The Burden of Proof
Submitted by emil10001 on Wed, 12/01/2010 - 21:37
Shelly Kagan has done a brilliant job of summing up our responsibility when asked to prove that something does not exist:
Do I, as a physicalist who does not believe in the existence of souls, immaterial entities above and beyond the body, do I need to disprove the existence of souls? “Well, there’s no soul here, no souls there.” No. What I need to do is to take a look at each argument that gets offered for the existence of a soul and rebut it–explain why those arguments are not compelling. I don’t need to prove that souls are impossible. I just need to undermine the case for souls. If there’s no good reason to believe in souls, that actually constitutes a reason to believe there are no souls.
This has been brought up in atheist discussions many times regarding the existence of God, but I felt that Kagen really put a point on it in the above quote. Source.
Original comments here.