Juhl: Fine-tuning is not surprising
September 15, 2006 — 17:18

Author: Trent Dougherty  Category: Existence of God  Tags: ,   Comments: 3

The October issue of Analysis is now available on line. It has an article “Fine-tuning is not surprising” by one Cory Juhl. I’d never heard of him so I looked him up on the UT Department website and he’s got good training in HPS.
I only perused the article, but I couldn’t find anything very original upon perusal. Some of it seems like a less-precise rehash of some of Brad Monton’s points discussed previously on the blog. One complaint that I very much share is the lack of any semantics offered for the kind of probability which is supposed to be at work in the argument. I’ve been slaving away at range theories of probability and point-set topology and re-reading Carnap trying to come up with something, but it’s very difficult. Still, I’m less worried about logical probability measures over infinities than I was when I started.
Though I’m personally vexed by this, I’m not sure how big a problem it is for the argument from fine-tuning. I can see one sticking to the intuitive judgements reasonably without being in possession of the mechanics. I’ve discussed this problem with Richard Swinburne and he’s certainly not interested in it. This is what he said in one email: “This notion of evidential probability, like- for example – the notion of cause, is so basic that any philosopher’s attempt to give a precise definition of it in other terms is unlikely to capture its nature adequately.”
He thinks the judgements themselves are intuitively correct. One might say that the intuitive judgements are in fact the standards according to which the theories should be judged (or at least relatively fixed points in a reflective equilibrium). A philosopher wants more, of course, but we might have to live without it.
I’ll be presenting my own criticisms of the fine-tuning argument at the upcoming SLU Religious Epistemology Conference which I’m very much looking forward to.

  • Hi Trent,
    Two really quick and easy questions. First, what’s ‘HPS’? Second, by “peruse”, did you mean that you skimmed it? (According to the dictionary, to peruse is “to read through with thoroughness or care”.)

    September 15, 2006 — 20:22
  • Matthew

    HPS = History and Philosophy of Science

    September 15, 2006 — 22:05
  • Greg Ganssle, in Thinking About God, says it’s just epistemic probability. Admittedly, he’s writing for high school students and college freshmen, and the only other option he contrasts it with is statistical probability like coin tossing, but it didn’t occur to me that there was a serious problem with taking it to be epistemic probability in the short time I considered it while reading that chapter (which happened to be earlier today at the airport while waiting for my baggage to come around the conveyor belt, so if there’s an obvious problem that I should have noticed I think I have a good excuse).

    September 16, 2006 — 2:37