Thursday, August 1, 2013

Another religious experience argument against naturalism


  1. If something supernatural exists or if something has the causal power to produce something supernatural, then naturalism is false.
  2. If it's causally possible for something supernatural to exist, then something supernatural exists or something has the causal power to produce something supernatural.
  3. If p is causally possible, and p entails q, then q is causally possible.
  4. For every natural* perceptual faculty in humans, it is causally possible for people to perceive veridically through it.
  5. That someone perceives veridically through religious experience entails that there is something supernatural.
  6. There is a natural* perceptual faculty of religious experience in humans.
  7. So, naturalism is false.
Here, we can specify that a faculty is natural* provided that it is neither abnormal nor entirely dependent on culture.

5 comments:

Mikhail Lastrilla said...
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Mikhail Lastrilla said...

What does "causally possible" mean? Is the idea that, in some possible world, the relevant causal chain exists? But then (2) is false - just because the existence of something supernatural is causally possible in some possible world, it doesn't follow that (2)'s consequent holds in the actual world.

If we limit the notion of possibility here so that it applies to the actual world, then (4) is questionable, for why think that evolution is such that all the natural faculties it has given us are aimed at tracking reality?

Alexander R Pruss said...

"Causally possible" means basically that there are causal powers in this world that make it possible.

"why think that evolution is such that all the natural faculties it has given us are aimed at tracking reality"

Well, there is the causal theory of content, which strongly suggests that every type of experience (with types correctly individuated) has veridical instances.

Also, if one thinks we have whole faculties that never track reality, that way lies scepticism.

Mikhail Lastrilla said...

" if one thinks we have whole faculties that never track reality, that way lies scepticism."

I don't see why. It seems plausible that evolution would endow us with faculties that reliable if those faculties will help our species survive.

Alexander R Pruss said...

Well, if you limit reality-tracking to where it is evolutionarily beneficial to get the truth, you get scepticism about ethical and epistemic normativity (epistemic and pragmatic). Getting the right normative facts doesn't help survival as such. You also get scepticism about metaphysics for the same reasons, and so you can't know naturalism to be true. Moreover, you probably don't get to have scientific realism, but only something like van Fraassen's view. It may not be out-and-out scepticism, but it's pretty bad. (Especially the ethics part, since getting ethics right is about the most important thing in life.)