A Philosophical Critique of Empirical Arguments for by Michael Sudduth

By Michael Sudduth

Sudduth offers a severe exploration of classical empirical arguments for survival arguments that purport to teach that facts accrued from ostensibly paranormal phenomena represent solid proof for the survival of the self after demise. using the conceptual instruments of formal epistemology, he argues that classical arguments are unsuccessful.

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Additional resources for A Philosophical Critique of Empirical Arguments for Postmortem Survival (Palgrave Frontiers in Philosophy of Religion)

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Absolute confirmation. Weak or incremental confirmation involves evidence simply raising the probability of a hypothesis. This is one understanding of what it means for e to be evidence for h, though there are different accounts of how this should be measured. By contrast, strong or absolute confirmation involves evidence conferring a substantial probability on the hypothesis, raising the probability of h above some threshold value N, where N typically is ½, meaning that h is more probable than not.

So substance dualism, rather than implying a single account of survival, is compatible with a number of different survival hypotheses. D. Broad once noted that of the vast number of people who have believed in survival, hardly any of them has believed in disembodied survival (Broad 1962: 408). Perhaps Broad overstated the point, but the spirit of the observation is correct. Survivalists in the Western religious traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have historically at least emphasized survival in the form of bodily resurrection from the dead.

1 The problem of auxiliary assumptions PoA is, so I shall argue, the inevitable consequence of the “auxiliary assumption requirement” (AAR), a primary idea in this book. According to AAR, the survival hypothesis has no well-defined Likelihood unless it is supplemented with various auxiliary assumptions. The requirement is based on the Duhem-Quine thesis (so named after Pierre Duhem and Willard Van Orman Quine) that hypotheses are typically tested in bundles or sets because single hypotheses rarely have (non-trivial) observational consequences.

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