Phil236 Final Exam Study Guide.docx

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PHIL 236
Vincent Picciuto

1 Phil 236 Fall 2013 Final Exam Review 1. What are some philosophical puzzles that arise from the three central perfections of the classical theistic God? • Omnibenevolent and evil; + omnipotent: G-d is omnibenevolent but evil exists; if a God is omnipotent He should be able to banish evil • Omnipotent and pseudo-tasks • Free will and omniscience: if God knows everything he knows what our next move is before we do it taking away our free will to make our own decisions • Omniscience and emotions: if one does not believe God has feelings, we as emotional beings possess a type of knowledge that G-d does not 2. What’s the main thrust of design arguments? What are the different kinds of observed phenomena that the two main versions focus on? • The main point of the design argument is to show that life was created by some intelligent designer • Biological design argument: because we are complex goal directed individuals we are created by an intelligent being o This argument is based on the biology of humans because it is pinpointing our complexity and how we are made • Fine-tuning argument: takes physics of world into account, not biology o This argument stresses that because the complex world is so perfect and in tune to make life livable then there had to have been an intelligent designer to create it 3. What’s the gist of the cosmological arguments? What are their most persuasive elements? • Cosmological arguments try to explain why a physical world exists at all • It argues that life had to have a starting point whether it is through a chain of causes or contingency. Because something cannot come from nothing then there had to have been something to create something. • The argument says that that something has to be God • The chain of creators cannot be infinite. Infinite cannot be applied outside of mathematics because when you apply infinity to real life, things become absurd. o For instance if there are infinite books on a bookshelf and I take out every other book I am still left with infinite books. Mostly people can agree this does not make sense and therefore infinity cannot be applied to how life started. 4. Focus on the basic idea behind ontological arguments. Many rather smart people have been persuaded by, or have even tried to defend, ontological arguments, e.g., Rene Descartes (inventor of coordinate geometry, among other great achievements) & Kurt Gödel (famous for his incompleteness theorems in mathematical logic). Others toss off the argument as woefully inadequate, if not downright insane (countless names here). 2 How could there be such disagreement among great minds? Even if it ultimately fails, what is it about the ontological argument that makes it at all enticing? • There could be such disagreement among great minds because: o If we are talking about multiple possible worlds having maximal excellence therefore having maximal greatness and there’s a possible world that is imperfect the argument doesn’t hold o Due to the definitions of existing necessarily o The contradictions that come forth when making the claim that a God may exist in all worlds but we do not know for sure, yet we make the claim regardless • This argument is enticing because: o Of the use of definitions in the argument; they make you feel like it’s logical and right o It is possible for great minds to imagine a world that has a maximally great being that could exist in the universe. This would then conclude that there is a maximally excellent being in all worlds (maximally great), including our own. And if this maximally excellent being can exist in our mind, then it can exist in reality. 5. Are miracles literally impossible, or possible but highly unlikely? • Miracles are possible but highly unlikely o Miracles are exceptions to laws of nature, supernatural intervention o Laws of nature are regularities that hold when no intervention from outside nature occurs  Evidence of for laws of nature tell us nothing about the probability of miracles o Hume’s argument: the prior probability of a miracle occurring is low and the relevance of testimony for a miracle is low, so the probability that the miracle occurred is low o High likelihood of false positives even with skilled witnesses o If a bunch of witnesses report a miracle, it is unlikely that they are all wrong o Event could not have been an act of G-d 6. Think about the following definition of ‘religious experience:’ an experience that the person having is inclined to take as a veridical experience of God or some aspect of the divine. Consider William Alston’s view that belief in religious experience is rational on the grounds that they’re part of a socially established doxastic practice. What are the constraints on being an acceptable doxastic practice? Are all doxastic practices acceptable? Can you think of other socially established practices of belief formation that might generate beliefs we would intuitively want to consider irrational or explicitly false? What does being a socially established practice have to do with conferring rationality on a belief formation method? • A doxastic practice is a socially established way of forming and criticizing a belief • Constraints to being an acceptable doxastic practice: o Has to be followed and accepted by a group of people for a substantial amount of time 3 o The practice may be accepted and practiced by a group of people regardless of the moral implications on those who practice and other groups who may be affected by it • All doxastic practices are rational based on Alston’s view because they are practices followed by a group of people for a long time that puts them in touch with reality (sanctification) and there’s no reason to think they are defective (specifically CMP) • Socially established practice that some might think is irrational: o Praying because some people might think they’re praying to nothing o The caste system because segregation is being based on skin color and other factors that one cannot control o Nazism – they thought their views would bring them closer to reality and towards good but they were actually hurting groups of people which makes the practice an objectively immoral act • Having a socially established practice confers rationality on a belief formation method because if it were not useful no one would have done it for so long 7. Plantinga’s reformed epistemology argument is supposed to support the claim that belief in God is rational, even though there is insufficient evidence for God. How is reformed epistemology supposed to support that claim? Is it successful? o Internalism: the belief that you are committed to know all your beliefs are true. It requires reflection. And you need awareness that you have the knowledge o Externalism: the belief that to be justified, the factors outside of the believer or the believer’s knowledge would have to cause it (senses, information) • Plantinga’s argument states that the belief in God can be justified and G-d is rational even if there is no evidence because of internalism and externalism in terms of justification/warrant. o Not successful because:  The evidentialist objection: belief in G-d is unjustified if there is insufficient evidence that G-d exists  No criteria for proper basicality (Great Pumpkin Objection) o Successful because:  Belief in G-d is properly basic and justified/warranted
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