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1. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 1
Alexander R. Pruss Omnirationality
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God is omnirational: whenever he does anything, he does it for all and only the unexcluded reasons that favor the action, and he always acts for reasons. Thisdoctrine has two unexpected consequences: (a) it gives an account of why it is that unification is a genuine form of scientific explanation, and (b) it answers the question of when the occurrence of E after a petitionary prayer for E is an answer to the prayer.
2. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 1
Peter van Inwagen C. S. Lewis’s Argument Against Naturalism
3. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 1
Nicholas Wolterstorff C. S. Lewis on the Problem of Suffering
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C. S. Lewis’s small book, The Problem of Pain, first published in 1940, is essentially a theodicy, specifically, a version of soul-making theodicy. In this essay I present Lewis’s theodicy and I offer some critical comments. I conclude by asking whether his theodicy remains intact and helpful upon the death of Lewis wife, as he reflects on that in A Grief Observed. I conclude that it does.
4. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 1
Brian Leftow God’s Deontic Perfection
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I offer part of an account of divine moral perfection. I defend the claim that moral perfection is possible, then argue that God has obligations, so that one part of his moral perfection must be perfection in meeting these. I take up objections to divine obligations, then finally offer a definition of divine deontic perfection.
5. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 1
Jonathan L. Kvanvig Theories of Providence and Creation
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Einstein was notoriously confident that God doesn’t play dice with the universe. Perhaps it is a confidence born of a deeper modal presumption: that Godcouldn’t play dice with the universe. If so, such confidence almost certainly disappoints. Even if God doesn’t play dice with the universe, he might. Thus arises the issue here addressed: what implications does this datum have for a proper understanding of divine providence? My interest is in theories that aim to present complete theories of providence, ones that refuse to relegate anything that happens to a domain falling outside the scope of providence. What we can learn about the parts of it that are most promising for a fully satisfying theory of providence, in light of the dice-playing possibility?
6. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 1
Lynne Rudder Baker Updating Anselm Again
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I set out four general facts about things that we can refer to and talk about, whether they exist or not. Then, I set out an argument for the existence of God. Myargument, like Anselm’s original (11th c.) argument, is a reductio ad absurdum: It shows that the assumption that God does not exist leads to a contradiction. Theargument is short and in (almost-)ordinary language. Each line of the argument, other than the reductio premise, is justified by one of the general facts. Finally, I consider some traditional objections to Anselm’s argument, and show how my updated version avoids them.
7. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 1
Paul Draper The Limitations of Pure Skeptical Theism
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Michael Bergmann argues directly from our ignorance about actual and merely possible goods and evils and the broadly logical relations that hold betweenthem to the conclusion that “noseeum” arguments from evil against theism like William L. Rowe’s are unsuccessful. I critically discuss Bergmann’s argument in the first part of this paper. Bergmann also suggests that our ignorance about value and modality undermines the Humean argument from evil against theism that I defended in a 1989 paper. I explain in the second part of this paper why this suggestion is false.
8. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 3
Nicole Hassoun Human Rights and the Minimally Good Life
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All people have human rights and, intuitively, there is a close connection between human rights, needs, and autonomy. The two main theories about the natureand value of human rights often fail to account for this connection. Interest theories, on which rights protect individuals’ important interests, usually fail to capturethe close relationship between human rights and autonomy; autonomy is not constitutive of the interests human rights protect. Will theories, on which human rights protect individuals’ autonomy, cannot explain why the nonautonomous have a human right to meet their needs. This paper argues that it is possible to account for the close connection between human rights, needs, and autonomy if human rights at least protect individuals’ ability to live minimally good lives. It argues that people need whatever will enable them to live such lives and autonomy is partly constitutive of such a life. This argument also has importantimplications for some other key debates in the human rights literature.
9. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 3
Valerie Tiberius Why Be Moral? Can the Psychological Literature on Well-Being Shed any Light?
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In Plato’s dialogue the Republic, Glaucon challenges Socrates to prove that the just (or moral) life is better or more advantageous than the unjust one. Socrates’s answer to the challenge is notoriously unsatisfying. Could new research on well-being in philosophy and psychology allow us to do better? After distinguishing two different approaches to the question “why be moral?” I argue that while new research on well-being does not provide an answer that would satisfy Glaucon, it does shed light on the topic. Empirical research has different implications for our prudential reasons to be moral depending on which philosophical theory of well-being is accepted. Some well-being theories sustain stronger links to morality than others, but any theory of well-being can make use of empirical research to narrow the gap between prudence and morality to some extent.
10. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 3
Daniel M. Haybron The Proper Pursuit of Happiness
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What are the norms governing the pursuit of happiness? Presumably not just anything goes. But are the rules any more interesting than platitudes like “do whatworks, as long as you don’t hurt anyone”? Such questions have become especially salient in light of the development of positive psychology. Yet so far these matters have received relatively little attention, most of it from skeptics who doubt that the pursuit of happiness is an important, or even legitimate, enterprise. This paper examines the normative issues in this realm, arguing that the pursuit of happiness is indeed a legitimate and important endeavor, contra recent criticisms by Aristotelian and other skeptics. Yet it is also subject to strong, nonobvious normative constraints that extend well beyond those typically posited by commonsense and consequentialist thought.
11. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 3
Richard Kraut Human Diversity and the Nature of Well-Being: Reflections on Sumner’s Methodology
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In Welfare, Happiness, and Ethics, L. W. Sumner argues that theories of well-being must not pick out some kinds of human lives as richer in prudential valuethan others. I argue that we should reject this methodological stricture, but should embrace his insight that many kinds of lives are good for people to live. I also reject his claim that a theory of well-being would fail if it took the form of a list of things that are good for us. Nonetheless, I argue, if we construct such a list in a way that caters to the diversity of good human lives, we will be led to the conclusion that they are united by their relationship to the flourishing of our natural capacities. I distinguish between bottom-up and top-down strategies for defending this Aristotelian conception of well-being, and argue in favor of a bottom-up approach.
12. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 3
Erik Angner Is Empirical Research Relevant to Philosophical Conclusions?
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Much recent philosophical literature on happiness and satisfaction is based on the belief that empirical research is relevant to philosophical conclusions. In his2010 book What is This Thing Called Happiness? Fred Feldman begs to differ. He suggests (a) that there is no evidence that empirical research is relevant to long-standing philosophical questions; consequently, (b) that philosophers have little reason to pay attention to the work of psychologists or economists; and (c) that philosophers need not fear embarrassing themselves by being ignorant of important scientific findings that bear directly on their work. Relying on an example invoked by Feldman himself, this paper makes the case that all three theses are false. The argument suggests a picture according to which science and philosophy stand in a symbiotic relationship, with scientists and philosophers engaging in a mutually beneficial exchange of ideas for the advancement of thegeneral knowledge.
13. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 3
Tobias Hoffmann The Pleasure of Life and the Desire for Non-Existence: Some Medieval Theories
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Are there subjective or objective conditions under which human life is not worth living? Or does human life itself contain the conditions that make it worth living?To find answers to these questions, this paper explores Bonaventure, Thomas Aquinas, Richard of Mediavilla, and John Duns Scotus, who discuss whether the damned in hell can, should, and do prefer non-existence over their existence in pain and moral evil. In light of Aristotle’s teaching that there is a certain pleasure inherent to life itself, I shall argue that even a life that is in important respects painful and unpleasant is still worth living.
14. Res Philosophica: Volume > 91 > Issue: 1
Andrew Chignell Can Kantian Laws Be Broken?
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In this paper I explore Kant’s critical discussions of the topic of miracles (including the important but neglected fragment from the 1780s called “On Miracles”) in an effort to answer the question in the title. Along the way I discuss some of the different kinds of “laws” in Kant’s system, and also the argument for his claim that, even if empirical miracles do occur, we will never be in a good position to identify instances of them. I conclude with some tentative remarks about the notorious suggestion that intelligible finite agents, too, might have some sort of influence over the laws of nature. The goal throughout is to show that exploring Kant’s answer to a traditional question in philosophical theology can deepen our understanding of his metaphysics and epistemology of nature generally.
15. Res Philosophica: Volume > 91 > Issue: 1
Dan Kaufman Cartesian Substances, Individual Bodies, and Corruptibility
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According to the Monist Interpretation of Descartes, there is really only one corporeal substance—the entire extended plenum. Evidence for this interpretation seems to be provided by Descartes in the Synopsis of the Meditations, where he claims that all substances are incorruptible. Finite bodies, being corruptible, would then fail to be substances. On the other hand, ‘body, taken in the general sense,’ being incorruptible, would be a corporeal substance. In this paper, I defend a Pluralist Interpretation of Descartes, according to which there are many corporeal substances. In particular, I show that none of the claims in the Synopsis about incorruptibility and substance entail either that finite bodies are not substances, or that the only corporeal substance is the entire plenum.
16. Res Philosophica: Volume > 91 > Issue: 1
Marleen Rozemond Mills Can't Think: Leibniz's Approach to the Mind-Body Problem
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In the Monadology Leibniz has us imagine a thinking machine the size of a mill in order to show that matter can’t think. The argument is often thought to rely on the unity of consciousness and the notion of simplicity. Leibniz himself did not see matters this way. For him the argument relies on the view that the qualities of a substance must be intimately connected to its nature by being modifications, limitations of its nature. Leibniz thinks perception is not a modification of matter because it is active and matter is passive. At the same time, there are traces in Leibniz of a different argument that relies on the notion of internal action, which may involve the notion of simplicity. Critics have sometimes charged that the Mill Argument is an argument from ignorance, but Leibniz was aware of this problem and made clear that he did not make that mistake.
17. Res Philosophica: Volume > 91 > Issue: 1
Desmond Hogan Kant on Foreknowledge of Contingent Truths
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The paper examines Kant’s views on divine foreknowledge of contingent truths, in particular truths concerning free actions of creatures. It first considers the shape this traditional philosophical problem takes in the transcendental idealist context. It then situates Kant’s views relative to three competing theories of foreknowledge discussed by Leibniz. These are Molina’s theory of middle knowledge, the Thomist theory of foreknowledge through divine predeterminations, and Leibniz’s own ‘possible worlds’ theory. The paper concludes that no consistent theory of divine foreknowledge emerges in Kant’s philosophy. His discussions alternate between two inadequate and incompatible models. One is a post-volitional model suggested by his conception of the intuitive intellect’s relation to creation. Extended to creaturely free action, it is incompatible with his commitment to the relative autonomy of free action. The other is a version of Leibniz’s possible worlds solution; it cannot underwrite certain foreknowledge of determinate outcomes in a libertarian setting.
18. Res Philosophica: Volume > 91 > Issue: 1
Rebecca Copenhaver Berkeley on the Laguage of Nature and the Objects of Vision
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Berkeley holds that vision, in isolation, presents only color and light. He also claims that typical perceivers experience distance, figure, magnitude, and situation visually. The question posed in New Theory is how we perceive by sight spatial features that are not, strictly speaking, visible. Berkeley’s answer is “that the proper objects of vision constitute an universal language of the Author of nature.” For typical humans, this language of vision comes naturally. Berkeley identifies two sorts of objects of vision: primary (light and colors) and secondary (distance, figure, magnitude, and situation). Berkeley also appeals to a third class of a different sort: visible figure, magnitude, and situation, constituting the vocabulary of the language of vision. By considering two perceivers who lack this vocabulary we may better understand this third category and the difference between those who must learn the language of vision and those for whom it is a natural endowment.
19. Res Philosophica: Volume > 91 > Issue: 1
Sukjae Lee Toward a New Reading of Leibnizian Appetites: Appetites as Uneasiness
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If we consider their fundamental role in the makeup of simple substances, our understanding of Leibnizian appetites or ‘appetitions’ seems far from satisfactory. To promote a better understanding of Leibniz’s mature view of appetites, I present a new reading of the appetitive nature of simple substances, focusing on key texts where Leibniz stresses how appetites fail to reach what they strive for. Against the “standard reading,” according to which appetites are the direct causes of subsequent perceptual states, I propose an alternative, more complex picture of appetitive activity within simple substances. On my account, what Leibniz typically refers to as ‘appetites’ do not directly cause subsequent states, but are strivings or desires to be in states of less unease or greater happiness, states that the creature might actually fail to enjoy. This reading of appetites, I argue, is consistent with there being an additional, distinct strand of appetitive activity, one that corresponds to the primitive forces of simple substances. In contrast to the first strand of appetitive activity, this second strand is directly causal in that its final causality is operative in the exceptionless occurrence of the series of perceptual states prescribed in the “law of the series.” The resulting picture is one in which simple substances are appetitive through and through, with teleological activity permeating the substance at the levels of both primitive and derivative forces.
20. Res Philosophica: Volume > 91 > Issue: 2
Robert Koons Staunch vs. Faint-hearted Hylomorphism: Toward an Aristotelian Account of Composition
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A staunch hylomorphism involves a commitment to a sparse theory of universals and a sparse theory of composite material objects, as well as to an ontology of fundamental causal powers. Faint-hearted hylomorphism, in contrast, lacks one or more of these elements. On the staunch version of HM, a substantial form is not merely some structural property of a set of elements—it is rather a power conferred on those elements by that structure, a power that is the cause of the generation (by fusion) and persistence of a composite whole through time. Bernard Williams discussed (and rejected) a faint-hearted version of HM in 1986, and faint-hearted HM has been defended more recently by Mark Johnston (2006) and Kathrin Koslicki (2008). I defend the superiority of the staunch version, in spite of its heavier ontological commitments, as a way of accounting for a real distinction between living organisms and heaps of matter, without recourse to dualism or vitalism, and as a way of combining a powers ontology with the possibility of gunk.