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1. Philosophy and Theology: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Philip Rossi Editor’s Page
2. Philosophy and Theology: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Timothy E. O’Connell The Question of Grundentscheidung
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John Paul II’s encyclical Veritatis Splendor lists several objections to the theological concept of fundamental option. This article summarizes that concept, primarily as presented by Josef Fuchs. It then locates the concept, as Fuchs did, in the overarching theological anthropology of Karl Rahner, which is discussed at length. The objections of the encyclical are then engaged. In some cases, it is shown, the encyclical misunderstands fundamental option. In other cases, its rejection of the idea seems to entail rejection also of traditional Catholic doctrines. All this leads to concluding reflections in which fundamental option is evaluated in terms of its cogency, adequacy, usefulness, and necessity for a contemporary Christian anthropology.
3. Philosophy and Theology: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Michael Levine Bayesian Analyses of Hume’s Argument Concerning Miracles
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Bayesian analyses are prominent among recent and allegedly novel interpretations of Hume’s argument against the justified belief in miracles. However, since there is no consensus on just what Hume’s argument is any Bayesian analysis will beg crucial issues of interpretation. Apart from independent philosophical arguments—arguments that would undermine the relevance of a Bayesian analysis to the question of the credibility of reports of the miraculous—no such analysis can, in principle, prove that no testimony can (or cannot) establish the credibility of a miracle. Bayesian analyses of Hume’s argument are not analyses of Hume’s argument at all—but superfluous representations of it.
4. Philosophy and Theology: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Patricia A. Johnson II. A Practical Philosophy of Religion: A Response to Terrence Tilley’s The Wisdom of Religious Commitment
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While sympathetic to Tilley’s call for a practical philosophy of religion, I raise three questions: Does Tilley think that one can do philosophy of religion from a position other than that of a committed believer? Does Tilley’s description of the ordinary believer disburden most people from doubt and answerability? Does Tilley’s description of the role of the theologian place too much trust in the theologian? I suggest that some insights from contemporary phenomenology and hermeneutics would lead to a clearer understanding of the role that philosophy of religion can play in the development of a practical philosophy of religion.
5. Philosophy and Theology: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Anthony J. Godzieba III. God and Self in Terrence Tilley’s, The Wisdom of Religious Commitment
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Tilley has provided a novel retrieval of the Pascalian wager within a postmodern context. He is to be especially commended for his critique of mainstream philosophy of religion, his approach to religious traditions as a set of practices, and his insistence that religious commitment is an act of phronesis within a social-traditional context. Two issues remain problematic, however, in Tilley’s treatment of religious commitment: 1. His conception of religion pays inadequate attention to the establishment of the plausibility of the transcendent referent of religious commitment; 2.In his account there is a fundamental ambiguity regarding the role of the individual and an unresolved tension between the self and the social context.
6. Philosophy and Theology: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Robert Masson Introducing the Annual Rahner Papers
7. Philosophy and Theology: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Ignacio Ellacuría, T. Michael McNulty What Is the Point of Philosophy?
8. Philosophy and Theology: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Timothy P. Muldoon Germain Grisez on Karl Rahner’s Theory of Fundamental Option
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This article seeks to explore the challeges raised by Germain Grisez to Karl Rahner’s theory of fundamental option. Dr. Grisez holds that Fr. Rahner misunderstood the Tridentine teaching on justification, and posited the inaccessability of fundamental option to reflection. After reviewing Dr. Grisez’ position and the Tridentine doctrine of justification, the article will explore Fr. Rahner’s writings on fundamental option, and form conclusions regarding the conversation between Karl Rahner and Germain Grisez.
9. Philosophy and Theology: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Pamela Kirk Reflections On Luise Rinser’s Gratwanderung
10. Philosophy and Theology: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
John K. Downey I. A Conversation on The Wisdom of Religious Commitment by Terrence W. Tilley
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Tilley argues that since religions are not summaries of bloodless beliefs but embodied communal practices, the heuristic for the justification of beliefs must shift. Although some of the lines of this shift to practical wisdom remain vague, Tilley has taken philosophy of religion in an excellent direction. Attention to these questions would sharpen his sketch: Why abandon linguistic philosophy with no attention to the help one might receive from the embodied linguistic practice of the later Wittgenstein? What grounds the wisdom we seek to practice? Can community outsiders argue with insiders? Do these embodied philosophical arguments differ from theological arguments?
11. Philosophy and Theology: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Terrence W. Tilley IV. A Response to My Critics
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First, in response to Johnson, I note that my rejection of the “discourse practice” of philosophy of religion does not have a primarily pedagogical concern; instead, it is a concern with a discipline which has shaped itself to work consistently on the ground staked out by skeptics. Second, in response to questions raised by all three critics, while I do not think that only committed religious believers can contribute to philosophy of religion I do think that the philosopher’s commitments play a role in her or his engaging in the practice of doing philosophy of religion. Third, in response to Johnson and Godzieba, I indicate why I think the “ordinary believer,” as described, can be called prudent. Fourth, I note that we do not need to add a hermeneutics of suspicion to the practical philosophy of religion as I have described it because it is already there in practice for most believers. Finally, I note that the quest for wisdom is not abstract but is embodied and shared.
12. Philosophy and Theology: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Brian F. Linnane Categorical and Transcendental Experience in Rahner’s Theology: Implications for Ethics
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Karl Rahner’s theory of fundamental option has been criticized in recent years due to a perceived discontinuity between categorical actions in history and their transcendental implications. Jean Porter, for example, argues that such a discontinuity undermines any usefulness of the theory for the moral life because it is unable to generate a substantive account of the life of virtue. This essay disputes such claims, arguing that Rahner’s reluctance to definitively connect particular actions with a positive or negative fundamental option is simply in keeping with the Roman Catholic tradition of being tentative with regard to subjective judgments about the relationship between particular actions and the state of one’s soul. Further, it is argued that an examination of Rahner’s understanding of the unity of love of God and love of neighbor will serve to generate paradigmatic behaviors which are potential “sites” for a fundamental option. In this regard, the essay focuses on Rahner’s discussions of conscience and Ignatian discernment as well as on the relationship of fundamental option to “dying with Christ” or Christian witness.
13. Philosophy and Theology: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Benedict M. Ashley Fundamental Option and/or Commitment to Ultimate End
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The Post-Vatican revision of moral theology aimed to reduce legalism and take better account of the subjective factors in moral decision. Karl Rahner contributed to this effort by his “formal existential ethics” which featured a replacement of the classical “ultimate end” by the concept of the “fundamental ultimate option” as an exercise of transcendental freedom through concrete categorical acts. Diverse interpretations of this principle resulted in the system of “proportionalism” and the thesis of a category of “serious” sins intermediate between mortal and venial has been rejected in Veritatis splendor. Rahner himself seems to have held neither of these positions. The wide acceptance of the “fundamental option” (often with little acquaintance with its philosophical basis) is probably due to its supposed pastoral advantages. I argue that a proper application of the classical notions of ultimate end and the distinction between objective and subjective morality are pastorally more practical and avoids the many philosophical obscurities connected with the idealism of transcendental Thomism.
14. Philosophy and Theology: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Jean Porter Moral Language and the Language of Grace: The Fundamental Option and the Virtue of Charity
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From the standpoint of the moral theologian, perhaps the most influential aspect of Karl Rahner’s theology is the thesis of the fundamental option, that is, the claim that the individual’s status before God is determined by a basic, freely chosen and prethematic orientation of openness towards, or rejection of God which takes place at the level of core or transcendental freedom. This paper argues that this notion of the fundamental option is problematic because it is not concrete enough to provide an adequate interpretation of our actual experience. Yet this problem cannot be addressed through reviving the traditional account of mortal and venial sins, which are equally problematic, albeit in a somewhat different way. The second half of the paper explores the alternative offered by Aquinas’s account of charity, which, it is argued, does provide us with an account of grace sufficiently rich and concrete to illuminate human experience. However, this alternative is likewise problematic, most notably in its commitment to the view that charity is lost through one mortal sin. Yet Aquinas’s account of charity provides resources for an internal critique and revision on this point, as can be seen through a consideration of cases of “sinful saints.”
15. Philosophy and Theology: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
David Coffey Rahner’s Theology of Fundamental Option
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This article shows that in Rahner’s theology fundamental option is related to the exercise of the moral virtues via the act of love of neighbor. Further, it explores whether a specific act of love of neighbor is possible, and finds that in an important sense it is. Finally, it examines the question of change of fundamental option,and shows how this investigation holds promise for the theory of moral development and a renewal of the practice of penance in the Church.
16. Philosophy and Theology: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Jean Porter A Response to Brian Linnane and David Coffey
17. Philosophy and Theology: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Mark D. Gedney Reasonable Faith and Faithful Reason: The Central Role of Freedom in Hegel’s Philosophy of Religion
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In this paper I have attempted to develop Hegel’s philosophy of religion in light of his critical appropriation of both Kant and Schleiermacher. My purposes for doing so are two-fold. On the one hand, I think that many of the difficulties in interpreting Hegel’s philosophy of religion stem from a failure to see his position as a response to both of these key figures. On the other hand, I wished to give emphasis to the fact that Hegel’s philosophy of religion can only be understood as a continution of Kant’s and Schleiermacher’s attempts to reinterpret religion in the light of the strong notion of subjective freedom arising out of the Enlightenment. In short, my position is that Hegel’s conception of religion presents a clearer and more coherent account of God’s aseity or transcendence and of his relation to the world in general and humanity within the limits imposed by the Enlightenment understanding of human subjectivity and freedom.
18. Philosophy and Theology: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Avery Dulles The Cognitive Basis of Faith
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This article indicates the light that an epistemology like Newman’s, with its stress on the convergence of probabilities, the experience of conscience, and the presence of grace, can shed on the problem of faith and reason. The longstanding controversy over this problem between evidentialists and fideists has found new echoes in recent disputes between foundationalists and nonfoundationalists. It is necessary to distinguish between different aspects of the approach to faith—-the metaphysical, the historical, the religious, and the theological—-each with its own logic and distinct style of epistemology. Examination of these aspects indicates that neither evidentialism nor fideism, neither foundationalism nor nonfoundationalism, does justice to the complexity of the matter. Faith arises out of a process in which human reason, in a large and comprehensive sense, is involved at every step of the way. Faith is not above or beyond reason, even though it depends for its origin and existence upon the grace of God.
19. Philosophy and Theology: Volume > 10 > Issue: 2
Philip J. Rossi Editor’s Page
20. Philosophy and Theology: Volume > 10 > Issue: 2
Thomas Krettek The Moral Argument For The Non-Existence Of God
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I highlight a dimension of the debate about the problem of evil and the existence of God that has loomed on the periphery and consider how, if at all, a specific consideration of that dimension can move the debate forward. My contention is that there is specific version of moral argument for the non-existence of God that is implicit in the problem of evil. This argument is a strategic but suppressed premise that strengthens or undermines the persuasiveness of arguments for or against the existence of God. This argument needs to be thematized if the debate between theism and atheism is to move forward.