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Review of Think Again: How to Reason and Argue

As a leader of a church group in my home, I was recently tasked with identifying reading material that is suitable for an intelligent audience without formal theological or philosophical training. My group consists of some people who work at companies including Apple, Google, Ebay in either the business side or in the engineering side. There are members who have a science background, e.g., having worked in a lab. It is a diverse group. In general, before two or more individuals have a discussion over arguments about some topic, it seems to me a pretty good idea that the individuals should understand something about identifying, evaluating, and constructing arguments. For this reason, I wanted to consider Walter Sinnott-Armstrong's new book, Think Again: How to Reason and Argue.  In the [...]

2018-08-23T16:08:11+00:00 August 23rd, 2018|Comments Off on Review of Think Again: How to Reason and Argue

Inquiring about Tipping Point Evidence

Two colleagues on a team are debating with each other over whether to use a certain type of database in a current project. One team member insists that a certain query can be performed more quickly if data were stored in a NoSQL repository. Another disagrees. After being tired from not being able to convince each other, one member asks the other: "What would it take for you to change your mind?" The other responds, "You would have to show that the average time over 100,000 queries is faster than x amount." A mother and daughter are arguing over whether the husband/father had an affair. The mother is financially dependent on the husband and who has been the victim of her husband's other past affairs. She fears that [...]

2018-06-10T14:15:08+00:00 June 8th, 2018|6 Comments

Calvinism and Analyticity

Rich Davis has responded to a piece written by Guillaume Bignon and myself. I would like to thank him for taking the time to interact substantially with our initial response.  In this piece, I am going begin with a few points of clarification on the arguments that Bignon and I give. The clarifications will be important to understand what moves I am making in the final section, which ends on matters more philosophically substantial. As a result of this discussion, I hope to make it more clear what challenges exist for Davis’ case against Calvinism. It is now impossible for anyone to follow this discussion without having read the pieces linked above. If you have not yet done so, do that first.  But in case you do not, [...]

2018-06-07T21:20:01+00:00 May 9th, 2018|Comments Off on Calvinism and Analyticity

For God so loved the world: A Calvinist Response to Richard Brian Davis

This piece is co-authored by Guillaume Bignon and James A. Gibson. Order is alphabetical.  In "Calvinism's Gospel Tautology," Richard Brian Davis argues that John 3:16 is evidence against the Calvinist doctrine of limited atonement. According to that doctrine, the death and resurrection of Christ is intended for only a subset of humanity, the elect. How, then, is a Calvinist to understand "world" in this passage? Davis considers one possibility suggested by R.C. Sproul.  "The world for whom Christ died cannot mean the entire human family. It must refer to the universality of the elect (people from every tribe and nation) or to the inclusion of Gentiles in addition to the world of the Jews" (Sproul, cited in Davis). Davis argues that it is a fundamental mistake to take the [...]

2018-06-07T21:23:19+00:00 April 7th, 2018|13 Comments

Agency and Bottom-Up Determinative Causation

I am reading through a book on theories of the nature of the mind and I wanted to comment on an argument discussed in a chapter by William Hasker. For one thing, Hasker is a very good philosopher worth reading and reflecting upon. For another, his argument is worth discussing because it is interesting and not obviously wrong. This will provide an occasion, as well, to see how arguments against determinism can often be tied to other metaphysical theses without that being made explicit. And once so explicit, we can see that arguments against naturalistic determinism do not as easily slide over against theologically deterministic views like Calvinism. Nancy Murphy distinguishes between ontological and causal reductionism. The former is a thesis about the the ontology of different levels (physics, chemistry, [...]

2018-06-07T21:30:20+00:00 March 10th, 2018|11 Comments

Eternalist Theological Determinism

In "Theological Determinism and the 'Authoring Sin' Objection," the third article in the book Calvinism and the Problem of Evil, Heath White lays out a model of theological determinism that, he argues, withstands the objection that God is the author of evil. An interesting feature of White's view is that it is theologically deterministic without being necessarily Calvinistic with respect to soteriology. White does not reject Calvin's soteriology in this article and nothing he says, so far as I can tell, commits him to it. The main historical figures lurking in the background, I believe, are Augustine and Aquinas rather than Calvin. Anyway, what this post will do is describe White's theological determinism and how he responds to the charge that God is culpably bound up with evil given determinism. [...]

2018-06-07T21:27:47+00:00 October 26th, 2016|4 Comments

Does Molinism Avoid Making God the Author of Sin? | Welty on Molinism

In "Molinist Gunslingers: God and the Authorship of Sin," Greg Welty argues that if Calvinism has a distinct problem of making God the author of sin, then so does Molinism. Although the expression "author of sin" has different meanings, the sense at play here in the article is primarily about culpability. In this post, I will look at Welty's argument for the claim that Molinists have a similar problem and I will suggest a couple ways a Molinist might respond, which are not considered in the paper. These might or might not work. The Molinist's Concern with Calvinism The concern the Molinist brings against the Calvinist is this: if Calvinism is true, then theological determinism is true; but if theological determinism is true, then God acts as a sufficient cause for the evils [...]

2018-06-07T21:29:00+00:00 September 13th, 2016|5 Comments

Anselm on Freedom and Grace

Here's a copy of a my paper. As I suggest at the end, I think this strategy generalizes to other libertarian accounts, although how the argument goes will likely need to be changed depending on the account of how libertarian freedom works with grace - i.e., how the nitty gritty details or mechanics are spelled out. Anselm actually says enough to give us a detailed account of what happens when God changes an agent rather than saying merely that "God influences" human agents. Anyway, enjoy. Or don't enjoy. A copy is now hosted at the Phil Papers repository: https://philpapers.org/archive/GIBAOF.pdf  

2018-06-07T21:29:47+00:00 September 3rd, 2016|1 Comment

The Divine Glory Defense

In the previous two posts, I looked at Daniel Johnson's explanation of what Calvinism is and an objection to Calvinism, that is the objection that if Calvinism is true then God intentionally causes evil and God cannot do that. This will be my last post on Johnson's article, "Calvinism and the Problem of Evil." Although there is much else in his chapter worth reading and discussing, it is time to wrap things up. In this post, I will discuss the section on the more general problem of evil. I want to focus on the discussion of the divine glory defense. The problem of evil stated The problem starts with a question: why is there evil if there is an all good, all powerful, and all knowing being? This question gets reformulated into [...]

2018-06-07T21:30:41+00:00 August 27th, 2016|1 Comment

Johnson on whether God can intentionally cause evil

My last post examined how Daniel Johnson describes Calvinism. This post concerns the section of Johnson's article, "Calvinism and the Problem of Evil: A Map of the Territory," that addresses whether God can intentionally cause evil.  Although I raised some objections in the previous post, those objections are not infectious for how Johnson addresses this charge against Calvinism. The argument that there is a problem The argument is this (my reconstruction): God intentionally causes others to do morally wrong actions. [Assumption of Calvinism] It is always wrong to intentionally cause others to do morally wrong actions. [Assumption] God intentionally causing others to do morally wrong actions is itself morally wrong. [1,2] It is impossible for God to do morally wrong actions. [Assumption] It is not true that God intentionally [...]

2018-06-07T21:31:02+00:00 August 13th, 2016|Comments Off on Johnson on whether God can intentionally cause evil