In his recently published Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, & Naturalism 2011 Alvin Plantinga criticises Paul Draper’s evolutionary argument against theism as part of a larger project to show that evolution poses no threat to Christian belief. Plantinga focuses upon Draper’s probabilistic claim that the facts of evolution are much more probable on naturalism than on theism, and with regard to that claim makes two specific points. First, Draper’s probabilistic claim contradicts theism’s necessary falsehood; unless Draper wishes to (...) acknowledge that theism is necessarily true, his claim commits him to theism’s contingency and so sets him at odds with a mainstream that sees God’s existence as decidedly noncontingent. Second, Plantinga argues that Draper’s probabilistic claim is, even if true, overwhelmed by counterclaims about facts that are more likely on theism than naturalism. I argue this critique of Draper depends upon a serious error, and that Plantinga overlooks the full implications of his own presuppositions. Correcting these shortcomings shows that Plantinga’s own probabilistic-apologetics (e.g., the ‘Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism’) requires theism’s contingency no less than does Draper’s atheology. (shrink)
TylerAndrewWunder, in his article, “Alvin Plantinga on Paul Draper’s evolutionary atheology: implications of theism’s non-contingency,” argues that Plantinga makes a serious error regarding probabilities in his critique of Draper. Properly modified, Wunder believes the argument “works,” but only in a trivial sense. This paper argues that Wunder’s objection, based on an assumed probability calculus, is merely asserted; whereas, there are other competing axiomatic systems consistent with Plantinga’s treatment of probability. As to the modified (...) argument, it is demonstrated that Wunder mistakenly concludes that two key propositions are contradictory. The consequence of this is not that Plantinga’s argument “works” in a trivial sense, but rather that the argument becomes incoherent. Lastly, this paper will explore the consequences of both Wunder’s and Plantinga’s assumptions concerning conditional probability for Draper’s evidentiary argument and Plantiga’s Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism. (shrink)
In Wunder (2013) I observed a probabilistic blunder in Plantinga (2011) and argued that correcting it, while noting Plantinga’s acceptance of logically non-contingent theism, had negative consequences for many other of his probabilistic claims. Professor Plantinga kindly replied to my correspondence, but the fruits of that conversation could not be incorporated into Wunder (2013). This article will explain the blunder and summarize my earlier arguments before addressing Plantinga’s main replies. I conclude that these replies fail to circumvent most (...) of the problems observed earlier: perhaps most significantly, the Evolutionary Argument against Naturalism and theism’s logical non-contingency still appear jointly to imply theism’s necessary falsehood. (shrink)
A reply to contemporary skepticism about intuitions and a priori knowledge, and a defense of neo-rationalism from a contemporary Kantian standpoint, focusing on the theory of rational intuitions and on solving the two core problems of justifying and explaining them.
The penultimate chapter of Alvin Plantinga's "Warrant and Proper Function" attacks metaphysical naturalism through an argument which concludes that only a supernaturalistic worldview can accommodate the indispensable concept of proper function. I make the case that this argument, which I dub 'the argument from proper function', suffers from two major flaws. First, it underestimates the naturalist's ability to ground natural proper function ascriptions in the concept of health. Second, it relies upon an overly stringent standard for successful conceptual analysis; ironically, (...) the naturalist can undercut the argument by adopting Plantinga's own recommended model for analysing concepts. (shrink)
James Beilby’s Epistemology as Theology is the first monograph to address Alvin Plantinga’s completed Warrant Trilogy. The book provides a thorough introduction to Plantinga’s current religious epistemology, but readers hoping for a critical treatment of Plantinga will be largely disappointed: while Beilby does level criticisms against Plantinga, he often underestimates their significance. One of Beilby’s main goals is to sketch out how a version of Reformed epistemology, even if not exactly Plantinga’s version, can withstand its critics. I provide a chapter-by-chapter (...) examination of Beilby’s book, and argue his defense of Reformed epistemology is not obviously a significant improvement over Plantinga’s. (shrink)
Alvin Plantinga’s Warranted Christian Belief (2000) is the capstone to the latest stage in his views on the intellectual credibility of theism in general, and Christian theism in particular. While Plantinga’s stature in the community of Christian philosophers alone makes gaining familiarity with this text a good idea for contemporary analytic philosophers of religion, its vigorous, innovative defense of specifically Christian theism and daring suggestions for renovating the landscape of analytic philosophy of religion merit serious consideration. I aim to provide (...) a useful introduction to the book’s contents and critique some of its main claims. (shrink)
This paper is a response to TylerWunder’s ‘The modality of theism and probabilistic natural theology: a tension in Alvin Plantinga's philosophy’ (this journal). In his article, Wunder argues that if the proponent of the Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (EAAN) holds theism to be non-contingent and frames the argument in terms of objective probability, that the EAAN is either unsound or theism is necessarily false. I argue that a modest revision of the EAAN renders Wunder’s objection (...) irrelevant, and that this revision actually widens the scope of the argument. (shrink)
In 2016, a multidisciplinary body of scholars within the International Commission on Stratigraphy—the Anthropocene Working Group—recommended that the world officially recognize the Anthropocene as a new geological epoch. The most contested claim about the Anthropocene, that humans are a major geological and environmental force on par with natural forces, has proven to be a hotbed for discussion well beyond the science of geology. One reason for this is that it compels many natural and social scientists to confront problems and systems (...) that transgress traditional disciplinary boundaries, and as a result, calls for interdisciplinary research are now gaining traction. Proponents of such transgressions have dubbed the new scientific order that will result “Anthropocene Science”, and rhetoric notwithstanding, such discussions exemplify how recent changes within science justify rethinking a prevailing image of how science is done, and with it, the working relationship between scholars in the humanities, natural scientists, and social scientists. (shrink)
In December 2013, the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) filed a petition for a common law writ of habeas corpus in the New York State Supreme Court on behalf of Tommy, a chimpanzee living alone in a cage in a shed in rural New York (Barlow, 2017). Under animal welfare laws, Tommy’s owners, the Laverys, were doing nothing illegal by keeping him in those conditions. Nonetheless, the NhRP argued that given the cognitive, social, and emotional capacities of chimpanzees, Tommy’s confinement constituted (...) a profound wrong that demanded remedy by the courts. Soon thereafter, the NhRP filed habeas corpus petitions on behalf of Kiko, another chimpanzee housed alone in Niagara Falls, and Hercules and Leo, two chimpanzees held in research facilities at Stony Brook University. Thus began the legal struggle to move these chimpanzees from captivity to a sanctuary, an effort that has led the NhRP to argue in multiple courts before multiple judges. The central point of contention has been whether Tommy, Kiko, Hercules, and Leo have legal rights. To date, no judge has been willing to issue a writ of habeas corpus on their behalf. Such a ruling would mean that these chimpanzees have rights that confinement might violate. Instead, the judges have argued that chimpanzees cannot be bearers of legal rights because they are not, and cannot be persons. In this book we argue that chimpanzees are persons because they are autonomous. (shrink)
In this paper I outline Hans Jonas’s thesis of the “existential” character of biological life and compare it with statements made by the early Heidegger concerning the essential enworldedness of all living beings. I then critically examine this thesis in the light of Heidegger’s own later refutation of his views and consequent reversal of his former position on life. I argue that while both thinkers are correct to attribute a radical openness to organic life as such, Heidegger is correct is (...) restricting the existential dimension to specifically human life given certain logical constraints built into the concept of existence itself. (shrink)
Since Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962), historians and philosophers of science have paid increasing attention to the implications of disciplinarity. In this chapter we consider restrictions posed to interdisciplinary exchange between ecology and economics that result from a particular kind of commitment to the ideal of disciplinary purity, that is, that each discipline is defined by an appropriate, unique set of objects, methods, theories, and aims. We argue that, when it comes to the objects of study in (...) ecology and economics, ideas of disciplinary purity have been underwritten by the artificial-natural distinction. We then problematize this distinction, and thus disciplinary purity, both conceptually and empirically. Conceptually, the distinction is no longer tenable. Empirically, recent interdisciplinary research has shown the epistemological and policy-oriented benefits of dealing with models which explicitly link anthropogenic (i.e., “artificial”) and non-anthropogenic factors (i.e., “natural”). We conclude that, in the current age of the Anthropocene, it is to be expected that without interdisciplinary exchange, ecology and economics may relinquish global relevance because the distinct and separate systems to which each “pure” science was originally made to apply will only diminish over time. (shrink)
Evidence that humans play a dominant role in most ecosystems forces scientists to confront systems that contain factors transgressing traditional disciplinary boundaries. However, it is an open question whether this state of affairs should encourage interdisciplinary exchange or integration. With two case studies, we show that exchange between ecologists and economists is preferable, for epistemological and policy-oriented reasons, to their acting independently. We call this “exchange gain.” Our case studies show that theoretical exchanges can be less disruptive to current theory (...) than commonly thought—valuable exchange does not necessarily require disciplinary integration. (shrink)
In this brief, we argue that there is a diversity of ways in which humans (Homo sapiens) are ‘persons’ and there are no non-arbitrary conceptions of ‘personhood’ that can include all humans and exclude all nonhuman animals. To do so we describe and assess the four most prominent conceptions of ‘personhood’ that can be found in the rulings concerning Kiko and Tommy, with particular focus on the most recent decision, Nonhuman Rights Project, Inc v Lavery.
This book offers the first sustained critique of individualism in psychology, a view that has been the subject of debate between philosophers such as Jerry Fodor and Tyler Burge for many years. The author approaches individualism as an issue in the philosophy of science and by discussing issues such as computationalism and the mind's modularity he opens the subject up for non-philosophers in psychology and computer science. Professor Wilson carefully examines the most influential arguments for individualism and identifies the (...) main metaphysical assumptions underlying them. Since the topic is so central to the philosophy of mind, a discipline generating enormous research and debate at present, the book has implications for a very broad range of philosophical issues including the naturalisation of intentionality, psychophysical supervenience, the nature of mental causation, and the viability of folk psychology. (shrink)
The anti?Cartesian idea that a person's thoughts are not entirely fixed by what goes on inside that person's head is suggested by Hegel, and echoed in Wittgenstein and Frege. An argument for the view has recently been given by Tyler Burge. This paper claims that Burge's data can be explained better by an individualistic theory. The basic idea is that an individual's thoughts are specified analogically, in ordinary discourse, through the model of a language. Though the modelling?sentences are public, (...) the thoughts of the individual are inner states whose identity does not depend upon those sentences. They have content naturally, whether or not content happens to be ascribed to them. (shrink)
Alvin Plantinga has famously argued that the naturalist who accepts evolutionary theory has a defeater for all of her beliefs, including her belief in naturalism and evolution. Hence, he says, naturalism, when conjoined with evolution, is self defeating and cannot be rationally accepted. This is known as the evolutionary argument against naturalism (EAAN). However, TylerWunder (Religious Studies 51:391– 399, 2015) has recently shown that if the EAAN is framed in terms of objective probability and theism is assumed (...) to be non-contingent, then either theism is necessarily false or the EAAN is unsound. Neither option is attractive to the proponent of the EAAN. Perry Hendricks (Religious Studies 1–5, 2018) has responded to Wunder’s criticism, showing that the EAAN can be salvaged and, indeed, strengthened, by framing it in terms not of naturalism (N), but of a proposition that is entailed by N that is also consistent with theism. We will show that once Hendricks’ solution to Wunder’s objection is accepted, a puzzle ensues: if the EAAN provides the naturalist with a defeater for all of her beliefs, then an extension of it appears to provide God with a defeater for all of his beliefs. After bringing out this puzzle, we suggest several ways in which the proponent of the EAAN might solve it, but also show some potential weaknesses in these purported solutions. Whether the solutions to the puzzle that we consider ultimately succeed is unclear to us. (Translation: the authors disagree. One author thinks that the solutions (or,at least, some of them) that we consider do solve the puzzle while the other author does not.) However, it is clear to us that this is an issue that proponents of the EAAN need to address. (shrink)
Various writers in the Western liberal and libertarian tradition have challenged the argument that enforcement of law and protection of property rights are public goods that must be provided by governments. Many of these writers argue explicitly for the provision of law enforcement services through private market relations.
This essay compares Rawls's and Nozick's theories of justice. Nozick thinks patterned principles of justice are false, and offers a historical alternative. Along the way, Nozick accepts Rawls's claim that the natural distribution of talent is morally arbitrary, but denies that there is any short step from this premise to any conclusion that the natural distribution is unjust. Nozick also agrees with Rawls on the core idea of natural rights liberalism: namely, that we are separate persons. However, Rawls and Nozick (...) interpret that idea in different ways-momentously different ways. The tension between their interpretations is among the forces shaping political philosophy to this day. Footnotesa For comments, I thank Alyssa Bernstein, Geoffrey Brennan, Jason Brennan, Tom Christiano, Andrew I. Cohen, Andrew Jason Cohen, Tyler Cowen, Teresa Donovan, David Estlund, Jerry Gaus, Allen Habib, Alex Kaufman, Mark LeBar, Loren Lomasky (especially Loren, for insight and inspiration over a period of many years), Cara Nine, Ellen Frankel Paul, Guido Pincione, Thomas Pogge, Dan Russell, Michael Smith, Horacio Spector, and Matt Zwolinski. I thank the Earhart Foundation for financial support in the fall of 2002 and Australian National University's Research School of Social Sciences for its wonderful hospitality during a ten week stay in 2002. The support of the folks at Liberty Fund in Indianapolis during the final stages of this project goes beyond anything I will ever be able properly to thank them for. (shrink)
Between World War I and World War II, the students of Columbia University's John Dewey and Frederick J. E. Woodbridge built up a school of philosophical naturalism sharply critical of claims to value-neutrality. In the 1930s and 1940s, the second-generation Columbia naturalists and their students who later joined the department reacted with dismay to the arrival on American shores of logical empiricism and other analytic modes of philosophy. These figures undermined their colleague Ernest Nagel's attempt to build an alliance with (...) the logical empiricists, accusing them of ignoring the scholar's primary role as a public critic. After the war, the prestige of analytic approaches and a tendency to label philosophies either???analytic??? or???Continental??? eclipsed the Columbia philosophers??? normatively inflected naturalism. Yet in their efforts to resist logical empiricism, the Columbia naturalists helped to construct a sturdy, canonical portrait of???American philosophy??? that proponents still hold up as a third way between analytic and Continental approaches. (shrink)
I want to reflect on some functions of memory and their relations to traditional issues about personal identity. I try to elicit ways in which having memory, with its presupposition of agent identity over time, is integral to being a person, indeed to having a representational mind.
Tyler Burge presents an original study of the most primitive ways in which individuals represent the physical world. By reflecting on the science of perception and related psychological and biological sciences, he gives an account of constitutive conditions for perceiving the physical world, and thus aims to locate origins of representational mind.
In this paper I aim to show why pediatric suffering must be understood as a judgment or evaluation, rather than a mental state. To accomplish this task, first I analyze the various ways that the label of suffering is used in pediatric practice. Out of this analysis emerge what I call the twin poles of pediatric suffering. At one pole sits the belief that infants and children with severe cognitive impairment cannot suffer because they are nonverbal or lack subjective life (...) experience. At the other pole exists the idea that once child suffering reaches some threshold it is ethical to eliminate the sufferer. Concerningly, at both poles, any particular child vanishes from view. Second, in an attempt to identify a theory of suffering inclusive of children, I examine two prominent so-called experiential accounts of suffering. I find them both wanting on account of their absurd entailments and their flawed assumptions regarding the subjective experiences of people who cannot communicate expressively. Finally, I extend arguments found in Alastair MacIntyre’s Dependent Rational Animals to argue that child suffering can be understood only as a set of absences—absences of conditions such as love, warmth, and freedom from pain. An evaluation of these absences reveals the exquisite dependency of children. It also discloses why pediatric suffering is necessarily a social and political event. Unlike adults, children will never be either the authors or the mitigators of their own suffering. Rather, children must rely wholly on others in order to resist suffering, grow, and flourish. (shrink)
This book provides the English-speaking world with a comprehensive account of the still largely unknown work of Schelling’s philosophy of mythology and revelation. Its achievement, however, is not archival but philosophical, elucidating the relation between Schelling and onto-theology. It explains how Schelling dealt with the problem of nihilism and onto-theology well before Nietzsche and Heidegger, arguing that Schelling surpasses onto-theology or the philosophy of presence a century prior to Heidegger. Overall, the author provocatively suggests that Heidegger is perhaps Schelling’s genuine (...) heir and by comprehensively interpreting Schelling’s multifaceted late lectures he analyzes issues as diverse as the Ancient relation between thinking and Being, the Medieval debate between voluntarism and intellectualism, the overcoming of modern subjectivism and German Idealism as well as many themes in contemporary philosophy. (shrink)
Tyler Burge presents a collection of his seminal essays on Gottlob Frege (1848-1925), who has a strong claim to be seen as the founder of modern analytic philosophy, and whose work remains at the centre of philosophical debate today. Truth, Thought, Reason gathers some of Burge's most influential work from the last twenty-five years, and also features important new material, including a substantial introduction and postscripts to four of the ten papers. It will be an essential resource for any (...) historian of modern philosophy, and for anyone working on philosophy of language, epistemology, or philosophical logic. (shrink)
It is now over twenty years since Premack and Woodruff posed the question, ‘Does the chimpanzee have a theory of mind?’—‘by which we meant’, explained Premack in a later reappraisal, ‘does the ape do what humans do: attribute states of mind to the other one, and use these states to predict and explain the behaviour of the other one? For example, does the ape wonder, while looking quizzically at another individual, What does he really want? What does he believe? What (...) are his intentions? '. (shrink)
In Burge 2005, Tyler Burge reads disjunctivism as the denial that there are explanatorily relevant states in common between veridical perceptions and corresponding illusions. He rejects the position as plainly inconsistent with what is known about perception. I describe a disjunctive approach to perceptual experience that is immune to Burge's attack. The main positive moral concerns how to think about fallibility.
Overview The evolution of multicellularity raises questions regarding genomic and developmental commonalities and discordances, selective advantages and disadvantages, physical determinants of development, and the origins of morphological novelties. It also represents a change in the definition of individuality, because a new organism emerges from interactions among single cells. This volume considers these and other questions, with contributions that explore the origins and consequences of the evolution of multicellularity, addressing a range of topics, organisms, and experimental protocols. Each section focuses on (...) selected topics or particular lineages that present a significant insight or challenge. The contributors consider the fossil record of the paleontological circumstances in which animal multicellularity evolved; cooptation, recurrent patterns, modularity, and plausible pathways for multicellular evolution in plants; theoretical approaches to the amoebozoa and fungi (cellular slime molds having long provided a robust model system for exploring the evolution of multicellularity), plants, and animals; genomic toolkits of metazoan multicellularity; and philosophical aspects of the meaning of individuality in light of multicellular evolution. Contributors Maja Adamska, Argyris Arnellos, Juan A. Arias, Eugenio Azpeitia, Mariana Benítez, Adriano Bonforti, John Tyler Bonner, Peter L. Conlin, A. Keith Dunker, Salva Duran-Nebreda, Ana E. Escalante, Valeria Hernández-Hernández, Kunihiko Kaneko, Andrew H. Knoll, Stephan G. König, Daniel J. G. Lahr, Ottoline Leyser, Alan C. Love, Raul Montañez, Emilio Mora van Cauwelaert, Alvaro Moreno, Vidyanand Nanjundiah, Aurora M. Nedelcu, Stuart A. Newman, Karl J. Niklas, William C. Ratcliff, Iñaki Ruiz-Trillo, Ricard Solé . (shrink)
The paper develops a conception of epistemic warrant as applied to perceptual belief, called "entitlement", that does not require the warranted individual to be capable of understanding the warrant. The conception is situated within an account of animal perception and unsophisticated perceptual belief. It characterizes entitlement as fulfillment of an epistemic norm that is apriori associated with a certain representational function that can be known apriori to be a function of perception. The paper connects anti-individualism, a thesis about the nature (...) of mental states, and perceptual entitlement. It presents an argument that explains the objectivity and validity of perceptual entitlement partly in terms of the nature of perceptual states–hence the nature of perceptual beliefs, which are constitutively associated with perceptual states. The paper discusses ways that an individual can be entitled to perceptual belief through its connection to perception, and ways that entitlement to perceptual belief can be undermined. (shrink)
The second edition of Andrew Skinner's essays has been updated to take account of his latest thinking on Adam Smith's system of social and moral science and his experience of teaching Smith to a student audience. The material from the first edition has been extensively rewritten in the light of recent scholarship, and four new essays have been included. Each essay can be read as a self-contained unit, supported by a full bibliography and notes; the book as a whole (...) expounds a single coherent argument which demonstrates how Smith's works are inter-related. (shrink)
This essay focuses upon a single speech by the Ottoman man of religion Shaykh Ahmad Tabbarah. Though short, it allows us to reconsider the ways in which we have framed intellectual production beyond Europe in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. For even as scholars have queried the diffusionist sweep of earlier narratives, asserting the intellectual agency of non-Western thinkers, they have continued to lay the emphasis on the ways the latter customized European thought to local exigencies. Tabbarah, however, engaged in (...) two-way translations and transgressions. Arraying French sources into a Khaldunian narrative even as he slotted statistics into conventional rhetorical forms, he imbued the secular with the religious, and the religious with the secular. Resolutely refusing to choose between these various elements, he laced them together into a compound creation, which drew its strength from the confluence of two seemingly incommensurable bodies of thought. (shrink)
"Equality of opportunity for all" is a fine piece of political rhetoric but the ideal that lies behind it is slippery to say the least. This book defends a particular account of the ideal and its place in a more radical version of what it is to level the playing field.
This essay is a long one. It is not meant to be read in a single sitting. Its structure is as follows. In section I, I explicate perceptual anti-individualism. Section II centers on the two aspects of the representational content of perceptual states. Sections III and IV concern the nature of the empirical psychology of vision, and its bearing on the individuation of perceptual states. Section V shows how what is known from empirical psychology undermines disjunctivism and hence certain further (...) views that entail it, including naive realism. In Section VI, I raise a further point against disjunctivism. Section VII indicates how general reflection on perceptual perspective and epistemic ability supports the constraints from empirical psychology. It also explains how reflection on veridicality conditions, psychological explanation, and cognitive ability conspire to force recognition of the two kinds of representation mentioned in the preceding paragraph. In the Appendix, I criticize attempts to support disjunctivism. (shrink)