Is the desire for life rational?
Religious Studies (2022)
The question of the meaning of life has long been thought to be closely intertwined with that of the existence of God. I offer a new theistic, anti-naturalist argument from the meaning of life. It is argued that the desire for life is irrational on naturalism, since there would be no good reason to believe that life is worthwhile on the whole if naturalism were true. As I show, the same cannot be argued of theism. Since it is clear that the desire for life is not irrational, it is concluded that we have strong reason to prefer theism over naturalism.
Link to full article: Is the desire for life rational? | Religious Studies | Cambridge Core
Existence exists, and it is God
Religious Studies (2022)
Much of historic Christian philosophical theology has affirmed that God not only exists, but is Existence itself. Nowadays, this claim is widely rejected as unintelligible by theists and non-theists alike. I argue in contrast that if there is such a thing as Existence itself, that thing must be a maximally excellent being, which is what many philosophers call God. This is because Existence would itself need to exist, which is only possible if Existence exists in a paradigmatic way, that is, as a perfect instance of existence. My argument thus offers both a defence of the coherence of the claim that God is Existence itself, and a new way of arguing for theism.
Link to full article: Existence exists, and it is God | Religious Studies | Cambridge Core
Why the Good is supremely good: a defence of the Monologion proof
Religious Studies (2021)
The opening chapters of Anselm's Monologion contain a ‘proof’ of a perfect being, which has received far less attention than the more famous Proslogion proof, and the ontological arguments derived from it. I wish to rectify this by developing an argument in defence of a crucial premise of the Monologion proof. This premise states that ‘the Good’, i.e. that in virtue of which numerically distinct things may all be good, must itself be a supremely good thing (if it exists). I motivate the argument before considering objections to both premises, as well as putative ‘parodies’ of my argument. Part of the motivation of my argument will involve the claim that the Good, if it is good at all, must be a paradigm good thing. I conclude that theists have a second kind of ontological argument at their disposal.
A new epistemological case for theism
Religious Studies (2021)
Relying on inference to the best explanation (IBE) requires one to hold the intuition that the world is ‘intelligible’, i.e. such that states of affairs at least generally have explanations for their obtaining. I argue that metaphysical naturalists are rationally required to withhold this intuition, unless they cease to be naturalists. This is because all plausible naturalistic etiologies of the intuition entail that the intuition and the state of affairs which it represents are not causally connected in an epistemically appropriate way. Given that one ought to rely on IBE, naturalists are forced to pick the latter and change their world-view.Traditional theists, in contrast, do not face this predicament. This, I argue, is strong grounds for preferring traditional theism to naturalism.
Link to full article: https://www.academia.edu/44546424/A_new_epistemological_case_for_theism
An evolutionary sceptical challenge to scientific Realism
Evolutionary scepticism holds that the evolutionary account of the origins of the human cognitive apparatus has sceptical implications for at least some of our beliefs. A common target of evolutionary scepticism is moral realism. Scientific realism, on the other hand, is much less frequently targeted, though the idea that evolutionary theory should make us distrustful of science is by no means absent from the literature. This line of thought has received unduly little attention. I propose to remedy this by advancing what I will call an evolutionary sceptical challenge to scientific realism. I argue that, given standard evolutionary theory, our possession of sound innate metaphysical intuitions would have taken an epistemically problematic 'lucky accident'. This, as I will show, entails that scientific realism is a self-undermining position. I discuss objections to my argument's two premises, including ones that appeal to the success of the sciences and to the possibility that sound innate metaphysical intuitions evolved as an evolutionary 'by-product'. I then draw out an advantage of my argument over a similar one recently put forward by Graber and Golemon (Sophia, 2019. https ://doi.org/10.1007/s1184 1-018-0695-0). I finish by submitting that scientific realism, given the soundness of my argument, is faced with a new 'Darwinian Dilemma', and briefly address the significance of this for the debate between realists and anti-realists in the philosophy of science.
Link to full article: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10670-020-00226-3
Dissertation title & abstract
An evolutionary sceptical challenge to scientific realism
Evolutionary sceptical challenges charge that the evolutionary account of the origins of human cognitive capacities has sceptical implications for at least some of our beliefs. Common targets of evolutionary scepticism include, for instance, moral and mathematical realism. Scientific realism, on the other hand, is much less frequently targeted, though the idea that evolutionary theory should make us distrustful of science is by no means absent from the literature. This line of thought has received unduly little attention. I propose to remedy this by advancing what I will call an evolutionary sceptical challenge to scientific realism.
Chapters 1 and 2 provide preliminary information regarding scientific realism and evolutionary scepticism. Scientific realism is taken to be the view that our best scientific theories are true or approximately true. It is argued that scientific realists are committed to believing in the reliability of inference to the best explanation (IBE), which is itself underpinned by a philosophical intuition about the explanatory structure of the world, which I call the ‘intelligibility intuition’.
Chapter 3 lays out my main argument. I contend that, given evolutionary theory, it would have taken an epistemically problematic lucky accident for the intelligibility intuition to be true. This, as I will show, entails that scientific realism is a self-undermining position.
Chapters 4, 5 and 6 discuss objections to the argument. These include objections that appeal to the success of the sciences, and to the possibility that true philosophical intuitions emerged as an evolutionary ‘by-product’, or as a result of cultural (rather than biological) evolution.
Chapter 7 draws out some implications of my evolutionary sceptical challenge. In particular, I discuss its relevance to other forms of scientific realism (such as structural realism), and alternatives to scientific realism. I also argue that my argument, if sound, constitutes a valuable contribution to two historically important philosophical projects, which I will call the ‘Humean’ and ‘Cartesian’ projects respectively. I finish by explaining some ways in which my argument is at an advantage compared to other, similar arguments in the literature.
I conclude the dissertation by submitting that scientific realism, given the soundness of my argument, is faced with a new ‘Darwinian Dilemma’.