Make/Believing the World(s)

Make/Believing the World(s): Toward a Christian Ontological Pluralism

Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 386
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  • Book Info
    Make/Believing the World(s)
    Book Description:

    Building primarily on the work of Nelson Goodman and Michael Lynch, McLeod-Harrison spells out what is right and what is missing from contemporary pluralism. Proposing a new defence, he explains the need for God and shows how and why radical relativistic pluralism is consistent with traditional Christianity. He also explores how pluralism can be defended against the notorious "consistency challenge" and analyses the relationships among noetic irrealism, pluralism, necessity, God's nature, theories of truth, and idealism.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7648-3
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
    • 1 An Overview with Terms and Definitions
      (pp. 3-32)

      We make out, make love, make pies, make do, make off, make up, make haste, make war, make friends, make room, make fast, make peace, make sure, make known, make bold, make book, make eyes, make good, make hay, make like, make sail, make time, make tracks, make way, and make it. We make ready, make over, make faces, make merry, make fire, make trouble, make whoopee, make babies, and make public. We make the bed, make the team, make the train, and make the distance. We make decisions, make away with, make a quorum, make them do it, make...

    • 2 Hale’s Philosophical Relativism
      (pp. 35-50)

      Nelson Goodman says we build new world-versions, and hence new worlds, out of old ones. In this section, I attempt just that. My goal is to introduce, criticize, and expand three older worlds to provide building blocks for a new, improved one. In short, Steven Hales’s relativism, Michael Lynch’s pluralism, and Goodman’s irrealism become the quarry for a joint excavation/reconstruction project. While my intentions are expository initially, I do not do exhaustive work. I present what is needed both in building blocks and in criticism to construct a framework for a theistically based pluralism.

      I begin with Hales’s philosophical relativism,...

    • 3 Lynch’s Ontological Pluralism
      (pp. 51-69)

      Michael Lynch’s pluralism is broader than Hales’s relativism. Unlike Hales, however, Lynch provides no argument for his position. Rather his work is largely an explanatory view, a way of thinking about ontological pluralism.

      Lynch develops an understanding of world view that we can take as a starting place. A world view is

      an organic whole whose parts – one of which is what I’m calling a conceptual scheme – can best be understood in relation to their functions inside the whole … Like our eyes, our worldview is a complex system with various components, each of which must work together if we...

    • 4 Goodman’s Irrealism
      (pp. 70-94)

      I move now to consider Nelson Goodman’s position. Once again, I make no attempt to be exhaustive, presenting only what I take as needful to develop my own position below. However, Goodman is not nearly as clear as Lynch or Hales. So, on occasion I force some clarity where, in fact, there is none in Goodman’s work itself, or sometimes I simply make pronouncements about what I think Goodman is after or should have been after. Before we begin, recall the terminological point that I refer to Goodman’s worlds as “G-worlds” to distinguish them as extensionalist actual worlds (with no...

    • 5 Irrealism, Nominalism, and Properties
      (pp. 95-107)

      One of the most difficult challenges to ontological pluralism is the consistency dilemma. As noted, I take Lynch’s reply to be successful. Recall that his solution rests on a counterfactual. I propose that the appeal to counterfactuals, however, commits the irrealist to both a realist theory of truth and a fairly rich modal semantics. I’ll return to the latter issue in the next chapter. Note, however, that these commitments bring along a third, namely, that properties exist. If properties exist, then no pluralist irrealist should be a nominalist. Enter Goodman. How can a pluralist irrealist be a nominalist?¹ Furthermore, if...

    • 6 Possibilities of the Actual
      (pp. 108-124)

      Any irrealist denial that existence has a nature and the concomitant denial that existence is a property are problematic when it comes to the reply to the consistency challenge. I’ve suggested that existence is a property, a property essential to all objects. To be precise, it is necessary that all objects exist. Furthermore I’ve suggested that existence understood as a minimal property is a real (intensional) property. But are there nonexisting objects? That there are no nonexisting objects seems fairly obvious, yet it is not uncontroversial because of potential ambiguity. This is nowhere more obvious than in discussions of possible...

    • 7 An Argument for Irrealistic Pluralism
      (pp. 127-144)

      Steven Hales, in writing of Lynch’sTruth in Context, says, “I must confess it is a bit disappointing when an author writes a whole book showing that his thesis has every virtue short of truth.”¹ I wish to avoid similar charges against this book. I’ve already noted,paceHales, that Lynch never claims to be giving an argument for the truth of his version of pluralism and so I think Hales’s charge against Lynch needs no reply. Hales, on the other hand, does supply an argument for relativism. I’ve shown that his argument fails. I think Goodman’s argument also fails,...

    • 8 Idealism and Irrealism
      (pp. 145-154)

      I earlier raised a question about Goodman’s irrealism, viz., isn’t he just building mental sandcastles? We can raise the question more generally about any irrealism. Before doing so, let me note that in this chapter I ignore questions surrounding single-World irrealism vs pluralistic irrealism since most of what I have to say easily carries over from the former to the latter and the exposition is much less cumbersome without having to worry about permutations of the term “World.”

      Now to the question. Isn’t any theory claiming that the World is the way it is because of human noetic feats open...

    • 9 Toward a Theory of Truth
      (pp. 155-181)

      The last chapter introduced two closely related questions, dealing there with concerns about idealism. This chapter picks up the second question, concerning itself with truth. My goal is to sketch a theory of truth that is plausible in general but in particular plausible for the noetic irrealist. Once again, in order to avoid awkward linguistic constructions I typically speak only of the World (rather than the permutations used earlier).

      In exploring a theory of truth, it is natural first to consider truth-value bearers. Richard Kirkham rightly points out a “good turn” in the discussion of what kinds of things bear...

    • 10 Make/Believing What Is, and Other World Renderings
      (pp. 182-199)

      I’ve presented three contemporary irrealisms, each of which describes how the mind’s creative symbolism is related to the World. I’ve argued that noetic irrealism is the right way to think about the relationship of the human mind to the World and provided a realist account of truth compatible with noetic irrealism. I’ve further suggested that we “make/believe” various irrealistic worlds. These various ways the World is (the worlds) result, in part, from various noetic feats including the conceptualizing involved in believings, contemplatings, perceivings, and picturings. A world-version is rightly made when it makes an actual way the World is (a...

    • 11 Saving Pluralism: Why Irrealism Needs God
      (pp. 200-220)

      I turn now to bring noetic irrealism into the theistic framework. Goodman says G-worlds are built out of other G-worlds yet the “search for a universal or necessary beginning is best left to theology.”¹ Goodman isn’t particularly prone to talk about God in general, and perhaps we should take this comment as tongue in cheek. Nevertheless, it is difficult to philosophize without dealing with God. Goodman, should we take him seriously here, is not in a hurry to reject a role for God. Lynch seems to allow for God to show up in some ways the World is, and Hales...

    • 12 The Traditional Christian
      (pp. 223-233)

      Christianity, with its various connections to issues surrounding realism and irrealism, provides no easy terrain. Although the ground has been ploughed many times, rocks, weeds, and other debris remain in need of picking up, cutting down, or sorting through. Just as in Eden, we have to get our names straight before the World can be understood or perhaps before the World can even be fully made! What is truth, what is realism, and what is the World are all fair and open questions. I’ve provided preliminary answers to these questions in the first three parts of this work. My thesis...

    • 13 Christianity, Realism, and Logic
      (pp. 234-257)

      Although an explicit argument from traditional Christianity to a more or less global ontological monism and noetic realism is difficult to find in the literature, my discussions with many traditional Christian philosophers have left me with the impression that traditional Christianity and metaphysical realism go hand in hand. I admit that when it comes to God, this attitude is fair enough – God makes us and not we God. But is traditional Christianity logically committed to realism about the worldly? I assume in this chapter that God is noetically real, and pose the question: just how far does the realism needed...

    • 14 The Divine, Its Furniture, and Virtual Absolutes
      (pp. 258-283)

      I’ve suggested that while traditional Christianity requires God’s fundamental being to be noetically real, Christianity remains compatible with noetic irrealism for the worldly. However, I’ve said that certain aspects of God are open to human noetic contribution and that this is consistent with traditional Christianity. It is time to make good on some specifics of these claims and so I turn to explain how the irrealist can think of God as independent of human noetic feats, at least at God’s core. The topic of how God can at the same time be shaped by human noetic work and thus not...

    • 15 The Many Ways God Is
      (pp. 284-299)

      Although the human and the divine core beings are not made by human noetic feats, throughout this essay I’ve claimed that both humans and God are within and, to some extent, shaped by human conceptual schemes. This chapter explains how to understand this proposal. It also considers how this view fits with understanding the Nicene Creed as providing a thin notion of God as the basis for thicker accounts of God. In particular, I consider the role of metaphor in world-making.

      God can be understood as different across worlds in two ways, one concerned with external relations and one with...

    • 16 God and Objectivity
      (pp. 300-321)

      It is common to think that objectivity rests in truth. I take it to be obvious by now that truth, while important, is not the only important rightness. All kinds of rightness, however, depend on some sort of objectivity. My goal in this chapter is to make some observations to help place the notion of truth in its proper context for Christian irrealism.

      One of the main concerns in the realism debate is objectivity. Even irrealists are worried about losing objectivity and making the whole World nothing more than a subjective extension of ourselves. The word “objectivity” has the same...

    • 17 History, Humans, and God: Toward a Christian Irrealist View of God’s Redemptive Work
      (pp. 322-342)

      If relativism is a general challenge in our culture, it is nowhere assumed to be more challenging than in religion, morals, and history. Among noetic realists, realism is often taken as extending only to the physical realm. Moral and religious claims are then accounted for in emotivist terms. Emotivism is understood as a sort of relativism or at least a relativist tolerance for the variety of moral and religious beliefs. History, although somewhat of a hybrid between the sciences and the humanities, is often grouped, somewhat reluctantly, with the other relativistic humanities. This tendency is reflected in the division among...

    • 18 Irrealism, the Worlds, and Mystical Experience: God as the Final Framework
      (pp. 343-354)

      In Genesis 2 we are told that God creates the world and placesadamin it. God, finding no helper foradam, creates the animals out of the dust of the ground. God then brings all the beasts of the fields and the birds of the air toadamto name. After the naming is complete, the list includes beasts of the field, birds of the air, and livestock. Didadamname a new kind of category, did he create a world here? Perhaps. I wouldn’t want to build an entire theological thesis on this point alone, but it is...

  8. Notes
    (pp. 355-370)
  9. Bibliography
    (pp. 371-376)
  10. Index
    (pp. 377-386)