What is Real
David Chalmers, David Manley, and Ryan Wasserman, eds. (Oxford U. Press: Apr 25, 2009), 544 pages.
Metaphysics asks questions about existence: for example, do numbers really exist? Metametaphysics asks questions about metaphysics: for example, do its questions have determinate answers? If so, are these answers deep and important, or are they merely a matter of how we use words? What is the proper methodology for their resolution? These questions have received a heightened degree of attention lately with new varieties of ontological deflationism and pluralism challenging the kind of realism that has become orthodoxy in contemporary analytic metaphysics. This volume concerns the status and ambitions of metaphysics as a discipline. It brings together many of the central figures in the debate with their most recent work on the semantics, epistemology, and methodology of metaphysics.
Stewart Goetz and Charles Taliaferro (Eerdmans: May 23, 2008), 132 pages.
Most, if not all, other books on naturalism are written for professional philosophers alone. Stewart Goetz and Charles Taliaferro offer a book that — without losing anything in the way of scholarly standards — is primarily aimed at a college-educated audience interested in learning about this pervasive worldview. Naturalism groups the various terms of this philosophy into two general categories: strict naturalism and broad naturalism. According to the strict version, all that exists can be exhaustively described and explained by the natural sciences. As Goetz and Taliaferro explain it, broad naturalism allows that there may be some things beyond physics and the natural sciences, but insists that there can be no reality beyond nature — i.e., God — and explicitly rules out the possibility of souls. The authors argue that both categories face substantial objections in their failure to allow for consciousness, human free will, and values. They offer sustained replies to the naturalist critique of the soul and the existence of God and engage in critical evaluations of works by scholarly and popular advocates of naturalism — Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins, Thomas Nagel, Jaegwon Kim, and others.
Deane-Peter Baker, ed. (Cambridge University Press: Jul 2007), 248 pages.
Few thinkers have had as much impact on contemporary philosophy as has Alvin Plantinga. The work of this quintessential analytic philosopher has in many respects set the tone for the debate in the fields of modal metaphysics and epistemology and he is arguably the most important philosopher of religion of our time. In this volume, a distinguished team of today's leading philosophers address the central aspects of Plantinga's philosophy - his views on natural theology; his responses to the problem of evil; his contributions to the field of modal metaphysics; the controversial evolutionary argument against naturalism; his model of epistemic warrant and his view of epistemic defeat; and his recent work on mind-body dualism. Also included is an appendix containing Plantinga's often referred to, but previously unpublished, lecture notes entitled 'Two Dozen (or so) Theistic Arguments', with a substantial preface to the appendix written by Plantinga specifically for this volume. ~ Product Description
David Bentley Hart (Eerdmans: Oct 31, 2004), 448 pages.
The Beauty of the Infinite is a splendid extended essay in "theological aesthetics." David Bentley Hart here meditates on the power of a Christian understanding of beauty and sublimity to rise above the violence — both philosophical and literal — characteristic of the postmodern world. The book begins by tracing the shifting use and nature of metaphysics in the thought of Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Lyotard, Derrida, Deleuze, Nancy, Levinas, and others. Hart pays special attention to Nietzsche’s famous narrative of the "will to power" — a narrative largely adopted by the world today — and he offers an engaging revision (though not rejection) of the genealogy of nihilism, thereby highlighting the significant "interruption" that Christian thought introduced into the history of metaphysics. This discussion sets the stage for a retrieval of the classic Christian account of beauty and sublimity, and of the relation of both to the question of being. The main section of the book offers a pointed reading of the Christian story in four moments, or parts: Trinity, creation, salvation, and eschaton. Through a combination of narrative and argument throughout, Hart ends up demonstrating the power of Christian metaphysics not only to withstand the critiques of modern and postmodern thought but also to move well beyond them. Strikingly original and deeply rewarding, The Beauty of the Infinite is both a constructively critical account of the history of metaphysics and a compelling contribution to it.
From "Things and Their Place in Theories"
Our talk of external things, our very notion of things, is just a conceptual apparatus that helps us to foresee and control the triggering of our sensory receptors in the light of previous triggering of our sensory receptors. The triggering, first and last, is all we have to go on. In saying this I too am talking of external things, namely, people and their nerve endings. Thus what I am saying applies in particular to what I am saying, and is not meant as skeptical. There is nothing we can be more confident of than external things — some of them, anyway — other people, sticks, stones. But there remains the fact — a fact of science itself — that science is a conceptual bridge of our own making, linking sensory stimulation to sensory stimulation; there is no extrasensory perception.
Trenton Merricks (Oxford University Press: Dec 11, 2003), 216 pages.
With ontology motivated largely by causal considerations, this lucid and provocative work focuses on the idea that physical objects are causally non-redundant. Merricks "eliminates" inanimate composite macrophysical objects on the grounds that they would — if they existed — be at best completely causally redundant. He defends human existence by arguing, from certain facts about mental causation, that we cause things that are not determined by our proper parts. He also provides insight into a variety of philosophical puzzles, while addressing many significant issues like free will, the "reduction" of a composite object to its parts, and the ways in which identity over time can "for practical purposes" be a matter of convention. Anyone working in metaphysics will enjoy this book immensely. ~ Book Description
William Lane Craig, ed. (Rutgers: Mar 1, 2002), 634 pages.
This important new book is a combined anthology and guide intended for use as a textbook in courses on philosophy of religion. It aims to bring to the student the very best of cutting-edge work on important topics in the field. The anthology is comprised of six sections, each of which opens with a substantive introductory essay followed by a selection of influential writings by philosophers of religion: -Religious Epistemology (by Kevin Meeker, Department of Philosophy, University of South Alabama) deals with the rationality and warrant of theistic belief. -Existence of God (by William Lane Craig, Philosophy Department, Talbot School of Theology) presents the cosmological, teleological, axiological, noological, and ontological arguments for the existence of God. -Coherence of Theism (by William Lane Craig, Philosophy Department, Talbot School of Theology) covers the divine attributes of necessity, eternity, omnipotence, omniscience, and goodness. -Problem of Evil (by Timothy O'Connor, Department of Philosophy, Indiana University) treats both the internal and external challenge posed by evil to theistic belief. -Soul and Immortality (by J. P. Moreland, Department of Philosophy, Biola University) explores the substantiality and immateriality of the soul and the implications for life after death of the body. -Christian Theology (by Michael Murray, Department of Philosophy, Franklin and Marshall College) handles problems posed by the Trinity, incarnation, atonement, damnation, and prayer. Presenting a sympathetic view of the topics it treats, Philosophy of Religion provides an ideal resource for studying the central questions raised by religious belief. Features · A combined anthology of readings and guide to the subject · Focuses on contemporary issues in the philosophy of religion · Emphasis placed on the Christian tradition · High quality introductions to each section provide a survey of each topic · Cutting-edge readings chosen by specialists.
William Lane Craig (Springer: Dec 2000), 300 pages.
The larger project of which this volume forms part is an attempt to craft a coherent doctrine of divine eternity and God's relationship to time. Central to this project is the integration of the concerns of theology with the concept of time in relativity theory. Unfortunately, theologians and philosophers of religion do not in general understand Einstein's theories, whereas physicists and philosophers of science, under the influence of verificationism, have largely focused philosophical reflection on spatiotemporal concepts given by physics. There is thus a paucity of integrative literature dealing with God and relativity theory. The collapse of positivism and the rejuvenation of metaphysics have led to a renewed scrutiny of the metaphysical foundations of relativity theory and the concept(s) time found therein. This volume provides an accessible and philosophically informed examination of the concept of time in relativity, the ultimate aim being the achievement of a tenable theological synthesis. ~ Product Description
William Lane Craig and J.P. Moreland (Routledge: Oct 17, 2000), 296 pages.
Craig and Moreland present a rigorous analysis and critique of the major varieties of contemporary philosophical naturalism and advocate that it should be abandoned in light of the serious difficulties raised against it. The contributors draw on a wide range of topics including: epistemology, philosophy of science, value theory to basic analytic ontology, philosophy of mind and agency, and natural theology. "This book provides a good introduction to work by some contemporary American theistic philosophers of religion. Moreover, it gives clear expression to the recent resurgence in polemical Christian philosophy of religion in American academic philosophy." ~ Australian Journal of Philosophy
Frank Jackson (Oxford University Press: May 11, 2000), 192 pages.
Frank Jackson champions the cause of conceptual analysis as central to philosophical inquiry. In recent years conceptual analysis has been undervalued and widely misunderstood, suggests Jackson. He argues that such analysis is mistakenly clouded in mystery, preventing a whole range of important questions from being productively addressed. He anchors his argument in discussions of specific philosophical issues, starting with the metaphysical doctrine of physicalism and moving on, via free will, meaning, personal identity, motion, and change, to ethics and the philosophy of color. In this way the book not only offers a methodological program for philosophy, but also casts new light on some much-debated problems and their interrelations. ~ Book Description
J.P. Moreland in Philosophy & Theology 10, 2 (1997), 353-383.
While most philosophers agree that libertarian agency and naturalism are incompatible, few attempts have been offered to spell out in some detail just why this is the case. My purpose in this article is to fill this gap in the literature by expanding on and clarifying the connection between naturalism as it is widely understood today and the rejection of libertarian agency. To accomplish this end I begin by clarifying different forms of libertarian agency and identify the key philosophical components that constitute libertarian agency per se. Second, three different aspects of contemporary scientific naturalism are analyzed and the relations among them clarified: the naturalist epistemic attitude, etiology, and ontology. This is followed by a presentation of six arguments for the claim that libertarian agency should be rejected by advocates of scientific naturalism. Finally, I criticize a recent attempt by Randolf Clarke to reconcile libertarian agency and scientific naturalism. ~ Abstract
Philosophical Naturalism (Blackwell: Dec 1993), Introduction.
At one level, the continuity of philosophy and empirical science is uncontentious. Many philosophical problems arise because of apparent tensions or conflicts within the assumptions which empirical evidence recommends to us. The most obvious examples are issues in the philosophy of science, such as problems about the interpretation of quantum mechanics, or the asymmetry of time, or the logic of natural selection. But other less specialist philosophical questions, like the existence of free will, also arise because of difficulties raised by empirical assumptions (in particular, in this case, by assumptions about the extent to which human beings are subject to the same laws of nature as the rest of the world).
J.P. Moreland, American Philosophical Quarterly: Volume 27, Number 4 (October 1990).
What kinds of things are redness, hairiness, and humanness. We take such things for granted. And yet, there is great controversy about the ontological nature of such properties. There are three basic approaches: "Extreme Nominalism (properties do not exist), Nominalism (properties exist and are themselves particulars), and Realism (properties exist and are universals)." Moreland argues for the superior explanatory power of Realism in accounting for these realities. While this argument may seem academic, there is a lot at stake for the Naturalistic world view in at least one respect. If, in fact, non-physical properties exist, then the universe is not comprised solely of matter and energy. The door creaks open for other kinds of non-physical entities like numbers, consciousness, and perhaps even God. ~ Afterall
David Hume on Cause and Effect said...
A Treatise on Human Nature (1739), Part 4, Sect. 7.
This deficiency in our ideas is not, indeed, perceived in common life, nor are we sensible, that in the most usual conjunctions of cause and effect we are as ignorant of the ultimate principle, which binds them together, as in the most unusual and extraordinary. But this proceeds merely from an illusion of the imagination; and the question is, how far we ought to yield to these illusions. This question is very difficult, and reduces us to a very dangerous dilemma, whichever way we answer it. For if we assent to every trivial suggestion of the fancy; beside that these suggestions are often contrary to each other; they lead us into such errors, absurdities, and obscurities, that we must at last become asham'd of our credulity. Nothing is more dangerous to reason than the flights of the imagination, and nothing has been the occasion of more mistakes among philosophers. Men of bright fancies may in this respect be compar'd to those angels, whom the scripture represents as covering their eyes with their wings. This has already appear'd in so many instances, that we may spare ourselves the trouble of enlarging upon it any farther.