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presidential address
1. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 85
Dominic J. Balestra Galileo’s Legacy: Finding an Epistemically Just Relationship In-Between Science and Religion
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The paper explores the question of the relationship between science and religion today in light of its modern origin in the Galileo affair. After first presenting Ian Barbour’s four standard models for the possible relationships between science and religion, it then draws on the work of Richard Blackwell and Ernan McMullin to consider the Augustinian principles at work in Galileo’s understanding of science and religion. In light of this the paper proposes a fifth, hybrid model, “dialogical convergence,” as a more adequate model of the relationship in-between science and religion because it is epistemically just in its coherence with the last fifty years of philosophy of science by which it affords more than the mere tolerance of an independence view which leaves no space for the possibility of a theological understanding of nature.
presentation of the aquinas medal
2. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 85
Eleonore Stump Introduction of the Aquinas Medalist
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aquinas medalist’s address
3. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 85
Jorge J. E. Gracia Does Philosophy Have a Role to Play in Contemporary Society?: The Challenges of Science and Culture
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plenary sessions
4. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 85
John Cottingham Confronting the Cosmos: Scientific Rationality and Human Understanding
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A long tradition maintains that knowledge of God is naturally available to any human being, without the aid of special divine grace or revelation. St Paul declares that those who fail to recognize the divine authorship of the world are “without excuse.” But the universe as scrutinized by an impartial and rational spectator can seem blank or inscrutable, and those who do not see it as the work of a divine creator do not seem guilty of any error of logic or observation. This paper suggests that in order to defend the idea of natural knowledge of God we need a different kind of religious epistemology—one that, rather than trying to make religious knowledge conform to a neutral, secular-style epistemic template, takes account of the special conditions under which God, if he exists, might be expected to manifest himself. The paper concludes by arguing that our responses to value, including our experience of natural beauty and of moral goodness, can be construed as manifestations of the divine. Such ‘intimations of the transcendent,’ do not qualify as scientific evidence on the one hand, nor on the other hand do they presuppose divine intervention or miraculous revelation; nevertheless they are a part of our human experience that, if we are open and attentive, we cannot in integrity ignore.
5. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 85
Michael Ruse Making Room For Faith In An Age Of Science: The Science-Religion Relationship Revisited
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Are science and religion necessarily in conflict? This essay, by stressing the importance of metaphor in scientific understanding, argues that this is not so. There are certain important questions about existence, ethics, sentience and ultimate meaning and purpose that not only does science not answer but that science does not even attempt to answer. One does not necessarily have to turn to religion—one could remain agnostic or skeptical—but nothing in science precludes religion from offering answers. One may criticize the answers of religion, but so long as religion is not attempting surreptitiously to offer scientific answers, the criticisms must be theological or philosophical or of like nature, and cannot simply be purely scientific.
6. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 85
John F. Haught Darwin, Faith, and Critical Intelligence
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Evolutionary biology has considerably altered our understanding of life, and it now promises to enhance our understanding of human existence by providing new insights into the meaning of intelligence, ethical aspiration and religious life. For some scientific thinkers, especially those who espouse a physicalist worldview, Darwin’s science seems so impressive that it now replaces theology by providing the deepest available explanation of all manifestations of life, including human intelligence. By focusing on human intelligence this essay asks whether a theological perspective on the universe can still have an illuminating role to play alongside of biology (and other scientific perspectives) in contemporary attempts to understand human intelligence.
session i: the beginning of the world
7. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 85
Travis Dumsday Why Thomistic Philosophy of Nature Implies (Something Like) Big-Bang Cosmology
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I argue that two components of Thomistic philosophy of nature (specifically, hylomorphism combined with a relational ontology of space) entail a core claim of big-bang cosmology. I then consider some implications of this fact for natural theology.
8. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 85
Robert C. Koons, Logan Paul Gage St. Thomas Aquinas on Intelligent Design
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Recently, the Intelligent Design (ID) movement has challenged the claim of many in the scientific establishment that nature gives no empirical signs of having been deliberately designed. In particular, ID arguments in biology dispute the notion that neo-Darwinian evolution is the only viable scientific explanation of the origin of biological novelty, arguing that there are telltale signs of the activity of intelligence which can be recognized and studied empirically. In recent years, a number of Catholic philosophers, theologians, and scientists have expressed opposition to ID. Some of these critics claim that there is a conflict between the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas and that of the ID movement, and even an affinity between Aquinas’s ideas and theistic Darwinism. We consider six such criticisms and find each wanting.
session ii: sensation and the neural system
9. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 85
Daniel D. De Haan Thomistic Hylomorphism, Self-Determination, Neuroplasticity, and Grace: The Case of Addiction
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This paper presents a Thomistic analysis of addiction that incorporates scientific, philosophical, and theological features of addiction. I will argue first, that a Thomistic hylomorphic anthropology provides a cogent explanation of the causal interactions between human action and neuroplasticity. I will employ Karol Wojtyła’s account of self-determination to further clarify the kind of neuroplasticity involved in addiction. Next, I will elucidate how a Thomistic anthropology can accommodate, without reductionism, both the neurophysiological and psychological elements of addiction, and finally, I will make clear how Thomism can provide an ethics and a theology of grace that can be integrated with these ontological and scientific considerations into a holistic theory of addiction.
10. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 85
Robert E. Wood What Is Seeing?: A Phenomenological Approach to Neuro-Psychology
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With a myriad of others, Francis Crick has sought the nature of the soul in the observable functioning of the nervous system, beginning with seeing. In contrast, this paper explores the nature of the soul through the grounding of the act of seeing in the power of seeing as its “soul” and folds in the kinds of attention we pay through seeing. We begin with the eidetic characteristics of the visual field. We then explore three theoretical positions on where what is seen presents itself: within the brain, on things, or between awareness and things. What makes possible the appearance of things is the self-presence of the seer revealed in the nature of touch which suffuses the functional, self-directive body. Objectifying the eyes by the ophthalmologist abstracts from their essential expressivity and from the speech that can explain that expression. In the situation of encounter, focus upon the empirical features breaks the character of the encounter where we live “outside” ourselves and within the space of common meaning expressed in language. Even in the empirical focus, the ophthalmologist recognizes, through her seeing, deviations from normality of functioning and uses techniques that follow from her having intellectually mastered the field of practice. As a native power, seeing is a universal orientation towards all instances of the colored kind, cutting through the problem of universals by finding them in powers and correlative kinds. Recognition of this is made possible by the functioning of the notion of Being that grounds both intellectual and volitional activities. A concluding section explores several tasks for neuro-psychological research and expands into the grounds of a general cosmology centered upon the free and intelligent commitment of neuro-psychologists.
session iii: lessons from the history of philosophy
11. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 85
Erin Stackle “Fifthly, or Rather First": Why Aristotle takes Public Religious Worship to be Crucial to the Activity of Science
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In his Politics, Aristotle identifies the public worship of the gods as the most important element of the city, but then immediately follows this claim with the claim that justice is the most important element of the city. I first consider the various possible ways of interpreting this claim on the basis of Aristotle’s metaphysical commitments. I then consider what Aristotle actually says about religious worship. The things Aristotle says when elaborating public worship in the city indicate that the importance of this public worship to the city is in establishing the leisure necessary for, and which turns the citizens toward, contemplation. This contemplation, the activity of science, is, as Aristotle elaborates in the Nicomachean Ethics, the most divine activity in which we can engage. Public religious worship, then, is essential to the activity of science in a city.
12. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 85
Karen R. Zwier The Status of Laws of Nature in the Philosophy of Leibniz
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Is it possible to take the enterprise of physics seriously while also holding the belief that the world contains an order beyond the reach of that physics? Is it possible to simultaneously believe in objective laws of nature and in miracles? Is it possible to search for the truths of physics while also acknowledging the limitations of that search as it is carried out by limited human knowers? As a philosopher, as a Christian, and as a participant in the physics of his day, Leibniz had an interesting view that bears on all of these questions. This paper examines the status of laws of nature in Leibniz’s philosophy and how the status of these laws fits into his larger philosophical picture of the limits of human knowledge and the wise and omniscient God who created the actual world.
session iv: comtemporary philosophy and two classical doctrines
13. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 85
Andrew Jaeger Mental Causation as Teleological Causation
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I argue that the Causal Closure Argument (CCA) and the Explanatory Exclusion Argument (EEA) fail to show that mental causes must either be reduced/ identical to physical causes or that mental causes are epiphenomenal. I begin by granting the soundness of CCA and EEA and go on to argue that they only rule out irreducible mental efficient causes/explanations. A proponent of irreducible mental causation can, therefore, grant the soundness of CCA and EEA, provided she holds mental causation/explanation to be teleological. I go on to argue that, in light of these two objections, such an account of mental causation is possible. I conclude by giving a cursory sketch of how such a picture of mental causation as non-reductive teleological causation would work. The upshot being that this general approach to mental causation, as non-reductive and non-epiphenomenal, cannot be undermined by the CCA and EEA.
14. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 85
William Jaworski Hylomorphism: What It Is and What It Isn’t
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“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 has certain advantages over its competitors. But what exactly is it, and what are its implications for an account of what we are? Hylomorphism, I argue, is fundamentally a claim about structure. It says that structure is a basic ontological and explanatory principle. I argue that hylomorphism is compatible with physicalism, and also with substance dualism, and epiphenomenalism. The most interesting kinds of hylomorphism nevertheless reject these views. I describe one such hylomorphic theory. It is an empirically well-warranted theory, I argue, one based on work in biology and biological subdisciplines such as neuroscience.
session v: the logic of science
15. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 85
Christopher M. Brown Some Logical Problems for Scientism
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This paper looks at nine different ways of defining scientism in order to show that potential definitions of the term conform to a general pattern: a definition of scientism either is self-defeating or else cannot really count as a construal of scientism in the first place. Advocates for the experimental sciences would therefore be better off accepting a middle position—one might say a broadly Thomistic approach to science—between the extremes of scientism on the one hand and a religious fundamentalism that ignores the important contributions of the experimental sciences on the other. Such a middle position recognizes both the intellectual significance and the inherent limitations of the scientific method employed within the experimental sciences.
16. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 85
Michael P. Krom Modeling the Dialogue between Science, Philosophy, and Religion: Aquinas on the Origins and Development of the Universe
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Thomas Aquinas is an acknowledged model for anyone who wants to understand the dynamics of faith and reason as compatible and collaborative partners in the search for Truth. Further, his extensive reflections over the course of his intellectual development on the theme of Creation make him a fruitful source for understanding the contemporary science and religion dialogue on the origins and development of the universe. What follows is a discussion of Aquinas’s views on Creation with an eye toward contemporary scientific theory. It would be wrong-headed to attempt to “discover” that Aquinas was “the first Evolutionist/Big Bang Theorist” (as Lord Acton found him the “First Whig”), and yet we might be surprised to find how open his philosophical speculations are in this regard. And hopefully the lovers of Truth who wrongly reject Christianity as a result of this love are willing to be surprised by his perennial philosophy.
session vi: replies to two contemporary arguments
17. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 85
Alexander R. Pruss A New Way to Reconcile Creation with Current Biological Science
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I shall argue that, appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, current biological science does not rule out the possibility of miraculous intervention in the evolutionary history of human beings. This shows that it is possible to reconcile evolutionary science with the claim that we are designed by God.
18. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 85
T. Ryan Byerly Intentions, Intentionally Permitting, and the Problem of Evil
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Some of the most persuasive contemporary statements of the problem of evil rely on premises concerning God’s intentionally permitting certain things to occur and premises concerning the moral wrongness of intentionally permitting such things. In this paper, I want to pose a dilemma for the defender of such arguments from evil. Either intentionally permitting p implies intending p or it does not. If it does, then the theist may plausibly resist these arguments from evil by insisting that the key claims in them concerning God’s intentionally permitting things are false. But, if intentionally permitting p does not imply intending p, then the theist may plausibly resist these arguments by contesting the premises in them which make claims concerning the moral wrongness of intentionally permitting certain things. Either way, the theist will have a response to these versions of the problem of evil.
session vii: science: modern and ancient
19. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 85
Paul Symington Thomas Aquinas, Perceptual Resemblance, Categories, and the Reality of Secondary Qualities
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Arguably one of the most fundamental phase shifts that occurred in the intellectual history of Western culture involved the ontological reduction of secondary qualities to primary qualities. To say the least, this reduction worked to undermine the foundations undergirding Aristotelian thought in support of a scientific view of the world based strictly on an examination of the real—primary— qualities of things. In this essay, I identify the so-called “Causal Argument” for a reductive view of secondary qualities and seek to deflect this challenge by deriving some plausible consequences that support a non-reductive view of secondary qualities from an Aristotelian view (via the philosophical commentary of Thomas Aquinas). Specifically, my argument has two facets. First, I show that Aristotle’s view both implies recognition of the extramental existence of secondary qualities and is a prima facia natural view to take regarding the ontology of secondary qualities. Second, I show that the Causal Argument, which is thought to undermine a natural view of secondary qualities as real things, loses its bite when one examines perception in light the ontological relationship among the categories of quality, quantity and substance.
20. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 85
Michael Hector Storck Cogs, Dogs, and Robot Frogs: Aquinas’s Presence by Power and the Unity of Living Things
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In this paper, I investigate the nature of complex bodies, especially living things. I argue that a living thing’s complexity is fundamentally different from that of a machine, so that living things are substances, while machines are not. I further argue that the best way to understand the unity and complexity of a living thing is to follow Aquinas in holding that the elements and other parts are present in wholes by their powers, rather than as substances. I show that presence by power is not refuted by the discoveries of modern physics, and that it can help us understand the relations between parts and wholes in a more universal way which includes both living and non-living things.