Reliability of Sense Perception (Alston)

This work is a continuation of Alston’s earlier project in Perceiving God.  Earlier he claimed that critics of religious epistemology could not give a non-circular account of basic doxastic practices like trusting in sense perception.  This work expands upon those claims.

Alston makes important contributions to epistemology, but the work itself, which will be reviewed below, suffers from several drawbacks.  It’s not always clear what Alston’s larger point is. And the structure of the book isn’t always clear, either. He does spend several LONG chapters rebutting different defenses of sense perception (which seems to vitiate his larger point), only to propose a non-circular defense of sense perception at the end.  And some chapters just seemed to end abruptly.  

Alston presupposes some form of reliabilist epistemology: 

to know that p is to have a reliably generated belief that p is” (Alston 3). 

In line with later epistemologies of proper function, we form beliefs when our given psyches at a given time have a relatively fixed number of dispositions to go from a certain belief input to a certain belief output.  

Along the way he rebuts Wittgensteinian and Kantian defenses of belief and sense perception. Some of these are quite interesting but can be passed over for the moment.

Several points are worth noting if Alston’s thesis holds

  1. a) The reliability of sense perceptual practices (SP) is not the same as an argument for the existence of the external world.  
  2. b) Wittgenstein’s “Language Games” are similar to Thomas Reid’s “doxastic practices” (to borrow a later phrase that Reid wouldn’t have used).  

Alston’s specific argument (99ff):

We should adopt a specific world-scheme that trades on an ability to anticipate reliable SP. This is not circular reasoning, however, since we use SP involving the world-scheme, rather than SP working from within a specific doxastic practice.   So what does this mean? As I understand it, a circular account of SP says “SP is warranted because our doxastic practice justifies SP” (understanding, of course, pace Hume and Russell, that we need SP to begin the doxastic practice). Alston argues, by contrast, that our world-scheme/human constitution (Reid) allows for the existence of SP.  I agree with him. I’m just not sure how different his proposal is.


The book makes a number of important contributions, if densely and indirectly.  His final proposal, that we should rely on Thomas Reid and his modern followers, is one I agree with wholeheartedly: doxastic practices are innocent until proven guilty. That sounded familiar when I read it. The reason it was familiar is because several pages seemed to be lifted straight from Perceiving God (an admittedly fine work, but see:  PG, p. 151 = RSP, p. 126-127). I don’t fault him for repeating Reid.  That is something we all should do. But to be honest: it seemed tacked-on to the whole work.  

Perceiving God (Alston)

M-beliefs:  beliefs to the effect that god is doing something currently vis-a-vis the subject, or that God has some perceivable property (Alston 1).

Alston’s “perceptual beliefs” are analogous to Plantinga’s “properly basic beliefs” (3).  These beliefs will often (always?) be direct and non-sensory.  

CMP: Christian mystical practice

Thesis:  “The chief aim of this book is to defend the view that putative direct awareness of God can provide justification for certain kinds of beliefs about God” (9). 

Alston notes that many perceptual accounts of God are a) experiential, b) direct, and c) reported to be of God (14).  A note about sense perception: seeing my house, for example, differs from my thinking about my house…it is the difference between presence (to consciousness) and absence” (14-15).  

Direct and Indirect Awareness of God

perception: the object is directly presented or immediately present to the subject.

absolute immediacy: One is aware of X but not through anything else, even a state of consciousness.

Mediated immediacy: One is aware of X through a state of consciousness distinct from X.

perceptual consciousness:  something presents itself to the subject’s awareness as so-and-so

  • direct awareness: from the side of the subject
  • presentation/givenness/appearance: from the side of the object

External Conditions of Perception

Theory of appearing:  the notion of X’s appearing to S as so-and so is fundamental and unanalyzable (55). For S to perceive X is simply for X to appear to S as so-and-so.  Applied to religious experience, this means:

  1. Is it possible that “God” should be appearing to S in y experience?
  2. Is it possible that God should figure in causation in that experience in such a way as to count as what is perceived?
    1. Per Catholic simplicity:  Can God be experienced in a partial manner (pace Garrigou)?
  3. Is it possible that that experience should give rise to beliefs about God?

Epistemic Justification: Perceptual and Otherwise

argument:  mystical perception is a source of justification for M-beliefs (69).  

question to be asked: does the concept of justification exhibit truth conducivity–does my believing P entail that it is likely P is true? (69).

General Epistemological Background

concerned with the state or condition of being justified in holding a certain belief, rather than the activity of justification.

If one conflates the condition of being justified in a belief with the activity of justifying a belief, then one will think that all justifications are mediate.  

  1. justification is an evaluative status
  2. justification is a matter of degree

Perceptual belief: a belief about a perceived object, about an object that presents itself to the subject (77).  It is based on perceptual experience directly, instead of on other beliefs.

Are M-beliefs self-authenticating?  

The problem with saying perceptual beliefs, especially M-beliefs, are immediate, is that most perceptual beliefs are formed on the basis of other beliefs, which means they won’t be immediate.  Alston says this problem isn’t that big a deal.

The Reliability of Sense Perception

Many of the problems that face justifying one’s M-beliefs also face sense-perception.  None of our most basic “doxastic” (belief-forming) practices can escape circularity (103).

SP: sense perceptual practice

MP: mystical perceptual practice, that which creates M beliefs.


A doxastic practice is reliable if it yields mostly true beliefs in a sufficiently large and varied run of employments in situations of the sorts we typically encounter (105). 

“Reliability is a matter of degree.”  It can be a source of belief (105).

We cannot give a non-circular defense of SP.  

The solution: the scheme we use (realism about external world) to bring off these predictions fits the reality we perceive, and the procedure we use to form perceptual beliefs is a reliable source of belief (136).

Doxastic practices: 

The problem of criterion and regress will face every scheme (146-147).  However, we seek the justification of beliefs on adequate grounds. These ground are certain doxastic practices (belief-forming practices).  Enter Thomas Reid,

“For belief is of such a nature that, if you leave any root, it will  spread; and you may more easily put it up altogether, than say, “Hitherto shalt thou go and no further: the existence of impressions and ideas I give up to thee; but see thou pretend to nothing more.  A thorough and consistent skeptic will never yield to this point. To such a skeptic I have nothing to say; but of the semi-skeptic, I should beg to know, why they believe the existence of their impressions and ideas.  The true reason I take to be, because they cannot help it; and the same reason will lead them to believe many other things. (An Enquiry in the Human Mind, VI, 20, p. 207).

I am very impressed with Alston on this section. I had feared that his previous argument: SP-beliefs are warranted because they take place within doxastic practices” would lead to a kind of coherentism.  Alston is aware of this problem, but counters it by saying we have a “negative coherentism with regard to doxastic practices, but not with regard to our beliefs” (152-154).

The Nature of Doxastic Practices

practice: a system or constellation of dispositions, habits, or “mechanisms” which yields a belief as “output” (153). 

generational (belief-independent) practices fit to form beliefs to a certain sphere of reality.

irreducible plurality of practices: 

What Alston calls Doxastic practices, Thomas Reid called “the evidence of Sense, evidence of Memory, evidence of Consciousness, the evidence of Testimony, the evidence of Axioms, the evidence of Reasoning” (164).   We give the name “evidence” to whatever is a ground of belief.

We utilize these principles in practice long before we form theories about them.  

Individuation of Doxastic Practices

summary of argument so far: Since a doxastic practice is essentially the exercise of a family of belief-forming mechanisms, the unity of a doxastic practice is most centrally a function of important similarities in the constituent mechanisms.  And since a belief-forming mechanism is simply the realization of an input-output function, the unity of a doxastic practice most basically consists in important similarities in input, in output, and in the function connecting the two (165).

Overriders and Defeaters

  • internal consistency (if two perceptual beliefs contradict each other, one of them is false).

Return to Reason (Kelly James Clark)

This is the first “Reformed Epistemology” book I read, sometime back in 2007.

Review of Kelly James Clark’s Return to Reason

God and Evil

He interacts with the standard atheist argument against God because of evil. He then defines and distinguishes theodicy from defense. He proposes, following Alvin Plantinga, a “transworld defense of God’s actions in the face of evil.” In other words, “if a person suffers from a transworld depravity, then in all the worlds God can create in which that person exists and is free, that person would have freely gone wrong at least once” (73). This removes the logical contradiction in the argument from evil.

Critique of Enlightenment Evidentialism

Clark takes the evidentialism of W.K. Clifford to task in this section. Clifford maintains that we can only believe something—and act on that belief—if we have proper evidence for it. Clark rebuts this using the arguments of William James and C.S. Lewis. Belief in God is a passional decision that can legitimately be made apart from Clifford’s standards of evidence. In short, if we adopt Clifford’s approach to evidence, we will have very few true beliefs. In reality no one thinks this way. We hold many beliefs—justifiedly so—apart from such evidence. Also, Clifford’s belief is itself a passional decision made apart from evidence.

Belief in God as Properly Basic

Clark, following Alvin Plantinga, argues that God has so constituted our cognitive faculties that we are perfectly rational to believe in him without regard to Enlightenment evidential criteria. This is concurrent with a discussion on Classical Foundationalism, its defects, and a turning to a Reformed Epistemology. Classical Foundationalism—the view that foundational beliefs are self-evident, incorrigible, or evident to the senses—is self-falsifying. In its stead Clark proposes a Reidian epistemology that relies on “common sense.” For Clark, belief in God is “properly basic.” Properly basic beliefs are those that are foundational and non-inferential.


Clark has a snappy, engaging writing style. He couldn’t be boring if he tried. He will strike some readers as arrogant. The book was an excellent, succinct introduction to Reformed Epistemology. I have a few cautions:

1) I am not convinced—yet—of transworld depravity and Plantinga’s free-will defense. Maybe he is right. TWD isn’t necessarily wrong, it just hasn’t been fleshed out properly.

2) Is knowledge “justified” or “warranted”? Is the proof of the Christian God found in the “impossibility of the contrary” (Bahnsen) or is it found in “the God-structured cognitive faculties” of our brain (Plantinga)?

2.1) Some Reformed Epistemologists like William Alston has suggested that the line between warrant and justification is a fuzzy one. I think that is probably true.

Naming and Necessity (Saul Kripke)

Kripke’s thesis is that rigid designators are true, we have an intuition of them, and that they are the same in every possible world (Kripke 48).   A designator is a common term that covers names and definitions (24). Specifically, names are rigid designators (48).

Kripke also has a lucid discussion on what a “possible world” is (and isn’t).  We imagine a situation that could have been otherwise. What properties of x would remain in that world and which would be different?  

Example: “The man who invented bifocals is Benjamin Franklin.”

“Benjamin Franklin” is a rigid designator.  Benjamin Franklin is Benjamin Franklin in every possible world.  But the phrase “the man who invented bifocals” is a nonrigid designator.  One can imagine a world where someone other than Franklin invented bifocals.  

His most notorious and ground-breaking argument is that there can be both contingent a priori truths and necessary a posteriori truths.  How? Take Goldbach’s conjecture: every even number greater than two is the sum of its primes. This appears to be necessary, per mathematics, but is only known a posteriori.


*Kripke agrees with Mill that singular names are non-connotative (127).

*General terms, those of natural kinds, have a greater kinship with proper names that normally realized (134).

*a priori truths can be contingent, meaning the fixed reference for a term isn’t always synonymous with a term (135).

*the relationship between a brain state and a mental state is a contingent one, and relations of identity cannot be contingent (154).


Kripke sometimes spends several pages analyzing a minor point with little payout.


One can see why this book broke new ground.  I read it after I read Plantinga’s The Nature of Necessity, so I didn’t see what was objectionable about possible worlds semantics.  Much of the book, however, was beyond my pay grade.



Review: The Analytic Theist (Alvin Plantinga Reader)

Ed. James Sennett.  Eerdmans.

Unlike some anthologies, this isn’t simply a Plantinga chapter here and a long snippet there.  True, there are some reproduced chapters (see his legendary “Reason and Belief in God”) but other chapters in the book, while not necessarily giving new material, present it in a new format.  A few chapters take key passages from his notoriously difficult Nature of Necessity and present it without the modal logic, making for an easier read.


Thanks to Al Kimel for the picture

The first section of the book explores his early and later approaches to natural theology, the ontological argument, and free will.  A word on the latter: more Reformed readers do not have to accept some of his conclusions in order to appreciate his analysis of Possible Worlds Semantics.  Per the ontological argument,

(22) It is possible that there is a greatest possible being.

(23) Therefore, there is a possible being that in some world W’ or other has a maximum degree of greatness.

(24) A being B has the maximum degree of greatness in a given possible world W only if B exists in every possible world.

(25) It is possible that there be a being that has maximal greatness.

(26) So there is a possible being in some world W that has maximal greatness.

This is an early form of his argument, especially since the modal operators are lacking.  But we can add the conclusion:

(27) It is possible that a necessary being exists.
(28) A necessary being exists.

Does the argument work?  It depends on whether you think S5 modal logic is true or not.  If it is true, the argument holds.

Reason and Belief in God

The issue:  must I satisfy some norm to hold Belief B?  If knowledge = justified, true belief, then what duty must I fulfil in order to have a rational belief? The modern answer to this question is seen in some form of foundationalism: what is a properly basic belief?:

(1) Self-evident or evident to the senses
(2) Incorrigible (for example, if I see a tree, I could be mistaken, but I am not mistaken that I think I see a tree)

(3) Which denial leads to a contradiction.

We will call (1)-(3) the Foundationalism Thesis (FT).

The problem with the above is that very few beliefs meet those criteria.  In fact, the thesis itself doesn’t meet the criteria. FT isn’t self-evident, it’s not incorrigible, and rejecting it doesn’t violate any laws of logic.  Even more striking, this seems to mean that the theist is warranted in believing in God even if he hasn’t bothered to meet the FT.  

The last section is a collection of encouraging chapters on how to do Christian philosophy in a secular guild.

Review: Plantinga, Warrant and Proper Function

Plantinga begins by examining the Gettier-type problems that internalist accounts of knowledge face. Having shown these difficulties, Plantinga is now able to set the stage for his externalist approach to warrant. This he does by explaining our design function: Any well formed human being who is in an epistemically congenial environment and whose intellectual faculties are in good working order will typically take for granted at least three things: that she has existed for some time, that she has had many thoughts and feelings, and that she is not a thought or feeling (Plantinga 50).

He then examines three apparent weak points of externalism and show not only are they strong points, only a fool would challenge them: memory, other persons, and testimony. In the nature of the case we do not have basic beliefs about these three entities in the sense that evidentialism and classic foundationalism require (especially memory and testimony; solipsism has a host of problems beyond this). Throughout this defense we see the vindication of Thomas Reid.

The book is quite difficult and technical, though. The sections on probability will lose all but the most formidable philosophers. While reading these chapters one is reminded of Eowyn’s comments to Merry before the battle: “Courage, Merry; it will soon be over.”

He then gives a (mostly) wonderfully lucid discussion of coherentism, classic foundationalism, and Reidian foundationalism. Coherentism sees truth as a source of warrant in the existing relations of one’s beliefs: does a belief “cohere” and “mesh” in a larger noetic structure? Plantinga suggests this is inadequate because coherentism only tells us of the doxastic relationships between beliefs. Warrant, by contrast, needs far more, experience among other things (179). Classical foundationalism is wrong because it is self-referentially incoherent. It is not the case that the foundationalist claim (a belief is properly basic because it is either self-evident to me or immediately present to my senses) meets its own criteria: it is not self-evidently true nor is it available to the senses (182). This leaves us with Plantinga’s position: Reidian foundationalism. If a belief is formed in proper circumstances according to its proper cognitive design, it has warrant.


The book began well and ended well. The middle sections were good, too, but likely only of interest to the most doughty of analytic philosophers. While I agree with Plantinga’s thesis, there are some shortcomings (but these can be excused because they have been treated in later works). The section on Reidian foundationalism, for example, while fundamentally sound, seemed to lack, forgive the pun, coherence in articulation. I kept seeing what RF was not in relation to classical foundationalism, but very little on what it was. The final chapters on naturalism are interesting, but have since been further refined in Plantinga’s later works.

Plantinga: God and Other Minds

And so begins Plantinga’s project. Plantinga evaluates the issue of whether we are rationally *justified* in believing in God. In doing so, he considers the natural theologian’s arsenal, the atheologian’s response, and whether belief in God can be salvaged from the analogy of other minds.

Natural Theology

In considering the Cosmological, Ontological, and Teleological arguments, Plantinga points out that most criticisms of these arguments do not obtain, but still, at the end of the day, the natural theologian is not in a better position. Admittedly, this section is dizzying. The ontological argument comprised two chapters (though we did get a fine survey of the then-current literature).

Various Atheologica

Plantinga explores the atheologian’s criticisms of theism: the problem of evil (PE), the free will(FV) defense, and verificationism (Vf). With regard to PE, Plantinga notes if the atheologian’s premises are correct, it still doesn’t prove that God doesn’t exist. There is no logical contradiction between the classical theistic view of God and the existence of evil. The atheologian needs to add the following premise:

(a) An all-powerful, all-loving God is *morally obligated* to create a world where persons freely choose the good at all times.

But introducing moral considerations is off-limits for the atheologian at this time. In any case, the atheologian’s criticism only speaks of what kind of God exists, not that he doesn’t exist.

Plantinga’s FW defense is the best chapter in the book. Whether we hold to free will or not is true, Plantinga argues that it is logically coherent and thus serves to defeat the atheologian’s defeater. The atheologian wants the following premise:

(b) God could create a world where the state of affairs obtain where a person P freely chooses the good at all times.

As Plantinga notes, this is hard to square with any definition of freedom. Further, just because God is omnipotent does not mean that he can create any state of affairs (e.g., God cannot create the state of affairs that is not created by God!) Further, Plantinga gives a nice discussion of what is a human person:

(c) x is a possible person = def. x is a consistent set of H properties such that for every H property P, either P or P (complement) is a member of x (Plantinga 141).

And if it is false that God can instantiate any possible state of affairs he chooses, then it is false that he can create any person he chooses. Therefore, (b) is no threat to theism.

God and Other Minds

This last section was confusing. Plantinga argued that the other minds analogy has drawbacks but then suggests something like it to *justify* belief in God.  It’s important to note that at this point in his career, Plantinga is still speaking in terms of justification and has not yet moved to warrant.

Evaluation and Limitations

This book was one of Plantinga’s earlier projects. Notice that I have been using the word “justify” in terms of evaluating belief in God. By the time of Warrant and Proper Function, Plantinga has rejected this line of thought. Justification is a stricter criterion of rationality. It suggests deontological duty and if Plantinga wants to speak of theistic belief as *justified* on the basis of other minds analogy, then his project certainly falls short. But this is no longer Plantinga’s position.

Review: Reason, Metaphysics, Mind

This might be a series of essays in honor of Alvin Plantinga, but few of the essays have anything to do with Plantinga.  Some are extremely technical and it’s not always clear what is going on. Nevertheless, there are a few fine pieces. Zimmerman’s account of simple foreknowledge, Stump’s Thomistic view of the atonement, Peter Van Inwagen’s “Causation and the Mental,” and Wolterstorff’s fun “Then, Al, and Now.”

Reason, Metaphysics, and Mind by Kelly James Clark

Molinism starts off interestingly enough, but the discussion takes a strange turn over the

Plantingian middle knowledge: God knows what free creatures might do in circumstances that would never be actual (5).

  • Natural knowledge: knowledge God has by virtue of being God (think divine simplicity, where God’s mind is an ontological “=” sign to everything in God).
  • The Molinists accounts (Thomas Flint, rejoinder by Thomas Crisp) question whether we have counterfactual power over the past.  I’m just not sure how to approach that.
  • Free knowledge: God’s choices, like to create or not to create the world.

Stump contrasts the Anselmian account of the atonement with the Thomist one.  She says the Anselmian falters because his account, due to its objectivity, cannot address past shame. So what if Jesus died for my sins if others don’t want to associate with me?  Well, she doesn’t say it that crassly and to be fair, that might not even be her position. She might mean something like, “Yeah, the sin problem is taken care of but not the life part.”

In response, EJ Coffman points out that Christ’s work also deals with the effects of interpersonal shame. In any case, Stump’s account isn’t all that convincing.

Peter Van Inwagen: Causation and the Mental

  1. An object is concrete iff it can enter into causal relations and is abstract iff it cannot enter into causal relations (Van Inwagen 153).  PVI adjusts this to where concrete objects are substances and abstract objects are relations-in-intension.
  2. PVI is willing to say that causal relations exist, but not causality.  

The whole essay was kind of odd.  PVI did do a fine job surveying problems in phenomenology of mind (cf Jaegwon Kim).

Dean Zimmerman Simple Foreknowledge

Molinism: contingently true conditionals about what every possible individual will, or would freely do in each circumstance (175).  There are “conditionals of freedom” (CF)

Simple foreknowledge view: affirms libertarian foreknowledge yet rejects Molinism. The main difficulty with this is that God has no more control over the future than what one would find in Open Theism.

Difficulties the Libertarian (or LFW) faces:

* Zimmerman wants to affirm that God takes risks (177).

The most pressing difficulty with simple foreknowledge is what Zimmerman calls “The Metaphysical Principle:”

MP: It is impossible that a decision depend on a belief which depends on a future event which depends on the original decision (179).

He avoids this fallacy by comparing God to a “time traveler.”   I am not sure this really helps his argument.

Nicholas Wolterstorff gives a semi-autobiograpical account of his and Al’s grad-school years together.  But humor aside, Wolterstorff explains how analytic philosophy has developed in the 20th century, and how bold Plantinga’s project really was.

  • Logical positivism almost erased “real-talk” about God, yet Plantinga’s God and Other Minds threw down the gauntlet and cheerfully spoke about “justification for belief in God.”
  • David Lewis’s possible worlds semantics provided the groundwork for Plantinga’s Nature of Necessity.
  • And then, of course, Plantinga’s Warrant Trilogy.


The book is expensive and not every essay is equally good.

Do Properties Think?

In Plantinga’s fine chapter “Materialism and Christian Belief” (ed. Peter Van Inwagen, Persons: Human and Divine) he notes a difficulty in Thomism where it tries to defend dualism.  Dualism is the standard Christian belief that man cannot be reduced to a merely physical being.  Aquinas, with dualism, acknowledges that the soul is a thinking part of the body.  But he also says the soul is the *form* of the body, and Plantinga argues that makes it a property.  And properties can’t think (Plantinga 101).

What is a property?  Peter Van Inwagen defines it as “something that can be said of something.”  I guess that’s good enough.  Let’s look at Plantinga’s argument more closely:

P1: Aquinas–soul is a thinking part of the body (so far, so good).
P2: Soul is the form of the body (standard Aristotle and Aquinas)
P3: (P2) makes the soul a property.
C1: Yet it seems odd to say that properties can “think.”

If Plantinga’s argument holds, then this puts considerable strain on Thomism, and I do reject Thomism, but I am not so sure of (P3).  Let’s see if we can make it work.

P3*: The soul is the principle by which the body lives.
P4:  The soul is the property that gives the body life.
C2: The soul is a property.

Plantinga’s Theses (Does God Have a Nature?)

Theses the analytical theses in his monograph.  It should make following along easier. It should be obvious that these 71 theses are not “71 propositions about God.”  Some are trivial and others are clearly false.  But throughout Plantinga’s narrative he will generate a proposition to show that a particular view has a contradiction, or to set up a future argument.

I laid out these theses because it is getting fashionable in some Reformed social media circles to set forth Aquinas’s view on divine simplicity as the only possible view and that Plantinga rejected classical theism.  Of course, I believe both claims to be false.

  1. God transcends human experience.  We cannot observe or in any other way experience him (this is Kant’s view)
  2. Our concepts do not apply to God.
  3. For any properties and in God, God’s having is identical with God’s having Q, and both are identical with God.
  4. States of affairs x’s having and y’s having Q are identical iff x’s having P is equivalent (obtains in the same possible worlds as) y’s having Q and x = y.
  5. God is sovereign and exists a se.
  6. God is alive, knowledgeable, capable of action, and good.
  7. If (5), then (a) God has created everything distinct from himself, (b) everything distinct from God is dependent upon him, (c) he is not dependent on anything distinct from himself, and (d) everything is within his control.
  8. If (6), then there are such properties as life, knowledgeability, capability of action, power and goodness’ and God has these properties.
  9. If God has these properties distinct from him, then he is dependent on them.
  10. God is a necessary being.
  11. God is essentially alive, knowledgeable, capable of action, powerful and good
  12. If (11), then there are such properties as life, knowledge, capability of action, power and goodness, and God could not have failed to have them.
  13. If (10) and God could not have failed to have these properties, then they could not have failed to exist, arenecessary beings.
  14. If God has some properties that exist necessarily and are distnct from him, then God is dependent on these properties and they are independent of him, uncreated by him and outside his control.
  15. If there is a property with which God is identical, then God is a property.
  16. No property is alive, knowledgeabl, capable of action, powerful or good.
  17. X depends on y iff y’s existence is a necessary condition of x‘s existence.
  18. x depends upon y for P iff if x has P and some proposition or state of affairs relevantly involving y is a necessary condition of x’s having P.
  19. Either Jim Whittaker or the Pope can climb Mt Everest.
  20. Either god or Bertrand Russell created the world is a necessary condition of God’s creating the world relevantly involves Betrand Russell.
  21. I exist.
  22. I have been created.
  23. X depends on y for P iff there is an action A such that y’s performing A is a logically necessary condition of x’s having P.
  24. It’s false that the Taj Mahal is red but not colored.
  25. Any omniscient being knows something.
  26. If God is sovereign and exists a se, then every truth is within his control.
  27. Red is a color.
  28. The proposition all dogs are animals’ is distinct from the proposition ‘all animals are dogs.’
  29. No numbers are persons.
  30. 2 x 4 = 8
  31. It’s not the case that all men are mortal and some men are not mortal.
  32. It’s not the case that God has created creatures that he has not created.
  33. God has created Descartes, but Descartes has not been created.
  34. It is impossible that God has created Descartes and Descartes has not been created.
  35. Possibly p.
  36. Possibly possibly p.
  37. Necessarily, 2 x 4 = 8.
  38. Since God has infinite power, there are no necessary truths.
  39. No particle has both an instantaneous position and an instantaneous velocity.
  40. 2 x 4 = 7.
  41. God has infinite power.
  42. That God has infinite power entails that no propositions are necessarily true.
  43. No propositions are necessarily true.
  44. The proposition ‘if God is infinitely powerful, then there are no necessary truths’ is a necessary truth.
  45. If God has infinite power, there are no necessary truths.
  46. If God has infinite power and if God has infinite power there are no necessary truths, then there are no necessary truths.
  47. God has made p true and has created in us a powerful tendency to believe p; we do believe p; and if we believe p we know p.
  48. We don’t know p and p is in fact false.
  49. 2 + 1 = 3.
  50. If, if p then q, and p, then q.
  51. God knows that he does not exist.
  52. God is omnipotent.
  53. If God is omnipotent, then his power is absolutely unlimited.
  54. If his power is absolutely unlimited, then he could make (51) true.
  55. If he could make (51) true, then (51) could be true and is possible.
  56. (51) is possible.
  57. God is sovereign.
  58. If God is sovereign, then everything is dependent on him.
  59. If everything is dependent upon him, then every truth is within his control.
  60. If every truth is within his control, then (51) could be true and is possible.
  61. (51) is not possible.
  62. There is a property that both exemplifies itself and does not exemplify itself.
  63. Whatever the Bible teaches is true.
  64. The Bible teaches that (61) is false.
  65. God has a nature.
  66. There are some necessary propositions.
  67. God has some property P.
  68. 7+5=12.
  69. God believes (68).
  70. Necessarily 7+5=12.
  71. It is part of God’s nature to believe that 7+5 = 12.