© 2012, Matt DeStefano
Alvin Plantinga’s Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism argues that given the story of biological evolution and naturalism, we wouldn’t expect our cognitive mechanisms to be reliable, or that the probability of any given belief being true is very low. Given that our beliefs are generated by our cognitive mechanisms we have a defeater for all of our beliefs which include both evolution and naturalism. Paul Churchland responded by arguing that it is not our native cognitive faculties that justify our beliefs of evolution and naturalism, but the faculties provided to us by the sciences through enhanced evaluation techniques and artificial sensory modalities. Plantinga’s “innocent assumption” is that the theory of evolution and metaphysical naturalism are derived from our native cognitive systems alone, which undermines his entire argument. In this paper, I will argue that Churchland’s response is successful in defeating the conclusion of Plantinga’s argument in regards to biological evolution, and consider whether or not Churchland’s response is adequate in defense of philosophical naturalism. Finally, I will examine Churchland’s alternate proposal of representation as a map of possible experiences, and consider the consequences of such a theory in regards to the EAAN.
DeStefano, Matt (2012) "Plantinga’s Innocent Assumption: Self-Defeating Naturalism, and Churchland’s Response," Res Cogitans: Vol. 3: Iss. 1, Article 5.