What contemporary philosophers believe

November 2, 2021 • 11:15 am

In this article at the Daily Nous (click on screenshot below), a survey of a large group of philosophers revealed what they believe in a number of areas.  I put the data for the questions and answers below, but if the figures are too small, click on the chart, wait a tick, and then click it again to make it big. (Alternatively, just drag the chart onto your desktop.)

From the Daily Nous page:

Results from the 2020 PhilPapers survey, with responses from nearly 1,800 philosophers (mainly from North America, Europe, and Australasia), to questions on a variety of philosophical subjects and problems, have now been published.

In their commentary on the survey, David Bourget (Western University) and David Chalmers (NYU) explain the its value:

Surveys like this can play at least three roles within philosophy. First, today’s sociology is tomorrow’s history, and these results
may be of some use to future historians of philosophy. Second, philosophers often appeal to sociological claims about the distributions of views among philosophers, for example in justifying which views should be taken seriously, and it makes sense for these claims to be well-grounded. Third, if philosophy has any tendency to converge to the truth, then philosophers’ views might provide some guidance about the truth of philosophical views. It is not clear whether philosophy tends to converge to the truth, so we don’t make the third claim about guidance, but surveys can clearly play the first two roles in philosophical practice.

The survey asked 40 “main” questions and 60 “additional” questions.

Here are the results of the main questions:

JAC: “Inclusive” means those philosophers that checked multiple options of what they believed in, while “exclusive” includes data only from those who checked only one box. I’ll use the “inclusive data”, though the figures for that can add up to more than 100%.

Because I’m not a philosopher, I can’t comment on everything, or even know what everything means, so below the chart I’ll comment on just a few items I know about.


Eating meat:

48% of philosophers think it’s okay to eat meat, while about 45% think it’s wrong and prefer to be vegans or vegetarians. I don’t know what “other” is. Many predict that in the future, “omnivorism” will be seen as immoral.

The trolley problem.  Five people on one track, one on the side track. The train is headed towards the five. Do you throw the switch, putting the train on the track that will kill only one person?

Almost two-thirds say “switch”, killing one person instead of five. That seems to be the sensible (as well as utilitarian) solution. But 13.3% favor killing all five. And what is “other”?

The Fat Man trolley problem. Here there’s no switch to throw, but you’re asked whether you’ll throw a fat man off a bridge over the trolley, stopping the train but killing the fat guy. The net result is the same if you heave Mr. Big versus throwing the switch, but this requires that you do something more intimate, in effect killing someone with your own hands (of course throwing the switch does that more indirectly).


Free will.

Most philosophers are compatibilists, ergo defining “free will” differently from how most people (and nearly all religionists) see it. This figure has increased since the last survey. Poor misguided philosophers. . .

Why didn’t they ask about determinism? Well, they sort of did (see below).

Gender: They didn’t ask about sex (e.g. biological sex) but gender.

The typical use of “gender” is “how somebody identifies”, which to me means it’s either psychological or social, and “social” is what most philosophers think. I’m not sure about those 29% who think gender is biological when I think it’s defined as a sexual role.

Belief in God:

Uh oh: 18.09% of philosophers believe in a theistic (interactive) god, so nearly one out of five is either deluded or doesn’t follow the evidence. But 2/3 of “thinkers” are atheists, so that should give you some consolation.

Meaning of life:

Well, it’s both subjective (you make your own meaning) or “nonexistent” (meaning that you don’t believe in a “meaning of life”). Either answer seems sensible to me, but 32.1% of philosophers think that there is indeed an objective meaning of life. These far outnumber the theists, who usually say that the meaning involves God, so why don’t they tell us what the objective meaning of life is? After all, how do they know there is one without discerning it?


Oops, only slightly more than half of philosophers are physicalists (i.e., believe that there’s nothing other than the physical), while the rest are, apparently, not very scientific!

We have some philosophy mavens/experts here, so feel free to comment on the answers to other questions.

h/t: Robert

80 thoughts on “What contemporary philosophers believe

  1. This is very interesting – thank you for sharing.

    I don’t know what “other” is.

    My guess is that it is some form of ‘flexitarianism’. Maybe they eat fish and fowl but no mammals (I know several of these). Or maybe they are okay with honey, but not cheese. I knew a political vegan who eschewed any animal derived product he could. No beeswax chapstick, no leather shoes, no wool sweaters, etc.

      1. I’ve got a t-shirt from this eatery. It says, “You’re at the top of the food chain at the Roadkill Café” (though it doesn’t serve actual roadkill — that I recall anyway; there was beer and tequila involved in my visit to the OK Saloon next door). 🙂

    1. “Other,” for each of these, encompasses answers like “I don’t know,” “There’s no answer,” “The question is too vague, etc.”

    2. Indeed, I know one closely. My daughter refuses to eat mammals (with the small, since very occasional, exception of biltong) and birds, but is less troubled about fish and invertebrates. And she started that at age12. Mainly veggies though. She will eat cheese, and freerange eggs, because that doesn’t hurt the animals.
      She is not alone trying to be ethical in an unethical carnivorous world. I admire her and her soulmates for that, but will still eat my steak or beloved lamb chops. And what I admire most is that she doesn’t blame or shame us carnivores.

    1. Thanks. I wanted to find out how ‘physicalism’ is defined in the context of the survey — I asked there. I am trying to understand what ‘non-physicalism’ means. For me, words like ‘non-materialism’ and ‘supernatural’ become less meaningful under close inspection.

      1. “Physicalism” is generally defined as the view that everything is reducible to that which can be described by physics. So in the philosophy of mind, then, physicalism would mean that the mind is reducible to things that can be described by physics.
        “Non-physicalist” views would include Cartesian dualism, of course, but also any view on which there are mental facts which (in principle) elude description in the language of physics. For instance, Frank Jackson argues that what it is like to see red is a mental fact, but not one that could be learned by studying physics.

        1. Thanks. I shall read Frank Jackson’s argument here. Please let me know of other good places to read his views on this matter. I expect he has a broad definition of what he means by ‘studying physics’. The problem I have is that one can always give meaning to ‘non-physical’ by using a restricted notion of what is physical or what is encompassed by the provisional knowledge and methodology of physics. So ‘non-physical’ seemed to me like a manufactured notion. But I shall have to read Jackson.

          1. It seems to me that “any view on which there are mental facts which (in principle) elude description in the language of physics,” doesn’t belong in the same category, non-physicalism, as dualism does. Not remotely.

            The former is akin to a semantic argument while the latter is an argument about the underlying nature of reality. The former does not deny that mental phenomena arise from the physical stuff that makes up our nervous systems and that at the fundamental level is described by physics, while the latter does deny that.

          2. Wow, that’s an excellent discussion. I subscribe to criticisms 5c and 7, FWIW. I discuss something closely related to criticism 7, the folly of trying to derive the structure of the world from a priori reflection on our concepts, here

        2. That which is physical can be measured. The nonphysical is whatever one wants it to be – i.e., make-believe.

  2. Why do you think that compatibilists define “free will” differently than most people do? I’m a professional philosopher, and was in the No Free Will camp until grad school where I read up a bunch on the question of how to define “free will.” Turns out that (A) that’s a much harder question than you probably realize and (B) the compatibilist definition is actually really good. Basically: You do something of your own free will if you do it because you wanted to. Makes sense to me!

    1. I’ve discussed this before, giving evidence from surveys on how people construe free will. That, the contracausal definition, is the most widespread, and almost universal among abrahamic religionists. To me the important idea is whether determinism is true or not, not how one defines “free will”. By the way, your compatibilist definition of free will is not the same as other compatibilists’ definition of free will.

      I take free will in the sense most people use it, and that is in the contracausal you-can-do-otherwise-sense. Philosophers don’t like that and redefine free will so they can tell people that they have free will (and they quietly ignore the other view or determinism). Dan Dennett, for one, has said at least twice that belief in free will is essential for society to function, which is a reason why philosophers try to tell us we have free will.

      And thanks for telling me that free will is a harder problem than I realize when I’ve spent tons of time reading about it.

      I will tell you that you haven’t read the discussion on free will that’s gone on on this website. And please read the commenting rules.

      1. Sorry to offend, when I said “harder question than you probably realize” I meant “you” in a general sense, as in “harder than a hypothetical reader probably realizes,” not “you, Jerry Coyne.” I’ve read some of the commentary about free will here – not all, I admit – and found it quite frustrating.

        As for the substance of your objection: I agree that the you-could-do-otherwise definition is quite common. The problem, as I’m sure you’re aware, is parsing that modal. What does it mean to say that you COULD do otherwise? Modal terms (like ‘could’) have a very slippery meaning. As David Lewis put it, as a human being with a functioning brain, he can speak Swedish; but don’t ask him to, because he can’t speak Swedish!

        There’s a VERY strict sense that you could assign to the modal ‘could,’ according to which things “could happen” only if they are consistent with the laws of nature and the initial conditions of the universe. But in that strict sense, the only things that could happen are things that actually happen. “It could have happened, but it didn’t” would be false every time it was uttered. But people say things “could have happened, but didn’t” all the time. Should we say that they are speaking falsely all the time? Or should we look for a more charitable interpretation of the modal term? David Lewis never learned how to speak Swedish, yet there’s surely an intelligible sense in which he could have.

        The same goes for free will. With that same strict sense of the modal “could,” no one could ever do anything other than what they actually do. Yet we say that people could do otherwise all the time, and we speak constantly about free will. Do we insist on the strict interpretation of the modal? We could. But why be so uncharitable to everyday use of the language?

        1. And that is the sense in which I’ve always meant it, and in which people use it when they react to whether they have free will or not: they think they can overrule the laws of nature with their minds. The form of free will I always discuss is the form that is completely negated by determinism (or, if you will, naturalism if you include the presumably unpredictable laws of quantum mechanics. It is the kind surveyed by Sarkissian et al. in their study

          Imagine a universe (Universe A) in which everything that happens is completely
          caused by whatever happened before it. This is true from the very beginning of
          the universe, so what happened in the beginning of the universe caused what
          happened next, and so on right up until the present. For example one day
          John decided to have French fries at lunch. Like everything else, this decision
          was completely caused by what happened before it. So, if everything in this
          universe was exactly the same up until John made his decision, then it had to
          happen that John would decide to have French fries.

          Now imagine a universe (Universe B) in which almost everything that happens
          is completely caused by whatever happened before it. The one exception is
          human decision making. For example, one day Mary decided to have French
          fries at lunch. Since a person’s decision in this universe is not completely caused
          by what happened before it, even if everything in the universe was exactly the
          same up until Mary made her decision, it did not have to happen that Mary
          would decide to have French fries. She could have decided to have something

          Most people think we live in Universe B, and that survey was in four countries.

          Compatibilism is a way to soothe people by saying, “See, you have free will because you make statements that use my definition of free will. Forget about that nasty determinism mandated by the laws of physics–it will just make you a nihilist.

          1. If we live in Universe B, then we have free will. But that does not entail that if we don’t live in Universe B, we don’t have free will.

            In the description of Universe B, it specifies that the one thing that is not determined by “what came before it” is human decisions. In Universe B, actions are caused by what we decide. This suggests that what matters for free will is whether or not our actions are caused by our decisions. And I think that this is the common sense definition of free will: we act freely when we do because we decide to do it. And we could have made a different decision (in roughly the same sense of ‘could’ in which David Lewis could have learned Swedish). So we could have done differently. This is an account of the modal ‘could’ that coheres strongly with the determined-by-decision conception of free will.

            In Universe B, we’d have free will, because our actions are determined by decision. Most people mistakenly believe we’re in Universe B; really, we’re in Universe A. But that’s ok, because in Universe A, our actions are determined by our decisions as well.

            1. Please read the commenting rules (on the left side) about frequency of comments in a thread.

              This is my last comment, and no need to reply. It is NOT okay with most people to think that the universe is deterministic because then they don’t really make “free” decisions in the sense they think. Saying “our actions are determined by our decisions” is like saying “the orbits of the planets are determined by gravity”.

              1. Very much enjoyed your banter with Lutz. But it is still confusing to me! It is not an easily understood concept for us mere mortals.

            2. Really interesting discussion between you and Jerry. Pity it could not be extended…I know all the readers want to ‘hear’ more.
              Unfortunately, whole I lean to Jerry’s thinking on determinism, there are questions about it’s competeness and explanatory power which I am still invertigating – discussions like yours clarify some things and raise other questions – but these are frustratingly shut down just as they get good.
              Oh well, ’twas ever thus… (see what I did there… 🙂

          2. Actually Sarkissian et. al. ask “Which of these universes do you think is most like ours?” For what it’s worth though, neither Universe A nor B resembles the actual physics of our universe. As Sean Carroll explains, causality is an emergent high-level phenomenon, leaving plenty of microscopic physical events uncaused. QM is deterministic according to Everett (and to Sean Carroll) but causality requires more than determinism. See the video at the link for an explanation.

            1. Carroll is of the opinion that concepts such as causality and free will are valid as they “describe” emergent high-level phenomenon. Others disagree and suggest that these macro-concepts distort the true underlying physics and are in error. Carroll has argued that these terms are immensely useful to our everyday life and can be used without reservation. I think it is important for everyone to understand that causality and free will are concepts that have serious qualifiers.

  3. These far outnumber the theists, who usually say that the meaning involves God, so why don’t they tell us what the objective meaning of life is?

    Tom T. Hall addressed this issue in Faster Horses:

  4. Not a comment, but an observation. It’s not a surprise that the percentages of people who hold to an objective meaning of life, to deontological ethics, and to the non-physicalism of the mind would be roughly the same, as they are all mostly or completely anti-scientific views, but it is one heckuva coincidence that all three have exactly the same percentage (32.1%)! Combined with the very similar 32.9% non-atheists, and the 27.8% who don’t accept scientific realism, it seems a reasonable, if tentative conclusion, that just under one-third of philosophers don’t have much use for science or, to (probably) be a bit more precise, a worldview of metaphysical naturalism.

  5. In terms of the Trolley Problem, in an earlier iteration of the same survey from November 2013, the ‘Other’ responses were broken down into:

    “Agnostic/Undecided” 6.4%; “Insufficiently familiar with the problem” 4.5%; “There is no fact of the matter” 3.7%; “The question is too unclear to answer” 2 .9%


  6. Some of us compatibilists don’t define “free will” differently than most people, we define “determinism” differently than most people, because we rely on physics, not intuition, to tell us how time, causality, and the laws of physics work.

  7. Between 10 and 24% of the philosophers surveyed responded “other” to every question, a position that I incline towards, whatever it is. We Otherists include some pretty odd variations. On diet, the position Other than the omnivore, or vegetarian, or vegan, might include an extreme Inuit regimen (fish and seal blubber, no veggies at all), or the Breatharian diet limited to air and sunlight. On Mind, a basis Other than either physical or non-physical might be, uhhh, musical? As for the meaning of life, we are still working out what is Other than subjective or objective, or non-existent.

  8. I’m positing that many philosophers who answered the survey hail from Roman Catholic university philosophy departments and so they will often (but not necessarily) believe in God. The University of Toronto had a secular Dept. of Phil. in the university at large as well as a highly respected one in the affiliated St. Michael’s College which was once a separate Catholic university. It was absorbed into the University many years ago but still retained much of its religious culture (as did the two other church-affiliated colleges.) I took courses in both settings and profited from both. While some of St. Mike’s offerings dealt with the philosophy of religion, the ones I was interested in had a purely secular focus and delivered on the promise. Of course to understand the evolution of philosophical thought in Western culture, especially in medical ethics, one cannot ignore St. Thomas Acquinas who was motivated by his faith and he got a mention in both sides.

    The trolley problem can be understood in terms of the Roman Catholic principle of the Double Effect while killing the fat man is impermissible because of the intent of using his life as a means. I suspect even atheists make the distinction thus.

    Of course at more fundamental levels, belief in the existence of God as a central tenet of your philosophical reasoning is incompatible with a non-theistic view. But there is more to philosophy than theism.

  9. Proper names

    Have no clue, but pretty evenly split between Fregean and Millian.

    The Zombies question was strange…Metaphysically possible? Aaah…OK.

  10. Perhaps the 22% or so who answered “other” to the trolley problems are the overweight philosophers who considered jumping in front of the trolley themselves.

    1. I do always have trouble intuiting the notion of a trolley that’s moving along with momentum enough to kill five people with certainty, but which can be stopped by one even VERY heavy person falling on the tracks in front of it. The physics doesn’t seem to make sense, unless they elaborate further on HOW the trolley would kill the five workers.

      1. Five (or even six, why not) very thin ones with a combined mass much less than the fatso? These questions, since entirely hypothetical, can be refined ad infinitum ( r nearly so). 😁

        1. With these ‘self driving ‘ cars, the question becomes slightly less hypothetical. Does it try to preserve those on board, or rather the group of pedestrians it is going to plough into? What algoritm is to be used?

      2. I suppose if Snidely Whiplash has tied the five people by the neck to one track rail they would all surely die.

        Maybe a very fat man hitting the moving trolley could jar its suspension enough to knock its power pole free of the overhead wire. Old street cars would often unship their pickups just going through turnouts or rough track and the motorman would have to get out with a long hook and re-rail the power pole to get the car going again. The poles are held against the wire with heavy springs, so if the car took a jolt, the spring could sproi-oi-ng the pickup off the wire.

        Even better would be to time the push so the man hit the power pole on the roof instead of falling in front of the trolley car. He might even survive himself.

    2. Or maybe chose “Other” to mean they dislike the Trolley Problem entirely, as it is designed to make me choose two things I wouldn’t do, In a situation I’m highly likely to ever be in. And I dislike the Saw movies for similar reasons.

      I doubt that I’d have the strength to move the switch, but I do have the ability to leap in front of the train in the slim hope he’d see me in time to stop. I don’t need to “think” about what I would do. Determinism can “decide” that if and when the time comes.

  11. I thought the results for “Philosophical Progress (Is there any)” quite interesting. If roughly half think there is none or only a little progress what are philosophers doing all day? It was also interesting (if somewhat disappointing) that the aims of Philosophy are so varied.

  12. I like Harris on the idea of free will. It’s not even an illusion. Experience is downstream of thought. We might say, “I just thought of something,” but it’s more accurate to say, “A thought just occurred to me.”

    The self may just be the first to know what its mind is thinking.

  13. To paraphrase Neil DeGrasse Tyson: Something like 60% of people believe in a supreme being and about 20% of philosophers. We’ve got to do something about that 20%!

  14. Two takes on philosophy as a whole, or the question: “Philosophy, What is it Good for?”. Despite their very different approaches, and results, I like both:

    (1) In the red corner: A critical take: “The Stagnation of Philosophy” @AnticitizenX.
    (2) In the blue corner: A good defense of philosophy from Hans-Georg Moeller, @Carefree Wandering.

    Like religion, philosophy is an old complex of activities. Most of these activities, certainly the most promising ones condensed and matured into sciences and mathematics, and thus are no longer regarded as philosophy. What remained as philosophy proper are the notoriously difficult “leftover” topics.

    1. As physicist Rich Feynman put it, “Nobody ever figures out what life is all about, and it doesn’t matter.”

      He also aptly quipped, “Philosophy is to science as ornithology is to birds.”

  15. There is a line in South Park “99% of the time you suck Cartman, but it’s moments like these we keep you around for”.

    That is kind of how I feel about philosophy. 99.9% of it sucks, but the 0.1% is valuable and makes it worthwhile.

      1. Like Dennett for example, later Wittgenstein, earlier Fodor before he jumped the shark. Aristotle, some of the earlier Stoics, Hume, John Stuart Mill, John Locke. I think it is not necessary that a philosopher is right about something, but at least that they have made a useful clarification or way of thinking about something.

  16. Basically my problem with philosophy is when it is used to lend spurious respectability to positions that have no other support. People say “Oh, but Alvin Plantinga and William Lane Craig are eminent philosophers and experts in epistemology and ontology and they say that they have proved God”. We get Roger Scruton arguing that it is societal good to encourage people to feel disgusted by homosexuals and Richard Swinburne arguing that homosexuality is a disability that could potentially be cured by medical science and that there would be fewer homosexuals.

    The arguments themselves are nonsense and rather obviously so (at least it seems that way to me) but philosophers will simply say “but you are not a philosopher so you can’t comment on this” and it comes down to eminent Oxford (or whatever) philosopher against some guy with no credentials.

    Arguments with philosophers often come down to “because I am the philosopher and I have the expertise and you don’t”. But I wouldn’t accept that from Michael Behe, William Dembski, Daryl Bem or Robert Jahn.

    But, in the end, I am glad that the very best philosophers have had the opportunity to attempt to defend these ideas because at least I can say that I have seen the best case for them. And if the best case for them is rubbish then there is probably nothing to the ideas.

    Philosophy is a subject that I could rattle on endlessly about, so let me just leave it there.

    1. This seems a lot like a “your mileage may vary” situation. That is, I imagine every field has some number of elitist jerks who will simply claim you could never understand them if you challenge them.

      Regarding your first point. Someone might make a claim that humans have a common ancestor with oak trees or that there’s “dark matter” it’s impossible to perceive through ordinary means and I might think these are ridiculous propositions on the face of them. Then I might say that science is lending spurious respectability to a position that has no other support. And that might seem literally true. All the evidence I’m aware of for evolution or dark matter comes from science (geology, biology and physics namely). I am aware of no evidence for either that comes from engineering, philosophy, religion, mathematics, cooking, carpentry, janitorial work, or any other endeavor that pops into my mind. The “only” evidence they have is numerous scientific studies but nothing else! It just seems the part of the point of philosophy or science is to seriously investigate notions that contradict common sense or previous knowledge.

      Saying arguments with philosophers often come down to “because I am the philosopher and I have the expertise and you don’t” is why I say the YMMV thing. I’m surprised people often well-versed in formal logic would imply such an obvious ad hominem but I guess I haven’t met enough philosophers, maybe you’ve met plenty. Seems though whenever I have read any philosophy they actually make points and attempt to support those points.

      1. Let me quickly clarify that I did not mean to imply that philosophers never or rarely support their points, I just meant that in discussions between me as a non-philosopher and a philosopher it often comes down to “because I am a philosopher and you aren’t”. That has been my experience.

  17. “….humans have a common ancestor with oak trees …..and I might think … ridiculous proposition…”

    I cannot imagine this to be your considered position on the matter (i.e. that the two do not have a common ancestor despite facts about DNA and the genetic code), but cannot quite make out the meaning of the remainder of your middle paragraph.

    “….people …. well-versed in formal logic….”

    I’m afraid that in my (perhaps arrogant) opinion, when “people” refers to academic philosophers, including some apparently quite highly regarded ones, this is simply not the case. There is a serious ‘ingrown toenail’ there, with many of them intellectually living back in the world of 1927 or earlier. The date refers to the publication of the final version of Russell-Whitehead, but my remark refers to living in 2021 professional philosophers, so neither of those authors. If a philosopher studies logic, do so from the likes of George Boolos or similar in the subject (or from mathematical logicians), not from any number of pretty dreadful philosophical logic texts.

    I might add, referring to an earlier mention of Wittgenstein, it is clear despite some ‘desperate’ attempts to rescue him from his silliness, that the guy completely misunderstood Godel’s incompleteness, though not because of any lack of ability to do so on Ludwig’s part.

  18. At the details website one of the questions is “Other Minds”:


    It’s great. For answers to “Other Minds” it includes “Accept or lean towards:”

    adult humans 95.15%
    cats 88.55%
    fish 65.29%
    flies 34.52%
    worms 24.18%
    plants 7.23%
    particles 2.01%
    newborn babies 84.34%
    current AI systems 3.39%
    future AI systems 39.19%

    Some panpsychism there, with particles having minds at 2%; cats are included of course at 88%, but no dogs; flies are included at 34% for the fly pusher biologists; and worms come in with a surprising 24%. Some people who love their Alexa a little too much, with current AI systems at 3.4%; some future optimists pegging future AI at 39%.

    Humans themselves are of course at the top of the list, but not 100%, just 95%. Whatever that means.

  19. Most contemporary so-called philosophers are academics; hence, no philosophers. Academic philosopher is a contradiction in terms. I find the title a bit misleading, since it does not actually refer to philosophers but mostly to historians of philosophy.

  20. Nothing about capital punishment or abortion, sanctity of life concerns. Use of animals in scientific research.

  21. >Almost two-thirds say “switch”, killing one person instead of five. That seems to be the sensible (as well as utilitarian) solution. But 13.3% favor killing all five. And what is “other”?

    Multi-track drifting.

    >But 2/3 of “thinkers” are atheists, so that should give you some consolation.

    The proportion has decreased since the last survey, though that’s probably because they’ve expanded their respondent pool. The people they’ve surveyed in 2009 has become more theistic too, but if you take from the same departments or similar departments, the proportion of atheists has increased.

    I don’t know what to make of this. I’m tempted to say atheism is on the rise still, but that smells like confirmation bias to me.

    >Free will

    I think we are done a disservice by conflating choice with free will. When I discuss it with someone I often get dragged along with compatibilist conclusions until I remember that they are talking about choice, not will.

  22. Your comment regarding results of the question on Belief in God are based not on science, but a metaphysical worldview. You attack a straw-man in setting up evolution vs. theism as an either/or proposition. Most Christian or theistic philosophers, scientists and, in fact, normal believers do not accept the “Creation Science” claim that the earth/universe are merely some thousands of years old. They do not deny the role of evolution in shaping the world as we know it over billions of years.

    What theists object to is Naturalism. Naturalism is the a priori belief (“belief” being the operative word here), that God cannot have played any role in Creation and that, by definition, science precludes a Creator. An adherent of Naturalism is making claims well beyond what scientific inquiry can tell us about Evolution or Cosmology. It is the equivalent of the believer’s Intelligent Design argument.

    Both ID and Naturalism are ultimately grounded in metaphysics, not physics. Both express a worldview that will remain beyond scientific demonstration. Science itself can neither prove nor disprove Intelligent Design. Naturalism is not science, it is an epistemological construct.

    For more, I would encourage you to read world-renowned philosopher Alvin Plantinga’s book, “Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, & Naturalism” (2011, Oxford University Press).

    1. Well, even if you can’t justify science a priori, the fact is that it works to help us understand the universe, and makes predictions that work. Neither theism nor ID do that. If you’d read my book Faith Versus Fact, you’d see that I’ve read Plantinga’s book. It’s a bunch of hooey and the book tells you why. Sensus divinitatus my tuchas!

      Naturalism is not what you say, it says nothing about a creator but says that all phenomena reflect the laws of physics.

      For more, I would encourage you to read Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion are incompatible, by your truly. So many commenters here, like you, are lecturing me about stuff that I’ve already considered and written about, reflecting an unfamiliarity with my work, which is fine, but then they shouldn’t throw out accusations or make claims that I’ve already considered.

      The “science is just like religion” canard is bunk.

      1. And ‘heaven’ forbid that Bruce would ‘strawman’ naturalism.
        I am a Methodological Naturalist (investigate nature based on the reality of the world) – but that does NOT mean I exclude the possibility of the supernatural (as would a Philosophical Naturalist).

        I merely say, while the possibility of the supernatural is there, and not ruled out – the burden of proof is on you (Bruce) to demonstrate it’s existence – and not merely posit or claim that it exists.

        (And as the Feline Professor says, science/naturalism just WORKS. It is demonstrable. Even if absolute knowledge is not possible, unfalsifiable claims of the supernatural are not a reliable path to ‘truth’ (small t) or even knowledge).

        Bruce is not being an honest interlocutor.
        Which suprises me – I thought ALL Bruces from the Philosophy Department of Woolloomooloo were better than that.

      2. I very nearly snorted my coffee flavored Fairlife protein shake through my nose when I read Bruce’s last sentence.

    2. You use terms like “metaphysics” that sound like they mean something other than make-believe.

      Belief is the enemy of finding out or knowing.

  23. Asking professional philosophers about philosophy is about as interesting
    yet pointless as asking music-industry journalists about music. All you get is groupthink and jargon and I view of the recent past, with now indication of what’s coming next.

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