Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Naturalism and lovability

  1. If naturalism is true, Stalin is not lovable.

  2. Everyone is lovable.

  3. So, naturalism is not true.

Here, by “lovable”, I don’t mean that it is possible to love the person, but that it is not inappropriate to do so.

Premise 2 follows the intuition that it is permissible for every parent to love their children. It also follows from the more controversial claim that everyone should love everyone.

The intuition behind premise 1 is something like this: Stalin’s actions were so horrible that the only plausible hypotheses on which he is lovable are that there is some deeply mysterious and highly valuable metaphysical fact about his being, such as that he is in the image and likeness of God, or that his Atman is Brahman, a fact incompatible with naturalism. For if all we have are the ordinary naturalistic goods in Stalin, these goods are easily outweighed by the horrors of his wickedness.


El Filósofo said...

Dr. Pruss, I think a Naturalist could justify it by atheistic platonism.

swaggerswaggmann said...

Premise 1 is false, as his mother can love him, as the natural love a mother has for his child is naturally hardcoded, and in her POV it is not over carried by his ""weakness"".

Alexander R Pruss said...

That it's hardcoded does not show that it is appropriate, at least not given naturalism. It may well be that all sorts of epistemic irrationality is hardcoded in us, at least given naturalism.

swaggerswaggmann said...

It is appropriate for survival, nobody here is talking about an absolute referential. If you do then the mother opinion is wrong and your argument fall appart at premise 2. Choose your poison.

Sadly naturalism seems the only scientifically valid position, your blog work on it, not on allah.

IanS said...

Christians are enjoined to love Stalin, monstrously bad as he was, as ‘made in the image of God’. Why can’t materialists say, in a similar sort of way, that we should love him as ‘a fellow human being’?

Red said...

@ swaggerswaggmann
You think blogs won't work if naturalism is false? Thats an interesting claim.

Alexander R Pruss said...


I am thinking that the imago Dei is as relevantly intrinsic to one as any other "intrinsic" metaphysical component. But the fellowness in "fellow human being" seems extrinsic.

Caio said...


Survival doesn't make anyone properly adorable. The point of the argument, in short, is that moral realism is true (we know this as much as we know the physical world exists), and this is incompatible with naturalism. There is no "poison" here any more than there is poison in any argument you use against a Cartesian skeptic (by the way, do you use any arguments? by your standards, you should just keep quiet).