Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Colson's review of my book


Clayton Littlejohn said...


How accurate a review is it?

This seems like a pretty serious mistake, and I doubted that this accurately reflected your position:
Therefore, naturalism must be false. It is a self-refuting proposition.

It seems that the argument from reason would be an argument that a reflective naturalist cannot rationally believe naturalism (because on the assumption of naturalism, there is nothing underwriting the trustworthiness of our faculties), not that naturalism entails a contradiction.

I'm also curious about this passage:
If there is nothing but Nature . . . reason must have come into existence by an historical process. And of course, for a Naturalist, this process was not designed to produce a mental behavior that can find truth. There was no Designer; and indeed, until there were thinkers, there was no truth or falsehood.”

Again, this doesn't seem like something you'd say. It seems _this_ argument is for the conclusion that if naturalism were correct, there would be no mind independent facts.

With a bit of cleaning up, isn't this closer to your view:
That means that we have no way of evaluating whether our reasoning process—which comes from chance—is itself valid. But if we can’t trust that our reasoning processes are truly rational, then we can’t trust the reasoning we used to arrive at that conclusion, or any conclusion. Therefore, naturalism is a self-refuting position.

Victor Reppert said...

I don't expect a whole lot of philosophical sophistication from Colson, though I think one passage you quote is a quote from Lewis's chapter 3 of Miracles. The first quote, I think, is fine if you have a broad enough conception of self-refutation. In Mackie's paper on self-refutation he talks about operational self-refutation, where the statement isn't self-contradictory, but once you try asserting it, it becomes inconsistent. Thus "There are no beliefs" could be false, but if I assert it, I implicitly say that I have at least one belief, and therefore generate a contradiction.
(Unless, of course, I'm just presupposing folk psychology, the debate does go on on that one).