Philosophers have often attempted to use counterfactual conditionals to analyze probability. This article focuses on counterfactual analyzes of epistemic probability by Alvin Plantinga and Peter van Inwagen. I argue that a certain type of counterfactual situation creates problems for these analyses. I then argue that Plantinga's intuition about the role of warrant in epistemic probability is mistaken. Both van Inwagen's and Plantinga's intuitions about epistemic probability are flawed.
With A Defense of Hume on Miracles Robert Fogelin enters the recent discussion on Hume’s treatment of miracles. In this short book Fogelin begins by presenting his interpretation of Hume’s argument concerning miracles. The second chapter is a lengthy treatment of recent work by David Johnson and John Earman, and the third short chapter is a discussion of the relation of Hume’s view on miracles to his broader philosophy. There are also two appendices and the text of “Of Miracles.”.
In this article I investigate Rowe's recent probabilistic argument from evil. By using muddy Venn diagrams to present his argument, we see that although his argument is fallacious, it can be modified in a way that strengthens it considerably. I then discuss the recent exchange between Rowe and Plantinga over this argument. Although Rowe's argument is not an argument from degenerate evidence as Plantinga claimed, it is problematic because it is an argument from partitioned evidence. I conclude by discussing the (...) modified argument and the epistemic framework Rowe is assuming in his argument. (shrink)
Recent discussion of the problem of evil has centered around what is known as the probabilistic or evidential argument from evil. According to this argument the evil in our world is evidence against the existence of God, even though evil is logically consistent with God’s existing. Based on this it is claimed it is irrational to believe one of the traditional theistic religions, unless there is overwhelming positive evidence to counter this negative evidence. One of the most important and widely (...) discussed versions of this argument is due to Paul Draper.1 In this paper I will look at Draper’s argument and argue that he has made a simple fundamental error; as a result his argument is irrelevant to most theists. After discussing this error in Draper’s argument, I will discuss probabilistic arguments from evil from the perspective of confirmation theory. The error in Draper’s argument is easily made and could occur in any probabilistic argument from evil; looking at confirmation theory and probabilistic arguments from evil will provide insight into reasoning about evil and belief in God. (shrink)
A recent discussion of Hume’s argument concerning the rationality of accepting a belief that a miracle has occurred is given by J. L. Mackie in The Miracle of Theism. Mackie believes that Hume’s argument is essentially correct, although he attempts to clarify and strengthen it. Any version of Hume’s argument depends upon one’s conception of miracles and laws of nature; I will argue that Mackie commits a simple logical error and that given his conception of laws of nature (...) and miracles there is no reason to reject rational belief in miracles. (shrink)
Charles Chihara has presented a problem he claims Bayesian confirmation theory cannot handle. Chihara gives examples in which he claims the change in belief cannot be construced as conditionalizing on new evidence. These are situations in which the agent suddenly thinks of new possibilities. I propose a solution that incorporates the important ideas of Bayesian theory. In particular, I present a principle which shows that the change of belief in Chihara's example is due to simple conditionalization.
George Schlesinger has recently presented a reply to Hume’s argument concerning miracles. Schlesinger argues that probability theory and some simple assumptions about miracles show that testimony for a miracle increases the probability of God existing; furthermore this testimony can raise the probability of God existing enough that it is rational to believe that God exists. I argue that one of the assumptions that Schlesinger makes is false, and that the justification Schlesinger gives for it does not succeed. Thus I claim (...) Schlesinger’s reply to Hume fails. (shrink)
This paper investigates the justification of certain beliefs central to scientific realism. Some have claimed that the underdetermination of a theory by empirical evidence implies that belief in the truth of the theory and in the existence of the corresponding unobservable entities is unjustified. It is argued that the justification of certain realist beliefs is similar to the justification of our perceptual beliefs. Neither are justified by argument from more basic beliefs, and their underdetermination by the evidence does not affect (...) their justification. (shrink)
tionals, which means that he knows what actions would be necessary for him to perform in order to bring about a certain outcome. Because he is omnipotent, he can do whatever action is necessary to bring about a certain outcome that he desires. His benevolence implies that he will want to actualize the best possible world, or at least a world containing no evil. Given this scenario it is argued..
Although the doctrines of theism are rich enough to support a distinctively theistic conception of probability, historically there has been little discussion of probability from a theistic perspective. In this article I investigate how a theist might view epistemic probability. A unique conception of probability naturally follows from ideas central to theism, and it is argued that this conception of probability avoids many problems associated with other interpretations of probability.
In this paper I wish to argue that counterfactual analyses of causation are inadequate. I believe the counterfactuals that are involved in counterfactual analyses of causation are often false, and thus the theories do not provide an adequate account of causation. This is demonstrated by the presentation of a counterexample to the counterfactual analyses of causation. I then present a unified theory of causation that is based upon probability and counterfactuals. This theory accounts for both deterministic and indeterministic causation, and (...) is not subject to many of the traditional problems facing theories of causation. (shrink)
This paper investigates the differences between two conceptions of causation which are claimed to amount for causation in indeterministic situations. Recent analyses of indeterministic causation have been based upon mark transmission, and upon probability relations. Both types of analyses were proposed by Reichenbach, who claimed that they were extensionally equivalent. I demonstrate that they are not equivalent, and discuss some implications of this for models of scientific explanation.
This paper discusses Simpson's paradox and the problem of positive relevance in probabilistic causality. It is argued that Cartwright's solution to Simpson's paradox fails because it ignores one crucial form of the paradox. After clarifying different forms of the paradox, it is shown that any adequate solution to the paradox must allow a cause to be both a negative cause and a positive cause of..
In a recent article Ian Hacking argues that there can be cases where no probabilities may correctly be ascribed to individual members of a population, while probabilities are correctly ascribable to the population as a whole. In this paper a simple artificial coin-flipping model for such probabilities, not 'grounded from below' is constructed. The inferences licensed by this model and a consequence of the model for the theory of statistical tests is explored.
Philosophers generally use the idea of necessity in two ways. One way of looking at necessity is to construe it as a sentential operator. Necessity would operate on sentences in much the same way that the sentential operator of..