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Richard Swinburne has argued that an agent who knows the normative truth, and who is not subject to non-rational influences, will inevitably perform the best possible action [if there is one Swinburne : Ch. Perhaps Swinburne exaggerates, but it is certainly not surprising or unlikely that an agent with a capacity to recognise and respond to reasons should be motivated to do what she has reason to do.


In so far as we think life is of great objective value, then it is likely that a non-Humean cosmic agent would be motivated to bring it about. A finite limitation cries out for an explanation of why there is just that particular limit, in a way that limitlessness does not. And scientific practice shows this preference for infinite values over finite values of a property. There is a neatness about zero and infinite that particular finite numbers lack Swinburne : 55 and With reference to these kind of considerations, Swinburne argues that the postulation of an all-knowing and all-powerful divine being is much simpler than the postulation of a divine being with some arbitrary limit to its knowledge or power Swinburne: Ch.

Along similar lines, I submit that the hypothesis that the universe has a flawless capacity to recognise and respond to reasons is much simpler than the hypothesis that this capacity of the universe has some arbitrary flaw; likewise, the hypothesis that the universe is not subject to irrational desires is simpler than the hypothesis that it is. Along similar lines, I am inclined to think that the postulation of an evil or irrational cosmic agent to explain the suffering and imperfections of the world is inferior to the postulation of a cosmic agent of limited power.

One could argue that the good in the world allows us to rule out an evil God, but such a case would seem to mirror the familiar argument that the evil in the world rules out a good God. Whilst I agree that the problem of evil makes theism untenable, I do think a case can be made that an evil divine agent is less likely than a good one, at least if we have a non-Humean understanding of divine agency. On a Humean conception of the divine agent, God could have any desires whatsoever, and an evil God is just as likely as a good God. Perhaps her capacity to recognise reasons is in some way flawed; perhaps she is subject to irrational desires; perhaps there is a mixture of the two.

In any case, a theory that postulates an evil God must tell some such story, and moreover it must be one that predicts the universe as we find it. Such a theory is going to end up extremely complicated. My preferred story—that the cosmic agent has a flawless capacity to recognise and respond to reasons but has power-limitations expressed by the laws of physics—is much simpler. To emphasise, I am not assuming a non-Humean view of human agency, only of cosmic agency. But, as I have argued, one already has that commitment if one is committed to explaining fine-tuning.

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It is not left an intolerable fluke that, of all the values the parameters might have had, they turned out to have exactly the values required to make a universe of value; rather this fact is explained in terms of the rational responsiveness of a cosmic agent of limited power. I will begin by assessing the relative theoretical virtue of the theories, before turning to other considerations. Agentive cosmosychism is clearly more theoretically virtuous than theism.

Both postulate a fundamental mind. But the fundamental mind postulated by theism is supernatural, immaterial and metaphysically necessary, leading to a disunified theory God on the one hand, the natural universe on the other and a significant cost in terms of qualitative parsimony a commitment to both physical and non-physical kinds, and to both necessary and contingent kinds. Agentive cosmopsychism, in supposing that this fundamental agent is the intrinsic nature of the contingent, physical universe, avoids these costs. How does agentive cosmopsychism fare in comparison to the multiverse hypothesis, as regards theoretical virtue?

I have already argued that the second modification to turn constitutive cosmopsychism into agentive cosmopsychism incurs less cost than the multiverse hypothesis. But perhaps one might think that the first modification, or a basic commitment to Russellian monism itself, incurs more of a cost than a commitment to the multiverse hypothesis. Let us take these in turn. I can see no grounds for thinking that constitutive cosmopsychism is more costly than any other form of Russellian monism.

It is difficult to reflect on this question dispassionately, as we are strongly inclined for cultural reasons to think of the thesis that the universe is an agent as a ludicrously extravagant cartoon. But recall that agentive cosmopsychism is consistent with everything we can observe, and if we do manage to dispassionately assess its relative parsimony, it is not obvious that the transition to it—at least once one is already a Russellian monist—involves any cost at all.

Considerations in favour of Agentive Cosmopsychism —The agentive cosmopsychist postulates only one causal capacity rather than multiple. In my judgment, the postulations of the agentive cosmopsychist are overall simpler.

The Universe—A Machine

Perhaps some will disagree, but there is clearly not much in it. Even if the move from standard cosmopsychism to agentive cosmopsychism does involve a cost, that cost is negligible. When compared to other forms of Russellian monism, basic agentive cosmopsychism i. What of the cost simply of being a Russellian monist, or more specifically of postulating an intrinsic nature to physical reality, rather than just believing in the causal-structural properties postulated by physical science?

If the regress argument against causal structuralism discussed earlier is sound, then we have no choice but to postulate an intrinsic nature to matter. Is it better to go for the multiverse hypothesis or agentive cosmopsychism? This is tough judgment call, but it seems to me overall better to add a little to the universe we have rather than to invest in an astronomical number of extra universes. Moving on from considerations of theoretical virtue, the most significant advantage of agentive cosmopsychism is that it avoids the false predictions of its rivals.

And as regards the problem of evil, the agentive panpsychist is able to explain the imperfections of reality in terms of the limited powers of the universe. Indeed, she might plausibly claim that the universe made reality as good as possible given its limited powers.

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Perhaps one could argue that there are certain possible values of the parameters of our physics that would have made the universe significantly better and press a problem evil against agentive cosmopsychism on this basis, but in the absence of such an argument it is not clear that agentive cosmopsychism faces any difficulty in this area. In any case, agentive cosmopsychism is in a significantly better position than theism with respect to the existence of evil and suffering. Perhaps the theist may further support the existence of God with other arguments of natural theology, with the hope of showing that overall theism is to be preferred.

I obviously do not have space here to consider all such possible strategies, and so will confine myself to making brief comments about the two other most discussed arguments for God: the ontological argument and the cosmological argument:. If the ontological argument is sound, then the necessary existence of God can be demonstrated a priori, and hence the fine-tuning argument for God is redundant. E as a non-spatiotemporal entity caused the big bang i.

Given that physical science tells us nothing of the intrinsic nature of the universe, physical science can give us no grounds for holding that something with such an intrinsic nature is essentially spatiotemporal. In this way, the agentive cosmopsychist is able to avoid both the theistic problem of evil and a vicious dichotomy between God and the universe. In other words, one can accept the finding of the cosmological argument whilst still avoiding the profligate and problematic implications of theism. I have argued not only that agentive cosmopsychism can explain the fine-tuning, but that it offers an explanation superior to its two main rivals: theism and the multiverse hypothesis.

Those who accept the need to explain fine-tuning ought to take the view seriously. Some Russellian monists identify physical properties with categorical properties; on this view, mass is a categorical property picked out in physics in terms of causal role. Others hold that physical properties are dispositions that are grounded in categorical properties. In Goff , I give a more detailed definition of Russellian monism to distinguish it from forms of physicalism which are also committed to categorical properties.

Probably the best defence of this is Papineau I discuss the issue in some detail in Goff : Ch 9. I am assuming in this example that thoughts are a kind of conscious state. This is somewhat contentious, but a different example, using a less contentious example such as pain, could easily be given. It is generally held that over-determination there being two distinct sufficient causes for a single effect is innocuous in cases in which one of the two causes is constituted by the other Bennett ; Goff : Ch.

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Hence, given that functional states are constituted of physical states, the identification of conscious states with functional states does not lead to worrying over-determination. Howell argues that Russellian monism cannot avoid causal exclusion worries. Coleman offers a positive proposal concerning the intrinsic nature of matter.

McGinn , I believe, can be interpreted as a holding a form of neutral Russellian monism according to which humans are constitutionally incapable of ever grasping the intrinsic nature of matter. There are, for course, challenges for panpsychism, most notably the combination problem Goff , , ; Coleman ; Chalmers I have argued Goff : Ch. This term is from Coleman As far as I know, nobody defends priority monist neutral monism.

Whereas smallist panpsychism faces the combination problem, constitutive cosmopsychism faces the de -combination problem: the challenge of making sense of how human and animal consciousness is grounded in the consciousness of the universe. I have argued : Ch. The emergentist position may also be attractive if one wishes to accommodate libertarian free will. Some have argued that priority monism is at odds with contemporary science, e.

Lowe There are some concerns with how to make sense of these probabilities. Attempts to address these concerns can be found in Collins and Hawthorne and Isaacs I intend to give my own account of the probabilities in question in future work. In a recent unpublished paper, Hawthorne and Isaacs have argued that the fine-tuning argument is better expressed in terms of Bayesian probability theory. I agree that the deeper story of why the fine-tuning needs explaining should be put in Bayesian terms. However, I worry that setting things up this way will exclude everyone except techy academic philosophers from the discussion.

For most purposes it seems to me fine to discuss the fine-tuning in the ideology of inference to the best explanation, so long as one appreciates that there is a deeper Bayesian analysis. There are, of course, forms of theism that depart from this classical definition of theism, and some of them would avoid some of the criticisms I raise here against theism as standardly understood.

Process theologians Whitehead ; Hartshorne , for example, deal with the problem of evil by denying that God is omnipotent. Some examples of physicists who have taken the postulation of a multiverse to be a rational response to fine-tuning are Susskind ; Greene ; Tegmark If we already take ourselves to be committed to mind—body dualism, then the parsimony concern with respect to theism is slightly weakened, as we are already committed to non-physical entities.

However, the availability of Russellian monism significantly weakens the case for dualism. Strictly speaking, this is not quite correct. I defend the coherence of constitutive cosmopsychism in much more detail in Goff : Ch. I am working with the conception of human agency laid out in more detail in Scanlon and Dancy This is not an especially controversial commitment. Given that the universe is constrained by principles of conservation of energy, it cannot create or destroy matter, and hence can only act to alter itself.

Some take these causal capacities to be metaphysically basic Bird ; Ellis , ; Molnar ; Mumford , but most Russellian monists take them to be grounded in categorical properties Perebooom ; Chalmers ; Goff As I explain below, I agree with Swinburne that considerations of simplicity favour an all-powerful fundamental agent; the point I am making here is about coherence.

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I explain below why overall I favour agentive cosmopsychism over theism. The hardest bit of fine-tuning to fit into this model of explanation is the low entropy at the start of the universe. The level of entropy is determined by the arrangement of matter.