Natural Selection Does Care about Truth

International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 28 (1):65-77 (2014)
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True beliefs are better guides to the world than false ones. This is the common-sense assumption that undergirds theorizing in evolutionary epistemology. According to Alvin Plantinga, however, evolution by natural selection does not care about truth: it cares only about fitness. If our cognitive faculties are the products of blind evolution, we have no reason to trust them, anytime or anywhere. Evolutionary naturalism, consequently, is a self-defeating position. Following up on earlier objections, we uncover three additional flaws in Plantinga's latest formulation of his argument: a failure to appreciate adaptive path dependency, an incoherent conception of content ascription, and a conflation of common-sense and scientific beliefs, which we diagnose as the ‘foundationalist fallacy’. More fundamentally, Plantinga's reductive formalism with respect to the issue of cognitive reliability is inadequate to deal with relevant empirical details.

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Author Profiles

Maarten Boudry
University of Ghent
Michael Vlerick
Tilburg University

References found in this work

Thinking, Fast and Slow.Daniel Kahneman - 2011 - New York: New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Warrant and proper function.Alvin Plantinga - 1993 - New York: Oxford University Press.
.Daniel Kahneman & Shane Frederick - 2002 - Cambridge University Press.
Warranted Christian Belief.Alvin Plantinga - 2000 - New York, US: Oxford University Press USA.

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