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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
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)
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)
ABSTRACT 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 interdisciplinary exchange does not necessarily require disciplinary breakdown. (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)
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)
We submit this brief in support of the Nonhuman Rights Project’s efforts to secure habeas corpus relief for the elephant named Happy. The Supreme Court, Bronx County, declined to grant habeas corpus relief and order Happy’s transfer to an elephant sanctuary, relying, in part, on previous decisions that denied habeas relief for the NhRP’s chimpanzee clients, Kiko and Tommy. Those decisions use incompatible conceptions of ‘person’ which, when properly understood, are either philosophically inadequate or, in fact, compatible with Happy’s personhood.
We submit this brief in support of the Nonhuman Rights Project’s efforts to secure habeas corpus relief for the elephant named Happy. We reject arbitrary distinctions that deny adequate protections to other animals who share with protected humans relevantly similar vulnerabilities to harms and relevantly similar interests in avoiding such harms. We strongly urge this Court, in keeping with the best philosophical standards of rational judgment and ethical standards of justice, to recognize that, as a nonhuman person, Happy should be (...) released from her current confinement and transferred to an appropriate elephant sanctuary, pursuant to habeas corpus. (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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
This important and timely collection is the result of a conference on self-knowledge held at the University of St. Andrews in 1995. A number of papers included in it focus on the epistemology of self-knowledge. In particular, they try to provide a plausible explanation of what makes knowledge of our own mental states immediate and authoritative. Crispin Wright deals with that problem in the context of Wittgensteinian philosophy of mind. John McDowell replies to Wright’s essay by providing a different picture (...) of Wittgenstein’s later views on mind and philosophy. Christopher Peacocke considers, in his contribution, conscious attitudes, especially the possession condition of the concept of belief, and argues that a conscious belief gives rise to the relevant second-order belief in a way that is neither inferential, nor observational. Michael Martin responds by suggesting that Peacocke’s proposal applies only to conscious episodes of a certain kind. Most of the contributors to the collection are convinced that the observational model of self-knowledge is fatally flawed. Cynthia Macdonald undertakes to show that not everything is wrong with that model and its various criticisms can be effectively met. Elizabeth Fricker in her long essay offers a careful analysis of the distinction between two conceptions of selfknowledge: a special access account, according to which we have a unique privileged access to our own mental states, and a constitutive account holding that the self-ascription of a particular mental state is a necessary condition of being in that state. She finds that distinction, and the dichotomy based upon it, untenable. Akeel Bilgrami and Tyler Burge are concerned in their respective contributions with the role of self-knowledge in free, responsible agency, and in the practice of reasoning. They seem to suggest that in view of that role one should endorse a constitutive account of self-knowledge. The prevailing number of current theories of mental content accept a thesis of externalism to the effect that mental content is constituted and individuated not only by factors lying inside one’s head, or inside one’s subjective realm, but also and foremost by external and environmental factors. It seems, however, that the combination of externalism about mental content with our ordinary conception of self-knowledge leads to a certain tension and highly implausible consequences. Some philosophers, including Paul A. Boghossian, argue that the tension is genuine, and selfknowledge is simply incompatible with externalism. We have to claim this because otherwise we would have to agree on an apparently absurd extension of the domain of what can be known nonempirically or a priori. Other contributors are not convinced by Boghossian’s argument for incompatibilism. Brian McLaughlin and Michael Tye in their joint essay attempt to show that the argument does not apply to the most popular version of externalism. Martin Davies thinks the argument can be blocked by invoking principles limiting the transfer of epistemic warrant across known entailments, and Diana Raffman believes it is ultimately based upon equivocation. Moreover, as illustrated by Jim Edwards on an example of sense experience, one can accept externalism while modifying the extent of our self-knowledge in various ways. The last two contributions of the collection, by Barry C. Smith and James Higginbotham respectively, are concerned with knowledge of what we mean when we speak a language and its connections with self-knowledge in general. (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.
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 his paper, ‘A critique of religious fictionalism’, Benjamin Cordry raises a series of objections to a fictionalist form of religious non-realism that I proposed in my earlier paper, ‘Can an atheist believe in God?’. They fall into two main categories: those alleging that an atheist would be unjustified in adopting fictionalism, and those alleging that fictionalism could not be successfully implemented, or practised communally. I argue that these objections can be met.
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.
In this essay I describe how contractarianism might approach interspecies welfare conflicts. I start by discussing a contractarian account of the moral status of nonhuman animals. I argue that contractors can agree to norms that would acknowledge the “moral standing” of some animals. I then discuss how the norms emerging from contractarian agreement might constrain any comparison of welfare between humans and animals. Contractarian agreement is likely to express some partiality to humans in a way that discounts the welfare of (...) some or all animals. While the norms emerging from the contract might be silent or inconsistent in some tragic or catastrophic cases, in most ordinary conflicts of welfare, contractors will agree to norms that produce some determinate resolution. What the agreement says can evolve depending upon how the contractors or the circumstances change. I close with some remarks on contractarian indeterminacy. (shrink)
Non‐Humean theories of natural necessity invoke modally‐laden primitives to explain why nature exhibits lawlike regularities. However, they vary in the primitives they posit and in their subsequent accounts of laws of nature and related phenomena (including natural properties, natural kinds, causation, counterfactuals, and the like). This article provides a taxonomy of non‐Humean theories, discusses influential arguments for and against them, and describes some ways in which differences in goals and methods can motivate different versions of non‐Humeanism (and, for that matter, (...) Humeanism). In short, this article provides an introduction to non‐Humeanism concerning the metaphysics of laws of nature and natural necessity. (shrink)
Increased investment in ethics education has prompted a variety of instructional objectives and frameworks. Yet, no systematic procedure to classify these varying instructional approaches has been attempted. In the present study, a quantitative clustering procedure was conducted to derive a typology of instruction in ethics education. In total, 330 ethics training programs were included in the cluster analysis. The training programs were appraised with respect to four instructional categories including instructional content, processes, delivery methods, and activities. Eight instructional approaches were (...) identified through this clustering procedure, and these instructional approaches showed different levels of effectiveness. Instructional effectiveness was assessed based on one of nine commonly used ethics criteria. With respect to specific training types, Professional Decision Processes Training and Field-Specific Compliance Training appear to be viable approaches to ethics training based on Cohen’s d effect size estimates. By contrast, two commonly used approaches, General Discussion Training and Norm Adherence Training, were found to be considerably less effective. The implications for instruction in ethics training are discussed. (shrink)
This paper suffers from a disconcerting generality. I need an excuse for wandering from Wittgenstein's Tractatus to Picasso's drawing of a Weeping Woman, via the philosophy of science and the theory of sense data. The thesis of the paper is that I have such an excuse. These are all areas where the concept of representation either exists in its own right, or has been found to be illuminating by philosophers. An important question is whether it could be the same concept (...) in all these cases. I wish to claim that there is an illuminating common concept, even though to find it may require some fairly drastic modifications of some of the philosophical theses that are involved. (shrink)