Thursday, May 11, 2017

Vicarious properties

I've been discussing substance dualism with apostate Dale Tuggy. My immediate concern is not with dualism. I'm just using that as analogy for the two-natures of Christ, to expose the fallacy of Tuggy's "inconsistent triad". 

It's entertaining to witness Tuggy's philosophical ineptitude. Take his latest statement:

No, when a human person dies, we don’t only say that. We also think that the human person himself died, and not only his body. This is obvious, and doesn’t need arguing for. Clearly, a theoretical commitment is getting in the way of his seeing this as obvious. That’s a serious danger of theories!

There is only one who died a human death, e.g. when Lincoln died: the man Abraham Lincoln. On dualism, his body is a different thing, if it is a thing. So on dualism, his body did not also die a human death.

Let's compare that to the exposition and analysis of a real philosopher:

The dualist believes that human persons have a "dual" nature…The dualist will concede that we frequently make assertions by which we appear to ascribe physical properties to human persons, assertions like, "John weights 90 kilograms" or "Alice is 165 centimeters tall." But according to the dualist, it is not strictly true that John weights 90 kilograms or has any other weight, and it is not strictly true that Alice is 165 centimeters tall or has any other height. John and Alice, rather, possess such properties only vicariously; strictly speaking, it is not they but their bodies that have weights and heights. This does not mean there is anything wrong with saying "John weighs 90 kilograms" in ordinary contexts; this statement is to be understood as a kind of shorthand expression of the assertion that John's body weighs 90 kilograms, just as Alice's statement "I'm carrying 1,400 tons of pig iron" is a shorthand expression of the assertion that the ship of which she is the cargo officer is carrying 1,4000 tons of pig iron. Peter  van Inwagen, Metaphysics (Westview Press, 4th ed., 2015), 225-26. 

By parity of argument, there's nothing logically inconsistent about statement like "the Immortal dies" or "God the might Maker died". "God died" or the "Immortal died" in the vicarious sense that the body of God Incarnate died. That's entirely consonant with the essential immortality of Christ, by virtue of his deity. 


  1. Steve - I compliment you for having the patience to dialog with Tuggy. I just looked at his website today for the first time. I couldn't do what you do.

  2. Also, I wonder whether Dale would consider Lazarus and "Dives" dead according to his definitions. I suspect it doesn't matter whether it's only a fictional story or a real one.