PUBLISHED ARTICLES & BOOK CHAPTERS
♦ “On Christian Theism and Unrestricted Composition” (co-authored with Alexander Pruss), Forthcoming in American Philosophical Quarterly
♦ “Against Constitutionalism” in The Blackwell Companion to Substance Dualism, edited by Jonathan Loose, Angus Menuge, and J.P. Moreland. Forthcoming 2016
♦ “Omnipresence and the Location of the Immaterial“, Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion (Forthcoming) Awarded the 2014 Sanders Prize in Philosophy of Religion
I first offer a broad taxonomy of models of divine omnipresence in the Christian tradition, both past and present. I then examine the recent model proposed by Hud Hudson (2009, 2014) and Alexander Pruss (2013)—ubiquitous entension—and flag a worry with their account that stems from predominant analyses of the concept of ‘material object’. I then attempt to show that ubiquitous entension has a rich Latin medieval precedent in the work of Augustine and Anselm. I argue that the model of omnipresence explicated by Augustine and Anselm has the resources to avoid the noted worry by offering an alternative account of the divide between the immaterial and the material. I conclude by considering a few alternative analyses of ‘material object’ that make conceptual room for a contemporary Christian theist to follow suite in thinking that at least some immaterial entities are literally spatially located when relating to the denizens of spacetime.
♦”Epistemic Temperance and the Moral Perils of Intellectual Inquiry“, Philosophia Christi (2015) 17:2
An oft-repeated dictum in contemporary epistemology is that the epistemic goal minimally includes the acquisition of true beliefs and the avoidance of false beliefs. There is, however, a robust epistemological tradition in the Christian West that distinguishes between a virtuous and a vicious desire for and pursuit of cognitive contact with reality. The cognitive ideal for humans consists (in part) in epistemic temperance, an appetite for and pursuit of truth that is conducted in appropriate measure, and calibrated to appropriate objects and ends. Here I explore this rich Christian tradition with an eye toward its application to contemporary Christian philosophy.
♦ “Neo-Aristotelian Plenitude“, Philosophical Studies (2014) 168: 583-597
Plenitude, roughly, the thesis that for any non-empty region of space- time there is a material object that is exactly located at that region, is often thought to be part and parcel of the standard Lewisian package in the metaphysics of persistence. While the wedding of plentitude and Lewisian four-dimensionalism is a natural one indeed, there are a hand-full of dissenters who argue against the notion that Lewisian four-dimensionalism has exclusive rights to plentitude. These ‘promiscuous’ three-dimensionalists argue that a temporalized version of plenitude is entirely compatible with a three-dimensional ontology of enduring entities. While few would deny the coherence of such a position, and much work has been done by its proponents to appease critics, there has been surprisingly little by way of exploring the various forms such an ontology might take as well as the potential advantages of one plenitudinous three-dimensional ontology over another. Here I develop a novel form of plenitudinous three-dimensionalism, what John Hawthorne has called ‘‘Neo-Aristotelian Plenitude,’’ and argue that if one is inclined to endorse an abundant three-dimensional ontology, one is wise to opt for a plenitude of accidental unities.
♦ “De Re Essentialism, Species, and Modal Ambiguity”, Metaphysica (2014), 15: 43-46
What might explain the wide disconnect between modal metaphysicians and contemporary philosophers of biology regarding the plausibility of de re essentialism? According to Samir Okasha (2002: 192), we can put our money on one of the following three explanations of this disconnect: either (i) ignorance of developments in modern biology, (ii) ignorance of contemporary metaphysics, or (iii) different concepts of essentialism at work in each domain. Osaka and a host of other prominent philosophers of biology point to (i) as the likely culprit among contemporary metaphysicians. My aim in this short piece is to show how a recurring argument against de re essentialism in the biological domain reveals the exact opposite, and that in the particular case at hand (ii) is the more likely candidate when it comes to explaining at least one exaggerated report of the demise of de re biological essentialism.
♦ “Essential Dependence, Truthmaking, and Mereology”, In Metaphysics: Aristotelian, Scholastic, Analytic, Novak, Novotny, Sousedik, Svoboda (eds.), Ontos Verlag, 2012.
One notable area in analytic metaphysics that has seen a revival of Aristotelian and scholastic inspired metaphysics is the return to a more robust construal of the notion of essence, what some have labelled “real” or “serious” essentialism. However, it is only recently that this more robust notion of essence has been implemented into the debate on truthmaking, mainly by the work of E. J. Lowe. The first part of the paper sets out to explore the scholastic roots of essential dependence as well as an account of truthmaking for accidental predications in terms of accidents. Along the way, the author examines the dialectical role the possibility of separated accidents in the Eucharist play with respect to developing a scholastic account of truthmaking as essential dependence. In conclusion the author utilises Aquinas’s hylomorphic ontology to suggest a new way forward for an essentialist account of truthmaking.
♦ “Gratuitous Evil Unmotivated“, Philosophia Christi (2013) 15:2, 435-447
In his article “The Existence and Irrelevance of Gratuitous Evil,” Kirk R. MacGregor has argued that the Christian theist need not demur at the existence of gratuitous evil. In fact, we are told that Christian theists have ample philosophical, theological, and biblical evidence in favor of the existence of gratuitous evil. In this brief note I examine both the general structure of his argument as well as several of his more central arguments in favor of gratuitous evil and the compatibility of such evil with Christian theism.
♦ “Why So Serious? Non-Serious Presentism and Cross-Temporal Relations” Metaphysica (2012) 13: 55-63
It is a common assumption in the metaphysics of time that a commitment to presentism entails a commitment to serious presentism, the view that objects can exemplify properties or stand in relations only at times at which they exist. As a result, non-serious presentism is widely thought to be beyond the bounds for the card- carrying presentist in response to the problem of cross-temporal relations. In this paper, I challenge this general consensus by examining one common argument in favor of the thesis that presentism entails serious presentism. The argument, I claim, begs the question against non-serious defenders in failing to account for their wider metaontological views concerning non-committal quantification.
Thomas McCall, An Invitation to Analytic Christian Theology, The Journal of Analytic Theology, Vol. 5, 2017
WORKS IN PROGRESS & UNDER REVIEW
♦ “Theology in the Second Person: Christian Dogmatics as a Mode of Prayer” Forthcoming in Reaching for God: New Essays on Prayer (Oxford Studies in Analytic Theology); Presented at Prayer, Love, and Human Nature: Analytic Theology for Theological Formation, Fuller Theological Seminary
My aim in this talk is to explore the irreducibly second-personal dimension of theological inquiry. In the first (and longest) section I aim to sketch a component of a larger ontology of Holy Scripture, one that I argue is indicative of a second-person dimension to Holy Scripture, namely Scripture as divine speech or address. And if Holy Scripture as the principal ground of dogmatics is irreducibly second-personal at some level, then arguably the dogmatic task ought to be carried out in the manner of interpersonal relatedness to God, what I call “prayerful dogmatics”. In section 2 I highlight some historical reflections from the work of Karl Barth on the inseparability of dogmatics and prayer. And I conclude in section 3 by exploring how the notion of prayerful dogmatics can serve as a guardrail that keeps the theological life properly theological and thereby formational (2 Cor. 3:18).
♦ “The Metaphysics of Union with God” (with Carl Mosser)
♦ “On Christian Theism and Unrestricted Composition” (with Alex Pruss, Under Review)
Our aim in this paper is to bring to light two sources of tension for Christian theists who endorse the principle of unrestricted composition (UC), that necessarily, for any objects, the xs, there exists an object, y, such that the xs compose y. In Value, we argue that a (concrete) composite object made of wholly valuable parts is at least as valuable as its most valuable part, and so the mereological sum of God and a wholly valuable part would be at least as valuable as God; but Christian theism arguably demands that no concrete object other than God can be as valuable as God. And in Creation, we argue that the conjunction of theism and unrestricted composition, together with the claim that every concrete entity that is numerically distinct from God is created by God, implies that God is created by God. We conclude by examining the prospects of restricting the thesis of unrestricted composition to the domain of material or spatiotemporal objects as a way to sidestep the above arguments against the conjunction of Christian theism and unrestricted composition.
♦ “Finding the Fundamentality of Intermediates”
My aim in this paper is to argue against the widespread assumption in the literature that all chains of metaphysical dependence run through intermediate composite objects without ever terminating in them. In §1 I unpack the various constraints and options in fundamental mereology. I turn in §2 to argue against the above assumption by offering two arguments in favor of funda- mental intermediates, what I call the tracking argument and the terminus argument. I conclude in §3 by arguing that a fundamental mereology that ascribes metaphysical primacy to at least some intermediates is defensible despite recent opinion to the contrary.