Monday, June 16, 2008

Interesting Discussion of Plantinga's Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (EAAN)

at Prosblogion, here. See Michael Almeida's dilemma against EAAN in the comments thread, and the subsequent discussion.

4 comments:

Rayndeon said...

Philosophical and probabilistic problems aside, I am afraid that I simply cannot take Plantinga seriously on this issue. He mistakes the biology and genetics so thoroughly that I am frankly surprised that no one has ever bothered to point out, at least in the philosophical literature, that *beliefs are not heritable*. Generalized belief-forming *systems* are. Your belief, for instance, that 0.9 repeating equals 1 or that there is a computer in front of you is not inherited. Instead, the faculties that allow these sorts of beliefs to develop are inherited. This makes the idea that viable nonreliable cognitive faculties being not merely likely, but *much more likely* than reliable cognitive faculties positively implausible. Mutations to a population will *globally* affect the cognitive faculties in question. So, for example, it would be like causing a random change in the entire circuitboard of a calculator, rather than some particular circuit path. Clearly, the probability of a viable, unreliable cognitive faculties forming in this manner are vanishingly low. Consider the sorts of things rational entities must do: They judge distance. They have a sense of time. They feel. They weigh possible outcomes before deciding on a choice. In any choice whatsoever is a medley of enormously complex neural patterns and processes. If none of them reflected reality, there is an extremely good chance that the population in question would die out, and die out fast. Because the genes in question are *general*, this does not allow for the heritability of *specific* genes that result in false but adaptive *beliefs*. Generalized belief systems, if they are to promote the fitness of a species, must be reliable, or the population will quickly die out. If a species had a faulty general sense of smells (assuming they do not have other compensating sensory methods), they would not be able to detect predators and such a trait would likely not be fixed in the species.

So, before we even need to criticize Plantinga's math and his philosophy, we need to reprimand his extraordinary misunderstanding of genetics and biology.

This is why I cannot take Plantinga's EAAN too seriously.

There have been some excellent discussion at Internet Infidels belaboring some of these, and other, points. Here is one excellent post on this issue.

exapologist said...

Thanks for that link, Rayndeon! Btw, I look forward to reading more of your excellent posts on your blog. Would you like me to add a link to your site?

Rayndeon said...

Hi Exapologist,

I would be honored if you would add me to your blogroll.

With respect to my post though, I am currently working on my article for the modal cosmological arguments, specifically the ones advocated by Alexander Pruss, and perhaps, I may even tackle Robert Koons' modal mereological version, in my spare time. I hope to complete it soon, although that will be dictated by my busy school, work, and personal life.

With warm regards,

A.Y.

exapologist said...

Hi Rayndeon (A.Y.),

That's great! I've read those arguments, but not Pruss's book-length defense of PSR -- I still need to order a copy of Pruss's book. I look forward to your trademark rigorous treatment of those arguments!

Best,

EA

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