TOPICS IN PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION Mondays: 7.00-9.00 p.m.
As its title suggests, this course will be devoted to a selection of topics discussed by philosophers of religion. By ‘philosophers’ here I am referring to a variety of figures from medieval times (e.g., Anselm and Aquinas) to more recent ones (e.g., D.Z. Phillips, Alvin Plantinga, and Richard Swinburne). The course will satisfy for the departmental ‘Analytic’ course requirement (though we shall be looking at the writings of several authors who are not normally described as analytic philosophers). At the discretion of the Director of Graduate Studies, and at my discretion (and depending on what students end up offering by way of an end of term paper), the course may satisfy for the Medieval or Modern course requirements.
During the semester we shall consider the following questions: Does religious belief need to be defended by philosophical argument? How cogent are various well-known arguments for belief in the existence of God? How cogent are some well-known defenses of the claims that God is omnipotent, eternal, and simple? Does the reality of evil provide a reason for supposing that God does not exist? If time allows, we shall go on to consider the topic of life after death.
This course is a seminar. So, throughout the semester students will be expected to read papers (both expository and critical) presented to the class for discussion. I shall lecture for part of the time, but serious class participation is required for this course.
The text for the course is Brian Davies, Philosophy of Religion: A Guide and Anthology (Oxford University Press: Oxford, 2000). Class discussion will focus on various texts in this volume.