Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Roger Scruton, The Liar's Paradox, & Evolutionary Theorizing

Monroe County

I'm reading philosopher Roger Scruton's The Soul of the World. Scruton reasons in the way Alvin Plantinga does; viz., by showing how the idea that evolutionary theory explains all behavior is self-contradictory when expected to explain the behavior of theorizing about evolution. 

Scruton writes:

"The theory of evolution is itself a scientific theory. We have reason to believe it only because we trust that the directedness of our thinking is not an accidental by-product of the evolutionary process but an independent guide to the way things are, whose credentials go beyond its adaptive benefits. The theory of evolution may seem to offer an outside view of science. But it is written in the language of science. If the theory really did offer an outside view, then it could conceivably have led to the conclusion that false beliefs have a better survival value than true ones, and therefore that all our beliefs are likely to be false. But what then of the theory that tells us so? If true, it is likely to be false. In other words , if we attempt to reach the high ground of naturalism by this route, we encounter a version of the liar paradox : an obstacle to which there is only one response— turn back!" 
- Roger Scruton, The Soul of the World, Kindle Locations 163-169, Princeton University Press. 

The Liar's Paradox goes like this.

If I utter the statement "I am lying," then if this statement is true then I am not telling the truth, which means it is false that I am lying and therefore am not telling the truth. Which is absurd.