Thursday, April 30, 2009

100 living philosophers of religion

From Common Sense Atheism. I'm in pretty good company here.

28 comments:

Matthew said...

Let's see which one of those I remember

Quentin Smith
Peter van Inwagen
I have no idea
Mike Almeida
Alvin Plantinga
never seen before
don't know the name but from Syracruse
Wes Morriston
Victor Reppert
William Lane Craig
don't know if I've seen this one before
looks like Robert Adams
Richard Swinburne
I believe I know her
possibly seen before
never seen before
never seen before
James Porter Moreland
never seen before
never seen before

Marilyn Adams could be one of the women and many pictures I don't remember could be atheists, because they rarely have pictures of themselves on their pages for some reason.

by the way, does someone know the religious affiliation of John Hawthorne? exapologist once wrote he is a christian, but a friend of mine said he's not, but more like a "depends which day it is"-theist

Anonymous said...

I don't think Hawthorne is a theist. I had heard that he tried to appear theist-ish to get hired by Georgetown (complicated story) but is if anything an atheist these days.

mattghg said...

Matthew,

The one after Plantinga is William Hasker. Second from the left on the bottom row is Julian Baggini. Can't help you with the others.

Anonymous said...

I'm not in a position to know if he's still a Christian today, but Hawthorne at least used to be a Christian. See, e.g., his chapter, "Arguments for Atheism", in Reason for the Hope Within. On p. 117 of my copy, he refers to "...those of us who believe in the existence of the God of the Judeo-Christian tradition." And on p. 134. he speaks in terms of "We Christians...".

Anonymous said...

The "those of us who believe" line doesn't provide overwhelmingly strong evidence that he's included in the class of believers. For example, I might say 'The French sneer at those of us who believe that the french fry was invented in France', but I've not just asserted that I believe that the fry was invented in France. Of course, the second line is harder to explain away. Maybe it was a typo (or maybe John Hawthorn isn't John Hawthorne).

The dirt I had heard was that he was told it would be much easier to get a job he wanted if he put some stuff in print that would make him look like a theist and so he did that. Take it for what it's worth (nothing, I realize). As for his present views, it's hard to say but his essay 'Religious Knowledge' on his website doesn't seem overly friendly towards theism and theistic belief. If you think he's be a bit more friendly on the hypothesis that he is still friendly to religious belief, perhaps that's some evidence (very defeasible) for thinking he's not a believer. Big pick up for team atheism if he's switched.

Anonymous said...

How is it a 'big pickup for team atheism' if what you're relating is true? You're not saying that Hawthorne became convinced of atheism, but that he engaged in duplicity to get where he is.

In which case, big pickup for team "do whatever it takes to get whatever you want."

Either way, trading in such gossip seems low. Interesting list nonetheless.

Ilíon said...

VR: "I'm in pretty good company here."

*sigh* And one of your fellows has just handily "shredded" your signature contribution. ;-) Though, perhaps that phrasing isn't quite right, since I discovered the AfR on my own *before* I discovered you (*), and since I believe it to be a stronger and more decisive argument than it appears you do, and I thus state it in stronger terms (**).

WV: "[We know that the space-time system (as a whole) can't be self-existent b]ecause the space-time system is modally contingent. Contra Ilion and agreeing with Derrick, there is no problem with a self-existent nature containing minds."

(*) And, in fact, I discovered you in searching the internet to see whether the insight I'd had hadn't already been seen and expressed.

(**) Still, it's good don't you think, that the professionals can so quickly call the whipper-snappers to heel?

Anonymous said...

"How is it a 'big pickup for team atheism' if what you're relating is true? You're not saying that Hawthorne became convinced of atheism, but that he engaged in duplicity to get where he is."

Hmmm... the suggestion was that he engaged in duplicity to avoid being excluded from a kind of job on the basis of what would seem to be a kind of irrational bias or discrimination against non-believers. That's completely different from suggesting that he engaged in duplicity to get where he is. (Fwiw, where he managed to get (Oxford by way of Rutgers) is much better than where I had heard that he had tried initially to get by putting on the appearance of being a theist so that he could get the job on the basis of his work.) Anyway, it's a big 'get' for team atheism because he's wicked smart.

Anonymous said...

That's an awful lot of twisting, my fellow anonymous. Again, it's no 'get' if your story is true, because if it is then John Hawthorn was never a theist to begin with. He deceived people into thinking he was one in order to get a job.

You can say "Well he should have gotten that job because he's wicked smart but he thought they were going to discriminate against him and that's not fair!" but sadly, that doesn't work. Not only is that spiraling out into vastly more unsubstantiated gossip (Did he think he would be discriminated against? Or was he kissing up to his prospective employers?), but at the end of the day what you're suggesting is clear. You're saying he deceived people to improve his odds of getting a job. So he was never really on 'team theist' to begin with, and he's established as someone who will deceive if he thinks he has something weighty to gain by it.

That doesn't impact any arguments he may have, since thankfully we can evaluate those independently. But what you're saying does, unfortunately, make his character look bad. But hey, that's what gossip is all about.

Anonymous said...

Anon,

The suggestion was that he would be discriminated against and myself I don't think there's anything wrong with deceiving those who would use the information that you're hoping to conceal as a way of discriminating against you. You seem to disagree and think that it's wrong to deceive those who would discriminate against you. I think that's an unfortunate moral view to have.

Anyway, 'gossip' isn't all about making someone's character look bad. I don't think this story, if true, reflects badly on Hawthorne's character at all. I think it's an interesting story and I think it can show us something interesting about my (and possibly our) profession. It reflects badly on others that someone as incredibly talented as Hawthorne would have been pressured to mislead others so that he could be in the running for a job.

Anonymous said...

You seem to not understand that not everything a prospective employee does to ingratiate themselves to their employer is necessarily done to "avoid discrimination". If an actress gets a job by way of the casting couch, she's not necessarily "trying desperately to avoid unfair discrimination against women with more stringent moral compasses". The men who paid large contributions to Rod Blagovitch's campaign in exchange for contracts or state employment were not struggling to avoid discrimination against those who aren't suitably generous. Based on your gossip, it's just as likely John wasn't going to be discriminated against, but thought that providing the image of a theist would ingratiate himself to his hirer.

And no matter how it's cut, by your story John engages in deception to get what he wants rather than rest on principle. Take the story even the way you want to unjustifiably put it: There were mean ol' theistic employers who wanted to hire theistic philosophers. Instead of looking elsewhere for a job, John decided to prostitute himself. And not just by misrepresenting himself in an interview, but quite possibly by offering up philosophical arguments he had little to no faith in but were "pro-theist" or looked that way. If this is true, then I hope team atheist doesn't mind having sophists on their "team".

Ron said...

I don't know if John Hawthorne is not a theist. Here's a link to exapologist's blog where he states that John is a Christian:

http://exapologist.blogspot.com/2008/12/john-hawthornes-critique-of-fine-tuning.html

Of course, this was from two years ago so maybe John changed his mind or what just pretending to be one. Does anyone have a source that says he's an atheist?

Anonymous said...

Ron,
Exapologist offers no evidence that Hawthorne is a Christian, so I counter your blog comment with the blog comment above. My guess is that if you asked Exapologist what his/her evidence is, it won't be all that strong.

Anon,
The gossip I heard was from a source that I trust but anyone stupid enough to equate deceiving others to avoid being discriminated against for a lack of religious belief with someone performing sexual favors for getting a job is not someone I wish to continue arguing with. If you want to believe that Hawthorne was a theist, so be it.

Anonymous said...

I don't "want to believe" anything, and made no claims about John one way or the other. I'm just evaluating the story you've given me. If you think that the only reason a person would ever say that they're a theist when they really aren't is to avoid some Big Bad Discrimination, rather than to ingratiate themselves with someone, then reason is one thing you're sadly lacking. Clearly, the only reason politicians deceive others on issues is to avoid voters' unfair discrimination!

Your story makes John look bad. As I said, gossip is a foul thing.

Ilíon said...

Many rabbis (of the Hassidic sort) *also* consider spreading good reports about a person to be gossip.

Victor Reppert said...

I am contacting a source I trust about Hawthorne. I don't kno wi f he will answer. Hawthorne is a "skeptical" kind of theist, as opposed to an aggressive apologist like Craig.

Anonymous said...

"If you think that the only reason a person would ever say that they're a theist when they really aren't is to avoid some Big Bad Discrimination, rather than to ingratiate themselves with someone, then reason is one thing you're sadly lacking."

I didn't say that the only reason they would do that was to avoid discrimination. The story I was told was that this was the specific motivating factor. It's a story I was told and if the truth of that story makes JH look bad in your eyes, so much the worse for you.

Anonymous said...

You still don't get it. The "specific motivating factor" by your words was "this will really ingratiate you with your employer!" But now you're sure not only of John's motivations but his employers as well? And no matter what those motivations, we're down to "the gossip is John misrepresented himself to get a job. And he misrepresented by offering up arguments he thought his employer would like."

Again, stunning sophistry. Go team atheist, you experts of deceit. ;)

Victor Reppert said...

I think we need some corroboration on this before we start explaining it. I knew him as a Christian when I met him years ago, and his close friend Dean Zimmerman described him as a Catholic since that time. I'm going to need something more than a rumor to support the idea that he has left the Christian fold.

If the rumor of his atheism is true, this would be devastating to the prospects for the theists in a theistic philosophers vs. atheist philosophers chess match. He's a strong master.

philip m said...

"If the rumor of his atheism is true, this would be devastating to the prospects for the theists in a theistic philosophers vs. atheist philosophers chess match. He's a strong master."

LOL. Victor's got a whole different set of stock going on in the current discussion.

This was very puzzling to read for someone not heavily involved in chess, which made it seem like you thought Hawthorne was crucial for maintaining theistic philosophy. Haha.

So do the agnostics not get a place at the table?

Crude said...

Philip m brings up a good question. At least if Anthony Kenny is anything to go by on that list, anyone who was an agnostic as opposed an an atheist seems to have been decisively lumped into the 'atheist' category.

For the record, and apologies if you're reading this Mike, it took me forever to recognize that Mike Almeida was a theistic, much less christian, philosopher. Skeptical theists can be puzzling!

Ron said...

philip m is right. After all there are only two worldviews, atheism and theism. Everything else is a distraction from the epic battle. ;)

Ilíon said...

'Agnosticism' is the assertion either that:

1) The 'agnostic' himself is unable to find any way to begin to answer the question (and with the sotto voce claim that the 'agnostic' is thereby intellectually and morally superior for seeing this). What the 'agnostic' *means* is that he is unwilling to look for the answer.

2) No one at all able to find any way to begin to answer the question (and with the sotto voce claim that the 'agnostic' is thereby intellectually and morally superior for recognizing this). What the 'agnostic' *means* is that he is unwilling that anyone look for the answer.

In truth, the 'agnostic' claim that the question if God's existence is unanswerable is a claim that *all* questions are unanswerable. For *that* question is the question upon which all others hang; *that* question is a question about the very nature of reality.

In practice, 'agnostics' nearly always *behave* as though atheism were true.

Anonymous said...

Eric Reitan, who wrote a book defending theism, "Is God a Delusion? A Reply to Religions Cultured Despisers" should also be on the list

Anonymous said...

Anon,

"ingratiate with your employer" was not my phrase, it was yours. Geez.

Tim said...

Vic,

If the rumor of his atheism is true, this would be devastating to the prospects for the theists in a theistic philosophers vs. atheist philosophers chess match. He's a strong master.Don't give up hope -- John's good, but he's not unbeatable. I played a long series of blitz games against him some years ago when we were both at a conference at Notre Dame and managed to score about 60%. (John's sardonic comment after I scored one rather messy endgame win in a time scramble: "Well, I won't say much for your technique.") Dean was there; he may even have seen some of the games.

Jeremy Pierce said...

John Hawthorne has a recently-written paper on his website defending theistic belief. I have discussed the "Arguments for Atheism" paper with him, and even though he wrote it with Jan Cover (who didn't get a credit for it) he does agree with everything in the chapter. He was upset when he found people who thought his contribution to that book meant that he was an evangelical, and the fact that they spelled his name wrong didn't help, but he did write that paper in good faith, intending it to contribute toward an apologetic function that he agreed with in spirit, even if he didn't agree with everything all of the other chapters said. (See his recent paper on his website for his current views on apologetics).

As a former student of John's, one who isn't afraid to speak non-anonymously, I will say that he has always had a skeptical bent in terms of being bothered by skeptical worries, and this goes for his theism. This is a psychological fact about him. Some people are bothered by skeptical worries, and others aren't. He's clearly in the former category.

If he ever had any motivation to hide his views it would be in the opposite direction, to hide his theism and substance dualism, since such views are so roundly derided by most of the people he regularly hangs out with. If he'd been the sort to pretend he holds certain views when he doesn't, he wouldn't have defended either theism or substance dualism in print, as he has done.

He has never, as far as I know, abandoned his theism despite his psychological tendency toward skeptical worries. I don't think he's always seen himself as living the most pious Christian life, and I know some evangelicals who would not count him as a Christian, but he has always wanted his philosophical views to fit with official Roman Catholic teaching in terms of doctrine. It's hard for me to see this rumor as anything but a vicious lie, and the fact that it's being peddled by anonymous cowards certainly doesn't lend any credence to it.

As for Georgetown, when was this supposed to be? Is there any time even in the past decade when Georgetown would have been a step up for him?

Anonymous said...

I believe that John Hawthorne is still a theist but perhaps less "religious" in the practicing sense (perhaps, as Jeremy Pierce points out, due to his skeptical nature). After a 2007 lecture in New York, I asked him about his article critiquing Arguments for Atheism and he said they still held but then jokingly added that at the time of the book's publishing he was somewhat more religious back then.

Speaking to the point that agnostics behave as though they were atheists, I think Tony Kenny provides a good counter-example; he continues to pray and to attend (respectfully) masses occasionally (read his 2007 autobiography).