Archive for ‘Philosophy’

May 20th, 2015

New EPS 2015 Conference Paper on the Moral Argument

by Max Andrews

column_leftDave Beck and I have had another paper accepted for this year’s Evangelical Philosophical Society’s annual conference. This year the conference is in Atlanta so I may try to attend it this year but if I’m unable to (contingent on funds and teaching schedule) Dave will be presenting the paper on behalf of both of us.

Date: November 18 at 9:20am

All of my [and our] previous papers have been concerning, primarily, the philosophy of science with the philosophy of religion in tow. Ethics is a new area of professional research for me but the paper will focus on both the ethics/metaethics of the argument and the logic and rationale.

Here’s the abstract to our paper “The Internal Logic of the Moral Argument”:

All of the theistic arguments have the following logical pattern: (1) identify a particular in need of explanation. (2) Eliminate all natural explanations. (3) Conclude to a non-natural alternative. The uniqueness of the Moral Argument, as an attempt to explain moral obligation, is that the non-natural alternative only emerges in the course of the argument and in two phases: (a) A best explanation phase in which neither natural/causal nor the human/free model works. (b) This, in turn, sets up the following dilemma: a fitting explanation must be personal (not causal) but it cannot be other persons because all persons are free and equal in relation to moral obligation. This forces the abduction to the conclusion that there must be a superperson somehow authorized to obligate persons.

The logic of the argument itself forces us to an inference to the best explanation that avoids the aforementioned dilemma: another person, but who is authorized to legislate ethics. In defending our argument we will construct a clear abductive argument, which factors in the set of all explananda. The explanans that we will infer to is a morally capable person and what is of paramount note is that this explanation does not take us fully to the Anselmian God. That is a task for further arguments and sub-arguments.

May 15th, 2015

Tyndale Cambridge: Presenting on Divine Foreknowledge and Human Freedom and Actual Infinites

by Max Andrews

This July, at the Tydale philosophy conference at the University of Cambridge, I’ll be doing a response paper to ”Can Divine timelessness reconcile libertarian human freedom and divine knowledge of future human actions?”. This was a prize winning paper with Tyndale and I will be responding to this year’ plenary speaker, who will be presenting this paper.

Abstract:

An age-old problem for theists is the apparent irreconcilability of God’s omniscience with libertarian human freedom. If God knows what I will do tomorrow, and is infallible, then it appears that I am unable to refrain from acting in accordance with this knowledge. The pervasiveness of this problem is an important reason for many philosophers (from Boethius, Augustine and Aquinas, through to Helm, Leftow and Stump) holding that God is timeless. I will explain how a timeless God is alleged to avoid the sting of the freedom-foreknowledge dilemma, before demonstrating why I believe that this account fails.

April 8th, 2015

Explanation, Teleology, and Efficient Causation in Science

by Max Andrews

Inference to the Best Explanation Revisited (Our Method of Inquiry)

  • When using certain theoretical terms, as in the inference to quarks, the epistemic process cannot restrict explanations to only natural or empirical explanations. If one attempts to strip science of all metaphysical import then material causation is the only sufficient form of scientific explanation. However, this has an unnecessary restriction on science and is incongruent with one’s epistemology (if it is to be robust). The robust epistemology certainly accounts for inferential explanations that are not necessarily required to be material. The epistemic methodology may be identical to a non-scientific context but when this methodology is applied in a scientific context then the explanation is ruled out a priori with no [apparent] justification (hence the removal of efficient and final causation from science). Thus, scientific explanations must not necessarily be material explanations. Remember, by using inferential explanations such as quarks and protons we observer their effects and infer as to what the best antecedent causal explanation may be. It’s an issue over the identity of what antecedent causes could be. (In a normal epistemic process the antecedent may be agency).

March 2nd, 2015

Kuhn on Scientific Paradigms

by Max Andrews

Thomas Kuhn Scientific RevolutionsKuhn on Scientific Revolutions and Paradigm Shifts

  • Scientific revolutions are here taken to be those non-cumulative developmental episodes in which an older paradigm is replaced in whole or in part by an incompatible new one. Paradigms are incommensurable (no common measure—can we really do that and still talk about different models?). (g. planets)
    • “Suddenly the fragments in my head sorted themselves out in a new way, and fell into place together. My jaw dropped, for all at once Aristotle seemed a very good physicist indeed, but of a sort I’d never dreamed possible. Now I can understand why he had said what he’d said, and what his authority had been. Statements that previously seemed egregious mistakes, now seemed at worst near misses within a powerful and generally successful tradition.”[1]
  • When paradigms enter into a debate about paradigm choice, their role is necessarily circular. Each group uses its own paradigm to argue in that paradigm’s defense. (This circularity doesn’t necessarily make the arguments wrong or ineffectual.)
    • There’s no such thing as paradigm independent data. Interpreting the data is paradigm specific. There is no theory-neutral data. No theory-neutral data ≠ objective knowledge. (Kuhn claimed this criticism was the result of a misunderstanding of him.) He claimed that when a scientific revolution occurs, “The world changes.” (He wanted to apply Scientific Revolutions to the contemporary science of his day but was constantly having to modify his philosophy in responding to critics.)
    • Anomalies: The parallax of the angles between stars and the earth every six months. The lack of difference between angles was thought to show a Ptolemaic universe; however, the Copernican view allowed for this by suggesting that the angles were insignificant to their measurements (technological limitation) because the stars were too far away. Anomalies may also simply be ignored or counted as, simply, irrelevant until they build an undercutting consensus.

February 15th, 2015

Oscars 2015 Predictions: Philosophy and Film

by Max Andrews

The following is a guest post by Michael Muniz. Michael and I did our MA’s together. I’ve wanted to get Michael on the site for a long time and we finally got a post. I hope you enjoy it.

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A little bit of who I am: I have a BA in English and Academic Certificate in Film Studies from Florida International University, and an MA in Philosophical Studies from Liberty University. My thesis was on the Philosophy of Film Narratology. I’m currently a high school teacher (my 8th year) and an adjunct professor of philosophy and ethics at various colleges in South Florida. I’ve written chapters for several books in the pop culture and philosophy series including: Psych and Philosophy, Jurassic Park and Philosophy, Adventure Time and Philosophy, BioShock and Philosophy, and Jim Henson and Philosophy. I’ve also spoken at many pop culture and philosophy conferences around the nation including ComicCon and Mythcon. You can follow me on Facebook at Michael Muniz, and on Twitter @zinum777, and I have an author page on amazon.com.

February 5th, 2015

Molinism Book on Sale for a Reduced Price

by Max Andrews

My newest eBook, book 2 in the series of Molinism eBooks, The Spread of Molinism, is now on sale at a reduced price for $5.99 (Normal listed price is $8.99). The sale will only be available for a week and will end on Valentine’s Day!

I’m very grateful to Ken Keathley, author of Salvation and Sovereignty: A Molinist Approach, for his contribution and foreword to the eBook.

US Store Link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00S5K0I8G

UK Store Link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00S5K0I8G

AU Store Link: http://www.amazon.com.au/gp/product/B00S5K0I8G

Philosophy, Theology, and Science of Molinism AmazonThe aim of my first eBook on Molinism, An Introduction to Molinism: Scripture, Reason, and all that God has Ordered, was intended to ease in those who may be unfamiliar with the major talking points and issues concerning Molinism today. Likewise, it was intended to present Molinism accurately, avoiding misrepresentations or straw-men presentations from non-Molinists.

February 3rd, 2015

Discovery Institute’s Summer Seminar 2015

by Max Andrews

Discovery Institute Summer Seminar 2015The Discovery Institute’s next summer seminars are from July 10-18, 2015 in Seattle.  I attended the seminar in 2010.  Once you’re labeled as an ID proponent your academic career is potentially slowed down or halted, unfortunately. Thankfully, I haven’t had any problems even though I’m still agnostic in many areas concerning intelligent design. I’ve gone on to become a Philosophy PhD Candidate at the University of Edinburgh and a I teach two classes in the philosophy of science as a tutor (academic freedom is written into my contract and have had great support from people within the university in regards to my research: fine-tuning and the ontology of many worlds scenarios). I’ve already outed myself as it’s not hard to find it in a quick Google search (I’m a philosopher so it’s not as academically persecuted).

I have no negative comments concerning the DI’s seminar.  In fact, I have more respect for the institute and fellows.  There were two concurrent seminars (natural and social sciences [now the CS Lewis Fellows Program]) that interacted with each other on a regular basis and combined on many occasions.

January 18th, 2015

Top Movies from 2014 for the Cultured Individual

by Max Andrews

I recently did a post on the top ten books for the cultured intellectual, which has inspired me to put forth another list from film and the cinema. It would be almost impossible to survey all of the great works and pin down the top ten must see movies for the eclectic, cultural experience. I’ve considered a few factors:

  1. Writing and Screenplay: The film must be well written and the actors and actresses nail the character they’ve adapted themselves to becoming. The better the flow and editing the better it is but no film has perfect editing.
  2. Moral Considerations: There’s a lot of debate in the Christian sphere about the entertainment industry. Right now, the big talking point is whether Christians (mostly women) should or should not see Fifty Shades of Grey. I honestly don’t know too much about those books other than it seems to be more about some man’s erotic lifestyle and women. I’ll let those who know more debate that issue. I don’t even want to dabble in that debate. But there are other considerations. I think there are several films that are antithetical to the Christian worldview that are entertaining but also depict a story that is rich and robust in its narrative and artistic in the presentation. I don’t think there’s a rule of thumb for all to consider. I think it’s up to the individuals liberty and conviction to watch or not watch.
  3. Diversity: This word is so abused in western society. Ugh… I’m simply referring to delimits that will be imposed. I’ll include some movies that may be action packed, some drama, some comedy, a biopic, or even some other genre. My point is to try to canvas what’s out there concerning genre, messages, reaction by viewers, etc.

January 13th, 2015

New eBook Release: The Philosophy, Theology, and Science of Molinism

by Max Andrews

Philosophy, Theology, and Science of Molinism AmazonMy newest eBook, book 2 in the series of Molinism eBooks, The Spread of Molinism, is now available for Amazon purchase. I’m very grateful to Ken Keathley, author of Salvation and Sovereignty: A Molinist Approach, for his contribution and foreword to the eBook.

US Store Link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00S5K0I8G

UK Store Link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00S5K0I8G

AU Store Link: http://www.amazon.com.au/gp/product/B00S5K0I8G

Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 1.28.12 PMThe aim of my first eBook on Molinism, An Introduction to Molinism: Scripture, Reason, and all that God has Ordered, was intended to ease in those who may be unfamiliar with the major talking points and issues concerning Molinism today. Likewise, it was intended to present Molinism accurately, avoiding misrepresentations or straw-men presentations from non-Molinists. This eBook will be a bit denser and more complicated that the previous book and this will assume that you’ve read An Introduction to Molinism and are, at least, competent in handling and understanding the topic of Molinism.

The aim of this edition in my Molinism eBooks series is to briefly recap some content from the first edition that way you’ll have a greater context for this edition, yet without being overly repetitious. Secondly, I’m going to focus on God and his relationship with creation; that is, understanding, first and foremost, perfect being theology (and deal with the pestering grounding objection—that which never goes away despite its continuous, sound refutation), then natural theology, and theology of nature. This brings us to the next section, which focuses on the theological methodology known as Scientific Theology. Having then established a proper perfect being theology hermeneutic and God’s relationship to nature, I tackle one of the prevailing scientific questions in physics and cosmology/cosmogony: many worlds (also known as the multiverse). Towards our close I discuss a few questions that are often posed to Molinists such as whether or not Molinism actually solves the problem of providence and free will by ultimately making the world deterministic since, after all, he chose which world to create. Lastly, I didn’t want to focus on a Molinist soteriology but I have devoted several pages to discuss John 6 and Romans 9 and the role of God’s “ultimate determination” and compatibilism.

January 5th, 2015

Ten Books for the Cultured Intellectual

by Max Andrews

I recently saw Neil deGrasse-Tyson’s list of eight books for intelligent people to read and, though they aren’t all bad, there are much more profound books. So, naturally, there will be some overlap, though probably for different reasons, as well as a variety of topics as my focus also includes being cultured.

Being a member of academia or modern intelligentsia is great but if you don’t get out of your ivory tower and aren’t knowledgable in culture, pop-culture, history, the arts, music, etc. then you’re taking up a small niche of intelligentsia.

Aside from the diversity I just alluded to, my criteria will also include the impact the works have had on society[ies] and may include overlapping books for a single author–particularly if the books are integral to the ideology or thesis being presented.

Without further ado, let the countdown begin:

Fyodor Dostoevsky The Brothers Karamazov10. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Part philosopher, part theologian, and part literary genius, Dostoevsky depicts the problem of evil and a world without God in a magnificent way. The book is about two brothers in Russia during the Russian depression and war and one brother is an atheist and one is a Christian. The atheist plots to kill their father while the Christian struggles to convince him that there is objective morality. This is where we get Karamazov’s theorem: ☐(~Eg ⊃ ∀ϕ~Wϕ)