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Theoretical Philosophy » Scholastic metaphysics and PSR » 9/17/2017 5:00 pm

UGADawg
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RomanJoe, I think your question to Jeremy gets at one of the reasons I brought up Huemer's epistemology, called phenomenal conservatism, elsewhere in this topic. Without reiterating the position at length, he's arguing appearances are sufficient to confer some justification for a belief in the absence of defeaters. He's got several arguments for this, but the most interesting is his view that it's actually self-defeating to deny this because any counterargument we give is ultimately going to rely on appearances as a kind of justification (see the IEP article I linked ITT for a full exposition). Now, it certainly appears to be the case that our cognitive faculties are reliable, so we are thereby justified in trusting them unless some defeater for the appearance is offered. As it relates to the retorsion argument, the problem seems to be that PSR being false doesn't satisfy either of the conditions required for an appearance being false w.r.t. the reliability of our cognitive faculties (again see the IEP article or my other posts ITT for the conditions required for a potential defeater to undermine an appearance). So, at least prima facie, it seems retorsion won't work to establish PSR against an epistemology like Huemer's. Of course, phenomenal conservatism could be wrong, but then that's another debate.

Theoretical Philosophy » Scholastic metaphysics and PSR » 9/15/2017 9:58 pm

UGADawg
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Hmm, I'm curious, what would such a reason like you're wanting look like? Or in other words, what kind of reason could we give for thinking our cognitive faculties are reliable that wouldn't presuppose their reliability? I'm not sure such a reason can be given in a non-question-begging manner.

Theoretical Philosophy » Scholastic metaphysics and PSR » 9/15/2017 6:28 pm

UGADawg
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Well, Huemer is saying he has given three conditions that are sufficient to confer some justification for a given belief, so if those conditions are satisfied, one is justified in holding the belief. If rejecting PSR doesn't undercut any of those conditions, then accepting PSR isn't a necessary condition to have justification for a given belief.

Theoretical Philosophy » Scholastic metaphysics and PSR » 9/15/2017 12:03 pm

UGADawg
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Well, I think my point is that if Huemer's view is accepted (that S has some justification for P if P appears to be true and there are no defeaters for P) then it's not clear to me how one would be unjustified in accepting that one's cognitive faculties were reliable on the grounds that it appears they're reliable even if PSR is assumed to be false, because PSR being false does not seem to either provide what Huemer calls a rebutting defeater or an undercutting defeater (see the IEP article on phenomenal conservatism for explanation).

Also it looks like there's a discussion of the retorsion argument on Feser's blog in the comments for anyone interested. http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2017/09/radio-activity.html

The user "Tyler" has some interesting thoughts that are similar to mine.

Theoretical Philosophy » Scholastic metaphysics and PSR » 9/13/2017 4:25 pm

UGADawg
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Jeremy Taylor wrote:

If we hold a position that implies we can't know if we can generally trust them, or have no reason to generally trust them, then this position does conflict with (b) 

Well, I'm not sure this is correct, at least perhaps not in the sense in which you mean it. If you look elsewhere in this topic, for instance, you'll see that I've discussed Michael Huemer's view of epistemology called phenomenal conservatism. I won't repeat what I've already said, so I'd direct you to those posts, but the general emphasis is just that one can be justified in trusting one's cognitive faculties solely on the basis that it appears that they're trustworthy or reliable, so long as there are no defeaters offered for that appearance. 

And it's not clear at all how PSR being false would undermine that appearance. To do so it would need to either (a) provide evidence the appearance is false; or (b) provide evidence the appearance was formed due to defective or unreliable processes of thought formation. ~PSR certainly doesn't satisfy (a), as it in no way entails our faculties are actually unreliable. And I'm not sure how it would satisfy (b) either, given that it just raises the possibility that our thoughts are unreliable, and again, doesn't give any positive reason to think this is actually happening.
 

Theoretical Philosophy » Scholastic metaphysics and PSR » 9/13/2017 12:24 am

UGADawg
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Hi Jeremy

Yes, I do think we do eliminate those scenarios in practice, and, as I believe I mentioned elsewhere in this topic, Feser does present the argument similarly to Reppert's in his formal presentation of the rationalist proof (in his new Five Proofs book). It's essentially: (a) If PSR is false, then we cannot trust our cognitive faculties. (b) But we can trust our cognitive faculties. (c) Therefore PSR is true.

I don't think anyone could reject premise (b) without undermining themselves. The question is whether (a) is true, and that involves cashing out exactly what denying PSR entails w.r.t. the reliability of our cognitive faculties. The problem, I think, is that denying PSR doesn't entail our cognitive faculties are actually unreliable, rather it entails they're possibly unreliable. Or perhaps at most it entails that we can have no reason for thinking they're reliable, or perhaps that the probability of our cognitive faculties being reliable is inscrutable, etc. 

But I think many epistemologists would happily accept this. Certainly the mere possibility that ~P doesn't undermine our justification in believing P, otherwise all our knowledge would be undercut. And I don't even know that it's problematic if we agree the probability that our faculties are reliable is inscrutable. After all, what reason could we possibly appeal to in showing it's likely our faculties are reliable that wouldn't presuppose their reliability? So in short, the possibility that our faculties are unreliable, or perhaps inscrutability w.r.t. the the reliability of our faculties, might not commit us to the position that we cannot trust our faculties. Therefore we might have grounds for rejecting or doubting (a), even if we haven't conclusively shown it to be false.

Now, Feser might have answers for all these questions. But I think at the very least what I'm trying to illustrate here is clear in the sense that the retorsion argument really raises more questions than it answers. I do

Theoretical Philosophy » Scholastic metaphysics and PSR » 9/07/2017 12:57 am

UGADawg
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So, Johannes, other than the assumption that reality is ultimately explicable, what do you think are good reasons for accepting PSR?

Do you think there are good reasons? Because obviously many atheists will be willing to allow that reality is ultimately inexplicable if it means denying God. 

Do you think there are good arguments for criticizing that view? Or do you think it simply all comes down to this assumption, one that we might criticize atheists for making insofar as they allow PSR for some limited domain without applying it to all domains?

Theoretical Philosophy » Scholastic metaphysics and PSR » 9/01/2017 2:22 pm

UGADawg
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Interesting post, thanks.

It's worth mentioning Feser does have two different arguments in support of PSR that claim we cannot have any principled reason for denying PSR while maintaining that there are at least some genuine explanations. One of them is Michael Della Rocca's explicability argument approach, and the other is Feser's own argument that you can see here beginning with the words "Suppose I told you that the fact that a certain book has not fallen to the ground . . ."

Those may be sufficient to address what the denier of PSR is trying to do in accepting your PSR-L while denying PSR-U, and if so then they would either have to reject PSR entirely or accept PSR-U (because no principled reason for rejecting U but not L), in which case the retorsion argument may still work.

Theoretical Philosophy » Scholastic metaphysics and PSR » 8/29/2017 3:06 pm

UGADawg
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Hi Johannes. Yes I saw that post but since it was dead and there wasn't any mutual agreement I thought it was worth bringing up anyway.

Unfortunately Ed hasn't updated the argument in his new Five Proofs book to address the types of objections you or I have given. Of course he has no reason to be aware of ours, but he's surely aware of Parsons's objection, which is similar, and he doesn't address that either. (FYI don't let this make it sound like I didn't like the book; it's very good).

That said he gives a very brief formal version of the argument in the relevant section of the book when he says something to the effect of:

1. If PSR were false we could not trust our cognitive faculties.
2. But we can trust our cognitive faculties.
3. So PSR is true.

Elsewhere in the book when he's giving his views on conditions needed for knowledge claims, he says something like for S to know P, P must be true, S must believe P, and S's belief that P must be the result of some reliable process of thought formation. So I'm guessing Feser would say PSR being false means we don't know we believe what we do as a result of reliable processes of thought formation (which is similar enough to the premise 2 above). 

I still don't know if that works, though. What do you think?


 

Religion » Okay, the resurrection is probably historical... » 8/04/2017 12:42 pm

UGADawg
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One would presumably first want to know whether the Gospels are generally historically reliable or not. I think you can make that case, at least in substance if not detail.

Then, if taken to be reliable, you'd want to know what exactly the Synoptic Gospels have to say about Jesus's claims to divinity. For example, you'd need to understand what Jesus's references to the Son of Man and the Kingdom of Heaven have to do with the prophecies in Daniel to know what type of Messiah he's portrayed as (e.g. was it merely political or something more?). Then you'd want to look at specific accounts of miracles and what those accounts are being used to illustrate, e.g. Jesus use of the well-known "I AM" of YHWH in the Old Testament to refer to himself when he is walking on water.

You'd need to look at potential aspects of self-revelation as well, e.g. his forgiving of sins when healing the paralytic and his discussion of the Messiah not merely being a descendant of David but also his Lord. Finally we might consider reasons why Jesus was convicted of blasphemy; it certainly wasn't because he claimed to be the Messiah, so what was it? And so on. 

I can go into a bit more depth on any of this if you'd like but I just thought I'd give a general summary. I've picked up most of this stuff from Catholic NT scholar Brant Pitre. His book The Case for Jesus is a nice read.

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