• Epistemology,  Language,  Philosophy of Language

    Against Eliminative Materialism

    According to eliminative materialists, the statements ‘I feel pain’ and ‘I believe that the cat is on the mat’ can be reduced to statements about physical mechanisms of the brain. ‘My C-fibres are firing’ or ‘my B-drive is accepting that the cat is on the mat’ will suffice to replace any reference to mental states. As Eddy Zemach kindly points out, doing so deprives us of any reason to think the reduced statements are true. If one asks, ‘what makes you think your C-fibres are firing,’ what else could the asserter say apart from, ‘well I feel pain’? Same for the B-drive. Hence, one might replace all our mentalistic statements,…

  • Ben Holloway

    EPS/ETS 2021

    Last week, I went to Fort Worth Texas to present a paper, listen to some eminent scholars, and meet old friends. Here’s my report: My Paper: I read my paper on the scope of the imagination in providing evidence for beliefs. There are two groups of people on the topic, optimists and pessimists. Optimists think the imagination can serve as evidence for all sorts of beliefs including moral judgments, empirical beliefs, and acquaintance beliefs. My twitter profile is presently an illustration of Puddleglum, so you can tell my position on the subject. I went to three sessions, one on the minimal facts approach to the resurrection, one on William Lane…

  • Ben Holloway,  Teaching

    How To Write a Persuasive Research Paper

    The following are instructions for writing a persuasive research paper. To include in the paper: Introduction (one paragraph) Explain the issue Begin your paper with an explanation of the issue you are going to discuss. A good way to state your issue is by using a question. For example, one might write “is it only possible to understand justice for an individual if we understand justice in a city?” You may also want to state the view of the author on which you are going to write. (e.g. “in The Republic, Plato suggests that we can only understand the nature of justice in an individual if we understand the nature of justice in a city”)…

  • Argument

    Anti-Anti-Reduction

    Suppose I argue that what makes a proposition true is its correspondence to a state of affairs. “All very well,” my interlocutor responds, “but true statements are so much more than statements that correspond to reality. They often inspire, exhort, warn, and comfort.” Or, suppose I say that apologetics is a rational defense of the the content of Christian beliefs. “Yes, yes,” my interlocutor says, “but defenses of the faith shouldn’t just be rational defenses. They often require imaginative storytelling, poetry, and other art forms. People aren’t merely reasoning machines. We must appeal to their imaginative nature.” In both cases, the reply should not be a defense of a reductive…

  • Apologetics,  Epistemology

    Not Ready to Quit: Combatting Epistemic Apathy

    For as many centuries as there has been a church, there has been a concerted effort to rationally defend its beliefs against skepticism. That’s what apologetics is supposed to do. A Christian apologetic is primarily a rational defense of the contents of the Faith. Throughout history, defenders of the Faith assumed that Christian beliefs aren’t mysterious inexplicable attitudes. They don’t arise from nowhere. Instead, they are properly formed. In our present age, although Christians have maintained their own psychological resilience in their beliefs, they are not so sure such resilience can be maintained in defending those beliefs. Some suggest that the most that we can do is help people see…

  • Aesthetics,  Art

    Feelings and Film

    Consider the following scenario: you are watching a movie in which a character, S, is in great peril. You fear for the life of S knowing that there is no such person and no real peril. Are you being irrational? After all, there is nothing to be afraid of. Perhaps, instead, you aren’t really scared. You’d feel completely differently if you were in peril and the peril was real. You certainly wouldn’t place yourself in peril for fun. Perhaps you are experiencing something like fear for S but not real fear. Still, it certainly feels like fear. Further, it isn’t the case that you’d never enjoy real fear. People pay…

  • Aesthetics,  Epistemology

    Beliefs and Imagination

    The strength of my faith rests in part on repeated readings of the Chronicles of Narnia. The imagination is a powerful faculty of the human mind. As Gordon Graham writes, “Assembling evidence is often a rational strategy in arriving at a verdict, but imagination … can be another means by which reality is brought home to us” (Gordon Graham). What I want to consider in this post is the comparison Graham makes between imagination and a rational strategy. Presumably, by ‘reality is brought home to us’ and ‘arriving at a verdict’ Graham means belief. A ‘rational strategy’ for forming a belief (presumably) involves a proposition, p, being justified by evidence and basing…

  • Epistemology

    On Intellectual Method

    Broadly speaking, there are two competing intellectual methodologies: One either starts with the details, attempting to solve particular problems one at a time, or one starts at the top by attempting to develop maximally coherent systems. In a recent recent interview, James White said the following about his conversion to postmillenialism: “Postmillennialism is a top-down theology.  It begins with over-arching themes that flow naturally and beautifully from Reformed theology. Instead of starting down at the bottom and trying to build up a system based upon interpreting symbols and apocryphal texts, postmillennialism starts with the over-arching purpose of God in Christ.” White starts with a system and then fits the details…