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Selected Academic Presentations

   Solving the Postmodern Problem” Given to the Philosophy Department (faculty & graduate students), St. Petersburg State University ◆ St. Petersburg, Russia.  


    Abstract: Contemporary versions of postmodernism can be profitably categorized into two brands: metaphysical and epistemic. This lecture will lay out the important differences between the two and discuss the implications of those differences.  I will argue that (global) metaphysical postmodernism is a more radical form of skepticism than epistemic postmodernism so that the former has more serious self-referential incoherence problems.  That is, even if the metaphysical form were in fact true, one would have rational grounds (an undefeated defeater) for rejecting that belief.

    “What We Can Learn From Ethical Quandaries” Given at Tibilisi State University to Business School faculty ◆ Tibilisi, Georgia (of the former Soviet Union)

        Abstract: Introducing ethical quandaries into academic discussion (especially in classrooms) is often used a pedological tool to help students see the inadequacies of certain ethical perspectives when applied to real and hypothetical problems.   The question is, what should we learn from this exercise and how disclosive is this strategy for helping to form a global ethical view?  This lecture will involve presenting several ethical quandaries, exploring possible responses interactively and discussing what sorts of insights gained from the analysis can be used in forming global ethical views.

    “‘Response to “Internalist Pluralism” by Victoria Harrison-Carter”  Joint presentation at the Philosophy and Theology Exchange, Denver Seminary ◆ Denver, Colorado.

        Abstract: Victoria Harrison-Carter, Ph.D., wants to propose a major paradigm shift—a major shift in the way people think about the discussion of religious pluralism as a whole.  It appears to me that at the heart of her criticism of the previous paradigms dealing with religious pluralism is their metaphysical inadequacy.  In her paper, “Internalist Pluralism”, her replacement paradigm, or as she calls it, “new research program,” involves adopting a different metaphysical theory of truth, one developed by Hilary Putnam during the middle period of his work, which she applies, with certain modifications, to the problem of pluralism.  Thus she lays claim (or at least could lay claim) to achieving a religious egalitarianism without or, at least, with fewer ad hoc fixes than that of John Hick.  My response to her proposal will consist mainly of what I consider to be an internal problem within her program--Alston’s concern about getting an infinite regress going and an external problem: I will argue her strategy does not take Christianity as seriously as she apparently thinks she does.

    “Are All Religions Created Equal?” Presented to the Philosophy and Theology Exchange, Denver Seminary ◆ Denver Colorado.

        Abstract: This lecture on contemporary pluralism begins with defining three types of pluralism:  Empirical Pluralism, which could be summed up as merely noting the observable fact of a plurality of race, value systems, heritage, language, culture and religion in many Western and other nations—"factual pluralism;" Cherished Pluralism, which adds the additional ingredient of approval to empirical pluralism; and Philosophical or Hermeneutical Pluralism, the far more serious development, which asserts that if a particular ideology or religion claims it is intrinsically superior or more correct than  another, it is necessarily wrong.  This last understanding of pluralism is tied to a complex intellectual development in Western thought in the last 25 to 30 years.  In particular it is bound up with the new hermeneutic and with its stepchild, deconstruction.  Philosophical Pluralism's way of looking at reality has had an impact on virtually all of the humanities in the West and on some philosophers of science.  Philosophical Pluralism (in its metaphysical form) will be briefly critiqued.  

    “Response to the Logic of Eternal Joy” Philosophy class (undergraduate) at the University of Colorado ◆ Boulder.

   Abstract: As a part of this class’ assignment you have read and discussed Wallis’, The Logic of Eternal Joy.  I have been asked to present and will defend (in a dialogical manner) my views and thinking about the reality of heaven and hell.  I will argue that both heaven and hell are realities, that the putative belief that the reality of heaven necessarily taints moral behavior in the here and now is mistaken and that hell is best understood (with certain qualifications & clarifications) as metaphorically pointing to a real but not fully disclosed and undefined state.

   History and the Resurrection of Jesus” Philosophy Class (undergraduate) at Kansas State University ◆ Manhattan, Kansas.

    Abstract:  Getting at the question of the alleged resurrection of Jesus involves both historical and philosophical analysis.  This lecture is focused on the historical reliability of the synoptic gospels and what are fair inferences that can be drawn from that historical account if found largely historically reliable.  There will also be time for in-class discussion of the philosophical problems alleged miracles like the resurrection present.  I will argue there is no good reason to reject the possiblity of miracles out-of-hand and that Hume's criticism of its inadequacy to support revealed religion is not well-founded.

    “Preserving Personhood” Presented to the Christian Faculty Fellowship at Colorado State University ◆ Ft. Collins, Colorado.

    Abstract: This presentation will define and discuss what personhood is, what’s at stake in preserving it, what is the physicalists/materialist challenges to personhood, and what are some of the problems inherent in the physicalist/materialist account of the mind/body problem.  Part of the presentation will involve describing a family of options ranging between reductionist accounts of the mind/body problem and substance dualism.

   The Roots of Evangelicalism in the United States” History Class (undergraduate) at Kansas State University ◆ Manhattan, Kansas.

    Abstract: There is a tendency to conflate contemporary evangelicalism in America with fundamentalism.  This presentation will argue that though they share a very large body of beliefs there are significant differences between the two such that it would be a mistake to think that it is a distinction without difference.  I will argue that evangelicalism emerged out of fundamentalism by about the middle of the twentieth century largely over issues such as  cultural engagement and fundamentalist anti-intellectual attitudes.

    “Religious Commitments and the Middle East Situation”  History Class (undergraduate) at Emporia State University ◆ Emporia, Kansas.

    Abstract: Part of the roots of Middle East conflict is integrally involved with various views associated with the three historic theistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  To understand this political and religious conflict more deeply I will examine core beliefs in all three religions especially in terms of their areas of agreement and disagreement and what part they might play in the hostilities.

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