Philosophia Christi Winter 2011: God and Abstract Objects

February 16, 2012
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The Winter 2011 issue of Philosophia Christi features a unique and interesting discussion about “The Problem of God and Abstract Objects: A Prolegomenon.”

The following contributors and perspectives are represented in this issue:

Keith Yandell, “God and Propositions.”

ABSTRACT: If there are abstract objects, they necessarily exist. The majority view among contemporary philosophers of religion who are theists is that God also necessarily exists. Nonetheless, that God has necessary existence has not been shown to be true, or even (informally) consistent. It seems consistent—at least is doesn’t seem (informally) inconsistent—but neither does its denial. Arguments that necessary existence is a perfection, and God has all perfections, assume that Necessitarian Theism is true, and hence consistent. Thus they do not provide reason to believe that Necessitarian Theism is true. Non-necessitarian (“plain”) theism is on a philosophical par with Necessitarian Theism and can accommodate abstract objects all the while avoiding theological and philosophical refutation.

Richard Davis, “God and the Platonic Horde: A Defense of Limited Conceptualism.”

ABSTRACT: This paper attempts to argue for two main claims: First, it is plausible to think that Conceptualism holds with respect to propositions; in any event, it does a much better job than its closest competitors (Platonism and Nominalism) in accounting for the truthbearing nature of propositions. Secondly, it is wholly implausible (so I say) to take the added step and equate properties and relations with divine concepts. Here I offer additional reasons, beyond ‘divine bootstrapping’, for theists to resist this tempting reduction. Thus, a limited Conceptualism emerges as the most natural and defensible way for a theist to think about God’s relation to abstract objects.

William Lane Craig, “A Nominalist Perspective on God and Abstract Objects.”

ABSTRACT: A metaphysically robust, as opposed to lightweight, Platonism with respect to uncreatable abstract objects is theologically unacceptable because it fatally compromises creatio ex nihilo and divine aseity.  The principal argument for Platonism is the so-called Indispensability Argument based on the ontological commitments required by singular terms and existential quantifiers in true sentences.  Different varieties of Nominalism challenge each of the argument’s premises.  Fictionalism accepts the assumed criterion of ontological commitment but rejects the truth of the relevant sentences.  Neutralism accepts the truth of the relevant sentences but denies the assumed criterion of ontological commitment.  Both of these perspectives, but especially the last, are plausible routes available for the Christian theist.

Guest Editor Paul Gould also offers a handy, substantive, and engaging introduction to the above contributions in light of the overall discussion in the relevant literature.

ABSTRACT: How does God relate to abstract objects, if there be any? Any adequate solution to this question quickly leads to deep waters philosophical and theological. In this essay, I attempt to bring clarity to the debate related to the problem of God and abstract objects by first explicating as precisely as possible the problem and then by imposing some order into the debate by classifying various contemporary answers to the problem.

In addition to the above, see James Anderson’s and Greg Welty’s complimentary article, “The Lord of Noncontradiction: An Argument for God from Logic”

ABSTRACT: In this paper we offer a new argument for the existence of God. We content that the laws of logic are metaphysically dependent on the existence of god, understood as a necessarily existent, personal, spiritual being; thus anyone who grants that there are laws of logic should also accept that there is a God. We argue that if our most natural intuitions about them are correct, and if they are to play the role in our intellectual activities that we take them to play, then the laws of logic are best construed as necessarily existent thoughts – more specifically, as divine thoughts about divine thoughts. We conclude by highlighting some implications for both theistic arguments and antitheistic arguments.

Unrelated to the above theme, Hugh Gauch’s article is must-reading, if for no other reason than how it relates to a new EPS Call for Papers on “Ramified Natural Theology.”

“Natural Theology’s Case for Jesus’s Resurrection: Methodological and Statistical Considerations”

ABSTRACT: An important 2003 book by Richard Swinburne and 2009 chapter by Timothy and Lydia McGrew develop the case for the bodily resurrection of Jesus as a project in ramified natural theology featuring public evidence. This paper imports a model for full disclosure of arguments from natural science to specific natural theology’s methodological and statistical requirements. Four matters need further clarification in this project’s ongoing development: the strength of the evidence, hypotheses being tested, dependence on generic natural theology, and range of evidence considered relative to apostolic precedents. The related historiographical method of Michael Licona is also discussed.

You really don’t want miss this Winter 2011 issue, especially if you are an avid reader in metaphysics and philosophical theology!

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