David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 72 (2):85-88 (2012)
In Theory and Problems of Logic, Nolt et al. (1998, p. 203) claim that the following argument forms are fallacious: (a) It has not been proved that p. Therefore, ∼p. (b) It has not been proved that ∼p. Therefore, p. Accordingly, they argue that the following instances of (a) and (b) are also fallacious. (ai) No one has ever proved that God exists. Therefore, God does not exist. (bi) No one has ever proved that God does not exist. Therefore, God exists. Nolt/Rohatyn/Varzi’s verdict on arguments from ignorance is acceptable: “Nothing about the existence of God follows from our inability to prove God’s existence or nonexistence (i.e., from our ignorance about the matter)” (p. 203). However, since their analysis glosses over the role played by our epistemic efforts, their example might lead one to believe that theism and atheism are in the same predicament. Nevertheless, as I am about to argue, the weakness of the known arguments in favor of the existence of God coupled with the existence of an asymmetry between positive and negative empirical existential propositions determines a presumption in favor of the atheist that Nolt/Rohatyn/Varzi’s sketchy analysis of arguments from ignorance obscures.
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References found in this work BETA
Douglas Walton (1995). Arguments From Ignorance. Penn State University Press.
Leo Groarke (2008). Good Reasoning Matters!: A Constructive Approach to Critical Thinking. Oxford University Press.
Douglas Walton (1992). Nonfallacious Arguments From Ignorance. American Philosophical Quarterly 29 (4):381 - 387.
Richard Bornat (2005). Proof and Disproof in Formal Logic: An Introduction for Programmers. New Yorkoxford University Press.
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