Sam Ruhmkorff


Curriculum Vitae (full version here)



Ph.D. in Philosophy, The University of Michigan, 2001

M.A. in Philosophy, The University of Michigan, 1996

A.B. summa cum laude in Philosophy, Washington University in St. Louis, 1993




Associate Professor of Philosophy, Bard College at Simon's Rock, 2010-2020

Visiting Assistant Professor, Smith College, 2014-2016

Lecturer, Smith College, 2012-2014

Dean of Academic Affairs, Bard College at Simon's Rock, 2005-2010

Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Bard College at Simon's Rock, 2001-2005

Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy, University of Missouri-Columbia, 2000-2001


Selected publications


Ruhmkorff, Samuel. 2019. Evidence for Intelligent Extraterrestrials is Evidence Against the Existence of God. Think 53: 79-84. 


Ruhmkorff, Samuel. 2019. The Copernican Principle, Intelligent Extraterrestrials, and Arguments from Evil. Religious Studies 55: 297-317.


Ruhmkorff, Samuel and Tingao Jiang. 2019. Copernican Reasoning About Intelligent Extraterrestrials: A Reply to Simpson. Journal for General Philosophy of Science 50: 561-571.


Ruhmkorff, Samuel. 2013. Global and Local Pessimistic Meta-Inductions. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 27: 409-428.


Ruhmkorff, Samuel. 2013. The Incompatibility Problem and Religious Pluralism Beyond Hick. Philosophy Compass 8: 510-522.


Ruhmkorff, Samuel. 2013. The Equal Weight Argument against Religious Exclusivism. In Models of God and Alternative Ultimate Realities, edited by Jeanine Diller and Asa Kasher, 955-968. Springer.


Ruhmkorff, Samuel. 2011. Some Difficulties for the Problem of Unconceived Alternatives. Philosophy of Science 78: 875-886.


Kierland, Brian, Bradley Monton, and Samuel Ruhmkorff. 2008. Avoiding Certain Frustration, Reflection, and the Cable Guy Paradox. Philosophical Studies 138: 317-333.



Full CV
CV November 2020.pdf
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Evidence for Intelligent Extraterrestrials is Evidence Against the Existence of God
The recent explosion in the discovery of exoplanets and our incipient ability to detect atmospheric biomarkers recommend reflection on the conceptual implications of discovering – or not discovering – extrasolar life. I contend that evidence for intelligent extraterrestrial life is evidence against the existence of God, because if there are intelligent extraterrestrials, there are likely to be evils in the universe even greater than those found on Earth. My reasoning is based on Richard Gott’s Copernican principle, which holds that in the absence of information to the contrary, we should take ourselves to be typical observers.
Evidence for Intelligent ETs.pdf
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The Copernican Principle, Intelligent Extraterrestrials, and Arguments from Evil (Pre-print)
The physicist Richard Gott defends the Copernican principle, which claims that when we have no information about our position along a given dimension among a group of observers, we should consider ourselves to be randomly located among those observers in respect to that dimension. First, I apply Copernican reasoning to the distribution of evil in the universe. I then contend that evidence for intelligent extraterrestrial life strengthens four important versions of the argument from evil. I remain neutral regarding whether this result is a reductio of these arguments from evil or the statement of a genuine evidential relationship.
Copernican Principle.pdf
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Copernican Reasoning About Intelligent Extraterrestrials: A Reply to Simpson (post-print)
Copernican reasoning involves considering ourselves, in the absence of other information, to be randomly selected members of a reference class. Consider the reference class intelligent observers. If there are extraterrestrial intelligences (ETIs), taking ourselves to be randomly selected intelligent observers leads to the conclusion that it is likely the Earth has a larger population size than the typical planet inhabited by intelligent life, for the same reason that a randomly selected human is likely to come from a more populous country. The astrophysicist Fergus Simpson contends that this reasoning supports the claims that the typical planet inhabited by ETIs is smaller than Earth (radius about 5,000km; cf. Earth's radius = 6,371km) and that the typical ETI is significantly larger than us about 314kg, the size of an adult male grizzly bear). Simpson's applications of Copernican reasoning are novel and exciting. They should be of interest to philosophers concerned with Richard Gott's
Intelligent Extraterrestrials post print
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Global and Local Pessimistic Meta-Inductions (Pre-print)
The global pessimistic meta-induction argues from the falsity of scientific theories accepted in the past to the likely falsity of currently accepted scientific theories. I contend that this argument commits a statistical error previously unmentioned in the literature and is self-undermining. I then compare the global pessimistic meta-induction to a local pessimistic meta-induction based on recent negative assessments of the reliability of medical research. If there is any future in drawing pessimistic conclusions from the history of science, it lies in local meta-inductions, but these meta-inductions will not result in global distrust of the results of science.
Pessimistic Metainductions.pdf
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Some Difficulties for the Problem of Unconceived Alternatives (Pre-print)
Kyle Stanford defends the problem of unconceived alternatives, which maintains that scientists are unlikely to conceive of all of the scientifically plausible alternatives to the theories they accept. Stanford’s argument has been criticized on the grounds that the failure of individual scientists to conceive of relevant alternatives does not entail the failure of science as a corporate body to do so. I consider two replies to this criticism and find both lacking. In the process, I argue that Stanford does not provide evidence that there are likely scientifically plausible unconceived alternatives to scientific theories accepted now and in the future.
The Problem of Unconceived Alternatives.
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The Incompatibility Problem and Religious Pluralism Beyond Hick
Religious pluralism is the view that more than one religion is correct, and that no religion enjoys a special status in relation to the ultimate. Yet the world religions appear to be incompatible. How, then, can more than one be correct? Discussions and critiques of religious pluralism usually focus on the work of John Hick, yet there are a number of other pluralists whose responses to this incompatibility problem are importantly different from Hick’s. This article surveys the solutions of Hick, Harrison, Heim, Byrne, and Knitter to the incompatibility problem. I conclude that, while none of these views is without weakness, there are several promising pluralist solutions to this problem. Moreover, confessionalists (i.e. exclusivists and inclusivists) must also address issues related to incompatibility.
Religious pluralism.pdf
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The Equal Weight Argument against Religious Exclusivism (Pre-print)
In the last decade, analytic epistemologists have engaged in a lively debate about Equal Weight, the claim that you should give the credences of epistemic peers the same consideration as your own credences. In this paper, I explore the implications of the debate about Equal Weight for how we should respond to religious disagreement found in the diversity of models of God. I first claim that one common argument against religious exclusivism and for religious pluralism can be articulated as an Equal Weight argument. I then argue that to avoid this argument, religious exclusivists must reject Equal Weight. Next, I maintain that, while the exclusivist complaint that pluralism is self-undermining is incorrect, exclusivists can rightly object that the pluralist’s Equal Weight argument is self-undermining. Thus both exclusivists and pluralists have an interest in rejecting Equal Weight.
Equal Weight and Exclusivism.pdf
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