Doubts about the meaningfulness of claims about God’s nature, and the objectivity of right and wrong, made popular in the first half of the twentieth century were largely overcome in the latter half. One result is that in contemporary philosophy of religion there has been a huge revival of perfect being theology. But even if we have knowledge about morality, can and should we attempt to use this knowledge to investigate the nature of God? Or are there good reasons for theologians to be skeptical or wary of perfect being theology? How successful has perfect being theology been in the past, and what are its prospects?
Work through each activity in turn, answering the questions at the end of each PDF. The ‘Useful Links’ section links to two online editions of Anselm’s Proslogion, which you can use to help you with the tasks.
Contemporary (and some slightly older) philosophical articles and books are referenced in the text using footnotes. You do not need to have access to them for the purposes of these exercises, but a lot of progress in philosophy takes the form of contemporary writers articulating more explicitly and precisely what is implied in the work of their predecessors, so it’s good to be aware of and give credit to contemporary thinkers. Ancient and medieval sources are cited in the footnotes. Often they appear with the name of the source or an abbreviated version and then followed by some numbers, usually chapters or rather than page numbers. This means that you can find that reference regardless of which edition you are using.