Recently, I had an argument with someone who stated that the chance of experiencing nothing after death is extremely low. Their reasoning was that one can think of many more metaphysical realities in which something else exists that would influence what we experience after death. So, if we look at the chances of nothing metaphysical existing compared to the chances of something metaphysical existing (which, at least for some of these possibilities, something is experienced after death), it seems extremely unlikely that nothing metaphysical exists, and also that nothing is experienced after death.

While it seems as if this argument is invalid, I have difficulty refuting it. What, if anything, is wrong with this argument?

  • Was the argument only verbal or was there a reference that you were reading as well? The reference might help put the argument in context giving more detail. Welcome! – Frank Hubeny Jun 15 '19 at 16:51
  • @FrankHubeny Thank you! No, there wasn't any sort of reference, but the argument was longer than what I said in my question (I tried my best to try to make the argument as simple as possible). But, if you need any sort of clarification, please ask. – Peter E Jun 15 '19 at 16:56
  • No, it is not possible to enumerate speculative hypotheses, let alone assign probabilities to them, in a meaningful way. One can split metaphysical non-existence into multiple options based on some other factors to bump up its likelyhood, for example, or achieve any desired result by such manipulations. And there is no reason why the options should be equally likely in the first place. The mistake of this argument is similar to one (of several) in the Pascal's wager, see What fallacy in Pascal's Wager allows replacing God with the devil? – Conifold Jun 16 '19 at 10:10
  • @Conifold If this is the case, then why is there so much modern philosophical discussion over the probability of metaphysical ideas, such as God? For example, this article states that a probabilistic argument against God is "not as easy to refute as is often presumed." But, if you cannot even assign probabilities to these speculative hypotheses, what is the meaning of probabilistic arguments like the one above? – Peter E Jun 17 '19 at 15:12
  • My guess is, because many find them intuitively appealing, for the wrong reasons. Aside from the fact that our probabilistic intuitions are known to be very poor even in ordinary circumstances, transplanting Bayesian patterns of updating ordinary beliefs based on ordinary evidence to the metaphysical beyond constantly invites the base rate fallacy. In short, these are intuition pumps, to borrow Dennett's term about the qualia/consciousness arguments, which are also very popular. This is the Wykstra-Alston objection to Rowe in the article you linked, ironically, backed by intuition counterpumps – Conifold Jun 17 '19 at 16:59

There is no chance ,all metaphysical realities are experiential ,so there is no chance and there is no proof ,but if you take the experiential reality as reference then there is more probability that there is a continuity after death than not because everything is in flux and nothing ceases to be completely ,everything changes its form and since we know little about human consciousness another question arises does the metaphysical change just like the physical ?.Also from an experiential point of view ,I see a beautiful woman after 40 years her body is no longer attractive but her qualities are the same .Another woman faces a trauma and her qualities change ,thus metaphysical can stay or change its form but physical only changes its form.


What's wrong with this argument is that the "many metaphysical realities" is a refutation in itself.

I think many will agree that we try to live our lives by trying to think and make decisions as rationally as possible. This means that when presented with two ideas, we choose the one that is most grounded with supporting evidence or does not lead to any contradictions/absurdities with previous experience. Suppose for example the question "will we wake up tomorrow morning or die in our sleep from a catastrophic collision with an unknown planet heading our way?". We could say both are within the realm of possibility, yet we both wont treat today as our last day on earth. That shows we live by what's most reasonable.

So the issue with this argument, in my opinion, is that science supports the idea that our mind is the result of the neural interactions in the brain, thus if the brain dies, so does our mind cease to exist. But if you believe in the nth metaphysical reality without any supporting evidence, then you might as well believe the nth+1 or the nth+2 etc. Because they all have equal support. This is an absurdity. We don't do this in our everyday life. If an infinite amount of realities are equally probable because they have no support then they are all likely improbable.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.