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UA / Philosophy / PHL 100 / What does white’s fine­tuning argument (fta) mean?

What does white’s fine­tuning argument (fta) mean?

What does white’s fine­tuning argument (fta) mean?


January 30, 2017

what does white’s fine­tuning argument (fta) mean?

● The Lost Island

○ 1. The Lost Island is an island than which none greater can 

be conceived.

○ 2. We can conceive of the Lost Island.

○ 3. Something that exists is greater than something that does 

not exist.

○ 4. Therefore, if we conceive of  the Lost Island as not 

existing, we could conceive of an island greater than the Lost Island. ○ 5. We cannot conceive of any island greater than the Lost 


○ 6. Therefore, we must conceive of the Lost Island as 


○ 7. Therefore, the Lost Island must exist.

What are the fallacious arguments from ignorance?

● Response 1: The argument works for God but not the island. Some argue  that you cannot conceive of the island because the qualities of an island have no  upper bounds of greatness. We also discuss several other topics like Where is tartarus located?

● Response 2: God is supposed to be a necessary being (if he exists, then  he could not have failed to exist); seems ad hoc (nothing in the premises or  principles imply any such restriction)

● The universe is fine­tuned for life: certain fundamental features of the  universe (e.g. the force of gravity, the amount of energy in the universe at its  creation) were only very slightly different, then life would have never developed

● A teleological argument for the existence of God purports to show that  God must exist because the universe (or some feature of it) could only have  been brought about by the hand of a conscious thing

What is the lost island?

● Inference to the best explanation:

○ 1. X is an observed phenomena.

○ 2. If Y were the case, then it would best explain why X is the 


○ 3. Y is the case.

○ Things like power, elegance, simplicity, consistency, etc 

make explanations better.

February 1, 2017

● Fine­tuning of the universe

○ Constants (like Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation) have 

been fine­tuned for life

○ If the force of gravity had been even slightly more, we would  We also discuss several other topics like What motor proteins are associated with microtubules?
We also discuss several other topics like What are some examples of culture bound syndromes?

have a rapidre­collapse of all matter in the universe back into singularity

○ If the force of gravity had been weaker, we would have  unchecked cosmic expansion (heat death of the universe)

● God of the Gaps reasoning:

○ 1. There is some gap in our naturalistic/scientific 

understanding of the world. We also discuss several other topics like What is sublimation and deposition?

○ 2. Therefore, the correct explanation of this phenomena  must be supernatural (e.g. God)

● Problems with god of the gaps reasoning:

○ Science has been good at filling the gaps.

○ The current lack of a scientific explanation of some physical  phenomena does not suggest that one will not be given at a later date. ○ Even if current naturalistic theories cannot explain a feature  of the universe, the default view should not be the design hypothesis.  ○ Current gaps in understanding should encourage us to find  answers to our questions.

● Design arguments are fallacious arguments from ignorance. ○ 1. I don’t know how X came about.

○ 2. Therefore X must have been designed (by a perfect  creator).

● White’s Fine­Tuning Argument (FTA)

○ 1. If a fact E that we observe stands in need of explanation,  and hypothesis H provides a satisfactory explanation of E that is better  than any alternative explanation available, then E provides significant  evidential support for H. We also discuss several other topics like What is the definition of a controlled variable in science?

○ 2. That our universe is hospitable to life stands in need of  explanation. We also discuss several other topics like What is the main difference between mass and weight?

○ 3. That God adjusted the constants in order to allow for life  to develop provides a satisfactory explanation for why our universe is life permitting.

○ 4. There is no comparably satisfying explanation of this fact  available.

○ 5. Therefore, that our universe is life permitting provides  significant evidential support for theism. 

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