Philosophy of Religion Work-in-Progress Talk: Yishai Cohen (University of South Maine)
Wednesday October 24, 2018, 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
The Philosophy of Religion Work-in-Progress Group welcomes Yishai Cohen, assistant professor of philosophy at the University of South Maine. Professor Cohen’s research interests include the philosophy of agency, the philosophy of religion, ethical theory, and metaphysics.
Idolatry and the Curious Case of Space Ba’al
This paper investigates the necessary and sufficient conditions for an action to be idolatrous from the perspective of the Abrahamic traditions. These conditions are assessed through the lens of a thought experiment that involves an interaction with an extraterrestrial being which, on the surface, does not count as an instance of idolatry. The key puzzle is to highlight the salient difference between such an interaction and a genuine instance of idolatry. It is argued that there is no salient difference and that the very concept of idolatry is thus incoherent. This conclusion is then paired with a discussion of recent work on the grounds of worship by Tim Bayne and Yujin Nagasawa.