Friday, March 13, 2009

A Bayesian AFR

It seems to me that a version of the argument from reason confirms Bayesian-confirms theism even if a naturalistic explanation of the mind is perfectly possible.
P(EF)P(F) over
P(EF)P(F) + P(EF')P(F')
E= Creaturely minds exist.
F= The fundamental causes of the universe are mental in nature.
F'= The fundamental causes of the universe are not mental in nature.
Since we are trying to determine whether the argument confirms theism, we have to assume a subject that is on the fence between F and F'. In other words we have to assume that that F = .5.

Now, how likely is it that minds should exist on the assumption that the basic causes are mental. Pretty likely, it seems to me. If theism is true, then from what we know of ourselves as rational creatures, we should expect that a rational being in charge of everything would create rational beings with whom He or She could communicate. But what if God does not exist, and the basic causes were non-mental. How there can be minds is at best difficult and at most impossible to explain. A lot of things had to happen just right in the development of the human brain in order for reason to be possible, if it is even possible at all. It looks, therefore, like the existence of creaturely minds confirms theism even if we cannot show that, for example, dualism is true. The existence of creaturely reason, therefore, confirms the mental character of the universe.


Saturday, March 07, 2009

Searle on the Computer Model of the mind

HT: Edward Feser

Feser considers this the definitive refutation of the computational theory of the mind. Do you think that Feser is right?

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Thursday, March 05, 2009

This is an encyclopedia piece on the knowledge argument

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Feser on why Searle really is a property dualist

Monday, March 02, 2009

Lippard on Dennett at ASU

This is Jim Lippard's account of a Daniel Dennett presentation at ASU. I fear that whenever I read Dennett I get a lot of pro-science and pro-materialism bravado, a lot of interesting examples, but when I go looking for the argument, half the time I can't find it.It is interesting that Dennett uses the term mind-creationists, and applies that term not to people like me (whose existence I am sure he would not be willing to recognize), but to Fodor and Searle, both of whom are atheists, and neither of whom would dare draw the conclusion that a creator need apply. Of course Dennett is delighted to lump Turing resistant philosophers of mind, including atheists like Fodor and Searle, in with "creationists," which is a blanket term for those benighted enemies of reason who are blinkered by their religious fundamentalism into a literal interpretation of Genesis. So you get Fundamentalist Bible-thumpers and Young Earth Creationists = People who attribute anything to a Creator = People who think the mind isn't purely physical = People who think the mind has original intentionality. So Dennett's foes in the philosophy of mind are just like all those other creationists. If I were Fodor or Searle I would have a fit.Lippard writes;A few of the "mind-creationists" Dennett pointed out were Jerry Fodor and John Searle. Another is Victor Reppert, author of C.S. Lewis's Dangerous Idea: In Defense of the Argument from Reason, the main argument of which I criticized in a short paper ("Historical But Indistinguishable Differences: Some Notes on Victor Reppert's Paper," Philo vol. 2, no. 1, 1999, pp. 45-47). Reppert's position is that Turing machines don't actually do arithmetic, because they have no semantics, only syntax, and that you only get meaning through original intentionality of the sort that John Searle argues is an irreducible feature of the world. Computers only have semantics when we impute it to them. My argument was that if you have two possible worlds that are exactly alike, except that one was created by a top-down designer and one evolved, there's no reason to say that one has semantics and the other one doesn't--how they got to the point at which they have creatures with internal representations that stand in the right causal relationships to the external world doesn't make a difference to whether or not those representations actually refer and have meaning.Contrary to this, I maintain that reference and meaning have to be reference and meaning for some conscious agent who perceives and understands that meaning, and that a complete description of causal relations is going to leave the semantic states indeterminate.