitled to conclude is that if W is a world God could have weakly actualized, then at W it is the case that “there is a state of affairs A such that God could have strongly actualized A and such that if he had, then W would have been actual”.
    For the definition of weak actualization (when necessitated) is that God weakly actualizes S at W iff it is the case at at W that there is an S* such that S* → S and God strongly actualizes S*.
    But Plantinga is concluding that at the actual world it is the case that “there is a state of affairs A …”. The crucial problem is that he’s taking the relation S* → S that holds at W and assuming it holds actually.
    To get Plantinga’s argument to work out, we need an explicit assumption: If at W it is the case that God can weakly actualize S, then there is a state of affairs S* such that at W (and not just at the world at which God does weakly actualize S) S* → S and possibly God strongly actualizes S*. But this the anti-Molinist might well deny.
    I don’t know if Bergmann’s argument has the same problem.
    Or maybe one might worry that there is something wrong with Plantinga’s definition of weak actualization. For suppose that the connective → has the property that if p and q are true, then p → q. Lewisian subjunctives have this property, and Plantinga has speculated that the Lewisian account works for → as long as one takes the right measure of closeness. If this property holds, then God weakly actualized S iff S obtains and there is some state of affairs that God strongly actualized–thus, it is sufficient for God’s weakly actualizing the existence of dinosaurs that God strongly actualized the existence of the Andromeda Galaxy. In other words, if this property of → holds, weak actualization is a very trivial property, and we’re not going to get anything deep like Lewis’s Lemma.

    January 5, 2010 — 2:49
  • Mike Almeida

    But Plantinga is concluding that at the actual world it is the case that “there is a state of affairs A …”. The crucial problem is that he’s taking the relation S* → S that holds at W and assuming it holds actually.
    But of course Plantinga is offering a defense. So, for all we know, the actual world is such a world. That is, this is the epistemic possibility that he is invoking; and it is a genuine epistemic possibility. That’s really all he needs for the reply to POE. He is certainly not claiming to know that the actual world is such a world.

    January 5, 2010 — 7:22
  • Mike Almeida

    Alex, you write,
    In other words, if this property of → holds, weak actualization is a very trivial property, and we’re not going to get anything deep like Lewis’s Lemma.
    But I really don’t see anything especially “deep” about Lewis’s Lemma. It is no doubt assumed in the earlier versions of FWD. All the lemma states is this,
    LL. For every world W in which God exists, God could have weakly actualized W only if G(T(W))-> W.
    And certainly if T is the largest state of affairs in W that God can strongly actualize, and God does strongly actualize T, then he weaky actualizes W only if W would thereby obtain. That’s just what weak actualization has been all along.
    Now I don’t see your objection to the argument. All Plantinga needs is the assumption that, possibly, universal TWD holds. If so, then it is possible that, for some world W, G(T(W)) & ~W. It is possible that some world could not be weakly actualized. Is it epistemically possible that we inhabit a world where it is true that God could not have weakly actualized any world he wished? I don’t see any logical worry with that position.

    January 5, 2010 — 8:50
  • Anonymous

    Chad McIntosh,
    Why include Cuneo’s metaethics book? It has nothing to do with philosophy of religion. I mean, might as well include Gibbard’s Thinking How to Live or Shafer-Landau’s Moral Realism: A Defence if we’re just throwing in top metaethics books from the last decade.
    Or am I missing something?

    January 5, 2010 — 14:39
  • Anon,
    Yeah, I suppose you’re right. Because PoR is my primary interest, I guess I naturally read Cuneo’s book with its relevance to PoR in mind. But I don’t imagine Cuneo’s aim in writing The Normative Web was altogether irrelevant to PoR.

    January 6, 2010 — 0:09
  • Mike:
    “if T is the largest state of affairs in W that God can strongly actualize, and God does strongly actualize T, then he weak[l]y actualizes W only if W would thereby obtain”
    This is true, but the question is not what God weakly actualizes, but what God can weakly actualize.
    Lewis’s Lemma as stated by you is ambiguous: “For every world W in which God exists, God could have weakly actualized W only if G(T(W)) → W.” The issue is that it is not clear whether “God could have weakly actualized W” and “G(T(W)) → W” are to be evaluated at W or at the actual world. If at W, then Lewis’s Lemma reads;
    LL1. For every W in which God exists, it is true at W that God could have weakly actualized W only if it is true at W that G(T(W)) → W.
    LL2. For every W in which God exists, it is true at @ (the actual world) that God could have weakly actualized W only if it is true at @ that G(T(W)) → W.
    The definition of “weakly actualize” only yields LL1. But the argument that if there no CCFs then God cannot weakly actualize a world containing free agents requires LL2.
    But this is getting far off-topic, and I think I may want to make a separate post on it.

    January 7, 2010 — 16:00
  • Mike Almeida

    Alex, LL says this (as AP puts it),
    LL. For every world W in which God exists, God could have weakly actualized W only if G(T(W))-> W.
    You note,
    The issue is that it is not clear whether “God could have weakly actualized W” and “G(T(W)) → W” are to be evaluated at W or at the actual world.
    They are to be evaluated at every world, including the actual world. Look, of course @ is a world, so LL holds at @. Stated explicitly for @, it says this,
    LL3. It is true at @ that, for every world W in which God exists, God could have weakly actualized W only if G(T(W))-> W.
    That is, it is actually true that God “could have” weakly actualized another world W, but didn’t, only if….
    Stated generally for all worlds,
    LL4. It is true at every world W* that, for every world W in which God exists, God could have weakly actualized W only if G(T(W))-> W.
    That is, it is true at each world W* that God “could have” weakly actualized another world, but didn’t, only if….
    I can’t see what the problem is supposed to be. There is nothing very new in what AP is saying here.

    January 7, 2010 — 16:35
  • The problem with LL3 is that it is not clear how it follows from the definition of “weakly actualize”. Only LL1 follows obviously from the definition of “weakly actualize”. Maybe LL3 follows in a non-obvious way, but Plantinga fails to show it (his argument appears invalid).
    The definition of “weakly actualize” is: “God weakly actualizes S iff there is an S* such that God strongly actualizes S* and S* → S”. I take it that this means: “For all W, it is the case at W that God weakly actualizes S iff it is the case at W that there is an S* such that God strongly actualizes S* and S* → S.”
    Notice that the definition of “it is the case at W that God weakly actualizes S” makes no reference to conditionals holding at worlds other the world where God weakly actualizes S. But LL3 makes reference to such condiitonals.

    January 7, 2010 — 17:42
  • Mike Almeida

    Notice that the definition of “it is the case at W that God weakly actualizes S” makes no reference to conditionals holding at worlds other the world where God weakly actualizes S. But LL3 makes reference to such condiitonals.
    No, it doesn’t, not at all. Where are you getting that from? LL3 make reference to just the CCF’s that obtain at the world W at which God weakly actualizes S. LL3 says this,
    LL3. It is true at @ that, for every world W in which God exists, God could have weakly actualized W only if G(T(W))-> W.
    This says that, given the CFF’s that actually obtain (i.e., that obtain at @), it is true that God could have weakly actualized the world W only if, were God to strongly actualize T of world W (i.e., some possible non-actual world, W) he would have actualized W. This is how we determine whether it is true at our world that God could have weakly actualized some world other than ours. If he could not have done so, given the actual CCF’s, then it is false that God could have actualized just any world he wished.

    January 7, 2010 — 19:31