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Philosophy of Religion Work-in-Progress Group Talk (Richard Davis, Tyndale)

Tuesday December 3, 2019, 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Dr. Davis is Professor of Philosophy. He is the author or editor of four books, including Four Views on Christianity and Philosophy (Zondervan, 2016). He has published thirty book chapters or articles in such places as Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Religious Studies, Acta Analytica, Philo, The Modern Schoolman, Philosophia Christi, Heythrop Journal, The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, and Axiomathes. Dr. Davis blogs at www.tyndalephilosophy.com.

Talk Title

From Parts to Whole (and Back Again): Rowe on Clarke on the Cosmological Argument


According to the late William Rowe, Samuel Clarke tries to establish the proposition that it is possible for there to be no dependent being by inferring it from the proposition that no dependent being necessarily exists”—an inference not “sanctioned by any valid rule of modal logic.” Thus, “a vital portion of the reasoning in the Cosmological Argument rests on [an] unproved premise” (Nous, 1971).

I believe that Rowe’s modal accusation here is misconceived. I begin with a brief sketch of Clarke’s Argument. Then I show that Rowe’s composition complaint falters, since (as he admits elsewhere) “it is not always a fallacy to infer that a whole has a certain property from the premise that all of its constituent parts have that property” (Mind, 1962). Clarke’s inference, I argue, is an exception to this general rule.



Tuesday December 3, 2019
12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
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Elmar Kremer
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Jackman Humanities Building, Room 401
170 St. George St.
Toronto, Ontario M5R 2M8 Canada
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(416) 978-7415
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