Dr Jason Carter, Michael Cohen Fellow and Lecturer in Ancient Philosophy at Exeter College, has published a paper on Plutarch in the Journal of the History of Philosophy. The paper, ‘Plutarch’s Epicurean Justification of Religious Belief’, was published in issue 56, number 3, in July and is available to read online here.
In his abstract of the paper, Dr Carter writes: ‘In his dialogue, Non posse suaviter vivi secundum Epicurum, Plutarch of Chaeronea criticizes Epicurus for not believing that the gods are provident over human affairs and for not believing that our souls survive death. However, Plutarch’s arguments are striking in that they do not offer any theoretical justification for believing either of these religious claims to be true; rather, they aim to establish that we are practically justified in adopting them if we follow Epicurus’s rule that the goal of belief is not truth in its own right, but mental tranquility. I argue that this form of argument assumes a novel justificatory theory of religious belief, based in Epicurean thought, that I call “strong doxastic hedonism.”‘
Dr Carter’s tenure as Michael Cohen Fellow and Lecturer in Ancient Philosophy will shortly come to an end. He will take up a teaching fellowship in Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh in January of 2019. We wish him all the best.