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Being, Freedom, and MethodThemes from the Philosophy of Peter van Inwagen$
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John A. Keller

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198715702

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198715702.001.0001

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Are There any Successful Philosophical Arguments?

Are There any Successful Philosophical Arguments?

Chapter:
(p.324) 16 Are There any Successful Philosophical Arguments?
Source:
Being, Freedom, and Method
Author(s):

Thomas Kelly

Sarah McGrath

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198715702.003.0018

According to Peter van Inwagen, there are no successful philosophical arguments for substantive conclusions. He argues for this thesis in two steps. First, he puts forward and defends a “criterion of philosophical success,” according to which a philosophical argument is a success just in case it has the power to convert any ideally rational agnostic to its conclusion. He then argues that, given the kind of disagreement we find among philosophers, we have good reason to think that no philosophical arguments for substantive conclusions satisfy that criterion. This paper contests van Inwagen’s case at both steps: first, it offers objections to his proposed criterion of philosophical success; second, it argues that even if we are wrong and his criterion is correct, the kind of disagreement that we find among actual philosophers does not provide a good reason to think that no philosophical arguments meet the relevant standard.

Keywords:   metaphilosophy, success, failure, van Inwagen, disagreement, argument

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