Ultimate Explanation and Prior Probability

Herman Philipse

in God in the Age of Science?

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780199697533
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738470 | DOI:
Ultimate Explanation and Prior Probability

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Suppose for the sake of argument that theism is a meaningful and coherent theory with predictive power. Then we should wonder how probable it is that theism is true, given the total evidence for and against it. In Chapter 11, preliminary conceptual issues are explored, such as the following. In which sense can theism be an ultimate explanation? How should the thesis of Evidentialism be formulated? Which logic of probability should natural theologians use: Bayes’ theorem or the Law of likelihood? Richard Swinburne is an objective Bayesian who claims that the objective prior probability of theism is greater than that of its rivals because of theism’s simplicity. This contention is criticized on many grounds.

Keywords: Full; complete; and ultimate explanations; Scientific explanation; Personal explanation; C-inductive arguments; Law of likelihood; Bayes’ theorem; Subjectivist and objectivist Bayesians; Prior probability of theism; Catch-all hypothesis; Background knowledge; Fallacy of division; Simplicity; Scope of a theory; Criteria for theory choice; Nested models; Adjustable parameters

Chapter.  18883 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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