Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism: A Response to Stephen Law

In my recent review of Alvin Plantinga's book Where the Conflict Really Lies, I sketched his Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (EAAN) and briefly considered a reply to the argument by Stephen Law.  Stephen Law published his reply to the EAAN called "Naturalism, Evolution, and True Belief" in Analysis in January 2012.  It is available on his blog here.  In this essay, I would like to examine Law's response in more detail and show why I think it fails to refute the EAAN.

The Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (EAAN)

I will begin by summarizing the EAAN (those already familiar with the argument may skip to the next section).  The EAAN attempts to establish an internal inconsistency between belief in naturalism on the one hand, and belief in the reliability of human cognitive (or belief-forming) faculties on the other.  Specifically, the argument suggests that naturalism--which supposes humans are thoroughly material beings who came to be by a purposeless, unguided process of Darwinian evolution--provides no mechanism by which human belief-forming faculties could be calibrated to track "true" propositions.  This is so for the following two reasons.