Saturday, April 15, 2006

A Response to Ex-Believer, and his Deluded Self-Debunker Buddies

Our friend "Ex-Believer" (or, as some have called him, "Ex-Brainer") wrote a post where he asks about how to justify TAG. So, in this post I'll (1) address a couple of his silly self-debunking buddies who popped off in the comments section, (2) answer his question, and (3) offer a refutation of his Wittgensteinian defense of logic.

Ex-believer, notice the mere assertions and argumentum ad baculums above.

Notice the over-heated typewriter of Bethrick. And notice the massive amount of terms and sentences with emotional baggage attacked to them (e.g., " magic being;" "permafrost of religious illusion" etc).

Unfortunately, no actual argument was given. Just a series of assertions, back up by fancy-sounding rhetoric.

Bethrick is a liar and is well known for being full of hot air. He fails to understand his opponent and is well known for not understanding arguments, as I've demonstrated here:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

this is an ongoing series, part 4 is not up yet.

Now, since I can't conclude that Bethrick doesn't know what he's talking about here, based of his previous blunders, I suppose I'll have to actually give new examples of

Notice how Bethrick has almost no knowledge of philosophy. He writes,

"This pretense is supported by embarrassingly naïve understandings of the problems themselves (e.g., failing to question Hume's conception of the problem of induction)..."

Notice he says that we have an "embarrassingly naive understanding of the [problem of induction]." The example he gives (for what(!), oh yeah, our embarrassingly naive understanding of the problem of induction) is that we fail to "question Hume's conception" of the problem of induction (POI)!

Aside from the fact that this does not show that we misunderstand the POI simply because we fail to question Hume's concept of the POI, this shows Bethrick's total ignorance on the history of philosophy.

In all of my philosophy books, when I read on the POI, Hume is brought up. One could say that Hume's question is the problem of induction. The problem is, "what gives us a right to reason from particular instances of our experience to a generalized conclusion?" Now, that's the problem. There are many answers to the problem (e.g., uniformity of nature; language; pragmatic; etc), and the apologist might go on to show that the answers to the problem fail to make muster.

Let me pause and go grab a few random philosophy books off my shelf. ...Okay. Now, the above was my understanding of the problem. Let's see if it is naive:

Hmmm, Bertrand Russell (that naive hack) agrees (see, Russell, Problems of Philosophy, Oxford, 1912, 1997, p.60). And, let's see, oh(!), and Pojman's edited book The Theory of Knowledge: Classical and Contemporary Readings, (Wadsworth, 2003; pp. 431-60) agree as well. Pojman (that stupid idiot) writes, "From a single experience, we sometimes make an inductive leap to many; from some of a certain kind, we often make a leap to judgments about allexperiences of a kind. ...But though inductive probability is psychologically inescapable, we have trouble providing a rational justification for it. ...It was David Hume (11711-1776)who first raised the problem of induction..." This naive understanding is also the naive understanding of that chop-shop piece of hack-work, The Oxford Companion to Philosophy (ed. Hendrich, Oxford, 1995, p.405-6). This problem is also attributed to Hume, and is roughly laid out as I did above, by epistemoligical sad-sack of sad-sacks, Robert Audi (hack par excellence) in his book Epistemology: a contemporary introduction to the problems of knowledge (Routledge, 2003, p.296-98). And, lastly, our whirlwind tour leads us to the sloppiest of which another cannot be conceived: The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy (ed. Audi, Cambridge, 1995, p.745-746). Wesley C. Salmon (philosophical chump) writes that the POI was "First stated by Hume, this problem concerns the logical basis of inferences from observed matters of fact to unobserved matters of fact."

Now, we can see that Dawson Bethrick has effectively said that virtually every philospher/epsietmologist (yes, the above is a valid appeal to authority) in the world is naive on a subject which they supposedly have mastered. Indeed, since it is Hume's problem then one could make the argument that if you do not state Hume's problem, you're not stating the POI (though there have been many nuances since Hume).

What's going on here? Well, as Bethrick has previously squawked, he takes an Objectivist (Ayn Rand's pseudo-philosophy) approach to solving the POI. He even admits that this is "not well known in some academic circles." Well, he was being generous. Actually, it's not well known is most academic circles. So, we're charged with being naive of the problem, yet this problem is hidden in an obscure corner of the philosophical landscape. Indeed, Bethrick nowhere lays out his answer to the problem. The best we get in in this post of his. Bethrick makes mention of an email exchange he had with Dr. James Anderson (though the entirety of the email is not published). He quotes part of the conversation:

I must say, however, I'm always surprised, when reading a paper that attempts to deal with induction, that there is no discussion of concepts, the nature of their forming, or their relationship to inductive generalization, as if these issues did not matter.

In response to this, Anderson replied:

Well, it's not immediately obvious to me how the nature of concept formation bears either on the description of the problem of induction or on the development of cogent solutions. Perhaps you can elaborate.

Bethrick's "elaboration" is mysteriously missing from his post. So, we're "naive" because we're not Radroids. Actually, as Anton Thorn (Bethrick's hero) has argued, the POI is solved by "Objectivist Axioms." Indeed, this is an Objectivist response. The axiom appealed to is "the law of identity: A=A. We read that this is how Objectivists understand the problem when Thornwrites:

Christian: As creator and sustainer of the universe, God guarantees the laws of nature.

Non-believer: So, in essence, you hold that God is required for A to be A?

Notice that the not-so-naive-ones think that A=A is how to answer the question as to how one knows that nature is uniform. But "nature is uniform" is A is B. A is A breaks down to nothing more than: nature is nature! With this sturdy paper-sword the Objectivist runs off to battle (and their battle cry is: existence exists!). The problem, though, is that "nature is nature" tells us nothing about how nature behaves. So, Thorn (and other Objectivists) set up the theist as one who goes along with Objectivist mumbo-jumbo. The theist in the conversation should have said, "God may be required for the law of identity, but that's not what I said. I said that God guarantees a general law-like governing of His universe." That nature operates with a general uniformity, in a law-like way, does not translate to the claim that nature is nature. Nature could still be nature yet not behave orderly. Nature may act lawlessly, it would still be nature.

So, who is the naive one?

Moving on, Ex-Believer. You had another commenter that tells us,

"I'll be the first to admit that I'm not well versed in TAG. However, if you want a layman’s opinion, it makes no sense to me. I know it's presup. But, how can you justify a presupposition. If I were to presuppose the existence of, say, the Flying Spaghetti Monster using the same argument, The theists would refute it. Yet some use the very same argument to justify the existence of something just as well prove, namely God.

I just don't get it."

Thanks for your opinion.

i. Thanks for your autobiographical remark about the ability of what your cognitive faculties can, or can not, grasp.

ii. Van Tillians would argue that presuppositions are justified transcendentally.

iii. Fine, presuppose the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM). That's my argument. Everyone presupposes some ultimate authority. Let's see if said being can provide the transcendentals.

iv. You couldn't use the same argument since FSM is not Trinitarian.

v. If you end up making it all the "same" as my argument then all you're doing is saying that my worldview is correct, yet you just call it by a different name. But who's afraid of my worldview dressed up in different clothes.

vi. Appealing to the FSM does not help out your atheism, anyway.

vii. If FSM could provide the transcendentals then you'd refute atheism, naturalism, and physicalism.

viii. Now, if you want to say that you wouldn't refute that because FSM is a physical being, in the natural world, then you'd have a rough time trying to argue for non-physical laws of logic, and morality, etc.

I know you "just don't get it." That's where we came up with the phrase, "ignorance is bliss."

Moving on, Ex-believer (EB) writes a post called "Justifying TAG." He makes sure that everyone knows that his post is a question, and not a critique. EB writes,

Paul pointed out that TA's were justified according to modus ponens, so that

<> P-->Q
<> P

I'm assuming that P = universal laws of logic and Q = the Christian God, so that "If universal laws of logic exist, then the Christian God exists. Universal laws of logic exist, therefore the Christian God exists."

But I had said in my original comment that TAG is person varied. Since it is a skeptic-refuting argument then the antecedent would be that which the skeptic accepts. Indeed, why I don't even like getting in to discussions of form is because of the Van Tillian program where "all things prove God's existence." Greg Bahnsen has written about just a few of the things TAG would aim to prove:

predication, reason, explanation, interpretation, learning, certainty, universals, possibility, cause, substance, being, or purpose, counting, coherence, unity, or system in experience or in a conception of a "universe," logic, individuating of facts, unchanging "natures" or laws in a chance universe, uniformity, science, connecting logic and facts or predication to reality, avoiding contradictions, avoiding the irrationalism or scepticism which arise from the tension between knowing discursively and knowing-asystematic, etc.

So, should the mixed hypothetical run thus:

If predication, reason, explanation, interpretation, learning, certainty, universals, possibility, cause, substance, being, or purpose, counting, coherence, unity, or system in experience or in a conception of a "universe," logic, individuating of facts, unchanging "natures" or laws in a chance universe, uniformity, science, connecting logic and facts or predication to reality, avoiding contradictions, avoiding the irrationalism or scepticism which arise from the tension between knowing discursively and knowing-asystematic, etc, are possible then God is the case .

Predication, reason, explanation, interpretation, learning, certainty, universals, possibility, cause, substance, being, or purpose, counting, coherence, unity, or system in experience or in a conception of a "universe," logic, individuating of facts, unchanging "natures" or laws in a chance universe, uniformity, science, connecting logic and facts or predication to reality, avoiding contradictions, avoiding the irrationalism or scepticism which arise from the tension between knowing discursively and knowing-asystematic, etc, are possible.

Therefore God is the case?

But what of Bahnsen's "etcetera?" Furthermore, many people do not grant that, say, we can individuate (think many Eastern philosophies). They won't accept that that is the case. Maybe with them I would show how their assuming that The Buddha was good, presupposes a Christian worldview (i.e., the very act of asserting that Buddha is good).

So, needless to say, "P" is not any "one" thing.

"Normally, after making an argument, people seek to support each of their premises."

This is audience dependant. I may argue with someone about, say, free will. I might say, "Well, if the Bible claims that God ordains our free choices, then you'd be forced to deny your will-o'-the-wisp understanding of "fee will." Now let's say I go to a certain passage, say, Acts 2:23 and show how God foreordained the free choices of men. Just for arguments sake, let's say the fellow I was talking to said, "Hmmm, okay, I see it." So, I do not need to prove or support the conditional, and in this case I don't need to support my understanding of the text.

But I grant that in your case I'd need to go further.

"Now, correct me if I'm wrong (and, admittedly, I may be), but the way presuppositionalists normally attempt to justify the first premise (i.e. that the existence of universal laws of logic presupposes the existence of God) seems to be to say something along the line of 'Prove to me that universal laws of logic can exist without God; you can't, therefore premise one is true.'"

A few things:

i. If the argument was that you could not account or make sense of logic within your worldview, then you'd need to show how you can.

ii. Since you have a burden as well, you need to show how you can reason autonomously. If you assume that you can have logic without God then you're begging the question against my worldview. So, you can't just assume you're autonomous and not expect to have to justify your autonomy.

iii. We're debating entire worldviews.

iv. If your argument assumes universal laws of logic then you must offer an account of how such things are possible, unless you just want some freebies.

v. There's a two-step method in play. The first is to argue negatively, i.e., you can't account for logic given what you say about the world. The second is to show how, say, logic does presuppose God's existence.

vi. The argument is usually retortive in that the attempt is made to show that by denying the transcendental claim you do so only by performing it.

Like I said, I may be wrong about how presuppers justify that premise. It seems, though, that this is what Bahnsen meant by his "impossibility of the contrary" arguments. Instead of saying, "In various forms, the fundamental argument advanced by the Christian apologist is that the Christian worldview is true because of the impossibility of the contrary," [see here] he should have said, "The fundamental argument advanced by the Christian apologist is that the first premise of TAG is true because of the impossibility of the contrary and, therefore, the Christian God exists."

I've argued with Manata before that it seems like Bahnsen's argument is more like:

P v Q

[I.e. "Non-Christian world view or Christian world view; not non-Christian world view, therefore, Christian world view."]

i. The Christian worldview is true by the impossibility of the contrary. We're not trying to prove just "if logic, then God" but rather the entire worldview.

ii. Transcendental Arguments take the form of modus ponens. I'll sidestep debate here because the burden is one you, considering the fact that you're the only person in the history of the world who has made the stricture of a TA a disjunctive syllogism.

iii. Notice that EB misstates his symbols above. He says that the argument is "the Christian worldview or the non-Christian worldview." He translates that as:

P v Q.

Really, that would be translated P v ~P.

The disjunctive syllogism comes in handy when someone says something like, "Okay, well maybe you've proven that Christianity can offer the preconditions for the possibility of, say, logic, science, and morality. You've refuted Atheism, Islam, Mormonism, Buddhism, et al. But how do you know that there is not some other undiscovered worldview that can do the same?"

In that case the person has set up the argument as:

C v A



and then

C v I



and then

C v M



So, they would say, what about "Y?" You haven't refuted Y.

And it is there that Bahnsen would say, "No, by using the transcendental argument I really did prove that Christianity is the case and it and only it provides the transcendentals. You see, there are only two worldviews and all I've been doing is giving illustrations on how many different ways I can refute that worldview in its various forms. The non-Christian worldview is like a family in that there are different family members who look a bit different, but they are all members of the same family. Likewise, atheism and Buddhism are just distant cousins. So, my argument is not as you have set it up, rather, it is:

C v ~C



That's something like what Bahnsen would say, and that shows where you may have the idea of the disjunctive syllogism coming in.

[As an aside, EB tries to argue for non-universal laws of logic. He argues that is how physical brains evolved, i.e., to grammatically relate nouns to each other. He writes,

When I say that the universe contains objects, I have the idea of "nouns" in mind. Now, what if the brain has simply evolved in a way that it attempts to grammatically relate nouns to each other? The laws of logic rely on words like "and," "or," "not," "is," etc. These words do not name things that exist in the universe. The laws of logic are made up of these words, however. The law of non-contradiction could not exist, for example, if the concept of "not" didn't exist.

i. It could not be the case that before humans a rock could have been a rock and not a rock at the same time and in the same relationship i.e, r could not be ~r.

to which he would respond:

"Before language, there was no such thing as a negation (no matter which symbol you choose for it--"not" or "~"). Our language introduced negations."

ii. He confuses one's ability to express a concept with the existence of the concept itself. This just begs the question, then.

iii. There was also no word "rock." This would not mean that there were nor rocks?! Just because human language could not express laws of logic does not mean said laws didn't exist.

iv. For language to be useful it must represent reality. The laws of logic expressed by our language must represent reality.

v. EBs defense of logic is self-refuting since it says that before language there were no laws of logic, which of course makes a statement about time before language in which the contradictory is false (or, was there logic and not-logic before language?). So, it affirms that contradictions did not exist, or could not obtain, before language yet it also affirms that logic (and the law of non-contradiction) didn't come about until language-using humans!

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