What does it take for an argument to be a success? Peter van Inwagen argues that an argument for conclusion c is one that, when ideally presented in the company of an ideal opponent, would be convincing to an audience of ideal neutral agnostics about c. He goes on to argue that, by this criterion, there are (almost certainly) no successful arguments for substantive philosophical conclusions. This paper outlines several problems with both van Inwagen’s account of success and the others in the literature, and argues for an alternative conception—one that allows for the existence of successful arguments for substantive philosophical conclusions. This alternative conception of success is individualistic, in that it relativizes success to the individual evaluating it. The paper argues that this form of relativism is not as bad as it seems.
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