Darwin's doubt, narrative and theoretical beliefs

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Hiebert, Tyler
Castro, Susan V. H.

If we take Darwin’s doubt to its extreme, it might turn out to be the case that our cognitive faculties are wholly unreliable, thus each and every belief they produce is untrustworthy. Some scholars, hereafter known as doubters, have held that if Darwinian Theory and metaphysical naturalism are conjoined then our cognitive faculties are unreliable. To avoid global skepticism, doubters typically reject metaphysical naturalism rather than Darwinian Theory. Other scholars, the reliabilists, claim that this conjunction leads to a high probability of having reliable cognitive faculties, in which case there is no skeptical pressure to reject the conjunction. Reliabilists must instead explain how the conjunction could so regularly give rise to metaphysical, i.e. supernatural, beliefs without compromising their global reliability claim. Historically, the sides have been split between reliabilists who believe that the reliability of each belief should be judged by the standards of empirical science, including beliefs that are abstract or metaphysical, and doubters who believe that not all genuine knowledge is natural, empirical, and scientific. The reliabilist narrative relies on an Evolutionary Supporting Argument (ESA) while the doubter’s narrative relies on an Evolutionary Debunking Argument (EDA). Both the ESA and EDA are intended to establish what follows given Darwinian Theory. Neither is attempting to deny or support Darwinian theory itself.

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Thesis (M.A.)--Wichita State University, Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Program of Liberal Studies