I already discussed in a previous post the product-producer inference and its role in Nyāya philosophy. In the article I referred to in the post, Matthew Dasti understands the argument as an argument from design and not as a cosmological one. The point, hence, is not that a first cause is inferred, in order to avoid a regressus ad infinitum, but rather that the complexity of the products cannot have occurred by chance. Hence, a producer must exist. I agree with Dasti, insofar as the product-producer argument seems to me the Indian version of the watchmaker one (which runs as follows: If you were to find a watch in the desert, would you not assume that some watchmaker did it? Similarly, we need to postulate the existence of a Creator…). Dasti's approach is quite sympathetic to the Nyāya position. He seems to imply that all opposition to this argument favours tighter epistemological boundaries to inference. Yes, the product-producer inference is risky, but it is worth taking risks, if we want inference to yield fresh pieces of information. This move, concludes Dasti, is a move towards epistemic liberalism, in which Naiyāyikas oppose Buddhists and Mīmāṃsakas. Now, I might be oversympathetic towards the Mīmāṃsā stance, but I am not fully convinced by Dasti's generalisation from the inference of God's existence to general epistemic liberalism. Dasti writes:
As I have discussed elsewhere, for Nyāya, default trust is the best attitude to take in our cognitive lives (p.16).
Now, I tend to think the same about Mīmāṃsā. But I read differently the Naiyāyika position. Jayanta (the X c. Naiyāyika whose views are also discussed by Dasti) explicitly upholds the parataḥ prāmāṇya view (NM 3, vol. 1, p.240-3), according to which a cognition is not by default valid, as it is the case for Mīmāṃsā. The validity of a cognition depends on additional factors, such as the subsequent ascertainment that the instrument of knowledge upon which it is based is sound. Now, it is possible that other Naiyāyikas hold different views. Certainly, Jayanta's eulogy of doubt is quite unique. But why does not Dasti consider the apparent inconsistency between his statement and the parataḥ prāmāṇya position?