October 20, 2015

This Post is Old!

The post you are reading is years old and may not represent my current views. I started blogging around the time I first began to study philosophy, age 17. In my view, the point of philosophy is to expose our beliefs to rational scrutiny so we can revise them and get better beliefs that are more likely to be true. That's what I've been up to all these years, and this blog has been part of that process. For my latest thoughts, please see the front page.

"Foundational Grounding and the Argument from Contingency"

I've posted a new draft, "Foundational Grounding and the Argument from Contingency," to my writings page. As always, comments are welcome.

Posted by Kenny at October 20, 2015 12:32 PM
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To maintain your argument, you have to specify your physics, your worldview. In an It from Bit Information formalism, your main points about causality are not justified.

Posted by: Malcolm at October 21, 2015 3:43 PM

Fascinating paper!

I have a question though: Why can't the naturalist just replicate the explanatory structure the theist is positing here? You seem to assume that current science limits the naturalist's options here, but given that this assumption puts the naturalists at a disadvantage in this context, the naturalist will likely challenge (or perhaps drop) that assumption. Maybe the naturalist *can't* do so, but it isn't clear to me why she can't. I suppose it depends on how one defines 'naturalism' here.

Posted by: Mikhail at December 20, 2015 5:10 PM

Yes, clearly a lot depends on how 'naturalism' is defined. I've defined it as the view that metaphysics ought not to go beyond natural science. So the naturalistic metaphysician cannot introduce varieties of explanation or explanatory structures that go beyond current natural science. So I allow the naturalist to prefer one live scientific hypothesis over another (as in section 1), but not to make up some totally new hypothesis, especially if it's totally dissimilar from those currently taken seriously in natural science.

Of course, there's no reason why every atheist has to obey this constraint, but many philosophers certainly want to obey it.

Posted by: Kenny Pearce at December 20, 2015 5:26 PM

"I allow the naturalist to prefer one live scientific hypothesis over another (as in section 1), but not to make up some totally new hypothesis"

What do you mean? In a sense, if science hasn't yet ventured to explain History, then any scientific hypothesis regarding History will be new. I'm not sure such a hypothesis will be very dissimilar from current science though, since arguably current science also makes use of grounding relations (e.g. constitution).

To put the point in another way, it isn't clear why the naturalist cannot make the same move here that Oppy does with regard to causal versions of the contingency argument. Doing so might require going beyond current science to some extent, but that's expected, given that History is the explanandum here. But perhaps I'm missing something.

Posted by: Mikhail at December 20, 2015 8:41 PM

The Oppy move is consistent with a stronger version of naturalism than the move you contemplate. The Oppy move (as I reconstruct it) says, basically, for any given causal theistic hypothesis, there is ALREADY a live scientific hypothesis that has that causal structure. The move you contemplate involves constructing a totally new hypothesis for this metaphysical purpose, which is a project the kind of naturalist I have in mind disavows. Even if we allow the naturalistic metaphysician to construct such a hypothesis, it needs to be shown that this is consistent with existing scientific practice, and in order to show that we'd have to evaluate some specific proposal.

Posted by: Kenny Pearce at December 21, 2015 7:43 AM

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