Alexander Arnold, John Templeton Foundation

TITLE: Program Officer

FUNDING AREAS: Philosophy and Theology

CONTACT: aarnold@templeton.org, 610-941-2828

IP TAKE: Steeped in the academics of philosophy, Arnold is a relatively recent addition to the Templeton staff, so the nature of his impact on the foundation's "investing in the big questions" remains unclear.

PROFILE:  Alexander Arnoldjoined the Templeton Foundation as a program officer for its philosophy and theology initiative. As the foundation explains in its Overview of Core Funding Areas, the foundation funds "projects that attempt to develop new philosophical and theological insights, especially (but not only) in relation to advances in scientific understanding." Templeton has charged Arnold with the task of developing "new funding initiatives and managing the full life-cycle of the grant process in the areas of philosophy and theology."

Arnold earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy from the University of California, Irvine, and a Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame in 2012. While still a student there, Notre Dame's Center for Philosophy of Religion's annual Logos Workshop invited Arnold to participate in 2010 and again in 2011. He also spent time at the university as a teaching fellow before Templeton picked him up.

Arnold's dissertation takes issue with an idea in epistemology, currently popular in fields such as philosophy of science, called "evidentialism." Evidentialism explains how justified a person can feel to consider a proposition true if he believes the evidence supporting it. This is most likely a vulgar simplification, but Arnold takes issue with the dominant definition of the term evidence as evidentialists tend to employ it. A more recent article of his, "Some Evidence is False," rearticulates some parts of his position and was publishedin the Australasian Journal of Philosophy in 2013.

Although some question the validity of the "evidence" on which she bases her argument, Sunny Bains, a British journalist and a lecturer at the Imperial College of London, purports that Templeton has recently transitioned from unabashedly religious to covertly religious recently. Regardless of how seriously we choose to take Bain's perspective on the foundation, it's quite possible that philosophical research with a Christian theological agenda has a good chance of finding a friend in Arnold; five of the 12 grants dispersed in this sector in 2012 went to universities affiliated with Christian theology and tradition.

Independent scholars interested in doing research on epistemology or other related fields of philosophy may represent another group that may benefit from Arnold. A piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education indicates that Jon F. Wilkins, the founder of an organization for independent scholars called the Ronin Institute, received $200,000 from the Templeton Foundation for a research project.

Larger recent grants out of the philosophy and theology program include a $2.6 million over two years to Durham University in support of its Durham Emergence Project and $2.7 million to St. Louis University in support of its project, The Philosophy and Theology of Intellectual Humility.