David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Australasian Journal of Philosophy 89 (1):59-70 (2011)
The Principle of Credulity: 'It is basic to human knowledge of the world that we believe things are as they seem to be in the absence of positive evidence to the contrary' [Swinburne 1996: 133]. This underlies the Evidential Problem of Evil, which goes roughly like this: ‘There appears to be a lot of suffering, both animal and human, that does not result in an equal or greater utility. So there's probably some pointless suffering. As God's existence precludes pointless suffering, theism is implausible.’ CORNEA is the principle that observation O raises hypothesis H's probability only if O is more probable given H than it is given not-H. Theists sometimes maintain that apparently pointless suffering is just as likely given theism as atheism (I support this claim by appealing to a Lewisian account of the relevant counterfactuals). Given CORNEA, therefore, what we see of suffering does not make theism unlikely. I maintain that a consequence of so deploying CORNEA is that CORNEA and the Principle of Credulity are incompatible. We are left with a skeptical paradox. CORNEA is a consequence of Bayes’s Theorem, I argue; but it is incompatible with a presupposition of empirical science, namely, that appearances create epistemic warrant, ceteris paribus. External-world probability skepticism follows. I treat the paradox as real. First, I offer an account of how we strike a balance in practice between CORNEA, on the one hand, and the Principle of Credulity and the scientific enterprise on the other. Second, I try to resolve the paradox outright by rejecting the Principle of Credulity and maintaining that the scientific project remains well motivated even allowing probability skepticism. On either response to the paradox, the Evidential Problem of Evil continues to have serious, but defeasible, force against theism.
|Keywords||problem of evil skepticism probability theism|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
Alvin Plantinga (1992). The Nature of Necessity. Clarendon Press.
David Lewis (1979). Counterfactual Dependence and Time's Arrow. Noûs 13 (4):455-476.
Stephen J. Wykstra (1984). The Humean Obstacle to Evidential Arguments From Suffering: On Avoiding the Evils of “Appearance”. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 16 (2):73 - 93.
Robert Merrihew Adams (1987). The Virtue of Faith and Other Essays in Philosophical Theology. Oxford University Press.
Jim Stone (2000). Skepticism as a Theory of Knowledge. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 60 (3):527-545.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Erik J. Wielenberg (2010). Sceptical Theism and Divine Lies. Religious Studies 46 (4):509-523.
Del Kiernan-Lewis (2007). Naturalism and the Problem of Evil. Philo 10 (2):125-135.
Michael J. Murray (2008). Nature Red in Tooth and Claw: Theism and the Problem of Animal Suffering. Oxford University Press.
James Beilby (1995). William Rowe on the Evidential Value of Appearances. Faith and Philosophy 12 (2):251-259.
Mark Piper (2008). Why Theists Cannot Accept Skeptical Theism. Sophia 47 (2):129-148.
James R. Beebe, Logical Problem of Evil. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Justin P. McBrayer (2009). Cornea and Inductive Evidence. Faith and Philosophy 26 (1):77-86.
Jeff Jordan (2006). Does Skeptical Theism Lead to Moral Skepticism? Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 72 (2):403 - 417.
Andrew Graham & Stephen Maitzen (2007). Cornea and Closure. Faith and Philosophy 24 (1):83-86.
Stephen Maitzen (2007). Cornea and Closure. Faith and Philosophy 24 (1):83-86.
Added to index2010-04-12
Total downloads90 ( #30,838 of 1,724,748 )
Recent downloads (6 months)2 ( #268,625 of 1,724,748 )
How can I increase my downloads?