Richard Swinburne: The Existence of God – Brief Notes on Chapter 1 (Inductive Arguments)

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The Basic Distinctions Between Deductive and Inductive Arguments

– It is incoherent to suppose that a valid deductive argument could have true premises but false conclusion.

– An inductive argument can be such that it makes the conclusion probable, but not nearly all inductive arguments are such. Some may increase the probability of (confirm) the conclusion without raising it to the level of being more probable than not. This is the basic difference between P-inductive and C-inductive arguments.

– The issue of the persuasiveness of an argument. (Should ideally have premises that seem at least somewhat plausible for a person who has not yet accepted the conclusion.)

Definitions and Other Preliminary Issues

– “God exists” taken as equivalent to “there exists necessarily a person without a body (i.e. a spirit) who necessarily is eternal, perfectly free, omnipotent, omniscient, perfectly good, and the creator of all things”.

– The types of specific arguments (cosmological, etc.).

– Focus on a posteriori arguments, rather than a priori (such as the ontological argument).

– Kant’s threefold classification of theistic arguments (physico-theological, cosmological and ontological) and its límited usefulness.

– It is unfortunate that recent philosophy of religion has had a tendency to only analyze the arguments for the existence of God in isolation from each other, and to conclude that if none of them establishes the conclusion individually, then all of them taken together also fail to establish the conclusion. This is clearly not the case. (A court case analogy. Several lines of evidence, each of which would be less than convincing all by itself, but very convincing when taken as a whole.)

– Introducing confirmation theory and the symbols used in it.

– It is no objection to a P-inductive or C-inductive argument from evidence to a hypothesis that some contrary hypothesis is also compatible with the evidence. The same piece of evidence can confirm several competing hypotheses.


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