Crooked Timber : Van Inwagen’s laugh test

Posted by Chris Bertram

I’ve been engaged in some correspondence which began around the question of whether or not Mark Steyn rejects Darwin , but which has switched into a discussion of the views of philosopher and metaphysician, Peter van Inwagen..

The idea that there isn’t a vast, radical difference, a chasm, between human beings and all other terrestrial species is simply a very funny idea.

[it] occured to me is that it is rather rich for someone to propose a laugh test to rule out counterintuitive scientific generalization when they themselves believe that only human beings and elementary particles exist . My correspondent has corrected me to say that my characterization of van Inwagen’s view is inexact and that he holds that not only human beings by anything else with a “unified consciousness” can exist. So God and the angels are in too. That doesn’t really diminish my sense that when it comes to claims that are, on the face of it, laughable, van Inwagen may be a man throwing stones in a glasshouse.

Crooked Timber � � Van Inwagen’s laugh test


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