David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Canadian Journal of Philosophy 24 (4):527-540 (1994)
In his recently published two-volume work in epistemology,1 Alvin Plantinga rounds out the discussion (in characteristic fashion) with a subtle and ingenious argument for a striking claim: in this case, his conclusion is that belief in evolutionary naturalism is irrational. Now this claim is not of itself so very surprising; the tantalizing feature here lies rather in the nature of the argument itself. Plantinga contends that taking seriously the hypothesis of evolutionary naturalism [hereafter, N&E] ought to undermine one's confidence in the reliability of our basic cognitive faculties. And if one withholds belief in cognitive reliability, it seems that one ought to likewise refrain from believing propositions that are the output of such faculties. And, for evolutionary naturalists, one such output is belief in evolutionary naturalism itself. Hence, quite apart from comparative evidential considerations that might lead one to prefer theism (or one of its competitors) to N&E, but rather owing to a sort of internal inconsistency (in a suitably broad sense), belief in N&E is shown to be epistemically defective. A bold and intriguing suggestion indeed. Let us take a closer look.
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