•  220
    Theism and Modal Collapse
    American Philosophical Quarterly 48 (4): 361. 2011.
    God is traditionally taken to be a necessarily existing being who is unsurpassably powerful, knowledgeable, and good. The familiar problem of actual evil claims that the presence of gratuitous suffering in the actual world constitutes evidence against the existence of such a being. In contrast, the problem of possible evil claims that the possibility of bad worlds constitutes evidence against theism. How? It seems plausible to suppose that there are very bad possible worlds. But if God exists in…Read more
  •  200
    Philo’s Argument for Divine Amorality Reconsidered
    Hume Studies 29 (2): 283-304. 2003.
    A central tactic in Philo’s criticism of the design argument is the introduction of several alternative hypotheses, each of which is alleged to explain apparent design at least as well as Cleanthes’ analogical inference to an intelligent designer. In Part VI, Philo proposes that the world “…is an animal, and the Deity is the soul of the world, actuating it, and actuated by it” (DNR 6.3; 171); in Part VII, he suggests that “…it is a palpable and egregious partiality” to favour reason as a probabl…Read more
  •  197
    Theism, Possible Worlds, and the Multiverse
    Philosophical Studies 147 (3). 2010.
    God is traditionally taken to be a perfect being, and the creator and sustainer of all that is. So, if theism is true, what sort of world should we expect? To answer this question, we need an account of the array of possible worlds from which God is said to choose. It seems that either there is (a) exactly one best possible world; or (b) more than one unsurpassable world; or (c) an infinite hierarchy of increasingly better worlds. Influential arguments for atheism have been advanced on each hier…Read more
  •  168
    The Theistic Multiverse: Problems and Prospects
    In Yujin Nagasawa (ed.), Scientific Approaches to the Philosophy of Religion, Palgrave-macmillan. pp. 143--162. 2012.
    In recent decades, there has been astonishing growth in scientific theorizing about multiverses. Once considered outré or absurd, multiple universe theories appear to be gaining considerable scientific respectability. There are, of course, many such theories, including (i) Everett’s (1957) many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, defended by Deutsch (1997) and others; (ii) Linde’s (1986) eternal inflation view, which suggests that universes form like bubbles in a chaotically inflating se…Read more
  •  158
    God and Gratuitous Evil (Part I)
    Philosophy Compass 11 (12): 905-912. 2016.
    In contemporary analytic philosophy, the problem of evil refers to a family of arguments that attempt to show, by appeal to evil, that God does not exist. Some very important arguments in this family focus on gratuitous evil. Most participants in the relevant discussions, including theists and atheists, agree that God is able to prevent all gratuitous evil and that God would do so. On this view, of course, the occurrence of even a single instance of gratuitous evil falsifies theism. The most com…Read more
  •  151
    Megill’s Multiverse Meta-Argument
    International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 73 (3): 235-241. 2013.
    In a recent paper in this journal, Jason Megill (2011) offers an innovative meta-argument which deploys considerations about multiple universes in an effort to block all arguments from evil. In what follows, I contend that Megill has failed to establish a key premise in his meta-argument. I also offer a rival account of the effect of multiverse models on the debate about evil
  •  150
    Absence of Evidence and Evidence of Absence
    Faith and Philosophy 24 (2): 203-228. 2007.
    I defend the first premise of William Rowe’s well-known arguments from evil against influential criticisms due to William Alston. I next suggest that the central inference in Rowe’s arguments is best understood to move from the claim that we have an absence of evidence of a satisfactory theodicy to the claim that we have evidence of absence of such a theodicy. I endorse the view which holds that this move succeeds only if it is reasonable to believe that (roughly) if there were such a theodicy, …Read more
  •  143
    Externalism, Memory, and Self-Knowledge
    Erkenntnis 56 (3): 297-317. 2002.
    Externalism holds that the individuation of mental content depends on factors external to the subject. This doctrine appears to undermine both the claim that there is a priori self-knowledge, and the view that individuals have privileged access to their thoughts. Tyler Burge's influential "inclusion theory of self-knowledge" purports to reconcile externalism with authoritative self-knowledge. I first consider Paul Boghossian's claim that the inclusion theory is internally inconsistent. I reject …Read more
  •  136
    In the central chapter of Can God Be Free?, William Rowe offers what amounts to an a priori argument for atheism. In what follows, I first clarify this argument, and I then defend it against recent criticisms due to William Hasker. Next, however, I outline four ways in which theists might plausibly reply to Rowe’s argument.
  •  134
    Peter van Inwagen on Gratuitous Evil
    Religious Studies 50 (2): 217-234. 2014.
    Defenders and critics of the evidential argument from evil typically agree that if theism is true, no gratuitous evil occurs. But Peter van Inwagen has challenged this orthodoxy by urging that for all we know, given God's goals, it is impossible for God to prevent all gratuitous evil, in which case God is not required do so. If van Inwagen is right, the evidential argument from evil fails. After setting out this striking and innovative move, I examine three responses found in the literature, and…Read more
  •  111
    Divine Unsurpassability
    Philosophia 35 (3-4): 293-300. 2007.
    One historically significant model of God holds that God is a perfect being. Analytic philosophers of religion have typically understood this to mean that God is essentially unsurpassable in power, knowledge, goodness, and wisdom. Recently, however, several philosophers have argued that this is inconsistent with another common theistic position: the view that for any world that God can create, there is a better world that God could have created instead. The argument runs (roughly) as follows: if…Read more
  •  96
    God, the Best, and Evil (review)
    Philosophical Quarterly 60 (239): 432-446. 2010.
  •  92
    Creation, Actualization and God's Choice Among Possible Worlds
    Philosophy Compass 3 (4): 854-872. 2008.
    God is traditionally understood to be a perfect being who is the creator and sustainer of all that is. God's creative and sustaining activity is often thought to involve choosing a possible world for actualization. It is generally said that either there is (a) exactly one best of all possible worlds, or there are (b) infinitely many increasingly better worlds, or else there are (c) infinitely many unsurpassable worlds within God's power to actualize. On each view, critics have offered arguments …Read more
  •  84
    Incommensurability, Incomparability, and God’s Choice of a World
    International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 69 (2). 2011.
    Anselmian theism holds that there necessarily exists a being, God, who is essentially unsurpassable in power, knowledge, goodness, and wisdom. This being is also understood to be the creator and sustainer of all that is. In contemporary analytic philosophy of religion, this role is generally understood as follows: God surveys the array of possible worlds, and in his wisdom selects exactly one for actualization, based on its axiological properties. In this paper, I discuss an under-appreciated ch…Read more
  •  72
    On Preferring God's Non-Existence
    with Chris Dragos
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 43 (2): 157-178. 2013.
    For many centuries, philosophers have debated this question: “Does God exist?” Surprisingly, they have paid rather less attention to this distinct – but also very important – question: “Would God’s existence be a good thing?” The latter is an axiological question about the difference in value that God’s existence would make (or does make) in the actual world. Perhaps the most natural position to take, whether or not one believes in God, is to hold that it would be a very good thing if such a bei…Read more
  •  58
    The Problem of No Best World
    In Charles Taliaferro & Paul Draper (eds.), A Companion to Philosophy of Religion, 2nd ed., Blackwell. 2010.
    This paper surveys recent literature on the problem of no best world - an a priori argument for atheism.
  •  52
    God and the Hypothesis of No Prime Worlds
    International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 59 (1): 49-68. 2006.
    Many theists hold that for any world x that God has the power to actualize, there is a better world, y, that God had the power to actualize instead of x. Recently, however, it has been suggested that this scenario is incompatible with traditional theism: roughly, it is claimed that no being can be essentially unsurpassable on this view, since no matter what God does in actualizing a world, it is possible for God (or some other being) to do better, and hence it is possible for God (or some other …Read more
  •  49
    Can God Choose a World at Random?
    In Yujin Nagasawa & Erik J. Wielenberg (eds.), New Waves in Philosophy of Religion, Palgrave-macmillan. 2009.
    On what basis does God choose a possible world to make actual? Theists typically claim that God freely selects exactly one world on the basis of its axiological characteristics. But suppose that there are infinitely many unsurpassable worlds from which to choose; or else that there are no unsurpassable worlds, but instead an infinite hierarchy of increasingly better worlds. On each of these scenarios, philosophers have alleged that God is unable rationally to choose a world for actualization. In…Read more
  •  41
    Can God Satisfice?
    American Philosophical Quarterly 50 (4): 399-410. 2013.
    Three very prominent arguments for atheism are (1) the argument from sub-optimality, (2) the problem of no best world, and (3) the evidential argument from gratuitous evil. To date, it has not sufficiently been appreciated that several important criticisms of these arguments have all relied on a shared strategy. Although the details vary, the core of this strategy is to concede that God either cannot or need not achieve the best outcome in the relevant choice situation, but to insist that God mu…Read more
  •  40
    God and Gratuitous Evil (Part II)
    Philosophy Compass 11 (12): 913-922. 2016.
    In contemporary analytic philosophy, the problem of evil refers to a family of arguments that attempt to show, by appeal to evil, that God does not exist. Some very important arguments in this family focus on gratuitous evil. Most participants in the relevant discussions, including theists and atheists, agree that God is able to prevent all gratuitous evil, and that God would do so. On this view, of course, the occurrence of even a single instance of gratuitous evil falsifies theism. The most co…Read more
  •  21
    Reason for the Hope Within (review)
    Faith and Philosophy 19 (1): 131-134. 2002.
  •  16
    Externalism and Self-Knowledge (review)
    Dialogue 41 (1): 177-179. 2002.
    This collection contains twenty-one selections on various issues central to the problem of externalism and privileged self-knowledge. The problem these papers address is best characterized as follows. Externalism is the doctrine that the individuation of mental content depends in part on physical or social factors. While this position is extremely plausible, it unfortunately appears to undermine the equally plausible view that individuals have some kind of privileged access to their own mental s…Read more
  •  15
    The Fall and Hypertime (review)
    Philosophical Quarterly 68 (270): 202-204. 2018.
  •  11
    Elgin’s community-oriented steadfastness
    Synthese 198 (6): 4985-5008. 2019.
    In recent years, epistemologists have devoted enormous attention to this question: what should happen when two epistemic peers disagree about the truth-value of some proposition? Some have argued that that in all such cases, both parties are rationally required to revise their position in some way. Others have maintained that, in at least some cases, neither party is rationally required to revise her position. In this paper, I examine a provocative and under-appreciated argument for the latter v…Read more
  •  8
    William L. Rowe’s A Priori Argument For Atheism
    Faith and Philosophy 22 (2): 211-234. 2005.
    William Rowe’s a posteriori arguments for the non-existence of God are well-known. Rather less attention has been given, however, to Rowe’s intriguing a priori argument for atheism. In this paper, I examine the three published responses to Rowe’s a priori argument (due to Bruce Langtry, William Morris, and Daniel and Frances Howard-Snyder, respectively). I conclude that none is decisive, but I show that Rowe’s argument nevertheless requires more defence than he provides.
  •  6
    Is Motivated Submaximization Good Enough for God?
    Religious Studies. forthcoming.
    In a recent article (Kraay 2013), I argued that some prominent responses to two important arguments for atheism invoke divine satisficing – and that the coherence and propriety of this notion have not been established. Chris Tucker (2016) agrees with my evaluation of divine satisficing, but disagrees with my exegesis of these responses. He argues that they should be understood as invoking motivated submaximization instead. After reviewing the dialectical situation to date, I assess whether motiv…Read more
  •  4
    The Problem of Divine Hiddenness
    Oxford Bibliographies Online. 2013.
    “The Problem of Divine Hiddenness” is an infelicitous phrase for two reasons. First, while it suggests that God both exists and hides, this phrase actually refers to a strategy of arguing that various forms of nonbelief in God constitute evidence for God’s nonexistence. Second, it suggests that there is only one problem for theistic belief here, while in fact this phrase refers to a family of arguments for atheism. This entry focuses on contemporary arguments from nonbelief to atheism. The most …Read more
  •  4
    In recent decades, scientific theories have postulated the existence of many universes beyond our own. The details and implications of these theories are hotly contested. Some philosophers argue that these scientific models count against the existence of God. Others, however, argue that if God exists, a multiverse is precisely what we should expect to find. Moreover, these philosophers claim that the idea of a divinely created multiverse can help believers in God respond to certain arguments for…Read more
  •  3
    God and Possible Worlds
    Oxford Bibliographies Online. 2014.
    This article surveys some contemporary literature in analytic philosophy of religion bearing on the relationship between God and possible worlds. Most of these authors take “God” to denote an essentially omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good being, who is the creator and sustainer of all that contingently exists. Since the 1960s, philosophers have employed the conceptual apparatus of worlds to discuss topics pertaining to God. Very roughly, the actual world is the way things are, whereas ea…Read more
  •  3
    Perspectives and Positions in Contemporary Analytic Philosophy of Religion
    Toronto Journal of Theology 30 132-140. 2014.
    This essay discusses two issues. The first concerns whether the “insider’s” or “outsider’s” perspective is more truth-conducive in the study of religion. I do not attempt to settle this very thorny question: I merely attempt to identify some aspects of what it might mean to be an insider with respect to one kind of investigation – the investigation into whether God exists. The second issue concerns how best to characterize certain philosophical positions on the axiology of ultimate reality. Here…Read more