- “Another Look at the Modal Collapse Argument” (In European Journal for Philosophy of Religion, Forthcoming)
On one classical conception of God, God has no parts, not even metaphysical parts. God is not composed of form and matter, act and potency, and he is not composed of existence and essence. God is absolutely simple. This is the doctrine of Absolute Divine Simplicity (ADS). It is claimed that ADS implies a modal collapse, i.e. that God’s creation is absolutely necessary. I argue that a proper way of understanding the modal collapse argument naturally leads the proponent of ADS to reject a particular premise of the argument: namely, “the same identical cause brings about the same effect.” However, I argue that the rejection of that premise leads to a deeper problem for ADS. It leads to an explanatory gap: how can we explain the relevant type of indeterminism in an absolutely simple God?
- “The Ineffability of God” (In International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, 2020)
I defend an account of God’s ineffability that depends on the distinction between fundamental and non-fundamental truths. I argue that although there are fundamentally true propositions about God, no creature can have them as the object of a propositional attitude, and no sentence can perfectly carve out their structures. Why? Because these propositions have non-enumerable structures. In principle, no creature can fully grasp God’s intrinsic nature, nor can they develop a language that fully describes it. On this account, the ineffability of God is explained in terms of the inability of our language and mental capacities to grasp God as He really is. I will motivate my account by distinguishing it from a rival proposal. According to this rival, although there are non-fundamentally true propositions about God’s intrinsic nature, there are no fundamentally true propositions about his intrinsic nature. I argue that this rival proposal faces problems that my account does not face. And unlike this rival and other accounts of ineffability, my account provides a fitting explanation of why God is ineffable. God is ineffable because the structure of his intrinsic nature is non-enumerable.
- “Review of Idealism and Christian Theology“ (In Journal of Analytic Theology, 2018)
- “Physicalism, Bodily Resurrection, and the Constitution Account” (In The Ashgate Research Companion to Theological Anthropology, 2015).
In this chapter, I argue that bodily resurrection is less plausible given mainstream physicalism, but it is not less plausible given the constitution account. In the first section, I criticize different options mainstream physicalism can take to make sense of bodily resurrection. All these options seem less than plausible. I spend more space on the first option, reassembly, because it seems to be prima facie the most natural option for mainstream physicalism. Then, in the second section, I show that the constitution account does not fall prey to the problems that infect mainstream physicalism.
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An underdetermination argument undermines a claim by calling into doubt the inference that the evidence for the claim licenses, and this is done by showing that the evidence supporting the claim can equally support a rival claim. In this work, I expose a problem with arguments of this type. I launch an underdetermination argument against a particular epistemic principle that underdetermination arguments assume. As a result, the epistemic principle is undermined. Roughly, the epistemic principle says that in cases where your evidence equally supports two rival claims, it is epistemically irrational to accept one over the other. My criticism of the argument is different and unique because a defender of underdetermination arguments generally must find a criticism of my argument that does not apply equally well to hers. Otherwise a criticism that attacked the general structure of my argument would also discredit underdetermination arguments more generally. For heuristic reasons, I explain the underdetermination argument by providing an example from the debate between realism and anti-realism in philosophy of science. I then argue that the application of my argument is more general than this specific debate. I conclude by considering an objection that claims the epistemic principle in question cannot be undermined because it is conceptually true. In response, I show that the epistemic principle is not conceptually true, and so can be undermined.
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The typical peer disagreement case specifies that the disagreement in question is between epistemic peers. However, there is little mention of the reasons that you have for the claim that so-and-so is your epistemic peer. In this work, I focus on this neglected aspect. I call it the Peer Evaluative Requirement. Roughly, the requirement says that in assessing a peer disagreement, you must consider the reasons you have that so-and-so is your epistemic peer, and then weigh those reasons against whether your peer made a mistake. I argue that there are good reasons to accept this requirement. First, this requirement has independent plausibility, and second it captures our intuitive verdict in cases of ordinary and extreme disagreement.
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The epistemology of peer disagreement has received a great deal of attention in recent years. However, the attention has been squarely on disagreements between individuals in the present. Very little has been said about cross temporal disagreements. In this work, I argue that if present widespread moral disagreements pose a problem for our moral knowledge, then past widespread moral disagreements will also pose a problem for our moral knowledge. However, unlike present widespread moral disagreements, past widespread moral disagreements pose a challenge against what I call our dearly held moral beliefs—first-order moral beliefs that we have great confidence in. We are left with rejecting either our dearly held moral beliefs or the conjunction of premises in support of the problem. I argue that we should take the latter option.
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If, according to conciliationism, we should substantially revise our beliefs in the face of peer disagreement, and if there are peer disagreements about conciliationism itself, then we should substantially revise our belief in conciliationism. In this work, I argue that in most cases of disagreements about conciliationism, the individual who already accepts conciliationism has better reasons for accepting conciliationism than for accepting that so-and-so is her or his epistemic peer. The reason for this depends on the nature of the reasons. The reasons for accepting conciliationism are direct and immediate. The reasons for accepting that so-and-so is my peer are indirect and mediated.
- “Is the Peer Evaluative Requirement Compatible with Bayesianism?” (work in progress)
In assessing cases of ordinary and extreme disagreement, we have strong intuitions about how these cases ought to be evaluated. The peer evaluative requirement aims to capture these intuitions. In this work, I explore whether the intuitive credence shifts that are recommended by this evaluative requirement coheres with standard Bayesian conditionalization. In order to see whether it coheres, an obstacle has to be met first: how do we weigh reasons for and against two different propositions? The two different propositions in question are: (1) My dissenter is my peer (call it P), and (2) my dissenter has made a mistake (call it Q). I explore different ways to make a connection between P and Q in order to overcome this obstacle.
- “The First- and Second-Order Darwinian Dilemma” (work in progress)
In this work, I take a close look at the implications of Sharron Street’s Darwinian Dilemma. I first consider the third-factor response to the dilemma. A third-factor account postulates a common-cause structure that explains why our normative judgments track the mind-independent normative facts. I argue that third-factor accounts fall prey to a second-order Darwinian dilemma. However, Street’s own solution to the dilemma is also vulnerable to this second-order dilemma, and so the dilemma is not a special problem for moral realism. The wide applicability of the second-order dilemma exposes an important feature of the Darwinian dilemma: the evolutionary story is not required to generate the second-order dilemma. All we need to generate the second-order dilemma is the fact that our normative judgments have a causal source of some sort. I argue that we should reject the second-order dilemma because it overgeneralizes. With the second-order dilemma out of the way, it is no longer question begging to posit a substantive first-order normative claim to combat the first-order dilemma. Whether a substantive normative claim can overturn the first-order dilemma will depend on our reasons for accepting the substantive first-order normative claim over our reasons for accepting the first-order dilemma. I argue that there is a substantive first-order normative claim that can overturn the first-order dilemma.
- “Faith as Authority” (manuscript available)
I explain and defend an account of faith that is based on the notion of authority. This account is unique in that it takes the primary object of faith to be a person rather than a proposition. Roughly, I have faith in someone S with respect to some domain D just in case I take that someone to be an authority in that domain. This involves (1) accepting that S is an authority in D, and (2) having a disposition to accept claims made by S that fall under D even if you currently don’t have access to S’s first-order evidence for these claims. One implication of this account is that there are different types of faiths that correspond to different types of authorities. There are authorities about epistemic matters, practical matters, and moral matters. Religious faith is unique in that having religious faith in a divine being typically amounts to taking this divine being to be an authority not just about epistemic matters, but also about moral matters and how one should generally structure his or her life. Lastly, I argue that it is rational to have faith in someone just in case you are rational in holding that this individual is the relevant type of authority. This occurs when you have sufficient higher-order evidence that this alleged authority has the relevant first-order evidence.
- “Worship as Real Union” (manuscript available)
I defend an account of worship as real union, where real union is understood in terms of the patristic doctrine of theosis. To worship the Divine is to participate in the goodness of God, in an ontological sense. Whether we can participate in God depends on the coherence of an important distinction in God that we see glimpses of as early as the Cappadocian Fathers and it blossoms with the writings of St. Gregory of Palamas. The distinction is between the essence and divine energies of God. We cannot participate in the essence of God. Otherwise the distinction in kind between us and God would cease to be a real distinction. Rather, we participate in the divine energies of God. However, if the divine energies of God are created, then it is impossible for us to participate in God who is an uncreated being. Hence, the divine energies must be uncreated. This implies that God is not absolutely simple because there is a distinction between his essence and energies. We should accept this account for the following reasons. First, this account has a clear way of showing that worship is something that can only obtain between persons. Second, this account has objective truth-conditions: whether you are worshiping someone depends on whether in fact you are in real union with that someone. Third, this account explains why we have a normative reason to worship God: in so far as we have a normative reason to be good, we also have a normative reason to worship God because participating in God is the means by which we become increasingly good since He is the source of goodness.