Continuing discussion.

EPS Blog

This is the blog area for the Evangelical Philosophical Society and its journal, Philosophia Christi.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Interview with Michael Austin on Humility and Human Flourishing

Oxford University Press is set to release Humility and Human Flourishing from Michael Austinthe newly elected President of the Evangelical Philosophical Society. In the below interview, Michael talks about his latest book and the importance of further philosophical and theological work to be done on humility as a virtue integral for human flourishing.


What is Humility?
In short, humility is “proper self-assessment” and “a self-lowering other-centeredness”. I analyze it in much more detail, of course. To do so, I employ Robert Adams’ notion of the modularity of virtue. So in terms of what will be true of the humble person, I discuss several cognitive, emotive, and active modules of humility, as follows:
(C1) The humble person possesses self-knowledge with respect to his virtues, vices, and limitations, both personal and qua human person.
(C2) The humble person knows that God deserves the credit for her salvation, talents, abilities, accomplishments, and virtues.
(C3) The humble person believes that he ought to have a prima facie preference for the satisfaction of the interests of others over the satisfaction of his own interests.
(C4) The humble person will not conceive of human beings in a hierarchical manner in light of their equal inherent dignity and worth as image-bearers of God.
(C5) The humble person is properly concerned with how others perceive her.
(E1) The humble person has a prima facie preference for the satisfaction of the interests of others over his own.
(E2) The humble person is motivated to act by her love for God and for the sake of his kingdom.
(A1) The humble person will be disposed to obey God.
(A2) The humble person will be disposed to engage in self-sacrificial actions for the good of others.
There is a lot here, but this is the account of the humble person that I offer as a Christological account of this moral virtue in such a person. The account is grounded in philosophical reflection and analysis, classic and contemporary theology and biblical studies, and some recent empirical work on this virtue. Reading the above, one might wonder about how I individuate humility from other virtues. For that, you’ll have to read the book!
With that account in mind, how is a philosophical-theological account of Humility integral to an account of Human Flourishing?
There are many ways, but one that stands out is that humility is a virtue that is central in and essential for rightly relating us to God, others, and to the good, the true, and the beautiful in creation and God’s kingdom. On a Christian account of human flourishing, humility is rational, benefits its possessor, and is conducive to individual and social flourishing. Given the historical skepticism of thinkers such as Hume and Nietzsche, and contemporary thinkers like Tara Smith, it is important to defend humility’s status as a moral virtue as part of a larger case for the rationality and goodness of the Christian moral life, insofar as humility is an essential aspect of such a life.
How did this project come about for you?
I was reading Erik Wielenberg’s Value and Virtue in a Godless Universe, where he discusses a naturalistic account of the virtue of humility but also some of what C.S. Lewis thought about it. I thought Lewis was partially right, but realized that in both popular and scholarly literature, there are many inaccurate or truncated views about the nature of humility. So that got me into the topic and just 8 short years later my work resulted in this book!
That's interesting. What did you discover about this topic that most intrigued you?
I constructed my initial account of the virtue, as I noted above, employing philosophy, theology, and biblical studies. I was fascinated to find that the operational definition of this trait that is used by many psychologists corresponds to my account. This helped my work substantially. For example, some of the ways in which I respond to Hume’s criticisms of humility’s status as a virtue make use of this excellent work in psychology on the virtue of humility.
What have you found to be so distinct about a Christian account of humility?
For me what is most distinct from a Christian perspective is that humility is primarily an interpersonal virtue. The current naturalistic versions of humility on offer construe it as a self-regarding virtue, and several Christian accounts follow suit. While humility does have self-regarding elements, including a knowledge of our limits and other kinds of self-knowledge, that is not the heart of the virtue. The picture we get from examining the Scriptures is that it is primarily other-regarding; it is about putting the interests of others ahead of one’s own, as the gospels and Philippians 2:1-11 make clear that Jesus himself habitually did. So my initial concerns about construing humility as merely self-knowledge, a knowledge of one’s limits, turned out to be confirmed by not only an in-depth scriptural analysis of humility, but of what many have thought about this trait over the centuries. This means that humility is a robustly action-guiding virtue, and is relevant to a variety of issues in applied ethics as well as spiritual formation. I discuss how this is so in the book.
Your project is engaged in 'analytic moral theology.' What do you find distinct about that approach and why does it matter?
It is distinct insofar as it involves approaching theological topics where moral concerns are central, with the ambitions of an analytic philosopher: prizing particular intellectual virtues, using the analytic style of discourse, seeking clarity, and using the other tools of analytic philosophy. This is not the only method that we should use, but it is one that brings some underutilized tools to bear on Christian moral theology. I discuss this in more detail in the book, and consider several objections to it. One desired result of this kind of work is that it helps us acquire moral knowledge that we can then apply as we see fit. In this sense, it is quite practical. In short, to seek to grow in and exemplify humility, it helps to know what it actually is!
The book ends with a reflection on John 13. How is Jesus brilliant on 'humility and human flourishing.'
First and foremost, Jesus is brilliant on these topics because both his teaching and his life exemplify humility and human flourishing. In the foot-washing we see his brilliance and humility on display. He offers us a way out of our own crippling egoistic pride, not only by lighting the way, so to speak, but by enabling us to be transformed by his grace into the freedom that humility can deliver.
Given the contours of your book, what do you recommend for further philosophical-theological work to be done by Christians in this area?
I think more work should be done on other virtues and a general Christian account of flourishing, by Christians. Then, we need to translate this scholarly work into more popular forms so that the picture of the good person and the good life that we see in Christ is made concrete, specific, and attainable by those who humbly depend on him for doing seeking to experience and embody God’s goodness. As Dallas Willard argued, we need a curriculum for Christlikeness. My view is that the evangelical segment of the Christian church in the United States is in desperate need of a moral reformation, with the pursuit of knowing and loving God at the center of our lives, in tandem with a true transformation of character. Otherwise, the movement will die out, and rightly so. It is up to Christian scholars to work in moral theology, offering insights related to both theory and practice. I’d like to see what happened with philosophy of religion and apologetics resources in the past 30 years also happen in the moral realm. We need popular-level resources for how to grow that are grounded in excellent scholarship, but also aimed at becoming, as C.S. Lewis said, “little Christs.”
You can learn more about Michael Austin's work by visiting his personal website. Additionally, the Winter 2018 issue of Philosophia Christi will feature a symposium discussion on Erik Wielenberg's "Godless Normative Realism" as an alternative to theistic accounts of moral realism, with responses from William Lane Craig, Tyler D. McNabb, Mark C. Murphy, Adam L. Johnson, and with a final reply by Wielenberg. Subscribe today!

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Friday, November 2, 2018

Virtue Ethics Turns 60: The Revolution Gets a Senior Discount

In the January 1958 issue of Philosophy, British philosopher G. E. M. (Gertrude Elizabeth Margaret—“Elizabeth”) Anscombe (1919-2001) published one of the most important philosophical articles of the twentieth century, “Modern Moral Philosophy.” (You may recognize Anscombe as the young philosopher who, ten years earlier, bested C. S. Lewis in a debate at the Oxford Socratic Club.)

Other than Edmund Gettier’s 1963 piece in Analysis, “Is Justified True Belief Knowledge,” arguably no single philosophy article has generated so much discussion and lasting influence. One legacy of “Modern Moral Philosophy” is Anscombe’s introduction of the term consequentialism, which has since become the standard way to describe ethical views like utilitarianism, according to which the moral value of an action is a function solely of the consequences produced by it. (Brute facts is another common philosophical term Anscombe introduced here.)

But by far the most significant effect of “Modern Moral Philosophy” was its defining role in the birth of contemporary virtue ethics, as an alternative to the dominant Kantian and utilitarian approaches. (Alasdair MacIntyre’s After Virtue, in 1981, was the second key moment.)

Of course, there’s actually nothing new about this movement. It’s a recovery—a return to the classical philosophical and theological tradition, especially (for Anscombe herself) to Aristotle. But in 1958 (and in the 1980’s, when I first studied moral philosophy), focusing on virtues and character was new and exciting—a revolution.

It still is exciting and revolutionary, at least to me. But now, like other revolutions of that era, this one has reached senior status.

Is virtue ethics now old hat? 

Has virtue ethics become old and creaky? Irrelevant? Its energy spent or dwindling?

Hardly. It’s gone mainstream.

Moral philosophers and theologians are actively producing fruitful analyses of a whole range of virtues (and vices), and continue to do exciting work in moral psychology and action theory, neglected areas identified by Anscombe as needing philosophical attention. But taking virtue seriously has moved far beyond philosophy. It’s now mainstream in the field of psychology (see, for example, Peterson and Seligman’s massive Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification) and education. In addition, talk of “human flourishing”—another of Anscombe’s distinctive emphases—now pervades all the disciplines.

To some extent, these effects of “Modern Moral Philosophy” carry a bit of irony. As with her chief philosophical influence, Ludwig Wittgenstein (who called her “old man”), Anscombe’s writing was terse and, dare I say (with appropriately British understatement), “not always as clear as we might wish.” This is evident in the very different interpretations made of her arguments in the article, particularly concerning the notion of moral obligation.

According to Anscombe,
the concepts of obligation, and duty—moral obligation and moral duty, that is to say—and of what is morally right and wrong, and of the moral sense of “ought,” ought to be jettisoned if this is psychologically possible; because they are survivals, or derivatives from survivals, from an earlier conception of ethics which no longer generally survives, and are only harmful without it. 
And what is this earlier conception? “The answer is in history: between Aristotle and us came Christianity, with its law conception of ethics.”
To have a law conception of ethics is to hold that what is needed for conformity with the virtues . . . is required by divine law. Naturally it is not possible to have such a conception unless you believe in God as a lawgiver; like Jews, Stoics, and Christians. But if such a conception is dominant for many centuries, and then is given up, it is a natural result that the concepts of “obligation,” of being bound or required as by a law, should remain though they had lost their root. 
According to Anscombe, the “modern” ethical theories of both Kantianism and utilitarianism, with their talk of “moral obligation,” unwittingly presuppose what is only valid within the framework of divine law. But since “we” no longer believe in a divine lawgiver, she seems to be saying, we should give up on such language. Instead, we should simply focus, as did Aristotle, on virtues.

This is exactly what modern virtue ethicists, following Anscombe, have done.

The irony, however, is that Elizabeth Anscombe herself was a devout Christian, a strong believer in divine law and its expression in the natural law tradition. Indeed, she defended it in print and practiced it in her own life—from outspoken and controversial opposition to the bombing of Hiroshima, prior to writing “Modern Moral Philosophy,” to arrests and imprisonment for non-violent prolife activism as an elderly woman.

So in 1958, was Anscombe arguing, as commonly interpreted, that virtue ethics replace all moral thought based on moral obligation? Or was she employing a kind of modus tollens argument, indirectly commending the importance of acknowledging a divine basis of obligation? (See Julia Driver’s article on "Anscombe" in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.)

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Thursday, November 1, 2018

Humility and Human Flourishing: A Study in Analytic Moral Theology


In 2018, Oxford University Press will publish Humility and Human Flourishing: A Study in Analytic Moral Theology by Michael W. Austin, as part of the Oxford Studies in Analytic Theology series. Austin is Professor of Philosophy and Chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religion at Eastern Kentucky University. His research and teaching interests focus on ethics, both normative and applied, with a particular focus on virtue ethics and character development. His publications include Conceptions of Parenthood: Ethics and the Family (2007) and Being Good: Christian Virtues for Everyday Life (2012).

From the publisher's description of Humility and Human Flourishing:
In many Christian traditions, humility is often thought to play a central role in the moral and spiritual life. In this study of the moral virtue of humility, Michael W. Austin applies the methods of analytic philosophy to the field of moral theology in order analyze this virtue and its connections to human flourishing. The book is therefore best characterized as a work in analytic moral theology, and has two primary aims. First, it articulates and defends a particular Christian conception of the virtue of humility. It offers a Christological account of this trait, one that is grounded in the gospel accounts of the life of Christ as well as other key New Testament passages. The view of humility it offers and defends is biblically grounded, theologically informed, and philosophically sound. Second, the volume describes ways in which humility is constitutive of and conducive to human flourishing, Christianly understood. It argues that humility is rational, benefits its possessor, and contributes to its possessor being good qua human. Austin also examines several issues in applied virtue ethics. He considers some of the ways in which humility is relevant to several of the classic spiritual disciplines, such as prayer, fasting, solitude, silence, and service. He considers humility's relevance to issues related to religious pluralism and tolerance. Finally, the book concludes with a discussion of the relevance of humility for family life and how it can function as a virtue in the context of sport.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Scott Smith: Christian Philosophers Should Care about Naturalism's Effect on the Church

Longtime EPS member and Philosophia Christi contributor, Biola's Scott Smith, applies his philosophical arguments against naturalism and Christian physicalism to discerning the effects of naturalism on the church. See his recently released video:



Moreover, in his Summer 2018 release of Authentically Emergent, not only does Smith provide an updated response to 'emergent church' advocates and their progressive Christianity but he offers a word to fellow conservative evangelicals in the West, especially in the U.S.: be alert to how we have become 'naturalized' or 'de-supernaturalized' in our thinking and practices.

Scott's various academic books have sought to address the problems of naturalism on knowledge, and especially moral knowledge (see, for example, In Search of Moral Knowledge; Naturalism and our Knowledge of Reality).

Writing recently at his website about Authentically Emergent and his response to emergent church views, Smith writes:
Importantly, I think they [emergent church advocates] miss the mark in two subtle, yet deeply important ways: first, I think they do not realize a root problem in all too many conservative churches. I think that these churches have been unwittingly, yet deeply, shaped by naturalism, in the sense that, practically, God has become irrelevant for their lives in various ways and to various, yet significant, extents. That means that in those regards, they live in the “flesh” – their own sinful propensities. This can be described as a practical atheism.  
So, one thing I do [in Authentically Emergent] is show how many historical, cultural, philosophical, scientific, and other factors have shaped Christians in the west, and the US In particular, so that in various ways many Christians don’t really expect God to show up in their lives – in many ways, such faith has been de-supernaturalized. But, second, and ironically, I think that McLaren, et al. don’t realize that they are advocating a kind of Christianity that also has been deeply naturalized.  
Instead, I argue that that the real solution both groups need is to embrace the fullness of Christ, in fullness of Spirit and truth, as Paul describes in Ephesians. That way, Jesus Himself can be powerfully manifested in Christians’ lives, which is so desperately needed today.
The importance for all Christians to take seriously the empowering present of the Spirit has been an important theme and motivation for Scott Smith's philosophical and theological work. In a 2016 article he wrote:
Surely God is at work doing many things in the United States, and evangelicals have been trying to hold to the doctrinal truths of Christianity. Moreover, Christians are to be marked by God’s presence and power. Nevertheless, it seems that, overall, evangelicals do not have much influence, especially given the promised power of the gospel and the risen Lord Jesus, and His promised presence. So, where is the power and presence of the Lord?  
With this in mind, I have been impressed by how often Paul mentions the fullness of the Lord in his letter to the Ephesians. I think this emphasis is not minor; rather, it is one of vital importance to the Christian life. But, I also think too many Christians, particularly in the states, do not really appreciate it. Paul explains how we, even in the increasingly secular west, can know and experience God’s amazing power and presence.
Writing in a 2017 issue of the Christian Scholar's Review [CSR], Smith calls Christian scholars to embrace a way of doing scholarship, teaching and worldview integration that is attuned to the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit in light of how academic disciplines [and often Christian practice toward those disciplines] have become naturalized.
The goal of this paper is to help flesh out more contours of a biblical theology of the Spirit, with a view toward the roles and work of the Spirit in integration, teaching, scholarship, and formation in Christian higher education. I will start with a development of that model. Then, I will shift to survey, as well as assess, how our understanding of the Spirit’s role in our profession has been shaped by the influences of modernity and postmodernity. Finally, I will apply this model to real-life issues and case studies, to help show how it works in practice.
For Scott Smith, simply being a Christian who does excellent philosophical work is not sufficient for producing work that is full of life [whether for the academy or the church or wider culture].

Scott's own experience models the power of learning to abide in Jesus as the fount of all life, wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. And it is not about merely 'getting' something from Jesus via the Holy Spirit (e.g., insights, or specific knowledge of a problem] or instrumentalizing communion with Him for the sake of scholarship Scott cautions in his 2017 CSR article, "Toward a More Biblical (and Pneumatological) Model for Integration, Teaching, and Scholarship":
If we do not go to [God], on his terms, for his insight and wisdom, including for what is not given directly in Scripture, then a danger of idolatry looms. For I think it would be all too easy to act (even unconsciously) as though we are our own god. How? Since Scripture does not give us detailed knowledge about all the various disciplines, then just like Adam and Eve in Gen. 3:5, we too would be tempted to think we could de- fine reality in all these disciplines, without having to depend utterly upon, and listen closely to, the voice of the Lord. That means that at least to some extent, we would be elevating their own hearts and minds over his, which is our default sinful mindset, an attitude that opens us up to the suggestions from Satan and cannot please God. But, if we do seek and abide in him in the ways Scripture indicates, then I think there is a rich, bountiful treasure we can receive from the Lord as we allow him to mentor us in our disciplines in evangelical higher education.

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Friday, August 17, 2018

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 Wiley.com, 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!!

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Thursday, August 16, 2018

Consciousness and the Ontology of Properties

In July 2018, Routledge published Consciousness and the Ontology of Properties, edited by Mihretu P. Guta.  Guta teaches philosophy at both the graduate and undergraduate levels at Biola University and at Azusa Pacific University, California, and is currently working on a manuscript entitled "The Metaphysics of Substance and Personhood: A Non-Theory-Laden Approach."

From the publishers description of Consciousness and the Ontology of Properties:
This book aims to show the centrality of a proper ontology of properties in thinking about consciousness. Philosophers have long grappled with what is now known as the hard problem of consciousness, i.e., how can subjective or qualitative features of our experience―such as how a strawberry tastes―arise from brain states? More recently, philosophers have incorporated what seems like promising empirical research from neuroscience and cognitive psychology in an attempt to bridge the gap between measurable mental states on the one hand, and phenomenal qualities on the other.
In Consciousness and the Ontology of Properties, many of the leading philosophers working on this issue, as well as a few emerging scholars, have written 14 new essays on this problem. The essays address topics as diverse as substance dualism, mental causation, the metaphysics of artificial intelligence, the logic of conceivability, constitution, extended minds, the emergence of consciousness, and neuroscience and the unity and neural correlates of consciousness, but are nonetheless unified in a collective objective: the need for a proper ontology of properties to understand the hard problem of consciousness, both on non-empirical and empirical grounds.

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Friday, June 29, 2018

William Lane Craig on "The Atonement"

In June 2018, Cambridge University Press released The Atonement by William Lane Craig, as part of its new "Elements in the Philosophy of Religion" series. William Lane Craig is Research Professor of Philosophy at the Talbot School of Theology, a former President of the Evangelical Philosophical Society, and founder of ReasonableFaith.org.

From the  abstract of The Atonement:
The Atonement offers in a concise compass an inter-disciplinary approach to the complex doctrine of the atonement, drawing upon biblical studies, church history, and analytic philosophy. Divided into three parts, the book first treats the biblical basis of the doctrine of the atonement, an aspect of the doctrine not often taken with sufficient seriousness by contemporary Christian philosophers writing on the subject. The second part highlights some of the principal alternative theories of the atonement offered in the pre-modern era, with a view to accurately expositing these often misunderstood theories. Finally part three, drawing upon insights from the philosophy of law, defends a multi-faceted atonement theory which features penal substitution as a central element. By employing distinctions found in legal thought often overlooked in philosophical treatments of atonement, the author seeks to offer a philosophically coherent account of Christ's atonement that connects closely with the biblical doctrine of forensic justification.
Enjoy a free sample of the book provided by Cambridge University Press.

For an example of Craig's recent presentations on the doctrine of the atonement, see this video clip of Craig's address for the 2018 Toronto Christian Scholar Symposium:

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Thursday, March 15, 2018

Get the Current Issue of Philosophia Christi if You Renew/Subscribe by March 19th!

For as low as $25, become an Annual Member of the Evangelical Philosophical Society or a Journal-only subscriber of Philosophia Christi and you will receive the Winter 2017 as your first issue!

The Winter 2017 issue feature a wide-array of articles, philosophical notes and book reviews that address issues of theodicy, cosmology, philosophical theology and concerns of meta-ethics.

Contributors include C. Stephen Evans, William Lane Craig, R. Scott Smith, Matthew Flannagan, Stephan T. Davis. Robert Larmer, John DePoe, Paul Gould, Donald T. Williams, John Warwick Montgomery and many others!

Various discussions emerge in the Winter 2017 issue, including:
  • Discussions about Theodicy and the Problem of Evil
  • Debates about Platonism, Absolute Creationism, and Divine Aseity
  • Assessments of Erik Wielenberg's "Autonomy Thesis." 
  • Critiques of Nicholas Wolterstorff's argument for same-sex marriage 
Renew/subscribe before March 19th to get the Winter 2017 issue!

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Monday, February 12, 2018

Approaching Philosophy of Religion's Key Thinkers, Concepts, Methods and Debates

In 2018, InterVarsity Press will release Approaching Philosophy of Religion: An Introduction to Key Thinkers, Concepts, Methods and Debates by Anthony C. Thiselton.  Thiselton is emeritus professor of Christian theology in the University of Nottingham, England, and a fellow of the British Academy. He has published twenty-five books spanning the fields of hermeneutics, New Testament studies, systematic theology, and philosophy of religion.

From the publisher's description of Approaching Philosophy of Religion:
Encountering philosophy of religion for the first time, we are like explorers arriving on an uncharted coastline. There are inviting bays and beaches, but rocky reefs and pounding surf as well. And what tribes may inhabit the land is anyone’s guess. But our cautious intrigue turns to confidence as Anthony Thiselton greets us as a native informant. Cheerfully imparting insider knowledge, mapping the major landmarks, and outlining the main figures and issues in its tribal debates, he teaches us the basics for gaining cultural fluency on these foreign shores. Approaching Philosophy of Religion is divided into three parts: Part I (Approaches) provides descriptions of the main entrance ramps to studying the subject, with lively case histories, working examples, and assessments of their lasting value. Part II (Concepts and Issues) gives us brief introductions to the origins and development of ideas, and highlights their significance in the work of major thinkers. Part III (Key Terms) supplies concise explanations of all the words and phrases that readers need to know in order to engage the subject. For students and anyone else reading and engaging philosophy of religion for the first time, Approaching Philosophy of Religion is the essential companion.

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Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Problem of Universals in Contemporary Philosophy

In 2018, Cambridge University Press will publish The Problem of Universals in Contemporary Philosophy, edited by Gabriele Galluzzo and‎ Michael J. Loux. Gabriele Galluzzo is Lecturer in Ancient Philosophy in the Department of Classics and Ancient History at the University of Exeter. Michael J. Loux is Shuster Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame.

From the publisher's description of The Problem of Universals: 
Are there any universal entities? Or is the world populated only by particular things? The problem of universals is one of the most fascinating and enduring topics in the history of metaphysics, with roots in ancient and medieval philosophy. This collection of new essays provides an innovative overview of the contemporary debate on universals. Rather than focusing exclusively on the traditional opposition between realism and nominalism, the contributors explore the complexity of the debate and illustrate a broad range of positions within both the realist and the nominalist camps. Realism is viewed through the lens of the distinction between constituent and relational ontologies, while nominalism is reconstructed in light of the controversy over the notion of trope. The result is a fresh picture of contemporary metaphysics, in which traditional strategies of dealing with the problem of universals are both reaffirmed and called into question.

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Monday, February 5, 2018

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!!

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Thursday, February 1, 2018

The Disappearance of Moral Knowledge

In 2018, Routledge Press will release The Disappearance of Moral Knowledge by the late Dallas Willard and edited by Steven L. Porter,‎ Aaron Preston,‎ and Gregg A. TenElshof. Dallas Willard was a Professor in the School of Philosophy at the University of Southern California, USA from 1965 to 2012. Steve L. Porter is Professor of Philosophy and Theology at Biola University, USA and Scholar in Residence at the Biola University Center for Christian Thought. Aaron Preston is Associate Professor and Chair of the Philosophy Department at Valparaiso University, USA. Gregg A. Ten Elshof is Professor of Philosophy at Biola University, USA and Scholar in Residence at the Biola University Center for Christian Thought.

From the publisher's description of The Disappearance of Moral Knowledge:
Based on an unfinished manuscript by the late philosopher Dallas Willard, this book makes the case that the 20th century saw a massive shift in Western beliefs and attitudes concerning the possibility of moral knowledge, such that knowledge of the moral life and of its conduct is no longer routinely available from the social institutions long thought to be responsible for it. In this sense, moral knowledge―as a publicly available resource for living―has disappeared. Via a detailed survey of main developments in ethical theory from the late 19th through the late 20th centuries, Willard explains philosophy’s role in this shift. In pointing out the shortcomings of these developments, he shows that the shift was not the result of rational argument or discovery, but largely of arational social forces―in other words, there was no good reason for moral knowledge to have disappeared. The Disappearance of Moral Knowledge is a unique contribution to the literature on the history of ethics and social morality. Its review of historical work on moral knowledge covers a wide range of thinkers including T.H Green, G.E Moore, Charles L. Stevenson, John Rawls, and Alasdair MacIntyre. But, most importantly, it concludes with a novel proposal for how we might reclaim moral knowledge that is inspired by the phenomenological approach of Knud Logstrup and Emmanuel Levinas. Edited and eventually completed by three of Willard’s former graduate students, this book marks the culmination of Willard’s project to find a secure basis in knowledge for the moral life.
For some preview of part of the book's argument, enjoy this two-part video presentation by Dallas Willard at the University of California-Irvine:

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Friday, January 19, 2018

Philosophical Contributions to Christian Spiritual Formation: An Interview with Steve Porter

We recently interviewed Steve Porter about his own journey, about philosophical contributions to Christian spiritual formation literature, and the tenth anniversary of the Journal of Spiritual Formation & Soul Care (JSFSC). Steve's role [among other things] includes teaching theology and philosophy for Talbot School of Theology's Institute for Spiritual Formation and Rosemead School of Psychology. He is also the Managing Editor of the JSFSC. Currently, he is also a scholar-in-residence for Biola's Center for Christian Thought.

At this point in your journey, who or what has most shaped your own thought, sense of calling and work as an apprentice of Jesus?
​Very early in my life (around age seven) I began to have rather undeniable (even if rare) experiences of God's presence. I had never heard of the possibility of such experiences in my church experience. While I had heard the stories of Moses' burning bush and Elijah's still small voice, I didn't know those were the sorts of ways God still operated with his people. So within a Christian tradition that did not emphasize an experiential relationship with God, I came to know otherwise. I also knew that such experiences of God's presence and love were transformational--mainly at an attitudinal level (e.g., joy). In junior high I came into contact with a pastor that helped me understand more fully what I was experiencing. But I did not encounter anyone who had a theory of how to follow Jesus in such a way that transformation was the norm. I pretty much thought you just went from experience to experience hoping for another fresh outpouring of the Spirit and that you tried really hard not to sin in the meantime.
Who helped guide you?
J. P. Moreland was the first one, I think, that began to put some theory around the spiritual life. He taught and lived it passionately, which was so helpful for me. And he kept talking about Dallas Willard, whom I really didn't appreciate at first. I thought Spirit of the Disciplines smacked of legalism. I just wasn't ready for it when I first read it at about twenty-years old. But eventually myself and a few other folks in graduate school got together and started doing some reading. Henri Nouwen, Richard Foster, Thomas Kelly, M. Robert Mulholland, EugenePeterson, and eventually back to Willard. Then, we thought we should hear more from some of these people so we went on to plan three spiritual formation conferences at Biola University in the mid-1990s which featured folks like Willard, Brennan Manning, James Houston, Glandion Carney, Emilie Griffin, LarryCrabb, and others. Rubbing shoulders with these folks really enlivened me to the realistic possibility of spiritual formation in Christ. And doing all of this in community with these friends was essential.
What were you coming to notice about you and the Spirit?
On my own I don't think I would have noticed as clearly what the Spirit of God was up to. I could see him at work in the others in ways that I was blind to myself. I should also say that somewhere along the way I was exposed to "pop" psychology and good Christian psychotherapy. Being in therapy has been a discipline for me on and off for close to thirty years. While I am sure God would have his way with me without therapy, having seen God use it so powerfully in my life I can't imagine my journey without it.
And you would eventually go study under Dallas Willard.
Yes, I did my Ph.D. at USC under Dallas' supervision. Again, it's hard to even imagine how I could have gotten along without my times with Dallas. He embodied the kingdom reality of God in a powerful way that I had never seen before or since. I have a book chapter entitled "The Evidential Force of Dallas Willard." He was a force to be reckoned with because Dallas, along with Paul, was "struggling with all [Christ's] energy that he powerfully works within me" (Col 1:29).
Academic and devotional writings on 'spirituality' among evangelicals tends to focus on one's interior - e.g., 'inner transformation.'   How has the Journal sought to address issues of Christian spirituality  in a more 'whole-life' sense?
Right, there has often been a perceived tension between "inner" and "outer" in Christian spirituality. Jesus was fairly insistent on the need to change the inner--cleaning the inside of the cup (Mt 23), the healthy tree produces healthy fruit (Mt 7), "For from within, out of people's hearts..." (Mk 7), etc. I think the importance is to see that the inner life is inherently connected with the entire person and the whole of a person's life. Perhaps we could say that the whole of life includes the inner as the pivotal dimension of the person. But it is this sort of discussion that is ripe for scholarly investigation and the Journal of Spiritual Formation & Soul Care seeks to host this sort of discussion. I will say that over our ten years of publishing we have had many articles and essays that focus on those dimensions of persons that are often neglected in contemporary evangelical spirituality. For instance, we did a special issue on the theme "Spirituality and Mission" in Spring 2013 and we had another curated discussion on the theme of "Embodied Spirituality" in Spring 2014. Articles from those issues are some of our most sought after publications. ​
The Journal recently celebrated its ten-year anniversary with the release of the Spring and Fall 2017 issue. What stands out to you about the journal's contribution thus far?
​When I look at the twenty issues we have published over the last ten years, I think of the many e-mails we've received or in-person conversations expressing gratitude for this or that article. And then I think that there is a good chance the article in question wouldn't exist apart from the existence of the Journal. There simply are not many places to publish scholarly work on Christian spirituality, let alone an evangelical approach to Christian spirituality. Over the summer I was at a small town church where one of the elders was referencing the Journal and the help that one of the articles had been for their congregation. You just don't hear that kind of thing very often--a scholarly journal article helpful to a small town congregation?! That's amazing. So, one thing we've done well, I think, is to help bridge the academy and the church.
Since its inception, the Journal has intentionally sought to foster an interdisciplinary conversation on issues of Christian spirituality. Why does that interdisciplinary orientation matter for the Journal and the 'state of the literature'?
​One way to get at this is to realize that sanctification is a lived doctrine. Not all doctrines are lived. We don't live the incarnation (Jesus did), we don't live eschatology (at least not yet), we don't live God's omniscience (we live in light of it). But we actually live out our theology of sanctification--what I believe about sanctification makes a difference for what I do when I wake up and how I go through my day (at least it should). So that makes the study of sanctification--or Christian spirituality--an interdisciplinary affair. Part of what other disciplines get at is the existential nature of the spiritual life. Sociology investigates what spiritual life looks like in particular groups and settings. Psychology investigates the psychological dynamics of life in the Spirit. History investigates the ways of the Spirit as it has been exhibited across the lifespan of the church. Philosophy investigates the evidential basis for these sorts of claims as well as the metaphysical, epistemological, and moral matters that lie at the foundations of spiritual formation. These and other disciplines come into play to help get at the particularities of the Jesus way of life. ​
What might be some important meta-questions that philosophers should consider taking-up in the Journal's pages, including 'philosophy of spirituality' questions?
​Well, first, I think there are some fairly developed philosophically-oriented views of Christian spirituality already in existence that deserve careful attention. Of course, Dallas Willard's works have all sorts of places of entry into the discussion for philosophers. Paul Moser's recent works on religious epistemology [see also "Christ-shaped philosophy" project] are a gold-mine for further philosophical research as are James K. A. Smith's books.​ Lesser known are philosophers like Thomas R. Kelly and Douglas V. Steere who developed philosophically rich accounts of Quaker spirituality. When you look at philosophers such as these the meta-questions that repeatedly arise have to do with the metaphysics of spiritual reality, the nature of virtue formation, and overall accounts of soteriology that make sense of the place of spiritual formation in the Christian life.
Some examples of these questions?
For instance, what is the nature of spiritual reality and what are the conditions under which persons can come into contact with spiritual reality?; what is the best way to conceptualize the role of spiritual life in our overall understanding of the human person?; how is it that life in the Spirit brings about changes in human psychology that give rise to virtues?; what is the role of the body, mind, will, emotions, etc. in Christian virtue formation?; what sort of soteriology best explains and accounts for Christian formation in the way of Jesus?; etc. Speaking of Jesus, I should say that Jesus' teachings are the best place for philosophers to start when it comes to understanding spirituality. What Willard did so well was take a teaching of Jesus and really get to the bottom of it in terms of the way of life in the kingdom he prescribed.
By design, the JSFSC has encouraged Christian philosophers to contribute to its pages. As a historical snapshot for our readers, what has tended to be the focus of those articles?
​O.k., here is a snapshot of some Christian philosophers who have contributed to the journal. Mike Austin (Eastern Kentucky University) wrote an article on sports as a type of spiritual exercise. J.P. Moreland (Talbot) has written on Willard's ontology of the person and its implications for formation. Dan Speak (Loyola Marymount University) responded to an article written by Willard on the will and the flesh. Gregg Ten Elshof (Biola University) addressed Willard's interpretation of the Beatitudes. Paul Moser (Loyola University Chicago) wrote an essay on philosophical reflection and formation. And Brandon Rickabaugh (Baylor University) addressed knowledge of God as a type of knowledge by acquaintance. These and other contributions to the journal by philosophers are some of our best publications.
What are some common areas of spirituality, spiritual formation or questions of soul care that merit greater philosophical attention?
​I think any question of Christian spirituality can benefit from a philosophical approach. For instance, marshaling evidence for various claims of Christian formation is urgently needed. I know folks who try to argue for the importance of spiritual direction in their local churches and they just get eaten alive because they do not have well-formed biblical, theological, and philosophical arguments. Alternatively, looking carefully at the evidential base for spiritual principles and practices (e.g., certain forms of contemplative prayer) can bring about much-needed qualifications as well as an appropriate intellectual humility to proponents of these practices. Whether it's a stereotype or not, it does seem that many persons involved in spiritual formation are driven by their own experience and therefore they often appeal to their own and others' experience. But that only goes so far and it never goes far enough. Philosophers, for better and for worse, bring a more objective, logical mind to these questions. While that can lead to an unhealthy critical attitude, it can also lead to a more grounded and nuanced understanding of Christian spirituality.
Is there one common area that merits greater philosophical attention?
If I were to pick one, it would be the nature of the Divine-human relationship. For instance, a philosophical conceptualization of how human minds interact with the Divine mind is sorely needed, including the criteria whereby one can know that God is influencing one's thoughts (see 1 Cor 2–3). Jesus seemed keenly aware of the presence and will of his Father (e.g., see John 8:29). If we are going to imitate Jesus we need to imitate the way of life he led with his Father by the Spirit. But, unfortunately, many folks either don't think about the nature of God's presence at all or, what might be worse, they think of it operating like magic or in overly romantic categories (i.e., a felt sense of God's love). The other prevalent view is to reduce God's presence to beliefs one has about God. There is simply a conceptual desert for many when it comes to thinking about life in interactive relationship with God. Philosophers could really help fill in this absence with well-formed biblical and theological concepts. 
You have a Special Issue coming out in Fall 2018 on the theme, "Christian Spiritual Formation: Teaching and Practice." What might be some philosophical questions/interests to be addressed in that theme?
​This special issue [deadline for CFP is February 28th!] is particularly focused on what can be done and has been done regarding spiritual formation in educational settings--particularly the church and university. Of course, there has been a lot of work in virtue epistemology and virtue ethics on the question of whether virtue can be taught. This goes all the way back to Plato's Meno but more recently Robert Adam's A Theory of Virtue ends with a chapter on whether virtue can be taught. Linda Zagzebski's recent Exemplarist Moral Theory and Nancy Snow's work is relevant here as well. All of this to say, this special issue is crying out for some submissions on issues related to the teaching of virtue. What role does direct instruction on the virtues have in virtue formation and formation by the Spirit? What role does exposure to exemplars have? How about spiritual practices? There is also a lot of empirical, psychological work on virtue acquisition that is relevant here and much of that work has been profitably discussed by philosophers (see, e.g., Christian Miller's recentbooks). It would be wonderful to have some submissions engaging this material.
Dallas Willard's philosophical and theological assumptions are an important pathway into certain aspects of the Journal's contributions. For those interested in the 'Willardian corpus' and its significance, what do you see as some yet-to-be-fully-realized contributions from Dallas's insights applied to issues of Christian spirituality?
​Great question! First, I think we need to make sure we understand Willard's own views. I often find that my first take on what Willard is saying is completely wrong. My second take is closer to what he actually held, but it really takes three or four approaches to Willard to get at the nuanced way he addresses these issues. Even still, I sometimes worry whether I am understanding him correctly. So that is a project in and of itself. What actually is Willard's view of this or that aspect of spiritual formation? After that is clear, we need folks to develop some of Dallas' insights more fully. Critical evaluation and emendation is needed as is developing the arguments for some of Dallas' views more fully than he did. Then there is the work of implications.
What might be a Willardian philosophical foundation to build on?

This all has to start with Willard's realist epistemology and that includes his understanding of concepts. Philosophia Christi published an article in vol. 1, no. 2 in which Dallas offers his clearest presentation of these issues. The first and last couple of chapters of Knowing Christ Today apply this realism to his understanding of faith and knowledge of God/Christ. All of that is great fodder for further philosophical reflection. Then one should turn to Willard's understanding of the nature of God and God's kingdom, Jesus as providing access to and a way of life within God's kingdom, and finally how it is that intentional engagement with such a way of life is transformational. I think all of this is ripe for further philosophical analysis. Willard is one of those philosophers the investigation of whom brings about great rewards. Also, sometime in this current year Willard's posthumous book, The Disappearance of Moral Knowledge, will be published by Routledge. This book is a history of 20th century ethics with an eye to the failure of moral theory to ground moral knowledge and a brief positive case for the possibility of moral knowledge. All of this is foundational to Willard's work in spiritual formation as it puts forward views that provide the basis for his sort of optimism and confidence regarding knowledge of spiritual life.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Homo Religiosus?: Exploring the Roots of Religion and Religious Freedom in Human Experience

In 2018, Cambridge University Press will release Homo Religiosus?: Exploring the Roots of Religion and Religious Freedom in Human Experience, edited by Timothy Samuel Shah and Jack Friedman.  Shah is Research Professor of Government at Baylor University's Institute for Studies of Religion. He is also Director for International Research at the Religious Freedom Research Project at Georgetown University's Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs and Senior Director of the South and Southeast Asia Action Team with the Religious Freedom Institute. Jack Friedman is pursuing his Ph.D. in political science at the University of Maryland. He is a former project manager at Baylor University's Institute for Studies of Religion, and a former research assistant for the Religious Freedom Research Project at Georgetown University's Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. He is also co-editor of Religious Freedom and Gay Rights: Emerging Conflicts in the United States and Europe (2016).

From the publisher's description of Homo Religiosus?
Are humans naturally predisposed to religion and supernatural beliefs? If so, does this naturalness provide a moral foundation for religious freedom? This volume offers a cross-disciplinary approach to these questions, engaging in a range of contemporary debates at the intersection of religion, cognitive science, sociology, anthropology, political science, epistemology, and moral philosophy. The contributors to this original and important volume present individual, sometimes opposing points of view on the naturalness of religion thesis and its implications for religious freedom. Topics include the epistemological foundations of religion, the relationship between religion and health, and a discussion of the philosophical foundations of religious freedom as a natural, universal right, drawing implications for the normative role of religion in public life. By challenging dominant intellectual paradigms, such as the secularization thesis and the Enlightenment view of religion, the volume opens the door to a powerful and provocative reconceptualization of religious freedom.
  • Features chapters by authors presenting opposing viewpoints on the 'naturalness' of religion, the rationality of materialism, the relationship between religion and health, and the implications of scientific views of religion for religious freedom rights. 
  • Examines the centrality of religion to human experience through multiple disciplinary perspectives, including cognitive and evolutionary science, anthropology, sociology, political theory, and epistemology.
  • Discusses the political implications of the centrality and naturalness of religion to human experience, with particular reference both to early Enlightenment critics of religion and to modern 'anti-essentialist' critics of the conceptual frameworks of religion and religious freedom.

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Monday, January 15, 2018

Does God Matter?: Essays on the Axiological Consequences of Theism

In 2017, Routledge published Does God Matter?: Essays on the Axiological Consequences of Theism by Klaas Kraay, as part of their Routledge Studies in the Philosophy of Religion series. Klaas Kraay is Professor of Philosophy at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada. He is the editor of God and the Multiverse: Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Perspectives (Routledge 2015).

From the publisher's description of Does God Matter?:
The question of whether God exists has long preoccupied philosophers. Many accounts of God have been proposed, and many arguments for and against God’s existence have been offered and discussed. But while philosophers have been busy trying to determine whether or not God exists, they have generally neglected to ask this question: "Does it matter whether God exists?"
Does God Matter? features ten original essays written by prominent philosophers of religion that address this very important, yet surprisingly neglected, question. One natural way to approach this question is to seek to understand what difference God’s existence would―or does―make to the value of the world and the well-being of its inhabitants. The three essays in Section I defend versions of pro-theism: the view that God’s existence would, or does, make things better than they would otherwise be. The three subsequent essays in Section II defend anti-theism: the view that God’s existence would, or does, make things worse than they would otherwise be. The final four essays in Section III consider the interplay between the existential and axiological debates concerning the existence of God. This book presents important research on a growing topic in philosophy of religion that will also be of keen interest to scholars working in other areas of philosophy (such as metaphysics, epistemology, and value theory), and in other disciplines (such as religious studies and analytic theology).

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Sunday, January 14, 2018

To Shape a New World: Essays on the Political Philosophy of Martin Luther King, Jr.

In 2018, Harvard University Press will release To Shape a New World: Essays on the Political Philosophy of Martin Luther King, Jr., edited by Tommie Shelby and Brandon M. Terry. Tommie Shelby is Caldwell Titcomb Professor of African and African American Studies and of Philosophy at Harvard University. Brandon M. Terry is Assistant Professor of African and African American Studies and of Social Studies at Harvard University.

From the publisher's description of To Shape a New World:
Martin Luther King, Jr., may be America’s most revered political figure, commemorated in statues, celebrations, and street names around the world. On the fiftieth anniversary of King’s assassination, the man and his activism are as close to public consciousness as ever. But despite his stature, the significance of King’s writings and political thought remains underappreciated. 
In To Shape a New World, Tommie Shelby and Brandon Terry write that the marginalization of King’s ideas reflects a romantic, consensus history that renders the civil rights movement inherently conservative―an effort not at radical reform but at “living up to” enduring ideals laid down by the nation’s founders. On this view, King marshaled lofty rhetoric to help redeem the ideas of universal (white) heroes, but produced little original thought. This failure to engage deeply and honestly with King’s writings allows him to be conscripted into political projects he would not endorse, including the pernicious form of “color blindness” that insists, amid glaring race-based injustice, that racism has been overcome. 
Cornel West, Danielle Allen, Martha Nussbaum, Robert Gooding-Williams, and other authors join Shelby and Terry in careful, critical engagement with King’s understudied writings on labor and welfare rights, voting rights, racism, civil disobedience, nonviolence, economic inequality, poverty, love, just-war theory, virtue ethics, political theology, imperialism, nationalism, reparations, and social justice. In King’s exciting and learned work, the authors find an array of compelling challenges to some of the most pressing political dilemmas of our present, and rethink the legacy of this towering figure.
Read an interview with co-editors Tommie Shelby and Brandon Terry about King’s legacy as a political philosopher at the Harvard Gazette.

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Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Epistemological Skyhook: Determinism, Naturalism, and Self-Defeat

In 2016, Routledge published The Epistemological Skyhook: Determinism, Naturalism, and Self-Defeat by Jim Slagle, as part of their Routledge Studies in Contemporary Philosophy series. Jim Slagle is Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Portland and George Fox University in Oregon. He has published articles in several journals, including Philosophia and Logique et Analyse. 

From the publisher's description of The Epistemological Skyhook:
Throughout philosophical history, there has been a recurring argument to the effect that determinism, naturalism, or both are self-referentially incoherent. By accepting determinism or naturalism, one allegedly acquires a reason to reject determinism or naturalism. The Epistemological Skyhook brings together, for the first time, the principal expressions of this argument, focusing primarily on the last 150 years. This book addresses the versions of this argument as presented by Arthur Lovejoy, A.E. Taylor, Kurt Gödel, C.S. Lewis, Norman Malcolm, Karl Popper, J.R. Lucas, William Hasker, Thomas Nagel, Alvin Plantinga, and others, along with the objections presented by their many detractors. It concludes by presenting a new version of the argument that synthesizes the best aspects of the others while also rendering the argument immune to some of the most significant objections made to it.
Enjoy Part One and Part Two interview with William Nava of the "Who Shaved the Barber?" podcast.

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Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Medieval Wisdom for Modern Christians: Finding Authentic Faith in a Forgotten Age with C. S. Lewis

In 2016, Brazos Press published Medieval Wisdom for Modern Christians: Finding Authentic Faith in a Forgotten Age with C. S. Lewis by Chris R. Armstrong.  Armstrong is the founding director of Opus: The Art of Work, an institute on faith and vocation at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. Formerly professor of church history at Bethel Seminary, he is also senior editor of Christian History. 

From the publisher's description of Medieval Wisdom for Modern Christians: 
Many Christians today tend to view the story of medieval faith as a cautionary tale. Too often, they dismiss the Middle Ages as a period of corruption and decay in the church. They seem to assume that the church apostatized from true Christianity after it gained cultural influence in the time of Constantine, and the faith was only later recovered by the sixteenth-century Reformers or even the eighteenth-century revivalists. As a result, the riches and wisdom of the medieval period have remained largely inaccessible to modern Protestants.
Church historian Chris Armstrong helps readers see beyond modern caricatures of the medieval church to the animating Christian spirit of that age. He believes today's church could learn a number of lessons from medieval faith, such as how the gospel speaks to ordinary, embodied human life in this world. Medieval Wisdom for Modern Christians explores key ideas, figures, and movements from the Middle Ages in conversation with C. S. Lewis and other thinkers, helping contemporary Christians discover authentic faith and renewal in a forgotten age.

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Monday, January 8, 2018

Thomas Hobbes and the Natural Law

In 2018, the University of Notre Dame Press will release Thomas Hobbes and the Natural Law  by Kody W Cooper. Cooper is assistant professor of political science and public service at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga.

From the publisher's description of Thomas Hobbes: 
Has Hobbesian moral and political theory been fundamentally misinterpreted by most of his readers? Since the criticism of John Bramhall, Hobbes has generally been regarded as advancing a moral and political theory that is antithetical to classical natural law theory. Kody Cooper challenges this traditional interpretation of Hobbes in Thomas Hobbes and the Natural Law. Hobbes affirms two essential theses of classical natural law theory: the capacity of practical reason to grasp intelligible goods or reasons for action and the legally binding character of the practical requirements essential to the pursuit of human flourishing. Hobbes's novel contribution lies principally in his formulation of a thin theory of the good. This book seeks to prove that Hobbes has more in common with the Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition of natural law philosophy than has been recognized. According to Cooper, Hobbes affirms a realistic philosophy as well as biblical revelation as the ground of his philosophical-theological anthropology and his moral and civil science. In addition, Cooper contends that Hobbes's thought, although transformative in important ways, also has important structural continuities with the Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition of practical reason, theology, social ontology, and law. What emerges from this study is a nuanced assessment of Hobbes's place in the natural law tradition as a formulator of natural law liberalism. This book will appeal to political theorists and philosophers and be of particular interest to Hobbes scholars and natural law theorists.

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