Professor Peter Forrest
Professor, School of Social Science
BA(Oxon), MA(Tas), PhD (Harv and Syd)
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Like many academic philosophers Peter Forrest came to the philosophy after some years concentrating on another subject, in his case mathematics. (His first academic appointment was a Senior Tutor in the Mathematics Department of the University of Western Australia.)
He holds that philosophy is important but no more important than other areas of inquiry. He sees the value of academic philosophy as helping us think in a more systematic and reflective fashion on disputed questions, for the sake of understanding. Hence academic philosophers are primarily "facilitators" or to use Socrates' metaphor "midwives". It follows that philosophers are not authorities except on such historical details as Hume's living after, not before Aquinas, or the way philosophers use some words (eg "essential") more precisely than the general public.
Philosophy, then, is the reflective discussion of disputed questions, for the sake of understanding things. As such it does not require conventional academic ability, but instead a genuine willingness to think about issues, combined with a certain intellectual vitality.
Peter teaches in the areas of Epistemology (discussion of the standards for knowledge and belief) and Metaphysics (disputed questions about the nature of things). His chief research interests are in the areas of Philosophy of Science and Philosophy of Religion. In spite of some rather obvious differences between Science and Religion, he holds that, in both cases, understanding is the guide to truth. His most recent book is God Without the Supernatural , which is part of the apparently old-fashioned project of apologetics, that is, showing how religious beliefs in general, and Christianity in particular, can meet the appropriate intellectual standards.
Peter's apologetic project can be likened to something else he does restoring an old house in Uralla, where he lives with his wife, Felicity and their children. The house was built as a school in 1867, and turned into a hospital this century, with the addition of a wooden maternity wing. Think of the house as like Christianity. There are some who would have considered it quite uninhabitable by today's standards. For a start who wants 250 square metres of maternity ward? So why not just knock it down? Others, of a more romantic bent, thought everything was just fine as it was, from the decaying wooden floors and the insanitary plumbing to the garden overgrown with brambles. What Felicity and he have tried to do is to have the house meet today's standards without doing violence to its history. Well, his apologetic project is just like that.
Areas of Teaching
Currently he co-ordinates the units: Time (PHIL 305), Indian Metaphysics (PHIL 318)and Persons (PHIL 363).
includes philosophy of physics (see his book Quantum Metaphysics), epistemology (see his book The Dynamics of Belief), the philosophy of religion (see his book God without the Supernatural), and other issues in metaphysics and epistemology. Peter is a member of the Academy of Humanities.
PublicationsPeter has published three books, over ten book chapters and over thirty journal articles.
The Dynamics of Belief: A Normative Logic , Blackwell, 1986,
Quantum Metaphysics, Blackwell, 1988,
God without the Supernatural, Cornell University Press, 1996.
Identity of Indiscernibles In Stanford .Encyclopedia of Philosophy (ed. Edward N. Zalta), Stanford: Center for the Study of Language and Information, http://plato.stanford.edu
Epistemology of Religion In Stanford Enylopedia of Philosophy (ed. Edward N. Zalta), Stanford: Center for the Study of Language and Information, http://plato.stanford.edu
'Counting the Cost of Modal Realism', in Reality and Humean Supervenience : Essays on the Philosophy of David Lewis, ed. By Gerhard Preyer and Frank Siebelt, Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield , 2001. Protosociology: 93- 103.
Inductive, Fuzzy, and Quantum Logics for Probability' in A Companion to Philosophical Logic , (ed. Dale Jacquette) Oxford : Blackwell 2002
Actuality and Consciousness' in The Proceedings of the 1999 International Wittgenstein Symposium , Austrian Wittgenstein Society, 2002
The Trinity and Personal Identity' (In Russian) :in Proceedings of the Conference on the Holy Trinity. Moscow 6-9 June 2001 , Russian Orthodox Metropoliatan Church of Moscow , 2002: 90-98
Introduction (with Drew Khlentzos.) to special edition of Logique et Analyse on Truth Makers (t200)
The Trinity and Personal Identity' (In English ) :in The Trinity: East/West Dialogue (Melville Y. Stewart ed.) Dordrecht : Kluwer, 2003; 75-82.
Towards an epistemology of religious traditions', Sophia, 38 (1999), 25-40.
Supertasks and Material Objects' , Logique et Analyse 42 (1999)
The Incarnation: a philosophical case for kenosis', Religious Studies 36 (2000): 127-140
Mark Wynn's Defence of The Supernatural' American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly . 75 (2001)
Sets as Mereorological Tropes' , Metaphysica 3 (2002): 5 -10
Grit or Gunk: Implications of the Banach-Tarski Paradox , The Monist (to appear)(2003)
The Entanglement of Truth-Makers' Logique et Analyse ,
Nonclassical Mereology and Its Application to Sets, Notre dame Journal of Formalc Logic , 43 (2002): 79-94
Refereed on-line article
How kenotic process theology underpins humanist deep ecology', Australasian Journal of Process Thought, 1 (2000).