Volume 18, Issue 1, 2016
Ethics: Just War as Deterrence Against Terrorism?
Knowledge of Abstracta
A Challenge to Materialism
I argue that materialism is unable to account for knowledge deriving from such abstracta as rules of inference, algorithms, and the ideals of infinity, perfection, and eternity. Both reductive and nonreductive materialism subscribe to the causal closure of the physical world, which implies that a creature’s concepts derive exclusively from the interactions of brains with the physical environment. These resources do not explain the acquisition of abstract concepts or the successful use of these concepts in gaining important knowledge about the world. By contrast, if both God and souls exist, we can understand how knowledge based on abstracta is possible.