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Philosophia Christi

Volume 15, Issue 1, 2013
Neuroscience and the Soul: Philosophical Issues

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1. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 15 > Issue: 1
Craig J. Hazen Editor’s Introduction
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2. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 15 > Issue: 1
Chad Meister, Charles Taliaferro Guest Editors’ Introduction
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3. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 15 > Issue: 1
Daniel N. Robinson Neuroscience and the Soul
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The constant threats to scientific progress are complacency and the diminished capacity for self-criticism. There have been great advances in our understanding of the functional anatomy of the nervous system, advances that stand in vivid contrast to our understanding of the moral, aesthetic and political dimensions of human life. The contrast is so great as to encourage the belief that these dimensions are found beyond the ambit of scientific explanation. How pathetic, then, to witness strident and smug attacks on those who have reached this plausible and profound conclusion.
4. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 15 > Issue: 1
William Hasker What Is Naturalism? And Should We Be Naturalists?
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It seems reasonable to seek a definition of naturalism, yet an accurate general definition proves to be elusive. After considering proposals from Quine, Nagel, and Chalmers, I propose that naturalism as understood by the majority of contemporary naturalists is best defined by the conjunction of mind-body supervenience, an understanding of the physical as mechanistic (nonteleological), and the causal closure of the physical domain. I then argue that naturalism so defined is in principle unable to account for the existence of rationality; it follows that naturalism must be rejected.
5. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 15 > Issue: 1
E. J. Lowe Naturalism, Theism, and Objects of Reason
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It is argued that the dispute between philosophical naturalism and theism can, ultimately, only be rationally resolved in favor of theism, owing to certain internal inadequacies of philosophical naturalism that are commonly overlooked by both its friends and its foes. The criticisms of philosophical naturalism focus on certain questions concerning the ontological status of the objects of human reason and probe into the nature of human rationality and the conditions of its possibility. There is an implicit challenge to mainstream philosophical opinion concerning the relationship between human thought and reasoning and the sorts of facts about human brains that can be revealed by empirical neuroscience.
6. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 15 > Issue: 1
Stewart Goetz The Argument from Reason
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This article attempts to clarify an “argument from reason” set forth by C. S. Lewis in his Miracles. While there are various contemporary interpretations of the argument, Lewis intended to expose the “cardinal difficulty of naturalism.” First, this article seeks to clarify both Lewis’s argument and the understanding of naturalism that it presupposes. Second, philosophers of religion—especially, William Hasker and Alvin Plantinga—have significantly contributed to the argument’s contemporary discussion, and so their views are addressed with the intent to show how they differ from Lewis’s contribution. C. S. Lewis’s argument from reason was and is remains to this day philosophically timely and deserving of serious consideration.
7. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 15 > Issue: 1
J. Daryl Charles Blame It on My Criminal Brain: Materialism, Metaphysics, and the Human Moral Instinct
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From a moral-philosophical standpoint, the convergence and strengthening of two interlocking ideological developments since the mapping of the human genome in 2001 would seem significant and thus call for vigilance. One of these stems from advances in biogenetic technology and brain research; the other posits evolutionary biology as the comprehensive explanation and origin of the human moral impulse as well as the universe. Both conceptual frameworks are rooted in the assumptions of metaphysical materialism. Whether human morality can be plausibly ascribed to biology—regardless of its support from neuroscience, genomic technology or evolutionary psychology—and whether physical science per se is adequate to make metaphysical pronouncements will require a reasoned response in the second decade of the twenty-first century. At stake is no less than “civil society” itself and whether human beings in fact can be held responsible for their actions.
8. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 15 > Issue: 1
Angus J. L. Menuge Neuroscience, Rationality, and Free Will: A Critique of John Searle’s Libertarian Naturalism
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John Searle claims that reasoning requires libertarian free will. He hopes this can be reconciled with a naturalistic neuroscience through a sophisticated theory of emergence, which includes indeterminism (the brain’s state is not sufficient to determine its next state), and topdown causation (higher-level features of the brain can act back on its microlevel features). This is allegedly naturalistic because each mental state is causally reducible to a realizing neuronal state. I argue that Searle’s theory fails to overcome four main problems (the location, exclusion, epiphenomenalism, and substantial selves problems) and cannot account for reasoning without implicit appeal to nonnaturalistic entities.
9. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 15 > Issue: 1
Eric LaRock From Biological Naturalism to Emergent Subject Dualism
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I argue (1) that Searle’s causal reductive stance about mental causation is unwarranted on evolutionary, logical, and neuroscientific grounds; and (2) that his theory of weak emergence, called biological naturalism, fails to provide a satisfactory account of objectual unity and subject unity. Finally I propose a stronger variety of emergence called emergent subject dualism (ESD) to fill the gaps in Searle’s account, and support ESD on grounds of recent evidence in neuroscience. Hence I show how it is possible, if not also theoretically preferable, to go from Searle’s biological naturalism to emergent subject dualism.
10. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 15 > Issue: 1
John M. DePoe RoboMary, Blue Banana Tricks, and the Metaphysics of Consciousness: A Critique of Daniel Dennett’s Apology for Physicalism
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Daniel Dennett has argued that consciousness can be satisfactorily accounted for in terms of physical entities and processes. In some of his most recent publications, he has made this case by casting doubts on purely conceptual thought experiments and proposing his own thought experiments to “pump” the intuition that consciousness can be physical. In this paper, I summarize Dennett’s recent defenses of physicalism, followed by a careful critique of his position. The critique presses two flaws in Dennett’s defense of physicalism. First, I rebut his case against the traditional conceptual arguments against physicalism. Second, I present some empirical grounds (empirical scientific findings on blind sight and tactile vision substitute systems) for thinking that a crucial move in the argument against physicalism is well-supported. For someone, like Dennett, who finds conceptual arguments dubious, the empirical findings make it exceptionally difficult to deny the antiphysicalist argument.
11. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 15 > Issue: 1
J. P. Moreland Mental vs. Top-Down Causation: Sic et Non: Why Top-Down Causation Does Not Support Mental Causation
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I criticize the view that top-down causation is a proper model for depicting and justifying belief in mental causation. When properly interpreted, I believe that there are no clear examples of top-down causation, and there is a persuasive case against it. In order to defend these claims, I, first, clarify three preliminary considerations; second, undermine alleged examples of top-down causation; third, present a case for why there is no top-down mental causation; fourth, explain an important option for moving forward in preserving what we all know to be the case—that mental causation is real.
12. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 15 > Issue: 1
Anthony J. Rudd Bodily Subjectivity and the Mind-Body Problem
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In this essay I argue that the traditional mind-body problem, which seems intractable in its own terms, could be helpfully reconfigured by drawing on insights from the Phenomenological tradition concerning the “body-subject” or “lived body.” Rather than attempting to explain how consciousness relates to the body as understood by the natural sciences, the Phenomenologists concentrate on elucidating the first-person sense that we have of our own bodies in ordinary, prescientific existence. After surveying the traditional mind-body problem in section 1, I introduce the Phenomenological account of embodied subjectivity in section 2. In the remainder of the essay I discuss two important issues raised by this account. First, in section 3, I consider how we can relate our everyday sense of ourselves as embodied subjects to the scientific understanding of the human body—what we might call the “body-body problem.” I argue that, in any case, the latter understanding cannot coherently be supposed to undermine or debunk the former. Secondly, in section 4, I consider whether the Phenomenological stress on the bodily nature of subjectivity allows any room for the notion of disembodied existence.
philosophical notes
13. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 15 > Issue: 1
Alvin Plantinga Response to William Lane Craig’s Review of Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism
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I try to clear up a couple of misunderstandings in William Craig’s review (misunderstandings due, perhaps, to expository inadequacy on my part). The first has to do with the difference between what I call “Historical Biblical Criticism” and historical scholarship. I claim there is conflict between the first and Christian belief; I don’t for a moment think there is conflict between historical scholarship and Christian belief. The second has to do with Platonism, theism and causality. I point out that theism has the resources to see abstract objects as like divine thoughts, in which case they are not causally isolated; this offers a reply to Paul Benacerraf’s suggestion that if, as on Platonism, abstract objects are causally isolated from everything, then there is no way in which we could come to know them or anything about them.
book reviews
14. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 15 > Issue: 1
Douglas Groothuis Born Believers: The Science of Children’s Religious Beliefs
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15. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 15 > Issue: 1
Angus J. L. Menuge Naturalism and Our Knowledge of Reality: Testing Religious Truth Claims
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16. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 15 > Issue: 1
David Baggett The Bonobo and the Atheist: In Search of Humanism Among the Primates
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17. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 15 > Issue: 1
Nathan D. Shannon God without Parts: Divine Simplicity and the Metaphysics of God’s Absoluteness
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18. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 15 > Issue: 1
Ross Parker Obstacles to Divine Revelation: God and the Reorientation of Human Reason
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19. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 15 > Issue: 1
Christopher R. Brewer The Face of God: The Gifford Lectures 2010
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20. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 15 > Issue: 1
News and Announcements
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