Philosophia Christi: Naturalism, Teleology, Fine-Tuning Argument

June 11, 2010
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The Summer 2010 issue of Philosophia Christi features some helpful articles at the interesection of theories of teleology and fine-tuning arguments and the problem of methodological naturalism. Purchase/renew a subscription to the journal today!

Stephen Dilley (St. Edwards University), “Philosophical Naturalism and Methodological Naturalism: Strange Bedfellows.”

Abstract: This essay argues that philosophical naturalists who draw epistemic support from science for their worldview ought to set aside methodological naturalism in certain historical sciences. When linked to methodological naturalism, philosophical naturalism opens itself to several problems. Specifically, when joined with methodological naturalism, philosophical naturalism can never be scientifically disconfirmed but will nearly always be confirmed, no matter what the empirical evidence. Theistic-friendly “God hypotheses,” on the other hand, can never be scientifically confirmed—again, no matter what the evidence—but are routinely said to be disconfirmed. Methodological naturalism not only leads to this self-serving dynamic, but does not appear to serve a meaningful epistemic purpose in the contest between philosophical naturalism and theism and so, for these reasons, ought to be set aside.

Ed Feser (Pasadena City College), “Teleology: A Shopper’s Guide.”

Abstract: Teleology features prominently in recent discussions in the philosophy of mind, action theory, philosophy of biology, and in the dispute between Intelligent Design theorists and Darwinian naturalists. Unfortunately, discussants often talk past each other and oversimplify the issues, failing to recognize the differences between the several theories of teleology philosophers have historically put forward, and the different natural phenomena that might be claimed to be teleological. This paper identifies five possible theories of teleology, and five distinct levels of nature at which teleology might be said to exist. Special attention is paid to the differences between Aristotelian-Thomistic and ID theoretic approaches to teleology.

Troy Nunley (Denver Seminary), “Fish Nets, Firing Squads and Fine-Tuning (again): How Likelihood Arguments Undermine Elliot Sober’s Weak Anthropic Principles.”

Abstract: Elliot Sober has recently attempted to reformulate and defend a standard objection to fine-tuning arguments, the objection from the “weak anthropic principle.” The key to his reformulated defense is his likelihoodist epistemology conjoined to a well-known “fishnet analogy.” Although recent rebuttals from Weisberg and Monton fall short of exposing the flaws in Sober’s objection, I show that Sober’s likelihoodist epistemology and analogy serve instead to undermine weak anthropic principles and objections based upon them.