What am I working on?

I work full time, and the time I spend at home after work and on weekends is fairly valuable. The upshot of this is that while I remain in these circumstances I simply can’t spend as much time as I’d like to reading, keeping up with subjects I like to follow, and writing pieces for publication. It’s a vicious cycle really – In order to get an academic position it’s important that I keep abreast of my field and continue to have a publication output, but as long as I’m not in an academic role where these things are part of my job expectation (and while I’m also working full time in a different type of role), it’s not always easy to do these things.

That being said, here is what I’m working on at the moment on a very part time basis:

“Chasing the justificatory Goalpost” – This is a piece that’s actually nearly finished, and I really must get around to getting it submitted. I may have mentioned it before, actually. It’s a piece criticising some proponents of political liberalism (especially Gerald Gaus) for employing a sliding goalpost when it comes to the criteria that he uses to exclude policies with a religious basis from legitimacy in a modern democracy.

“Is there an Echo in Here?” This is a comment on the way that critics of divine command theories of ethics are just parroting previous criticisms of those theories, without taking into account the more than adequate responses to those criticisms that have been in print for many years now. I actually submitted this one to a journal but had it turned down (I’m comforted by the fact that my PhD supervisor had the same experience with this particular journal). I must brush this one off and submit it elsewhere.

“Luke 16:19-31 and historical background” – I need a better title for this one. In a departure from philosophy and a return to theology and biblical studies, this is a piece on new Testament Studies. It looks at the well known tale of the Rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16 and offers agreement with the thesis of Joachim Jeremias that it is in fact an example of Jesus’ use of a contemporary and widely known story (i.e. one that he did not invent or necessarily agree with) to make a moral point against those who used it. I look at some dismissals of this thesis and show them to be lacking in merit, and I look at some implications of the thesis.

“Loathsome Spiders and Angry God” – This one is on historical and systematic theology. In the debate over the nature of eternal punishment – in particular in traditionalist critiques of the annihilationist perspective, Jonathan Edwards is exalted as some sort of hero for the traditional cause, and if we poor benighted annihilationists would just look at his powerful reasoning, we would be put in our place. In this piece I look at the reasons that a couple of theologians have given for saying this, and explain how it’s a load of rhetorically loaded claptrap.

“Intuitionism as Reliabilism” – This one is a foray into epistemology, not really my major area of expertise, so I need to prepare carefully. For those who know what these terms mean, “intuitionism” and “reliabilism,” you’ll know that they are typically construed as competing theories. Here I suggest that they need not be construed this way, and that in fact intuitionism is best seen as one species of reliabilism.

“Natural Law and the Divine Will” – it is sometimes thought that Natural Law theories of ethics and Divine Command theories of ethics are always exclusive of one another. Here I explain that while this is sometimes the case for specified types of Natural Law or Divine Command theories, it is certainly not always the case.

“The Liberal Theocracy” – Not so long ago I did a podcast episode by this name. This article is a more detailed version of that presentation. I explain that the supposed contrast between a liberal democracy and a theocratic society is a false one, founded on either ignorance or bias, or both.

“Responding to Wolterstorff on Divine Command Ethics” – I’m currently reading the latest book from Nicholas Wolterstorff entitled Justice. In it, he offers an argument against divine command ethics. For me, that’s like painting a bullseye on his forehead.

And last but definitely not least:

“The Moral Argument” – This is a full length book project, and given my rather vicious time constraints at the moment, it’s a long term project, in which I explore various historical formulations of the moral argument for the existence of God. I then delve into the meta-ethical issues in the context of contemporary analytical philosophy and argue that in fact the existence of moral truths consitutes powerful evidence for the existence of God. I close by responding to objections to the argument.

So that’s what’s keeping me busy right now!

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5 thoughts on “What am I working on?

  1. Looking over that list, I see how easy it is to frame each one (except maybe the moral argument) in primarily negative terms, arguing against something or someone. I think I’ll have to make sure that I deliberately offer something positive as well, arguing for my own position and not merely against somebody else’s. I don’t want a reputation as someone who’s purely reactionary. πŸ™‚

  2. I am particularly interested in the one on Luke 16:19-31, given the way that story is so often used…or misused.

    My appetite was all the more whetted by the sneak peak you gave us in Episode 6 of the Podcast on Hell πŸ™‚

  3. 1. Justificatory can’t be a real word surely.

    2. I think you need a shorter “to-do” list

    3. these all look like really fun things, right up there with getting your chest hair waxed!

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