Search Results for: Angus Menuge

When Does the Exercise of an Interest Constitute a Human Right?

Legitimizing Human Rights: Secular and Religious Perspectives, edited by Angus J.L. Menuge (Ashgate, 2013).

Human rights have never been so popular. On the one hand, they are used as ideological weapons to critique political and cultural adversaries. Liberals attack the existing marriage laws for limiting the rights of homosexuals. Conservatives charge that religious freedom has been eroded by the imposition of secularist ideology in the public square. Western democracies denounce other societies for their treatment of dissidents and religious minorities; these democracies are in turn criticized for exploiting the developing world. The United States is singled out for
its use of torture and capital punishment and for its failure to provide universal health care.

On the other hand, appeal to human rights is used to advance the causes of social justice and equality. In advanced liberal democracies, this includes more and more of what citizens expect from life. Healthcare, education and sexual orientation are now increasingly viewed as fundamental to human flourishing. Yet consensus on a basic list of human rights has proven elusive. Not a few of the countries signatory to major human rights agreements exempt themselves from laws that contradict the dominant beliefs and customs of their people. And even if abuses like slavery and religious discrimination are declared illegal, the prohibition may not be enforced because the practices are culturally entrenched and ignored by law enforcement. In the West, the demand to recognize almost every strong preference as legally protected has led to contradictory rights claims. The right to life appears to be the most fundamental right of all, since, without it, no other right can be exercised. Yet elective abortion, euthanasia and even infanticide are also claimed as human rights. And while believers appeal to freedom of conscience to justify a religious voice in the public square, secularists charge that this violates their right to be free from such intrusion

When does the exercise of an interest constitute a human right? The contributors to Menuge’s edited collection offer a range of secular and religious responses to this fundamental question of the legitimacy of human rights claims. The first section evaluates the plausibility of natural and transcendent foundations for human rights. A further section explores the nature of religious freedom and the vexed question of its proper limits as it arises in the US, European, and global contexts. The final section explores the pragmatic justification of human rights: how do we motivate the recognition and enforcement of human rights in the real world?

This topical book should be of interest to a range of academics from disciplines spanning law, philosophy, religion and politics. To learn more about this book, see the outline of contributions below and download the free Introduction by Menuge. A precis about the overall argument of the book is also available here.

Benefits of the book

  • It features an international and interdisciplinary team of scholars addressing this topic from both a theist and non-theist perspective.
  • It is attentive and responsive to both trends and habits of thought on this topic without itself being trendy.
  • It addresses underlying “meta-” issues in the literature where much of the “human rights” and “dignity” literature fails to journey.
  • It provides both a handsome introduction to the “state of the discussion” and a guide into further questions, problems and concerns in the literature.
  • It is a resource to be studied and consulted in both religious and non-religious educational and policy-making contexts.

Menuge on the Background of the book

Due to my participation in John Warwick Montgomery’s international academy of apologetics, evangelism and human rights, I came to see the fascinating connections between legal philosophy and Christian apologetics.  Then Montgomery and some other friends interested in the philosophy of law invited me to attend the IVR World Congress of Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy.  At the Beijing meeting (2009), we discussed the strange state of play in both the popular and academic discussion of human rights.

At the popular level, human rights are all the rage.  Indeed almost any social good is declared to be a human right, and rights-talk is routinely used as a machine de guerre to discredit opposing views as unenlightened and oppressive.  Yet the association of rights with whatever is strongly desired has led to contradictory rights claims.  For example, there is a right to life, but also a right to terminate unwanted life.  And while many complain that the right to religious expression is being curtailed by an intrusive, secular state, others claim the right to live without exposure to that expression.  These contradictions seem unresolvable because participants in the discussion are unable to offer a clear criterion of what does and does not constitute a human right.  Claims are made with great passion, but little thought is given to how we decide whether these claims are justified.

At the academic level too, there is a torrent of work on human rights, but most of it is devoted to exposing abuses, political advocacy for change, and discussion of the best legal framework for advancing human rights protections.  While all of this is important, it avoids the fundamental question of what makes it the case that there are any human rights which can be protected or abused.   For example, discussion of the legal basis for human rights does not resolve the question of justification, because legal frameworks can be used to institutionalize human rights abuses.  Thus, one of the key motivations for the subsequent development of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) was the sobering conclusion of the Nuremburg trials after WWII.   At these trials, as Montgomery notes:

The most telling defense offered by the accused was that they had simply followed orders or made decisions within the framework of their own legal system, in complete consistency with it, and that they therefore could not be condemned because they deviated from the alien value system of their conquerors (John Warwick Montgomery, The Law Above the Law (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany Lutheran Fellowship, 1975), 24).

It was this argument that compelled Robert Jackson, the Chief Counsel for the United States, to appeal to a higher law – a law above the law – inherent to civilization, that transcends the particular laws of various states. Montgomery concludes:

Thus have the horrors of…history forced us to recognize the puerile inadequacy of tying ultimate legal standards to the mores of a particular society (Ibid, 26).

Simply avoided in most discussions of human rights are three types of foundational, philosophical question:

  1. Ontological questions:  What is a human right?  Why should we think there are any human rights? Why suppose human beings have special rights not possessed by other creatures?
  2. Epistemological questions:  How can we know when something is or is not a human right?  Which worldview best explains human rights?
  3. Pragmatic questions:  How do we promote cultural acceptance of human rights? How do we reform societies or cultures with institutionalized human rights abuses?  How do we enforce human rights legal protections?

Realization of the importance of these questions and the need for them to be addressed afresh in a direct fashion led me to organize the workshop on the legitimizing of human rights for the 2011 meeting of the IVR  World Congress in Frankfurt, Germany.  It was soon suggested that the papers presented could be developed into the chapters of a book, and Ashgate was interested in the idea.

Still, it became obvious that additional voices needed to be included.  In particular, the relationship between religion and human rights is highly controversial.  Some affirm and some deny that theism is required as a justification for human rights.  Some affirm and some deny the idea that robust forms of religious expression should be protected as fundamental human rights.  So a number of additional chapters were solicited to air both sides of these issues.


(with some abstracts by the contributors)

Angus J.L. Menuge: Introduction. For a shorter version, read Menuge’s precis on the book.

Part I: The Foundation of Human Rights

  • Paul Copan: “Grounding human rights: naturalism’s failure and Biblical theism’s success.”

Abstract: The effort to locate metaphysical capital to undergird human rights claims in naturalism and its secularist worldview offshoots can only result in failure. By contrast, biblical theism offers robust ontological and epistemological foundations for human rights–particularly with its emphasis on the image of God. Naturalism’s materialistic, valueless, and deterministic context cannot adequately ground intrinsic human dignity and worth—unlike biblical theism’s context of a supremely good, personal Agent, who endows humans with value, free will, and rationality. Naturalistic objections that appeal to the Euthyphro argument or to Kant’s challenge to divine commands (e.g., Abraham and Isaac) are mistaken. And biblical theism’s philosophical success is matched by its historical influence to bring to the West many democratic values including human rights, abolition of slavery, and the bioethics movement, as atheist scholars themselves acknowledge.

  • Paul Cliteur: “Theism and human rights.”

Abstract: A human right is a just entitlement one has simply in virtue of being human: human rights are universal, inherent and inalienable. Rooted in our nature as human beings, they can neither be granted nor revoked by the state or any other temporal authority. Many of today’s ardent defenders of human rights are secularists whose underlying worldview is naturalism. But can naturalism provide an adequate foundation for human rights? For naturalism, a human being is one occurrence among many, distinguished only by its natural history. That history consists of contingent events which have shaped every human faculty, including the moral sense. As Charles Darwin emphasized in The Descent of Man, this has radical implications for our understanding of morality. It implies that if our natural history had been relevantly different, our moral sense would not be the same. Evolutionary Ethics (EE) offers two answers to this question: Weak EE and Strong EE. Weak EE is a thesis of moral psychology: it gives an account of the origin of moral sentiments and beliefs. It has no ontological implications for morality (it is compatible with both the existence and the non-existence of objective moral values), and it does not imply that our moral perceptions are reliable. Strong EE claims that our psychological states reliably track moral reality and that they do so because what counts as a moral value itself depends on biological history, so it does have ontological implications. The basic dilemma for EE is this. If EE is correct then either: (1) human rights do not exist or (2) they are unknowable. In fact, I argue that either moral skepticism or moral anti-realism is the most plausible conclusion to draw from a Darwinian account of human nature. Quite obviously though, those supporting human rights protections believe that human rights are both real and knowable, and so they are best advised to look elsewhere for a noncontingent foundation for human rights, with biblical theism a leading candidate (as Paul Copan shows in his chapter).

  • Friedrich Toepel: “Human rights as legal rights.”

Abstract: This article pleads for an understanding of human rights as primarily legal rights. For him, it is possible to see these rights as eternal and inalienable from a certain moral perspective once they have been recognized by a system of international law. History teaches us, however, that human rights have come to be recognized which were not always recognized as such (for example the women’s right to vote). Legal positivism makes the clearest understanding of human rights possible. Other views which treat human rights as moral rights are dangerous insofar as they foster unrealistic expectations. Rights are nowadays predominantly understood as Hohfeldian claim-rights, and it is not realistic to expect the enforcement of a claim based merely on a moral right which is not supported by institutions of international law. Moral rights are not necessary concepts of moral discourse. It should be sufficient to determine whether it is morally right or wrong for someone to have something instead of determining whether someone has a moral right to it. Legal positivism combined with constructivism can also allow for a legal perspective which introduces human rights retroactively. Moreover, if legal positivism treats the legal system as an autopoietic system, it can escape the Hobbesian legitimation regress argument.

Part II: Religious Liberty and the Secular State

  • John H. Calvert: “Human rights in a secular state will depend on its legal; definition of religion.”

Abstract: John H. Calvert, Esq., a Constitutional Lawyer, argues that human rights should be maximized in a truly secular state – one which may not by its constitution endorse a particular religious view or abridge one’s right to implement a religious viewpoint. However, to be “truly secular,” the state must define religion to include non-theistic and pantheistic belief systems. If religion is defined narrowly as just theistic, a so-called secular state will become one that aids non-theistic belief systems while discriminating against the theistic – it will become a functional atheocracy. Accordingly, citizens of states required to be secular, should seek to promote and establish laws and regulations that define religion inclusively so as to require the state to be truly neutral as to competing theistic and non-theistic world views.

  • Vito Breda: “Balancing secularism with religious freedom: in Lautsi v Italy, the European Court of Human Rights evolved.”

Abstract: Until recently, the principles of secularism, religious pluralism and state neutrality have been perceived in the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) as partially overlapping concepts. However, in Lautsi and others v. Italy, the Grand Chamber of the ECtHR has—in a landmark decision—qualified the interplay between these ideas. This chapter will argue that Lautsi v. Italy signals a turning point in the previous ECtHR jurisprudence, which often associated secularism with the protection of pluralism and democracy. There are two main consequences of the decision. Firstly, the ECtHR recognized that a state’s neutrality cannot be deductively constructed as a logical manifestation of secularism. In this context secularism means “a secular view of a lay public sphere as the only solution to ensuring genuine equality between members of majority and minority churches, agnostics, atheists or non-theists and eliminating religious and anti-religious tensions” (McGoldrick). For instance, in Sahin v. Turkey, the Grand Chamber explicitly embraced the narrative of the Turkish Constitutional Court that allied secularism with a defense of pluralism. Secondly, in Lautsi v. Italy, the ECtHR recognized the epistemic implications of pluralism. Pluralism as a legal concept demands the recognition of diversity and the acceptance of a dialogue that transforms a multitude of legal orders (and a plurality of perceptions of the good life represented by such a multitude), in procedures aimed at accommodating concurring individual rights. Concurring rights are granted to all (for example the right given to parents to choose the type of education for their children) but they might generate competing claims over public resources. The multiplicity of calls for recognition of individual rights makes it inappropriate and impractical for a state to favor one group over the other, leading instead to an open-ended dialogue in which institutions are, by default, receptive of all demands. McGoldrick calls this pluralist approach to faith based demands: “positively secular.” In this chapter, I argue that the recognition of pluralism and the democratic practices that qualify that pluralism should be a point of departure for the jurisprudence of the ECtHR in areas such as the display of religious symbols in classrooms. This approach serves as an alternative to the practice of balancing rights, which greatly restricts the breadth of religious freedom and de jure imposes a monist conception of rational thinking.

  • John Warwick Montgomery: “Restrictions on religious freedom: when and how justified?”

Part III: Enforcing and Motivating Human Rights

  • Hendrik Kaptein: “No human rights without retribution: plights and promises of redress as if nothing happened.”

Abstract: Human rights violations abound, notwithstanding well-nigh universal lip-service to their primary importance. Criminal and other legal practices fall far short of realizing full redress for such violations. Real redress or in fact retribution in its original sense implies restoring victims of human rights violations (and of any wrongful harm) to equivalents of their original rightful positions, “as if nothing wrong happened”. This essential aspect of respect for human rights ought to be part of the reform agenda for national and international legal practice.

  • Dallas Miller: “The motivation to protect and advance human rights: a faith-based approach.”

Abstract: The aim of my contribution was to analyze the impact of the Christian teaching, and more specifically Catholic doctrine, upon the contemporary human rights discourse. I have differentiated three main perspectives within which religious community may have an impact upon the social surroundings: general, specific and implementation function. Within a general function religious (ethical) community is perceived as a fundamental basis of morality. Within a specific function many religious communities provide their members guidance as well as detailed criteria concerning the required personal conduct within the public sphere. Within an implementation function religious community is entrusted with the burden of controlling the level of norms-observance among its members.


Menuge has brought together a first-rate, international set of contributors to advance our reflection on the foundation, nature, and importance of human rights. This book should be studied by all those interested in human rights and who take seriously the need to inquire into the basis and justification of those rights.
Charles Taliaferro, St. Olaf College, USA

Amongst the plethora of books on human rights, this book is remarkable. Firstly, it confronts two opposite and socially important perspectives of human rights: secular and religious. Secondly, it presents dialogues from both sides and the contributors present differing viewpoints on many issues. This is what makes the book especially exciting and I recommend it with a deep conviction.
Lech Morawski, Nicolas Copernicus University, Poland

Since the publication of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, human rights have been an important element in bridging cultures. But what is the foundation of human rights? Can human rights be founded within secular culture or do we need religion for that? This is a central preoccupation in this interesting and important volume.
Afshin Ellian, Leiden University, The Netherlands

Taken together, the essays collected in Legitimizing Human Rights serve to remind atheists that if they insist on removing all traces of the law’s debt to the Biblical religions, they will have also undercut the most philosophically compelling grounds for upholding the idea of human rights.
Steve Fuller, University of Warwick, UK

One of the marks of an outstanding anthology is that its contributors confront the reader in such a way that he finds himself in an ebb and flow of dialogue, dissent, and agreement while paging through it. That’s how I found myself while reading this important collection. In an age in which religious belief is not taken seriously in the rarefied corridors of the academy, this book is a welcome contribution to the literature on human rights, theology, and religious liberty.
Francis J. Beckwith, Baylor University, USA

An Assessment of R. Scott Smith’s Naturalism and Our Knowledge of Reality

From the 2012 EPS annual meeting, in a panel discussion devoted to R. Scott Smith’s book, Naturalism and our Knowledge of Reality, Angus Menuge argues that naturalism presents itself as a world view founded on scientific knowledge, which seeks to reduce or eliminate various recalcitrant phenomena such as consciousness and moral values.

Most critiques of naturalism focus on its inability to do justice to these phenomena. By contrast, in Naturalism and Our Knowledge of Reality (Ashgate, 2012), R. Scott Smith argues that naturalism fails to account for our ability to know reality, thereby undercutting its alleged scientific foundation.

Michael Rea and Robert Koons have argued that, on naturalism, there are no well-defined objects of knowledge. Smith complements this critique by showing that, even if such objects exist, subjects will be unable to know them as they are.

Smith’s threefold argument can be understood as the intellectual revenge of Berkeley, Kant and Husserl on naturalism. At the end of the paper, Menuge suggests a couple of ways proponents of naturalized epistemology would likely respond.

To read the full-text of this article, please click here (updated with correction on 12/7).

Subscribe to Philosophia Christi, get the Summer 2022 Issue!

For as low as $25/yr, now is a great time to subscribe to Philosophia Christi in time for the Summer 2022 issue (currently set to be released by end of August).
The Summer 2022 issue features a symposium (edited by Kevin W. Wong) on Jordan Wessling’s Love Divine: A Systematic Account of God’s Love for Humanity (Oxford, 2020)with contributions not only from Wessling but also R.T. Mullins, Keith Hess, and Ty Kieser. Wessling’s book – and the book symposium – takes seriously a rigorous account of the nature of divine love, including its importance for thinking about other doctrines and theological methodology. In a recent interview 2022 interview for The Analytic Christian, Jordan Wessling unpacks some of the core concepts of his book and their relevance for various models on divine love.

Additionally, the Summer issue of Philosophia Christi showcases a splendid variety of articles, philosophical notes, and book reviews tapping into discussions about philosophy of mysticism, philosophical naturalism, panpsychism, philosophical anthropology and ethics with contributions from Angus Menuge, Robert Larmer, Stephen Parrish, Andrew Loke, Paul Gould!

Preview of Philosophia Christi’s Winter 2021 Issue

The Winter 2021 issue of Philosophia Christi will feature a variety of articles, philosophical notes, and book reviews at the intersections of philosophical theology, philosophy of religion, ethics, and philosophy of time, including contributions from

  • Kirk Lougheed on ‘grounds for worship’;
  • Jonathan Daniel Ashbach on ‘phenomenological arguments’ for aesthetics;
  • Angus Menuge on ‘Techno-Anthropology’ illusions;
  • Erik Wielenberg on Craig’s Kalam argument;
  • Zachary Adam Akin and his retrieval of Ralph Cudworth’s ‘Divine Conceptualism’ argument;

. . . among many other important contributions not to be missed!

For as low as $25/yr, sign-up/renew your subscription today (EPS Membership includes a print subscription to the journal). Want digital only access to the journal? EPS members get a discounted rate through the Philosophy Documentation Center (includes the entire archive – over 1,000 contributions -since 1999!).

YouTube Channel Launches for The Blackwell Companion to Substance Dualism

For a limited time, enjoy a 20% discount on the hardcover version of The Blackwell Companion to Substance Dualism [until September 31, 2018, go to, and enter code CSD19 in check-out, or purchase at Amazon for same discount (as of today)].

To learn more about this significant volume, browse the Table of Contents, read the Introduction, enjoy the Summer 2018 issue of Philosophia Christi [which includes many of the same Companion contributors], and enjoy a number of engaging video interviews with contributors to The Blackwell Companion to Substance Dualism [recorded in late 2017 at the EPS conference in Providence, Rhode Island].

Interviewees include Kevin Corcoran, GaryHabermas, Jonathan Loose, Angus Menuge, J. P. Moreland, Nancey Murphy, Eric Olson, Brandon Rickabaugh, and Richard Swinburne.

In addition, despite ill health, Lynne Rudder Baker kindly invited Jonathan Loose to her home prior to the conference and gave, according to Loose, what turned out probably to be her last interview on her work.

Subscribe directly to the “Mind Matters” channel on YouTube and follow Twitter announcements from @jonathanjloose about new video interviews to be released!

Please support the EPS to expand its reach, support its members, and be a credible presence of Christ-shaped philosophical interests in the academy and into the wider culture! Right now, there couldn’t be a better time to multiply your support of the EPS in 2018 light of a $25,000 matching grant from an anonymous donor. Help us reach and exceed our $50,000 goal!!

The Blackwell Companion to Substance Dualism

In 2018, Wiley-Blackwell will publish The Blackwell Companion to Substance Dualism, edited by Jonathan Loose, Angus Menuge, and J. P. Moreland. Jonathan J. Loose is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy and Psychology at Heythrop College, University of London. Angus J. L. Menuge is Professor and Chair of Philosophy at Concordia University Wisconsin and President of the Evangelical Philosophical Society. J. P. Moreland is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Biola University in La Mirada, California, where he has taught for 28 years.

This volume includes several contributions from EPS members or Philosophia Christi contributors, including the Editors, along with chapters from Charles Taliaferro, William Hasker, Richard Swinburne, Stewart Goetz, Gary Habermas, Joshua Rasmussen, Ross Inman, Brandon Rickabaugh, and John Cooper.

From the publisher’s description of The Blackwell Companion to Substance Dualism:

A groundbreaking collection of contemporary essays from leading international scholars that provides a balanced and expert account of the resurgent debate about substance dualism and its physicalist alternatives.

Substance dualism has for some time been dismissed as an archaic and defeated position in philosophy of mind, but in recent years, the topic has experienced a resurgence of scholarly interest and has been restored to contemporary prominence by a growing minority of philosophers prepared to interrogate the core principles upon which past objections and misunderstandings rest. As the first book of its kind to bring together a collection of contemporary writing from top proponents and critics in a pro-contra format, The Blackwell Companion to Substance Dualism captures this ongoing dialogue and sets the stage for rigorous and lively discourse around dualist and physicalist accounts of human persons in philosophy.

Chapters explore emergent, Thomistic, Cartesian, and other forms of substance dualism—broadly conceived—in dialogue with leading varieties of physicalism, including animalism, non-reductive physicalism, and constitution theory. Loose, Menuge, and Moreland pair essays from dualist advocates with astute criticism from physicalist opponents and vice versa, highlighting points of contrast for readers in thematic sections while showcasing today’s leading minds engaged in direct debate. Taken together, essays provide nuanced paths of introduction for students, and capture the imagination of professional philosophers looking to expand their understanding of the subject.

Skillfully curated and in touch with contemporary science as well as analytic theology, The Blackwell Companion to Substance Dualism strikes a measured balanced between advocacy and criticism, and is a first-rate resource for researchers, scholars, and students of philosophy, theology, and neuroscience.

Enjoy a number of engaging video interviews with contributors to The Blackwell Companion to Substance Dualism, which were given in late 2017 at the EPS conference in Providence, Rhode Island. Interviewees include Kevin Corcoran, Gary Habermas, Jonathan Loose, Angus Menuge, J. P. Moreland, Nancey Murphy, Eric Olson, Brandon Rickabaugh, and Richard Swinburne [for more print contributions from many of the interviewees on physicalism and substance dualism, see the symposium discussion in the Summer 2018 issue of Philosophia Christi].

In addition, despite ill health, Lynne Rudder Baker kindly invited Jonathan Loose to her home prior to the conference and gave, according to Loose, what turned out probably to be her last interview on her work.

Subscribe directly to the “Mind Matters” and follow Twitter announcements from @jonathanjloose about new video interviews to be released!

Support the EPS to expand its reach, support its members, and be a credible presence of Christ-shaped philosophical interests in the academy and into the wider culture! Right now, there couldn’t be a better time to multiply your support of the EPS in 2018 light of a $25,000 matching grant from an anonymous donor. Help us reach and exceed our $50,000 goal!!

In Memoriam, Lynne Rudder Baker (1944-2017)

In light of news of Lynne Rudder Baker’s passing, Evangelical Philosophical Society President, Angus Menuge, offered the following reflection:

Lynne Rudder Baker (1944-2017) was a remarkably original, courageous, and clear-headed Christian philosopher who stands as a role-model for anyone aspiring to excellence as a Christian scholar and teacher. Her first book, Saving Belief, is still the best sustained critique of eliminative materialism and was an inspiration to my own work in philosophy of mind. Lynne’s most innovative contribution was the constitution view of persons. This view accepts the irreducible reality of persons as intentional beings with a first-person perspective and offers an alternative to substance dualism in its account of the Christian teachings of the incarnation and resurrection. Lynne’s last book, Naturalism and the First-Person Perspective, is a standing challenge to naturalism that deserves to be widely discussed for years to come. Students, colleagues, friends, and her husband Tom, will dearly miss her.

Since her passing, various philosophers and former students have also expressed their memories of Lynne and tributes to the value of her work. A common theme articulated by many: Lynne Rudder Baker was overwhelmingly ‘smart,’ ‘elegant,’ ‘generous,’ and ‘kind.’

At the time of her death, Professor Lynne Rudder Baker was Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. In 2005, she achieved the rank of Distinguished Professor of Philosophy. Lynne started teaching at UMass. in 1989.

The contributions and significance of her work extended to various areas of philosophy, including metaphysics, philosophy of mind, philosophy of religion, and epistemology.

Just a few weeks ago, the American Philosophical Association announced that Baker would give the 2018-2019 Patrick Romanell Lecture, focused on the topic of “Philosophical Naturalism.” The chair of the selection committee said,

Lynne Rudder Baker has been a leading contributor to the literature on philosophy of mind, metaphysics, and philosophical theology for more than forty years. One of the many important themes that she has explored in her work concerns just what naturalism is committed to, and what it is that naturalists can and cannot account for.

Of her books, the UMass. Memoriam reads:

Lynne’s first book, Saving Belief: A Critique of Physicalism, presented a defense of the importance of intentional notions against eliminitivists, such as the Churchlands, whose stark metaphysics would rob the world of intentionality, but, at the same time, argued that the legitimacy of intentional notions does not depend on their finding a place in some successful cognitive science, as many then, and now, would have it.  The pragmatic metaphilosophy which underlay this view was brought into sharp focus in Lynne’s second book, Explaining Attitudes: A Practical Approach to the Mind.   In Persons and Bodies: A Constitution View, Lynne made explicit her distinctive metaphysical views about the intimate relationship between a person and that person’s body, avoiding both the perils of various forms of reductionism, and the excesses of an extravagant dualism.  The Metaphysics of Everyday Life: An Essay in Practical Realism extended Lynne’s pragmatism to questions about the metaphysics of ordinary objects.  And Lynne’s latest book, Naturalism and the First-Person Perspective, presents a striking challenge to naturalism, arguing that the very fact that we are capable of thinking of ourselves from a first-person point of view cannot be captured within a naturalistic worldview.  This is an extraordinary body of work, presenting an utterly distinctive set of views on topics of the first importance.

It is believed [though not yet confirmed] that Baker was working on a forthcoming book with Mario De Caro and Fiona Ellis. In April 2016, all three participated in an international conference [at Gregorian University in Rome] on “Nature and Naturalism” (including presentations by Andrew Pinsent and Steven D. Smith). Lynne’s presentation was published in July 2017 in Philosophy [Royal Institute of Philosophy], titled, “Naturalism and the Idea of Nature.”

In 2012, she gave a keynote address explaining her defense of Anselm’s “ontological argument for God’s existence.”


In the pages of Philosophia Christi, the peer-reviewed journal of the Evangelical Philosophical Society, her work related to naturalism, mind-body dualism, and philosophy of religion was cited, consulted, appraised and critiqued. For example, Kevin Timpe published a 2004 response to Baker’s 2013 Faith and Philosophy article [“Why Christians Should Not Be Libertarians: An Augustinian Challenge”], titled, “Why Christians Might be Libertarians: A Response to Lynne Rudder Baker” (Philosophia Christi, vol. 6, no. 2).

Earlier this year, Biola University’s Center for Christian Thought hosted an exchange between Lynne Rudder Baker and Dean Zimmerman:

In 2001 Lynne participated in the Gifford Lectures [she contrasted “first-person knowledge and third-person understanding to scientific knowing”]. Her Gifford bio page indicated that was a member of Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst. Writing for, in January 2017, Baker wrote the following in light of her lead question, “What does philosophy of religion offer to the modern university?”

Granted, I didn’t teach philosophy of religion in relation to history or culture. Analytic philosophers, myself included, teach philosophy of religion as a series of logical puzzle cases: Can God make a stone so heavy that he couldn’t lift it?  Or perhaps as religious epistemology: is there any good reason to believe in a deity? Or perhaps as genealogy: Why did religion (considered generically) arise?  I now see these approaches, which are followed by many analytic philosophers, as misleadingly reductive. 
Although I would not teach philosophy of religion by draining the life and particularity out of religions, I do recognize that there is a distinctively philosophical place for religions in the university curriculum–a place that would benefit students raised in a consumerist culture that leaves people with the emptiness of routine work and the endless quest for diversion. (Pascal was on the mark when he excoriated lives focused on diversion.)
Philosophy of religion could play a signal role in helping university students understand reality as a domain-independent whole: What difference would it make if there is any reality beyond the spacetime universe, beyond the particular domains of the sciences—any reality that comprehends the cosmos as a whole? The aim of philosophy of religion could be to bring reflection to unreflective ideas of reality, and to teach students to be still and to reflect on their own lives. We are all going to die–and that includes you and me; what bearing does that fact have on how we live? 

. . .

If we do conceive of the cosmos as an ordered whole, it can be argued that we have resulting obligations to the environment and to future generations; global questions about human beings as such; and about animals as such. We should also consider anti-human implications of advances in technology. These matters are illuminated by arguments in the philosophy of religion.
Another deep question arising from thinking about the world as a whole is this:  What is natural–as opposed to artificial or cultural? What is it to act according to one’s nature? Do human beings have a natural or divine right to be delivered from murderous harm? What is the purpose of government? Is there a common good? What is the relation between fact and value? (Hume has held the stage on this question far too long.)  
Philosophy of religion may ask metaphysical questions that blossom out into social, political and ethical  questions. What is justice? If others are starving, does justice require depriving oneself to the point of self-harm? Philosophy of religion may also argue about war and its justification, and poverty and its alleviation. Are hierarchies justifiable? Even though such questions may be answered with no appeal to religion, it seems arbitrary—given the influence of religions in the world—to rule out religions as contributing to answering them.
. . . .

The philosophy of religion stubbornly explores the Big Questions: Does life have purpose beyond individual choice? Are living people responsible for the evil of the past? Why can we not learn from the past? Is there any remedy?
Traditionally, much of philosophy of religion has concerned itself with the existence of God, but in truth, the area is much broader and encompasses almost all domain-independent questions. 
Philosophy of religions ranges over all the domains of the particular sciences. It is one of the highest achievements of the human intellect to think about these matters. As ancients Greeks said, we throw away these questions to our peril.
Broadening one’s perspective in light of these questions of what is ultimate is what university education is all about. So, I think that philosophy of religion that attends to such questions undoubtedly has a place in the university curriculum.

EPS 2017: “Debating Christian Physicalism”

Enjoy this Panel Discussion at the Annual ETS-EPS Conference in Providence, Rhode Island, November 15-17!

Date: Thursday, November 16
Time: 3:00 PM – 6:10 PM
Room: Omni – Waterplace I

“Debating Christian Physicalism”

Moderator: Angus Menuge (Concordia University Wisconsin)

    See the forthcoming Blackwell Companion to Substance Dualism and then Christian Physicalism? Philosophical Theological Criticisms

    Blackwell Companion to Substance Dualism editors, Angus Menuge, JP Moreland, and Jonathan Loose

    Support the EPS to expand its reach, support its members, and be a credible presence of Christ-shaped philosophical interests in the academy and into the wider culture! Right now, there couldn’t be a better time to multiply your support of the EPS in light of a $25,000 matching grant from an anonymous donor. Help us reach and exceed our $50,000 goal by December 31st.

    Christian Physicalism?: Philosophical Theological Criticisms

    In 2017, Lexington Books will publish Christian Physicalism?: Philosophical Theological Criticisms, edited by R. Keith Loftin and Joshua R. Farris. R. Keith Loftin is Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Humanities at the College at Southwestern and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (Fort Worth, TX). Joshua R. Farris is Assistant Professor of Theology at Houston Baptist University, Smith College of Liberal Arts and the Academy.

    Enjoy a 30% discount when ordering copies via the website of Lexington Books, using LEX30AUTH18 for the discount code [expires 11/30/18].

    From the publisher’s description of Christian Physicalism, which includes several Philosophia Christi contributors as well [e.g., including Angus Menuge, J.P. Moreland, Scott Smith, Charles Taliaferro, Stephen Evans, Jonathan Loose, Brandon Rickabaugh, John Cooper]:

    On the heels of the advance since the twentieth-century of wholly physicalist accounts of human persons, the influence of materialist ontology is increasingly evident in Christian theologizing. To date, the contemporary literature has tended to focus on anthropological issues (e.g., whether the traditional soul / body distinction is viable), with occasional articles treating physicalist accounts of such doctrines as the Incarnation and Resurrection of Jesus cropping up, as well. Interestingly, the literature to date, both for and against this influence, is dominated by philosophers. The present volume is a collection of philosophers and theologians who advance several novel criticisms of this growing trend toward physicalism in Christian theology. The present collection definitively shows that Christian physicalism has some significant philosophical and theological problems. No doubt all philosophical anthropologies have their challenges, but the present volume shows that Christian physicalism is most likely not an adequate accounting for essential theological topics within Christian theism. Christians, then, should consider alternative anthropologies.