49 of 58 people found the following review helpful
, December 23, 2002
This review is from: Naturalism Defeated?: Essays on Plantinga's Evolutionary Argument against Naturalism (Paperback)
Naturalists are usually seen as paragons of rationality while theists are thought to be at the edge of crazy. Alvin Plantinga's argument challenged this identification questioning even the possibility of holding to Naturalism and trusting the cognitive faculties. This book begins with challenges to the evolutionary argument against naturalism and ends with a response to the challenges by Alvin Plantinga.
The eleven critical essays here are divided into four sections each one dealing with a separate set of objections to the evolutionary argument against naturalism. The argument itself is briefly presented in the beginning and then re-presented even more briefly by each of 'Beilby's cohorts'. There is some repetition in the book, which is not so bad when you're looking for clarification on the most contentious points under discussion.
The main areas of criticism in the book are from Science (Evolution), Skepticism, Conditional Probabilities/Confirmation Theory and the Nature of Epistemic Defeat.
Prior to reading this book I had thought Plantinga's argument was very strong -- so I was basically looking for objections that I was unaware of and answers to those objections; I found a lot of both. If you already agree with Plantinga you will probably find clarification and strengthening of the argument; if you don't already agree, well, then, I don't know what you'll find maybe shock/horror? Actually, most of the book is critical and provides ammunition for dissenters. But, in the end I think the worst that could be said about the argument is that it was 'bloodied but unbowed' (Plantinga).
I found William Alston's comments very helpful -- they suggest a different way of formulating the argument -- something like a Reductio ad Absurdum I think.
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