David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 52 (2):65-80 (2002)
This paper defends two theses about probabilistic reasoning. First, although modus ponens has a probabilistic analog, modus tollens does not – the fact that a hypothesis says that an observation is very improbable does not entail that the hypothesis is improbable. Second, the evidence relation is essentially comparative; with respect to hypotheses that confer probabilities on observation statements but do not entail them, an observation O may favor one hypothesis H1 over another hypothesis H2 , but O cannot be said to confirm or disconfirm H1 without such relativization. These points have serious consequences for the Intelligent Design movement. Even if evolutionary theory entailed that various complex adaptations are very improbable, that would neither disconfirm the theory nor support the hypothesis of intelligent design. For either of these conclusions to follow, an additional question must be answered: With respect to the adaptive features that evolutionary theory allegedly says are very improbable, what is their probability of arising if they were produced by intelligent design? This crucial question has not been addressed by the ID movement.
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Citations of this work BETA
Helen de Cruz & Johan de Smedt (2010). Paley's Ipod: The Cognitive Basis of the Design Argument Within Natural Theology. Zygon 45 (3):665-684.
Jordan Howard Sobel (2009). Modus Ponens and Modus Tollens for Conditional Probabilities, and Updating on Uncertain Evidence. Theory and Decision 66 (2):103 - 148.
Gregory W. Dawes (2007). What is Wrong with Intelligent Design? International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 61 (2):69 - 81.
Peter Olofsson (2008). Intelligent Design and Mathematical Statistics: A Troubled Alliance. Biology and Philosophy 23 (4):545-553.
Mike Oaksford & Nick Chater (2009). The Uncertain Reasoner: Bayes, Logic, and Rationality. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 32 (1):105-120.
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