Wednesday, January 02, 2008

I Was Wrong, nihil ad rem

Yeah, I was wrong, but so what? I figure that it is a good way to build character to admit that you were wrong. So, I’ll start out ‘08 working on the virtue of integrity and honesty.

How was I wrong?

Ron D. has offered some responses to my response to his rather poor attempt to interact with one of my critiques of V. Cheung.

I should note that my original response to him has not been interacted with.

I should also point out that the arguments in my original post (the one he responded to) have not been rebutted.

Be that as it may, we had been discussing my original response (which the essence was never rebutted) and Ron had been making the point that Vincent Cheung could be rational and justified in his beliefs.

I will divide this post into two parts. The first address this main point. The second interacts with some comments from his combox, I offer replies to either him or his commenters various critiques/questions.

PART I

Let’s offer a useful categorizing of things so to make the rest of the post flow easier. I will refer to them thorough the rest of this post:

[CSB] = Cheung’s Scriptural Beliefs

[CUB] = Cheung’s Unscriptural Beliefs

Now, my critique of Cheung’s occasionalism was a purely epistemic critique. I only had epistemic rationality and justification in mind. Thus I argued that given Cheung’s epistemological position, then epistemological problems are birthed.

I specifically argued that the point about occasionalism is that Cheung has no rational basis to believe that his caller ID is working. I take it that since God, via divine implantation, immediately gives everyone their beliefs, and since the probability that God is granting you a true belief over a false one is low or inscrutable, then it is irrational for you to believe anything. Cheung's views, if accepted, offer a defeater for all your beliefs. If the probability that your beliefs are true is low or inscrutable given Cheung's Epistemic Program CEP, and you accept CEP, then you have no rational basis to believe anything.

Furthermore, Cheung himself lets us do this. Since Cheung is an infallibilist, and since he says that sources of belief that are fallible cannot convey knowledge, and since beliefs obtained by occasionalism are more fallible than the reportings of our senses (or at least we can't determine which is more fallible), and since Cheung thinks that it is irrational to maintain beliefs given to us by these other fallible methods, then Cheung must think it is irrational to hold beliefs obtained by occasionalism.

Moreover, we should note that if Ron thinks that Cheung's (or G.H. Clark's) arguments against induction are good, and if he accepts other Cheungian propositions, then his critique suffers from the problem of appealing to propositions that your theory of knowledge doesn't allow you to justifiedly believe.

This is an epistemic argument. The terms are used in their epistemic sense. This was even noted by Aquascum in his review of my original argument:

http://www.reformed.plus.com/aquascum/manata.htm

But Ron kept on insisting that Cheung could be justified, he could be rational in his beliefs.

Now, since I know that Ron is a bright guy, I kept interpreting him in the best light. My critique had to do with the epistemic implications of Cheung’s position. So, I naturally took his critique as an attempt to be a relevant response to my arguments. I think this is a fair and plausible way to proceed. So, I couldn’t understand why he didn’t get it. I then tried to offer this argument:

[1] All propositions not in or deducible from Scripture are "unjustified opinions, at best."

[2] Vincent believes many propositions that are not in or deducible from Scripture. (Call all these beliefs, Cheung’s Unscriptural Beliefs CUB.)

[3] Therefore, all the propositions believed in the set of CUB are "unjustified opinions, at best."

[4] If one's belief is an "unjustified opinion, at best," then one is unjustified in holding it.

[5] If one is unjustified in holding an unjustified opinion, then one has no justification for that opinion.

[5] Thus, if one's belief is an "unjustified opinion, at best," then one has no justification for that opinion.

[6] All propositions believed in CUB are "unjustified opinions, at best."

[7] Therefore, Cheung has no justification for his believed propositions contained in CUB.

Ron didn’t like [P4]. He wrote,

"Paul's premise [4] false, which invalidates his argument. The reason Paul does not, or should I say will not see this is that he insists on twisting Vincent's words. Vincent clearly speaks of the opinion being unjustified. Paul chooses to twist Vincent's words to mean that the one holding to the opinion is unjustified."

But I was confused. I thought Ron was trying to be relevant to my argument. And [4] is based off Cheung's internalist constraint. Let's get a feel of what internalism entails:

"[Internalism insists] that agents have cognitive access to what justified their beliefs ... [T]he internalist requirement for all justified beliefs is that before we can hold a belief rationally, we must, in principle in any rate, have cognitive access to the grounds of our belief." - W. Jay Wood, Epistemology: Becoming Intellectually Virtuous, 1998, pp. 155-156.

"What all forms of internalism have in common is that they require, for a belief's justification, that the person holding the belief be aware (or at least potentially aware) of something contributing to its justification." - Michael Bergmann, Justification Without Awareness, 2006, p.9.

"The internalism in question is the view that certain interesting and important epistemic evaluations depend entirely on internal factors, namely reason and evidence." - Richard Feldman, Justification is Internal, printed in Steup and Sosa ed. Contemporary Debates in Epistemology, 2005, 283.

"The fundamental claim of internalism ... is that epistemological issues arise and must be dealt with from within the individual person's first-person cognitive perspective, appealing only to things that are accessible to that individual from that standpoint. The basic rationale is that what justifies a person's beliefs must be something that is available or accessible to him or her, that something to which I have no access cannot give me a reason for thinking that one of my beliefs is" [justified]." - Laurance BonJour, Epistemology: Classic Problems and Contemporary Responses, 2002, p. 222.

Therefore, if someone S believes that a proposition P is "unjustified opinion, at best" at time t, then at t S is unjustified in holding P, according to internalist constraints. We could also add we have no reason to believe that the propositions believed by Vincent in the set of CUB are justified beliefs.

And so I was going to try to re-work an argument. I came up with something like this:

[1] All propositions not in or deducible from Scripture are "unjustified opinions, at best."

[2] Vincent believes many propositions that are not in or deducible from Scripture. (Call all these beliefs, Cheung’s Unscriptural Beliefs CUB.)

[3] Therefore, all the propositions believed by Vincent in the set of CUB are "unjustified opinions, at best."

[4] If it is and always will be the case that that a proposition P in CUB is "unjustified, at best," then there is no justification for P.

[5] If there is no justification for P, then any cognitive agent that believes P has no justification for it.

[6] Therefore, if it is and always will be the case that that a proposition P in CUB is "unjustified, at best," then any cognitive agent that believes P has no justification for it.

[7] All propositions in CUB are, by definition, not in or deducible from Scripture.

[8] Only propositions contained or deducible from Scripture are justified.

[9] Therefore, it is and always will be the case that all propositions in CUB are, by definition, "unjustified opinion, at best."

[10] Therefore, any cognitive agent A that believes P, and P is in CUB, A has no justification for P.

If one knows that there is no justification for any proposition that are not in or deducible from Scripture, then one can’t say that he knows that he has a justification for any of his beliefs that are not in or deducible from Scripture. If one knows that he can’t have a justification for an unbiblical belief, because there are no justifications to be had, then one cannot say that he is justified in believing any proposition no in or deducible from Scripture. It is simply epistemologically dastardly to affirm that you are justified in believing extra-biblical propositions if no justification exists. I took my premise to be something of a tautology. If there is no justification, a person can’t be justified. Just like if all dogs were “unwhite,” you couldn’t have a white dog.

But, as I was thinking about this, a way to read Ron came to my attention. Why didn’t he like the original [P4]? And, if he didn’t like that, he wouldn’t like [P5] in the revised argument. Why not? How could I salvage Ron’s credibility?

The only way is by introducing the distinction between epistemic and non-epistemic justification (and/or rationality). This is the only way to read Ron where his original response to my post, and his subsequent comments, aren’t utterly ridiculous. So, I must take him has drawing this distinction. And with that, it makes me wrong. But so what?

I didn’t read Ron that way because, as I have stated, I was trying to read him in the best light. Here’s what I mean. Since my post specifically refers to epistemic issues, and attempts to issue epistemic challenges for Cheung’s epistemology, then a non-epistemic point brought up in response to my critique is irrelevant. Pointless. A waste of time. So, I was not even looking for the distinction I just drew above. Before moving on, then, I should say something about this distinction.

This distinction is subject to heated discussion. Without getting involved with that debate, we can offer some simple definitions. An epistemic justification is a justification that provides good reasons for the idea that your belief is true. A non-epistemic justification is a justification based on pragmatic, prudential, moral, eudemonic, survival-value, or proper function reasons for belief. To offer some practicality: To say that S believes that P because he clearly remembers that P is to offer an epistemic justification (I do not intend to get into a debate about whether this is a good justification or not, I only attempt to bring out the differences and I think succeed in appealing to basic intuition people have). To say that S believes that P (say, the belief that you will get better from being sick) because people who have a positive attitude tend to get better, is a non-epistemic justification for your belief.

Now, let’s remember Cheung’s epistemological position.

"Scripture is the first principle of the Christian worldview, so that true knowledge consists of only what is directly stated in Scripture and what is validly deducible from Scripture; all other propositions amount to unjustified opinion at best. This biblical epistemology necessarily follows from biblical metaphysics. Any other epistemology is indefensible, and unavoidably collapses into self-contradictory skepticism." (p. 43; cf. “Systematic Theology,” p. 18 para. 4, p. 22 para. 5, p. 41 fn. 42, emphasis supplied)

Cheung also holds to an internalist and an infallibilist constraint on knowledge. Thus Cheung:

"However, unless he constructs his claims upon an objective and infallible foundation, then if he can claim to know..." (SOURCE)

For a analysis of how Cheung is an internalist, see here (sec. 3.2).

So, for Cheung,

(*) For one to know that P, (i) P must be Scripture, or deductively deduced from Scripture, (ii) one cannot be mistaken that P, and (iii) one must have access to how one knows that P. All else is "unjustified opinion at best."

Thus it is clear that only those beliefs in [CSB] have epistemic justification. Those beliefs in [CUB] do not.

Now, my critique was that much of Cheung’s epistemological positions fall into the ken of [CUB] and not [CSB].

If my critiques are correct, this means that there is no epistemic justification for those beliefs. Cheung has no epistemic reason to believe them. Of course I didn’t put “epistemic” before the words I used. But I thought it was fairly obvious as to what I was referring to.

But then Ron comes along and says that Cheung can be justified and rational in holding those beliefs. But we have seen that he must mean that Cheung had prudential or pragmatic or functional justifications of reasons for those beliefs. Of course he didn’t put those words before the words he used. I originally had said he was wrong. But now I admit that I was wrong. But I then add a big SO WHAT?

I don’t give a rip if believing all those propositions in [CUB] make Cheung “feel better.” I don’t really care if he finds it “useful” or “beneficial” to believe propositions in [CUB]. I don’t, and never did, care if he found that he could function better by holding to propositions in [CUB]. That was never the intent of my critique. So, Ron’s response to me, read in its only defensible light, is totally irrelevant to anything I was attempting to do in the posts he critiqued.

But, we don’t need to stop there. Ron’s defense of Cheung actually brings out more problems with Cheung’s position. Specifically, if those propositions in the ken of [CUB] are not epistemically justified, then notice what that implies. Included among propositions believed in [CUB] are a variety of meta-level statements about knowledge, justification, infallibility, and so on. Is it good enough or all these claims to be justified on purely pragmatic grounds? As has been argued, and as has not been interacted with, occasionalism, infallibilism, internalism, and even (*) itself, cannot (has not) be deduced from Scripture. We await the attempt. On top of that, even if a valid argument is given, divine occasionalism is a fallible belief producing source. The probability that one’s beliefs are true given Cheung’s occasionalism are low or inscrutable. So why believe the premises are true? Thus a valid deduction wouldn’t be enough. A reason to believe the premises, viz., an epistemic justification that fits with (*) would be required.

But, yes, I was wrong. Cheung is still rational and justified to believe those things. It is, well, useful for him to believe in occasionalism. It’s helpful for his ability to function to believe that he isn’t being deceived. But, so what? That has nothing to do with my critique.

At best Ron has simply brought out more worries with Cheung. I mean, who “justifies” their epistemological desiderata by appeals to usefullness!? I mean, I guess Cheung can “justify” his occasionalism and his beliefs about not being deceived by saying that it is/isn’t prudent to believe those things, but then of course I think it’s prudent to deny his position! Ron has saved Cheung’s rationality. The price: Who cares. No one was ever disputing those things.

Lastly, we should add that it isn’t at all clear that all the beliefs in [CUB] are justified or rational by appeal to non-epistemic standards. The belief that there are over 500 blades of grass on your neighbor’s lawn doesn’t appear to be useful, for instance. But perhaps it could be in certain contexts. But surely we hold hundreds of beliefs while not being on the context that we would find them useful. Are these all irrational to hold - both epistemically and non-epistemically?


PART II

Ron D: "When I say that one can rationally believe by way of inductive inference, I am not constituting such inferences as knowledge. As I've shown on other blog post http://reformedapologist.blogspot.com/2006/05/induction-and-knowledge.html"

The conversation isn't even over "inductive beliefs." Though, that is part of it. Let's re-familiarize ourselves with Cheung's claim:

"Scripture is the first principle of the Christian worldview, so that true knowledge consists of only what is directly stated in Scripture and what is validly deducible from Scripture; all other propositions amount to unjustified opinion at best. This biblical epistemology necessarily follows from biblical metaphysics. Any other epistemology is indefensible, and unavoidably collapses into self-contradictory skepticism." (p. 43; cf. “Systematic Theology,” p. 18 para. 4, p. 22 para. 5, p. 41 fn. 42, emphasis supplied)

Cheung also holds to an internalist and an infallibilist constraint on knowledge. Thus Cheung:

"However, unless he constructs his claims upon an objective and infallible foundation, then if he can claim to know..." (SOURCE)

For a analysis of how Cheung is an internalist, see here (sec. 3.2).

So, for Cheung,

(*) For one to know that P, (i) P must be Scripture, or deductively deduced from Scripture, (ii) one cannot be mistaken that P, and (iii) one must have access to how one knows that P. All else is "unjustified opinion at best."


Therefore, for Cheung, it is not just inductive beliefs that are "unjustified opinions, at best," it is all beliefs that are "unjustified opinions, at best." Let's see what non-inductive beliefs would be included in our Cheungian ken:

A:

[1] All intentional states are non-physical states.

[2] Beliefs about tomorrow's weather are intentional states.

[3] Therefore, Beliefs about tomorrow's weather are non-physical states.

B:

[1] All moral facts M are grounded in some moral principle P.

[2] X is a M.

[3] Therefore, X is grounded in P.

C:

[1] Non-cognitivist theories of morality cannot make sense of moral discourse.

[2] Mark Timmons' contextualist theory is a non-cognitivist theory of morality.

[3] Therefore, Mark Timmons' contextualist theory cannot make sense of moral discourse.

We could obviously multiply the above. The point: According to (*), (A), (B), and (C) are instances where the premises and conclusions are "unjustifiable opinions, at best." (A), (B), and (C) are not constituted by inductive beliefs. Therefore, it is not only "inductive beliefs" that are "unjustified opinions, at best."

So, I don't know why Ron is stuck on inductive beliefs.


Ron: "If we allow the term "knowledge" to be given to inductive inferences, then having less information can be the source of more knowledge, and having more information can cause one to rationally lose the knowledge he once had."

I don't know how there is "more knowledge" if the claim to knowledge is a probabilistic claim. Furthermore, people wouldn't necessarily lose the knowledge they had, but the knowledge they thought they had.

Ron: "What is below is pasted from a the link I provided immediately above.

1. Justification: Inductive inference that the clock is working based upon history

2. Belief: Believe as true the time the clock indicates, which is 12:00

3. Truth: It is 12:00

Someone might say that since all the criteria for knowledge have been met, one can know it is 12:00 given inductive-knowledge. However, the 3 criteria justify the belief that it is 12:00 even when relying upon a broken clock! Shouldn't this intuitively bother us?"

First, I don't take "justification" to be either necessary or sufficient for knowledge (I am obviously distinguishing 'justification' from 'warrant.') Second, the above doesn't negate inductive reasoning as a source of knowledge, but shows the importance of a congenial cognitive environment as necessary for warrant. It wasn't induction that failed, it was the epistemic environment. Induction doesn't even claim certainty for its conclusions.

Ron: "Can we "know" things based upon false information? The problem with induction is that inferences that are rational to maintain can always be false."

Well, more than that. We can't know things based on true information! Here's an example of why the cognitive environment needs to be congenial for the epistemic agent:

Say that John is passing through Iowa. He comes upon a town that loves to trick visitors into thinking they are passing through the "barn capital of the world." So, they plant thousands of red barn facades throughout the countryside. But, they through in a real red barn here and there, say 1:1,000. Now, John justifiedly believes that all the barn facades he sees are in fact real barns. But, he doesn't have knowledge. But, it so happens that when he happens to look at one of the real barns, he doesn't know that that is a barn either. He had a justified, true belief. And, to meet Ron's criteria, his belief was caused by truth - a real barn. But, do we want to say that John knew what he happened to look at right then was a real barn? No. His belief was obtained by luck. And, he wasn't in a congenial cognitive environment.

Also, is the mere possibility of an inference being false negate that an agent can have knowledge? If so, then Ron is an infallibilist. If not, then his critique doesn't get off the ground.

Ron: "The man who is most informed about the clock is not able to know the time, whereas the man with less information about the clock would be able to “know” the time if inductive inference allows for knowledge!"

No, the man wouldn't be able to "know" the time. Ron's point isn't made more substantive by the addition of an exclamation point. At best, the man with less information will be able to think he knows the time, whereas the man with more information will know that he cannot know the time based only on the information provided by the broken clock.

Ron: "I have rehearsed all of that simply to say this. If Cheung suggests that inferences reduce to opinions at best, I would not take him to mean that he believes he has no rational basis for thinking his caller ID is working on his cell phone."

No, it isn't just "inferences" it is "ALL other propositions amount to unjustified opinion at best" (emphasis supplied). Not all propositions are "inferences," Ron.

Does Cheung know that he has a "rational basis for thinking his caller ID is working on his cell phone"? if so, then let him deduce this from the Bible! If not, then on Cheungian terms, he could not say he knew that he has a rational basis to believe anything that is not deducible from Scripture. So, what epistemic support does his theory give him to make claims like that? I mean, Ron's free to shift the goal posts for Cheung, but that's not a defect in my argument. My argument was an internal critique, a reductio ad absurdem, against Cheung. So, these are just assertions, for Cheung. He may say that he believes all this stuff. He may claim that his position is such and such. But, he doesn’t really know all of that, does he? Perhaps it’s just “helpful’ for him to believe those things. Allows him to function as a Scripturalist in this world.

Ron: "Keith,

I addressed how Vincent can know things and how he can know that he is not being deceived by showing that his epistemology does not put him at a disadvantage over Paul’s epistemology."


Keith, Ron did no such thing, unless he moves the goal posts for Cheung. You see, Cheung can only know that he is not being deceived, and know "things" (whatever those are?), if he can deduce the conclusion from Scripture (or find it stated in Scripture). (Recall Cheung's strictures I cited in (*).) Cheung cannot deduce said propositions. Therefore, he cannot know them. I find it interesting that Ron didn't allow exactly what I said to Keith to be allowed to be posted on his blog. This is a tacit admission of defeat.


Brian: "Anonymous said...

There is no reason to doubt that Mr. Cheung meant what he wrote. What Mr. Cheung wrote is very cogent! Mr. Cheung embraces many propositions that are not justified - but we must - as Mr. Cheung points out. It is not incoherent that Mr. Cheung who defines knowledge as he does to be justified in believing *things* that cannot be *justified*.

Brian"


Of course I never denied that Cheung couldn’t believe things that cannot be justified.

And, if your response is taken to mean epistemic rationality or justification, then I’d disagree. Let's note that Cheung says that "all other PROPOSITIONS are unjustified." So, how is Cheung justified? Brian has Cheung as someone who is justified in believing that P, even though P cannot be justified. Note that if Cheung is justified in believing that P, and given Cheung’s internalism, then Cheung believes a proposition, namely:

(**) I am justified in believing that P due to justificatory feature(s) F.

But since (**) is a proposition, then Cheung believes that (**) is “unjustified opinion, at best.”

Shouldn’t the virtuous epistemic agent give up (**)? Since (**) is “unjustified opinion, at best,” then how could Cheung be justified in believing it? By appeal to:

(***) I am justified in believing that (**) due to justificatory feature(s) F.*

But (***) is a proposition, and so is unjustified, at best. Why believe it? I hope the reader can see where this is going.

If there is no justification for this proposition:

(****) I see a red car.

Then why is there justification for (**)? We are just as unjustified in believing (****) as we are (**).

We can also ask what would Cheung's justification be? What would fill in F above? An unjustified proposition, at best! How is Cheung justified? What confers this positive epistemic status on his beliefs? Illogical and irrational and fallible inductive inferences? Illogical and irrational and fallible memorial beliefs? Illogical and irrational and fallible sensations? What? And, on top of that, given Cheung's strictures on knowledge, how could Cheung know that "it is not incoherent that Mr. Cheung who defines knowledge as he does to be justified in believing *things* that cannot be *justified*?" Other propositions justify Cheung’s CUB beliefs. But all those propositions are “unjustified opinions, at best.” So, if they justify Cheung’s CUB’s, then we have unjustifying justifiers (I do know that non-cognitive Mark Timmons believes in unjustifying justifiers, but his view is soundly routed by Shafer-Landau in ch. 1 of his book, Moral Realism: A Defense.)

Moreover, none of this refutes my original piece, in the slightest. Cheung can't know that occasionalism is the case since he can't deduce it from the Bible (perhaps he can offer an abductive or inductive case for it, but that doesn't grant knowledge, according to Cheung). Occasionalism is a fallible belief producing mechanism which yields a probabilistic defeater for all (or, at least 99% of) for Cheung's beliefs. It therefore fails another on of Cheung's strictures. Cheung can't know that he is not being deceived since he can't deduce that from Scripture.

If Brian is taken to mean non-epistemic justification. So what. That answer has nothing to do with my original argument.

Lastly, what's most problematic, even for the non-epistemic out, Cheung can't know that he exists since he can't deduce that from the Bible. So, on Cheungian epistemology, if he can't know that he exists then surely he can't know if he is justified in believing anything since non-existent people aren't justified in their beliefs. Non-existent people aren’t even prudentially justified in their beliefs. This is the case, for many reasons, one being that non-existent people don’t exist in order to have beliefs that can be justified in any sense.

26 comments:

  1. I like the "I was wrong...but...." tone of your post. Oh so humble...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Congratulations on making it through the first paragraph before you posted a response, anonymous.

    Now you can go back and read the second paragraph and tell us ":::YAWN!!!:::" again. Chop chop! Fans are waiting.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Snoozefest

    ReplyDelete
  4. Timmy,

    You confused days, again. Next Wednesday evening is Sesame Street Workshop post. Remember, the first Wednesday of the month are posts requiring an I.Q of over 70 to read. The second Wednesday of the month are posts for our audience which boasts and I.Q. of under 70. This is the last time I'll tell ya. Write in on your calander or whatever you do to remember things like: breakfast if before dinner, I am supposed to shake with my right hand, the person in the mirror is just a reflection, etc.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Paul, my mentor and hero,

    Didn't you notice the subtle, yet strangely compelling way I used a play on words (timmy trout) to bring out a somewhat refreshing jolt of humor based around "peter pike?"

    That is AT LEAST indicative of an intelligence quotient of 72.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I knew it! Timmy was the guy from third grade who thought he was telling jokes but never realized why people were really laughing.

    It was a bummer to find out about your buccofacial apraxia, Tim. But with time, I'm sure you'll progress.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Timmy,

    Every knows that using fish to make jokes is amateur. For example:

    What part of the fish weighs the most? The scales.

    Why didn't the lobster share his toys? He was too shellfish.

    What kind of fish does a parrot sit on? A Pearch.

    Who are the strongest creatures in the ocean? Mussels

    Why are fish so smart? They always go around in schools.

    What's the difference between a piano and a fish? You can tune a piano, but you can't tune a fish.

    What fish is the most valuable? A goldfish.

    Which fish runs the undersea mafia? The Codfather!

    Why was the beach wet? Because the sea weed!

    So, Timmy Tuna, you've not convinced me that you've graduated from Sesame Street Workshop posts. At best you're around the low 50's.

    ReplyDelete
  8. What was this post about again? Something to do with Paul admitting he's wrong?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Yes, Gus. Now, since we're in the admitting mood, why not admit you didn't bother to read the post.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Good post, Paul.

    It was a particularly consumptive point you made that Cheung's epistemology, and meta-level beliefs about epistemology, can only, if your sparing partner is correct, be justified by appeals to prudence. This is wholly unacceptable for any putative epistemology worthy of the name.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Jack_be_nimble1/03/2008 4:06 PM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Trolling atheists comments will be deleted. If that doesn't work, the comments section for this post will be closed.

    ReplyDelete
  13. JACK_BE_NIMBLE = Paul Manata

    ReplyDelete
  14. Paul Manata: Cheung can't know that he exists since he can't deduce that from the Bible.

    Vytautas: Cheung might say persons are the propostions that they know, so if Cheung knows something, then Cheung's existence is defined by that something itself. He might also say existence is meaningless since it can be predicated to all things, so saying Cheung cannot know he exists is meaningless. But you object that fairies that wear boots do not exist materially. But we can still have the idea of a material fairy that wears boots, so that a fairy with the property of having matter exists as an idea. Also Cheung once wrote that if he denied he exists, then that would be contradictory, since he would have to exist to deny his existance.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Vytautas: Cheung might say persons are the propostions that they know, so if Cheung knows something, then Cheung's existence is defined by that something itself.

    Caleb: Persons are the propositions that they know. Hmmm, let’s play with that.

    i. If a persons knowledge changes over time, then this view of personhood has problems with identity over time.

    II. Who grounds the knowing of the propositions? It can’t be Cheung, because he is identical to the propositions known.

    III. If two people know the same set of propositions, then they are the same person. Yikes!

    Cheers.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Caleb said...

    III. If two people know the same set of propositions, then they are the same person. Yikes!

    Cheers.

    1/03/2008 5:56 PM

    *********

    Yikes indeed! This would seem to reduce the Godhead to *one* person. So, this would mean that the Clarkians/Cheungians couldn't have a problem w/ Van Til (even though Van Til maintianed a difference

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hi Vytautas,

    Vytautas: Cheung might say persons are the propostions that they know, so if Cheung knows something, then Cheung's existence is defined by that something itself."

    Paul: My position has never denied that Cheung can't say all sorts of things. In fact, this is what I think he does on a regular basis. he says his position is deducible from the Bible. He says his occasionalism follows from the Bible's teaching on God's sovereignty. He says he doesn't appeal to fallible intuition. Ad naseum...

    Secondly, Cheung can't deduce the defense you employ on his behalf (though it's an odd defense, to say the least!) from the Bible. So, he can only have non-epistemic reasons or justifications for that move. But so what? Surely it's not enough to defend an anthropology on the basis that you find it useful to believe that way!?

    Where does one get his *knowledge* about propositions from? How about his *knowledge* of the metaphysics of identity (not Kripke, Plantinga, and van Inwagen!). Where does one get his *knowledge* about the what is entailed in *knowing* something? Your defense appeals to all sorts of *extra-biblical* concepts. Perhaps *you* can argue for Cheung because you don't accept his constraints. But, I've never maintained that *other people* can't show hoe Cheung can know things. In fact, I believe he does know many things that aren't deducible from Scripture, given my view of knowledge

    Vytautas: "He might also say existence is meaningless since it can be predicated to all things, so saying Cheung cannot know he exists is meaningless."

    Paul: Of course, another claim that Cheung can claim but cannot know. Is this a prudential belief too? Furthermore, perhaps the *predicate* 'existence' is meaningless, but existence *as such* isn't meaningless.

    Third, you make faith a exercise in meaninglessness:

    Hebrews 11:6
    And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

    Fourth, this rests on Kant's disputed argument. Many philosophers have argued that 'existence' adds to our knowledge of something, especially if the existence of it isn't presupposed in the context of the dialogue.

    Fifth, this rests upon Clark and Robbins' weird idea that "everything exists." I discuss that here:

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2007/09/tinkerbell-exists.html

    Vytautas: "But you object that fairies that wear boots do not exist materially. But we can still have the idea of a material fairy that wears boots, so that a fairy with the property of having matter exists as an idea."

    Paul: And of course Cheung (or you) don't know any of this. Furthermore, I object not that they do not exist "materially," but that *they* do not exist *at all.* A concept *of* a fairy does not mean that *a fairy* exists.

    Vytautas: "Also Cheung once wrote that if he denied he exists, then that would be contradictory, since he would have to exist to deny his existance."

    Paul: And I address a Scripturalists attempt to deduce the law of non-contradiction from the Bible here:

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2007/05/just-say-no-to-scripturalism.html

    But, of course this is a true claim, but what is its epistemic status *on Scripturalists* terms.

    If we are going to allow that we know something, *even one thing,* that was not deduced from the Bible, viz., knowledge from self-evident truths, self-referentially incoherent statements, &c., then we have refuted Scripturalism. So, yes, Cheung can know that he exists. This comes at the cost of refuting his claims that:

    "Scripture is the first principle of the Christian worldview, so that true knowledge consists of only what is directly stated in Scripture and what is validly deducible from Scripture; all other propositions amount to unjustified opinion at best."

    I never say any deductions from the Bible here. I saw appeals to philosophical concepts such as propositions, identity, and such. I saw appeals to Kant. And I saw appeals to self-evident and self-referentially incoherent statements.

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  18. Paul,

    You said:

    "Third, you make faith a exercise in meaninglessness:

    Hebrews 11:6
    And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him."

    I'm not sure what you mean by this. Could you elaborate?

    Thanks,

    Andrew

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  19. AnnoyedPinoy1/04/2008 4:05 AM

    If a character in a novel wrote in his diary, "I don't exist!", would he exist or not? Would he be contradicting himself?

    Also, has Cheung distanced himself from (what I understand to be) Gordon Clark's implicit Christian Idealism? Namely, that all of reality other than God is/exists in God's mind. Didn't Jonathan Edwards entertain such a possibility?

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  20. Characters in novels don't write anything.

    BTW, there's a term for people who cannot distinguish between reality and fantasy. I believe it's called "Democrat." I mean "Delusional." One of those D-words.

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  21. By the way, since it's fun to invent characters:

    Todd Watson is the anti-Cheung. His existence is derrived from the non-existence of Cheung. As a result, he only exists if Cheung doesn't.

    I read Todd Watson's diary, in which he said: "I, Todd Watson, exist."

    If Todd Watson exists, then Cheung cannot exist. Since it is not only possible for Todd Watson to exist, but necessary (after all, I wrote about him, and if he doesn't exist how can I write about him?), then Cheung doesn't exist.

    But then I wrote about Cheung too.

    DARN THESE EVIL LOGICAL TRAPS OF THE DEVIL!!!!

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  22. Frank Flounder1/04/2008 10:30 AM

    Peter the Pike wrote:

    "BTW, there's a term for people who cannot distinguish between reality and fantasy. I believe it's called "Democrat." I mean "Delusional." One of those D-words."

    Which reminds me of another ditty:

    "There's a term for people that can't distinguish between reality and fantasy. I believe its called "Republican." I mean "Retarded." One of the R-words.

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  23. What a wonderful comeback, Flouder! "I'm rubber and you're glue" so worked in 1983. It's nice to see you're keeping up with the times. Now put down your Duran Duran records and check out this cool invention called a video disc! It's gonna rule!

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  24. Frank Flounder1/04/2008 10:44 AM

    Thanks for the kind words, Pike!

    Its good to know that my joke was just as 'spot on' as yours!

    And your "Mr Potato Head" avatar is also a flashback from the past...

    We're like two peas in a pod, long lost brothers!

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  25. Frank, your Smurf sized brain is what's a blast from the past! Watch out for Gargamel! La la la lalala

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  26. Hi Andrew,

    I was saying that if it is meaninglesss to ask if you know that you exist, because "existence is meaningless since it can be predicated to all things," then why isn't it meaningless to ask yourself if you believe that God exists? If that is meaningful, then why isn't it meaninglful to ask if you exist?

    Annoyed Pinnoy,

    I'm not tracking what you're trying to get at. Cheung has said that he finds his occasionalism in Clark, Edwards, Malebranche, and flickers in Calvin, among others. But so what? Is any of this deducible from the Bible? And, he doesn't know that thewse men taught that. So, he must believe it only because it is useful to believe it.

    Also, what's the cash value of this move: "all of reality other than God is/exists in God's mind"? If that can't be deduced from the Bible, then it is only rationally believed for non-epistemic reasons. But who wants to justify idealism by an appeal to its pragmatic value - if it has any?

    Basically, the argument is a dilemma:

    Either a proposition is Scripture or deducible from Scripture, or it isn't.

    If it is, then you have an epistemic justification for it.

    If it isn't, then you, at best, have a non-epistemic justification for it.

    If any move you make on behalf of Cheung can't be deduced from Scripture, then it falls into the category of the latter.

    If so, then the defense only succeeds because it is useful, or prudential, or helpful, or eudaimonic to believe those propositions.

    But surely key features of your metaphysics, epistemology, anthropology, and ethics should have more than non-epistemic reasons supporting it.

    If not, then I find it useful to disbelieve all of those moves. I can function just the same by believing the negation.

    Lastly, since the probability that any given belief you have is aimed at truth is low or inscrutable (since divine illumination produced/es trillions of false beliefs), then when you reflect on your epistemic situation, you should give up all of those beliefs.

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