Cartesian Knowledge and Confirmation

Journal of Philosophy 104 (6):269-289 (2007)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Bayesian conceptions of evidence have been invoked in recent arguments regarding the existence of God, the hypothesis of multiple physical universes, and the Doomsday Argument. Philosophers writing on these topics often claim that, given a Bayesian account of evidence, our existence or something entailed by our existence (perhaps in conjunction with some background knowledge or assumption) may serve as evidence for each of us. In this paper, I argue that this widespread view is mistaken. The mere fact of one's existence qua conscious creature cannot serve as evidence on the standard Bayesian conception of evidence because knowledge of one's existence is a necessary part of the background knowledge relative to which all epistemic probabilities are defined. It follows that some formulations of the fine-tuning argument (for theism or a multiverse), the argument from consciousness (for theism) and a rejoinder to the Doomsday argument are mistaken.

Similar books and articles

The fine-tuning argument.Neil A. Manson - 2009 - Philosophy Compass 4 (1):271-286.
Fine-tuning and the infrared bull’s-eye.John T. Roberts - 2012 - Philosophical Studies 160 (2):287-303.
The doomsday argument without knowledge of birth rank.Bradley Monton - 2003 - Philosophical Quarterly 53 (210):79–82.
Evidential arguments from evil.Richard Otte - 2000 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 48 (1):1-10.
Probabilistic arguments for multiple universes.Kai Draper, Paul Draper & Joel Pust - 2007 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 88 (3):288–307.


Added to PP

1,293 (#9,169)

6 months
127 (#31,002)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Joel Pust
University of Delaware

References found in this work

The Design Argument.Elliott Sober - 2019 - Cambridge University Press.
A nonpragmatic vindication of probabilism.James M. Joyce - 1998 - Philosophy of Science 65 (4):575-603.
The design argument.Elliott Sober - 2004 - In William Mann (ed.), The Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Religion. Oxford, UK: Blackwell. pp. 117–147.
Subjective and objective confirmation.Patrick Maher - 1996 - Philosophy of Science 63 (2):149-174.

View all 11 references / Add more references