I must start off with an apology. I started a journal club initiative back in May, with the aim of doing one per month. As you may have noticed, I have been terribly remiss in the interim, failing to do any over the past two months. This is one of my general character flaws... I have, however, been doing some thinking over that period of time about what I want to the journal club to achieve and what shape I want it to take.
I have decided that I would like the journal club to focus on topics that broadly lie within the philosophy of religion. Why limit it in this way? Well, the philosophy of religion is one of my long-standing interests. In fact, it tended to dominate the early content on this blog. But my primary research and teaching interests do not lie in this area (I focus on ethics, emerging technologies and law). Consequently, I'm looking for an excuse to keep up with the latest research in the philosophy of religion. My hope is that the journal club will give me that excuse.
Of course, that's not all I'm hoping for. I know I have a lot of readers who are interested in the philosophy of religion too, and I'm hoping the journal club will give them an excuse to debate and discuss the latest research in this area as well.
I have several papers already planned for the next few months. To make up for my failure to do anything in June or July, I'm going to do two this month. They are:
- Dagfinn Sjaastad Karlsen 'Is God Our Benefactor? An argument from suffering' (2013) 3(3) Philosophy of Life 145-167 - This is an interesting paper in that it tries to unite the problem of evil with some debates in population ethics. In essence, it tries to argue that God had no morally sufficient reason for creating us because bringing us into existence did not benefit us (in fact, it may even have harmed us). I'm not sure it is entirely successful in making this core argument, but it provides plenty of food for thought. The discussion about this will begin on the 20th of August 2014.
- Sharon Street 'If Everything Happens for a Reason, Then We Don't Know What Reasons Are: Why the Price of Theism is Normative Skepticism' in Berman and Kain (eds) Challenges to Religious and Moral Belief: Disagreement and Evolution - I'm a big fan of Sharon Street's work on metaethics, and so this paper naturally caught my eye. I think it makes a very significant and wide-ranging argument -- viz. that theism undermines many of the normative judgments we take for granted. The discussion about this will begin on the 3rd of September 2014.
Both of these papers are available for free online. And in future I'll make sure that every paper that features on the journal club is available for free (I've learned my lesson from the first attempt). I do hope you can join in the conversation about these papers.