Tuesday, December 28, 2010

If naturalism, then no beliefs

Perhaps the default position regarding belief in God oversteps naturalism's boundaries?

"It is of course obvious that introspection strongly suggests that the brain does store information propositionally, and that therefore it has beliefs and desire with “aboutness” or intentionality. A thoroughgoing naturalism must deny this, I allege. If beliefs are anything they are brain states—physical configurations of matter. But one configuration of matter cannot, in virtue just of its structure, composition, location, or causal relation, be “about” another configuration of matter in the way original intentionality requires (because it cant pass the referential opacity test). So, there are no beliefs."

- Alex Rosenberg (link)

See critical responses here,  here, and here.


shiningwhiffle said...

I'm with Maverick Philosopher in concluding that this would mean there are no truths. Propositions are propositions precisely because they're candidates for beliefs.

Now, he could try to argue that beliefs could (in principle) exist but we can't have them given our purely physical makeup. But still I think that runs afoul of metaphysical naturalism. If all things are in principle purely physical, and being purely physical in principle prohibits having beliefs, then beliefs can't exist even in principle.

Ick. I've given this more thought than it deserves.

David Parker said...

Hi shiningwiffle,

Thanks for stopping by. Looking forward to reading some of your articles.

I was going to post this comment over on Also Thinking Subversively, but wasn't able to. Have you checked out Stephen Law's critique of Plantinga's EAAN?


shiningwhiffle said...

Thanks for the link!

I already thought that Platinga's suggestion that beliefs and desires could be adaptive but totally misaligned with reality was suspect, but I'm pretty well convinced now that it wouldn't hold up enough to give him the leverage he needed.

Now the other objection Law mentioned is one I'm currently entertaining, but it's hardly an evolutionary argument.

shiningwhiffle said...

Oh, I've changed my comment policy from closed to moderated. I didn't originally intend for the blog to be anything more than a way to respond to Jime of Subversive Thinking. I'm pretty sure now that it's going to end up my philosophical soapbox, and it's only fair I allow comments.

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