I argue that one’s views about which “metaphysical laws” obtain—including laws about what is identical with what, about what is reducible to what, and about what grounds what—can be used to deflect or neutralize the threat posed by a debunking explanation. I use a well-known debunking argument in the metaphysics of material objects as a case study. Then, after defending the proposed strategy from the charge of question-begging, I close by showing how the proposed strategy can be used by certain (...) moral realists to resist the evolutionary debunking arguments. (shrink)
This article is a brief overview of major ontological arguments. The most noteworthy feature of this article is the statement of a new parody of the Anselmian and Cartesian arguments that is obviously immune to objections adverting to intrinsic minima and maxima.
Ontological arguments are one of the main classes of arguments for the existence of God, and have been influential from the Middle Ages right up until our own time. This accessible volume offers a comprehensive survey and assessment of them starting with a sequence of chapters charting their history – from Anselm and Aquinas, via Descartes, Leibniz, Kant and Hegel, to Gödel, Plantinga, Lewis and Tichý. This is followed by chapters on the most important topics to have emerged (...) in the discussion of ontological arguments: the relationship between conceivability and possibility, the charge that ontological arguments beg the question, and the nature of existence. The volume as a whole shows clearly how these arguments emerged and developed, how we should think about them, and why they remain important today. (shrink)
This book is a unique contribution to the philosophy of religion. It offers a comprehensive discussion of one of the most famous arguments for the existence of God: the ontological argument. The author provides and analyses a critical taxonomy of those versions of the argument that have been advanced in recent philosophical literature, as well as of those historically important versions found in the work of St Anselm, Descartes, Leibniz, Hegel and others. A central thesis of the book is (...) that ontological arguments have no value in the debate between theists and atheists. There is a detailed review of the literature on the topic (separated from the main body of the text) and a very substantial bibliography, making this volume an indispensable resource for philosophers of religion and others interested in religious studies. (shrink)
Larry Temkin famously argues that what he calls spectrum arguments yield strong reason to reject Transitivity, according to which the ‘all-things-considered better than’ relation is transitive. Spectrum arguments do reveal that the conjunctions of independently plausible claims are inconsistent with Transitivity. But I argue that there is very strong independent reason to reject such conjunctions of claims, and thus that the fact that they are inconsistent with Transitivity does not yield strong reason to reject Transitivity.
It is common in various quarters of philosophy to derive philosophically significant conclusions from theories of reference. In this paper, we argue that philosophers should give up on such 'arguments from reference.' Intuitions play a central role in establishing theories of reference, and recent cross-cultural work suggests that intuitions about reference vary across cultures and between individuals within a culture (Machery et al. 2004). We argue that accommodating this variation within a theory of reference undermines arguments from reference.
Many philosophers believe that our ordinary English words man and woman are “gender terms,” and gender is distinct from biological sex. That is, they believe womanhood and manhood are not defined even partly by biological sex. This sex/gender distinction is one of the most influential ideas of the twentieth century on the broader culture, both popular and academic. Less well known are the reasons to think it’s true. My interest in this paper is to show that, upon investigation, the (...) class='Hi'>arguments for the sex/gender distinction have feet of clay. In fact, they all fail. We will survey the literature and tour arguments in favor of the sex/gender distinction, and then we’ll critically evaluate those arguments. We’ll consider the argument from resisting biological determinism, the argument from biologically intersex people and vagueness, the argument from the normativity of gender, and some arguments from thought experiments. We’ll see that these arguments are not up to the task of supporting the sex/gender distinction; they simply don’t work. So, philosophers should either develop stronger arguments for the sex/gender distinction, or cultivate a variety of feminism that’s consistent with the traditional, biologically-based definitions of woman and man. (shrink)
I provide a manipulation-style argument against classical compatibilism—the claim that freedom to do otherwise is consistent with determinism. My question is simple: if Diana really gave Ernie free will, why isn't she worried that he won't use it precisely as she would like? Diana's non-nervousness, I argue, indicates Ernie's non-freedom. Arguably, the intuition that Ernie lacks freedom to do otherwise is stronger than the direct intuition that he is simply not responsible; this result highlights the importance of the denial of (...) the principle of alternative possibilities for compatibilist theories of responsibility. Along the way, I clarify the dialectical role and structure of “manipulation arguments”, and compare the manipulation argument I develop with the more familiar Consequence Argument. I contend that the two arguments are importantly mutually supporting and reinforcing. The result: classical compatibilists should be nervous—and if PAP is true, all compatibilists should be nervous. (shrink)
Accounts of arguments from expert opinion take it for granted that expert judgments count as (defeasible) evidence for propositions, and so an argument that proceeds from premises about what an expert judges to a conclusion that the expert is probably right is a strong argument. In Mizrahi (2013), I consider a potential justification for this assumption, namely, that expert judgments are significantly more likely to be true than novice judgments, and find it wanting because of empirical evidence suggesting that (...) expert judgments under uncertainty are not significantly more likely to be true than novice judgments or even chance. In this paper, I consider another potential justification for this assumption, namely, that expert judgments are not influenced by the cognitive biases novice judgments are influenced by, and find it wanting, too, because of empirical evidence suggesting that experts are vulnerable to pretty much the same cognitive biases that novices are vulnerable to. If this is correct, then the basic assumption at the core of accounts of arguments from expert opinion, namely, that expert judgments count as (defeasible) evidence for propositions, remains unjustified. (shrink)
Debunking arguments—also known as etiological arguments, genealogical arguments, access problems, isolation objec- tions, and reliability challenges—arise in philosophical debates about a diverse range of topics, including causation, chance, color, consciousness, epistemic reasons, free will, grounding, laws of nature, logic, mathematics, modality, morality, natural kinds, ordinary objects, religion, and time. What unifies the arguments is the transition from a premise about what does or doesn't explain why we have certain mental states to a negative assessment of their (...) epistemic status. I examine the common, underlying structure of the arguments and the different strategies for motivating and resisting the premises of debunking arguments. (shrink)
Do the cognitive origins of our theistic beliefs debunk them or explain them away? This paper develops an empirically-motivated debunking argument and defends it against objections. First, we introduce the empirical and epistemological background. Second, we develop and defend the main argument, the debunking argument from false god beliefs. Third, we characterize and evaluate the most prominent religious debunking argument to date, the debunking argument from insensitivity. It is found that insensitivity-based arguments are problematic, which makes them less promising (...) than the debunking argument from false god beliefs. (shrink)
In this crisply written book, Hanno Sauer offers the first book-length treatment of debunking arguments in ethics, developing an empirically informed and philosophically sophisticated account of genealogical arguments and their significance for the reliability of moral cognition. He breaks new ground by introducing a series of novel distinctions into the current debate, which allows him to develop a framework for assessing the prospects of debunking or vindicating our moral intuitions. He also challenges the justification of some of our (...) moral judgments by showing that they are based on epistemically defective processes. His book is an original, cutting-edge contribution to the burgeoning field of empirically informed metaethics, and will interest philosophers, psychologists, and anyone interested in how - and whether - moral judgment works. (shrink)
Robert Stern investigates how scepticism can be countered by using transcendental arguments concerning the necessary conditions for the possibility of experience, language, or thought. He shows that the most damaging sceptical questions concern neither the certainty of our beliefs nor the reliability of our belief-forming methods, but rather how we can justify our beliefs.
Can the question "Why do what morality requires?" be answered in such a way that anyone regardless of their desires or interests has reason to be moral? One strategy for answering this question appeals to constitutive arguments. In general, constitutive arguments attempt to establish the normativity of rational requirements by pointing out that we are already committed to them insofar as we are believers or agents. This study is concerned with the general prospects for such arguments. It (...) starts by explaining the general constitutive argument strategy, followed by an examination of constitutive arguments that have been given regarding theoretical reason and the instrumental principle in practical reason, and concluding with a discussion of some challenges to constitutive arguments in moral philosophy and some possible responses to these challenges. (shrink)
Certain passages in Kaplan’s ‘Demonstratives’ are often taken to show that non-vacuous sentential operators associated with a certain parameter of sentential truth require a corresponding relativism concerning assertoric contents: namely, their truth values also must vary with that parameter. Thus, for example, the non-vacuity of a temporal sentential operator ‘always’ would require some of its operands to have contents that have different truth values at different times. While making no claims about Kaplan’s intentions, we provide several reconstructions of how such (...) an argument might go, focusing on the case of time and temporal operators as an illustration. What we regard as the most plausible reconstruction of the argument establishes a conclusion similar enough to that attributed to Kaplan. However, the argument overgenerates, leading to absurd consequences. We conclude that we must distinguish assertoric contents from compositional semantic values, and argue that once they are distinguished, the argument fails to establish any substantial conclusions. We also briefly discuss a related argument commonly attributed to Lewis, and a recent variant due to Weber. (shrink)
Evolutionary debunking arguments are arguments that appeal to the evolutionary origins of evaluative beliefs to undermine their justification. This paper aims to clarify the premises and presuppositions of EDAs—a form of argument that is increasingly put to use in normative ethics. I argue that such arguments face serious obstacles. It is often overlooked, for example, that they presuppose the truth of metaethical objectivism. More importantly, even if objectivism is assumed, the use of EDAs in normative ethics is (...) incompatible with a parallel and more sweeping global evolutionary debunking argument that has been discussed in recent metaethics. After examining several ways of responding to this global debunking argument, I end by arguing that even if we could resist it, this would still not rehabilitate the current targeted use of EDAs in normative ethics given that, if EDAs work at all, they will in any case lead to a truly radical revision of our evaluative outlook. (shrink)
Opponents of the computational theory of mind have held that the theory is devoid of explanatory content, since whatever computational procedures are said to account for our cognitive attributes will also be realized by a host of other ‘deviant’ physical systems, such as buckets of water and possibly even stones. Such ‘triviality’ claims rely on a simple mapping account of physical implementation. Hence defenders of CTM traditionally attempt to block the trivialization critique by advocating additional constraints on the implementation relation. (...) However, instead of attempting to ‘save’ CTM by constraining the account of physical implementation, I argue that the general form of the triviality argument is invalid. I provide a counterexample scenario, and show that SMA is in fact consistent with empirically rich and theoretically plausible versions of CTM. This move requires rejection of the computational sufficiency thesis, which I argue is scientifically unjustified in any case. By shifting the ‘burden of explanatory force’ away from the concept of physical implementation, and instead placing it on salient aspects of the target phenomenon to be explained, it’s possible to retain a maximally liberal and unfettered view of physical implementation, and at the same time defuse the triviality arguments that have motivated defenders of CTM to impose various theory-laden constraints on SMA. (shrink)
Parsimony arguments are advanced in both science and philosophy. How are they related? This question is a test case for Naturalismp, which is the thesis that philosophical theories and scientific theories should be evaluated by the same criteria. In this paper, I describe the justifications that attach to two types of parsimony argument in science. In the first, parsimony is a surrogate for likelihood. In the second, parsimony is relevant to estimating how accurately a model will predict new data (...) when fitted to old. I then consider how these two justifications apply to parsimony arguments in philosophy concerning theism and atheism, the mind/body problem, ethical realism, the question of whether mental properties are causally efficacious, and nominalism versus Platonism about numbers. (shrink)
Evolutionary debunking arguments abound, but it is widely assumed that they do not arise for our perceptual beliefs about midsized objects, insofar as the adaptive value of our object beliefs cannot be explained without reference to the objects themselves. I argue that this is a mistake. Just as with moral beliefs, the adaptive value of our object beliefs can be explained without assuming that the beliefs are accurate. I then explore the prospects for other sorts of vindications of our (...) object beliefs—which involve “bootstrapping” from our experiences as of midsized objects—and I defend bootstrapping maneuvers against a variety of objections. Finally, I argue for an explanatory constraint on legitimate bootstrapping and show how some attempts to respond to debunking arguments run afoul of the constraint. (shrink)
Fourteen new essays by a distinguished team of authors offer a broad and stimulating re-examination of transcendental arguments. This is the philosophical method of arguing that what is doubted or denied by the opponent must be the case, as a condition for the possibility of experience, language, or thought.The line-up of contributors features leading figures in the field from both sides of the Atlantic; they discuss the nature of transcendental arguments, and consider their role and value. In particular, (...) they consider how successful such arguments are as a response to sceptical problems. The editor's introduction provides historical context and philosophical orientation for the discussions. This is the first major appraisal of transcendental arguments since the 1970s; they have continued to play a significant role in philosophy, and recent developments in epistemology and metaphysics have raised new questions and challenges for them. Transcendental Arguments will be essential reading for anyone interested in this area of philosophy, and the starting-point for future work. (shrink)
Four important arguments for probabilism—the Dutch Book, representation theorem, calibration, and gradational accuracy arguments—have a strikingly similar structure. Each begins with a mathematical theorem, a conditional with an existentially quantified consequent, of the general form: if your credences are not probabilities, then there is a way in which your rationality is impugned. Each argument concludes that rationality requires your credences to be probabilities. I contend that each argument is invalid as formulated. In each case there is a mirror-image (...) theorem and a corresponding argument of exactly equal strength that concludes that rationality requires your credences not to be probabilities. Some further consideration is needed to break this symmetry in favour of probabilism. (shrink)
Liberty is what libertarians advocate. Both because of the inherent value of human liberty and because of the increasing wealth and welfare it brings to all. They see the aggressive coercion of the state as the main enemy of liberty. The solution is to roll back the state until there is little or no state left. Libertarianism has been rapidly growing since the 1970s. But it is still not commonly understood or even given a proper hearing. However, you will increasingly (...) come across it. Often it will be through state enthusiasts disingenuously claiming to be libertarians . At other times it will be through state enthusiasts attacking libertarianism as an extremist ideology. And very occasionally it will be real libertarians explaining and defending their views. J C Lester is a libertarian philosopher who has been writing about why liberty is preferable to politics for many years. This book contains many of his shorter writings on the subject. These range from the populist to the philosophical. Together they function as a miscellaneous introduction to libertarianism. The various different topics and approaches should give the reader a good cross-reference grasp of the subject. (shrink)
Latest version of my SEP entry on ontological arguments, which first appeared in 1996. General discussion of ontological arguments. Includes a brief historical overview, a taxonomy of different kinds of ontological arguments, a brief survey of objections to the different kinds of ontological arguments identified in the taxonomy, and more extended discussions of Anselm's ontological argument (Proslogion 2), Godel's ontological argument, and Plantinga's ontological argument.
Conductive arguments, as a separate category of reasoning, has experienced a revival. In 2010, the University of Windsor’s Centre for Research in Reasoning, Argumentation, and Rhetoric dedicated a two-day symposium to the topic and later published the proceedings. In this article, I argue against the existence of conductive arguments as a usefully distinct type of argument. Some of what are deemed conductive arguments are simply inductive arguments and some are best construed as subsets of the constituents (...) of what is commonly called a position paper. (shrink)
Experimental philosophers have challenged friends of the expertise defense to show that the intuitive judgments of professional philosophers are different from the intuitive judgments of nonphilosophers, and the intuitive judgments of professional philosophers are better than the intuitive judgments of nonphilosophers, in ways that are relevant to the truth or falsity of such judgments. Friends of the expertise defense have responded by arguing that the burden of proof lies with experimental philosophers. This article sketches three arguments which show that (...) both and are probably false. If its arguments are cogent, then shifting the burden of proof is a futile move, since philosophical training makes no difference so far as making intuitive judgments in response to hypothetical cases is concerned. (shrink)
Four important arguments for probabilism—the Dutch Book, representation theorem, calibration, and gradational accuracy arguments—have a strikingly similar structure. Each begins with a mathematical theorem, a conditional with an existentially quantified consequent, of the general form: if your credences are not probabilities, then there is a way in which your rationality is impugned. Each argument concludes that rationality requires your credences to be probabilities. I contend that each argument is invalid as formulated. In each case there is a mirror-image (...) theorem and a corresponding argument of exactly equal strength that concludes that rationality requires your credences not to be probabilities. Some further consideration is needed to break this symmetry in favour of probabilism. I discuss the extent to which the original arguments can be buttressed. Introduction The Dutch Book Argument 2.1 Saving the Dutch Book argument 2.2 ‘The Dutch Book argument merely dramatizes an inconsistency in the attitudes of an agent whose credences violate probability theory’ Representation Theorem-based Arguments The Calibration Argument The Gradational Accuracy Argument Conclusion. (shrink)
This is the sequel to my “Fifteen Arguments Against Finite Frequentism” ( Erkenntnis 1997), the second half of a long paper that attacks the two main forms of frequentism about probability. Hypothetical frequentism asserts: The probability of an attribute A in a reference class B is p iff the limit of the relative frequency of A ’s among the B ’s would be p if there were an infinite sequence of B ’s. I offer fifteen arguments against this (...) analysis. I consider various frequentist responses, which I argue ultimately fail. I end with a positive proposal of my own, ‘hyper-hypothetical frequentism’, which I argue avoids several of the problems with hypothetical frequentism. It identifies probability with relative frequency in a hyperfinite sequence of trials. However, I argue that this account also fails, and that the prospects for frequentism are dim. (shrink)
This entry addresses the question of group minds, by focusing specifically on empirical arguments for group cognition and group cognitive states. Two kinds of positive argument are presented and critically evaluated: the argument from individually unintended effects and the argument from functional similarity. A general argument against group cognition – which appeals to Occam’s razor – is also discussed. In the end, much turns on the identification of a mark of the cognitive; proposed marks are briefly surveyed in the (...) final section. (shrink)
This paper addresses the question of whether all that unites the main parts of John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty—the liberty principle, the defense of free discussion, the promotion of individuality, and the claims concerning individual competence about one’s own good—is a general concern with individual liberty, or whether we can say something more concrete about how they are related. I attempt to show that the arguments of On Liberty exemplify Mill’s institutional design approach set out in Considerations of Representative (...) Government and related works. Mill’s approach reflects both his debt to Bentham and his own progressive development of the utilitarian tradition. The paper proceeds by setting out the elements of Mill’s institutional designs and then showing that On Liberty neatly applies them, thereby clarifying the structure of the arguments of On Liberty. (shrink)
Short abstract (98 words). Reasoning is generally seen as a means to improve knowledge and make better decisions. However, much evidence shows that reasoning often leads to epistemic distortions and poor decisions. This suggests that the function of reasoning should be rethought. Our hypothesis is that the function of reasoning is argumentative. It is to devise and evaluate arguments intended to persuade. Reasoning so conceived is adaptive given humans’ exceptional dependence on communication and vulnerability to misinformation. A wide range (...) of evidence in the psychology of reasoning and decision making can be reinterpreted and better explained in the light of this hypothesis. (shrink)
“Triviality arguments” against functionalism in the philosophy of mind hold that the claim that some complex physical system exhibits a given functional organization is either trivial or has much less content than is usually supposed. I survey several earlier arguments of this kind, and present a new one that overcomes some limitations in the earlier arguments. Resisting triviality arguments is possible, but requires functionalists to revise popular views about the “autonomy” of functional description.
G. E. Moore famously argued against skepticism and idealism by appealing to their inconsistency with alleged certainties, like the existence of his own hands. Recently, some philosophers have offered analogous arguments against revisionary views about ethics such as metaethical error theory. These arguments appeal to the inconsistency of error theory with seemingly obvious moral claims like “it is wrong to torture an innocent child just for fun.” It might seem that such ‘Moorean’ arguments in ethics will stand (...) or fall with Moore’s own arguments in metaphysics and epistemology, in virtue of their shared structure. I argue that this is not so. I suggest that the epistemic force of the canonical Moorean arguments can best be understood to rest on asymmetries in indirect evidence. I then argue that this explanation suggests that Moorean arguments are less promising in ethics than they are against Moore’s own targets. I conclude by examining the competing attempt to vindicate Moorean arguments by appealing to Rawls’s method of reflective equilibrium. (shrink)
What can be said in favor of consuming animal products? This chapter surveys the options, with special focus on it attempts to exploit pro-vegan principles for anti-vegan ends. Utilitarian, rights-based, contractualist, and agrarian proposals are explored, as well as some recent arguments that attempt to revive a form of speciesism. Ultimately, the chapter considers how such arguments might inform a broad case for consuming animal products—that is, one that might earn respect from those in a variety of moral (...) camps—and it suggests that there may be good reasons to eat roadkill, bugs, bivalves, in vitro meat, animal products that will be wasted, and the bodies and byproducts of animals that live full, pleasant lives. (shrink)
Evidentialism is the thesis that all reasons to believe p are evidence for p. Pragmatists hold that pragmatic considerations – incentives for believing – can also be reasons to believe. Nishi Shah, Thomas Kelly and others have argued for evidentialism on the grounds that incentives for belief fail a ‘reasoning constraint’ on reasons: roughly, reasons must be considerations we can reason from, but we cannot reason from incentives to belief. In the first half of the paper, I show that this (...) argument fails: the claim that we cannot reason from incentives is either false or does not combine with the reasoning constraint to support evidentialism. However, the failure of this argument suggests an alternative route to evidentialism. Roughly, reasons must be premises of good reasoning, but it is not good reasoning to reason from incentives to belief. The second half of the paper develops and defends this argument for evidentialism. (shrink)
This is a short introduction to ontological arguments. It begins with a brief characterization of ontological arguments that proceeds mainly by way of example. The rest of the discussion is given over to consideration of what looks like a very simple ontological argument. This consideration turns up many of the issues that arise when more complex ontological arguments are examined.
In response to the increasingly popular manipulation argument against compatibilism, some have argued that libertarian accounts of free will are vulnerable to parallel manipulation arguments, and thus manipulation is not uniquely problematic for compatibilists. The main aim of this article is to give this point a more detailed development than it has previously received. Prior attempts to make this point have targeted particular libertarian accounts but cannot be generalized. By contrast, I provide an appropriately modified manipulation that targets all (...) libertarian accounts of freedom and responsibility—an especially tricky task given that libertarian accounts are a motley set. I conclude that if manipulation arguments reveal any theoretical cost then it is one borne by all accounts according to which we are free and responsible, not by compatibilism in particular. (shrink)
Data from medical research are typically summarized with various types of outcome measures. We present three arguments in favor of absolute over relative outcome measures. The first argument is from cognitive bias: relative measures promote the reference class fallacy and the overestimation of treatment effectiveness. The second argument is decision-theoretic: absolute measures are superior to relative measures for making a decision between interventions. The third argument is causal: interpreted as measures of causal strength, absolute measures satisfy a set of (...) desirable properties, but relative measures do not. Absolute outcome measures outperform relative measures on all counts. (shrink)
I review three existing arguments in favor of having some childcare done by nonparents and then I advance five arguments, most of them original, to the same conclusion. My arguments rely on the assumption that, no matter who provides it, childcare will inevitably go wrong at times. I discuss the importance of mitigating bad care, of teaching children how to enter caring relationships with people who are initially strangers to them, of addressing children's structural vulnerability to their (...) caregivers, of helping children and parents contain the ambivalent feelings of the child-parent relationship, and of distributing the responsibility of care and the ensuing blame for bad care more widely. I conclude that nonparental childcare should be universal. (shrink)
A modest transcendental argument is one that sets out merely to establish how things need to appear to us or how we need to believe them to be, rather than how things are. Stroud's claim to have established that all transcendental arguments must be modest in this way is criticised and rejected. However, a different case for why we should abandon ambitious transcendental arguments is presented: namely, that when it comes to establishing claims about how things are, there (...) is no reason to prefer transcendental arguments to arguments that rely on the evidence of the senses, making the former redundant in a way that modest transcendental arguments, which have a different kind of sceptical target, are not. (shrink)
Several prominent attacks on the objects of 'folk ontology' argue that these would be omitted from a scientific ontology, or would be 'rivals' of scientific objects for their claims to be efficacious, occupy space, be composed of parts, or possess a range of other properties. I examine causal redundancy and overdetermination arguments, 'nothing over and above' appeals, and arguments based on problems with collocation and with property additivity. I argue that these share a common problem: applying conjunctive principles (...) to cases in which the claims conjoined are not analytically independent. This unified diagnosis provides a way of defending ordinary objects against these common objections, while also yielding warnings about certain uses of general conjunctive principles. (shrink)
Following an approach that is empirical but not psychological, and dialectical but not dialogical, in this book Maurice Finocchiaro defines concepts such as reasoning, argument, argument analysis, critical reasoning, methodological reflection, judgment, critical thinking, and informal logic. Including extended critiques of the views of many contemporary scholars, he also integrates into the discussion Arnauld's Port-Royal Logic, Gramsci's theory of intellectuals, and case studies from the history of science, particularly the work of Galileo, Newton, Huygens, and Lavoisier.
This paper critically examines two arguments against the generic multiverse, both of which are due to W. Hugh Woodin. Versions of the first argument have appeared a number of times in print, while the second argument is relatively novel. We shall investigate these arguments through the lens of two different attitudes one may take toward the methodology and metaphysics of set theory; and we shall observe that the impact of these arguments depends significantly on which of these (...) attitudes is upheld. Our examination of the second argument involves the development of a new model for Steel’s multiverse theory, which is delivered in the Appendix. (shrink)
David Lewis and Peter van Inwagen have claimed that there are no “knockdown” arguments in philosophy. Their claim appears to be at odds with common philosophical practice: philosophers often write as though their conclusions are established or proven and that the considerations offered for these conclusions are decisive. In this paper, I examine some questions raised by Lewis’s and van Inwagen’s contention. What are knockdown arguments? Are there any in philosophy? If not, why not? These questions concern the (...) nature of the philosophical enterprise and our answers have implications for the limits on the attitudes of informed, rational thinkers. (shrink)
The aim of the paper is to develop general criteria of argumentative validity and adequacy for probabilistic arguments on the basis of the epistemological approach to argumentation. In this approach, as in most other approaches to argumentation, proabilistic arguments have been neglected somewhat. Nonetheless, criteria for several special types of probabilistic arguments have been developed, in particular by Richard Feldman and Christoph Lumer. In the first part (sects. 2-5) the epistemological basis of probabilistic arguments is discussed. (...) With regard to the philosophical interpretation of probabilities a new subjectivist, epistemic interpretation is proposed, which identifies probabilities with tendencies of evidence (sect. 2). After drawing the conclusions of this interpretation with respect to the syntactic features of the probability concept, e.g. one variable referring to the data base (sect. 3), the justification of basic probabilities (priors) by judgements of relative frequency (sect. 4) and the justification of derivative probabilities by means of the probability calculus are explained (sect. 5). The core of the paper is the definition of '(argumentatively) valid derivative probabilistic arguments', which provides exact conditions for epistemically good probabilistic arguments, together with conditions for the adequate use of such arguments for the aim of rationally convincing an addressee (sect. 6). Finally, some measures for improving the applicability of probabilistic reasoning are proposed (sect. 7). (shrink)