Wednesday, March 08, 2006


JDHURF said:

“You claim that the laws of logic are supersensible, what do you mean by that? Are you claiming that logic is a separate entity or manifestation in and of itself?”

I mean that God’s mind is the exemplar of logic. His mind is what constitutes logical relations.

Those abstract universals are then exemplified in the logical structure of the human mind.

“I will not refer to logic as “the laws of logic” logic is a product of evolutionary upsurge culminating within a species with a highly advanced and developed conscious mind.”

So you subscribe to a conceptualist ontology of logic. One of the problems with this claim is that you thereby lose logical necessity.

If logic is simply the way in which the human mind reasons, then logic is relative to our faulty and fallible reasoning process.

And when you lose logical necessity, you thereby commit yourself to absolute scepticism, which is self-refuting.

If the human mind is the measure of logic, then there’s no principled distinction between valid and invalid reasoning. For logic is, in that event, subservient to the mind rather than an extramental standard of reference.

And, here’s the rub, since the human mind is inconsistent, both within and between various individuals, you thereby erase the necessity and universality of logic.

“What different domains of knowledge would you like to distinguish?”

Mental and material.

“Logic is certainly not physical.”

How does that square with what you told Evan when you said, “I do believe that all that exists is material”?

If, according to you, matter is all there is, then logic must be physical.

So which it? Do you believe that matter is all there is—in which case logic is physical?

Or do you believe that logic is not physical, in which case matter is not all there is?

“Logic is merely a mode of reasoning and set of propositions constructed by human endeavor.”

Do you deny that human beings contradict themselves? Atheism contains propositions which contradict theism.

But if “logic is merely a mode of reasoning and set of propositions constructed by human endeavor,” then by what intersubjectival standard of reference do we identify a contradiction between the views held by two different human beings?

Unless logic is independent of human beings, how are theism and atheism contradictory?

“Logic merely addresses natural truth, whether correctly or incorrectly.”

So you’re saying that logic may be false? But if the law of bivalence is merely a fallible mental construct, then how can you identify natural “truth”?

How do you distinguish between truth and falsehood given your reduction of logic to the vicissitudes of evolutionary epistemology?

“Logic is certainly not bits of matter. Logic exists in nature wherever there is a species of life that has a conscious that is developed and advanced enough to consider truth in such a manner. Logic exists within the conscious mind of the species in question. Logic is not discernible by empirical means.”

So do you deny that consciousness is physical? If consciousness is the product of naturalistic evolution, then would it not be a physical process or state?

If so, then why would it not be discernible by empirical means?

But, if not, then matter isn’t all there is.

“Truth exists apart from minds completely. Whether my mind is correct in believing the world to be round or not this is the case, this truth exists apart from my mind.”

Perhaps you need to tell what theory of truth you subscribe to.

Most secular thinkers adopt some version of the correspondence theory. If so, then truth is a relation between a truth-bearer and its object (a fact).

Philosophers differ over what functions as the truth-bearer, whether a belief, proposition, sentence, or something else.

Speaking for myself, to identify a truth-bearer with a sentence only pushes the question back step, for a sentence is simply a way of encoding a proposition—a storage and retrieval mechanism.

Likewise, the same proposition is expressible in different words.

The most plausible account is to say that a truth-bearer is a belief, which, in turn, presupposes a believer.

So you have a relation between a believer—via the truth-bearer (a belief) and the factual object to which that belief does or does not correspond.

The belief is a true belief if it corresponds to the factual object or state of affairs, and a false belief if it fails to correspond to the factual object.

But being a relation, truth cannot exist unless both relata—object and truth-bearer—coexist.

If there were no sapient beings, there would be no truth.

Further refinements are possible, between object-based and fact-based correspondence theories, but that doesn’t affect the primary thesis.

Or, if you prefer the coherence theory of truth, then truth is once again a relation property—in this case, a relation between ideas. This also requires a mind.

There are other, less dominant theories of truth.

Which is yours?

“However it is possible by using logic and scientific methodology to understand and know this truth.”

Commitment to the scientific method is ordinarily associated with a correspondence theory of truth. Is that, then, your own position?

“I do limit intelligence (as a conscious mechanism of the mind which is the product of a highly advanced and developed brain) to the biological AND psychological evolution of a species of life.”

In which case, wouldn’t logic be something physical? If so, should it not be observable?

“Evolution was true before it evolved an intelligent species because evolution is a truth of nature that we, using our logic and scientific methodology, have been able to come to know and understand.”

You need to explain how evolution could be true before the evolution of sapient organisms to entertain the truth of evolution.

How does your theory of truth harmonize the possibility—much less, actuality--of truth with the chronology of evolution?

“It already existed in some measure in that a lower species of life using an underdeveloped brain used a lower form of logic than what we are afforded. Isn’t implication of what a timeless relation of what? When you say that all logical relations coexist for any logical relation to exist at all, what exactly do you mean?”

How can a logical relation partially exist? A relation is a relation between respective relata. Subtract a relatum, and you thereby subtract the relation.

Take the textbook example: “All men are mortal, Socrates is a man, therefore Socrates is mortal.”

Does natural selection first deliver the premise to the human mind, and only later the conclusion—at a later stage of evolution?

Was there a time, like Schrödinger’s cat, when Socrates was neither mortal nor immortal? Is so, then you have a very curious ontology of logic.

Do we have to wait around for the major and minor premises to yield the conclusion? Is the conclusion a delayed-effect of the evolutionary process?

Or must all elements of the logical relation be given? If so, then implication is a timeless relation.

“Mythology has quite a bit to do with it. I assume that you reject Roman mythology yet you certainly cannot disprove that mythology. My question is how do you know your Christian view is not the same sort of ideology as the Roman mythology?”

If I had the same evidence for Roman mythology that I had for Christian theology, then why wouldn’t I be a pagan. But since I don’t, I’m not.

Why do you say that Roman mythology cannot be disproven? You yourself have said:

“I do believe that all that exists is material and that there is no supernatural entities or forces be that the Christian mythology, the Judaic mythology, the Islamic mythology, the Hindu mythology, the Shinto mythology, the Zoroastrianism mythology, the Roman mythology, or any other. In this believe it is obvious that if something exists in my worldview it would be the product of such a material existence without any interference from alleged supernatural sources.”

So if materialism were true, then this would disprove Roman mythology, would it not?

Apparently, then, you don’t believe that materialism is provable. So why are you a materialist?

“I do not differentiate between truths as you just now have, there are no logical truths and truths there is simply truth. Something is either true or it is not.”

There are several heavy-duty problems with this position:

i) You yourself distinguish between “natural” truth, which you take to be extramental, and logic, which you take to be mental.

But do you deny that logical relations are true? Even if they did not exhaust the whole of what is true, are they not a subset of the truth?

Is the law of bivalence not true?

Is modus ponens not true?

ii) The customary reason to distinguish between truths of fact and truths of reason is to distinguish between contingency and necessity.

A truth of fact is, among other things, a truth which could have been otherwise, whereas a truth of reason is a truth which could not have been otherwise.

To cast this in modal logical terms, a truth of fact is true in one possible world, but false in another, whereas a truth of reason is true in every possible world, including the actual world.

So which is it? Are you saying that everything could be otherwise, or that nothing could be otherwise?

Is the equation “2+2=4” not a necessary truth?

Is the proposition that William the Conqueror crossed the English Channel in 1066 not a contingent truth?

iii)Incidentally, if modal logic is able to handle truths of fact (possibilities) as well as truths of reason (necessities), then can you compartmentalize truth and logic the way you do?

Or do you reject possible world semantics?

If so, then how do you ground possibility, impossibility, and necessity?

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