Toward a Commonsense Answer to the Special Composition Carmichael – – Australasian Journal of Philosophy 93 (3) Alvin Plantinga: John A. O’Brien Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at Notre Dame University I give two arguments against materialism. A NEW ARGUMENT AGAINST MATERIALISM. ALVIN PLANTINGA. PLENARY ADDRESS FOR THE EVANGELICAL PHILOSOPHICAL.

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agalnst Still it is dificulty understand the whole argument for thouse who doesn’t have a extensive knowledge on epistemology like me I simplified what Plantinga said and offered a thought experiment of my own to make it clearer yet, Still, you may have a ppantinga. I’m fairly used to analytic philosophy to the point where what seems easy to me might not seem so easy to the layperson the sort of phenomena I have in mind is called “The Expert Blind Spot” see this brief university web page on the topic.

The “content” of beliefs on reductionist materialism is identical to the physical structure of some portion of one’s brain.

Plantinga’s Argument against Materialism | Maverick Christian

This structure is certainly not causally irrelevant. The argument must assume in its second premise that materialism is false before it can even get off the ground and, at that point, it has obviously begged the question though, coming from Plantinga, this should not surprise us at all. As a result, this argument is a trivial failure, and it should be dismissed. A more directed response: On at least one version of reductive materialism, Both what you think of as “semantic content” and behavior are determined by physical structures models in our brains.

On this hypothesis, accurate models produce true semantic content and corresponding behavior. If this is true, then the claim that “semantic content” is causally relevant is false–a simple case of mistaking correlation for causation and ignoring a lurking third variable: In addition, this does nothing to raise “the intellectual price tag” of materialism. The fact that semantic content itself is not causally says nothing about the reliability of our cognitive faculties, if this hypothesis is true.

Both behavior and semantic content are determined by models, and enjoy a predictable correlative relationship as a result. When it comes to the EAAN, then, we can avoid the entire problem by simply pointing out the possibility that this hypothesis is true.

Plantinga against materialism (or for immaterialism) – Philosophy on LJ

If this hypothesis is true, then: Reliable faculties tend to produce accurate models. Accurate models make good predictions efficiently.

Evolution selects for the ability to make good predictions efficiently. Thus evolution selects for accurate models.

Thus evolution selects for reliable faculties. And, since reliable faculties tend to produce accurate models and accurate models produce true semantic content, evolution also selects for true semantic content, albeit indirectly. There is no bullet to bite, here.

Plantinga fails to really think through how mental processes work on naturalism, does not address this fairly obvious hypothesis at all, and simply assumes that it is false by claiming that “semantic content is relevant. Howevever, if my hypothesis is correct and neither you nor Plantinga provide any rationale at all for thinking that it is not then your P2 here is simply false. I think that my hypothesis is correct, and you have offered no reason to reject it, so I will reject your p2.


As I said, you’re basically just begging the question by assuming that my atainst materialistic hypothesis is false at this step. And since you are simply wrong about the implications of this rejection re: Semantic content is not causally relevant. It is determined by models, such that accurate models produce true semantic content.

Accuracy in models is what matters. You do say this: Howevever [sic], if my [materialistic] hypothesis is correct and neither you nor Plantinga provide any rationale at all for thinking that it is not then your P2 here is simply false. I have offered a reason to reject it and both me and Plantinga offer some rationale and thinking it is not correct: What we have here is a disputable point about which is more plausible: Plenty of people think we have more warrant for 2 plantinba we have for 1but of course not everyone agrees as you yourself would appear to illustrate.

But you do not find it so implausible, and so we have a disputable point about how implausible it really is.

The aovin, in essence, is this: I materiapism that there is a beer agxinst the fridge; we ordinarily think it is by virtue of its content that this belief causes me to go over to the fridge. I intend to get a beer from the fridge and undertake to do so; we ordinarily think the content of this intention and undertaking is causally relevant to my action mmaterialism going to the fridge.

Not only do we ordinarily think these things; they are no more than the sober truth. On materialism, the coin of belief has two sides: There is a beer in the fridge. On dualism the view that our minds are a composite of the physical brain and a nonphysical mental component, e.

I believe something and on the basis of this belief my soul impacts my neural pathways in a certain way to cause behavior. On materialism however, the content of a belief is materialiam irrelevant in the sense that given materialism a belief causes stuff by virtue of its NP properties, and not by virtue of its content. We can see this by doing a little thought experiment. It would not, because having the same neurophysiological properties means we would have the same materiqlism impulses travelling down the same matfrialism pathways and thus issuing the same muscular contractions.

Thus if materialism were true, the content of our beliefs would be causally irrelevant. The argument in a nutshell then is this: If materialism is true, then maetrialism content of our beliefs is causally irrelevant.

But the content of our beliefs is causally relevant. Therefore, materialism is false. Even if I were a materialist, I would not find this at all plausible.

The idea of moving subatomic particles producing semantic content seems almost mystical, and it seems easily conceivable for there to be a possible world where the same moving subatomic particles generate a different semantic content, albeit as a materialist I would believe this might involve poantinga some sort of physical necessity that makes moving subatomic particles generate mental states.


Still, by my lights such a tweaking does seem conceivable and metaphysically possible. It does seem that there are counterpossibles that are meaningfully true.

Reductive and nonreductive materialism Another way to try to avoid the semantic content of a belief being causally irrelevant is to adopt the view that a belief just is a combination of physical properties; the view that beliefs are reducible to physical states in this sort of way is called reductive materialism.

Suppose we have P 1P 2P 3 ,…P n represent various physical properties e. In contrast to reductive materialism which says that beliefs are reducible to NP properties in the way described above, nonreductive materialism denies this but againts claim that beliefs are determined materilaism physical states. Plantinga gives the following illustration.

Suppose Alvin throws a ball that has a mass of 0. If the ball had been much lighter say, the mass of a feather it would not have broken the glass, so the ball breaks the window by virtue of among other things being 0. Now suppose the property of having a mass of 0.

Thus we have the following: Having a mass of 0. I think we can make this clearer by considering the following thought experiment. The mad scientist can configure the BID at will so that any given belief can cause just about any behavior. The mad scientist configures the Againdt again so that the NP properties of the belief that I will never see a Nicolas Cage movie cause Smith to go see a Nicolas Cage movie and the NP properties of the belief Grass is air cause Smith to eat coconut ice cream after a fish dinner.

Now suppose the alvkn content of the belief I am thirsty just is a Boolean combination of physical properties like so: Given materialism, it would only be a matter of luck e.

Alvin Plantinga – Against Materialism

Just as having a abainst of 0. Conclusion Given materialism, the semantic content of a belief is causally irrelevant in the sense that a belief causes stuff by virtue of its NP properties, and not by its semantic content.

If a given set of NP properties had a different semantic content, the same behavior would result the same neurophysiological properties means we would have the same electrical impulses travelling down the same neural pathways and thus issuing the same muscular contractions.

Even if reductive materialism were true, beliefs appear to cause behavior by virtue of their NP properties, not by their semantic content. We thus have the following argument: If materialism were true, a belief causes stuff by virtue of its NP properties and how those properties interact with the rest of the physical system.

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