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Thursday, January 15, 2009


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"Contrary to what some people maintain, a limited doxastic voluntarism is true: belief on a topic like this one is within the control of the will."

It seems to me that ultimately all belief is within the control of the will: we are not (and cannot be) *forced* to believe anything, rather that we choose all our beliefs.

Knowing when someone is really dead can be a tricky question: Woman Wakes Up After Family Says Goodbye, Tubes Pulled

[I've seen no reports that this woman has any rememberances of her near-(or post-)death experience.]

Suppose in good conditions of ordinary lighting, etc. you see a vicious dog running towards you. You form the perceptual belief that an animal is approaching you. It seems obvious to me that a belief like this is not under the control of the will.

Knowing when someone is dead is indeed a "tricky question." It depends on at least two things. First a definition of 'dead.' Second, the application of the criteria embodied in the definition.

The only serious philosophers I know about who take dear-death experiences seriously are:

Gary Habermas, garyhabermas.com


Titus Rivas, www.geocities.com/titusrivas


You say: "... nothing can be proven on this topic one way or another ..."

Have you studied the best argument in detail? I haven't.

Stephen E. Braude is another serious philosopher who takes near-death experiences seriously.

Near-death experiences prove nothing for two reasons. First, no experience of any sort can prove its own veridicality. Put otherwise, no experience can guarantee the reality of its intentional object

I take it that this is the skeptic speaking, and it needn't represent your own views. There are interesting principles to the contrary. Swinburne and Huemer defend a principle of credulity about perception that says (simplifying) that if it seems to you that P, then, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, you have reason to believe P. These sorts of principles require that the skeptic not merely conjure up a skeptical hypothesis h that is possible, but that he actually give us some reason to believe h is true. I confess to being unpersuaded by Swinburne and Huemer. On the other hand, I'm not persuaded that we should assume the opposing principle either, that if it seems to you that P, then in the absence of evidence that P is veridical, you have no reason to believe P. It's hard to know the right place to start epistemology, being credulous or being suspicious.

This is a rather detailed Internet Infidels response to NDEs.


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