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Anne Conway, , . Selections from the Principles of the Most Ancient and Modern Philosophy
1994, in Margaret Atherton (ed.) Women Philosophers of the Early Modern Period. Hackett Publishing Company. [originally written 1677]
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Added by: Alison Stone, Contributed by:

After the SEP: Anne Conway’s treatise is a work of Platonist metaphysics in which she derives her system of philosophy from the existence and attributes of God. The framework of Conway’s system is a tripartite ontological hierarchy of ‘species’, the highest of which is God, the source of all being. Christ, or ‘middle nature’, links God and the third species, called ‘Creature’. […] Anne Conway denies the existence of material body as such, arguing that inert corporeal substance would contradict the nature of God, who is life itself. Incorporeal created substance is, however, differentiated from the divine, principally on account of its mutability and multiplicity even so, the infinite number and constant mutability of created monads constitute an obverse reflection of the unity, infinity, eternity and unchangeableness of God. The continuum between God and creatures is made possible through ‘middle nature’, an intermediary being, through which God communicates life, action, goodness and justice. […] The spiritual perfectionism of Anne Conway’s system has dual aspect: metaphysical and moral. On the one hand all things are capable of becoming more spirit-like, that is, more refined qua spiritual substance. At the same time, all things are capable of increased goodness. She explains evil as a falling away from the perfection of God, and understands suffering as part of a longer term process of spiritual recovery. She denies the eternity of hell, since for God to punish finite wrong-doing with infinite and eternal hell punishment would be manifestly unjust and therefore a contradiction of the divine nature. Instead she explains pain and suffering as purgative, with the ultimate aim of restoring creatures to moral and metaphysical perfection. Anne Conway’s system is thus not just an ontology and but a theodicy.

Comment: This chapter could be used in a history of philosophy course as one week’s reading. The author has a metaphysics that is often seen to anticipate that of Leibniz so one could, e.g., include a week on Conway in advance of a week or two (or three) on Leibniz.

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Hewitt Suchocki, Marjorie, , . The Idea of God in Feminist Philosophy
1994, Hypatia 9(4): 57-68.
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Added by: Emily Paul, Contributed by:

Abstract: The marginal position of women within the Western tradition provides a critical vantage point for feminist redevelopment of the notion of God. Feminists tend to replace the classical categories of substance philosophies traditionally used for God with relational categories often drawn from organic philosophies. They also project the dynamic character of language itself into the discussion of God. This essay focuses on these issues as they are developed by Mary Daly and Rebecca Chopp

Comment: A good overview and development of some key feminist philosophies of religion that seek to redevelop the notion of God. If being used in a standard philosophy of religion course, it would be good to set this reading after covering the ‘traditional’ conceptions of God, and then to have a debate to find out the views of students regarding how we ought to conceive of God.

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Jaeger,Lydia, , . Against Physicalism-plus-God
2012, Faith and Philosophy , 29, 295-312
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Added by: Laura Jimenez, Contributed by:

Abstract: It is often assumed that contemporary physics is more hospitable to divine action (and human freedom) than classical mechanics. The article criticizes this assumption on the grounds of both physics and theology. Most currently discussed models of divine action do not challenge the physicalist assumption that physics provides a true and complete description of nature’s causal web. Thus they resemble physicalism-plus-God. Taking up suggestions from Herman Dooyeweerd and Henri Blocher, I propose an alternative framework for divine action in the world. It takes creation as the starting-point to understand the world and leads to a non-reductionist, multidimensional picture of reality

Comment: Good article for undergraduate students. It is valuable for studying the relation between science and divinity.

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Nagasawa, Yujin, , . A New Defence of Anselmian Theism
2008, The Philosophical Quarterly 58 (233): 577-596.
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Added by: Jamie Collin, Contributed by:

Abstract: Anselmian theists, for whom God is the being than which no greater can be thought, usually infer that he is an omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent being. Critics have attacked these claims by numerous distinct arguments, such as the paradox of the stone, the argument from God’s inability to sin, and the argument from evil. Anselmian theists have responded to these arguments by constructing an independent response to each. This way of defending Anselmian theism is uneconomical. I seek to establish a new defence which undercuts almost all the existing arguments against Anselmian theism at once. In developing this defence, I consider the possibility that the Anselmian God is not an omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent being.

Comment: Useful in a philosophy of religion course or any course that discusses the existence of God. Provides an account of the Anselmian idea that God is the best possible being, objections to this idea and responses to those objections. This paper is particularly useful because it is both cutting edge and graspable by advanced undergraduate or graduate students. This will fit well in a course that discusses the coherence of classical theism.

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Nagasawa, Yujin, , . The Ontological Argument and the Devil
2010, The Philosophical Quarterly 60 (238): 72-91.
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Added by: Jamie Collin, Contributed by:

Abstract: The ‘parody objection’ to the ontological argument for the existence of God advances parallel arguments apparently proving the existence of various absurd entities. I discuss recent versions of the parody objection concerning the existence of ‘AntiGod’ and the devil, as introduced by Peter Millican and Timothy Chambers. I argue that the parody objection always fails, because any parody is either (i) not structurally parallel to the ontological argument, or (ii) not dialectically parallel to the ontological argument. Moreover, once a parody argument is modified in such a way that it avoids (i) and (ii), it is, ironically, no longer a parody – it is the ontological argument itself.

Comment: Useful in a philosophy of religion course. Provides an account of the ontological argument, parody objections to it, and responses to those objections. This paper is particularly useful because it is both cutting edge and graspable by advanced undergraduate or graduate students. Any course that treats arguments for and against the existence of God in any depth will discuss the ontological argument. Parody objections to ontological arguments are common (and often taken to be decisive); this would fit well in a course that discusses these parody objections.

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Peterson, Bailie, , . Attributes of God
2018, 1000-Word Philosophy: An Introductory Anthology
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Nathan Nobis

Abstract: Theists believe God exists, atheists believe that God does not exist, and agnostics suspend judgment on the issue. But what do each of these mean by ‘God’? What is the concept of God that underlies the debate? This essay explains three important features of a widely-accepted idea of God and discusses some puzzles and paradoxes related to their application.

Comment: An introduction to a traditional concept of God accepted by many theistic religions.
[This is a stub entry. Please add your comments to help us expand it]

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Zagzebski, Linda, , . Does Ethics Need God?
1987, Faith and Philosophy 4: 294-303.
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Added by: Jamie Collin, Contributed by:

Abstract: This essay presents a moral argument for the rationality of theistic belief. If all I have to go on morally are my own moral intuitions and reasoning and those of others, I am rationally led to skepticism, both about the possibility of moral knowledge and about my moral effectiveness. This skepticism is extensive, amounting to moral despair. But such despair cannot be rational. It follows that the assumption of the argument must be false and I must be able to rely on more than my own human powers and those of others in attempting to live a moral life. The Christian God has such a function. Hence, if it is rational to attempt a moral life, it is rational to believe in the Christian God.

Comment: This would be useful in a course on philosophy of religion, metaethics or a course in which the epistemology of disagreement is relevant. This is a short, clear and simple paper which would be suitable for first year undergraduates.

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