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By Michael Sudduth

Sudduth presents a serious exploration of classical empirical arguments for survival arguments that purport to teach that info gathered from ostensibly paranormal phenomena represent strong facts for the survival of the self after loss of life. using the conceptual instruments of formal epistemology, he argues that classical arguments are unsuccessful.

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Extra resources for A Philosophical Critique of Empirical Arguments for Postmortem Survival

Sample text

Is neither antecedently probable nor improbable) and that it constitutes the best explanation of the total set of relevant data, especially the data collected from mediumship. K. Paterson’s Bayesian defense of classical empirical arguments. Paterson presents a cumulative case argument in which the different strands of evidence for survival (from different kinds of ostensible paranormal phenomena) each incrementally raise an initially low prior probability of the survival hypothesis, so that when each new piece of alleged evidence for survival is considered, the older evidence is included in the background knowledge.

Of particular interest in the subsequent chapters will be a particular exotic counter-explanation of the data, the appeal to living-agent psychic functioning in the form of extrasensory perception and psychokinesis. Many survivalists and skeptics have regarded this “living-agent psi” (LAP) hypothesis as the most formidable counter-explanation of the relevant evidence. I will argue that there is at least one robust version of this hypothesis, call it LAPR, such that we are not justified to claim that Pr(F | SR & K) > Pr(F | LAPR & K), because the evidence F is at least just as probable given LAPR as given the robust survival hypothesis SR.

With respect to both Ducasse and Paterson, I propose a formalization of their arguments that shows why their arguments fail to establish that the hypothesis of personal survival is more probable than not. While AAR and the corresponding PoA is introduced in Chapter 7 and Chapter 8, in Chapter 9 I systematically develop both AAR and PoA. I specify a range of auxiliary assumptions required for arguments for survival from each of the three kinds of ostensibly paranormal phenomena, most of which concern the nature of consciousness if it should survive death.

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