In this response I'm assuming that what really strikes us as miraculous about our universe and provides the force behind fine-tuning arguments is the presence of minds. A universe with mindless life (maybe, a bunch of bacteria) wouldn't count as especially different from a universe with no life at all.
Now suppose dualism -- the view that minds are non-physical -- might have been true. I'm not asking you to suppose that dualism actually is true, but only that there's an alternate way things could've been, perhaps very different from the way things actually are, in which dualism is true. If the non-physical minds that dualists talk about might have existed, there's a variety of different possible psychophysical laws (laws governing how minds are attached to physical objects) which could have obtained. Even if we had different physical laws which don't allow for the large-scale physical phenomena that support minds in our universe, we could've also had different psychophysical laws which allow other sorts of physical matter to have minds.
The resulting picture makes the existence of minds seem like a far less miraculous thing, and eliminates the impulse to posit a Creator who set things up just right. Sure, it's kind of interesting that our universe is one in which the physical laws do so much work in making minds possible. But there's a huge variety of other possible arrangements of laws -- in particular, arrangements involving psychophysical laws which allow for an abundance of minds -- that would do the same thing. So there's no reason to think our universe really is fine-tuned by a divine creator after all.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
That's the topic of my latest post at Ezra's blog. The occasion is Sahotra Sarkar's article in the American Prospect on the move towards fine-tuning arguments. The second half of the post is the following argument, which uses the possibility of dualism against fine-tuning. I'm curious whether I've presented it in a way that non-philosophers will be able to understand.
by Neil Sinhababu at 12/09/2006 02:59:00 pm