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A Companion to Atheism and Philosophy



A Companion to Atheism and Philosophy

Graham Oppy (Editor)

ISBN: 978-1-119-11922-7 March 2019 Wiley-Blackwell 600 Pages

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Philosophers throughout history have debated the existence of gods, but it is only in recent years that the absence of such a belief has become a significant topic of philosophical analysis, in particular for philosophers of religion. Although it is difficult to trace the historical contours of atheism as the lack of belief in a higher power, the reasoned, reflective, and thoughtful rejection of theism has become commonplace in many modern intellectual circles, including academic philosophy where disciplinary data indicates that a large majority of philosophers self-identify as atheists. As the first book of its kind to bring together a collection of writing on the philosophical aspects of atheism both historical and contemporary, the Companion to Atheism and Philosophy stages an explicit, constructive, and comprehensive conversation between philosophy and atheism to examine the ways in which atheist thought intersects with ideas and positions from a variety of philosophical and theological sub-disciplines.

The Companion begins by addressing the foundational questions and lingering controversies which underpin philosophical thought about atheism, exploring the implications of major developments in the history of philosophy for the modern atheistic worldview. Divided into eight distinct sections, essays consider a range of thinkers who were widely believed to have been atheists—including David Hume, Mary Wollstonecraft, Karl Marx, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton—and survey different kinds of objections to theism and atheism, including logical, evidential, normative, and prudential. Later chapters trace the relationship between atheism and metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and political philosophy oriented around topics such as pragmatism, postmodernism, freedom, education, violence, and happiness.

Deftly curated and thoughtfully composed, A Companion to Atheism and Philosophy is the most ambitious and authoritative account of philosophical thinking on atheism available, and is a first-rate resource for academics, professionals, and students of philosophy, religious studies, and theology.

Notes on Contributors viii

Acknowledgments xii

Introduction 1
Graham Oppy

Part I Individual Thinkers 13

1 Hume 15
Jennifer Smalligan Marušić

2 Holbach 28
Michael LeBuffe and Emilie Gourdon

3 Marx 43
Vanessa Wills

4 Wollstonecraft 58
Sandrine Bergès

5 Cady Stanton 71
Claudette Fillard

6 Russell 83
Carolyn Swanson

Part II Philosophical Movements 97

7 Empiricism 99
Gregory Dawes

8 Pragmatism 111
Robert Almeder

9 Existentialism 123
Mariam Thalos

10 Postmodernism 138
Christopher Watkin

11 Naturalism 152
Eric Steinhart

Part III Critiques of Theism 167

12 Logical Objections to Theism 169
Stephen Law

13 Evidential Objections to Theism 191
Herman Philipse

14 Normative Objections to Theism 204
Stephen Maitzen

15 Prudential Objections to Theism 216
Guy Kahane

Part IV Metaphysics 235

16 Freedom 237
Alfred Mele

17 Supernatural 250
Berit Brogaard

18 Death 262
Beth Seacord

Part V Epistemology 275

19 Skepticism 277
Duncan Pritchard

20 Methods of Science 291
Elliott Sober

21 Evidence 303
Michael Tooley

22 Evolution 323
Michael Ruse

Part VI Ethics 341

23 Meta-Ethics 343
Elizabeth Tropman

24 Meaning 355
Thaddeus Metz

25 Normative Skepticism 367
Susana Nuccetelli

Part VII Politics 381

26 Education 383
Jennifer Bleazby

27 Happiness 396
Gregory S. Paul

28 Violence 421
Steve Clarke

29 Church and State 436
Cristina Lafont

Part VIII Critiques of Atheism 449

30 Logical Objections to Atheism 451
Christopher Gregory Weaver

31 Evidential Objections to Atheism 476
Helen De Cruz

32 Normative Objections to Atheism 491
C. Stephen Evans

33 Prudential Objections to Atheism 506
Amanda Askell

Bibliography 521

Index 565

“The volume is noteworthy for its clarity and breadth and its fair and objective examination of debates surrounding atheism…Highly recommended.” – A. Jaeger, Benedictine College for CHOICE Connect, December 2019 Vol. 57 No. 4