PHIL 3600 -- Philosophy of Religion
Prof. Chris Heathwood
University of Colorado Boulder
What We Did Each Day
(or plan to do)
M 1/13: First day stuff: Introductions (especially concerning stuttering), roll, syllabus.
W 1/15: Syllabus review. FIRST TOPIC: The Nature of God. The need for a definition of 'God'. The "God is Love" Argument. Distributed Questionnaire (due Friday).
F 1/17: 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 1/20: No class: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
W 1/22: Questionnaire results. Divine Attributes (continued). Necessary existence. Essential eternality. Essentially the creator of everything. Incorporeality. Our definition of God.
F 1/24: Pop Quiz #1. Fun facts about Aquinas. The Cartesian Account of Omnipotence. An Argument Against the Cartesian Account of Omnipotence. Reply: distinguish between genuine impossibility and apparent impossibility. Two problems for this reply.
M 1/27: Possibility Accounts of Omnipotence. Relative vs. Absolute Possibility. Examples of Absolutely Possible and Impossible States of Affairs. The Relative Possibility Account of Omnipotence. Why It Fails. The Thomistic Account of Omnipotence. The Thomistic Account and the Problem of Divine Suicide.
W 1/29: The Thomistic Account of Omnipotence and the Paradox of the Stone. The Thomistic Account and the Problem of Divine Sin. Aquinas' Reply to the Problem of Divine Sin, and Two Problems with It. The Argument from Divine Sin in line-by-line format. A Thomistic Solution to the Problem of Divine Sin that Surrenders God's Essential Omnibenevolence.
F 1/31: START OF NEW TOPIC: God and Morality. The Divine Command Theory. Three Reasons to think the DCT might be true (Objectivity, Universality, Divine Supremacy/Omnipotence). DCT and Atheism. Two Inconclusive Arguments against DCT.
M 2/3: Pop Quiz #2. The Euthyphro Problem. Socrates' Question. Horn 1 vs. Horn 2. The First Allegedly Implausible Implication of Accepting Horn 1. A Popular Reply to this. Two problems with this reply.
W 2/5: The Second and Third Allegedly Implausible Implications of Accepting Horn 1. Horn 2 and DCT. Leibniz: Theist and rejector of DCT. God's omnipotence and the rejection of DCT.
F 2/7: START OF NEW TOPIC: Dilemma of Freedom and Foreknowledge. Two Possibly Incompatible Ideas, and their centrality to major western religions. Augustine's Formulation of the Dilemma of Freedom and Foreknowledge (DFF). First Interpretation of Augustine's Formulation. Augustine's reply to this (compatibilism). Two problems with this reply (Locke-ed in the Room; and The Aliens).
M 2/10: Pop Quiz #3. Used Handout 1. 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.
W 2/12: Used Handout 2. Our Official Formulation of the Dilemma of Freedom and Foreknowledge. Five Principles that Lie Behind the Argument: 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 Argument.
F 2/14: How to write a philosophy paper for us. Review of Pre-Assigned Paper Topics. Discussion of thesis ideas of some students.
M 2/17: 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: argue that facts about God's past knowledge of future acts are soft facts about the past.
W 2/19: Pop Quiz #4. The Dilemma of Freedom and Forebelief. Infallibility. Infallible Belief Entails Truth. Divine Forebelief of Action. The premise that facts about God's past beliefs about future acts are hard facts about the past. Plantinga's arguments that God's past beliefs about future acts are soft facts about the past. The implication of the view that we have power over God's past beliefs: we have power over hard facts about the past.
F 2/21: Faith. What is faith? What is the main alternative to believing something on faith? Is it legitimate to believe something on faith? Epistemic reasons vs. prudential reasons for believing something.
M 2/24: Pop Quiz #5. Pascal's Wager. Epistemic vs. Prudential Reasons for having a belief. Decision Theory. Pascal's First Argument: the Argument from Dominance. Decision Matrices. Utility. The Concept of Dominance. The Principle of Dominance. Pascal's Argument from Dominance. An Objection: the Appeals of a Libertine Life.
W 2/26: Pascal's Wager. Review of Argument from Dominance. Doxastic Voluntarism. Calculating Expected Utility. The Coin Toss Example. The Principle of Expected Utility applied to Pascal's Argument. Probability Assignments for God's Existence. A Quick Look at The Principle of Dominating Expected Utility.
F 2/28: Pascal's Wager. The Many Gods Objection. Moral Objections. Discussion Over What Reasons Are In Line With Religious Piety. Start of Midterm Review.
M 3/3: Midterm review. For both parts of the midterm, bring blue or black ink (no red ink, no pencils). For part 2 on Friday, bring a bluebook.
W 3/5: Midterm – Part One: Very Short Answer Questions
F 3/7: Midterm – Part Two: Short Answer Questions.
M 3/10: Returned and Discussed First Paper, Midterm Part 1, and Midterm Part 2.
W 3/12: Pop Quiz #6. St. Anselm. A posteriori vs. a priori arguments. Anselm's definition of God. Anselm's distinction between existence in reality and existence in the understanding. The problem of negative existentials.
F 3/14: Pop Quiz #7. 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 3/17: 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 3/19: 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', non-existence).
F 3/21: The Relevance of Kant's Dictum to Anselm's Ontological Argument, as stated in Kant's Argument against Anselm's Argument. Kant's Argument for Kant's Dictum. Kant's Solution to the Problem of Negative Existentials.
M 3/31: Watched "Atheism 2.0," a TED talk by Alain de Botton. Discussed it as well as the Atlantic Monthly article.
W 4/2: Pop Quiz #8. A posteriori arguments for God's existence. Inference to the Best Explanation. The O'Reillian Argument from the Tides for the Existence of God. Stephen J. Gould's "Non-Overlapping Magisteria." The Cosmological Argument / "argument from existence." The Teleological Argument / "argument from design." William Paley's Teleological Argument. The Darwinian Rebuttal.
F 4/4: The Fine-Tuning Argument. The Fine-Tuning Evidence. The sort of God the argument supports. The dart board analogy. The Prime Principle of Confirmation.
M 4/7: Three objections to the Fine-Tuning Argument: (1) All Sets of Laws are equally unlikely; (2) The "Anthropic" Objection; (3) Other Forms of Life.
W 4/9: Pop Quiz #9 Review of the Other Form of Life Objection to the Fine-Tuning Argument. The Multiple Universes Hypothesis Objection to the Fine-Tuning Argument. Collins' Reply. A Rejoinder to this Reply. Another Reply: The Multiple Dart Room Hypothesis; the Inverse Gambler's Fallacy. Rejoinder to this: the Multiple Planet Hypothesis as a Reply to a Planets-Based Fine-Tuning Argument.
F 4/11: Reviewed Second Paper assignment. Started presenting Hawthorn's "No Evidence" Argument. The notion of reasonable, rational, or justified belief. Self-evidence. The a priori. Is God's existence knowable a priori. Three kinds of (empirical) evidence.
M 4/14: Pop Quiz #10. The "No Evidence" Argument. The status of its conclusion. How one might try to move from that conclusion to atheism. A Thomistic Argument for P2 of the "No Evidence" Argument. The Thomistic Account of Self-Evidence. Hawthorne's argument against the Thomistic Account of Self-Evidence. Hawthorne's New Account of Self-Evidence. The Notion of a Claim being Primitively Compelling.
W 4/16: Handed out Handout #8. What self-evidence is NOT: it's not obviousness. Hawthorne's Alternative Account of Self-Evidence. The Notion of a Claim being Primitively Compelling. Hawthorne's Account of Faith. Andrew Sullivan on God's primitive compellingness for him. Replies to Hawthorn's Objection to P2 of the "No Evidence" Argument.
F 4/18: Pop Quiz #11. The Argument from Divine Silence. Comparison to the "No Evidence" Argument. Agnosticism vs. Atheism. In-class exercise: rationales for P1.
M 4/21: The Question of Life after Death. Dualism.
W 4/23: FCQ's. Quiz #12 -- free quiz!
F 4/25: Dualism review. Physicalism. The Argument from Consciousness for Dualism. The Argument from Free Will for Dualism. The idea that if Physicalism can't accommodate free will because determinism is incompatible with free will, then Dualism is of no help either.