Saturday, March 25, 2006

Pacific APA Highlights Continued

Picking up where I left off in my last post ...

On Thursday evening I sat through an interesting exchange between two process theists (Donald Viney and Randall Auxier), an open theist (David Basinger), and C. Steven Evans, well-known Kierkegaard scholar (I'm not sure where Evans stands vis-a-vis open theism. He's definitely not a theological determinist, however.). Anyway, the two process theists led off with characterizations of process theism from a broadly Hartshornian perspective. Basinger and Evans then gave commentaries, followed by Q&A. One of the things that struck me was that process theism is not as monolithic a movement as I has supposed. Apparently, Hartshornian process theists like Viney and Auxier (especially Auxier) have little sympathy for the sort of Whiteheadian process theism practiced by John Cobb, Jr. and David Ray Griffin. I'm not too clear on the differences, except for the fact that Hartshorne's views seem to be a bit closer to 'classical' theism. Both Viney and Auxier see themselves as Christians and see their process theism as Biblical theism. Auxier even made clear that he wants to affirm creation ex nihilo, although he strenuously reputed the idea of "miracles" as resting on a mistaken conception of God's relation to the world.

Both Basinger and Evans made a similar point in their comments. They both argued that it was wrong to polarize the debate between 'classical' theism and process theism as one between theological determinism and process theism. Both stressed that there was a lot of room in between, including several different versions of what Basinger calls 'free-will theism'. The latter term is his general rubric for any form of theism that affirms libertarian free-will and God's ability to unilaterally act in the world to bring about his intentions. This includes Molinism, simple foreknowledge, and open theism. Both Basinger and Evans also remarked that they were encouraged to see that both process theists and many 'classical' theists are each moving closer together in their respective positions.

On to Friday. I'll be brief here for lack of time. I went to two 3-hour epistemology discussions. The first was a author-meets-critics discussion on Jason Stanley's recent book Knowledge and Practical Interests. Criticisms were given by Stephen Shiffer (NYU) and Gilbert Harman (Princeton), followed by a response from Jason Stanley (Rutgers), and then Q&A. It was quite a lively interaction and Stanley was pressed quite hard from several different directions, but seemed to hold his own. I'll save my own thoughts, however, until I've read his book (probably within the next couple months).

The second epistemology colloquium was very interesting, featuring short presentations of six different papers that are all contributions to a forthcoming book, New Waves in Epistemology. Discussion topics ranged widely, but I was most impressed by a couple papers in formal epistemology, especially Troy Catterson's "The Semantic Turn in Epistemology: A Critical Examination of Hintikka's Logic of Knowledge". Troy's argument ranged over topic like the paradox of the knower, Cantorian arguments against a set of all propositions, and various versions of Jaakko Hintikka's 'epistemic logic'. The upshot is that formal epistemologists badly need a theory of propositions that allows us to speak of a 'proper class' or totality of all truths. Otherwise, paradox and inconsistencies are inevitable.

Well, today's the day on which I read my paper "A Defense of Prior's 'Peircean' Tense Logic". I'll be reading it at 8 pm for the Philosophy of Time Society. I'll post a recap of how that goes later. Right now, I'm going to round me up some grub.


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