Wednesday, February 16, 2011

No one knows that naturalism is true

  1. (Premise) No one knows that mathematical (or ethical or aesthetic) truths can be grounded in natural facts.
  2. (Premise) If no one knows that mathematical (or ethical or aesthetic) truths can be grounded in natural facts, then no one knows that natural facts are all the facts there are.
  3. So, no one knows that natural facts are all the facts there are.

4 comments:

critiquemythinking.com said...

While I like the door that this opens, does not this open the door to granting the possibility of all sorts of silly things (e.g. fairies, unicorns, ghosts, etc.).

Also, does this open the conversation to modal realism about the plurality of worlds thesis? If so, I think this might wreak havoc on philosophy more than it helps it.

_Nick

Alexander R Pruss said...

About silly things: Only if you think it is at all plausible that these silly things might ground the mathematical/ethical/aesthetic truths. And that's unlikely.

About plurality of worlds, I see nothing wrong with the line of argument that the plurality of worlds solves problems that no other theory does, and hence we don't know it to be false. But I deny that it solves problems that no other theory does.

critiquemythinking.com said...

I see. I do not hold to ethical or aesthetic realism, so that might account for my having a worry about this that you do not. Also, I can agree that the Plurality of World thesis is not necessitated by these premises and that the thesis has no monopoly on explanatory power.

Do I interpret you correctly as saying, albeit indirectly, that explanatory power (whether about mathematical 'truths' or what you call 'problems') is a factor by which someone can deem one possible theory better than another?

I promise I am not trying to set the stage for polemics. I am purely curious about the role of explanatory power in philosophy.

Thank you for your quick reply! (Nick)

Alexander R Pruss said...

Explanatory power is one of the main ways of comparing theories, philosophical and scientific, yes.

I am convinced that any plausible reasons for giving up on realism about morality are reasons for giving up on all normativity, including epistemic.