Friday, July 22, 2011

The trials of Tuggy


“This is no more problematic than the existence of intrinsic change generally. Some philosophers think this is a big problem, but as I explained, I think the existence of intrinsic change is evident. (Thus, any argument that it's impossible must be unsound.)”

i) To say you think that’s “evident” begs the question in the teeth of philosophical arguments to the contrary.

And, of course, your statement is reversible. Thus, any claim that it’s evident is undermined by arguments to the contrary.

ii) You try to hold Trinitarians to rigorous standards, but you suddenly go lax when we measure your own position by the same criteria.

iii) Not to mention how you chronically fudge your appeal to monotheistic prooftexts, which you arbitrarily modify to allow for godlike agents while disallowing the deity of Christ.

Nice cheapshot. Anything to divert attention from the obvious truth, eh?

How is it a “cheap, diversionary” tactic to quote your own formulation verbatim?

You need to go back and look at my logic (i.e. my precise formulation of L's Law) and see that it allows for intrinsic change.

When you proceed to verbalize your formulation in your own words, the problem recurs, as I pointed out.

Glad to see that you're not denying L's Law.

Not affirming or denying. For one things, L's Law is ambiguous. Different interpretations and formulations are possible. 

Still waiting to see that your Trinity theory is in line with it.

My “Trinity theory” only has to be in line with it if that’s a requirement of God’s self-revelation.

L's Law applies to anything there is or can be; it is a necessary truth.

You still don’t get it. At most, L’s Law applies in cases where “absolute/numerical” identity is asserted.

You haven’t shown that your prooftexts assert absolute/numerical identity. You haven’t exegeted that technical notion of unicity from your prooftexts. You haven’t shown that they assert quantitative identity rather than qualitative identity.

Instead, what you’ve done is to gloss your prooftexts in light of that extratextual understanding. But you haven’t show that Bible writers are operating with that concept of unicity.

Appealing to “count nouns” won’t do the trick, in part because Bible writers use count nouns loosely (e.g. Jn 10:30; 17:21-23), and in part because Bible writers explicate divine unicity in terms of certain unique actions or attributes. They translate the quantitative aspect into qualitative aspects.

(Aside: I think you're confused about what ‘necessity’ means here; it is not ‘worldview-variant’. Basically, a nec truth is one such that it is absolutely impossible that it not be true.) Thus, it applies to God. What *sort* of thing he is can be disputed. But that that thing will ‘obey’ L's Law shouldn't be.

Which disregards arguments to the contrary:

Take psychologism:

In a world where logical laws are reducible to psychological laws, you don’t have logical necessity. And psychologism dovetails very nicely with evolutionary psychology.

Is that my own position? No. But you can’t say it’s “self-evidently” false. For it’s not “self-evidently false” in a psychologistic world. It’s only false in a non-psychologistic world. So you’d need to know which type of world you’re in.

Do I think evolutionary psychology and psychologism are ultimately self-refuting? Yes. But those positions need to be argued down. 

But this is Tuggy’s modus operandi: just keep paraphrasing the same repetitious claim while ignoring the counterarguments.

You've admitted L's Law, and thus that your 3 claims are apparently contradictory, and strongly so.

i) No, not to deny something is not to affirm it. I’ve simply bracketed that issue. And I’ve also pointed out that that’s been challenged by philosophers like Benjamin Schnieder.

But I don’t need to go there since this is ultimately a question of exegetical theology.

ii) Moreover, it’s only contradictory within you assumptions regarding “absolute/numerical” identity. But you haven’t shown that Scripture operates with that specialized concept of unicity. Rather, that’s an assumption you constantly bring to you prooftexts.

Bible writers tend to write in popular, picturesque language. They flag the true God as having certain defining attributes or certain defining deeds, in contrast to false gods who lack those defining deeds and attributes. And that’s it.

There’s no reason to think they’re operating with a highly-refined concept of “identity.” More likely, they’re operating with a rough-n-ready concept sufficient to distinguish the true God from false claimants.

They don’t begin with Tuggy’s customized formulation of L’s Law (“for any four things, the second and third are identical only if the fourth is a way the second is at the first just in case the fourth is a way the third is at the first”), then construct a concept of God according to Tuggy’s specifications. 

Philosophical theology can, of course, operate with more highly-refined concepts of identity, but in that case it needs to refine Biblical concepts rather than importing more refined concepts into Biblical texts.

“No, of course logic doesn't tell you what to do now. That's a matter of considering evidence. That's what my published work on this is all about.”

Your article does nothing to show that Scripture preferentially applies L’s Law to the Father, making him Yahweh rather than the Son and/or Spirit. Your article does nothing to show that Scripture falsifies one (or more) of these three premises (from my previous post), much less which premise(s) it falsifies.

In Christian theology, you can’t give revelation short shrift. You can’t bypass the exegetical spadework and jump straight to philosophical theology. As a preliminary step you need to ascertain what God has revealed about himself. You can then proceed to build on that foundation.


  1. Steve, sorry - I don't have time to tutor you on all the mistakes of this post. And even if I did, you'd reply five minutes later, not having properly thought things through. Have a good weekend.

  2. Let me provide a commentary on Tuggy's statements here. Steve, sorry, but I can't keep doing this since you have been kicking my butt so badly. You even managed to use my very own idol of philosophy against me, showing everyone that I am not this great philosopher that I pretended to be. You have exposed me for the pseudo-intellect and heretic that I really am. Therefore, I am ending our exchanges since I can't let you humiliate me this way for all to see.

  3. Dale:

    You are truly amazing for your inability to deal with the arguments and being so in love with your fine sounding explanations.

    Problem is they are only fine sounding arguments.

    Steve's counter points are quite sound.

  4. Dale got schooled.

    Rhetorical flourishes and bullying probably work well on your students, but they don't pass muster out in the real world, bubba.