Laws of Nature and Ceteris Paribus Clauses
June 30, 2006 — 8:13

Author: Jon Kvanvig  Category: Afterlife Christian Theology Problem of Evil  Comments: 7

I'm interested in whether the *real* laws are free of such clauses. Some defenders of the possibility of miracles hold that all such laws have such clauses, so that God doesn't have to violate laws of nature in order to perform a miracle. Instead, he only needs to override them. I'm going to grant this point, since my question isn't intended to be about the possibility or nature of miracles. I'll say later where it really is, but it would be rhetorically untoward to give away the punchline so early. So what I want to know is whether laws are ceteris paribus-free from within the natural order itself (rather than from outside, as in the case of intervention by God). Fodor holds that all the laws of the special sciences are required to have c.p. clauses in them, because they can be overridden by more fundamental laws. That leaves open the possibility, however, that the fundamental laws of physics can be c.p.-clause-free. And if the c.p. clauses we're thinking of are from within the natural order itself, then perhaps we should expect them to be free of such clauses. My interest here concerns libertarians who talk in terms of the possibility of "losing one's soul," where what this is intended to mean is that an individual can come to a point where it is psychologically impossible for them to choose an option that used to be possible for them. Some talk as if this is an accurate description of what eternal consignment in hell involves. I'm interested in whether the suggestion makes any sense.


Materialism and the Afterlife
June 13, 2006 — 12:28

Author: James Beebe  Category: Afterlife  Comments: 12

Readers and contributors to Prosblogion, I am a new contributor to Prosblogion, even though I have been a regular reader of the blog for some time. I work primarily in epistemology (for now at least). I wanted to ask a question about materialism and the afterlife. Van Inwagen's materialist vision of the afterlife is notorious and seems to be the first thing people generally mention on the topic. But I was wondering if you knew of any other attempts to combine materialism about the mind with our continued personal existence in the afterlife. I thought readers of this blog could tell me where to look, if anyone could. Thanks in advance.

Keith DeRose Universalism Posts
June 12, 2006 — 14:06

Author: Jeremy Pierce  Category: Afterlife Christian Theology Divine Foreknowledge Links Problem of Evil  Comments: 60

Keith DeRose has three posts at Generous Orthodoxy Think Tank on universalism that might interest readers of this blog. "The Problem With Universalism"? deals with a worry some have raised about universalism, i.e. that it asks the wrong question. According to this objection, universalism relies on the assumption that salvation is about getting a lot of souls into heaven after they die. Keith responds that his universalism doesn't rely on that assumption at all. Hoping that Universalism Is/Will Be True examines various positions that might be described as "hoping that universalism is true". It gets into some interesting issues about holding to philosophical positions that you aren't comfortable saying you believe. He thinks we accept philosophical positions in a way that can involve the will, whereas belief is more involuntary. He follows this up with an extended discussion of how this might be affected on a view of future contingents according to which future contingents will be but are not now true. Underground Universalism? looks at the pressures on those whose livelihood depends on their theological convictions who might be pressured not to hold universalism and suggests that universalists recognize this and not push them too much, all the while seeking to alleviate those pressures by moving toward a removal of their causes.

van Inwagen on Possibility
February 18, 2006 — 16:35

Author: Trent Dougherty  Category: Afterlife  Comments: 5

I was reading Peter van Inwagen’s essay “I Look for the Resurrection of the Dead and the Life of the World to Come” since I got stuck in vortex of airline incompetence at O’Hare airport on my way from Rochester to the Pacific SCP in San Diego. My only solace in having to spend 15 hours in an airport instead of hanging out with my friends was that PVI himself was diverted by the same SNAFU.
At any rate, he there discusses his intriguing early essay “The Possibility of the Resurrection” (which, in spite of the title has been misconstrued in its purpose). He says

My goal in “The Possibility of Resurrection,” was to argue for the metaphysical possibility of the Resurrection of the Dead. My method was to tell a story, a story I hoped my readers would grant was a metaphysically possible story.

He had said the same thing in the postscript to the version collected in the volume by the same title. This caught my attention more than the first time I read the essay because in Ed Wierenga’s seminar this week we discussed the logical or quasi-logical relationship between conceivability and possibility in connection with a Humean argument for the impossibility of necessary existents. I recalled PVI’s “modal skepticism” expressed briefly in the introduction to Part One of God Knowledge and Mystery and then later more thoroughly in “Modal Epistemology” in Ontology, Identity, and Modality.
That the stated method could achieve the stated end–that the telling of a story could establish something as possible–suggests an answer to Yablo’s question “Is Conceivability a Guide to Possibility?” that, interestingly, is parallel to PVI’s own answer to the Special Composition Question.
In _Material Beings_ PVI wends his way between the Scylla and Charibdis of the two extreme answers–nihilism and universalism. Likewise, though most philosophers either say that conceivability entails (or in every case prima facie justifies) possibility or that the two bear no logical relation one to another, PVI says that sometimes conceivability supports possibility and sometimes it does not.
I’m worried, though, about the specific criterion he suggests: “ordinary propositions about everyday matters,” for the Resurrection Story seems anything but quotidian. I’ll put the rest beneath the fold.