kevin_kinghornProfessor of Philosophy and Religion

Expertise:

  • Philosophy of Religion
  • Philosophical Theology
  • Moral Philosophy

Education:

  • B.A., Emory University, 1989
  • M.Div., Asbury Theological Seminary, 1994
  • S.T.M., Yale University Divinity School, 1995
  • D.Phil., University of Oxford, The Queen’s College, 2003

Dr. Kevin Kinghorn is Professor of Philosophy and Religion. He was the first full-time ExL professor at Asbury Theological Seminary.

Dr. Kinghorn has published articles in philosophy of religion, moral philosophy, epistemology, and philosophy of action, and written the books, The Decision of Faith: Can Christian Beliefs Be Freely Chosen? (T&T Clark, 2005) and A Framework for the Good (Univ. of Notre Dame, 2016). In 2008, Dr. Kinghorn was elected to the Theology faculty at Oxford University.

He and his wife, Barbara, are parents to Anna Keren and Joseph.

Accessible philosophy pieces for general readership

  • “Questions of Identity: Is the Hulk the Same Person as Bruce Banner?” Printed in Superheroes and Philosophy (2005).  What grounds personal identity and makes you the same person you were yesterday or 10 years ago?  Here’s my look at that question. (PDF)
  • “Virtue Epistemology: Why Uncle Andrew Couldn’t Hear the Animals Talk” Printed in The Chronicles of Narnia and Philosophy (2007).  A look at what virtue epistemology is, as well as four key epistemic virtues which an earnest seeker of truth should have.  Lewis’s Narnia books are a rich resource for exploring this subject (and so many others!). Uncle Andrew’s failure to cultivate these virtues helps explain why he couldn’t hear the Narnia animals talking. (Download PDF)
  • “Plot Twists and Surprises: What Makes Something Improbable?” Printed in Hitchcock and Philosophy (2007).  Discussion of the different ways in which an event can be improbable.  An especially detailed look at Rear Window, a great movie and a great resource for explaining Bayes Theorem (without using the term ‘Bayes Theorem’, of course!). (Download PDF)
  • “What Motivates an Early Morning Runner?” Printed in Running and Philosophy ( 2007).  A look at the different kinds of motivations–and accompanying different level of struggles–for people who exercise in the early hours of the morning.  A key point in the discussion is the distinction within the philosophy of action between an decision and an intentional action. (Download PDF)
  • “Shooting With Confidence” Printed in Basketball and Philosophy (2007).  Exploring the importance in basketball of confidence, or the belief that the next shot is going in the basket.  To what extent is confidence within our voluntary control? And what are the different kinds of strategies a coach might employ for instilling confidence in a player?  Answering these questions moves us into the intersection of philosophy and psychology. 
  • “Pursuing Moral Goodness: C. S. Lewis’s Understanding of Faith” Printed in C. S. Lewis as Philosopher (2008).  Exploring Lewis’s statement that “the world does not consist of 100% Christians and 100% non-Christians…”–and explaining how we’d need to understand the nature of faith if we are to make sense of his statement.  I summarize some of the points I develop much more fully in the book The Decision of Faith, offering reasons why we should think of ‘faith’ not so much as ‘belief’, but rather as the ‘pursuit of Godly purposes’. (Download PDF)
  • “Excuses, Excuses: Inside the Mind of a Complainer” Printed in Tennis and Philosophy (2010).  Given the amount of energy and focus a professional tennis player needs to compete in a match, it seems odd that a player would waste energy complaining about calls from linespersons and umpires.  Yet, this is all too common an occurrence. But why? Answering this question reveals quite a bit–some of it none too pleasant–about human psychology. (Download PDF)
  • “Authoritarian Tennis Parents: Are Their Children Really Any Worse Off?” Printed in Tennis and Philosophy (2010).  It is common to think of controlling tennis parents–the ones who push their children to succeed from a young age–as compromising their children’s well-being.  But is this really the case? A look at the question of what makes any person’s life go well for her, as well as what does and doesn’t compromise well-being. (Download PDF)
  • “Our Search for the ‘Good Life’: Connecting Welfare to C. S. Lewis’s The Four Loves“ Printed in Pursuit of Truth: A Journal of Christian Scholarship (2011).  C. S. Lewis’s analysis of the four loves–affection, friendship, eros, and charity–contains important insights, though it also serves as a challenge to the simple thesis that ideal, loving relationships occur as each person pursues the well-being of the other.  In this paper I defend this simple thesis, showing that–once we show how Welfarism is connected to affection, friendship, and eros in ways Lewis doesn’t seem to recognize–the objection to the simple thesis disappears and that Lewis’s own commentary on the highest love, charity, is actually strengthened. (Download PDF)
  • “A Case of Insincerity: What Does it Mean to Deceive Someone?” Printed in The Philosophy of Sherlock Holmes (2012). While it an interesting question when deception is and isn’t morally acceptable (e.g., telling Aunt Phylllis you like her hat vs. a conman cheating Aunt Phyllis out of her savings), I pursue in this article the prior question of what deception is exactly.  What conditions would need to be met for us to say an act of deception has taken place? I use the many examples of Sherlock Holmes’s disguises and misdirections to show the inadequacy of various attempted definitions of ‘deceive’, before finally settling on an account of deception and showing a surprising implication it has for Holmes’s relationship with his nemesis, Professor Moriarty. (Download PDF)
  • “No Laughing Matter: Tarantino and the Theology of Humor” Printed in Tarantino and Theology (2015).  A look at God’s good purposes for laughter and humor, along with a look at when our humor involving others is and isn’t appropriate.  Various movies from Quentin Tarantino are used to illustrate the uses of humor–both good and bad. (Download PDF)
  • “The Theological Impetus for Social Entrepreneurship” (chpt. 2) and “What Wesleyan Social Entrepreneurship Looks Like” (chpt. 3) in The Social Entrepreneur: The Business of Changing the World (2015). A short book put out by Asbury’s Office of Faith, Work and Economics.  A look at why Wesleyans in particular should view social entrepreneurship as a really good way to empower others and fulfill Jesus’s mandates to further the Kingdom of God on earth.  Introductory looks are offered into: the theological basis for social entrepreneurship; how to move a great idea into action; what to consider as you build a business plan, and how to think about building the right team around you. 

Philosophy pieces a bit more academic in nature

  • The Decision of Faith: Can Christian Beliefs Be Freely Chosen? (T&T Clark, 2005).  If ‘belief’ is involuntary, and if ‘belief’ is a prerequisite for ‘faith’, then how can ‘faith’ be something which we voluntarily choose and for which God ultimately holds us accountable?  Part I of the book is a spelling out of this problem, with Part II offering a solution. Along the way, issues discussed include the distinction between culpable unbelief and non-culpable unbelief, and between explicit faith and implicit fatih.
  • A Framework for the Good (Univ. of Notre Dame, 2016).  An account of the meaning and of the nature of “Goodness”.  The category of good/bad is distinguished from the category of right/wrong, with the meaning and nature of the latter also given an explanation.  These formal questions in meta- and normative-ethics take up the first half of the book. The second have is devoted to the substantive question of what the “good life” consists in.  A Christian answer is offered to that question, along with a defense of benevolence (in opposition to self-interest) as the key to perfected relationships in which the good life is found.  Drawing from Hume (of all people), a phenomenology is offered of those morally-significant decisions we face that lead us either toward or away from the good life God intends for us.
  • “The Fate of the ‘Good Person’” Printed in The New Theists (Forthcoming).  A look at the objection that Christianity seems a rather poor source of moral instruction, if it holds that a scoundrel who has faith can end up in heaven–while a loving, generous, self-giving person who lacks faith can wind up in hell.  A re-examination of Christian “faith” is offered, showing that heaven is not for those who remain scoundrels, but is instead for those who have been made righteous as they responded to the prompting of the Holy Spirit to join Christ in his work, thereby developing deeper and deeper union with him.  As for the “good person” who lacks explicit Christian belief, Christian orthodoxy implies that any truly loving, self-giving act is a response to the Holy Spirit and thus is moving one toward a perfecting relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Caution is then offered that being a “good person” may actually be a more radical way of life than we might initially think. (Download PDF)
  • “A Humean Account of What ‘Wrongness’ Amounts To” Printed in Constructivism and Religion Ethics (Forthcoming).  I argue that there are no facts about the wrongness of any action, beyond those facts associated with a Humean-type constructivism.  And I suggest that the Christian theist should not worry about such an anti-realist conclusion, but should instead focus on how theism provides insight into natural facts about the goodness and badness of our actions. (Download PDF)
  • “The Spirit and the Bride Say ‘Come’: Apologetics and the Witness of the Holy Spirit” Printed in The Testimony of the Spirit: New Essays (2017).  I use as a framework a key apologetic remark from Pascal: “Make good men wish it were true, and then show that it is.”  Three elements can be found in this short instruction. There is the directive to endeavor to show that Christianity is true.  Before that, there is the condition that others should wish it were true. And before that, a contextual qualification is given that this process requires that others be in some sense good.  Jerry Walls and I discuss these three stages of apologetic human witness, looking at the work of the Holy Spirit in conjunction with our own witness. (Download PDF)
  • “Pushing the Mystery Button: The Limits of Logic and Language” Printed in The Continuing Relevance of Wesleyan Theology: Essays in Honor of Laurence Wood (2011). To be printed in a forthcoming festshrift in honor of our own Larry Wood.  Do theological affirmations and/or the findings of modern science ‘transcend’ in any way the laws of logic?  What are the senses of ‘mystery’ to which Christians might appeal in describing God, and what implications follow when we claim that God transcends the language we use to describe him? (Download PDF)
  • “Spiritual Blindness, Self-Deception, and Morally Culpable Nonbelief” Printed in the Heythrop Journal (2007).  While we may not be able simply to choose what we believe, there is still scope for culpability for what we come to belief.  I explore here the distinction between culpable and non-culpable nonbelief, investigating the process of self-deception to which we can voluntarily contribute in cases where we do become culpable for failing to believe something. (Download PDF)
  • “Multiple Universes and the Surprisingness of Life” Printed in Philosophia Christi (2005).  The teleological argument, or argument from design, needs to show that the life-permitting qualities of our universe are not only improbable (like winning the lottery), but also ‘surprising’ in the sense that the cry out for an explanation beyond naturalistic randomness.  I explain the difference here between a merely improbable event and a surprising event, while arguing that the popular appeal to multiple universes does not, even if true, make our universe any less surprising. (Download PDF)
  • “Why God Doesn’t Make His Existence More Obvious”  Printed in the Asbury Theological Journal (2003).  A look at the issue of divine hiddenness, and the way Christian thinkers historically have sought to explain why God doesn’t make his existence more obvious to us.  The article addresses the objection by J.L. Schellenberg and other philosophers that the religious ambiguity in our world counts as strong evidence against God’s existence.

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