Journal Article

Firing Squads and Fine-Tuning: Sober on the Design Argument

Jonathan Weisberg

in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Published on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Volume 56, issue 4, pages 809-821
Published in print December 2005 | ISSN: 0007-0882
Published online October 2005 | e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjps/axi139
Firing Squads and Fine-Tuning: Sober on the Design Argument

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Elliott Sober has recently argued that the cosmological design argument is unsound, since our observation of cosmic fine-tuning is subject to an observation selection effect (OSE). I argue that this view commits Sober to rejecting patently correct design inferences in more mundane scenarios. I show that Sober's view, that there are OSEs in those mundane cases, rests on a confusion about what information an agent ought to treat as background when evaluating likelihoods. Applying this analysis to the design argument shows that our observation of fine-tuning is not rendered uninformative by an OSE.

Design and the Anthropic Objection

Previous responses to the Anthropic Objection

Variations: experimental squads and survivor reunions

Why there is no OSE in firing squad cases

Application to the design argument

Journal Article.  5322 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics

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