Continuing discussion.

EPS Blog

This is the blog area for the Evangelical Philosophical Society and its journal, Philosophia Christi.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Recent Articles of Note from Philosophy Compass

"Preempting Principles: Recent Debates in Moral Particularism"
Sean McKeever and Michael Ridge

Moral particularism, as recently defended, charges that traditional moral theorizing unduly privileges moral principles. Moral generalism defends a prominent place for moral principles. Because moral principles are often asked to play multiple roles, moral particularism aims at multiple targets. We distinguish two leading roles for moral principles, the role of standard and the role of guide. We critically survey some of the leading arguments both for and against principles so conceived.

Simon Keller

Welfarism is the view that morality is centrally concerned with the welfare or well-being of individuals. The division between welfarist and non-welfarist approaches underlies many important disagreements in ethics, but welfarism is neither consistently defined nor well understood. I survey the philosophical work on welfarism, and I offer a suggestion about how the view can be characterized and how it can be embedded in various kinds of moral theory. I also identify welfarism's major rivals, and its major attractions and weaknesses.

"Three Strands in Kripke's Argument against the Identity Theory"
Jesper Kallestrup

Kripke's argument against the identity theory in the philosophy of mind runs as follows. Suppose some psychophysical identity statement S is true. Then S would seem to be contingent at least in the sense that S seems possibly false. And given that seeming contingency entails genuine contingency when it comes to such statements S is contingent. But S is necessary if true. So S is false. This entry considers responses to each of the three premises. It turns out that each response does not fully withstand scrutiny, and so Kripke's conclusion is hard to resist. Section 1 lays out Kripke's argument, and Sections 2 to 4 then discuss responses to each of the three premises respectively.

"Can Physicalism Be Non-Reductive?"
Andrew Melnyk

Can physicalism (or materialism) be non-reductive? I provide an opinionated survey of the debate on this question. I suggest that attempts to formulate non-reductive physicalism by appeal to claims of event identity, supervenience, or realization have produced doctrines that fail either to be physicalist or to be non-reductive. Then I treat in more detail a recent attempt to formulate non-reductive physicalism by Derk Pereboom, but argue that it fares no better.

"The Fine-Tuning Argument"
Neil A. Manson

The Fine-Tuning Argument (FTA) is a variant of the Design Argument for the existence of God. In this paper the evidence of fine-tuning is explained and the Fine-Tuning Design Argument for God is presented. Then two objections are covered. The first objection is that fine-tuning can be explained in terms of the existence of multiple universes (the 'multiverse') plus the operation of the anthropic principle. The second objection is the 'normalizability problem'– the objection that the Fine-Tuning Argument fails because fine-tuning is not actually improbable.

* Neil Manson also helped guest edit our "philosophical issues in intelligent design" issue (vol. 7, no. 2).

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Friday, November 21, 2008

2008 EPS Papers (Barry Carey)

Barry L. Carey

Savant Syndrome and the Soul

Abstract: Savant Syndrome is a remarkable condition in which individuals with severe mental disabilities exhibit "islands of genius." The movie Rain Man, which focuses on an autistic savant, has brought about increased awareness of this rare syndrome in which the afflicted show extraordinary skill in music performance, art, calendar calculating, mathematics, or mechanical or spatial skills. Modern neuroscience continues to be unable to explain how such remarkable abilities manifest themselves in the midst of such debilitating handicaps. Substance dualism provides a template through which one might gain insight into the phenomena associated with Savant Syndrome. These are less satisfactorily explained from a monistic physicalist account of human beings. For the substance dualist, an investigation into these phenomena may shed light into the nature of the soul. For those not convinced of the existence of a non-material soul, the increased explanatory power of the substance dualist position in regard to the phenomena of Savant Syndrome may provide greater reason to consider the substance dualist position superior to the monist position. If by positing the existence of the soul, one may gain insight into the complexities of Savant Syndrome, perhaps there is reason to believe there is a little "savant" inside us all.

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2008 EPS Papers (Vander Laan)

David Vander Laan

Bodies, Ecosystems, and Functional Unity

Abstract: The ecosystem concept as it has been used in ecology is broad enough that organisms qualify as small ecosystems. So if human bodies are taken to be organisms, human bodies are ecosystems. This way of thinking about bodies is especially useful given a variety of well-known puzzles about the constitution and persistence of material objects. A number of these provide reason to doubt that any single material object is a human body, in which case it is helpful to think of bodies as relatively stable systems of objects.
The puzzles about material composites also suggest an argument that human persons are not material objects at all. Ecological immaterialism is the view that not only bodies themselves but also bodies and souls together form ecosystems, i.e., dynamic systems with a high degree of functional unity. Ecological immaterialism contrasts with a Platonic view of the body in that it is fully consonant with a Christian understanding of its value and its significance for us. The view thus avoids disadvantages often attributed to immaterialism and secures advantages often claimed for versions of physicalism.

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