Plantinga's Probability Arguments Against Naturalism and Evolution

Branden Fitelson and Elliott Sober

In Chapter 12 of "Warrant and Proper Function", Alvin Plantinga constructs two arguments against evolutionary naturalism. More specifically, his target is the conjunction E&N. The hypothesis (E) says that "human cognitive faculties arose by way of the mechanisms to which contemporary evolutionary thought directs our attention (p. 220)." With respect to proposition (N), Plantinga (p. 270) says "it isn't easy to say precisely what naturalism is," but then adds that "crucial to metaphysical naturalism, of course, is the view that there is no such person as the God of traditional theism." Plantinga tries to cast doubt on the conjunction N&E in two ways. His "preliminary argument" aims to show that the conjunction is probably false, given the fact (R) that our psychological mechanisms for forming beliefs about the world are generally reliable. His "main argument" aims to show that the conjunction N&E is self-undermining -- if it is true, then it is irrational to believe it. We will try to show that both arguments contain serious errors.

Copyright © Branden Fitelson and Elliott Sober