Two Counterexamples to Plantinga's Proper Functionalism

I. Proper function isn't necessary for knowledge: Greco's counterexample
John Greco[1] points out that there are actual cases of people with certain sorts of brain lesions that enhance their memory abilities. If so, then we have cases of knowledge without proper function, in which case proper function isn't necessary for knowledge.

II. Proper Function isn't sufficient for knowledge: Lehrer's counterexample

Keith Lehrer has applied his famous "Truetemp" thought experiment to Plantinga's proper functionalist account of knowledge[2]. According to the thought experiment, physicians anesthetize a patient and implant a device in his head (unbeknownst to the patient) that causes him to reliably form very precise beliefs about the outside temperature. However, Truetemp has no special inner phenomenology associated with the beliefs; nor has he had occasion to check the reliability of his temperature beliefs (say, with a thermometer). Rather, Truetemp just finds himself having these beliefs some time after the operation (and again, he has no idea that the doctors installed the device in his head). So according to the thought experiment, we have a cognitive faculty that, when functioning properly, reliably produces firm and unwavering true beliefs when in epistemically congenial environments. Intuitively, though, Truetemp's beliefs don't count as knowledge. If so, then we have a case of proper function without knowledge, in which case proper function isn't sufficient for knowledge.

[1] Greco, J. 2003. “Virtue and Luck, Epistemic and Otherwise,” Metaphilosophy 34:3, 353-66.

[2] See Lehrer's chapter in Warrant in Contemporary Epistemology, especially pp. 32-33.

Keith Parsons Critiques Robin Collins' Fine-Tuning Design Argument


New Issue of Philo


Here is the table of contents:



Is Morality Undercut by Evolutionary Naturalism?

is Evolutionary Naturalism Epistemologically Self-Defeating?

God and the Laws of Nature

A Cosmos Existing Through Ethical Necessity

Naturalism as a Philosophical Paradigm

Craig's Kalam Cosmology

Some Remarks on the Modal Ontological Argument

Two (or Maybe One and a Half) Cheers for Perfect Being Theology

Rauser on Copan on Divinely Mandated Genocide in the Old Testament

Randal Rauser (Taylor Seminary) has written a nice reply to Paul Copan's defense of divinely-commanded genocide in the Old Testament: "'Let Nothing that Breathes Remain Alive.' On the Problem of Divinely Commanded Genocide." Philosophia Christi 11:1 (2009), pp. 27-41. The article can be found here.

HT: Sarah Schoonmaker

Job Offer Accepted.

Hi gang,

I'm happy to announce that I just accepted a tenure-track Philosophy gig at College of Undisclosed Location. Woo-hoo!


Symposium on J.L. Schellenberg's Recent Work

Here is the announcement as found at Prosblogion:

This note is to announce a symposium dedicated to the recent work of J.L. Schellenberg, in particular his trilogy with Cornel U press - Prolegomena to a Philosophy of Religion (2005), Wisdom to Doubt: A Justification of Religious Skepticism (2007), The Will to Imagine: A Justification of Skeptical Religion (2009)

The one-day symposium will take place in Montreal, at Concordia University, Sunday, May 30th, 2010 -- and is part of the Canadian Philosophical Association's annual meeting. The main focus of the event will be over Schellenberg's provocative claim that (i) traditional religious outlooks, including theism, are no longer tenable, but that (ii) religion may well have a very interesting future that human beings, at this stage in their evolutionary development, can only begin to grasp.

Participants Include:

J.L Schellenberg (Mount St Vincent)

Paul Draper (Purdue University)

Stephen Wykstra (Calvin College)

J.J Macintosh (University of Calgary)

Reppert and Littlejohn: The Dialogue Continues on the Argument from Reason

Here and here. It appears to me that the substantive dialectical moves have been exhausted, and that the theistic Argument from Reason is a failure. By that I mean that it fails to provide evidence that would even slightly favor theism over naturalism.

Jeremy Koons' Excellent Critique of Plantinga on Properly Basic Theistic Belief

Koons, Jeremy Randall. "Plantinga on Properly Basic Belief in God: Lessons from the Epistemology of Perception", The Philosophica...