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The “Past Hypothesis”: Not even false.

The metaphilosophy of naturalism is about the nature and goals of naturalist philosophy. A real or hypothetical person who knows the nature, goals and consequences of naturalist philosophy may be called an "informed naturalist." An informed naturalist is justified in drawing certain conclusions about the current state of naturalism and the research program that naturalist philosophers ought to undertake. One conclusion is that the great majority of naturalist philosophers have an unjustified belief that naturalism is true and an unjustified belief that theism (or supernaturalism) is false. I explain this epistemic situation in this paper. I also articulate the goals an informed naturalist would recommend to remedy this situation. These goals, for the most part, have as their consequence the restoring of naturalism to its original state (approximately, to a certain degree, given the great difference in the specific theories), which is the state it possessed in Greco-Roman philosophy before naturalism was "overwhelmed" in the Middle Ages, beginning with Augustine (naturalism had critics as far back as Xenophanes, sixth century B.C.E., but it was not "overwhelmed" until much later). Contemporary naturalists still accept, unwittingly, the redefinition of naturalism that began to be constructed by theists in the fifth century C.E. and that underpins our basic world-view today.

Worse, for good measure, Craig adds that, according to some philosophers, "all efficient causation is simultaneous." It is the old maxim "" The argument given for this claim as stated by Craig is a patent non-sequitur and yields a false conclusion, thereby illustrating the pitfalls of such theorizing about causation. The empirical absurdity of the claim is illustrated by the mundane fact that a woman does not cease to be pregnant at the moment she ceases to have the sexual intercourse that impregnated her. Medicine furnishes other counter-examples: In carcinogenesis, the activation of an oncogen far antedates the formation of a malignancy. And exposure to the pathogen of an infection antedates the onset of the infection. Indeed, examples of time-delayed causation are, of course, legion.

The 'Past Hypothesis': Not even false.

The “Past Hypothesis”: Not even false - CORE

(contingent) If it cannot be false, then it is true and necessarily true (modal fallacy).

As for my response (i), the theist Richard Swinburne (1968, p. 305) rightly contends that the mere failure of a cosmological theory to provide a cause for a putative initial state of the universe cannot be taken to count against that theory, because it is a necessary truth that there be such a cause. Thus, Swinburne rejects Craig's modal premise (1) as false, claiming, in effect, that it is indeed true that anything which begins to exist has an efficient cause of its existence, then it is only contingently true. By the same token, Quentin Smith (1993, ch. VI, Section 4, pp. 178-185) cogently refutes Craig's various arguments for his modal proposition (1) and indeed shows it to be false by special reference to the Big Bang universe.

It does not follow from these considerations that the truth (or falsehood) of a proposition expressing a judgment is relative or context-dependent. When I see a horse, I may be interested in some of its features (for example, if I intend to ride it) and describe the horse accordingly. Yet, given the meanings of the words I use, my judgment is either right or wrong. Typically, judgments show their truth or falsehood in our expectations, which can be met or not met. That the expectations we entertain on the basis of our judgments are not always met is a cogent reason to maintain that external things exist. This fact leads us to prefer a correspondence view of, which is to be distinguished from a correspondence theory of truth, since the latter aims at explicating the nature of such a correspondence (e.g. the “picture theory of meaning” defended by Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951) in his 1921 Tractatus). Although the judgment I form in response to a perceptual situation is context-dependent and theory-laden, its truth (or falsehood) is not.

The “Past Hypothesis”: Not even false

Hume’s question, which is more probable, that Jesus resurrected or that the witnesses were lying, is just a trick question. It is certainly true that the resurrection is more miraculous given that it is supernatural. There is an external cause necessary to bring about the resurrection of Jesus. In that sense, yes it is more miraculous. But, it is not more improbable. If you were to ask which is more improbable, that the witnesses should be lying or mistaken or that Jesus rose from the dead? I would argue that it is more improbable that the witnesses were lying or mistaken, given the specific evidence that we have. Don’t confuse miraculousness with probability. Therefore, Hume’s argument is recognized today to be fallacious. There is yet another factor that Hume failed to consider.

The 'Past Hypothesis': Not even false.

The central question about this type of explanation, as far aswe’re concerned, is this: Is the existence of the low“initial” state a consequence of the laws of nature aloneor the laws plus boundary conditions? In other words, first, does theproposed mechanism produce low-entropy states given anyinitial condition, and second, is it a consequence of thelaws alone or a consequence of the laws plus initialconditions? We want to know whether our question has merely beenshifted back a step, whether the explanation is a disguised appeal tospecial initial conditions. Though we cannot here answer the questionin general, we can say that the two mechanisms mentioned are notlawlike in nature. Expansion fails on two counts. There are boundaryconditions in expanding universes that do not lead to an entropygradient, i.e., conditions without the right matter-radiation content,and there are boundary conditions that do not lead to expansion inwhich entropy nonetheless increases, e.g., matter-filled Friedmannmodels that do not expand. Inflation fails at least on the secondcount. Despite advertising, arbitrary initial conditions will not giverise to an inflationary period. Furthermore, it’s notclear that inflationary periods will give rise to thermodynamicasymmetries (Price 1996: ch. 2). The cosmological scenarios do notseem to make the thermodynamic asymmetries a result of nomicnecessity. The cosmological hypotheses may be true, and in some sense,they may even explain the low-entropy initial state. But they do notappear to provide an explanation of the thermodynamic asymmetry thatmakes it nomologically necessary or even likely.

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Past Hypothesis': Not Even False."


Evidence | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Third, what exactly does the Past Hypothesis say in the context of ourbest and most recent physics? While not denying that temporallyasymmetric boundary conditions are needed to solve the problem, Earman(2006) is very critical of the Past Hypothesis, concluding that itisn’t even coherent enough to be false. The main problem Earmansees is that we cannot state the Past Hypothesis in the language ofgeneral relativity. Callender (2010, 2011b) and Wallace (2010) discussthe related question of stating the Past Hypothesis whenself-gravitation is included. One may also consider the question inthe context of quantum theory (see Wallace 2013).

Doubting Jesus’ Resurrection - Common Sense Atheism

This does not mean, however, that it removes the need for somethinglike the Past Hypothesis. GRW is capable of explaining why, given apresent nonequilibrium state, later states should have higher entropy;and it can do this without also implying that earlier states havehigher entropy too. But it does not explain how the universe ever gotinto a nonequilibrium state in the first place. As indicated before,some are not sure what would explain this fact, if anything,or whether it’s something we should even aspire to explain. Theprincipal virtue GRW would bring to the situation, Albert thinks, isthat it would solve or bypass various troubles involving the nature ofprobabilities in statistical mechanics.

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