Here's the link http://www.homestead.com/philofreligion/files/alspaper.htm.
Alvin Plangtina, a Catholic professor of philosophy at Notre Dame, proposed an argument that he believes makes naturalism and evolution epistemologically incompatible. It was in the last chapter of a book of his (Warrant and Proper Function), and received a lot of responses. Plantinga responds to those objections in the link above. Here's the basic argument:
1.) The criteria of natural selection is survivability
2.) True beliefs aren't a necessary precondition for survivability
3.) The reliability of truth claims formed by minds chosen by natural selection must be low
So, basically, adhering to an atheistic theory of evolution means you can't trust that naturalism (or anything, for that matter) is true. On the other hand, adhering to naturalism means you pretty much have to subscribe to evolution because there are no other noteworthy explanations for the origin of species. At least, that's the argument he's making.
Personally, I have an issue with premise 2. But as I was reading from the link above, I quickly realized I was in way over my head academically. It appears as if he justifies his premises, but if he's making a mistake in his reasoning I wouldn't know about it.
Can anybody else figure this out? Or maybe somebody knows of a response to Plantinga's response to the responses to Plantinga? haha
EDITED: I accidentally omitted a word.
"Melody is a form of remembrance. It must have a quality of inevitability in our ears." - Gian Carlo Menotti
If the reliability of truth claims of evolutionarily-chosen beings is low, why should anyone accept what he says? Doesn't he weaken his own arguments?
Yes, if naturalism is assumed. But that's the whole point of his argument. As a Catholic, he doesn't make that assumption.
EDIT: To clarify, Plantinga's assumption is that humans created by God (whether they were guided to their current state via evolution or not) would naturally possess a high reliability to recognize truth because they were (as it is said) made in God's image. As God's understanding of truth is supposed to be infinite, the ability of creations made in that image to recognize truth must be similarly high.
Ah I see now. I would have to read the work in its context to see why he makes these assumptions. I think if one wanted to refute him, that is where they'd begin.
i think theres all sorts wrong with this.
first even if we accept 2, and just look at what 3 gives from 1 and 2.
surely 3 should read The reliability of truth claims formed by minds chosen by natural selection must be somewhere on a scale from low to high
or to be more logicall rigorous The reliability of truth claims formed by minds chosen by natural selection can not be relied upon to be the highest possible
why the assumption that it must be low...?
also 2 is interesting it says True Beliefs arent a necessary precondiction for survivability
and thats obvious, theres mitrocondrial dna, simple bacteria and viruses that survive and evolve and dont have any beliefs be they true or otherwise.
more sensible to investigate the arary of possible beings that might evolve, that can have beliefs, true or otherwise.
if we look at this subset it would seem more plausable to me that, simple animals that are compelled to believe somethings (call them belief havers)
would likely be better of surviving having true beliefs than untrue ones.
say it was true that the larger the opposing animal the more dangerous it was. or maybe not such a sweeping statement which isnt true, as you can have large docile animals, so suppose it was true that there was a high probable correlation between another animal being large, and it being a likely dangerous predator. what belief havers that have that belief would do worse than belief havers that a) believed the opposite b)didnt have that particular belief . well then. it seems some degree of truth having, related to practical matters such as danger and surviving, would be fine tuned to higher degrees of accuracy be evolutionary process. further, if its a good strategy to have logical thinking, scientific rational, (because a subset of the things you think about will have direct survival benefits if you use these techniques) well then we have a tool for oing more than surviving, but the tool was sharpened by surviving, and thats what we owe it to.
have i saved naturalism?
Where there is no property there is no justice; a proposition as certain as any demonstration in Euclid
Fools! not to see that what they madly desire would be a calamity to them as no hands but their own could bring
No, Plantinga's argument is more sphisticated than what you have argued against. He gets into other things like the combination of beliefs and desires producing behavior that enhances survival but are false, along with different ways in which beliefs are involved in causal process that leads to behavior.
There's actually a whole book devoted to Plantinga's argument in which philosophers write on different aspects of the argument and in the end he gives his responses in which he concludes that his argument is "bloodied but not bowed."
So, you've got to get a little more in depth before you save naturalism.
Just a comment: Plantinga is a Calvinist, not a Roman Catholic.
It seems he's making a transcendental argument of some sort, like "in order to argue for X you necessarily assume Y", e.g., "in order to argue for naturalist evolutionism you necessarily assume uncertainty of your own position". Looks like a possible reply to Dennet.