In a long and informative review of a new book by Darwinian philosopher Alexander Rosenberg, How History Gets Things Wrong. The Neuroscience of our Addiction to Stories—who denies that the mind really exists (eliminativism)—we read:
Rosenberg writes that there are compelling reasons to question the Theory of Mind. His discussion of those reasons is prefaced by the statement that the Theory’s “Darwinian pedigree is no reason to accept it as true, or even mostly true. The process of natural selection does not as a rule produce true beliefs, just ones that foster survival” (82). The statement that natural selection does not as a rule produce true beliefs, cannot, of course, be confined to the Theory of Mind—it isn’t only Theory of Mind related beliefs that cannot be held to be true due to their Darwinian pedigree. It holds across the board, so for all beliefs. If it is to be consistent, Rosenberg’s view must be that natural selection in general selects not for truth but for survival.
What is frustrating is that Rosenberg’s book nowhere discusses the implications of this view for Darwinism itself, nor for science more generally. For the implications are monumental and disastrous. For if the mental faculties or mechanisms that produce belief in us are selected for not because they yield mostly true beliefs but because they foster survival, then this also regards science: whatever we wind up believing through science, whatever scientific theory we accept through scientific investigation, the fact that we believe it has to do with survival, not truth. But this means that given Rosenberg’s view on natural selection, we have no reason to think that our scientific theories are true, in fact we have a standing defeater for each and every scientific theory, evolutionary theory and the theory of natural selection included.
In the wake of Alvin Plantinga’s evolutionary argument against naturalism, this problem has received quite a bit of attention. But Rosenberg doesn’t engage with the literature, and has nothing of any interest to say on a problem that should exercise him greatly, given his over allegiance to scientism, roughly the claim that only science can give us knowledge.René van Woudenberg, “Self-Defeat, Inconsistency, and the Debunking of Science, ” at Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective
If Rosenberg were right, science could not give us knowledge. If there is no mind, there is no knowledge because there is nothing that knows.