Blog Archives

Vexing Links (8/12/17)

Check them out:

  1. My review of Jaworski’s Structure and the Metaphysics of Mind: How Hylomorphism Solves the Mind-Body Problem is on JBTS.
  2. Paul Draper has updated the “Atheism and Agnosticism” page on the SEP.
  3. Koji Tanaka has co-authored an excellent article on “Paraconsistent Logic” along with Graham Priest and Zach Weber on the SEP.
  4. Plantinga’s EAAN in a nutshell
  5. New article on “Religious Language” on the SEP
  6. Josh Rasmussen’s Worldview Design is one of my new favorite YouTube channels.
  7. New interviews of Eleonore Stump are on Closer to Truth: 1) Do Heaven and Hell Really Exist? 2) What is God’s Eternity? 3) What are Persons? 4) Do Persons have Souls?
  8. A classical theist explains the difference between Classical Theism and Theistic Personalism
  9. Pruss says that Naturalists should be Aristotelians (I agree).
  10. Read the first chapter of Justin Brierley’s Unbelievable? the Book.

A quick argument that I’ve been thinking about:

P1) There is a real distinction between metaphysical and nomological modalities.

P2) If there is a real distinction between metaphysical and nomological modalities, there is a metaphysically necessary, non-natural, indeterministic explanation that makes the distinction between metaphysical and nomological modalities intelligible.

P3) If there is a metaphysically necessary, non-natural, indeterministic explanation that makes the distinction between metaphysical and nomological modalities intelligible, then God exists.

C) God exists.

Some fun memes:

Vexing Links (2/13/2016)

Happy St. Valentine’s Day readers!  I have been busy with my dissertation, so I have not had an opportunity to post any new arguments or articles.  In the meantime, here are some links of note:

  1. The  Vatican Library Digitizations Project is very exciting!  I imagine there will be some extraordinary treasures in there.
  2. The true history of Socrates’s last day on Earth.  Plato (or maybe Phaedo) had it all wrong.
  3. Wisecrack has an awesome video on Philosophy and the Walking Dead.  See the connections to Rome, and the ways in which the Walking Dead makes us confront the meaning of life and death.
  4. Dr. Larycia Hawkins claimed that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.  Subsequently, she was placed on administrative leave following a controversity at Wheaton College.  It looks like she will be terminated.  Many philosophers have weighed in on the question, including Dr. Francis Beckwith, Dr. Bill Vallicella, Dr. Dale Tuggy, Dr. William Lane Craig, and Dr. Lydia McGrew.  I think I am close to Vallicella’s position in that I think the question may be intractable, or at least depend upon what features one is going to insist upon as fixed, when determining the reference.  Perhaps the bigger issue is the disturbing trend in academia to discipline and fire professors when they voice positions with which the administration disagrees.  The fact that so many thinkers have arrived at completely different positions may tell you that Dr. Hawkins was taking a position that is not settled within Christian orthodoxy.  Indeed, if we construe this as a question in the philosophy of language and the question of reference, then it seems that one can reasonably agree with Dr. Hawkins and be a staunchly orthodox Christian.
  5. On the same theme of academic freedom, the President of Mount St. Mary’s College in Maryland, Simon Newman, decided to implement a plan to identify and cull out freshman who were unlikely to flourish and graduate (rather than, you know, help your students succeed).  He alledgly compared such freshmen to fuzzy bunnies who need to be drowned.  Faculty and administration who disagreed with Newman were terminated, even if they had tenure.  A provost was removed from his position.  It now looks like Newman is under pressure to take it all back.  At the same time, it is coming to light that Newman wants to rid MSM of her Catholic tradition and identity.  This is a troubling trend in Catholic education, to say the least.
  6. On the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Graham Oppy has updated his entry on Ontological Arguments, Daniel Nolan has updated his entry on Modal Fictionalism, and Christopher Menzel has an updated entry on Possible Worlds.
  7. Read Dr. Ed Feser’s review of Jerry Coyne’s Faith versus Fact.  It has to be the most scathing and hilarious review ever written.
  8. Dale Tuggy poses his “Jesus is God” challenge.  Perhaps when I have time, I will offer a substantive critique, but I think there are issues with P2 and P4, which render the argument unsound.  The first issue is that I suspect that identity statements about God are not subject the Leibnizian laws.
  9. This may be an older site, but it is new to me and it looks like it has a ton of resources for anyone interested in Early Church History and various original language documents: Documenta Catholica Omnia.
  10. I’ve been enjoying the music of Mikis Theodorakis lately.

Vexing Links (12/27/2015)

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year to Vexing Questions readers.  Here are some links of note:

  1. has released its latest video in its series on the existence of God: the Leibnizian Cosmological Argument (view the other videos in the series here)
  2. The Church of England released a beautiful ad featuring the Lord’s Prayer.  It was banned and created some controversy, but it is moving nonetheless.
  3. Dr. Lee Irons does a great job defending the Trinitarian perspective in a new book.  Here is an interview about his defense, hosted by Dale Tuggy.
  4. The SEP has some new articles and revisions of note: Thomas Williams revises an entry on St. Anselm, Olga Lizzini has a new article on Ibn Sina’s Metaphysics, and Jeffery Bower revises an entry on Medieval Theories of Relations.
  5. Some music I’ve been enjoying: Timothy Vajda’s As the Crow Flies, and Sigur Rós’s version of the Rains of Castamere.
  6. great philosophy website, with videos on logic.
  7. Brilliant physicist, George Ellis, is interviewed on Closer to Truth about What An Expanding Universe Means.
  8. Grasped in Thought blogs about Gaunilo’s failed objection to Anselm’s ontological argument.
  9. Maverick Philosopher has a beautiful Christmas reflection on the meaning of  the Incarnation and John 1:14.
  10. Dr. Alexander Pruss offers an interesting argument about physicalism and thinking about big numbers.

Vexing Links (6/13/2015)

Some recent links of note:

Vexing Links (5/25/2015)

Some recent links of note:

  • Robin Smith has recently updated the SEP article on Aristotle’s Logic
  • Tuomas Tahko updates an entry at the SEP on Ontological Dependence originally authored by the late great E.J. Lowe
  • Peter Adamson’s History of Philosophy without any Gaps has a new podcast episode  on 13th century Logic
  • Massimo Pigliucci took the New Atheists to the woodshed (almost feel sorry for them)
  • Jeffery Jay Lowder notes that David Wood took John Loftus to the woodshed on the question “Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?” (I agree with Lowder and couldn’t help but get the impression that Loftus knew he had been whipped by the end of the debate—granting that he failed to address 1 Cor 15)
  • Messianic Drew constructs a similar argument for God from Fitch’s paradox as I did previously on this blog.  One difference is that I use the BCF (Big Conjunctive Fact) to explicitly argue for an omniscient mind (which isn’t a big slice of God, but certainly troubling for naturalism)
  • Alex Pruss as a nice neat argument for God from life (I list biogenesis as evidence that supports theism, though that is always subject to new discoveries)
  • Speaking of which, a new theory of abiogenesis is being lauded by internet atheists as putting God on the ropes (Should theists be sweating? It might be worth noting that the scientist who has devised the theory, Dr. England, is an observant Jew who prays to God three times a day.  Classical theists don’t require that the creation of life to be a miraculous intervention, but the general order of nature points to a living source of creation)
  • I recently found an interesting clip of evolutionary biologist, Ken Miller (who testified against ID in the Dover case) defend Aquinas’s fifth way (though the fifth way is a teleological argument, it is not the same as the sorts of arguments ID theorists put forward, as Ed Feser likes to point out)
  • Inspiring Philosophy has a great video response to the question of whether the Trinity is a pagan concept
  • Bill Vallicella and Dale Tuggy are discussing God’s relationship to being (this is the latest from Vallicella, but it all started from this interview on Tuggy’s superb Trinities podcast)
  • Lastly, and most importantly, if you are wondering which superhero would win in a one-on-one battle, wonder no more

SEP update on Medieval Theories of Modality

There have been some important updates to the SEP entry “Medieval Theories of Modality” by Simo Knuuttila. Here is an excerpt pertaining to my interests in the contemporary analysis of Aristotle:

There are several recent works on Aristotle’s modal syllogistics, but no generally accepted historical reconstruction which would make it a coherent theory. It was apparently based on various assumptions which were not fully compatible (Hintikka 1973, Striker 2009). Some commentators have been interested in finding coherent layers of the theory by explicating them in terms of Aristotle’s other views (van Rijen 1989; Patterson 1995). There are also several formal reconstructions such as Rini 2010 (modern predicate logic), Ebert and Nortmann 2007 (possible worlds semantics), various set-theoretical approaches discussed in Johnson 2004, and Malink 2006 (mereological semantics).

I’m going to take a closer look at Striker’s position, as I am not convinced that Aristotle’s modal syllogistic is based on assumptions that are “not fully compatible”. I think the issue is one of getting clear on Aristotle’s metaphysics at the time that the Prior Analytics were composed, and to realize that some of those metaphysical presuppositions did not remain constant as Aristotle went on to work on De Caelo and Metaphysics. I like Malink’s approach of using the Topics in order to understand what is going on. Perhaps a post or two dedicated to the “Two Barbaras” problem is in order!