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articles
1. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Samuel Kahn Reconsidering the Donohue-Levitt Hypothesis
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According to the Donohue-Levitt hypothesis, the legalization of abortion in the United States in the 1970s explains some of the decrease in crime in the 1990s. In this paper, I challenge this hypothesis. First, I argue against the intermediate mechanisms whereby abortion in the 1970s is supposed to cause a decrease in crime in the 1990s. Second, I argue against the correlations that support this causal relationship.
2. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Angela M. Knobel Insight, Experience, and the Notion of “Infused” Virtue
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Some contemporary virtue theorists argue that one cannot come to possess a virtue “all at once.” Linda Zagzebski, in particular, has argued that it would be logically impossible for virtue to arise in this way. This thesis, if true, poses considerable problems for the traditional Christian notion of infused virtue. This paper examines the claim that it is logically impossible for an agent to receive virtue “all at once.” While this claim stems from important insights about the nature of virtue, I argue that it does not in fact establish that infused virtue is a logical impossibility. Rather, it points to some features of virtue that a defender of the notion of infused virtue would have to accommodate.
3. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Victor M. Salas Bonaventure on the Vanity of Being: Towards a Metaphysic of Ecclesiastes
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This article explores Bonaventure’s metaphysical account of creation, which holds that at the heart of every creature is a sort of metaphysical vanity. That vanity stems from the exigencies of a creation metaphysics in which the creator-God draws every creature out of nothingness into being. But, while God’s creative act sustains the creature in being, the nothingness from which God preserves creation, on Bonaventure’s view, always remains a feature of creation’s metaphysical constitution. In short, for the Seraphic Doctor, because nothingness always resides in creation, creation itself is fundamentally vain. Since vanity is a central theme in the book of Ecclesiastes, concerning which Bonaventure has left us a commentary, I argue that the metaphysical vision he employs to illuminate the nature of vanity as it pertains to creation—both within his biblical commentary and beyond—can be properly described as a “metaphysic of Ecclesiastes.”
4. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Joseph Stenberg Aquinas on the Relationship between the Vision and Delight in Perfect Happiness
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One vexed philosophical question that once enjoyed great esteem is this: in the Beatific Vision that the saints enjoy in heaven, does happiness (beatitudo) consist in the vision of God, in delight in God, or in a combination of the vision and the delight? The answer that one gives to this question apparently commits one to a view about what happiness is ultimately about. It has long been thought that Aquinas holds that happiness consists in the vision of God alone. In this essay, I argue that, on this important issue, Aquinas actually maintains that happiness consists both in the vision of God and delight in God, but that—unlike some of his contemporaries—Aquinas unequivocally affirms that the vision is more important in happiness than the delight. After arguing for this interpretation, I consider the quite compelling account of perfect and imperfect happiness that seems to follow from it.
5. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
R. J. Matava Francisco Suárez on the Ontological Status of Divine Action: Implications for the Freewill Debate
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It has recently been argued that God’s causation of human free choices is best understood in light of Aquinas’s teaching on creation. Such a position is attractive because it provides a way of avoiding the compatibilism of classical interpretations of Aquinas. However, this position may be subject to other flaws. In fact, Francisco Suárez explicitly rejects the view that God’s creative causality can be understood either as the divine essence or as a predicamental relation of the created effect to God. The purpose of this essay is to investigate, first, whether Suárez’s view of efficient causality rules out conceptualizing God’s motion of the will in terms of creation, and second, whether it provides a more plausible alternative. I argue on both points that it does not, and that an error common to both Suárez and his sixteenth-century opponents is one reason to conceptualize divine motion as a kind of creation.
6. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
William Hasker Is Divine Simplicity a Mistake?
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This paper presents a broad-ranging critique of the traditional strong doctrine of divine simplicity which is attributed to Augustine and Aquinas. After showing two important arguments in favor of the doctrine to be unsuccessful, it argues that the doctrine itself, in this strong version, is problematic in three main ways. First, the doctrine involves extensive category mistakes. Second, it is difficult to reconcile with truths about God that are (nearly) universally acknowledged, such as that God knows contingent truths and performs actions which he is not necessitated by his nature to perform. Finally, it is difficult to reconcile with personal attributes of God which are important both for the Bible and for religious practice, such as the claims that God is responsive to human beings and that he loves them. This article contends that while there is a sense in which it is true that God is simple, the traditional strong doctrine of divine simplicity, attributed to Augustine and Aquinas, is a mistake from which theology needs to be liberated.
7. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Thomas Joseph White, OP Nicene Orthodoxy and Trinitarian Simplicity
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Classical Trinitarian dogma affirms that God is simple—a teaching also advanced by major proponents of classical monotheism. Nevertheless, as each one knows, this notion is controversial in modern analytic philosophy, where it is commonly contested. It is also largely ignored in contemporary continental dogmatic theology. Nevertheless, the teaching that God is simple is requisite for any authentic interpretation of the Trinitarian dogma of Nicaea. It is also eminently defensible from a rational, philosophical point of view. In what follows I will begin with (I) a theological consideration of the notion of Trinitarian simplicity before considering (II) the metaphysics of the simplicity of the divine essence. (III) I will then consider briefly two special problems that are associated with the metaphysics of divine simplicity: divine knowledge and divine freedom. (IV) Finally, I will consider briefly the significant Christological consequences of the acceptance (or non-acceptance) of the traditional affirmation of divine simplicity.
book reviews
8. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Steven J. Jensen Our Search With Socrates for Moral Truth (Gary Michael Atkinson)
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9. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Scott Crider Passions and Persuasion in Aristotle’s Rhetoric (Jamie Dow)
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10. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Raymond Hain Knowing the Natural Law: From Precepts and Inclinations to Deriving Oughts (Steven J. Jensen)
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11. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Travis Dumsday Kant on Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason (Lawrence R. Pasternack)
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12. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Kevin Timpe Freedom and Self-Creation: Anselmian Libertarianism (Katherin A. Rogers)
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13. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Alice Ramos Aquinas on Beauty (Christopher Scott Sevier)
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14. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Contents of Volume 90 (2016)
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articles
15. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 90 > Issue: 3
Travis Dumsday The Problem of Divine Hiddenness: Is the Devil in the Details?
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The problem of divine hiddenness is, along with the problem of evil, one of the two principal arguments for atheism in the current literature. Very roughly: If God really existed, then He would make His reality rationally indubitable to everyone (or at least everyone willing to engage Him in relationship). Since that hasn’t happened, God does not exist. Among the many replies made to this argument, a basic distinction might be drawn between (1) those made from within generic theism (theism prescinding from any specific religion), and (2) those made from within a definite faith tradition and employing the distinctive doctrinal resources of that tradition. That same division is apparent in the literature on the problem of evil, and among faith-specific work on that problem, one idea occasionally entertained (especially in the context of natural evil) is that the reality of evil spiritual beings may play a role in a defence or theodicy. Heretofore no one has imported that idea into the debate over hiddenness. In this paper I try out several versions of this strategy, eventually arguing that for those branches of Christianity with a doctrinal commitment to the reality of fallen angels, novel responses to the hiddenness problem are thereby made available. It is clearly a response unlikely to persuade atheists, but for Christians willing to consider the problem from within a distinctively Christian perspective it may carry some force. It may likewise be of use to those less concerned about countering atheism and more concerned with simply answering the longstanding theological question of why God might properly permit rational doubt in His reality.
16. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 90 > Issue: 3
Michael Rota A Better Version of Pascal’s Wager
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The standard version of Pascal’s Wager suffers from serious problems. In this paper I present a modified version of a Wager-style argument that avoids several of the most serious objections to the standard version, viz., the objections of Duff and Hájek relating to infinite utilities, moral objections concerning the use of pragmatic considerations, and the many-gods objection. I argue that a serious commitment to living a Christian life is rational (and the failure to make such a commitment is irrational) if one is rational in assigning a credence to Christianity of at least one-half. The upshot is that considerations of practical rationality dramatically lower the bar for natural theology.
17. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 90 > Issue: 3
Gaven Kerr, OP Aquinas, Stump, and the Nature of a Simple God
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In order for God to be simple, He must be esse itself, but in some texts Aquinas seems to distinguish between esse and id quod est, so it seems that God cannot be an id quod est. To resolve this tension, Eleonore Stump proposes quantum theology, whereby we are able to attribute contradictory predicates to a thing of which we have no quidditative knowledge; so God then can be seen as esse itself and as an ens. In this paper I criticise this approach and hold that there is a principled philosophical approach that we can take to these matters through a greater clarification of what it means for God to be pure esse. It is seen that this latter approach entails that God is indeed an ens, so that the ens-hood of God is derived from His being pure esse, in which case quantum theology is not needed for a Thomistic resolution of the problem.
18. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 90 > Issue: 3
Antonio Ramos Díaz How Not to Argue against Materialism: On Oderberg’s Storage Problem Argument
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The storage problem is the problem of explaining how concepts could be stored in the mind if the mind is something material. David Oderberg has defended the immateriality of the human intellect on the basis of the storage problem. The general idea of the argument is that concepts possess features that make them categorially incapable of being stored in any material locus. Yet, they are stored in the mind. Hence, the mind is immaterial. In this paper I propose that Oderberg’s argument cannot be accepted. First, I argue that on one reading the argument leads to absurdity and is inconsistent with Oderberg’s Thomism. Secondly, I argue that even on another, weaker reading of the argument, Oderberg has no plausible and adequate grounds for accepting it, and the grounds he does provide in favor of the argument seem in tension with Thomism.
19. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 90 > Issue: 3
Maria Fedoryka “Finis superabundant operis”: Refining an Ancient Cause for Explaining the Conjugal Act
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Dietrich von Hildebrand denominated the generation of new human life as the “superabundant end” of the spousal act not to deny but to refine the scholastic view that the child is the “end of the act,” simply. The act at the source of human generation is not straightforwardly generative; rather, its generativity is metaphysically grounded in it as a concrete act of union between the spouses. There are thus in some sense two finalities structuring the act, with a specific order between them: union and the fruitfulness following superabundantly from it. In this essay I bring to evidence the framework underlying von Hildebrand’s position by examining love as the forma of the spousal act and the significance of sexuality as an embodied act. I will conclude with some thoughts on how the concept of superabundance accommodates certain truths about the spousal act more readily than does the simple notion of finality.
20. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 90 > Issue: 3
Kevin E. O’Reilly, OP The Temporality of Prudence in Thomas Aquinas: Towards a Participatory Construal of Heidegger’s Sorge
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According to Heidegger’s interpretation, while Aristotle’s treatment of practical wisdom cannot be divorced from his account of theoretical wisdom, there has nevertheless been a tendency in Western thought to separate what he terms the theoretical and practical modes of concern and to afford a certain priority to the theoretical mode. This article argues that one thinker in the tradition with which Heidegger engaged, namely Thomas Aquinas, constitutes an exception to this analysis. Thomas’s treatment of prudence (prudentia), rooted in Aristotle’s discussion of phronēsis, furnishes an initial point of contact with Heidegger. Turning to Thomas’s account of the precepts of the natural law, I show that implicit therein is an understanding of care that corresponds to Heidegger’s notion of Sorge, albeit an understanding that is imbued with a strikingly different character—namely, a theistic one. Central to this argument is the claim that Thomas escapes Heidegger’s dismissal of ontotheology thanks to his analogical construal of being.