The No-MiraclesArgument (NMA) is often used to support scientific realism. We can formulate this argument as an inference to the best explanation this accusation of circularity by appealing to reliabilism, an externalist epistemology. In this paper I argue that this retreat fails. Reliabilism suffers from a potentially devastating difficulty known as the Generality Problem and attempts to solve this problem require adopting both epistemic and metaphysical assumptions regarding local scientific theories. Although the externalist can happily adopt (...) the former, if he adopts the latter then the Generality Problem arises again, but now at the level of scientific methodology. Answering this new version of the Generality Problem is impossible for the scientific realist without making the important further assumption that there exists the possibility of a unique rule of Doing this however would make the NMA viciously premise circular. (shrink)
The recent debate surrounding scientific realism has largely focused on the “no miracles” argument (NMA). Indeed, it seems that most contemporary realists and anti-realists have tied the case for realism to the adequacy of this argument. I argue that it is mistake for realists to let the debate be framed in this way. Realists would be well advised to abandon the NMA altogether and pursue an alternative strategy, which I call the “local strategy”.
There are certain explanations that scientists do not accept, even though such explanations do not conflict with observation, logic, or other scientific theories. I argue that a common version of the no-miraclesargument (NMA) for scientific realism relies upon just such an explanation. First, scientists (usually) do not accept explanations whose explanans neither generates novel predictions nor unifies apparently disparate phenomena. Second, scientific realism (as it appears in the NMA) is an explanans that makes no new predictions, and (...) fails to unify disparate phenomena. Third, Psillos, Boyd, and other proponents of the NMA explicitly adopt a naturalism that forbids philosophy of science from using any methods not employed by science itself. Therefore, such naturalistic philosophers of science should not accept the version of scientific realism that appears in the NMA. [Publication note: This text is for a talk at the 2008 PSA convention. An expanded version of the talk was later published as a regular article in Philosophy of Science (2010).]. (shrink)
1. I have argued in my (1999, chapter 4) that the no-miraclesargument (NMA) should be seen as a grand IBE. The way I read it, NMA is a philosophical argument which aims to defend the reliability of scientific methodology in producing approximately true theories. More specifically, I took it that NMA is a two-part (or two-stage) argument. Here is its structure.
I argue that a certain type of naturalist should not accept a prominent version of the no‐miracles argument (NMA). First, scientists (usually) do not accept explanations whose explanans‐statements neither generate novel predictions nor unify apparently disparate established claims. Second, scientific realism (as it appears in the NMA) is an explanans that makes no new predictions and fails to unify disparate established claims. Third, many proponents of the NMA explicitly adopt a naturalism that forbids philosophy of science from using any (...) methods not employed by science itself. Therefore, such naturalistic philosophers of science should not accept the version of scientific realism that appears in the NMA. *Received April 2007; revised November 2008. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of Philosophy, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, 300 Pulteney Street, Geneva, NY 14456; e‐mail: gfrost‐email@example.com. (shrink)
The chief argument for scientific realism is the no-miraclesargument, according to which the approximate truth of our current scientific theories can be inferred from their success through time. To date, anti-realist responses to the argument have been unconvincing, largely because of their anti-realistic presuppositions. In this paper, it is shown that realists cannot pre-emptively dismiss the problem of the underdetermination of theory by evidence, and that the no-miraclesargument fails because it does nothing (...) to dispel the threat posed by underdetermination, although it may be effective against other anti-realistic arguments. (shrink)
The No-MiraclesArgument has a natural representation as a probabilistic argument. As such, it commits the base-rate fallacy. In this article, I argue that a recent attempt to show that there is still a serviceable version that avoids the base-rate fallacy fails, and with it all realistic hope of resuscitating the argument.
On the basis of Levin’s claim that truth is not a scientific explanatory factor, Michel Ghins argues that the “no miracle” argument (NMA) is not scientific, therefore scientific realism is not a scientific hypothesis, and naturalism is wrong. I argue that there are genuine senses of ‘scientific’ and ‘explanation’ in which truth can yield scientific explanations. Hence, the NMA can be considered scientific in the sense that it hinges on a scientific explanation, it follows a typically scientific inferential pattern (...) (IBE), and it is based on an empirical fact (the success of science). Scientific realism, in turn, is scientific in the sense that it is supported both by a meta-level scientific argument (the NMA), and by first level scientific arguments through semantic ascent and generalization. However, both the NMA and scientific realism are not purely scientific, since they go beyond properly scientific concerns, and require additional philosophical reasoning. In turn, naturalism is correct in the sense that philosophy is continuous with science, partly based on it, and potentially equally well warranted. Beside denying the scientific nature of the NMA, Ghins raises some objections to its cogency , to which I reply in the final section. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that the ultimate argument for Scientific Realism, also known as the No-MiraclesArgument (NMA), ultimately fails as an abductive defence of Epistemic Scientific Realism (ESR), where (ESR) is the thesis that successful theories of mature sciences are approximately true. The NMA is supposed to be an Inference to the Best Explanation (IBE) that purports to explain the success of science. However, the explanation offered as the best explanation for success, namely (ESR), fails (...) to yield independently testable predictions that alternative explanations for success do not yield. If this is correct, then there seems to be no good reason to prefer (ESR) over alternative explanations for success. (shrink)
The dominance of string theory in the research landscape of quantum gravity physics (despite any direct experimental evidence) can, I think, be justified in a variety of ways. Here I focus on an argument from mathematical fertility, broadly similar to Hilary Putnam’s ‘no miracles argument’ that, I argue, many string theorists in fact espouse in some form or other. String theory has generated many surprising, useful, and well-confirmed mathematical ‘predictions’—here I focus on mirror symmetry and the mirror theorem. (...) These predictions were made on the basis of general physical principles entering into string theory. The success of the mathematical predictions are then seen as evidence for the framework that generated them. I shall attempt to defend this argument, but there are nonetheless some serious objections to be faced. These objections can only be evaded at a considerably high (philosophical) price. (shrink)
This paper outlines a defense of scientific realism against the pessimistic meta-induction which appeals to the phenomenon of the exponential growth of science. Here, scientific realism is defined as the view that our current successful scientific theories are mostly approximately true, and pessimistic meta-induction is the argument that projects the occurrence of past refutations of successful theories to the present concluding that many or most current successful scientific theories are false. The defense starts with the observation that at least (...) 80% of all scientific work ever done has been done since 1950, proceeds with the claim that practically all of our most successful theories were entirely stable during that period of time, and concludes that the projection of refutations of successful theories to the present is unsound. In addition to this defense, the paper offers a framework through which scientific realism can be compared with two types of anti-realism. The framework is also of help to examine the relationships between these three positions and the three main arguments offered respectively in their support (No-miracle argument, pessimistic meta-induction, underdetermination). (shrink)
Predictivists use the no miracle argument to argue that “novel” predictions are decisive evidence for theories, while mere accommodation of “old” data cannot confirm to a significant degree. But deductivists claim that since confirmation is a logical theory-data relationship, predicted data cannot confirm more than merely deduced data, and cite historical cases in which known data confirmed theories quite strongly. On the other hand, the advantage of prediction over accommodation is needed by scientific realists to resist Laudan’s criticisms of (...) the no miracle argument. So, if the deductivists are right, the most powerful argument for realism collapses. There seems to be an inescapable contradiction between these prima facie plausible arguments of predictivists and deductivists; but this puzzle can be solved by understanding what exactly counts as novelty, if novel predictions must support the no miracle argument, i.e., if they must be explainable only by the truth of theories. Taking my cues from the use-novelty tradition, I argue that (1) the predicted data must not be used essentially in building the theory or choosing the auxiliary assumptions. This is possible if the theory and its auxiliary assumptions are plausible independently of the predicted data, and I analyze the consequences of this requirement in terms of best explanation of diverse bodies of data. Moreover, the predicted data must be (2) a priori improbable, and (3) heterogeneous to the essentially used data. My proposed notion of novelty, therefore, is not historical, but functional. Hence, deductivists are right that confirmation is independent of time and of historical contingencies such as if the theorist knew a datum, used it, or intended to accommodate it. Predictivists, however, are right that not all consequences confirm equally, and confirmation is not purely a logical theory-data relation, as it crucially involves background epistemic conditions and the notion of best explanation. Conditions (1)–(3) make the difference between prediction and accommodation, and account for the confirming power of theoretical virtues such as non ad-hocness, non-fudging, non-overfitting, independence and consilience. I thus show that functional novelty (a) avoids the deductivist objections to predictivism, (b) is a gradual notion, in accordance with the common intuition that confirmation comes in degrees, and (c) supports the no miracle argument, so vindicating scientific realism. (shrink)
Douglas Walton has been right in calling us to attend to the pragmatics of argument. He has, however, also insisted that arguments should be understood and assessed by considering the functions they perform; and from this, I dissent. Argument has no determinable function in the sense Walton needs, and even if it did, that function would not ground norms for argumentative practice. As an alternative to a functional theory of argumentative pragmatics, I propose a design view, which draws (...) attention to the way participants strategically undertake and impose norms on themselves in order for their arguments to have force. (shrink)
Abstract: Laudan (1984) distinguishes between two senses of success for scientific theories: (i) that a particular theory is successful, and (ii) that the methods for picking out approximately true theories are successful. These two senses of success are reflected in two different ways that the no miracles argument for scientific realism (NMA) may be set out. First, I set out a (traditional) version of NMA that considers the success of particular theories. I then consider a more recent formulation of (...) NMA (Psillos, 1999). This version of NMA is aimed at making us believe that our methods for picking out approximately true theories are reliable. I shall argue that the success of the latter argument is dependent on the success of the first. Therefore, even though Psillos presents a new formulation of NMA, the evidential support for it is no stronger than the evidential support for the original version. (shrink)
Bayesian analyses are prominent among recent and allegedly novel interpretations of Hume’s argument against the justified belief in miracles. However, since there is no consensus on just what Hume’s argument is any Bayesian analysis will beg crucial issues of interpretation. Apart from independent philosophical arguments—arguments that would undermine the relevance of a Bayesian analysis to the question of the credibility of reports of the miraculous—no such analysis can, in principle, prove that no testimony can (or cannot) establish the (...) credibility of a miracle. Bayesian analyses of Hume’s argument are not analyses of Hume’s argument at all—but superfluous representations of it. (shrink)
Scientific Realists argue that it would be a miracle if scientific theories were getting more predictive without getting closer to the truth; so they must be getting closer to the truth. Van Fraassen, Laudan et al. argue that owing to the underdetermination of theory by data (UDT) for all we know, it is a miracle, a fluke. So we should not believe in even the approximate truth of theories. I argue that there is a test for who is right: suppose (...) we are at the limit of inquiry. Suppose that we then have all the logically possible theories that are adequate to all the actual data. If they all resembled in their theoretical claims, since one of them must be true, all of them would then resemble it, whichever it is. We would thus be justified in saying they all approximated the truth in the degree to which they co-resembled. If they don't all co-resemble, the SRs are wrong; more predictive theories are not necessarily closer to the theoretical truth. Prior to the limit, if, in spite of our best efforts to the contrary, all the theories we can make adequate to current data tend to co-resemble, we have inductive warrant for thinking more predictive theories are closer to the truth. If they don't resemble, we have inductive warrant for thinking that more predictive theories are not necessarily closer to the truth. (shrink)
The no-miraclesargument for realism and the pessimistic meta-induction for anti-realism pull in opposite directions. Structural Realism---the position that the mathematical structure of mature science reflects reality---relieves this tension.
In a recent article, I criticized Kathrin Glüer and Åsa Wikforss's so-called “no guidance argument” against the truth norm for belief, for conflating the conditions under which that norm recommends belief with the psychological state one must be in to apply the norm. In response, Glüer and Wikforss have offered a new formulation of the no guidance argument, which makes it apparent that no such conflation is made. However, their new formulation of the argument presupposes a much (...) too narrow understanding of what it takes for a norm to influence behaviour, and betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the point of the truth norm. Once this is taken into account, it becomes clear that the no guidance argument fails. (shrink)
Chris Dragos has recently presented two objections to criticisms I've published against Peter van Inwagen's No-Minimum argument. He also suggests that the best way to criticize the No-Minimum argument is via the concept of divine satisficing. In this article I argue that both of Dragos's objections fail, and I question whether satisficing is relevant to the viability of the No-Minimum argument.
This vital study offers a new interpretation of Hume's famous "Of Miracles," which notoriously argues against the possibility of miracles. By situating Hume's popular argument in the context of the 18th century debate on miracles, Earman shows Hume's argument to be largely unoriginal and chiefly without merit where it is original. Yet Earman constructively conceives how progress can be made on the issues that Hume's essay so provocatively posed about the ability of eyewitness testimony to establish the credibility (...) of marvelous and miraculous events. (shrink)
Yagisawa (2005) considers two old arguments against the existence requirement. Both arguments are signiﬁcantly less appealing than Yagisawa suggests. In particular, the second argument, ﬁrst given by Kaplan (1989: 498), simply assumes that existence is contingent (§1). Yagisawa’s ‘new’ argument shares this weakness. It also faces a dilemma. Yagisawa must either treat ‘at @’ as a sentential operator occupying the same grammatical position as ‘∼’ or as supplying an extra argument place. In the former case, Yagisawa’s (...) class='Hi'>argument faces precisely the problems he concedes that Kaplan’s argument does (§2). In the latter case, though the argument does not face these problems, it renders the sense in which things exist contingently no threat to (E) properly understood (§3). (shrink)
In his 2003 paper, “Does the Existence of Mathematical Objects Make a Difference?”, Alan Baker criticizes what he terms the ‘Makes No Difference’ (MND) argument by arguing that it does not succeed in undermining platonism. In this paper, I raise two objections. The first objection is that Baker is wrong in claiming that the premise of the MND argument lacks a truth-value. The second objection is that the theory of counterlegals which he appeals to in his argument (...) is incompatible with actual scientific practice. I conclude that we ought not to accept Baker’s claim. (shrink)
There is no Argument that the Mind Extends On the basis of two argumentative examples plus their 'parity principle', Clark and Chalmers argue that mental states like beliefs can extend into the environment. I raise two problems for the argument. The first problem is that it is more difficult than Clark and Chalmers think to set up the Tetris example so that application of the parity principle might render it a case of extended mind. The second problem is (...) that, even when appropriate versions of the argumentative examples can be constructed, the availability of a second, internalist parity principle precludes the possibility of inferring that the mind extends. Choosing which parity principle we ought to wield would involve deciding beforehand whether or not the mind can extend. Thus Clark and Chalmers beg the question by employing their parity principle rather than the internalist one. I conclude that they fail to provide a proper argument to support the extended mind thesis. (shrink)
Peirce wrote that Hume’s argument against miracles (which is generally liked by twentieth century philosophers for its antireligious conclusion) "completely misunderstood the true nature of" ’abduction’. This paper argues that if Hume’s argumentative strategy were seriously used in all situations (not just those in which we seek to "banish superstition"), it would deliver a choking epistemological conservatism. It suggests that some morals for contemporary naturalistic philosophy may be drawn from Peirce’s argument against Hume.
James Keller recently argued that miracles in the sense of divine intervention are immoral because in such acts God would unfairly choose to help the beneficiary of the miracle over others who may be equally in need and just as deserving. I respond generally by arguing that his analysis overlooks the possibility that those who do not receive the miraculous intervention may receive other benefits of equal or greater value and that there may be purposes for miraculous intervention which transcend (...) individual benefit. More specifically, I argue that Keller's understanding of miracles does not accommodate the Christian doctrine of grace, that he does not come to grips with the evangelical purpose of miracles depicted in Christian apologetics, that his view of the context in which miracles occur is abstract and sterile in light of charismatic experience, and finally that his argument leads to the counterintuitive conclusion that the Resurrection of Christ is somehow immoral. In the light of these considerations, I argue that miracles are not immoral. (shrink)
We examine an argument for the non-context-freeness of English that has received virtually no discussion in the literature. It is based on adjuncts of the form ‘X or no X’, where X is a nominal. The construction has been held to exemplify unbounded syntactic reduplication. We argue that although the argument can be made in a mathematically valid form, its empirical basis is not claimed unbounded syntactic identity between nominals does not always hold in attested cases, and second, (...) an understanding of the semantics of the construction removes the necessity of making reference to any syntactic reduplication. (shrink)
I vindicate Hume’s argument against belief in miracle reports against a prevalent objection. Hume has us balance the probability of a miracle’s occurrence against the probability of its being falsely attested to, and argues that the latter must inevitably be the greater; thus, reason requires us to reject any miracle report. The "flaw" in this reasoning, according to Butler and many others, is that it proves too much--it counsels us to never believe historians, newspaper reports of lottery results, and (...) so on; and this is clearly absurd. I show that this objection is misguided: far from providing counterexamples to Hume’s "balancing principle", as I call it, these cases actually confirm it, as some simple calculations of probabilities show. (shrink)
Hume’s "Of Miracles" concludes with the claim that prophecies, too, are miracles, and as such are susceptible to the same arguments which apply to miracles. However, both Hume and his commentators have overlooked the distinctive features of prophecy. Hume’s chief objection to miracles--that one is never justified in crediting second-hand testimony to miraculous events--does not necessarily apply to the argument from fulfilled prophecies as it was understood in the eighteenth century. Neither was prophecy necessarily thought to entail any breach (...) of the laws of nature. Consideration of Hume’s argument in its historical context shows that it fails to counter the argument from prophecies and was known to have failed. (shrink)
The most pedigreed line of thought about mind is the simplicity argument: that the unity of thinking entails the simplicity, immateriality, and immortality of soul. It is widely taken to be a rationalist argument, as opposed to an empiricist or peripatetic argument (see Mijuskovic, The Achilles of Rationalist Arguments), which was completely destroyed by Kant in the First Critique. In this paper it is argued that there is a conceptual connection between the downfall of the Aristotelian conception (...) of soul as substantial form and the downfall of this argument in that in the downfall of the Aristotelian conception of soul it became acceptable to view the functional unity of a material system as constituting a genuine unity per se. This then undermined all philosophical motivation for the postulation of substantial forms. As a result, there was no longer reason for rooting the unity of apperception in the simplicity of a subsistence soul as opposed to some simply emergent power of thinking. (shrink)
In his two recent books on ontology, Universals: an Opinionated Introduction, and A World of States of Affairs, David Armstrong gives a new argument against nominalism. That argument seems, on the face of it, to be similar to another argument that he used much earlier against Rylean behaviourism: the Truthmaker Argument, stemming from a certain plausible premise, the Truthmaker Principle. Other authors have traced the history of the truthmaker principle, its appearance in the work of Aristotle (...) , Bradley , and even Husserl . But that is not my task — in this paper I argue that Armstrong’s new argument is not logically analogous to the old, and, in particular, that it is quite possible to be a thoroughgoing nominalist, and hold a truthmaker principle. (shrink)
The consequence argument for the incompatibility of free action and determinism has long been under attack, but two important objections have only recently emerged: Warfield’s modal fallacy objection and Campbell’s no past objection. In this paper, I explain the significance of these objections and defend the consequence argument against them. First, I present a novel formulation of the argument that withstands their force. Next, I argue for the one controversial claim on which this formulation relies: the trans-temporality (...) thesis. This thesis implies that an agent acts freely only if there is one time at which she is able to perform an action and a distinct time at which she actually performs it. I then point out that determinism, too, is a thesis about trans-temporal relations. I conclude that it is precisely because my formulation of the consequence argument emphasizes trans-temporality that it prevails against the modal fallacy and no past objections. (shrink)
The Doomsday Argument says we should increase our subjective probability that Doomsday will occur once we take into account how many humans have lived before us. One objection to this conclusion is that we should accept the Self-Indication Assumption (SIA): Given the fact that you exist, you should (other things equal) favor hypotheses according to which many observers exist over hypotheses on which few observers exist. Nick Bostrom argues that we should not accept the SIA, because it can be (...) used without knowledge of birth rank. Bradley Monton tries to construct a Doomsday Argument without knowledge of birth rank. I argue that Monton fails. The argument he constructs has implicit knowledge of birth rank and it is this knowledge that does the work. Furthermore, I argue that provided we dont have certain specific information about the future, the Doomsday Argument requires knowledge of birth rank. (shrink)
The concept of approximate truth plays a prominent role in most versions of scientific realism. However, adequately conceptualizing ?approximate truth? has proved challenging. This article argues that the goal of articulating the concept of approximate truth can be advanced by first investigating the processes by which science accords theories the status of accepted or rejected. Accordingly, this article uses a path diagram model as a visual heuristic for the purpose of showing the processes in science that are involved in determining (...) a theory's status. This ?inductive realist? model of theory status then serves as a starting point for explicating an inductive realist view of approximate truth that, it is argued, can explain instances of the success of science, but does not (1) require science's theories to be strictly true in any world or (2) require a metric for measuring how close an approximately true theory is to some strictly true theory. To show the advantages of the inductive realist approach to approximate truth, an example of a major success story of science, the successful eradication of smallpox, is reviewed and then explained. (shrink)
HUME THOUGHT THAT WE CANNOT BE JUSTIFIED IN BELIEVING AN EVENT E TO HAVE OCCURRED GIVEN E’S CHARACTERIZATION OF A VIOLATION OF A LAW OF NATURE. HE CLAIMS THAT HE IS USING AN ARGUMENT SIMILAR TO JOHN TILLOTSON’S AGAINST TRANSUBSTANTIATION. A COMPARISON OF HUME’S ARGUMENT WITH TILLOTSON’S CAN HELP IN ANSWERING THE QUESTION OF WHETHER ONE CAN BE JUSTIFIED IN BELIEVING IN A MIRACLE. THE EVIDENTIAL VALUE OF BOTH TESTIMONY FOR, AND FIRSTHAND EXPERIENCE OF, AN ALLEGED MIRACLE IS (...) CONSIDERED. I EXAMINE THE ARGUMENT AGAINST TRANSUBSTANTIATION HUME PRESENTS AS TILLOTSON’S AND THEN CONSIDER HOW HUME’S ARGUMENT MAY BE "OF A LIKE NATURE" TO THE ARGUMENT HE ATTRIBUTES TO TILLOTSON. TILLOTSON’S ACTUAL ARGUMENT IS VERY DIFFERENT FROM THE ONE HUME PRESENTS IN HIS NAME. (shrink)
In the space of possible worlds, there might be a best possible world (a uniquely best world or a world tied for best with some other worlds). Or, instead, for every possible world, there might be a better possible world. Suppose that the latter is true, i.e., that there is no best world. Many have thought that there is then an argument against the existence of God, i.e., the existence of an omnipotent, omniscient and morally perfect being; we will (...) call such arguments no-best-world arguments. In this paper, we discuss ability-based objections to such arguments; an ability-based objection to a no-best world argument claims that the argument fails because one or more of its premises conflict with a plausible principle connecting the applicability of some type of moral evaluation to the agent’s possession of a relevant ability. In particular, we formulate and evaluate an important new ability-based objection to the most promising no-best world argument. (shrink)
In this paper, I will show that the Miracle Argument is unsound if one assumes a certain form of transient underdetermination. For this aim, I will first discuss and formalize several variants of underdetermination, especially that of transient underdetermination, by means of measure theory. I will then formalize a popular and persuasive form of the Miracle Argument that is based on "use novelty". I will then proceed to the proof that the miracle argument is unsound by means (...) of a mathematical example. Finally, I will expose two hidden presuppositions of the Miracle Argument that make it so immensely though deceptively persuasive. (shrink)
Worrall () argued that structural realism provides a ‘synthesis’ of the main pro-realist argument – the ‘No Miracles Argument’, and the main anti-realist argument – the ‘Pessimistic Induction’. More recently, however, it has been claimed (Howson  and Lewis , respectively) that each of these arguments is an instance of the same probabilistic fallacy – sometimes called the ‘base-rate fallacy’. If correct, this clearly seems to undermine structural realism and Magnus and Callender have indeed claimed that both (...) arguments are fallacious and ‘without [them] we lose the rationale for … structural realism’ (, p. 333). I here argue that what have been shown to be fallacious are simply misguided formalisations of ‘the’ arguments and that when they are properly (and modestly) construed they continue to provide powerful motivation for favouring structural realism. (shrink)
Disjunctivists (Hinton 1973, Snowdon 1990, Martin 2002, 2006) often motivate their approach to perceptual experience by appealing in part to the claim that in cases of veridical perception, the subject is directly in contact with the perceived object. When I perceive a table, for example, there is no table-like sense-impression that stands as an intermediary between the table and me. Nor am I related to the table as I am to a deer when I see its footprint in the snow. (...) I do not experience the table by experiencing some- thing else over and above the table and its facing surface. I see the facing surface of the table directly. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to rebut two major criticisms of the No-MiraclesArgument for Realism. The first comes from Musgrave (1988). The second comes from Colin Howson (2000). Interestingly enough, these criticisms are the mirror image of each other. Yet, they both point to the conclusion that NMA is fallacious. Musgrave’s misgiving against NMA is that if it is seen as an inference to the best explanation, it is deductively fallacious. Being a deductivist, he tries to (...) correct it by turning it into a valid deductive argument. Howson’s misgiving against NMA is that if it is seen as an inference to the best explanation, it is inductively fallacious. Being a subjective Bayesian, he tries to correct it by turning it into a sound subjective Bayesian argument. I will argue that both criticisms are unwarranted. (shrink)
Those who believe that miracles (temporary suspensions of some law of nature accomplished by divine power) have occurred typically hold that they are rare and that only a small percentage of all people have been eyewitnesses to them or been direct beneficiaries of them. Although a claim that they occur far more frequently would be empirically highly implausible, I argue that the claim that God performs miracles in such a pattern unavoidably implies that God is guilty of unfairness. I articulate (...) a criterion of fairness, discuss various types of miracles, and defend my conclusion against a variety of possible rejoinders. (shrink)
Scott Sturgeon has claimed to undermine the principal argument for Physicalism, in his words, the view that 'actuality is exhausted by physical reality' (Sturgeon 1998, p. 410). In noting that actuality is exhausted by physical reality, the Physicalist is not claiming that all that there is in actuality are those things identified by physics. Rather the thought is that actuality is made up of all the things identified by physics and anything which is a compound of these things. So (...) there are tables as well as their microphysical constituents. The argument that Sturgeon has in his sights is the Overdetermination Argument. In what follows, I shall argue that Sturgeon's criticism of the Overdetermination argument fails. I shall also argue that physicalism can accommodate his claim that causal statements concerning the mental and physical respectively may require diverse patterns of counterfactual activity for their truth. (shrink)
In this short critical analysis, the author examines the recent argument by Moen in his article ‘Is Prostitution Harmful?' In highlighting why prostitution does not cause harm to either member involved in the act, Moen argues that prostitution is not an ethical concern. However, while Moen is able to clearly challenge contemporary objections to prostitution, the author of this review will suggest that Moen's argument is itself incomplete as it does not address essential key ontological issues. This critical (...) analysis will briefly suggest why this omission weakens Moen's argument. Finally, it will conclude with examining why prostitution differs substantially from other professions through the type of harm that it causes to the moral agents involved. (shrink)
Hume’s critique of religion in the first ’Enquiry’ is a unified whole. ’Of Miracles’ is not a free-standing critique of religion, but the first part of a two-stage argument. Hume follows Locke in subordinating evidence for miracles to natural theological arguments for the existence of God--without such supports miraculous claims are incredible (’disproven’ in his special sense). He differs from Locke in arguing, in ’Of a particular Providence’, that no such arguments are available. The decline of natural theology after (...) Darwin explains why ’Of Miracles’ is now mistaken for a free-standing argument. (shrink)