SCP Eastern Regional Conference

SCP Eastern Regional Conference 2011

Minds, Bodies, and Souls

Fordham University

New York, NY

 

Paper abstracts

Some twelfth-century reflections on mereological changelessness

Andrew Arlig, CUNY Brooklyn College

Friday 1:00p         Room 502

 

The doctrine of Mereological Essentialism states that a whole is necessarily individuated by and depends upon a specific sum of parts. There is a principle entailed by Mereological Essentialism, which Alvin Plantinga once dubbed the Principle of Mereological Changelessness: If P is ever a part of some whole W, then P is a part of W at any time that W exists. Plantinga’s principle entails a number of claims, including this one: If P is a part of W, then if P ceases to be a part of W, W ceases to exist. In other words, Plantinga’s principle implies a conditional claim about partwhole dependence. If a whole were, for instance, to lose a part, the whole would cease to exist. To deny such a claim about dependence, it seems that one must deny Mereological Changelessness. In the Twelfth Century there was much reflection on Mereological Changelessness and the propositions concerning persistence and dependence that are entailed by this principle. In this paper I will examine some of these reflections. I will pay particular attention to a fascinating fragment of a treatise on parts and wholes which takes a hard look at the thesis that a whole existentially depends upon each and every one of its parts.

 

 

The mind-body problem in an infinitely decomposable universe

Yujin Nagasawa, University of Birmingham (UK)

Friday 1:00p         Room 504

 

According to one construal, the mind-body problem is a problem of determining the nature of the deepest level of reality with respect to the mental and the physical. It asks whether everything is ultimately physical, mental, both, or neither. But what if there is no such thing as the deepest level because the universe is infinitely decomposable? In this paper, I argue that such a possibility would be devastating because it would undermine all traditional responses to the mind-body problem, such as physicalism, dualism, idealism and neutral monism. I focus on physicalism and discuss two attempts to rescue it from my argument. I maintain that neither of them succeeds and that their failures might motivate a unique form of monism that is radically different from physicalism as commonly formulated.

 

 

The constitution view of human persons and problems of persistence

Timothy Perrine,

Friday 1:00p         Room 506

 

Lynne Rudder Baker has advocated the Constitution View of human persons. She presents her view as a materialist account of human persons, which retains what is ontologically unique and significant about human persons. Her key claim is that human persons are not identical to their bodies but constituted by them. She holds that when a human organism is arranged in a certain way, a new thing exists—a person. Her view has particular appeal to theists. For it allows the theist to be a materialist about human persons, while allowing human persons to be ontologically significant. However, I will argue that given central claims of theism, specifically Christianity, her view is unable to establish its materialism. For on a materialist view, one would expect human persons to be essentially embodied. But, as I’ll argue, Baker is unable to establish this claim thereby undercutting its appeal to theists. For on her view, the primary kind of a thing—what it is most fundamentally—determines its persistence conditions; further, the primary kind of human person is person. But given that there are some immaterial persons, one of which “became flesh,” I’ll argue that, on her view, the primary kind person cannot entail that human persons are essentially embodied and that, plausibly, bodies cannot be essential to human persons.

 

 

Did Hume know less than he thought? A defense of Alvin Plantinga’s “Ignorance Argument against Hume”

Daniel Crow, University of Wisconsin

Friday 1:00p         Room 508

 

In a chapter entitled “Sin and its Cognitive Consequences” of Warranted Christian Belief, Alvin Plantinga presents a pair of closely related arguments. The second is the updated version of his famous Evolutionary Argument against Naturalism (EAAN). The first is what I will call the “Ignorance Argument against Hume” (IAAH). Within the context of Warranted Christian Belief, both arguments work together to show that whether the atheist is a settled agnostic about her origins (like Hume) or accepts a Neo-Darwinian account of her origins (like most atheists today), she is in a precarious epistemological position such that, if she soundly reasons from her own commitments along the lines Plantinga suggests, she knows nothing. Critical attention has focused on EAAN. By contrast, I will focus on IAAH: first by comparing it with EAAN, then by formalizing it into a seven step argument and defending its most controversial premise by an independent eight step argument.

 

 

Divine hiddenness as divine mercy

Travis Dumsday, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill

Friday 1:00p         Room 510

 

If God exists, why isn’t His existence more obvious – so obvious that most of us would be incapable of rationally doubting it? Why do we have to live by faith rather than by sight? After all, most theists would claim that society would be a good deal better off, and our individual lives more fulfilling, if most of us believed in God – especially if this belief were strong and active, a “live” faith that greatly influenced our everyday activities and ways of thinking. Often referred to as the “problem of divine hiddenness”, this issue has a long history of discussion, going back to the patristic era. And it is not only a topic of in-house debate among theists. Schellenberg, Drange, Keller, and Maitzen have all formulated arguments for atheism on the basis of this general worry. If God is supposed to love us, they argue, and if our ultimate well-being is supposed to require a positive relationship with God, then God would not allow so many of us to be in a state in which God’s existence can be doubted. But many who are willing and able to believe in God’s existence actually disbelieve it. Consequently, God does not exist. Many have replied to this argument, and Schellenberg has been especially diligent in issuing counter-replies. My aim here is to put forward a new solution to the problem of divine hiddenness. To summarize briefly: there is some reason to think that for many of us, our moral conduct would not improve even if God’s existence were not subject to rational doubt. However, immoral conduct in such a state of affairs would be even more immoral, and hence justly subject to greater punishment, than it is in a state of affairs in which God’s existence is subject to doubt. As such, God remains “hidden” in order to limit our moral culpability and thereby limit the extent to which we are subject to just punishment. I’ll refer to it as the “divine mercy reply”.

 

 

Spiritualism and literalism on Aristotle’s view of perception: the need for a via media

Turner Nevitt, Fordham University

Friday 2:00p         Room 502

 

Over the past fifty years debates in the philosophy of mind have generated a growing interest in Aristotle, particularly his account of sense-perception. The consideration of Aristotle has had, roughly, two goals: first to situate him in the contemporary debate, and then to determine what relevance his views may have for solving contemporary problems. But neither of these goals has been achieved with any success, because it has proven extremely difficult to get beyond the preliminary project of determining the right account of Aristotle’s view on his own terms. In this preliminary debate the focus has been on Aristotle’s account of the senses and sense-organs. Two rival sides have formed in this debate: the literalists and the spiritualists. According to literalists, sensation for Aristotle essentially involves the sense-organs literally taking on the sensed quality. According to the spiritualists, sensation for Aristotle is essentially an awareness of the sensed quality and nothing else. When I see red, I become aware of red – period. Each side relies upon a few central texts which, taken in themselves, are very compelling. But accepting the interpretation of either side renders other important aspects of Aristotle’s account unintelligible. I shall examine each interpretation and show that both must ultimately be rejected. I will briefly point to the possibility of finding a middle way between the literalist and spiritualist extremes. Only if such a middle way is found, is there any hope of completing the preliminary project of determining Aristotle’s view, and moving on to the more pressing task of seeing whether it can be put to use tackling current problems in the philosophy of mind.

 

 

The intrinisic nature argument for panpsychism

Godehard Brüntrup, Munich School of Philosophy

Friday 2:00p         Room 504

 

In the world there are concrete particulars that exhibit the kind of substantial unity that allows them to be called substances or “natural individuals,” as opposed to artefacts or mere conglomerates. Persons, animals, and possibly the most fundamental physical simples are all natural individuals. What gives these entities the ontological status of a substantial unity? Arguments from the philosophy of mind and arguments from general metaphysics show that physical properties alone cannot account for substantial unity. The ultimate intrinsic properties of natural individuals resemble phenomenal mental properties rather than any other kind of known properties. Pan(proto-)psychism is thus supported by systematically related arguments from different areas of philosophical inquiry. A certain amount of skepticism regarding the full nature of absolutely intrinsic properties is nevertheless well-advised.

 

 

Persistence and higher-order individuals

Joshua Hershey, Princeton University

Friday 2:00p         Room 506

 

Mark Johnston has provided an account of kinds as “higher order individuals.” The species Panthera tigris, for instance, is a higher-order item exemplified by individual tigers. My project will be to apply Johnston’s insight to the persistence of physical systems. Concrete objects and physical systems in general can be construed as higher-order items whose first-order examples are what I will call arrangements—the way the system is at each instant in time. I will also draw upon Johnston’s view of parts and wholes, claiming that arrangements exemplify an individual in virtue of a principle of persistence analogous to a hylomorphic “principle of unity.” Understanding physical systems in this way yields an account of persistence which I call the pattern view. I claim that the pattern view does better justice to our intuitions and ordinary language than other accounts of persistence, and I demonstrate its fruitfulness by applying it to the infamous fusion and fission problems of personal identity. My view provides a unified and commonsensical account of both the persistence of an object through time and the possibility of an object being multiply exemplified at a single time.

 

 

Eschatological cutoffs

Joe Corabi, St. Joseph’s University

Friday 2:00p         Room 508

 

Recently, there have been a number of responses to Ted Sider’s argument in “Hell and Vagueness,” which challenges the consistency of a popular view of hell with God’s justice. After presenting an interpretation of the original argument, I critically examine the reply to it by Trent Dougherty and Ted Poston. I conclude that we should be suspicious of the success of their overall approach, both because it requires the truth of controversial metaphysical theses and because it does not ultimately address the heart of the worry that Sider’s argument is built on. Ultimately, I present and offer a limited defense of a new response to Sider, built on a picture of consignment to hell based on having committed mortal sins that are unforgiven by God.

 

 

Indeterministic Freedom and Reasons for Action

Leigh Vicens, University of Wisconsin – Madison

Friday 2:00p         Room 510

 

In his essay “Free Will Remains a Mystery,” Peter van Inwagen argues that free will is incompatible with indeterminism “even if our acts or their causal antecedents are products of agent causation”; thus, he concludes, “the concept of agent causation is of no use to the philosopher who wants to maintain that free will and indeterminism are compatible.” In this paper I argue that the thought experiment van Inwagen introduces to motivate a premise in his argument is flawed, in that it relies on a mistaken assumption about the implications of indeterministic agent causation. When this flaw is fixed, however, the premise no longer seems plausible. Thus, I contend, van Inwagen’s argument fails to prove the incompatibility of indeterminism and free will.

 

 

Clarifying Kim’s challenge to emergent properties

J.R. Schrader, Indiana University – South Bend

Friday 3:00p         Room 502

 

One of the most prominent and insightful contributors to the growing literature on emergence has been Jaegwon Kim. The purpose of this paper is to distinguish and analyze two distinct challenges Kim presents to the existence of ontologically emergent properties. The first challenge, which consists of Kim’s Main Argument against emergence, is that emergent properties are not possible. The second challenge, which we can call Kim’s Challenge, can be expressed via a similar yet separate argument for the weaker claim that there are no actual instances of emergent properties. I show here that Kim’s Main Argument fails as at least one premise is false and that the real concern for emergentists comes from Kim’s Challenge.

 

 

Pragmatic encroachment, stakes, and religious knowledge

Aaron Rizzieri, LaGuardia College – CUNY

Friday 3:00p         Room 504

 

It is commonly held that epistemic standards for S’s knowledge that p are affected by practical considerations, such as what is at stake in decisions that are guided by that p. I defend a particular view as to why this is, that is referred to as “pragmatic encroachment.” I then introduce a “new argument against miracles” that uses stakes considerations in order to explore the conditions under which stakes affect the level of epistemic support that is required for knowledge. Finally, I generalize my results to include other religiously significant propositions such as “God exists” and “God does not exist.”

 

 

Making sense of the atonement as penal substitution

Jada Twedt Strabbing, Fordham University

Friday 3:00p         Room 506

 

The atonement is the doctrine that Christ’s person and work liberate us from sin and reconcile us to God so that we can have eternal life in His presence. One common model to explain the atonement is the penal substitution model. On this model, Christ takes the punishment for our sin in our place. Yet, as David Lewis points out, if this is so, Christians seem to be double-minded about penal substitution. They believe that it is permissible for Christ to take the punishment for sin that they deserve, but yet they think that it is wrong to allow a willing mother to take her guilty son’s prison sentence. Although many instances of penal substitution are clearly wrong, I argue that Christians are not in fact double-minded about it: the atonement is a permissible case of penal substitution. This is because penal substitution is permissible when: 1) the offender cannot bear the punishment, 2) a substitute can and is willing, and 3) there is no viable alternative to the offender having to take that punishment but penal substitution. I show that the atonement satisfies these three conditions. First, we cannot bear the punishment for our sins, which is spiritual death. Second, Christ can bear that punishment and is willing to do so. Third, there is no viable alternative to our taking the punishment for our sin except penal substitution. This is because the expressive function of punishment entails that God must punish our sins to the appropriate extent or undermine his moral goodness and authority, but the latter is not a viable alternative.

 

 

Social evil

Ted Poston, University of South Alabama

Friday 3:00p         Room 508

 

Social evil is any pain or suffering brought about by game-theoretic interactions of many individuals. This paper introduces and discusses the problem of social evil. I begin by focusing on social evil brought about by game-theoretic interactions of rational, moral individuals. The problem social evil poses for theism is distinct from problems posed by natural and moral evils. Social evil is not a natural evil because it is brought about by the choices of individuals. But social evil is not a form of moral evil because each individual actor does not misuse his freewill. Traditional defenses for natural and moral evil fall short in addressing the problem of social evil. The final section of this paper discusses social evil and virtue. I argue that social evil can arise even where virtue is lacking. Further, I explore the possibility of an Edwardsian defense of social evil that stresses the high demands of true virtue. The conclusion of this paper is that social evil is problematic and provides a new ground for exploring the conceptual resources of theism.

 

 

The problem of free will for theists and a solution

Josh Rasmussen

Friday 3:00p         Room 510

 

Theists typically think that its good to have the freedom to choose between right and wrong (hence, the free will defense). Yet, they also typically think that the very best being—God—and citizens of the very best place—heaven—lack this kind of freedom. If moral freedom is so good, then why is it absent from the best being and the best place? This question poses a problem for theists, which I call the Problem of Free Will for Theists. I argue, first, that articulations of this problem in the literature havent been satisfactorily answered. I then propose a solution.

 

 

A reply to van Inwagen’s objection to the fine-tuning argument

Michael Rota, University of St. Thomas (MN)

Friday 3:00p         Room 512

 

In his book Metaphysics (3rd edition), Peter van Inwagen raises what he takes to be a decisive objection to the fine-tuning argument. In this paper I argue that van Inwagen’s objection fails. Before doing so, however, I first briefly sketch what I take to be the strongest version of the fine-tuning argument. I then turn to van Inwagen’s objection.

 

 

Theism and non-theoretical physicalism: God and the ontology of phenomenal consciousness

Manuel Cota, Loyola Marymount University

Saturday 9:00a                    Room 502

 

 

Varieties of animalism: Olson and Aquinas

Jason Eberl, Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis

Saturday 9:00a                    Room 504

 

Thomas Aquinas offers a non-reductive physicalist account of human nature—following in the Aristotelian tradition known as “hylomorphism”—in that he holds a physical body to be a natural constituent of a human being, while at the same time holding that a human being is not identical to her body. Aquinas argues that a human being is not identical to an immaterial soul, though he considers an immaterial soul to be an essential component of human nature. Since Aquinas may be construed as a type of physicalist, it is illuminative to compare his account of human nature with a representative reductive physicalist account: Eric Olson’s animalist approach. According to Olson, human beings are fundamentally what biology tells us we are: living organisms with a certain genetic structure. Olson does not allow for the existence of any immaterial component to human nature; a human being is identical to a human animal. Aquinas, on the other hand, considers a human being’s animal nature to be an essential feature of her existence—Olson himself labels hylomorphism “a version of animalism”—but does not agree with the reduction of a human being to her physical body alone.

 

 

Political obligation and legitimacy in Romans 13

Philip Shadd, Queen’s University

Saturday 9:00a                    Room 506

 

Romans 13 poses a formidable challenge to Christians working within the strongly voluntarist tradition of modern, Anglo-American political philosophy. A prominent sentiment within this tradition is that legitimacy depends on the consent of the governed. However this passage from Romans appears to say that political legitimacy depends on divine authorization instead. Romans 13 also poses a challenge to practicing Christians in general, and to non-Christian philosophers working on the issues of political legitimacy and political obligation. For the practicing Christian, the challenge is how to reconcile Romans 13 with cases of justified civil disobedience in Scripture and history. For non-Christian philosophers, the challenge is providing an alternate account. In this paper, I suggest that Christians ought to appropriate two concepts from contemporary analytical political philosophy, clarify their meanings, and then bring them to bear on our understanding of Romans 13. These are the concepts of political legitimacy and political obligation. I hope to show that by doing so we are able to meet the three aforementioned challenges: the challenge for the Christian political philosopher; the challenge for the theorist of political obligation; and the challenge for the practicing Christian. I begin by considering one historical approach to understanding Romans 13, that taken by John Locke. By pointing out shortcomings in Locke’s account, I intend to pave the way for the alternative approach I suggest.

 

 

An Augustinian critique of Kim’s causal pairing problem

David C. Burris, Arizona Western College

Saturday 9:00a                    Room 508

 

Jaegwon Kim argues that substance dualism – specifically Cartesian Interactionism – “provides us with no help at all” in giving an adequate account of mind-body interaction. As Kim sees it, the nail in the coffin for Cartesian Interactionism is its inability to provide a plausible answer to what he calls the “Causal Pairing Problem.” This problem he takes to be an insurmountable objection and his chief criticism of substance dualism. However, I would like to pose the following question: Suppose Kim got it right. Suppose Cartesianism is completely and utterly inept to find an adequate or convincing answer to Kim’s objections – should we conclude that Mind-body Interactionism should be rejected completely? This is the question that I will consider in this paper. I will argue that, even if Cartesianism cannot provide an adequate response to the causal pairing problem, that it does not follow that there are no other plausible dualist alternatives. In fact, I will argue that an Augustinian view of the soul can provide a much better answer to the causal pairing problem than Descartes’, as well as respond to more of Kim’s objections. My procedure in this paper, then, will be threefold. First, I will explain what the causal pairing problem is and provide a summary of Kim’s analysis. Second, I will explain and give a description of Augustine’s view of the soul. And third, using the Augustinian framework, I would like to provide a critical analysis of Kim’s treatment of Interactionist Dualism.

 

 

Attributionism as a solution to the impossibility argument

Stephen Kershnar, SUNY Fredonia

Saturday 9:00a                    Room 510

 

Galen Strawson argues that moral responsibility is impossible. His argument is a search for a responsibility-foundation. It rests on three assumptions. First, if a person is responsible for an act, then he chose that act and is responsible for that choice. Second, if a person is responsible for his choice, then it flowed, at least in part, from his character state and he is responsible for that state. Third, if a person is responsible for his character state, then his choice brought about that state, at least in part, and he is responsible for that choice. Libertarian and soft-determinist philosophers might attack the second and third assumptions, but it is doubtful that their attacks succeed. A third line of attack tries to show that the third assumption rests on the searchlight theory and that it is false. This line of attack runs into difficulties. It severs the connection between responsibility and control and gets the wrong results on agents created with complete psychologies. Hence, it is not clear that this line succeeds.

 

 

Atomistic, organic, and personal: an anthropological ontological taxonomy

Jack Wisemore, Northwest University

Saturday 1:00p                    Room 502

 

Anthropological ontology appears to be at an impasse. For example, after acknowledging the weaknesses in his own position, Olson still commends it to others by stating, “One of my principle contentions is that the alternatives are at least as bad.” This is not a ringing endorsement for the field. Currently two broad traditions seem to dominate the field, each with its own assumptions expressed by the taxonomy from which it operates. The analytic tradition structures the debate in terms of monism and dualism while the continental utilizes substance and relation. Instead of either of these approaches, this paper sketches out an alternative taxonomy of atomistic, organic, and personal ontologies. Atomistic ontologies function on the analogy of building blocks where a substance is a separate, fundamental, indivisible thing that cannot be another thing. Organic ontologies view reality through biological metaphors focusing upon development and wholeness, while personal ontologies employ imagery of mutuality and intersubjectivity to understand existence. In the process of fleshing out this alternative approach, various thinkers are positioned within the atomistic-organic-personal framework and differences and advantages over the monist-dualist and substance-relation schemas emerge. The paper concludes by raising several challenges which the threefold taxonomy needs to address in order to continue to develop.

 

 

Not natural enough: why the contemporary natural law argument against homosexuality fails

Erik Anderson, Furman University

Saturday 1:00p                    Room 504

 

The “new natural lawyers” are a prolific group of philosophers, theologians, and political theorists that includes John Finnis, Robert George, and Germain Grisez, among others. The natural lawyers have devoted themselves to developing and defending a traditional sex ethic according to which all extra-marital sex is immoral and marriage is necessarily a heterosexual institution. Indeed, they maintain that all homosexual sexual activities are immoral per se. Finnis, for example, describes homosexual acts as “intrinsically unreasonable and unnatural … manifestly unworthy of the human being and immoral.” Different natural lawyers have presented what amount to different versions of the same argument against homosexuality in a number of publications, including most recently Patrick Lee and Robert George’s Body-Self Dualism in Contemporary Ethics and Politics. Thus it is appropriate to speak of “the contemporary natural law argument against homosexuality.” In this paper, I give a detailed presentation of the natural lawyers’ argument against homosexuality. I then probe the argument’s weaknesses and explain why it fails.

 

 

Is Composition an Intrinsic Relation?

David Vander Laan, Westmont College

Saturday 1:00p                    Room 506

 

A number of the definitions of ‘intrinsic’ currently on offer seem to imply that composition is an intrinsic relation. If this is so, then a number of important classes of answers to the question Under what conditions do certain objects compose another? must be false. So the way we conceive of intrinsic relations has significant implications for the metaphysics of composition and, indirectly, for the mind/body problem.

 

 

Defending direct source incompatibilism: reply to Campbell

Eric Yang, UC Santa Barbara

Saturday 1:00p                    Room 508

 

Traditional incompatibilists about moral responsibility and determinism affirm the principle of alternative possibilities (PAP), that an agent S is morally responsible for performing an action A only if S could have done otherwise. Some theorists, however, claim that the agent must be the ultimate source or originator of an action in order to be morally responsible for that action. And some of these source incompatibilists argue that the control relevant for moral responsibility is grounded solely in the source condition and not in what the agent could have done. Such source incompatibilists deny PAP while maintaining that determinism precludes moral responsibility since it would undermine the proper source condition relevant for moral responsibility. In a recent article, Joseph Keim Campbell has argued that a particular version of source incompatibilism, viz. direct source incompatibilism (DSI) is incoherent. After laying out Campbell’s argument, I make some preliminary comments regarding actual DSI proponents, and advance an objection to Campbell’s argument that vindicates DSI in the face of Campbell’s charge of incoherence.

 

 

Derivative/nonderivative properties and the too many thinkers problem

Joungbin Lim, University of Virginia

Saturday 1:00p                    Room 510

 

According to a contemporary Lockean view of persons, the person is ‘constituted’ by the animal body in the sense that the person and the body are composed of the same matter without being identical with each other. This view is often called the ‘constitution view.’ One of the serious objections to the constitution view is the ‘too many thinkers problem’ - if the body that constitutes you thinks and you are not it, then there are two thinkers within the region you occupy. Lynne Rudder Baker claims that the animal that constitutes the person thinks but the animal does not think in the way that the person thinks. According to her, the constituting animal thinks only derivatively, in virtue of constituting the person that thinks nonderivatively, and this leads to a solution to the too many thinkers problem. In this paper, I shall offer two objections to Baker’s solution. First, her idea of having properties derivatively faces a dilemma – either the too many thinkers problem remains or Baker should give up the core idea of the constitution view that persons are material beings. Secondly, Baker should accept the idea that the person thinks nonderivatively in virtue of the brain’s function. This idea implies that the animal body thinks nonderivatively and the person thinks derivatively, making the constitution view inconsistent. For these reasons, I conclude that Baker’s solution to the too many thinkers problem fails.

 

 

Does open theism limit God?

Richard Rice, Loma Linda University

Saturday 1:00p                    Room 512

 

Both critics and supporters of open theism resort to “limit” language when describing the open view of God. Open theists hold that God created beings who enjoy genuine, or “radical,” freedom and that God acquires knowledge of their decisions when and as they are actually made, but not before. For its critics, these aspects of open theism impose unacceptable limits on God’s power and knowledge, leaving us with a God who is “lesser,” or “diminished” in significant ways. For its supporters, these characteristics constitute a self-limitation on God’s part: God expresses kenotic love by voluntarily restricting the range of God’s power and knowledge. My contention is that open theists should avoid limit language in describing God. Such language implies that open theism suffers in comparison to classical theism, with its concept of divine determinism and absolute foreknowledge. Far from limiting God’s power, however, the act of creating a world that contains genuinely free beings uniquely expresses it. And God’s progressive experience of the creatures’ decisions and actions enriches the divine life in unique and irreplaceable ways. To describe God’s relation to the creaturely world in terms of limits on divine power and knowledge, therefore, is both unnecessary and misleading.

 

 

Hylomorphism and the problems of mind

William Jaworski, Fordham University

Saturday 2:00p                    Room 502

 

Hylomorphism claims that structure, organization, form, arrangement, order, or configuration is a basic ontological and explanatory principle. Some individuals – living things, for instance – consist of materials that are structured or organized in various ways. You and I are not mere quantities of fundamental physical materials; we are quantities of fundamental physical materials with a certain organization or structure. That structure is responsible for you and I being humans as opposed to dogs or rocks, and it is responsible for you and I having the particular developmental, metabolic, reproductive, perceptive, and cognitive capacities we have. ‘Hylomorphism’ has recently become a buzzword in metaphysics. Kit Fine, Kathryn Koslicki, and Mark Johnston, among others, have argued that hylomorphism provides an account of parthood and material constitution that is superior to its competitors. Its implications for philosophy of mind, by contrast, have gone largely unexplored. I plan to discuss some of them here. I’ll begin by giving a brief description of the general hylomorphic worldview and the view of mental phenomena it supports. That view is similar to some forms of nonreductive physicalism and emergentism. It nevertheless has characteristics that insulate it from some of the problems these other views face. I’ll discuss two of them, the problem of emergence and the problem of mental causation, and show how a hylomorphic approach to mental phenomena avoids them.

 

 

No hierarchy and incommensurable options: two aspects of incommensurability in the new natural law theory

Christopher Tollefsen, University of South Carolina

Saturday 2:00p                    Room 504

 

The New Natural Law theory makes two claims about incommensurability, both of which are criticized, although the two claims are not always distinguished by critics. The first claim concerns the relationship of each basic good to each other basic good: there is no hierarchy amongst the goods as goods (No Hierarchy). Thus, it is not the case that any one good is reducible to any other, either as a means, or as a constitutive part. The second claim concerns the incommensurability of options (Incommensurable

Options). Agents faced with genuine options for action have at least two possibilities, each of which offers something good not offered by the other. This claim is different from the first, which concerns categories of good, not options, and which is limited to inter-good comparisons. By contrast, the incommensurability of options thesis extends to intra-good comparisons: two options, each promising something relative to the good of knowledge might themselves be incommensurable. Thus, it is not the case that decisions between options can be made by a process of comparative weighing. In this essay, I discuss and defend first the No Hierarchy View, and then Incommensurable Options. Both views are plausible, I hold, and both speak to important aspects of moral experience.

 

 

Saintliness and William James’ moral philosophy

Sean Riley, Stony Brook School/Baylor University

Saturday 2:00p                    Room 506

 

William James most clearly develops his early moral philosophy in and essay entitled “The Moral Philosopher and the Moral Life.” There James appears to espouse something like demand-satisfaction utilitarianism. Later, James appears to move away from some of his earlier convictions about moral philosophy, adjusting his earlier ideas in light of his insights into the lives of saints in the Varieties of Religious Experience. According to James, a saint is a person who experiences feelings of friendly continuity with some “Ideal Power” and as a result of willingly surrendering himself or herself to the Ideal Power experiences “a shifting of the emotional center towards loving and harmonious affections.” This shift in emotional center typically issues forth in a flood of asceticism, strength of soul, purity, and charity. In the Varieties, James criticizes the pathological extremes to which some saints take these saintly virtues, but when coupled with a sufficiently broad intellect, James believes the saints are “the best things that history has to show.” My hope is to develop a coherent account of James’s moral philosophy in light of both sources, and to do so specifically by asking what James means when he refers to the goodness of the saints.

 

 

The possibility of divine causation

Gregory Ganssle, Rivendell Institute

Saturday 2:00p                    Room 508

 

 

Divine power simplicity

Brian Trapp, Houston Baptist University

Saturday 2:00p                    Room 510

 

The doctrine of divine simplicity maintains that God is composed of no spatial, material, or temporal parts. The traditional doctrine also maintains that all of God’s great-making attributes – his omniscience, omnipresence, moral perfection, and so on – are rightly understood as being a single divine essence. This view has a long history of ardent defenders and incredulous detractors. In this paper I propose a model of divine simplicity called “divine power simplicity,” which utilizes the concept of strong supervenience to argue that God’s omnipotence is the primary ontological attribute upon which all of his other essential attributes necessarily supervene. If this view is correct, then it shows that at his most basic ontological level God is in fact simple. Since omnipotence is ontologically fundamental in the divine nature, God is composed of no material, spatial, or temporal parts. This view keeps the attraction of divine simplicity – the strong intuition that the most basic level of existence would have to be maximally simple – while avoiding the difficult problems raised by the traditional view.

 

 

Keeping up appearances: a CORNEA defense of modal arguments

Chad McIntosh, Calvin College

Saturday 2:00p    Room 512

 

The debate over the success of many modal arguments has been largely epistemic—under what conditions are we justified in believing a possibility premise? The traditional response to this question has relied on the conceivability-to-possibility principle, which states that we are justified in believing ‘p is possible’ on the basis of our conceiving that p. I argue that the intuitive plausibility of the conceivability-to-possibility principle is drawn from its analogical connection to the Principle of Credulity, which states that we are justified in believing ‘p is actual’ on the basis of our perceiving that p. However, a significant disanalogy in the way each principle accounts for belief-error has forced philosophers to develop highly unintuitive notions of conceivability. I argue that this analogical gap can be remedied by replacing the Principle of Credulity with Stephen Wykstra’s CORNEA principle. In so doing, CORNEA shows itself as the relevant principle that justifies both beliefs about what appears actual as well as what appears possible, thereby removing the need for analogy altogether. Wykstra’s CORNEA principle therefore provides a more intuitively plausible way of defending possibility premises.

 

 

Freedom in heaven and free will defenses

W. Paul Franks, Tyndale University College

Saturday 3:00p                    Room 502

 

In a recent paper Yujin Nagasawa, Graham Oppy, and Nick Trakakis raise an interesting problem for the orthodox conception of Heaven. According to Nagasawa, Oppy, and Trakakis there are two key components to orthodox conceptions of heaven. One is that “Heaven is a place in which there is no evil” and the second is that “Heaven is also a place that overflows with good.” The authors go on to say that, “It is not an accidental matter that Heaven has these characteristics: it is part of the essence of Heaven that it should be a place in which there is no evil; and it is also part of the essence of Heaven that it should be a place that overflows with good.” From these essential features of Heaven the authors generate two arguments that purportedly show that orthodox accounts of heaven are not compatible with free will defenses. A fuller account will be given below, but one of the arguments is designed to show that if heaven is as good of a place as Christian theists maintain, then a perfectly good God would not have bothered with creating humans on earth in the first place. This is what I will refer to as the “Motivational Problem of Heaven.” The second argument is designed to show that because human agents in heaven must have “severely limited freedom of action” one ought to conclude that “morally significant freedom of action cannot be an overwhelmingly weighty good.” This is what I will refer to as the “Libertarian Problem of Heaven.” In this paper I will argue both of the authors’ arguments fail. The first because it relies upon an equivocation and the second because either one of their premises is false or because they do not fully appreciate a particular libertarian conception of freedom.

 

 

Real presence, reference and representation

H.E. Baber, University of San Diego

Saturday 3:00p                    Room 504

 

Presence as ordinarily understood requires spatio-temporal proximity. If however Christ’s presence in the Eucharist is understood as spatio-temporal proximity it would take a miracle to secure multiple location and an additional miracle to cover it up so that the presence of Christ wherever the Eucharist was celebrated made no empirical difference. And, while multiple location is logically possible, such metaphysical miracles—miracles of distinction without difference, which have no empirical import—are problematic. I propose an account of Eucharist according to which Christ is indeed really and objectively present in the religiously required sense, without benefit of metaphysical miracles.

 

 

Matter over mind: William James and Henri Bergson on two paradoxes in modern neuroscience

Jason W. Carter, University of Georgia

Saturday 3:00p                    Room 506

 

The best introduction to what I call James’ neurological paradox can be introduced by a joke. It goes like this: Daniel Dennett and a neuroscientist go into a bar. The neuroscientist pulls out a brain image produced by an fMRI scan, and points to a particular colored section. He says to Dennett, “After reviewing your brain scans, we have successfully found that this is the part of your brain that is responsible for your belief that the mind is nothing more than the coordinated causal activity of billions of neurons.” “How wonderful!” Dennett exclaims. “This confirms my physicalist thesis about the mind in Consciousness Explained.” The neuroscientists frowns. “No, I’m sorry Daniel.” Pointing back to the picture, he says, “This section of your brain has a lesion on it, and is the source of your delusions. We’re going to have to operate.” Correctly understood, this hypothetical scenario is amusing not because it gets the physicalist thesis about mind and brain wrong, but precisely because it gets it right. If one is to

explain away a set of consciously formed rational beliefs by reducing them to a set of unconscious, physical micro-events at the neuronal level, one is faced with a strange paradox – how is it possible that neurons, working by physical and chemical laws, produce the belief that the mind is composed of neurons? Even more problematically, how is it possible to determine if such a neuronally produced belief is true?

 

 

A refutation of skeptical theism

David Kyle Johnson, King’s College

Saturday 3:00p                    Room 508

 

Skeptical theists argue that no seemingly unjustified evil (SUE) could ever lower the probability of God's existence at all. Why? Because there might be undetectable justifying reasons (JuffREs) for allowing any evil that seems unjustified. However, they are unclear regarding whether or not God's existence is relevant to the existence of JuffREs, and whether or not God's existence is relevant to their detectability. But I will argue that, no matter how the skeptical theist answers these questions, it is undeniable that the skeptical theist is wrong. Every SUE lowers the probability of God's existence. To establish this I will consider the four scenarios regarding the relevance of God's existence to the existence and detectability of JuffREs, and show that in each-after we establish our initial probabilities, and then update them given the evidence of SUE-the probability of God's existence will drop.

 

 

Can God create abstract objects? A reply to van Inwagen

Paul Gould, Faculty Commons

Saturday 3:00p                    Room 510

 

Since at least the time of Augustine, God’s relationship to abstract objects has been a source of concern and puzzlement for the traditional theist. If the existence of abstract objects is admitted into one’s ontology, a prima facie problem arises for the traditional theist. The problem is this. Abstract objects, it seems, are best understood as uncreated entities. But, if abstract objects are uncreated, then God is not the creator of everything, a view that appears unacceptable to the traditional theist constrained by Scripture and tradition. In his essay, “God and Other Uncreated Things,” Peter van Inwagen notes this tension and argues that a traditional theist need not worry—there is no actual tension between traditional theism and the existence of abstract objects. His central claim is that the quantifier ‘everything’ in the statement “God is the creator of everything distinct from himself” should be restricted to things that can enter into causal relations and abstract objects cannot. I respond to van Inwagen arguing that he has not justified his central claim. There is no good reason, provided by van Inwagen, to think that abstract objects must be uncreated. And if this is the case, then a fortiori, there is no good reason to think that God cannot create abstract objects.

 

 

A problem for intralevel mental causation

Andrei Buckareff, Marist College

Saturday 3:00p                    Room 512

 

I take it that the following is a desideratum of our theories in the philosophy of mind. A theory in the philosophy of mind should help us better understand ourselves as agents and aid in our theorizing

about the nature of action and agency. In this paper I discuss a strategy adopted by some defenders of nonreductive physicalism in response to the problem of causal exclusion. The strategy, which I refer to as “intralevelism,” relies on treating mental causation as intralevel mental to mental causation, rather than as involving any interlevel mental to physical causation. I raise problems for intralevelist theories of mental causation that stem from actiontheoretic considerations. Specifically, I focus on the failure of intralevelist proposals to account for the problem of basic causal deviance in the etiology of action. To the extent that intralevelism fails to make room for basic causal deviance, the strategy fails to satisfy the aforementioned desideratum, viz., that our theories in the philosophy of mind should be of use in theorizing about action and agency. The upshot is that intralevelism is a less promising strategy for nonreductive physicalists than it appears at first glance.