PHL FINAL EXAM STUDY NOTES: Questions and Answers

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University of Toronto Mississauga
Jaqueline Brunning

Philosophy Exam – April 12 GYM A/B 5-7 Philosophy of Religion 1.Explain what is meant by the traditional western idea that God is omniscient, omnipotent, and perfectly benevolent. Omniscient: God, if he exists, must know a great deal about the world he has created. Now it is usually said that God is omniscient that he knows everything. Omnipotent: If you are prepared to say that God is not wholly good, or not quite omnipotent, or that evil does not exist, or that good is not opposed to the kind of evil that exists, or that there are limits to what an omnipotent thing can do, then the problem of evil will not arise for you. Having unlimited power; able to do anything. Perfectly Benevolent: The problem is essentially similar to that of a man who builds a cage for some pet animal. Since our world, in fact, contains sources of hard-ship, inconvenience, and danger of innumerable kinds, the conclusion follows that this world cannot have been created by a perfectly benevolent and all- powerful deity. well-meaning and kindly. a posteriori: (Latin) Literally meaning, “after (any specific)) experience”. Any and all of the knowledge that is gained through an/that experience or empirical means is said to be known as a posteriori. NOTE: This term can be considered the opposite of a priori. a priori: Literally meaning, “before (any specific) experience”. Any knowledge which is known to be true without appeal to empirical means is said to be a priori; alternately, “true in all possible worlds”. Immanual Kant’s famous example is “2 + 2 = 4″. It is generally conceeded that only statements of pure mathematics or logic might be considered a priori. Contrast with a posteriori. Empirical means: Empirical knowledge also known as posteriori knowledge is propositional knowledge that is obtained through experience. We also have a priori knowledge which is gained through pure reason, or non experiential sources. Social sciences are posteriori disciplines while maths and logic are priori disciplines. 2. What is the paradox of omnipotence? The omnipotence paradox is a family of related paradoxes that address this question: Is the existence of an omnipotent (God or God-like) entity logically possible? The paradox says that if a being can perform any action, then that being should be able to create a task it is unable to perform, therefore, it cannot perform all actions. Yet, on the other hand, if that being cannot create a task it is unable to perform, then there exists something it cannot do. Example: One version of the omnipotence paradox is the so-called paradox of the stone: "Could an omnipotent being create a stone so heavy that even that being could not lift it?" If so, then it seems that the being could [1]se to be omnipotent; if not, it seems that the being was not omnipotent to begin with. Answers to the paradox include that since God is supposedly omnipotent, the phrase "could not lift" does not make sense and the paradox is meaningless, and that logical impossibilities do not fall under the omnipotence of God. The omnipotence paradox is related to the problem of free will, because an omnipotent being should have the ability to freely choose to alter any laws that might hinder omnipotence. 3. What are the general features of the Cosmological Argument? See Page 26 Argument for the existence of God that holds (1) every being is either a dependent being or a self- existent being; (2) not every being can be a dependent being; (3) therefore, there exists a self- existent being, who is God. 4. What is the Principle of Sufficient Reason? How is it relevant to Clarke’s cosmological argument? Give Clark’s cosmological argument, and critically comment on it. The Principle of Sufficient Reason: For everything that happens there must be a sufficient reason for its happening and not some other thing. Relevance to Clarke’s cosmological argument: For even if it succeeded in showing that a self- existent being would have the other attributes of the theistic God, the Cosmological Argument would still not provide us with good rational grounds for be-lief in God, having failed in its first part to provide us with good rational grounds for believing that there is a self- existent being. 6. Explain why the Argument from Design (Teleological argument) must use analogical reasoning. What critical questions must we raise about the Argument from Design? Some phenomena within nature exhibit such exquisiteness of structure, function or interconnectedness that many people have found it natural—to see a deliberative and directive mind (aka God) behind those phenomena. In other words nature and life is sometimes so beautiful that we as humans can not believe they are beautiful by accident, there must be some sort of God who shaped all of these things with a final beautiful vision in his mind. The mind (aka god), being prior to nature itself, is typically taken to be supernatural. Philosophically inclined thinkers have both historically and at present labored to shape the relevant intuition into a more formal, logically rigorous inference. The resultant theistic arguments, in their various logical forms, share a focus on plan, purpose, intention and design, and are thus classified as teleological arguments (or, frequently, as arguments from or to design). An analogy is a comparison between two objects, or systems of objects, that highlights respects in which they are thought to be similar. Analogical reasoning is any type of thinking that relies upon an analogy. Thus, analogical reasoning is necessary in teleological arguments because it needs to show that God or a higher supernatural being can relate to the system of nature, they are both intertwined as a result of god shaping the systems on nature in his mind. 7. Explain what is meant by a teleological system. Is it reasonable to believe that the world is a teleological system? In the Teleological Argument a somewhat more complicated fact about the world serves as a starting point, the fact that the world exhibits order and design. Inductive argument for the existence of God that cites purported examples of design in nature as proof for the existence of a designer who is God. (Also called argument from design.) Cosmological argument one starts from some simple fact about the world, such as the fact that it contains things, which are caused to exist by other things. In the Ontological argument, however, one begins simply with a concept of God. 8. What, if anything, is the relevance of the Darwinian theory of natural selection to the Argument from Design? Does that theory, if true, show that the world is not the product of design? Briefing on natural selection: 9. Theory of natural selection shows that god doesn't exist, that is it's relevance to the argument from design. If the theory of natural selection is true then it shows that nature controls itself through natural processes, what occurs within nature is not the will of any sort of God. What is Anselm’s distinction between existence in the understanding and existence in reality? The first of these is his distinction between existence in the understanding and existence in reality. Anselm’s notion of existence in reality is the same as our notion of existence; that is, being on the left side of our imaginary line. Since the Fountain of Youth is on the right side of the line, it does not exist in reality. The things, which exist, are, to use Anselm’s phrase, the things, which exist in reality. Anselm’s notion of existence in the understanding, however, is not the same as any idea we normally employ. When we think of a certain thing, say the Fountain of Youth, then that thing, on Anselm’s view, exists in the understanding. 10. What does Anselm mean by the claim that it is conceivable that something exists? Are there any things that are such that is not conceivable? Proslogium, Anselm undertakes to prove that among those beings, which exist, there is one which is not just the greatest among existing beings, but is such that no conceivable being is greater. We need to distinguish these two ideas: (1) a being than which no existing being is greater, and ( 2) a being than which no conceivable being is greater. Using Anselm’s distinction between existence in the understanding and existence in reality, we may express the key idea in Anselm’s reasoning as follows: If something exists only in the understanding but might have existed in reality, then it might have been greater than it is. 11. What is Gaunilo’s objection to Anselm’s Ontological Argument? What answer could Anselm give to this objection? In defense of Anselm against Gaunilo’s objection, there are two difficulties in applying Anselm’s reasoning to things like Gaunilo’s island. The first derives from the fact that Anselm’s principle that existence is a great- making quality was taken to mean that if something does not exist then it is not as great a thing (being) as it would have been had it existed. A second difficulty in applying Anselm’s reasoning to Gaunilo’s island is that we must accept the premise that Gaunilo’s island is a possible thing. But this seems to require us to believe that some finite, limited thing (an island) might have unlimited perfections. It is not at all clear that this is possible. 12. What three traditional objections to the Ontological Argument does Rowe discuss? 1. God exists in the understanding. As we have noted, anyone who hears of the being than which none greater is possible is, on Anselm’s view, committed to premise ( 1). 2. God might have existed in reality (God is a possible being). Anselm, I think, assumes the truth of ( 2) without making it explicit in his reasoning. By asserting ( 2) I do not mean to imply that God does not exist in reality, but that, unlike the round square, God is a possible being. 3. If something exists only in the understanding and might have existed in reality, then it might have been greater than it is. 13. Explain the objection that the Ontological Argument begs the question. Ontological arguments are arguments, for the conclusion that God exists, from premises which are supposed to derive from some source other than observation of the world— e.g., from reason alone. In other words, ontological arguments are arguments from nothing but analytic, a priori and necessary premises to the conclusion that God exists. 14. What is the problem of evil? Why have various philosophers supposed that it constitutes a problem of theism? Problem of Evil: posed for theists: If God is all- good, omnipotent, and omniscient, how can his existence be compatible with the existence of evil? As a challenge to theism, the problem of evil has traditionally been posed in the form of a dilemma: if God is perfectly loving, he must wish to abolish evil; and if he is all powerful, he must be able to abolish evil. But evil exists; therefore God cannot be both omnipotent and perfectly loving. Certain solutions, which at once suggest them-selves, have to be ruled out so far as the Judaic- Christian faith is concerned. 15. How does Mackie describe the Problem of Evil? The problem of evil, in the sense in which I shall be using the phrase, is a problem only for someone who believes that there is a God who is both omnipotent and wholly good. And it is a logical problem, the problem of clarifying and reconciling a number of beliefs: it is not a scientific problem that might be solved by further observations, or a practical problem that might be solved by a decision or an action. Mackie claims that the idea of an all- powerful, all- knowing, and all- good God is logically incoherent, given the existence of evil in our world. Logically speaking, claims Mackie, a perfect God is one who is (among other things) able and willing to eradicate evil. Since evil exists, God either does not exist, or does, but is not perfect. In short, the very idea of an omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good God logically requires that any such being eliminate evil. So it is logically incoherent to suppose that a perfect God can coexist with evil. – page 28 16. Explain three of the solutions to the problem of Evil that Mackie argues are inadequate. Why does he hold that they are inadequate? A number of adequate solutions of the problem of evil, and some of these have been adopted, or almost adopted, by various thinkers. 1. “ Good cannot exist without evil” or “ Evil is necessary as a counterpart to good.” 2. “ Evil is necessary as a means to good.” 3. “ The universe is better with some evil in it than it could be if there were no evil.” 4. “ Evil is due to human free will.” 17. What is Pascal’s wager? Outline Pascal’s argument. The argument that it is in one's own best interest to behave as if God exists, since the possibility of eternal punishment in hell outweighs any advantage of believing otherwise. 18. What are two serious objections to Pascal’s argument. The Argument from Superdominance: Pascal maintains that we are incapable of knowing whether God exists or not, yet we must “wager” one way or the other. Reason cannot settle which way we should incline, but a consideration of the relevant outcomes supposedly can. The Argument from Expectation: Pascal has now made two striking assumptions:(1) The probability of God's existence is 1/2. (2) Wagering for God brings infinite reward if God exists. 19. What is the difference between Epistemic and Prudential rationality? How is this distinction employed in Pascal’s Wager? Epistemic rationality: believing, and updating on evidence, so as to systematically improve the correspondence between your map and the territory. The art of obtaining beliefs that correspond to reality as closely as possible. This correspondence is commonly termed "truth" or "accuracy", and we're happy to call it that. 20. What is Clifford’s view of belief? Cliffor's view of belief is that it is immoral to either form a new belief without sufficient evidence, or to sustain an existing belief by deliberately ignoring any doubts that the belief may be false and thereby avoiding honest investigation. 21. On what grounds does Clifford maintain that it is wrong to believe without sufficient evidence? Discuss his four main arguments. The first main point that Clifford critiques is the "wicked" belief in eternal damnation, and so far as concerns the second point, it is the dissent from common morality that is encouraged by the church. Clifford advises to Christians: "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not her plagues." This sounds extreme but recent examples such as 9/11 and the sexual abuse scandals in the church have led to emotional pleas for dissent from religion not unsimilar to that of Clifford with Belgian Catholics writing letters to their bishop to be "de-baptized". The example Clifford uses to illustrate the ethics of belief is well-known. A ship owner allows a vessel badly in need of repairs to nonetheless go out to sea. The owner dismisses from his mind any doubts as to its seaworthiness. The ship, laden with passengers, goes down in mid-ocean, killing all aboard. (p.73) Clifford holds the owner morally culpable and would be so even if the ship had not sunk: he has failed to meet the normal requirements of good judgment. This is not just a private matter but a failure in the person's powers of self-control: what determines the owner's beliefs are simply how it feels to him (good, since he will benefit financially from not doing repairs) and not the evidence and this furthermore has knock-on effects on society to the extent that such action is imitated by others. Clifford concludes that it is "sinful" to hold a belief not supported by the evidence. Much of the subsequent debate focuses on the grounds for this, what is termed "evidentialism". It is a useful study but more as giving a first summary of the issues and the debates associated with it, rather than an in-depth argument for his own take on it. The virtue approach, for example, calls for careful analysis of the shortcomings of ethics of the ancient Greeks in response to a normative monocultural context and the response of later commentators, for example Aquinas who asked, at the beginning of the process of secularization of European thought, for the justification of making moral effort in cultivating the virtues. This in turn leads to questions regarding the source of our ultimate commitments, and the focus on "belief in" rather than "belief that", the former answering to the larger question about how to live our lives, of which the latter question, what to believe, is a sub-section. What is missed in Madigan is this properly religious context for the question of the ethics of belief, questions as Karen Armstrong argue are issues of mythos rather than logos. For apart from this latter kind of knowledge there is, for example, that of our own capacities to be self-critical. In thinking of the latter as only the "precondition of belief-formation" rather than qualifying as an item of possible knowledge itself (p.83) Clifford seems to put an arbitrary barrier to the scope of rational inquiry. By bringing in such a wide range of commentators Madigan goes some way toward unpacking what is involved in critica
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