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Leslie Allan
La Trobe University
  1. The Problem of Evil.Leslie Allan - manuscript
    The existence of evil, pain and suffering is considered by many philosophers to be the most vexed question concerning the existence of an omnipotent, omniscient and morally perfect deity. Why would a loving God permit wanton acts of cruelty and misery on the scale witnessed throughout human history? In this essay, Leslie Allan evaluates four common theistic responses to this problem, highlighting the benefits and challenges faced by each approach. He concludes with a critical examination of a theistic defence designed (...)
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  2. Plantinga's Ontological Argument.Leslie Allan - manuscript
    The ontological argument for the existence of God has enjoyed a recent renaissance among philosophers of religion. Alvin Plantinga's modal version is perhaps the most notable example. This essay critically examines Plantinga's rendition, uncovering both its strengths and weaknesses. The author concludes that while the argument is probably formally valid, it is ultimately unsound. Nonetheless, Plantinga's version has generated much interest and discussion. The author spends some time uncovering the reasons for the argument's powerful intuitive appeal. He concludes his essay (...)
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  3. The Principle of Double Effect.Leslie Allan - manuscript
    Absolutist systems of ethics have come in for harsh criticism on a number of fronts. The Principle of Double Effect was formulated by Catholic ethicists to overcome such objections. In this essay, Leslie Allan addresses four of the most prominent problems faced by an absolutist ethic and evaluates the extent to which the Principle of Double Effect is successful in avoiding or mitigating these criticisms.
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  4. The Soul-Making Theodicy: A Response to Dore.Leslie Allan - manuscript
    The soul-making theodicy seeks to explain how belief in the existence of God is compatible with the evil, pain and suffering we experience in our world. It purports to meet the problem of evil posed by non-theists by articulating a divine plan in which the occurrence of evil is necessary for enabling the greater good of character building of free moral agents. Many philosophers of religion have levelled strong objections against this theodicy. In this essay, Leslie Allan considers the effectiveness (...)
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  5. Contraception and Abortion: A Utilitarian View.Leslie Allan - manuscript
    Conservative and liberal approaches to the problem of abortion are oversimplified and deeply flawed. Accepting that the moral status of the conceptus changes during gestation, the author advances a more nuanced perspective. Through applying a form of rules in practice utilitarianism within the context of overall population policy, he provides a compelling ethical and legal framework for regulating contraception and abortion practices.
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  6. Descartes's Method of Doubt.Leslie Allan - manuscript
    Enlightenment philosopher, René Descartes, set out to establish what could be known with certainty, untainted by a deceiving demon. With his method of doubt, he rejected all previous beliefs, allowing only those that survived rigorous scrutiny. In this essay, Leslie Allan examines whether Descartes's program of skeptical enquiry was successful in laying a firm foundation for our manifold beliefs. He subjects Descartes's conclusions to Descartes's own uncompromising methodology to determine whether Descartes escaped from a self-imposed radical skepticism.
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  7. Meta-Ethics: An Introduction.Leslie Allan - manuscript
    Meta-ethics is the area of philosophy in which thinkers explore the language and nature of moral discourse and its relations to other non-moral areas of life. In this introduction to the discipline written explicitly for novices, Leslie Allan outlines the key questions and areas of analysis in contemporary meta-ethics. In clear, tabular format, he summarizes the core concepts integral to each of the major meta-ethical positions and the strengths of each view. To prompt further thinking and reading, Allan explains briefly (...)
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  8. A Taxonomy of Meta-Ethical Theories.Leslie Allan - manuscript
    The author contends that classifying theories in the field of meta-ethics along a single dimension misses important nuances in each theory. With the increased sophistication and complexity of meta-ethical analyses in the modern era, the traditional cognitivist–non-cognitivist and realist–anti-realist categories no longer function adequately. The author categorizes the various meta-ethical theories along three dimensions. These dimensions focus on the linguistic analysis offered by each theory, its metaphysical commitments and its degree of normative tolerance.
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  9. The Mind/Brain Identity Theory: A Critical Appraisal.Leslie Allan - manuscript
    The materialist version of the mind/brain identity theory has met with considerable challenges from philosophers of mind. The author first dispenses with a popular objection to the theory based on the law of indiscernibility of identicals. By means of discussing the vexatious problem of phenomenal qualities, he explores how the debate may be advanced by seeing each dualist and monist ontology through the lens of an evolutionary epistemology. The author suggests that by regarding each ontology as the core of a (...)
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  10. A Defence of Emotivism.Leslie Allan - manuscript
    As a non-cognitivist analysis of moral language, Charles Stevenson's sophisticated emotivism is widely regarded by moral philosophers as a substantial improvement over its historical antecedent, radical emotivism. None the less, it has come in for its share of criticism. In this essay, Leslie Allan responds to the key philosophical objections to Stevenson's thesis, arguing that the criticisms levelled against his meta-ethical theory rest largely on a too hasty reading of his works.
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  11. Is Morality Subjective? – A Reply to Critics.Leslie Allan - manuscript
    Leslie Allan defends his thesis that ethics is objective in the sense of requiring moral agents to offer impartial reasons for acting. Radical subjectivists have attacked this requirement for impartiality on a number of grounds. Some critics make the charge that Allan's thesis is simply a version of subjectivism in disguise. He responds by showing how a broadly naturalist view of ethics accommodates objective moral constraints. Allan also counters cases in which impartiality is purportedly not morally required and considers the (...)
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  12. The Existence of Mind-Independent Physical Objects.Leslie Allan - manuscript
    The author challenges both the eliminative idealist's contention that physical objects do not exist and the phenomenalist idealist's view that statements about physical objects are translatable into statements about private mental experiences. Firstly, he details how phenomenalist translations are parasitic on the realist assumption that physical objects exist independently of experience. Secondly, the author confronts eliminative idealism head on by exposing its heuristic sterility in contrast with realism's predictive success.
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  13. Imre Lakatos: A Critical Appraisal.Leslie Allan - manuscript
    Imre Lakatos holds a well-deserved primary place in current philosophy of science. In this essay, Leslie Allan critically examines Lakatos' theory of knowledge in two key areas. The first area of consideration is Lakatos' notion that knowledge is gained through a process of competition between rival scientific research programmes. Allan identifies and discusses four problems with Lakatos' characterization of a research programme. Next, Allan considers Lakatos' proposed test of adequacy for theories of rationality using his methodology of historiographical research programmes. (...)
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  14. Imre Lakatos and a Theory of Rationality.Leslie Allan - manuscript
    In this comprehensive work on theories of rationality, Leslie Allan builds on the seminal insights of Imre Lakatos. Allan begins by critically reviewing Lakatos' theory of rationality (MSRP) and his meta-theory of rationality (MHRP) and suggesting improvements to his scheme. Allan's main task is developing a theory of rationality that avoids Lakatos' Achilles' heel; the presupposition that science is a rational enterprise. To achieve this, he attempts to draw out from the general demands of an objectivist epistemology the various criteria (...)
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  15. Plantinga's Free Will Defence: Critical Note.Leslie Allan - manuscript
    Some atheistic philosophers have argued that God could have created a world with free moral agents and yet absent of moral evil. Using possible world semantics, Alvin Plantinga sought to defuse this logical form of the problem of evil. In this critical note, Leslie Allan examines the adequacy of Plantinga's argument that the existence of God is logically compatible with the existence of moral evil. The veracity of Plantinga's argument turns on whether his essential use of counterfactual conditionals preserves the (...)
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  16. Towards an Objective Theory of Rationality.Leslie Allan - manuscript
    Drawing on insights from Imre Lakatos' seminal work on theories of rationality, Leslie Allan develops seven criteria for rational theory choice that avoid presuming the rationality of the scientific enterprise. He shows how his axioms of rationality follow from the general demands of an objectivist epistemology. Allan concludes by considering two weighty objections to his framework.
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  17. Animal Rights and the Wrongness of Killing.Leslie Allan - manuscript
    This essay explores the moral reasoning underpinning the common view that it is worse to kill a human compared with killing an animal. After examining the serious deficiencies of traditional approaches, the author develops an alternative utilitarian-based framework that proportions the seriousness of killing to levels of sentience. He demonstrates how this new approach avoids the problems faced by the application of standard utilitarian formulae in weighing the seriousness of killing many low-sentience animals vis-á-vis killing a single human. The author (...)
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