Chapter

The Theory of Spirits

Phillip Wiebe

in God and Other Spirits

Published in print April 2004 | ISBN: 9780195140125
Published online April 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780199835492 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195140125.003.0004
 The Theory of Spirits

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This chapter, central to this book, elaborates on the theory of spirits that has been advanced to explain numerous kinds of phenomena, a few of which were sampled in the first two chapters. The importance of abductive argument in advancing the existence of unobservable beings or objects, as opposed to deductive and probabilistic reasoning, is defended. The theory of spirits is construed as empiricist in character, whose descriptions are sometimes theory-laden and whose postulated beings are contextually defined primarily by the causal roles these postulated beings play in the theory. The view of physical objects advanced by phenomenalism, such as that found in many logical positivists, is examined, with a view to explaining how it illuminates challenges that beset an empirical approach to religion. The boundary of naturalism is discussed, especially inasmuch as the spirits postulated to exist in religion are definable by their causal links to phenomena or objects that are unquestionable naturalistic.

Keywords: Abduction; Induction; Deduction; Postulated objects; Naturalism; Phenomenalism; Contextual; Theory-laden description

Chapter.  20459 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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