Page 118 - MODES of EXPLANATION

Basic HTML Version

Consider (1). The received view of knowledge is that knowledge is a justified
belief
(plus
some anti-Gettier condition). Even those who reject the received view of knowledge accept
that knowledge is a mental state (see, e.g., Williamson). On any of the current accounts of
knowledge, a certain kind of mental state is partially constitutive of knowledge. The
consequent of (1) is a tautology. Any conditional with a true consequent is true; thus, (1) is
true.
As before, the problem with the argument lies with premise (2). The first thing to note
is that, as we have defined realism, (2) is false. On the definition of realism I have proposed,
realism is characterized by a commitment to
theory independence
, not
mind independence
, so
(2) lacks even prima facie plausibility.
More importantly, (2) is based on a striking misunderstanding of realism. Realism is
not a claim about the theory independence of knowledge (or observation), it is a claim about
the theory independence of
truth
. On the realist’s picture, truth is not a human construct.
Thus, on the realist’s picture, there is no obvious connection between claims about mental
states and claims about the nature of truth. The only way one might find (2) plausible is if one
has illicitly slipped in constructivist assumptions. If truth is a human construct, then there
may be an important entailment between the mind dependence of knowledge and the mind
dependence of truth. However, if the plausibility of (2) rests on tacit constructivist
assumptions, the argument assumes precisely what it is supposed to show.
So Is Creationism Science?
Monod (1971), speaking of the events that have been identified as the sources of mutations,
says:
“We call these events accidental; we say that they are random occurrences. And since
they constitute the only possible source of modifications in the genetic text, itself the
sole repository of the organism’s hereditary structure, it necessarily follows that
chance alone is at the source of every innovation, of all creation in the biosphere. Pure
chance, absolutely free but blind, at the very root of the stupendous edifice of
evolution: this central concept of modern biology … is today the sole conceivable
hypothesis, the only one that squares with observed and tested fact.”
Suppose that every mutation that has ever occurred is, as Monod says, due to chance.
Suppose, in fact, that every individual event of any kind that is a part of the causal history of
the biosphere is due to chance. It does not follow that every aspect of the biosphere is due to
chance. And if none of these individual events has a purpose, it does not follow that the
biosphere has no purpose. To make either inference is to commit the fallacy of composition.
17