If you are interested in attending, please email Jon Kvanvig. We have some flexibility for accommodating guests, but it is fairly limited, so the sooner you email me, the better the chance that we’ll be able to include you.
The 2014 Brackenridge conference at the University of Texas at San Antonio will be on Fideism, Faith, and Rationality. The keynote speaker is John Bishop (Auckland). The conference will be held February 20-22, 2014. All are welcome to attend.
Thursday, February 20 H.E.B. University Center 2.202, Travis Room
3:00 – 4:10 pm Daniel Bonevac (UT-Austin)
4:25 – 5:40 pm Keynote address from John Bishop (Auckland)
Friday, February 21 University Center 2.01.28, Denman Ballroom
9:30 – 10:40 am Howard Wettstein (UC-Riverside)
10:55 – 12:05 am Michael Pace (Chapman)
2:00 – 3:10 pm Jonathan Kvanvig (Baylor)
3:25 – 4:40 pm Paddy McShane (Georgetown)
Saturday, February 22 University Center 2.01.28, Denman Ballroom
10:00 – 11:10 am Blake Roeber (Notre Dame)
11:25 – 12:35 pm Jeff Jordan (Delaware)
Suppose one has a strong divine command metaethics (SDCM) that conceptually analyzes “x is obligated to A” as “God commands x to A“. Then one faces the problem of distinguishing commands from other speech acts. It seems very plausible that a part of the story about what commands are is going to involve an intention to generate an obligation or an intention to engage in a speech act of a sort defined by a certain kind of generation of obligation. In any case, it seems very plausible that the concept of obligation is going to figure in the story of what a command is. And hence it is circular to conceptually analyze obligation in terms of commands.
The above summarizes the argument, but we should make two friendly amendments to SDCM. The first is that SDCM can be more modestly taken as only conceptually analyzing moral obligation.
The second is that commands always need to be understood in terms of a role or social relationship. Unless all obligations are moral obligations (which I am inclined to think, but which almost nobody else thinks), it should be possible for God to issue commands in a role that does not generate moral obligation. For instance, imagine Jesus and other kids playing Simon Says. Jesus says: “Simon says, run a mile.” A kid who doesn’t do it and is willing to accept, fair and square, a loss in the game is not automatically sinning through disobedience to God. For Jesus did not command as creator and master of the universe, but only as a Simon in Simon Says. And the same could happen without an Incarnation. There is nothing to bar God engaging in some game with humans. (Maybe one can argue that even in Simon Says, one has a prima facie moral obligation to obey the Simon. That would be controversial, but would force a modification to some of my arguments.) Of course, normally when God issues something that sounds like a command, we reasonably assume that it is a divine command, just as normally when one’s superior officer issues something that sounds like a command, we reasonably assume that it is a military command. But in both cases, these presumptions can be defeated by context or explicit qualification.
So it is not a necessary truth that x is morally obligated to A if and only if God commands x to A. Let C be that role which creatures have in regard to their creator that paradigmatic universal divine commands like “Thou shalt not kill” are issued in respect of. For instance, C might be the role of owing gratitude to God for everything (cf. Evans, but Evans does not accept SDCM as he isn’t analyzing moral obligation) or of being created by a loving God (cf. Adams, but Evans tells me that Adams also isn’t analyzing moral obligation), or C might be the role of being in the image of God, or the like. And then say that a C-command to x is a command issued by God to x in virtue of x‘s filling C.
So our SDCM now says that “x is morally obligated to A” is to be analyzed as “God C-commands x to A.”
But now, what is a C-command? It is very plausible that a defining part of being a C-command is an intention to generate a C-obligation, or at least being the sort of speech act that is intended to generate a C-obligation. In other words, the notion of a C-command depends on that of a C-obligation.
New Book Series: Palgrave Frontiers in Philosophy of Religion
Yujin Nagasawa (University of Birmingham, UK)
Erik Wielenberg (DePauw University, USA)
Editorial Board Members:
Michael Almeida (University of Texas at San Antonio, USA)
Lynne Rudder Baker (University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA)
Jonathan Kvanvig (Baylor University, USA)
Robin Le Poidevin (University of Leeds, UK)
Brian Leftow (University of Oxford, UK)
Graham Oppy (Monash University, Australia)
Michael C. Rea (University of Notre Dame, USA)
Edward Wierenga (University of Rochester, USA)
Palgrave Frontiers in Philosophy of Religion is a long overdue series which will provide a unique platform for the advancement of research in this area. Each book in the series aims to progress a debate in the philosophy of religion by (i) offering a novel argument to establish a strikingly original thesis, or (ii) approaching an ongoing dispute from a radically new point of view. Each title in the series contributes to this aim by utilising recent developments in empirical sciences or cutting-edge research in foundational areas of philosophy (such as metaphysics, epistemology and ethics). The series does not publish books offering merely extensions of or subtle improvements on existing arguments. Please contact Series Editors (firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com) to discuss possible book projects for the series.
Trent Dougherty, The Problem of Animal Pain: A Theodicy for All Creatures Great and Small
Yujin Nagasawa (ed.), Scientific Approaches to Philosophy of Religion
…and many more