A user’s guide to the evolutionary argument against naturalism

Philosophical Studies 141 (2):125 - 146 (2008)


Alvin Plantinga has famously argued that metaphysical naturalism is self-defeating, and cannot be rationally accepted. I distinguish between two different ways of understanding this argument, which I call the "probabilistic inference conception", and the "process characteristic conception". I argue that the former is what critics of the argument usually presuppose, whereas most critical responses fail when one assumes the latter conception. To illustrate this, I examine three standard objections to Plantinga's evolutionary argument against naturalism: the Perspiration Objection, the Tu Quoque Objection, and the "Why Can't the Naturalist Just Add a Little Something?" Objection. I show that Plantinga's own responses to these objections fail, and propose counterexamples to his first two principles of defeat. I then go on to construct more adequate responses to these objections, using the distinctions I develop in the first part of the paper.

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References found in this work

Warrant and Proper Function.Alvin Plantinga - 1993 - Oxford University Press.
Warranted Christian Belief.Alvin Plantinga - 2000 - Oxford University Press USA.
Contemporary Theories of Knowledge.John Pollock - 1986 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 39 (1):131-140.
Warranted Christian Belief.Alvin Plantinga - 2000 - Philosophia Christi 3 (2):327-328.

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