Volume 14, Issue 1, 2012
Alvin Plantinga's New Argument Against Materialism
A New Argument against Materialism
We ordinarily think that the content of a belief, or an intention, or an undertaking is relevant to the actions caused by beliefs, intentions, and undertakings. Not only do we ordinarily think these things; they are no more than the sober truth. I attempt to argue that if materialism about us human beings (either reductive or nonreductive) were true, then these things would be false: it would not be by virtue of their contents that beliefs, intentions, and undertakings cause what they do. If materialism were true, facts about the content of beliefs, intentions, and undertakings would be irrelevant to their causal powers. If this argument is correct, then embracing materialism exacts a substantial cost: giving up these obvious and commonsense truths.