Sam Ruhmkorff

Curriculum Vitae

Full CV
CV September 2019.pdf
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The Copernican Principle, Intelligent Extraterrestrials, and Arguments from Evil
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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Unconceived Alternatives and the Cathedral Problem
Kyle Stanford claims we have historical evidence that there likely are plausible unconceived alternatives in fundamental domains of science, and thus evidence that our best theories in these domains are probably false. Accordingly, we should adopt a form of instrumentalism. Elsewhere, I have argued that in fact we do not have historical evidence for the existence of plausible unconceived alternatives in particular domains of science, and that the main challenge to scientific realism is rather to provide evidence that there are likely not plausible unconceived alternatives. In the present paper, I contend that we may come to have such evidence in the long run of science. I then investigate the epistemic consequences of the claim that we presently do not have evidence for or against the existence of plausible unconceived alternatives, but that in the future we may come to have evidence against the existence of plausible unconceived alternatives.
Cathedral problem.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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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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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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