It’s pretty well known that philosophy, as a discipline, suffers from a gender imbalance. (That’s actually a significant understatement….) I think everyone, despite their views on how problematic the imbalance is, can agree with that. And for a few years it’s struck me that many of the most male-dominated conferences I’ve been at have been in philosophy of religion. I don’t presently have any data for this (though I hope to soon).
Recently, other sub-disciplines (history of philosophy and epistemology–perhaps there are others?) have started to make lists of women working in that area. Andrew Bailey has set up a publicly editable document to help compose a similar list for women in philosophy of religion. Please help us make it more exhaustive here:
On a related issue, let me plug a session I’m chairing at the Pacific APA (which has what may be my favorite paper title in the history of the APA):
Addressing the Dearth of Women in Philosophy of Religion
Chair: Kevin L. Timpe
Speaker: Christina Van Dyke, “Don’t Get Your Panties in a Bunch: The Dilemma of Drawing Attention to the Absence of Women”
Speaker: Victoria Harrison: “Is Philosophy of Religion Relevant to Women?”
Commentator: Kristen Irwin
If there’s interest, I can start a separate thread here at the blog on why PoR seems to be worse than other sub-fields in this way, what can be done about it, how problematic it is, etc….
The latest batch of notifications coming out of Mele’s Big Questions in Free Will grants includes the winners for the 2011-2012 theology of free will grants. And ll three of the winners are philosophers!
David Hunt, “Freedom and Foreknowledge: Divine and Human Agency without Alternative Possibilities.”
Brian Leftow, “Divine Freedom.”
Hugh McCann, “Free Will for Theists: The Theology of Freedom.”
Congratulations, you three!
A number of theologians and philosophers make the claim, implicitly if not explicitly, that having free will is essential to human nature. This is, perhaps, a fairly natural claim, particularly if one thinks that free will is a capacity of the human soul. But the claim got me thinking, as there may be a counterexample.
The first potential counterexample will depend on the details of what one’s view of free will is. Consider, for example, John Fischer’s view according to which free will requires a certain level of ability to recognize and respond to moral reasons. But then what about psycopaths, who are incapable of recognizing and/or being moved by certain sorts of moral reasons, namely those that pertain to the good of other individuals? Even if psycopathy renders individuals who suffer from it not morally responsible, it would seem odd if they weren’t human. Now, perhaps psycopathy at most takes away certain aspects of one’s ability to recognize or be moved by certain moral reasons, but it leaves one’s abilitty to recognize and be moved by other kinds of moral reasons intact. So perhaps what psycopathy does is limit the range of one’s free will, but doesn’t diminish it all together.
The second potential type of counterexample is young children. My daughter is currently only ten months old, and I strongly doubt she has either the volitional or intellectual capabilities for free will, although she likely will once she reaches a certain age. In response to this, perhaps one could say that what is essential to humans is not the actual having of free will, but the capacity to have free will.
But finally, consider those humans who have genetic disorders that strongly impair their intellectual and/or volitional capacities. Such individuals may not reach the level of these capacities needed for free will even once fully grown. Nor, given their genetic disorders, does it look like even have the capacity for free will in the way suggested regarding young children.
So it looks like the claim the free will is essential to human nature is false.
Traditionally, Christian theology has held that something imporant changes at the moment of death. (Other monotheistic religions may also make similar claims, I just don’t know. And I should also note that I’m bracketing certain forms of Calvinism according to which ‘once saved always saved’, as the phrase goes.) Prior to death, it is possible for a person who is not justified to chose to accept God’s grace and be justified. Similarly, it is possible for a person who is justified at a certain point to sin away that justification.
But traditionally, it’s been held that after death, this kind of change isn’t possible. Those who are in hell are unable, in some sense, to choose for God; those in heaven are unable to choose against God. I know that there are many contemporary philosophers of religion and theologians who deny this claim, or reject that this claim is traditionally held. But I’m interested in what kinds of philosophical arguments are (or could be) given for the truth of this claim. What is it about death that changes whether or not one is able to turn towards or away from God? Candidates or references to help alleviate my ignorance would be greatly appreciated.
That said, if you want to argue against this claim, you’re welcome to do that as well in the comments.
This final chapter of Moser’s The Elusive God serves as both a summary and a guide for applying the ideas developed earlier in the book. As with the volume as a whole, Moser emphasizes the volitional role we play in coming to have evidence of God’s perfectly loving and noncoercive redemptive purposes.
Much of what Moser says is, I think, something that most Christians would agree with quite easily: the importance of finding and knowing God, the ways in which life is a gift, how eternal life is received rather than earned, the impact of death, that our only hope to escape death requires something outside of ourselves, the difference btween self-interestedness and the vice of selfishness, etc…. And there is much that I like here (such as his discussion of faith as a disposition to trust God). But, in what is (perhaps unfortunately) standard philosophical fashion, I’ll focus on what’s unclear or potentially problematic.
A central theme here is that the “truth indicators that constitute evidence need not be arguments” (244); furthermore, it seems that Moser thinks of these indicators in a non-propositional way altogether, more along the lines of what Eleonore Stump calls ‘second-person experiences’. Surely Moser is right to say that “divine-human interpersonal interaction in direct firsthand knowledge of divine relvation” is central (245). But I think that Moser should grant (perhaps he does grant–it’s not clear to me) that propositional beliefs, and natural theology in particular, can help us decide whether such second-person experiences are veridical or not. If I have an experience of what I think is a direct encounter with God, say of an Abrahamic sort to kill my son Jameson, I’d want to test that experience in light of what I know about the nature of God before deciding to obey it. (This is particularly true if we take seriously, as Moser does, the ways in which sin can distort our thinking. More on this in a bit.) If I should “willingly ‘fall into the abyss of God’s incomprehensibility'” (246), I ought to make sure that it is God’s incomprehensibility that I am falling into–and beliefs will be an essential aspect of making this judgement.
(More below the fold…)
Hopefully some of the rest of you can tell me what, if any, significance these rankings have, but according to this site here, Prosblogian is one of the top philosophy blogs on a number of different metrics. Does anyone have an informed view of this data?
(I’ll also note the Alex’s personal blog scores pretty high as well.)
[HT: Feminist Philosophers]
I just finished writing a review of a wonderful new collection, Analytic Theology: New Essays in the Philosophy of Theology. A draft of the review is here, though the official copy may be shortened due to constraints of the journal.
I think that many of the readers of this blog will be intersted in the book, as its chapters contain a little something for everyone. Rather than reproduce the entire review here, let me just note that, at the very least, you should read Mike Rea’s introduction.
I recently came across the following two quotations:
“The argument from design is the only one still in regular use today” (Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, 103).
“Today, it [the fine-tuning design argument] is widely regarded as offering by far the most persuasive current argument for the existence of God” (Robin Collins, “A Scientific Argument for the Existence of God,” reprinted in Arguing about Religion, 147).
Each time I encounter a claim of this sort, I’m slightly perplexed. Clearly Dawkins’ quotation isn’t true; but I wonder if the rest of you think that Collins is correct regarding the various arguments’ persuasiveness?