|Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism|
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Overview of the Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism
To define some terms and abbreviations, a defeater is (roughly) something that removes or weakens rational grounds for accepting some belief; in the context of the EAAN, the defeater is such that one is rationally obligated to withhold the defeated belief (i.e. not believe it; as by (1) remaining agnostic about it, or (2) believing it to be false). Suppose for example I arrive in a city and see what appears to be a barn from fifty meters away. I later learn that some eccentric has last week put up fake barns all over the area along with real ones, and that these fake barns are indistinguishable from real barns when viewed at a distance of thirty meters or more. I now have a defeater for my belief that I had seen a barn. I realize I could have seen a barn, but I don’t have sufficient grounds to accept the belief anymore. The rational thing for me to do is to withhold my belief that I had seen a barn. Suppose though I learn later that the eccentric removed all fake barns prior to my arrival. I would then have something that nullifies the defeating force of the defeater, i.e. a defeater-defeater. EAAN claims the naturalist who believes in evolution acquires a defeater for his belief in evolution + naturalism. The abbreviations commonly used for EAAN:
|R =||our cognitive faculties are reliable|
|N =||naturalism is true|
|E =||evolution is true|
|Pr(R|N&E) =||the probability of R given N&E|
In other words, Pr(R|N&E) refers to the probability that our cognitive faculties are reliable given naturalism and evolution. In a nutshell, the evolutionary argument against naturalism goes like this:
- Pr(R|N&E) is low
- The person who believes N&E (naturalism and evolution) and sees that Pr(R|N&E) is low has a defeater for R.
- Anyone who has a defeater for R has a defeater for pretty much any other belief she has, including (if she believed it) N&E.
- Therefore, the devotee of N&E (at least such a devotee who is aware of the truth of premise 1) has a self-defeating belief.
So much then for an overview of the argument. Both the Probability Thesis and the Defeater Thesis of EAAN will need to be justified. Up next, justifying the Probability Thesis.
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