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Does Plantinga's evolutionary argument against naturalism work?

  • WANG-YEN LEE (a1)

Abstract

In Alvin Plantinga's evolutionary argument against naturalism (EAAN), he contends that someone who holds both naturalism (N) and evolution (E) acquires an undefeated defeater for her belief that ‘human cognitive faculties are reliable’ (R) and as a result an undefeated defeater for everything else she believes when she comes to realize that P(R/N&E) is low or inscrutable. I argue for two theses in this paper. First, when a naturalist-evolutionist comes to think that P(R/N&E) is inscrutable, that does not constitute an undefeated defeater for her belief that R if her original grounds for believing R are something other than an assessment of P(R/N&E). Second, even if she acquires an undefeated defeater for her belief that R when she comes to think that P(R/N&E) is inscrutable, it does not follow that she has a defeater for all her other beliefs. The main contribution lies in my response to Plantinga's attempt to resist my second thesis.

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References

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Bonjour, Laurence (1998) In Defence of Pure Reason: A Rationalist Account of A Priori Justification (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).
Lewis, David (1996) ‘Elusive knowledge’, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 74, 549567.
Plantinga, Alvin (2002a) ‘Introduction: The evolutionary argument against naturalism’, in Beilby, James (ed.) Naturalism Defeated? Essays on Plantinga's Evolutionary Argument against Naturalism (Ithaca NY: Cornell University Press), 112.
Plantinga, Alvin (2002b) ‘Reply to Beilby's cohorts’, in Beilby Naturalism Defeated?, 204276.
Sosa, Ernest (2002) ‘Plantinga's evolutionary meditations’, in Beilby Naturalism Defeated?, 91102.
Swinburne, Richard (2001) Epistemic Justification (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
Swinburne, Richard (2004) ‘Plantinga's argument against evolutionary naturalism’, in idem The Existence of God, 2nd edn (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 350, n. 3.
Van Cleve, James (1984) ‘Reliability, justification, and the problem of induction’, Midwest Studies in Philosophy, 9, 555567.
Van Cleve, James (2002) ‘Can atheists know anything?, in Beilby Naturalism Defeated, 103125.

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