A Relativistic Response to Kretzmann’s Argument

Mainstream western philosophical theology studies what attributes God must have given that he is an absolutely perfect being. Those attributes are called divine attributes. One strategy to challenge the existence of an absolutely perfect being (which I refer to as God in this essay) is to show that the conjunction of some divine attributes would lead to a contradiction. If those divine attributes are indeed entailed by absolute perfection, then God cannot exist. Taking this strategy, Norman Kretzmann identifies two divine attributes, immutability and omniscience, and argues that a being cannot be both immutable and omniscient (Kretzmann, 409-411). In particular, Kretzmann points out that an immutable being cannot know what time it is. In this essay, I put pressure on Kretzmann’s argument by demonstrating how an immutable being could know what time it is. Continue reading “A Relativistic Response to Kretzmann’s Argument”

Individualism as a Decision Procedure

In the Ant Trap, Epstein argues against ontological individualism. His formulation of ontological individualism relies on a binary relation called grounding. To say that A grounds B means that A is the “metaphysical reason” of B (Epstein 2015, 70). The ontological individualism (OI) thesis which Epstein argues against states that

“for any possible world w and any social fact f at w, there is some subset X of all possible individualistic facts, such that X grounds f at w” (2015, 124).

Epstein’s argument against OI, I believe, is sound. In this essay, I discuss whether we could modify OI into some other form of individualism, so that it is plausible yet nontrivial. Continue reading “Individualism as a Decision Procedure”

An Objection to Berkeley’s Idealism

Berkeley’s solution to skepticism is an optimistic yet radical one. He proposes that sensible objects are nothing more than ideas or collections of ideas (Robb, Feb. 26). Only so can we claim to know anything about the physical world. Though idealism does not preclude the existence of physical objects—they exist as ideas, the view does alter the condition that physical objects come to be—they exist only when they are perceived. In this essay, I discuss one objection against idealism that criticizes the idealist condition for the existence of physical objects. I introduce two replies by Berkeley, and contend that the first one is unsatisfying, and the second one is unsuccessful. Continue reading “An Objection to Berkeley’s Idealism”

Do we have Humean Freedom under Constraint and Causation?

According to Hume, we have freedom only when our choices hinge on our motives (Robb, Mar. 30). Based on this definition, Hume believes that even if determinism is true, we could still have free will. In this essay, I discuss an objection to Hume’s compatibilism that builds on the seemingly functional similarity between constraint and causation. I point out the complexity of this objection and propose an response to it. Continue reading “Do we have Humean Freedom under Constraint and Causation?”

Self-interest Theory and Utilitarianism

Hume believes that an action is moral only if it promotes utility (Robb, Apr. 11). When addressing the question why we value utility, Hume appeals to the sympathy theory, which states that we value utility due to an innate sympathy towards others. He argues against the self-interest theory, which states that we value utility only insofar as it promotes our self-interest (Robb, Apr. 16). In this essay, I discuss one of Hume’s arguments against the self-interest theory. I challenge the soundness of the argument by arguing that the truth of one premise is not obvious. Continue reading “Self-interest Theory and Utilitarianism”

What Does It Mean to be a Social Property?

Having certain social property P usually enables a person X to have certain constraints and enablement. Therefore, an account about whether X counts as have the social property P in certain social context is desirable. This essay considers an even more fundamental question: what does it mean that P is a social property? I argue that Ásta’s conferralist answer to this question is inadequate and propose that we decouple a property and its constraints and enablement.

I first introduce the conferralist account of social properties and point out that this account treats a social property as equivalent to a set of constraints and enablement. I demonstrate how this treatment could lead to confusion, as the treatment requires us to give a property both a social interpretation and a non-social interpretation. As an example, I argue that the disagreement between Beauvoir and Ásta about whether sex is a social property is a verbal dispute resulting from this confusion. I conclude by proposing an alternative account of what counts as a social property. Continue reading “What Does It Mean to be a Social Property?”

A Free will Theodicy of Natural Evils

Theodicy is any attempt to define theism from the Problem of Evil, which challenges the existence of God under the premises that 1) God and evils cannot coexist and 2) evils do exist (Robb, Jan. 29). One kind of theodicy is called the big-picture theodicy, which argues that God and evil can coexists because all evils make the universe on the whole better than it would be otherwise (Robb, Jan. 29). In this essay, I examine a version of the big-picture theodicy that is aimed to address the existence of natural evil. Continue reading “A Free will Theodicy of Natural Evils”

A Humean Challenge to Descartes’ Epistemology

Descartes’ epistemological project is aimed to argue for the C&D rule, that our clear and distinct perceptions are true (Robb, Feb. 19). He first uses a Cosmological Argument to argue for the existence of God, then suggests that since God is omnibenevolent, he will not let our clear and distinct perceptions fail us (Third Meditation). In this essay, I discuss a challenge to Descartes’ project proposed by Hume (Hume, 79) and also anticipated by Descartes. I contend that Descartes’ defense against this objection, which can be understood as a theodicy, is not successful. Continue reading “A Humean Challenge to Descartes’ Epistemology”

Bratman’s Methodology for his Basic Thesis

In Shared Agency—A Planning Theory of Acting Together, Michael Bratman aims to find the sufficient conditions for robust forms of small-scale cases of shared agency, which he calls modest sociality. Normally, when we want to find the sufficient condition for X, we think of cases where X is true, and generalize from those cases. Bratman takes a different approach, because instead of simply finding some sufficient condition for modest sociality, he wants to find a central sufficient condition, that is, it must 1) cover a large proportion of modest sociality, and 2) shed light on the etiology of modest sociality. In this essay, I discuss the reliability of Bratman’s methodology and how it might help or hinder his project. Continue reading “Bratman’s Methodology for his Basic Thesis”

Methodologies in Moral Philosophy

Most of us seem to be acquainted with moral truth to some extent. For instance, we all seem to know that we are morally obligated to save a drowning child if we can, and it would be immoral to do otherwise. However, when it comes to the discovery of universal moral principles, few of us would claim to have succeeded in doing so. Various moral theories have been proposed, yet none of which is immune from strong counterarguments. Continue reading “Methodologies in Moral Philosophy”