Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Dogs, Squirrels, and attitudes

BDK: Can a creature have propositional attitudes without 'understood intentionality'? I can imagine it is possible: a creature engages in rational inference about the world, but never develops a theory of mind, doesn't have language. Indeed, I think dogs have propositional attitudes (they desire food, believe it is in the kitchen, so run to the kitchen). (Though to be fair to dogs, they do seem to learn word reference: don't say 'squirrel' around my dog).

VR: We might have to me a tad careful about how we are applying the term 'propositional attitude" or even 'rational inference." At least if we don't want to incur the wrath of a certain husband-wife philosopher team in Chargerland. First with respect to rational inference, I don't see how you can attribute rational inference without allowing for the possibility of fallacious rational inference, and how could you do that with a dog? Does a dog that follows a red herring commit a logical fallacy? Inference seems to me to logically require the understanding of the terms of the inference sufficiently well to be able to identify sameness of content and recognize difference of content as well. Some causal associations between, say the sound "squirrel" and squirrely behavior on the part of a dog seem to me insufficient to show that the dog understands the meaning of the term "squirrel."

One thing I am trying to do (since I am writing a piece on the AFR for a Blackwell companion to natural theology) is to try to explain eliminative materialism in a way that shows that they aren't quite as insane as they appear to be at first glance.


Monday, October 29, 2007

A Maverick discussion of Nagel's The Last Word

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This essay by Theroux has some references to the AFR


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Three levels of intentionality

I'm redating this, partly because it provides a context for discussing eliminativism.

VI. Three levels of intentionality

Intentional states are at the heart of the argument from reason. In philosophy of mind, the term “intentionality” refers to “aboutness.” Our thoughts are about other things, surely. The first thing that we notice about our mental states is that they are about certain other things. If there is to be rational inference, there has to be something to reason about.

However, intentionality is a rather complex phenomenon. Consider the following passage by Lewis:

The strength of the critic lies in the words "merely" or "nothing but. He sees all the facts but not the meaning. Quite truly, therefore, he claims to have seen all the facts. There is nothing else there, except the meaning. He is therefore, as regards the matter at hand, in the position of an animal. You will have noticed that most dogs cannot understand pointing. You point to a bit of food on the floor; the dog, instead of looking at the floor, sniffs at your finger. A finger is a finger to him, and that is all. His world is all fact and no meaning.

What is interesting about this passage is that although it is clear enough the dogs don’t understand pointing, it is equally true that dogs can be very good at tracking things. There are certainly states of the dog that link up to previous positions of a fox. The dog certainly can “track” a fox, and in one important sense we can say that the dog has states that are “about” the fox. But nevertheless the dog doesn’t understand pointing. It does not recognize the “aboutness” of our mental states. It does not understand the between its own fox-tracking activities and the fox.

So we might distinguish between simple representation on the one hand, with representation that is understood by the agent, what I will call understood representation. But clearly the latter type of intentionality is necessary for the kind of rational inference employed by the natural sciences. We have to know what we mean when we think, if we are to infer one claim from another. Consider the following joke syllogism, invented by a freshman student at the University of Illinois years ago.

1) Going to class is pointless.

2) An unsharpened pencil is pointless.

3) Therefore, going to class is an unsharpened pencil.

Recognizing that this is not a good argument is a matter of seeing that the meaning of the term “pointless” does not remain invariant between the first and second premises. And, as a recent President of the United States once observed, even the meaning of the word “is” does not remain constant from context to context. No rational inference, in or out of a scientific context, could occur if we never know what we mean when we use words.

So there is another characteristic of intentional states that is critical to their use in rational inference, and that is states of mind that are about other things are formulated together to provide us with a state with propositional content. This is a further development, which results in agents who have beliefs, desires, and other propositional attitudes. If we have propositional attitudes, not only do we understand what our thought are about, we also are able to formulate those thoughts in a sentential format. This I am going to call propositional intentionality.

Naturalistic discussions are going to have the easiest time with simple intentionality. But, I maintain, understood intentionality and propositional intentionality are essential for the possibility of science, and these are more difficult for naturalists to deal with.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Houston Craighead's defense of the AFR

I'm not sure I'm happy with this one, but it is interesting.


St. Augustine's Argument from Reason

This is a University of Delaware lecture on Augustine, by Katherin Rogers. You can see some of the Lewis themes here.

(Weinberg pp.34-38, Hyman and Walsh pp.33-53)

-----It's called the argument from reason because the core thesis is that human rationality...the ability to arrive at the truth through the proper functioning of your cognitive faculties....point to a God-produced universe------

I. What's to be proven (H 33): Existence of God, goodness of things, whether or not free will is a good thing.

II. Do you know that you exist? (34) Si fallor sum. We are capable of knowing something. Human reason can get at some truth. We don't need to be total sceptics.

III. We also know, in addition to the fact that we exist, that we live and think.

IV. Reason is the most excellent in the human being. (Note that we have moved to value.) Two reasons: (34-37)

A. Because it entails the other two aspects. Reason contains more than the other aspects. (H 34)

1. Universe is a hierarchy of value...existence is a really good thing, so the more there is to you, the better. (Value is not a matter of usefulness to us, but of intrinsic worth.)

2. The Great Chain of Being: dirt, plant, lower animal, human being. (No missing links...that's why there are things kind of on the borderline between kingdoms.)

3. Not an implausible view. Kill a pig to save a child? Idea of "evolution"? "Lower" animals?

B. Reason rules and judges the other senses...what rules is superior.

1. 5 senses give us raw sense data.

2. There is an "interior sense" which enables us to connect the information from the five senses and to judge whether or not the objects in question are to be sought or avoided. We share these with lower animals. Mr. Bunny is able to recognizing that this smell and this color and shape are to be associated with this good thing...parsley. (He won't call it parsley, of course.)(H 34)

3. The interior sense is superior to the other five because it is ‘a ruler and judge' (H 37).

4. Reason is something superior to these because it is able to step back and consider them.. Animals have consciousness, but we have self-consciousness. We can think about these 6 senses. It is reason which judges the senses.

V. If we find something superior to reason, will that be God? Evodius: Well...no.... How about if it's superior and eternal and immutable? (H 37-38)

VI. Does anything exist which is external to the rational mind, superior to it, eternal and immutable?

A. Numbers! (40-42)

1. external...we can all perceive it. It doesn't belong just to you or to me. (e.g. desk).

2. not in corporeal things (a number of proofs, including the fact that we know that the rules of mathematics apply to all numbers but we couldn't possibly have sense contact with an infinite number of numbers.)

B. Wisdom! (42-44)1. (Laws of logic?)

2. Truths of value and morality. (It's better to be smart than stupid. It's wrong to torture small children for fun.)

C. Immutable and eternal.

D. Superior to reason? Because we judge reason against number and wisdom, and not vice versa...that is, if somebody says that they've thought about it and decided that 2+2=5, we don't say, "Gee, maybe it is." We say, "Think again."(47)

-----Of course, you can deny all of this. David Hume and A.J. Ayer do. Math and logic are just arbitrary, made up languages, functions of human thought. Morality is just a matter of sentiment. Total scepticism. Can't think at all. Certainly can't say, truthfully, "There is no truth." Right? Cratylus.------------

VII. Truth=God (So it's an argument from reason. If reason is possible, i.e. if we can think to the truth, then there must be Truth i.e. God.)

A. But is this really the Judeo-Christian God?

B. Transcendent, eternal, immutable, standard of all goodness, what enables us to know...sounds like Plato's Good.

VIII. Everything must have its source in this Truth...everything is established through number (50-52).

A. Form=nature or structure. Everything has form.

B. Number is what gives things Form (proportion).

C. If you stop having form you cease to exist.

D. Things can't form themselves...must be formed by something else.

1. There must be a source for all the things that come into being and pass away.

2. Mutable things depend on, copy, the immutable forms.

IX. God=Truth is the cause of everything...and everything is GOOD!

Proof from Reason: Summary

1. You know you exist. (Si fallor, sum)

2. You know you also live and think. (To know 1 you'd have to.)

3. Your reason is superior to mere existence or existence and life.

A. It contains the other two. (Existence is good, the more being a thing has, the more there is to it, the better it is. Corollaries: The Great Chain of Being, The Principle of Plenitude.)

B. Reason judges other aspects of cognitive apparatus.

4. Therefore reason is the "highest" thing in our world.

5. Something would be God if it were...

A. really existent

B. not part of physical world

C. eternal and immutable

D. superior to reason

6. There is something like that, Truth i.e. Numbers and Wisdom

A. We all "see" it.

B. Clearly not part of physical world (We know it will be the case tomorrow, Idea of unity, mathematical rules that hold for infinite number system....)

C. Recognize don't change over time

D. Reason must conform to it, not vice versa.

7. And this Truth is the SOURCE of our world.

A. To exist must have form

B. Form depends on number.

C. A thing cannot form itself.

Therefore: God

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Daniel Hutto's critique of Davidson

Donald Davidson is the founding father of one of the most influential forms of non-reductive materialism: anomalous monism. Daniel Hutto, a British idealist philosopher, thinks his non-reductive materialism leaves mental states epiphenomenal.

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Why theism escapes the naturalist's problem

This is another important passage:

On these terms the Theist's position must be a chimera nearly as outrageous as the Naturalist's. (Nearly, not quite; it abstains from the crowning audacity of a huge negative). But the Theist need not, and does not, grant these terms. He is not committed to the view that reason is a comparatively recent development moulded by a process of selection which can select only the biologically useful. For him, reason--the reason of God--is older than Nature, and from it the orderliness of Nature, which alone enables us to know her, is derived. For him, the human mind in the act of knowing is illuminated by the Divine reason. It is set free, in the measure required, from the huge nexus of non-rational causation; free from this to be determined by the truth known. And the preliminary processes within Nature which led up to this liberation, if there were any, were designed to do so.

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C. S. Lewis and the evolution of reason

This is a critical passage in Lewis's argument from Reason. It is found on p. 19 of my copy of Miracles: A Preliminary Study.

Once, then, our thoughts were not rational. That is, all our thoughts once were, as many of our thoughts still are, merely subjective events, not apprehensions of objective truth. Those which had a cause external to ourselves at all were (like our pains) responses to stimuli. Now natural selection could operate only by eliminating responses that were biologically hurtful and multiplying those which tended to survival. But it is not conceivable that any improvement of responses could ever turn them into acts of insight, or even remotely tend to do so. The relation between response and stimulus is utterly different from that between knowledge and the truth known. Our physical vision is a far more useful response to light than that of the cruder organisms which have only a photo-sensitive spot. But neither this improvement nor any possible improvements we can suppose could bring it an inch nearer to being a knowledge of light. It is admittedly something without which we could not have had that knowledge. But the knowledge is achieved by experiments and inferences from them, not by refinement of the response. It is not men with specially good eyes who know about light, but men who have studied the relevant sciences. In the same way our psychological responses to our environment-our curiosities, aversions, delights, expectations-could be indefinitely improved (from the biological point of view) without becoming anything more than responses. Such perfection of the non-rational responses, far from amounting to their conversion into valid inferences, might be conceived as a different method of achieving survival—an alternative to reason. A conditioning which secured that we never felt delight except in the useful nor aversion save from the dangerous, and that the degrees of both were exquisitely proportional to the degree of real utility or danger in the object, might serve us as well as reason or in some circumstances better.

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Monday, October 22, 2007

BDK and Me on Eliminativism

Since I am about to launch into another discussion of eliminative materialism, I have been looking over my discussions with BDK on eliminative materialism that I had last year. I am putting up search results for the word "eliminative," which brings up some stuff that isn't part of our discussion, but others that are.


Friday, October 19, 2007

Richard Carrier replies to Russell Howell

Richard Carrier responds, at length, to criticisms against his essay on Steiner's position on the relation between mathematics and reality.

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Can you argue with a zombie?

Apparently not.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

More on the Lewis-Anscombe controversy

Lewis and Anscombe on distinguishing "irrational" from "nonrational"

In my book and in my 1989 essay, "The Lewis-Anscombe Controversy: A Discussion of the Issues," I discussed Anscombe's insistence that Lewis distinguish between irrational causes and non-rational causes. Irrational causes would be things like being bitten by a black dog as a child gives you a complex and causes you to believe that all black dogs are dangerous. Nonrational causes are physical events or physical causes. Now interestingly enough, when I wrote a paper on Lewis on ethical subjectivism back in grad school I noticed this passage from Part I of The Abolition of Man:

Now the emotion, thus considered by itself, cannot be either in agreement or disagreement with Reason. It is irrational not as a paralogism is irrational, but as a physical event is irrational: it does not rise even to the dignity of error.

Now, in this passage doesn't Lewis draw the exact distinction on which Anscombe insisted? The only difference here is that Lewis distinguishes two senses of the term "irrational" instead of distinguishing between irrational and nonrational. But was Lewis's usage of the term "irrational" wrong? Going to a dictionary definition of "irrational" (see link below) I think not. Nevetheless, Lewis changed from "irrational" to "nonrational" to accomodate Anscombe's criticism.

This is the dictionary entry:

Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.0.1) - Cite This Source
ir‧ra‧tion‧al  /ɪˈræʃənl/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[i-rash-uh-nl] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation

–adjective 1. without the faculty of reason; deprived of reason.
2. without or deprived of normal mental clarity or sound judgment.
3. not in accordance with reason; utterly illogical: irrational arguments.
4. not endowed with the faculty of reason: irrational animals.
5. Mathematics. a. (of a number) not capable of being expressed exactly as a ratio of two integers.
b. (of a function) not capable of being expressed exactly as a ratio of two polynomials.

6. Algebra. (of an equation) having an unknown under a radical sign or, alternately, with a fractional exponent.
7. Greek and Latin Prosody. a. of or pertaining to a substitution in the normal metrical pattern, esp. a long syllable for a short one.
b. noting a foot or meter containing such a substitution.

–noun 8. Mathematics. irrational number.


[Origin: 1425–75; late ME < L irratiōnālis. See ir-2, rational]

—Related forms
ir‧ra‧tion‧al‧ly, adverb
ir‧ra‧tion‧al‧ness, noun

—Synonyms 3. unreasonable, ridiculous; insensate.
Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.0.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006

In writing about this in my 1989 paper "The Lewis-Anscombe Controversy: A Discussion of the Issues," I conceded Anscombe's point but argued that since scientific knowledge depends crucially on our having knowledge that is inferred from other things we know, the distinction hardly sinks Lewis's argument. But I should have gone futher. The dictionary definition clearly shows that the word "irrational" can be used in both senses. Therefore any claim that Anscombe exposed a blunder on Lewis's part is clearly incorrect.

I am grateful to Jim Slagle for pointing this out.


A previious DI post on Lewis and Anscombe

Why did the exchange with Anscombe upset C. S. Lewis?

This is a follow-up on the post I did a couple of weeks back on the impact of the Anscombe exchange on Lewis. On the one hand we do have Lewis in various communications expressing discouragement about his debating experience with Anscombe, and also a certain amount of avoiding of apologetic controversy after that. And we even have some comments to the effect that he had been proven wrong at least reported by people like Sayer.

At the same time there is clear and overwhelming evidence that Lewis, at least from fairly early on after the exchange with Anscombe, did not consider his argument refuted. Of course there is the 1960 revision of the relevant chapter, in which he expanded the relevant chapter. It makes no sense to expand the very chapter of one's book which is thought to have been disproved.

But more importantly, Lewis's own response printed in the Socratic Digest later that year showed that he didn't think the argument itself refuted. He wrote:

I admit that valid was a bad for what I meant; veridical (or verific or veriferous) would have been better. I also admit that the cause and effect relation between events and the ground and consequent relation between propositions are distinct. Since English uses the word because for both, let us use Because CE for the cause and effect relation ('This doll always falls on its feet because CE its feet are weighted') and Because GC for the ground and consequent relation ('A equals C because GC they both equal B'). But the sharper this distinction becomes the more my difficulty increases. If an argument is to be verific it must be related to the premises as consequent to ground, i.e. the conclusion is there because GC certain other propositions are true. On the other, our thinking the conclusion is an event that must be related to previous events as effect to cause, i. e. this act of thinking must occur because CE previous events have occurred. It would seem, therefore, that we never think the conclusion because GC it is the consequent of its grounds, but only because CE previous events have happened. If so, it does not seem that the GC sequence makes us more likely to think the true conclusion than not. And this is very much what I mean by the difficulty in Naturalism.

The red-lettered passage suggests that Lewis actually thought that when you draw the Anscombe-type distinctions more sharply, you actually get more trouble for naturalism, not less. Although it would have seemed to the outside observers of the debate that Anscombe helped the naturalist defend naturalism against Lewis's attacks, what Lewis is saying that she did was actually provide ammunition for the case against naturalism.

Lewis also seems to concede some points to Anscombe that I am not sure he really should. For example, valid is a term that has more than one sense. In logic a valid argument is one that is structured in such a way that if the premises are true, the conclusion must be true, but it also can be used to refer to reliability or legitimacy. Anscombe objects to the use of the term irrational causes to refer to non-rational causes, but actually in The Abolition of Man Lewis distinguishes between two senses of irrational; he writes: "It is irrational not as a paralogism is irrational, but as a physical event is irrational." In a previous post I looked up a dictionary and found that Lewis could not be faulted by the way he used "irrational" in the first edition.

The philosophical upshot of the exchange with Anscombe, as Lewis saw it, was that the argument surely needed some cleaning up, but after that cleaning up the argument was, if anything, in better shape than it was before Anscombe criticized it. Given all this, it is amazing to me that Lewis would have given so many signals to other people suggesting that this exchange was some kind of huge defeat for him. I have a distinct impression that there are parts of this story that are below the surface, maybe that we will never fully understand.

I have created a link to a search of my blog for "Anscombe," so that you can see my reflections on that controversy that I have put up here. See also the discussion by Ed Cook on the exchange.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

An old post on the reliability of our faculties

A redated post from DI on the Reliability of our Rational Faculties. This was from the time when I was responding to Carrier.

The Argument from the Reliability of our Rational Faculties, or Should We Attack Water Balloons?
IV. Argument from the Reliability of our Rational FacultiesIf naturalism is true, it is often argued that natural selection would support the emergence of rational as opposed to irrational belief-forming mechanisms. But it is not at all clear to me that the most reliable belief-forming mechanisms are the most advantageous from an evolutionary point of view.First of all I argued that simpler procedures often have more selective advantage over more complex cognitive ones. Carrier ridicules the example that I use, which isIf the chief enemy of a creature is a foot-long snake, perhaps some inner programming to attack everything a foot long would be more effective than the more complicated ability to distinguish mammals from amphibians.Carrier thinks that this commits me to the idea that this creature will attack everything a foot long, including rocks, which is clearly not what I meant. Most universal statements presuppose a universe of discourse; thus if you were to go into a store having a clearance sale in which I find a sign that says “Clearance Sale: Everything Must Be Sold” and proceed to ask the price of the salesgirl, you would get slapped upside the head and rightly so.But of course very often nature uses short-cut mechanisms to provide for the survival of creatures. In my home state of Arizona we have lots of rattlesnakes, and they are designed in such a way as to track warmth. Very often a warm object will be an enemy, but it need not be one. If you put a hot water balloon outside a rattlesnake’s hole it will attack the water balloon. So I might say “Perhaps nature could give a creature a tendency to attack anything above a certain number of degrees in the environment, and that would be more effective from the point of view of survival than the ability to discriminate between animate and inanimate objects,” and it seems to me that if I said that Carrier could produce all of his arguments ridiculing that claim and saying that of course being able to figure out whether something is alive or not is better from the point of view of survival than just hitting something above a certain number of degrees. Carrier also saysIt will always be a more efficient use of resources (energy, time, risk, and tools) to avoid attacking all non-threats and to attack all actual threats—including entirely new and unanticipated threats. And the only means an organism can maximize efficiency in this respect is to optimize its ability to categorize and discriminate objects and events. There is literally no other way. But if this were the case wouldn’t Mother Nature have hit upon rational creatures a whole lot sooner, instead of using a wide range of other kinds of mechanisms to promote survival? I pointed out in my book that the reason in humans requires the development of large brains which, while providing the advantage of enhanced knowledge capacities, have the disadvantage of making the creature more vulnerable, requiring longer periods of immaturity, etc. The emergence of reason involves trade-offs from an evolutionary standpoint, though of course it can be very well seen why a naturalist might say that trade-off is worth it. If we consider such natural occurrences as the dance of the bees, we find sophisticated ways of discovering where nectar is (and where it is not), without anything like conscious reasoning being involved. It seems just false to say that there is, and can be, no substitute for reason.Darwin once raised doubts about his own capacities to understand the world accurately on the assumption of evolution by natural selection. The possibility that false beliefs can promote reproductive fitness seems impossible to deny. I don’t know if any scientific studies have been done on this, but I remember high school, and I distinctly had the impression that the guys who held egregiously inflated views of their own attractiveness to the opposite sex tended to have more successful dating lives than those of us who assess our attractiveness more realistically.Douglas Henry, in the 2003 edition of Philosophia Christi, provides an excellent example of how systematically false beliefs can benefit survival, in his essay “Correspondence Theories, Natural-Selective Truth, and Unsurmounted Skepticism.” He considers the attempt by Ruth Millikan to provide an evolutionary foundation for realism and the correspondence theory of truth. He maintains that the fact that humans tend to respond positively to placebos suggests that false beliefs can, and often do, have survival value. The placebo effect is well-documented in medical literature, showing that if someone receives some medication that they think will benefit their health, then that will benefit their health even though it is nothing more than a sugar pill. On the other hand trading the false belief “This is the latest cancer medicine” for the true belief “This is just a sugar pill” will result in the loss of the positive health effects of believing that a person is receiving beneficial medicine.If false beliefs about matters that are of immediate concern can be false yet helpful, is it also possible natural selection could, in various ways, incline us toward a whole range of false beliefs? Could our beliefs be systematically false and still adaptive? I see no reason to think they could not.The Arguments from Reason are far from finished products, either as a result of Lewis’s efforts or as the result of my own or other people who defend them. Far more than I have been able to do already will be required to make a persuasive case to most people that reason is a phenomenon that fits far better into a supernaturalist world-view than into a naturalistic world view. A good deal more needs to be done by defenders of the arguments from reason, especially in addressing naturalistic philosophers like Dennett, Millikan, and Dretske who had attempted to tackle the problem of how reason can exist in a naturalistic universe. There is a long struggle ahead to try to show first that the central elements of reason to which I have alluded are ineliminable, secondly, to show that reductive analyses of these elements of reason are unsuccessful, and third to show that an alternative world-view, such a theism, provides a better way of understanding these phenomena. However, I firmly believe, and continue to believe, that the more we study attempts to naturalize reason the more plausible it will seem that “Something’s rotten in Denmark, ” and that a fundamentally mentalistic world-view, like theism, can clean up the stench.


Saturday, October 13, 2007

Jim Slagle on the AFR

Jim Slagle has recently written a master's thesis in defense of the AFR, with an interesting quote from Jaegwon Kim on mental causation.

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Friday, October 12, 2007

A critique of functionalism


Doctor Logic challenges the AFR

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The reality of rational inference

VI. The Reality of Rational Inference
The argument from reason focuses on cases where we infer one proposition from another proposition. I will not deny that there are other ways of acquiring true and justified beliefs. Many have argued that, for example, I can have a justified belief that my eyeglasses are here on my computer table without drawing any inferences at all, but rather, just by perceiving my glasses. I should add that this “direct realist” view of perception is by no means universal amongst philosophers; there are many who maintain that what we are directly aware of are “sense data” and that we infer physical objects from sense data. The reason this entire issue can be sidestepped for the sake of this discussion is that an “error theory” concerning rational inference leads inevitably to skepticism about some beliefs that naturalists cannot give up.
Naturalists maintain, of course, that what is real are the sorts of things that lend themselves to scientific analysis, but they also cannot escape believing that there are scientists and mathematicians whose minds are capable of performing those scientific analyses. Consider, for example, a doctrine I call “hyper-Freudianism,” the view that all beliefs are the product on unconscious drives, and that no one believes anything they believe for the reasons that they think they believe it. An atheist could say of the theist “You think you believe in God because of the arguments of Christian apologists, but you really believe it because you are searching for a cosmic father figure to calm your fears.” Or, a theist can say “You think you are an atheist because of the evidence of evolution and the problem of evil, but I know that you just want to kill your father. But this, of course, can be pushed still further to include all beliefs. But that’s just the trouble, if it is pushed that far, then it has to be extended to the belief in hyper-Freudianism itself. If someone tries to present evidence for hyper-Freudianism, they are doing something that can only be done if hyper-Freudianism is false.
Consider the classic syllogism:
1. All men are mortal.
2. Socrates is a man.
3. Therefore, Socrates is mortal.
If it is a consequence of naturalism that nothing like this ever happens, that no one ever draws these types of conclusions from premises, then naturalism is in a lot of trouble. Consider, for example, the role of mathematics in science. Mathematical inferences were critical in making it possible for Newton to discover gravity and Einstein to discover relativity. If we believe that natural science gets the truth about the world, then we must not deny that mathematical inferences exist. If we are persuaded that the argument from evil is a good argument against theism, then we must not accept a position that entails that no one is ever persuaded by an argument.
In my previous treatment of the argument from reason, I presented nine presuppositions of rational inference.
1. States of mind have a relation to the world we call intentionality, or about-ness.
2. Thoughts and beliefs can be either true or false.
3. Human can be in the condition of accepting, rejecting, or suspending belief about propositions.
4. Logical laws exist.
5. Human beings are capable of apprehending logical laws.
6. The state of accepting the truth of a proposition plays a crucial causal role in the production of other beliefs, and the propositional content of mental states is relevant to the playing of this causal role.
7. The apprehension of logical laws plays a causal role in the acceptance of the conclusion of the argument as true.
8. The same individual entertains thoughts of the premises and then draws the conclusion.
9. Our processes of reasoning provide us with a systematically reliable way of understanding the world around us.

It seems to me that naturalists and theists can agree that these things actually occur. Naturalists can't afford to deny them. They must, therefore, try to explain them, and to show that their understanding is the best explanation of the data.


Monday, October 01, 2007

The Myth of Non-reductive Materialism

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