Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Parrying Perry

Perry, our Orthodox friend, has written a post about me titled Piking Peter. I’ll assume he’s trying to clever here, but Dawson Bethrick already beat Perry when he titled a post Pike’s Pique. Kinda takes the wind out of Perry’s attempt, doncha think? Even so, nice try, Perry!

Perhaps the title was written because Perry had nothing else to say and he was itching to look brilliant on the internet. We shall see, I suppose. Nothing in Perry’s post is very original, so I’ll not spend much time on it. Simple argumentation requires simple refutation.

Anyway, Perry has already been refuted (by Steve and others) a multitude of times. Gotta give him kudos for plugging away though. Again. If you ever needed a definition for “indefatigable” look no further than Perry! Nothing will change his mind, not even facts!

(By the way, I should point out to Touchstone that there’s a secret code in the above. Happy hunting. Now on to Perry’s post.)

I had asked Robert, since Robert acknowledges there are restrictions on free will (that man is not omnipotent), how many restrictions need to be in place before the will can no longer be considered free in the libertarian sense. Perry, in his infinite wisdom, said:

Per the missed point, too many restrictions would be positing conditions inconsistent with the idea. So far I can’t see how any of the restrictions you posited preclude LFW.
That’s so helpful. Aperrylently (see, I can pun too!) Perry doesn’t grasp the reason for the question, which is that I’m trying to grasp where, according to Libertarians, too many restrictions are too many restrictions. I gave specific examples here: a mugger who robs you has reduced your options to two. Yet two options are not one option. So that means when you choose to hand over your wallet, this is a libertarian free will choice, right?

I trust everyone who doesn’t have a libertarian axe to grind can already see where this one is headed.

Perry continues:

Given that the power to do otherwise is glossed counter-factually, I don’t see how this makes it illusory.
“I don’t see how” only shows you’re blind, Perry. But again, it’s been illustrated numerous times to you. You have no power to do otherwise. You can only do one (1) thing and one (1) thing only whenever you make a choice. You cannot go back in time and get a re-do. Therefore, you do not have the “power to do otherwise” at all. You have the power to do one (1) thing.

I hope that helps.

Perry says:

Deliberation has plenty to do with PAP and lots of philosophers have thought so.
Lots of philosophers have thought that God doesn’t exist too. But nice job on the vague appeal to authority there. I see no logical problems with that tactic at all.

You may not think so, but that just tells me that you’re not a Libertarian (or you need to read more professional philosophical literature and fewer villiage atheists) but we already knew that so at best you’re only begging the question.
You mean begging the question like saying: “In deliberation, I am staving off from making a decision, which on its face seems to require that I am choosing not to choose between alternatives, which also seems to entail PAP.” How is it that you can beg the question for PAP, but suddenly you get all up in arms when I point out that I don’t buy your philosophy?

You said:

In deliberation I have chosen between choosing and not choosing and I have here chosen between alternatives.
You have chosen between hypotheticals, yes. But on what basis do you choose? You weigh alternatives, but in the end your choice is going to be whatever you want to do with the most desire. You are incapable of doing otherwise, which means your choice is…ahem…necessary.

You said:

It doesn’t follow that simply because I can only choose one among many that the one I select is rendered inevitable by antecedent conditions.
Let us look at this logically for a moment. Suppose that whatever the decision making mechanism is inside you is simply labeled X. Is X the same in all people?

Well, Perry is Orthodox. I am a Calvinist. Why do we differ? If it is because the X is different, then our choices are made because of inevitable antecedent conditions. Our X is actually different, and those actual differences require us to choose different beliefs.

Is it something other than X? Suppose it’s because I learned exegesis while Perry only had tradition. This means that while our X remains the same, we both experienced antecedent conditions that were different and those differences resulted in our choosing differently from one another.

The only way that Perry can consistently argue that there are no antecedent conditions is if Perry argues that X is completely random. Only a random X can result in choices not based on antecedent conditions, via either the intrinsic design of X or the conditions by which X is used. But if our decision making is completely random, then A) that doesn’t fit the idea of deliberation at all and B) there can be no morality.

If desires and reasons were causes, one wouldn’t be weighing them.
An assertion in lieu of an argument. Desires have different intensities, that is why they are weighed mentally. I may want to eat an ice cream bar, but I may want to stay warm in the middle of a blizzard more than I want ice cream.

And if the choice simply is the strongest desire that wins out, why even talk about decisions?
Because desires are not behind-the-scenes. They are experienced. It’s not like these desires occur without the knowledge of the agent.

A decision occurs when various desires are examined and the strongest desire wins out. This can be difficult at times because often we can have two desires of nearly equal weight. Indeed, sometimes they can be of equal weight (which results in the paralysis of the agent).

It may be true that I am unable to deliberate without reasons and desires, but showing that the latter are necessary conditions for the former isn’t tantamount to showing that the conflict between desires and reasons just is deliberation.
At least I’ve shown necessary conditions for deliberation, whereas all you’ve done is assert that there must be something more. Why? Because otherwise you’d be wrong. And your strongest desire is to be right, so you’d rather not contemplate that…

Experience seems to indicate to me at least that my deliberation is more than a conflict, it is a putting them down and comparing options and contrasting them in a variety of ways.
You can compare and contrast all the live long day, and you’ll still do that which is your strongest desire.

Of course you could prove me wrong by demonstrating even one occurrence where the desire that wasn’t the strongest is the one that prevailed. C’mon, Perry. Own up.

It is true that there are many antecedents states that carry me along the wave of life, but I am not a mere conduit for them.
So again I ask what is it that makes you different than me? You say that there is something else besides these antecedent states. How is that not itself an antecedent state? And why should whatever that is be different in you than it is in me?

Moreover, such conditions may circumscribe options available to me, but while my genes dispose and incline me to consume food, I don’t have to eat. I can choose to die. Lots of people have done it. Jesus fasted after all. Don’t you?
Yes, and they do so because they desire to abstain from food more than they desire food. What is fasting if not an outward expression of your desire to hold God more important than bodily need? If you fasted for no reason, then you have no reason to fast (apparently the reason you don't grasp this tautology is because it's blindingly obvious). Do you seriously think Jesus fasted because He randomly decided to fast one day? Of course not: He had a purpose for it. He had a desire for a particular end, and He acted toward that end.

In this case, the antecedent spiritual desire overwhelms the antecedent physical desire. Really, Perry, this isn’t as difficult as you make it out to be.

If you think that moral responsibility is compatible with determinism, I’d really like to see a coherent sketch from you personally on how moral responsibility is incompatible with cases of external covert manipulation of an agents choices.
I have done so in the past already. I will do so again…as soon as you show me how an arbitrary random decision can have moral weight.


  1. learning exegesis apart from the mind of the Church is learning in vain.

    Both groups have a tradition. Orthodoxy has the Traditions of the Apostles and Church Fathers, whereas Calvinism has the traditions of the Reformation Fathers.

    I would rather have the tradition of the Apostles.

  2. How do you identify the mind of the church?

    How do you verify that you have the tradition of the apostles?