(B.A., Cornell; B.Phil., Oxford; Ph.D., Harvard; D.Litt
(hon.), Oxford), University Professor, Professor of Law, Professor of
Philosophy. He specializes in Political Philosophy, Ethics,
Epistemology, and Philosophy of Mind. He is a Fellow of the American
Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Corresponding Fellow of the British
Academy, and a Member of the American Philosophical Society, and has
received a Mellon Distinguished Achievement Award in the Humanities, the
Rolf Schock Prize in Logic and Philosophy, and the Balzan Prize in Moral
He is the author of The
Possibility of Altruism
(Oxford, 1970, reprinted Princeton, 1978),
(Cambridge, 1979), The
View From Nowhere
(Oxford, 1986), What
Does It All Mean?
(Oxford, 1987), Equality
(Oxford, 1991), Other
(Oxford, 1995), The Last
The Myth of Ownership: Taxes and Justice
(with Liam Murphy) (Oxford, 2002), and Concealment and Exposure
"Prosblogion was established in June of 2004 following the
suggestion by Jeremy Pierce (Syracuse) that the blogoshpere needed a
group philosophy of religion blog. Our contributors range from
advanced graduate students to senior figures in the field of philosophy
of religion, and include theists, atheists, and agnostics. Because so
many of us work in places where we may be the only one in our field
interested in issues in philosophy of religion, Prosblogion
often serves as a platform for those hallway conversations one might
have if they had more likeminded colleagues. Much to the credit of
our contributors and readers, a number of those conversations have made
the journey from blog posts to published articles."
Certain Doubts, a blog devoted to matters epistemic, began on June 9,
2004. The blog was originally sponsored by the University of Missouri
when its administrator Jonathan L. Kvanvig was professor of philosophy
and chair of the philosophy department there. It has since moved to
Baylor University, being housed there since the fall of 2006. The list
of contributors is a who’s who of contemporary epistemology, and any
epistemologists who are not on the list should feel free to contact the
site administrator if they wish to be a contributor.
"This is the official website of Professor Keith Ward. Read an introduction to his academic career together with recommended books to help understand his thinking.
Read about recent lectures, books and posts from the last two years. Read a fuller CV to find out more about his career.
Browse a full book list including articles in books on the subjects of Faith and Reason, the Diversity of Religions, the Idea of God, Liberal Theology, Religion and Science, and Ethical Issues."
I've realized I have a problem with writing this blog, apart from lack of time and a general aversion to the genre. What should I write about? The natural impulse is to write about what I'm thinking about, what I'm working on. But there are two reasons against this: (i) I don't want to write poor formulations of ideas that need a lot more space and time to formulate well, and (ii) I don't want to put my new ideas into the blogosphere where they can become anybody's property but mine. So I need to write about something less central to my intellectual concerns--but that just isn't very appealing. I end up writing about things that have caught my fancy recently or that I think might be helpful to people (boring!). Or else I just talk about tennis, which is fine by me but not perhaps of interest to most readers of this "intellectual" blog.
Paul Newman as Luke in Cool Hand Luke (Jalem Productions: 1967).
Luke: Are you still believin' in that big bearded Boss up there? You think he's watchin' us? Dragline: Get in here. Ain't ya scared? Ain't ya scared of dyin'? Luke: Dyin'? Boy, he can have this little life any time he wants to. Do ya hear that? Are ya hearin' it? Come on. You're welcome to it, ol' timer. Let me know you're up there. Come on. Love me, hate me, kill me, anything. Just let me know it. ... I'm just standin' in the rain talkin' to myself.
Andreas J. Kostenberger and Michael J. Kruger (Crossway: June, 2010), 250 pages.
Beginning with Walter Bauer in 1934, the denial of clear orthodoxy
in early Christianity has shaped and largely defined modern New
Testament criticism, recently given new life through the work of
spokesmen like Bart Ehrman. Spreading from academia into mainstream
media, the suggestion that diversity of doctrine in the early church
led to many competing orthodoxies is indicative of today's postmodern
relativism. Authors Köstenberger and Kruger engage Ehrman and others in
this polemic against a dogged adherence to popular ideals of diversity. Köstenberger
and Kruger's accessible and careful scholarship not only counters the
"Bauer Thesis" using its own terms, but also engages overlooked
evidence from the New Testament. Their conclusions are drawn from
analysis of the evidence of unity in the New Testament, the formation
and closing of the canon, and the methodology and integrity of the
recording and distribution of religious texts within the early church.
"Naturalism; Or, Living within One's Means" in Confessions of a Confirmed Extensionalist (Harvard University Press: 2008), p. 462.
In science itself I certainly want to include the farthest flights of physics and cosmology, as well as experimental psychology, history, and the social sciences. Also, mathematics, insofar at least as it is applied, for it is indispensable to natural science. What then am I excluding as "some prior philosophy," and why? Descartes' dualism between mind and body is called metaphysics, but it could as well be reckoned as science, however false. He even had a causal theory of the interaction of mind and body through the pineal gland. If I saw indirect explanatory benefit in positing sensibilia, possibilia, spirits, a Creator, I would joyfully accord them scientific status too, on a par with such avowedly scientific positions as quarks and black holes. What then have I banned under the name of prior philosophy? ¶ Demarcation is not my purpose. My point in the characterization of naturalism ... is just that the most we can reasonably seek in support of an inventory and description of reality is testability of it observable consequences in the time-honored hypothetico-deductive way — whereof more anon. Naturalism need not cast aspersion on irresponsible metaphysics, however deserved, much less on soft sciences or on the speculative reaches of the hard ones, except insofar as a firmer basis is claimed for them than the experimental method itself.
"Cosmological Arguments" in Philosophy of Religion: An Anthology, Charles Taliaferro and Paul J. Griffiths, eds. (Wiley-Blackwell: 2003), p. 252.
On the other side, the hypothesis of divine creation is very unlikely. Although if there were a god with the traditional attributes and powers, he would be able and perhaps willing to create such a universe as this, we have to weigh in the scales the likelihood or unlikelihood that there is a god with these attributes and powers. And the key power ... is that of fulfilling intentions directly, without any physical or causal mediation, without materials or instruments. There is nothing in our background knowledge that makes it comprehensible, let alone likely, that anything should have such a power. All our knowledge of intention-fulfillment is of embodied intentions being fulfilled indirectly by way of bodily changes and movements which are causally related to the intended result, and where the ability thus to fulfill intentions itself has a causal history, either of evolutionary development or of learning or of both. Only by ignoring such key features do we get an analogue of the supposed divine action.
Theism and Explanation (Routledge : June 2009), p. 146.
So yes, my arguments might give us reason to prefer natural
explanations when these are available, and to seek natural explanations
when they are not. It follows that a proposed theistic explanation
should be, at best, an explanation of last resort. One might argue that
this view — that we should abandon the search for natural explanations
only in extremis — represents a kind of "presumption of naturalism." And so it does. ¶ My own view is that the naturalistic research tradition of the sciences has been stunningly successful and must rank as one of the greatest of human achievements. But I think it is poorly served by attempts to define science in such a way as to exclude the supernatural. The debate over intelligent design is instructive in this regard. One might win a legal victory by insisting that this proposed theistic explanation is not what we customarily call "science." And this is true, for contingent historical reasons. But it would be much more effective to show that this particular proposed theistic explanation, with its deliberately vague appeal to an unspecified "designer," is practically vacuous. it lacks the first and most important virtue of any proposed explanation, namely that of testability. It follows that this particular proposed theistic explanation should be rejected. ¶ Could the theist produce a better one? I doubt it, but then it would be most regrettable if we were to forbid him to try. Nothing could be more antithetical to the spirit of free enquiry than this kind of censorship. If proposed theistic explanations are to be defeated, as they have been so often in the past, it will be by way of the free contest of ideas.
Charles Mathewes (Wiley-Blackwell: May 2010), 280 pages.
This accessible introduction to religious ethics focuses on the major forms of ethical reasoning encompassing the three “Abrahamic” religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It examines the ethical dimensions of these faiths, both individually and comparatively, by exploring how and what they think about a series of important issues such as friendship, marriage, homosexuality, lying, forgiveness and its limits, the death penalty, the environment, warfare, and the meaning of work, career, and vocation. In doing all of this, the book offers insight both into these particular traditions and into the common moral challenges confronting all people today. The book pays serious attention not just to what each faith has to say about an issue, but also to how each faith explains and defends its moral viewpoints. Equal attention is given to each faith’s deliberation and judgments on specific issues, the styles and modes of reasoning by which those judgments are reached, and the ways in which those judgments reveal some of these traditions’ deepest convictions about God, the cosmos, and humanity. Timely and insightful, Understanding Religious Ethics offers a powerful model of how the traditions can be understood and engaged charitably and critically – the sort of understanding and engagement that will be increasingly necessary in the twenty-first century. ~ Product Description
Massimo Pigliucci (University of Chicago Press: May 2010), 332 pages.
Creationists who dismiss Darwin's theory of evolution. Parents who refuse to vaccinate their children. Climate change deniers who dismiss the warming planet as a hoax. These are just some of the groups that, despite robust scientific evidence, embrace pseudoscientific beliefs and practices. Why do they believe bunk? And how does their ignorance threaten us all? Noted skeptic Massimo Pigliucci sets out to separate the fact from the fantasy in this entertaining exploration of the nature of science, the borderlands of fringe science, and– borrowing a famous phrase from philosopher Jeremy Bentham–the nonsense on stilts. Covering a range of controversial topics, Pigliucci cuts through the ambiguity surrounding science to look more closely at how science is conducted, how it is disseminated, how it is interpreted, and what it means to our society. The result is in many ways a "taxonomy of bunk" that explores the intersection of science and culture at large. ~ Product Description
Robert C. Koons and George Bealer, eds. (Oxford University Press: May 2010), 440 pages.
Twenty-three philosophers examine the doctrine of materialism and find it wanting. Their case against materialism comprises arguments from conscious experience, from the unity and identity of the person, from intentionality, mental causation, and knowledge. The contributors include leaders in the fields of philosophy of mind, metaphysics, ontology, and epistemology, who respond ably to the most recent versions and defenses of materialism. The modal arguments of Kripke and Chalmers, Jackson's knowledge argument, Kim's exclusion problem, and Burge's anti-individualism all play a part in the building of a powerful cumulative case against the materialist research program. Several papers address the implications of contemporary brain and cognitive research (the psychophysics of color perception, blindsight, and the effects of commissurotomies), adding a posteriori arguments to the classical a priori critique of reductionism. All of the current versions of materialism — reductive and non-reductive, functionalist, eliminativist, and new wave materialism — come under sustained and trenchant attack. In addition, a wide variety of alternatives to the materialist conception of the person receive new and illuminating attention, including anti-materialist versions of naturalism, property dualism, Aristotelian and Thomistic hylomorphism, and non-Cartesian accounts of substance dualism. ~ Synopsis
James Hannam (Icon Books Ltd: May 2010), 448 pages.
The adjective 'medieval' is now a synonym for superstition and ignorance. Yet without the work of medieval scholars there could have been no Galileo, no Newton and no Scientific Revolution. In "God's Philosophers", James Hannam traces the neglected roots of modern science in the medieval world. He debunks many of the myths about the Middle Ages, showing that medieval people did not think the earth was flat, nor did Columbus 'prove' that it is a sphere. Contrary to common belief, the Inquisition burnt nobody for their science, nor was Copernicus afraid of persecution. No Pope tried to ban human dissection or the number zero. On the contrary, as Hannam reveals, the Middle Ages gave rise to staggering achievements in both science and technology: for instance, spectacles and the mechanical clock were both invented in thirteenth-century Europe. Ideas from the Far East, like printing, gunpowder and the compass, were taken further by Europeans than the Chinese had imagined possible. The compass helped Columbus to discover the New World in 1492 while printing allowed an incredible 20 million books to be produced in the first 50 years after Gutenberg published his Bible in 1455. And Hannam argues that scientific progress was often made thanks to, rather than in spite of, the influence of Christianity. Charting an epic journey through six centuries of history, God's Philosophers brings back to light the discoveries of neglected geniuses like John Buridan, Nicole Oresme and Thomas Bradwardine, as well as putting into context the contributions of more familiar figures like Roger Bacon, William of Ockham and St Thomas Aquinas. Besides being a thrilling history of a period of surprising invention and innovation, God's Philosophers reveals the debt modern science and technology owe to the supposedly 'dark' ages of medieval Europe. ~ Product Description
The Panda's Thumb: More Reflections in Natural History (WW Norton & Co.: 1980), pp. 20-21.
Our textbooks like to illustrate evolution with examples of optimal design — nearly perfect mimicry of a dead leaf by a butterfly or of a poisonous species by a palatable relative. But ideal design is a lousy argument for evolution, for it mimics the postulated action of an omnipotent creator. Odd arrangements and funny solutions are the proof of evolution — paths that a sensible God would never tread but that a natural process, constrained by history, follows perforce.
John Greco (Cambridge University Press: April 2010), 216 pages.
When we affirm (or deny) that someone knows something, we are making a value judgment of sorts — we are claiming that there is something superior (or inferior) about that person's opinion, or their evidence, or perhaps about them. A central task of the theory of knowledge is to investigate the sort of evaluation at issue. This is the first book to make 'epistemic normativity,' or the normative dimension of knowledge and knowledge ascriptions, its central focus. John Greco argues that knowledge is a kind of achievement, as opposed to mere lucky success. This locates knowledge within a broader, familiar normative domain. By reflecting on our thinking and practices in this domain, it is argued, we gain insight into what knowledge is and what kind of value it has for us.
Daniel Stoljar (Routledge: April 2010), 252 pages.
Physicalism, the thesis that everything is physical, is one of the most controversial problems in philosophy. Its adherents argue that there is no more important doctrine in philosophy, whilst its opponents claim that its role is greatly exaggerated. In this superb introduction to the problem Daniel Stoljar focuses on three fundamental questions: the interpretation, truth and philosophical significance of physicalism. In answering these questions he covers the following key topics: A brief history of physicalism and its definitions; What a physical property is and how physicalism meets challenges from empirical sciences; ‘Hempel’s dilemma’ and the relationship between physicalism and physics; Physicalism and key debates in metaphysics and philosophy of mind, such as supervenience, identity and conceivability; Physicalism and causality. Additional features include chapter summaries, annotated further reading and a glossary of technical terms, making Physicalism ideal for those coming to the problem for the first time. ~ Product Description
James Davison Hunter (Oxford University Press: April 2010), 368 pages.
The call to make the world a better place is inherent in the Christian belief and practice. But why have efforts to change the world by Christians so often failed or gone tragically awry? And how might Christians in the 21st century live in ways that have integrity with their traditions and are more truly transformative? In To Change the World, James Davison Hunter offers persuasive — and provocative — answers to these questions. Hunter begins with a penetrating appraisal of the most popular models of world-changing among Christians today, highlighting the ways they are inherently flawed and therefore incapable of generating the change to which they aspire. Because change implies power, all Christians eventually embrace strategies of political engagement. Hunter offers a trenchant critique of the political theologies of the Christian Right and Left and the Neo-Anabaptists, taking on many respected leaders, from Charles W. Colson to Jim Wallis and Stanley Hauerwas. Hunter argues that all too often these political theologies worsen the very problems they are designed to solve. What is really needed is a different paradigm of Christian engagement with the world, one that Hunter calls "faithful presence" — an ideal of Christian practice that is not only individual but institutional; a model that plays out not only in all relationships but in our work and all spheres of social life. He offers real life examples, large and small, of what can be accomplished through the practice of "faithful presence." Such practices will be more fruitful, Hunter argues, more exemplary, and more deeply transfiguring than any more overtly ambitious attempts can ever be. Written with keen insight, deep faith, and profound historical grasp, To Change the World will forever change the way Christians view and talk about their role in the modern world. ~ Product Description
Louis Pojman and Lewis Vaughn, eds. (Oxford University Press: April 2010), 4th edition, 1008 pages.
Now in its fourth edition, Louis P. Pojman and Lewis Vaughn's acclaimed The Moral Life: An Introductory Reader in Ethics and Literature brings together an extensive and varied collection of eighty-five classical and contemporary readings on ethical theory and practice. Integrating literature with philosophy in an innovative way, the book uses literary works to enliven and make concrete the ethical theory or applied issues addressed. Literary works by Angelou, Camus, Hawthorne, Huxley, Ibsen, Le Guin, Melville, Orwell, Styron, Tolstoy, and many others lead students into such philosophical concepts and issues as relativism; utilitarianism; virtue ethics; the meaning of life; freedom and autonomy; sex, love, and marriage; animal rights; and terrorism. These topics are developed further through readings by philosophers including Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Singer, Sartre, Nagel, and Thomson. This unique anthology emphasizes the personal dimension of ethics, which is often ignored or minimized in ethics texts. It also incorporates chapter introductions, study questions, suggestions for further reading, and biographical sketches of the writers.