BERNIE CANTENS, PH. D.

Associate Provost of Online Education and Innovation

Philosophy Professor

Chair of the Philosophy Department 

Director of the Humanities for the Profession Grant

Coordinator of the Summer Study Abroad in Spain

Director of the Ethics Minor 

Bernie Cantens, Ph.D. is Professor of Philosophy and Chair of the Department of Philosophy at Moravian College. Cantens was awarded the first American Philosophical Association Prize in Latin American Thought in 2004 for his essay "Fransisco Vitoria and Just War Theory". He was the recipient of the American Philosophical Association William James Prize in 2005 for his essay "Charles S. Peirce and the Neglected Argument for the Reality of God". His research and teaching has received funding from various grants from the National Endowment of the Humanities. In 2005, he received an NEH Fellowship for his research on American Pragmatism, specifically on Charles Peirce's Evolutionary Philosophy of Religion. In 2006, he received an NEH Summer Seminar Scholarship for his work on ethnic, racial, and cultural identity theory. In 2014-2016, he received an NEH Enduring Questions Grant to develop a course on theories of peace. Cantens also participated in a CIC Online Humanities Instruction Grant supported by the Andrew Mellon Foundation (2014-2016). As part of this grant, Cantens developed an Advanced Metaethics course which he teaches totally online.  In 2019, he received a grant from the Gladys Kieble Delmas Foundation for a new project in applied humanities entitled Humanities for the Professions. The purpose of this grant is to integrate virtue ethics with professional programs in the health sciences and in business. See his most recent publication "Applied Humanities: A 21st Century Solution" in Academic Leader: For Department Chairs, Deans, and Provosts. Cantens is the past editor of the APA Newsletter on Hispanic/Latino Issues from 2008-2013. He has published over 30 scholarly articles, book chapters, and reviews in his areas of specialization with prestigious publishers such as Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, Wiley-Blackwell Publishers, Cambridge Scholars, Brill Publishers, and Bloomsbury Publishers. Cantens serves on the editorial board of several journals and has served as the chair of several outside departmental evaluation review boards. He is a past president of The Society for Philosophy of Religion, and he currently serves on the Executive Committee as Treasurer of the Associates for Philosophy of Religion. His essay "Philosophy, Law and Mysticism in Renaissance Spain" was recently published in 2018 in A Companion to Spanish Renaissance by Brill Publishers. His new book A Critical Introduction to the Ethics of Abortion: Understanding the Moral Arguments was recently published in February 2019.  He is currently working on two new manuscripts:Ethics of Abortion: On the Potentiality Argument and Religious Pragmatism. He is also working on several articles: "Suarez on the Various Kinds of Distinction," " A Challenge to Anthony Kenny's Pro-life Identity Argument," "A Critique to Michael Tooley's Pro-ChoiceDesire-to-Exist Argument,"  and "Pragmatists' Theories of Truth at a Time of Alternative Facts".  Cantens teaches Critical Thinking, Advanced Logic, Ethics, Meta-Ethics, Medieval and Early Modern Philosophy, and several Applied Ethics courses in the health sciences: Bioethics, Medical Ethics, Ethical Issues in Genetic Engineering, Virtue Ethics and Nursing, The Ethics of Abortion, and Law, Regulation and Ethics in Medicine. 

Recent Publications

RECENT PUBLISHED WORKS

A CRITICAL INTRODUCTION TO THE ETHICS OF ABORTION: UNDERSTANDING THE MORAL ARGUMENTS

Bloomsbury Publishing, February 2019 

Focusing on the most prominent and prevalent arguments from the philosophical literature, A Critical Introduction to the Ethics of Abortion deals with the abortion issue primarily from an ethical perspective.

 

Each chapter deals with a central argument to the debate, from the Being a Person vs. Functioning as a Person Argument and the permissibility of killing, to women's rights vis-à-vis the rights of the fetus, feminist arguments on abortion and bioethical issues concerning prenatal and embryonic ethical problems. Based on a critical assessment of the evidence and the strength of the arguments examined, it offers an impartial view of each of the arguments and draws on the importance of critical thinking and the logic of argumentation throughout. Providing an overview of the legal history and politics of abortion in the United State, it discusses five of the most important and influential Supreme Court cases on abortion law during the past fifty years and examines the current state of abortion law, politics and the main trends. 

Presenting a balance between ethical concepts, views and arguments, A Critical Introduction to the Ethics of Abortion is an up-to-date introduction to the choice of abortion illustrating the importance of evidence, clear thinking and good arguments for supporting one's ethical beliefs.

CHAPTER 15 - PHILOSOPHY, LAW AND MYSTICISM IN RENAISSANCE SPAIN.

A Companion to Spanish Renaissance

Brill Publishers, 2018

 

 

A Companion to the Spanish Renaissance edited by Hilaire Kallendorf makes a renewed case for the inclusion of Spain within broader European Renaissance movements. Its introduction, “A Renaissance for the ‘Spanish Renaissance’?” will be sure to incite polemic across a broad spectrum of academic fields. 

This interdisciplinary volume combines micro- with macro-history to offer a snapshot of the best new work being done in this area. With essays on politics and government, family and daily life, religion, nobles and court culture, birth and death, intellectual currents, ethnic groups, the plastic arts, literature, popular culture, law courts, women, literacy, libraries, civic ritual, illness, money, notions of community, philosophy and law, science, colonial empire, and historiography, it offers breath-taking scope without sacrificing attention to detail. Destined to become the standard go-to resource for non-specialists, this book also contains extensive bibliography aimed at the serious researcher. 

Contributors are: Beatriz de Alba-Koch, Edward Behrend-Martínez, Cristian Berco, Harald E. Braun, Susan Byrne, Bernardo Canteñs, Frederick A. de Armas, William Eamon, Stephanie Fink, Enrique García Santo-Tomás, Marya T. Green-Mercado, Elizabeth Teresa Howe, Hilaire Kallendorf, Henry Kamen, Elizabeth A. Lehfeldt, Michael J. Levin, Ruth MacKay, Fabien Montcher, Ignacio Navarrete, Lía Schwartz, Elizabeth Ashcroft Terry, and Elvira Vilches. 

CHAPTER 5 - SUÁREZ'S COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD

Interpreting Suarez: Critical Essays

Cambridge University Press, 2013

Francisco Suárez is arguably the most important Neo-Scholastic philosopher and a vital link in the chain leading from medieval philosophy to that of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. Long neglected by the Anglo-Saxon philosophical community, this sixteenth-century Jesuit theologian is now an object of intense scholarly attention. In this volume, Daniel Schwartz brings together essays by leading specialists which provide detailed treatment of some key themes of Francisco Suárez's philosophical work: God, metaphysics, meta-ethics, the human soul, action, ethics and law, justice and war. The authors assess the force of Suárez's arguments, set them within their wider argumentative context and single out influences and appraise competing interpretations. The book is a useful resource for scholars and students of philosophy, theology, philosophy of religion and history of political thought and provides a rich bibliography of secondary literature.


Chapter 5 examines Francisco Suárez's cosmological argument for the existence of God, and offers a critical evaluation of the argument. It examines in detail Suárez's argument and its logical structure, as well as proposed objections and rebuttals to the objections. Traditional arguments for the existence of God can be divided into three categories: (1) ontological arguments, (2) teleological arguments, and (3) cosmological arguments. These categories are based on the kind of evidence an argument uses as premises in support of its conclusion. Suárez's argument for the existence of God begins with a metaphysical cosmological argument for the existence of an uncreated being. He then defines God as an uncreated being and the creator of all things. He deliberately avoids the version of the cosmological argument based on physical principles taken from natural philosophy.

CHAPTER 2 - THE RIGHTS OF THE AMERICAN INDIANS

A Companion to Latin American Philosophy

Wiley-Blackwell Publishers, 2010

This comprehensive collection of original essays written by an international group of scholars addresses the central themes in Latin American philosophy. 

  • Represents the most comprehensive survey of historical and contemporary Latin American philosophy available today

  • Comprises a specially commissioned collection of essays, many of them written by Latin American authors

  • Examines the history of Latin American philosophy and its current issues, traces the development of the discipline, and offers biographical sketches of key Latin American thinkers

  • Showcases the diversity of approaches, issues, and styles that characterize the field

CHAPTER 14 - IS POLITICAL FORGIVENESS POSSIBLE?

Politics, Pluralism and Religion Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010

The chapters in this volume discuss the many facets of pluralism in a liberal democracy, as well as the interplay between religion and politics. Religion is a central theme in this book for two reasons. First, religions often claim to possess truths about the nature of God and the proper path to lead in order to achieve eternal life in heaven, or enlightenment or spiritual liberation. Unfortunately, different religions offer different sets of truths on these issues, which create an obvious competition and rivalry between religions. Historically, religious differences have produced countless wars, violent clashes, human rights violations and various forms of religious persecutions. Our record of coexisting peacefully in a religiously pluralistic world has been abysmal at best. Some chapters in this book discuss religious pluralism, the clash between science and religion and the role religious reasons should play in a public dialogue about public policy and law.  

The second reason why religion is a prominent theme is that, since religion is constitutive of the identities of so many individuals, its influence on politics, for better or for worse, is extremely significant. Many chapters explore the various ways in which religion can affect politics: From the dangers of theocracy, to Jihadist terrorism, to a Hindu approach to addressing terrorism, to a Unitarian Universalist perspective on ethical eating and to the Christian virtue of forgiveness applied to political dispute resolution. All in all, the chapters in this book represent a variety of approaches to understanding the interrelated problems associated with religion and politics in a pluralistic world.

CHAPTER 5 - FRANCISCO SUÁREZ  

The History of Western Philosophy, Vol. 3 Early Modern Philosophy Oxford University Press, 2009

  • The most comprehensive history of the philosophy of religion available anywhere, making this an essential resource

  • Each volume includes an introduction, approximately 20 essays, a timeline of major events, a bibliography, notes on contributors, and an index providing valuable tools for inquiry and research

  • Includes more than 100 essays covering the most important Western philosophers of religion from all ages - from Abelard to Voltaire to Spinoza to Emerson - making this of interest to anyone interested in this subject

  • Clear, engaging essays appeal to a wide audience of scholars, students, and individuals interested in the formation ideas

  • Essays written by the foremost philosophers of religion from across the globe

ON THE METAPHYSICS OF CULTURAL IDENTITY: A DARWINIAN ACCOUNT

Latino Studies, Palgrave-Journals, Vol. 7 (2), (2009): 167-196.

Constructing a theory of cultural identity requires that we first understand the metaphysics of identity and the ontological status of cultural groups. What are cultural groups? Are cultural groups objectively discernable identities with real and essential properties (essentialism)? Or are cultural groups socially constructed entities that have no basis in reality (eliminativism)? Regardless of the view we accept, some metaphysical theory of group identity will have to provide the basis for an intelligible and consistent account of cultural groups. In this article, I propose a metaphysical theory of cultural identity based on Darwin's view of the order of nature that can avoid the extreme views of essentialism and eliminativism. First, I discuss the theories of identity of Linda Martin Alcoff, J. Angelo Corlett and Jorge J. E. Gracia and evaluate their success as models for determining cultural identity. Second, I explore the various metaphysical views of group identity, and I expound a Darwinian view of the ontological nature of group identities. Finally, I illustrate how a Darwinian taxonomy can help us understand cultural identity and Gracia's Familial-Historical View of ethnic identity.

FORGIVENESS AND IT IMPORTANCE IN POST-WAR ETHICS

Journal of Religion, Disability and Health, 12 (3) (2008): 251-266.

The casualties of war are numerous and widespread. Two types are most familiar to the general population of Americans: deaths and serious bodily injuries. However, there are other serious psychological effects of war, such as resentment, anger, and hatred that remain at the margins of the healthcare radar. Uncontrolled and unmanaged resentment, anger, and hatred can have destructive consequences for veterans and their families. One solution for overcoming and dealing with these vindictive passions is learning to forgive.

PEIRCE ON SCIENCE AND RELIGION

International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 59 (2) (2006): 93-115.​

“In my opinion, the present infantile condition of philosophy,... is due to the fact that during this century it has chiefly been pursued by men who have not been nurtured in dissecting-rooms and other lab- oratories, and who consequently have not been animated by the true scientific Eros, but who have on the contrary come from theological seminaries, and have consequently been inflamed with a desire to amend the lives of themselves and others, a spirit no doubt more important than the love of science for men in average situations, but radically unfitting them for the task of scientific investigation.” (Peirce)
This statement, delivered in The Cambridge Lectures of 1898, disapproves of those with theological training to engage in metaphysical inquiries. While it is one of Charles Sanders Peirce’s (1839–1914) most controversial statements, it is not the only one that is critical of religion. Theistic philosophers tend to view this and other similar statements as antagonistic and hostile to all forms of religiosity. On the other hand, atheistic philosophers tend to view it as a declaration of anti-religiosity and a resolution contra religion. How are we to interpret Peirce’s statement? Why does he believe that those with theological training should not engage in metaphysical research? There is also the question of how this apparently anti-religious statement can be reconciled with his more supportive writings on religion, especially his Neglected Argument (1908).In this paper, I will argue that a deeper meaning of Peirce’s claim concerns the incommensurability between the methodof theology and the method of science. Moreover, I intend to show that religious philosophers are not the intended target of Peirce’s critique.

COGNITIVE FACULTIES AND EVOLUTIONARY NATURALISM

American Catholic Philosophical Association Proceedings 80 (2006): 201-208.

In Warrant and Proper Function Plantinga argues that his natural view of warrant is best understood within a supernatural ontology. A central reason why a naturalistic ontology cannot accommodate his version of natural epistemology is that it cannot explain the reliability of cognitive functions.  He presents arguments for the following two conclusions: (1) that naturalism is probably false; and (2) that naturalism is irrational. He considers the latter to be his main argument. The objective of this paper is to refute Plantinga’s arguments for the conclusion that naturalism is irrational. The paper is divided into two parts. In the first part, I will explain Planting’s arguments. In the second part, I will demonstrate that, given naturalistic evolution, we have reason to believe that it is likely that we would develop reliable cognitive theoreticalfaculties, and thus that a naturalist has sufficient epistemic ground to maintain the reasonableness of the view that her theoretical cognitive faculties are reliable and her theoretical beliefs true.

Moravian College

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©2017 by Bernie Cantens.