Original Paper

International Journal for Philosophy of Religion

, Volume 70, Issue 1, pp 27-46

First online:

Naturalized truth and Plantinga’s evolutionary argument against naturalism

  • Feng YeAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy, Peking University Email author 

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There are three major theses in Plantinga’s latest version of his evolutionary argument against naturalism. (1) Given materialism, the conditional probability of the reliability of human cognitive mechanisms produced by evolution is low; (2) the same conditional probability given reductive or non-reductive materialism is still low; (3) the most popular naturalistic theories of content and truth are not admissible for naturalism. I argue that Plantinga’s argument for (1) presupposes an anti-materialistic conception of content, and it therefore begs the question against materialism. To argue for (2), Plantinga claims that the adaptiveness of a belief is indifferent to its truth. I argue that this claim is unsupported unless it again assumes an anti-materialistic conception of content and truth. I further argue that Plantinga’s argument for (3) is not successful either, because an improved version of teleosemantics can meet his criticisms. Moreover, this version of teleosemantics implies that the truth of a belief is (probabilistically) positively related to its adaptiveness, at least for simple beliefs about physical objects in human environments. This directly challenges Plantinga’s claim that adaptiveness is indifferent to truth.


Plantinga Evolutionary argument Naturalism Materialism Content Truth