PHIL 3600 -- Philosophy of Religion
Prof. Chris Heathwood
University of Colorado Boulder
What We Did Each Day
(or plan to do)
M 8/25: First day stuff: Introductions (especially concerning stuttering), roll, syllabus.
W 8/27: Syllabus review. FIRST TOPIC: The Nature of God. The need for a definition of 'God'. The "God is Love" Argument. Some possible divine attributes. Distributed Questionnaire (due Friday).
F 8/29: Collected Questionnaire. The need for a definition of God. The guiding idea in constructing a definition of God: God as the supreme being. The big three divine attributes. Essentiality vs. Accidentalness.
M 9/1: No class: Labor Day.
W 9/3: Questionnaire results.
F 9/5: Divine Attributes (continued). More on essence and accident. Self-existence. Necessary existence. Essential eternality. Essentially the creator of everything. The definition of the God of the traditional theologians. The definition of the minimalist God.
M 9/8: Had Quiz #1. Fun facts about Aquinas. The Cartesian Account of Omnipotence. An Argument Against the Cartesian Account of Omnipotence.
W 9/10: The Cartesian Account of Omnipotence. An Argument Against the Cartesian Account of Omnipotence. A Revised Cartesian Account, and its problems. The Possibility Accounts of Omnipotence. The Relative Possibility Account of Omnipotence. Why It Fails. The Thomistic Account of Omnipotence. Relative vs. Absolute or Logical Possibility. Examples of Logically Possible and Impossible States of Affairs. The Thomistic Account and the Problem of Divine Suicide. The Thomistic Account of Omnipotence and the Paradox of the Stone. The Thomistic Account and the Problem of Divine Sin.
F 9/12: The Problem of Divine Sin for the Thomistic Account of Omnipotence as a valid, line-by-line argument. In-depth discussion of the argument. The solution that denies God's essential moral perfection, and an independent motivation for that solution.
M 9/15: Aquinas' Reply to the Problem of Divine Sin, and Two Problems with It. The Clarke/Rowe Account of Omnipotence. How it solves the problem of divine sin. A Problem for Clarke/Rowe Account of Omnipotence: the Problem of Essentially Limited Beings (such as Mr. McEar).
W 9/17: Had Quiz #2. The Dilemma of Freedom and Foreknowledge (DFF). Two Possibly Incompatible Ideas, and their centrality to major western religions. Handed out Handout #1. Augustine's Formulation of the Dilemma of Freedom and Foreknowledge (DFF). First Interpretation of Augustine's Formulation. Augustine's reply to this (compatibilism).
F 9/19: An Aristotelean solution to the DFF: denying Bivalence. An argument against denying bivalence.
M 9/22: Augustine's Formulation of the Dilemma of Freedom and Foreknowledge (DFF). First Interpretation of Augustine's Formulation. Augustine's reply to this (compatibilism). Problems with this reply (e.g., The brain-controlling aliens). A better reply to the First Interpretation of Augustine's Formulation. Necessity of the consequent vs. necessity of the consequence. Second Interpretation of Augustine's Formulation of the Dilemma of Freedom and Foreknowledge. The Problem with this. Handed out Handout #2. The Principle that Knowledge Entails Truth.
W 9/24: Five Principles that Lie Behind the Edwardsian Version of the Dilemma of Freedom and Foreknowledge: Knowledge Entails Truth (KET); Divine Foreknowledge of Action (DFA); The Fixity of the Past (FP); Transfer of Powerlessness (TP); Freedom Requires the Power to Do Otherwise (FRPO). The Edwardsian Version of the Argument. Does the argument apply to God's own actions?
F 9/25: Reading Quiz #3. Discussed First Paper and Philosophy Paper FAQ.
M 9/29: Ockham's reply to the original DFF: rejecting the Fixity of the Past. Rejoinder to the reply: distinguish hard vs. soft facts about the past; assert Fixity of the Hard Past; claim that facts about God's past knowledge of future acts are hard facts about the past. Ockham's reply to this: show why facts about God's past knowledge of future acts are soft facts about the past.
W 10/1: Reading Quiz #4. Logical Fatalism and Ockhamism. The Dilemma of Freedom and Forebelief. Infallibility. Infallible Belief Entails Truth (IBET). Divine Forebelief of Action (DFbA). The premise that facts about God's past beliefs about future acts are hard facts about the past.
F 10/3: Collected first paper. Plantinga's arguments that God's past beliefs about future acts are soft facts about the past. Newcomb's Paradox.
M 10/6: Problem of Evil. Guest moderator: Alex.
W 10/8: Review for Midterm.
F 10/10: Midterm Exam, Part 1.
M 10/13: Return and go over Part 1 of Midterm. More review, for Part 2.
W 10/15: Midterm Exam, Part 2.
F 10/17: Return and go over Part 2 of Midterm. Return First Paper. Three questions about faith.
M 10/20: Blaise Pascal. Pensées. Epistemic reasons to believe vs. prudential reasons to believe. If there are no epistemic reasons to believe or to disbelieve in God, might reason require us to withhold belief? The effect this would have on Pascal's Wager. Is it in fact in our interest to believe in God? Two different reasons why this is hard to know: hard to know the effects on your earthly life; hard to know the effects on your afterlife (since that depends on the very thing at issue: whether God exists!).
W 10/22: Decision Theory. Decision Matrices. Utility. The Concept of Dominance. The Principle of Dominance. The Argument from Dominance. Objections to this argument: the Appeals of a Libertine Life; Doxastic Voluntarism (and how Pascal's reply to this opens him up to a new objection, involving an expanded decision matrix). Why the Principle of Dominance won't help with the Libertine Decision Matrix. The Concept of Expected Value. Coin bet example. The Argument from Expected Value as applied to the Libertine Decision Matrix.
F 10/24: Reading Quiz #5. Review of Arg. from Expected Value. Problem with this argument. Ockham's Razor. The Principle of Dominating Expected Value. Infinite Utility.
M 10/27: The Many-Gods Objection to Pascal's Wager
W 10/29: Ontological Arguments. The A Priori vs. the A Posteriori. Anselm's Definition of God. Existence in the Understanding vs. Existence in Reality.
F 10/31: Reading Quiz #6. The problem of negative existentials. Anselm's Solution to the Problem of Negative Existentials. Reductio ad absurdum arguments. Anselm's Ontological Argument. Anselm's Thesis about Greatness.
M 11/3: Objections from students to Anselm's Ontological Argument. Gaunilo's Parody Argument: The Lost Island. Plantinga's objection from "qualities with no intrinsic maximum" to Gaunilo's Parody Argument.
W 11/5: Kant's Objection to Anselm's Ontological Argument. Kant's Dictum. Property Equivalence. Property Inequivalence. Property Reality. Examples ('is red', 'is or is not a rhinoceros', 'exists').
F 11/7: Reading Quiz #7. Kant's Objection to Anselm's Ontological Argument. Just how, if Kant's Dictum is true, Anselm's argument is unsound. Kant's Solution to the Problem of Negative Existentials. Kant's Argument for Kant's Dictum.
M 11/10: Discussed Second Paper. A posteriori arguments for God's existence. Inference to the Best Explanation. The O'Reillian Argument from the Tides for the Existence of God. The Cosmological Argument / "argument from existence." The Teleological Argument / "argument from design."
W 11/12: Paley's Argument and its Darwinian refutation. How the laws seems "just right" for life. The Fine-Tuning Argument. Some objections.
F 11/14: Reading Quiz #8. The Anthropic Objection. Reply to this. The Multiple-Universes Hypothesis. Reply to this: inverse gambler's fallacy.
M 11/17: Reading Quiz #9. The "No Evidence" Argument. Hawthorn's Initial Account of Self-Evidence. A Priori Knowability. Examples. Kinds of Empirical Evidence.
W 11/19: Reading Quiz #10. Three kinds of (empirical) evidence. The "No Evidence" Argument. The status of its conclusion. How one might try to move from that conclusion to atheism.
F 11/21: Impromptu class party and philosophy conference.
M 12/1: Handed out Handout on the "No Evidence" Argument. Review of "No Evidence" Argument. Hawthorn's Objection to Aquinas' Argument against the Self-Evidence of God's Existence. Hawthorne's Alternative Account of Self-Evidence. Hawthorn's Account of Faith.
W 12/3: Reading Quiz #11. Hawthorn's Account of Faith. Andrew Sullivan passage. Objections to Hawthorn's idea that theism is primitively compelling for some people.
F 12/5: Free Quiz. FCQ's. Course wrap-up.
M 12/8: Review for Final Exam.
W 12/10: Final Exam Part 1.
F 12/12: Return and Review Final Exam Part 1. More Review, for Part 2.
W 12/17, 7:30 p.m.: Final Exam Part 2. BRING A BLUEBOOK!!!