PHI 325 Philosophy of Religion
God, Bioethics, and Theological Deadlocks
Handouts | Course outline
| Course mechanics
Note: the 2006 course guide incorrectly listed this page, which
is a 2003 version of PHI 325. The page for the Fall 2006 version is here.
Professor: Adam Elga.
TA: Su Kim <firstname.lastname@example.org>,
office 110 Marx, office hour 3:30-4:30 Thursdays
Meeting time: MW 11-12 + Precept (see below for details)
Meeting place: McCosh
We will consider the argument from design, the problem of
evil, and the problem of Hell. We then consider various questions in
creation ethics (e.g., what sort of genetic modifications to one's
offspring are justifiable) in the light of the theological arguments
we have discussed so far. Finally, we will apply recent psychological
research to the question: why is theological disagreement so often
Prerequisite: One previous philosophy course.
Precepts: Precept assignments and meeting times/places will
be mailed to you. Contact <email@example.com> with
any questions about precept scheduling. Note that several precepts
are now full. We apologize in advance to anyone whose schedules we
Grading: No P/D/F. (Note that the printed course guide
incorrectly lists the course as allowing P/D/F.) 40% homework
assignments and class, precept participation, 25% midterm paper, 35%
Midterm paper (due October 24), term paper (due on Dean's
Date), and short-answer assignments (due weekly).
Short-answer assignments (named by due date).
Guest Lectures: Guest lecture/discussions by/with Elizabeth Harman
(NYU Philosophy), Emily
Pronin (Princeton Psychology), Roger
White (NYU Philosophy), Peter Singer (Princeton Center for Human Values)
Mon Sep 15
The Problem of Evil
Wed Sep 17:
Rowe, W.L. (1979) "The Problem of Evil and Some Varieties of Atheism", American
Philosophical Quarterly 16: 335-41.
Mon Sep 22, Wed Sep 24:
Peter van Inwagen, `The Magnitude, Duration and Distribution of Evil:
A Theodicy. Philosophical Topics 16:2, Fall 1998
Mon Sep 29:
Schlesinger, G. "The Problem of Evil and the problem of suffering".
American Philosophical Quarterly 1:3, July 1964.
Wed Oct 1:
and Vagueness" Faith and Philosophy 19 (2002): 58-68. (You may
omit the section of the article on epistemicism [pp 8-11].)
Mon Oct 6, Wed Oct 8:
Adams, R. M.. "Must
god create the best?" Philosophical Review. JL 72; 81: 317-332.
Arguments from Design
Mon Oct 13:
Paley, William. "The watch and the watchmaker". Chapter I.B.1
(pp. 48-52) of Louis P. Pojman, ed., Philosophy of Religion, 4th ed.
Wed Oct 15:
Hume, David. "A critique of the design argument". Chapter I.B.2
(pp. 52-58) of Louis P. Pojman, ed., Philosophy of Religion, 4th ed.
Mon Oct 20:
Swinburne, Richard. "The argument from design". Chapter I.B.3
(pp. 59-68) of Louis P. Pojman, ed., Philosophy of Religion, 4th ed.
Wed Oct 22:
Roger White. "Fine-tuning
and multiple universes"
Ethics of creation
Mon Nov 3 , Wed Nov 5:
Sections 119-122 of Chapter 16 ("The non-identity problem") of Reasons and Persons, Oxford
University Press, 1984.
Mon Nov 10:
Sections 123-127 of Chapter 16 ("The non-identity problem") of Reasons and Persons, Oxford
University Press, 1984.
Wed Nov 12, Mon Nov 17:
Lee Silver. "The Virtual Child" and "The Designer Child".
Chapters 17-18 (pp. 199-239) of Remaking Eden. Avon; (October 1998).
For those interested: a
high-profile case of the use of Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (the case of Lisa and Jack Nash).
Wed Nov 19
Lesbian couple create a child who is deaf like them
J Med Ethics 2002 28: 283.
Deafness, culture, and choice
J Med Ethics 2002 28: 284-285.
[optional] Julian Savulescu. "Deaf lesbians, 'designer disability,' and the future of
medicine". BMJ 2002;325:771-773 ( 5 October )
[Optional] K W Anstey.
Are attempts to have impaired children justifiable?
J Med Ethics 2002 28: 286-288.
We will also start discussing the Plantinga article.
Mon Nov 24:
Plantinga, Alvin. "Pluralism: a defense of
religious exclusivism". In Quinn, Philip L. and Kevin Meeker,
eds.The philosophical challenge of religious diversity (Oxford:
OUP, 2000), pp. 172-183. (pp. 183-192 are optional).
Wed Nov 26:
Van Inwagen, Peter. "'It is Wrong, Always, Everywhere, and for
Anyone, to Believe Anything, Upon Insufficient Evidence'" in Jordan
and Howard-Snyder (eds.) Faith, Freedom, and Rationality (Lanham, MD:
Rowman and Littlefield, 1996), pp.137-154.
Mon Dec 1, Wed Dec 3:
Pronin, E., Puccio, C., & Ross, L. (2002). Understanding
misunderstanding: Social psychological perspectives. In T. Gilovich,
D. Griffin, & D. Kahneman (Eds.), Heuristics and biases: The
psychology of intuitive judgment. New York: Cambridge University
[Optional] Emily Pronin, Thomas Gilovich, Lee Ross. Objectivity in
the Eye of the Beholder: Divergent Perceptions of Bias in Self versus
Others. Psychological Review, in press.
Mon Dec 8:
Thomas Kelly. "The
epistemic significance of disagreement". Read the statement of the
"No independent weight view" (9-10), the discussion of "The Appeal to
Symmetry" (14-20), and Kelly's "positive argument for the No
Independent Weight View" (20-26).
Wed Dec 10
Topic to be announced.
Readings are drawn from:
- Various articles available on the web (linked from this page).
- Articles on electronic reserve. You
can access the ereserves through the library's electronic
reserve page. You'll need the course userid (phi325) and
course password [supplied in class] to log in. You also may need to
download some special software; see the help
page for details.
Course mechanics and policies
One short paper, one term paper, and weekly short-answer
assignments (generally to be handed in at the beginning of lecture on Mondays).
How to complete the short-answer assignments:
- Length. Most questions can be answered in a short paragraph,
but this is just a rough guide. If you're confident you can nail it in
two sentences, go for it. If it takes more to get clear, so be it.
But all else equal, shorter is better.
- Correctness. For most (though not all) of the questions,
there is a right answer, or something specific we are looking for.
- Late homework accepted only with a very good reason.
(Example of a very good reason: extreme medical excuse with written
documentation. Examples of not very good reasons: computer foul-ups,
- Please type your answers, and include your name and which precept
you are in at the top.
- You may (and are encouraged to) discuss the homework questions
with others. But (1) write up your answers completely on your own,
and (2) if you do discuss the homework with others, say who you
discussed it with at the top of your homework.
- If you are asked for the strongest argument for a claim, or the
best objection to a claim, then give what you take to be the strongest
or best argument. In some cases, you will need to think up your own
argument (if you have an argument that you think is stronger than one
in the text, or if the text does not contain an argument of the sort
requested). Note that you needn't yourself find the argument or
objection convincing, in order for you to count it as the strongest
argument or objection. If you think there are many arguments of equal
strength, choose one. Often when grading these questions we judge
whether you have come up with a strong enough argument or
objection. It is not always the case that we have one particular
argument in mind.
- These will be graded on a coarse scale: "check", "+", or "-".
Missing class or precept: If you miss a lecture or a
precept, it is your responsibility to find out from another student
what happened and to get copies of notes and handouts. After doing
that, if you have questions about what was covered, please do meet
with me or your preceptor to discuss them.
Adam Elga | firstname.lastname@example.org
| Princeton University
Last modified: Fri Sep 3 14:30:45 EDT 2004