University of Notre Dame
Department of Philosophy
PhD, 1996
Notre Dame, Indiana, United States of America
Areas of Specialization
Metaphysics
Philosophy of Religion
  •  2219
    Divine Hiddenness, Divine Silence
    In Louis P. Pojman (ed.), Philosophy of religion, Mayfield. pp. 266-275. 1987.
    In the present article, he explains why divine silence poses a serious intellectual obstacle to belief in God, and then goes on to consider ways of overcoming that obstacle. After considering several ways in which divine silence might actually be beneficial to human beings, he argues that perhaps silence is nothing more or less than God’s preferred mode of interaction with creatures like us. Perhaps God simply desires communion rather than overt communication with human beings, and perhaps God h…Read more
  •  1503
    Naturalism and Moral Realism
    In Thomas M. Crisp, Matthew Davidson & David Vander Laan (eds.), Knowledge and Reality: Essays in Honor of Alvin Plantinga, Springer. pp. 215-242. 2006.
    My goal in this paper is to show that naturalists cannot reasonably endorse moral realism. My argument will come in two parts. The first part aims to show that any plausible and naturalistically acceptable argument in favor of belief in objective moral properties will appeal in part to simplicity considerations (broadly construed)—and this regardless of whether moral properties are reducible to non-moral properties. The second part argues for the conclusion that appeals to simplicity justify be…Read more
  •  1314
    Material Constitution and the Trinity
    Faith and Philosophy 22 (1): 57-76. 2005.
    The Christian doctrine of the Trinity poses a serious philosophical problem. On the one hand, it seems to imply that there is exactly one divine being; on the other hand, it seems to imply that there are three. There is another well-known philosophical problem that presents us with a similar sort of tension: the problem of material constitution. We argue in this paper that a relatively neglected solution to the problem of material constitution can be developed into a novel solution to the proble…Read more
  •  1274
    Skeptical Theism and the 'Too-Much-Skepticism' Objection
    In Justin P. McBrayer & Daniel Howard-Snyder (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to The Problem of Evil, Wiley. pp. 482-506. 2014.
    In the first section, I characterize skeptical theism more fully. This is necessary in order to address some important misconceptions and mischaracterizations that appear in the essays by Maitzen, Wilks, and O’Connor. In the second section, I describe the most important objections they raise and group them into four “families” so as to facilitate an orderly series of responses. In the four sections that follow, I respond to the objections.
  •  989
    Wright on Theodicy
    Philosophia Christi 10 (2): 461-470. 2008.
    In "Evil and the Justice of God", N.T. Wright presses the point that attempting to solve the philosophical problem of evil is an immature response to the existence of evil--a response that belittles the real problem of evil, which is just the fact that evil is bad and needs to be dealt with. As you might expect, I am not inclined to endorse this sort of sweeping indictment of the entire field of research on the philosophical problem of evil. (I sort of doubt that Wright really meant to either.) …Read more
  •  789
    Theology Without Idolatry or Violence
    Scottish Journal of Theology 68 (1): 61-79. 2015.
    Since the 1960s, metaphysics has flourished in Anglo-American philosophy. Far from wanting to avoid metaphysics, philosophers have embraced it in droves. There have been critics, to be sure; but the criticisms have received answers and the enterprise has carried on.
  •  735
    Presentism and Ockham's Way Out
    Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion 1 1-17. 2008.
    We lay out the fatalist’s argument, making sure to clarify which dialectical moves are available to the libertarian. We then offer a more robust presentation of Ockhamism, responding to obvious objections and teasing out the implications of the view. At this point, we discuss presentism and eternalism in more detail. We then present our argument for the claim that the libertarian cannot take Ockham’s way out of the fatalism argument unless she rejects presentism. Finally, we consider and dispens…Read more
  •  709
    The Metaphysics of the Narrative Self
    Journal of the American Philosophical Association 8 (4): 586-603. 2022.
    This essay develops a theory of identities, selves, and ‘the self’ that both explains the sense in which selves are narratively constituted and also explains how the self relates to a person's individual autobiographical identity and to their various social identities. I argue that identities are the contents of narratively structured representations, some of which are hosted individually and are autobiographical in form, and others of which are hosted collectively and are biographical in form. …Read more
  •  661
    How Successful is Naturalism?
    In Georg Gasser (ed.), How Successful is Naturalism?, Ontos Verlag. pp. 105-116. 2007.
    The question raised by this volume is “How successful is naturalism?” The question presupposes that we already know what naturalism is and what counts as success. But, as anyone familiar with the literature on naturalism knows, both suppositions are suspect. To answer the question, then, we must first say what we mean in this context by both ‘naturalism’ and ‘success’. I’ll start with ‘success’. I will then argue that, by the standard of measurement that I shall identify here, naturalism is an u…Read more
  •  648
    Gender as a Self-Conferred Identity
    Feminist Philosophy Quarterly 8 (2). 2022.
    This paper develops and defends the view that gender is an identity that we confer upon ourselves. The claim that gender is a self-conferred identity is not novel; but its metaphysics is obscure at best. What exactly is an identity, and how do we manage to confer identities upon ourselves? Furthermore, how does the claim that gender is a self-conferred identity comport with the widely accepted notion that gender is also a social identity, and that social identities are (at least partly) either…Read more
  •  637
    In May 2010, philosophers, family and friends gathered at the University of Notre Dame to celebrate the career and retirement of Alvin Plantinga, widely recognized as one of the world's leading figures in metaphysics, epistemology, and the philosophy of religion. Plantinga has earned particular respect within the community of Christian philosophers for the pivotal role that he played in the recent renewal and development of philosophy of religion and philosophical theology. Each of the essays in…Read more
  •  577
    Realism in Theology and Metaphysics
    In Conor Cunningham & Peter M. Candler (eds.), Belief and Metaphysics, Scm Press. pp. 323-344. 2007.
    The paper will have three sections. In section one I briefly present and respond to Byrne’s argument against theological realism. In section two, I present van Fraassen’s argument against analytic metaphysics and I show how, if sound, it constitutes a reason to reject both metaphysical and theological realism. In section three, I show how van Fraassen can be answered. Obviously what I am doing here falls far short of a full-blown defense of realism in either metaphysics or theology. But the obje…Read more
  •  496
    What is pornography?
    Noûs 35 (1). 2001.
    This paper aims to provide a "real", as opposed to "merely stipulative", definition of "pornography". The paper first argues that no extant definition of "pornography" comes close to being a real definition, and then goes on to defend a novel definition by showing how it avoids objections that plague its rivals.
  •  443
    The Ill-Made Knight and the Stain on the Soul
    European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 11 (1): 117-134. 2019.
    One of the main tasks for an account of the Christian doctrine of the atonement is to explain how and in what ways the salvifically relevant work of Christ heals the damage wrought by human sin on our souls, our relationships with one another, and our relationship with God. One kind of damage often neglected in philosophical treatments of the atonement, but discussed at some length in Eleonore Stump’s forthcoming At-one-ment, is what she, following St. Thomas Aquinas, calls the stain on the soul…Read more
  •  405
    Personal identity and psychological continuity
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 61 (1): 185-194. 2000.
    In a recent article, Trenton Mericks argues that psychological continuity analyses of personal identity over time are incompatible with endurantism. We contend that if Merricks’s argument is valid, a parallel argument establishes that PC-analyses of personal identity are incompatible with perdurantism; hence, the correct conclusion to draw is simply that such analyses are all necessarily false. However, we also show that there is good reason to doubt that Merricks’s argument is valid
  •  356
    Naturalism and ontology: A reply to Dale Jacquette
    Faith and Philosophy 22 (3): 343-357. 2005.
    In World Without Design: The Ontological Consequences of Naturalism, I argued that there is an important sense in which naturalism’s current status as methodological orthodoxy is without rational foundation, and I argued that naturalists must give up two views that many of them are inclined to hold dear—realism about material objects and materialism. In a review recently published in Faith and Philosophy, Dale Jacquette alleges that my arguments in World Without Design are directed mainly agains…Read more
  •  301
    The problem of material constitution
    Philosophical Review 104 (4): 525-552. 1995.
    There are five individually plausible and jointly incompatible assumptions underlying four familiar puzzles about material constitution. The problem of material constitution just is the fact that these five assumptions are both plausible and incompatible. I will begin by providing a very general statement of the problem. I will present the five assumptions and provide a short argument showing how they conflict with one another. Then, in subsequent sections, I will go on to show how these assumpt…Read more
  •  297
    In this paper, I present an Aristotelian solution to the problem of material constitution. The problem of material constitution arises whenever it appears that an object a and an object b share all of the same parts and yet are essentially related to their parts in different ways. (A familiar example: A lump of bronze constitutes a statue of Athena. The lump and the statue share all of the same parts, but it appears that the lump can, whereas the statue cannot, survive radical rearrangements of …Read more
  •  282
    In defense of mereological universalism
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 58 (2): 347-360. 1998.
    This paper defends Mereological Universalism(the thesis that, for any set S of disjoint objects, there is an object that the members of S compose. Universalism is unpalatable to many philosophers because it entails that if there are such things as my left tennis shoe, W. V. Quine, and the Taj Mahal, then there is another object that those three things compose. This paper presents and criticizes Peter van Inwagen's argument against Universalism and then presents a new argument in favor of Univers…Read more
  •  269
    Hylomorphism reconditioned
    Philosophical Perspectives 25 (1): 341-358. 2011.
    My goal in this paper is to provide characterizations of matter, form and constituency in a way that avoids what I take to be the three main drawbacks of other hylomorphic theories: (i) commitment to the universal-particular distinction; (ii) commitment to a primitive or problematic notion of inherence or constituency; (iii) inability to identify viable candidates for matter and form in nature, or to characterize them in terms of primitives widely regarded to be intelligible
  •  262
    Time Travelers Are Not Free
    Journal of Philosophy 112 (5): 266-279. 2015.
    In this paper I defend two conclusions: that time travel journeys to the past are not undertaken freely and, more generally, that nobody is free between the earliest arrival time and the latest departure time of a time travel journey to the past. Time travel to the past destroys freedom on a global scale.
  •  253
    The Trinity
    In Thomas P. Flint & Michael C. Rea (eds.), The Oxford handbook of philosophical theology, Oxford University Press. pp. 403--429. 2008.
    This paper provides an overview of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, with special attention to the most influential solutions to the so-called "threeness-oneness problem".
  •  238
    A Dilemma for Conferralism
    with Elizabeth VanKammen
    Analysis. forthcoming.
    Conferralism is the view that social properties are neither intrinsic to the things that have them nor possessed simply by virtue of their causal or spatiotemporal relations to other things, but are somehow bestowed (intentionally or not, explicitly or not) upon them by persons who have both the capacity and the standing to bestow them. We argue that conferralism faces a dilemma: either it is viciously circular, or it is limited in scope in a way that undercuts its motivation.
  •  229
    Relative Identity and the Doctrine of the Trinity
    Philosophia Christi 5 (2). 2003.
    The doctrine of the Trinity maintains that there are exactly three divine Persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) but only one God. The philosophical problem raised by this doctrine is well known. On the one hand, the doctrine seems clearly to imply that the divine Persons are numerically distinct. How else could they be ’three’ rather than one? On the other hand, it seems to imply that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are identical. If each Person is divine, how else could there be exactly ’one’ God…Read more
  •  219
    Presentism and fatalism
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 84 (4). 2006.
    It is widely believed that presentism is compatible with both a libertarian view of human freedom and an unrestricted principle of bivalence. I argue that, in fact, presentists must choose between bivalence and libertarianism: if presentism is true, then either the future is open or no one is free in the way that libertarians understand freedom.
  •  210
    Four-dimensionalism
    In Michael J. Loux & Dean W. Zimmerman (eds.), The Oxford handbook of metaphysics, Oxford University Press. pp. 1-59. 2003.
    This article characterizes the varieties of four - dimensionalism and provides a critical overview of the main arguments in support of it.
  •  198
    Polytheism and Christian Belief
    Journal of Theological Studies 57 133-48. 2006.
    Christian philosophers and theologians have long been concerned with the question of how to reconcile their belief in three fully divine Persons with their commitment to monotheism. The most popular strategy for doing this—the Social Trinitarian strategy—argues that, though the divine Persons are in no sense the same God, monotheism is secured by certain relations that obtain among them. It is argued that if the Social Trinitarian understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity is correct, then Chr…Read more
  •  197
    How to Be an Eleatic Monist
    Noûs 35 (s15): 129-151. 2001.
    There is a tradition according to which Parmenides of Elea endorsed the following set of counterintuitive doctrines: (a) There exists exactly one material thing. (b) What exists does not change. (g) Nothing is generated or destroyed. (d) What exists is undivided. For convenience, I will use the label ‘Eleatic monism’ to refer to the conjunction of a–d.
  •  182
    The Oxford handbook of philosophical theology (edited book)
    Oxford University Press. 2008.
    Philosophical theology is aimed primarily at theoretical understanding of the nature and attributes of God and of God's relationship to the world and its inhabitants. During the twentieth century, much of the philosophical community had grave doubts about our ability to attain any such understanding. In recent years the analytic tradition in particular has moved beyond the biases that placed obstacles in the way of the pursuing questions located on the interface of philosophy and religion. The r…Read more
  •  179
    Temporal parts unmotivated
    Philosophical Review 107 (2): 225-260. 1998.
    In debate about the nature of persistence over time, the view that material objects endure has played the role of "champion" and the view that they perdure has played the role of the "challenger." It has fallen to the perdurantists rather than the endurantists to motivate their view, to provide reasons for accepting it that override whatever initial presumption there is against it. Perdurantists have sought to discharge their burden in several ways. For example, perdurantism has been recommend…Read more