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Theoretical Philosophy » Pruss's argument for PSR from powers modality » 8/02/2018 1:32 pm

Miguel
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In many writings, Pruss has defended an argument for PSR from his Aristotelian-inspired causal powers view of modality. The way I understand it, I don't think the argument works, but that may be because I'm not really grasping it correctly, so it would be nice if someone could clear it up a little.

That view of modality, as I get it, is basically that every "purely possible" state of affairs can ultimately be caused by something (in other words, X is possible if there is something that can initiate a chain of causes leading to X holding).

The argument for PSR is as follows: say p is a false contingent proposition, and (given ~PSR) it is possible that p holds without an explanation. Then let p* be the proposition that p holds without a causal explanation. By the assumed account of modality, if p* is possible then there is something that can initiate a chain of causes leading to p* holding, but that is absurd since that chain of causes would causally explain both why p holds and that it holds without a causal explanation.

Now, the problem I have is it seems like p* is being reified/thingified in some illegitimate way here. Say p is a contigent thing (a chicken, for instance) and p* reports the brute existence of that chicken. It's not p* that needs a possible cause, but rather p. P* simply is p holding without a cause. A contigent chicken is possible because there is something that can initiate a causal chain leading to the existence of that chicken; p* is simply reporting the fact that the chicken does not actually have a cause. P* holds if p holds without an actual cause, that's all. It makes sense to think the chicken can have a cause, but why think "the chicken's existing without a cause" is something that can also be caused?

I guess this would be a criticism of that specific view of alethic modality. It makes sense to say positive states of affairs can be caused (the existence of a chicken can be caused; events such as the chicken eating corn can be caused

Chit-Chat » ​Who are your three biggest philosophical influences? » 7/18/2018 11:51 pm

Miguel
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Hypatia wrote:

John West wrote:

I see. Do you think ontic structural realism is a tenable position though, that we (and the rest of the world) are composed of relations and nothing but relations? Or is it more of an "academic curiosity" for you?

a wild deconstructionist

 
Come on now bruh

Theoretical Philosophy » Moral arguments » 7/18/2018 11:48 pm

Miguel
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To me ethics wouldn't make much sense if it weren't grounded in the essences of things; it's because man is the type of creature he is that he has so many rights relating to his (even potential) reason, needs and capacities. So I'm inclined to think some NL does capture what is ultimately important and meaningful in morality. However, as I said, I am also sympathetic to the idea that we feel something transcendent in morality. I try to do justice to it by differentiating between the grounding of morality - which may be found in rather prosaic facts, such as a creature being conscious, rational, having certain needs, etc - and our experience of morality - the way we sometimes come in contact with basic moral norms, which can be similar to powerful aesthetic and even religious experiences. And this experience is often a big motivator for following natural law (answering some kind of sartrean "why be moral?" questions)

Perhaps this approach would be close to the arguments stated in 2, from value properties to a transcendent source of all value. The way some basic facts (such as "murder is wrong") which get their explanation/grounding from natural law are nonetheless embued with a special "value", or presented to us in transcendent experiences, or as commands from what could be described as a "voice of conscience" or "voice of God" which stands in absolute authority over us.

Theoretical Philosophy » Moral arguments » 7/18/2018 11:36 am

Miguel
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Mysterious Brony wrote:

Check out the philosopher John Rist, especially his work Real Ethics. Also I would like to add my two cents.

"I think my current view, which I'm still developing, is that although the objectivity of morality is grounded in natures, independently from God, the *experience* we often have of good/evil is indicative of transcendence and divinity."

Hmmm, but aren't we contingent beings, so ultimately where do ground our natures? If that's the case then wouldn't the objectivity of morality be ontologically dependent on God (or a Platonic metaphysics)?


 

 
I take natures to be ultimately grounded in the divine intellect (something like the Augustinian view), so morality is indirectly dependent on God. But not directly. By creating humans, God is creating moral creatures.

So a possible argument for God there wouldn't be directly based on morality, but rather on the grounding of natures, like the Augustinian argument x platonism and aristotelianism.

Theoretical Philosophy » Moral arguments » 7/17/2018 11:14 pm

Miguel
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I am not entirely sure where I stand w.r.t. moral arguments in natural theology. I tend to ground morality in natural law. So for me morality doesn't directly depend on God, but on the natures and ends of natural substances, in particular of rational beings. That being said, sometimes I can't help but feel like there's something transcendent in moral norms.

(I do think morality provides some evidence in favor of theism against (say) naturalism, because we can reasonably expect contingent reality to include moral agents under theism. But here I'm talking about the standard argument from objective norms and duties to God, not this kind of teleological consideration)

I am not entirely sure what to make of this experience of the transcendent in morality. I'd like to hear people's thoughts on moral and axiological arguments for God.

I think my current view, which I'm still developing, is that although the objectivity of morality is grounded in natures, independently from God, the *experience* we often have of good/evil is indicative of transcendence and divinity. Think something like Newman's argument from the voice of conscience.

Theoretical Philosophy » Answering Challenges to "Five Proofs" » 7/12/2018 11:52 am

Miguel
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mnels123 wrote:

Is it not just a mere assertion to say the universe is contingent? How can we prove the statement "the universe could have been otherwise?" We've never seen it be otherwise, and just because we can imagine it having different laws, constants etc. does not mean that it could, in actuality, been any different.

 
Most people would accept the claim by intuition. I think the fact we can conceive of no-universe, etc, gives us a defeasible reason to accept the universe is contingent. And a quite strong one. I also don't think it's impossible for Big Bang to be correct. But if someone thinks the universe is necessary then they must think it was *impossible* for it to have had a beginning, not just that it didn't have one.

But one can also adapt the other arguments. If something is potential with respect to existence then it is contingent, since it could fail to exist, having only potential existence without actualization. Or, going by the real distinction, if a thing's essence is distinct from existence then it exists contingently, as its existence has to be added to the essence. As I said, the same arguments from potency and essence/existence etc can be adapted to contingency/necessity.

There's also, I think, an issue with modal continuity. Since all physical things we see are contingent, the burden is on the objector to argue that the necessary being is physical.

Theoretical Philosophy » Review of Renewing Philosophy of Religion: Exploratory Essays » 7/11/2018 10:39 pm

Miguel
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"In "Religion After Naturalism," Eric Steinhart thinks that philosophy of religion has gotten stuck because its conception of religion sets it against naturalism. As more and more people come to realize that naturalism is true, philosophy of religion is in danger of fading away much like theorizing about outdated scienc"

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

Theoretical Philosophy » Answering Challenges to "Five Proofs" » 7/09/2018 1:03 am

Miguel
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W.r.t. contingency

1- the idea that the universe is necessary would be quite radical. Most people take it as quite obviously false; surely it would be possible for the universe to have failed to exist. There could've been no universe. Not only is that conceivable, but models such as the Big Bang deal with an absolute beginning of the universe - which would be absurd if the universe were necessary. Maybe the model is wrong and the universe is eternal, but it seems that it would at least be *possible* for the universe to have had a beginning (like the big bang). And all physical things appear contingent, so how could the universe be necessary? Here you can use Feser's own arguments from act/potency, essence/existence and contingency/necessity (something whose existence goes from potential to actual, for instance, is contingent), check out what he says about the relationship between necessity and the divine attributes.

2- Technically speaking, we don't even need to speak of "the universe", all we need is a totality of contingent beings. Now, it is obvious that contingent things exist; we can then ask why this plurality of contingent beings exist. The reason must lie in a necessary being. Then you just have to argue that this nec. being is God, and you can make use of different arguments (pure act; no arbitrary limits; the argument from volition; teleology; etc).

Theoretical Philosophy » Answering Challenges to "Five Proofs" » 7/06/2018 12:26 am

Miguel
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mnels123 wrote:

Really, so you think the rationalist proof is stronger than the Aristotelian proof? What, would you say, are the advantages of that argument?

 
I like the Aristotelian proof. I think it's sound. But yes, I do prefer the rationalist one.

The main advantage is precisely that it sidesteps distinctions between essentially ordered x accidentally ordered series of causes, as well as any debates about infinite series. It doesn't have to rule out an infinite regress of causes; all it has to do is point out that an infinite regress doesn't explain why there are these contingent beings. We can still ask why there is something rather than nothing, and that fundamental question would persist whether or not there is an infinite chain - if all reality were entirely contingent, there would be no explanation for its existence.

If there is an infinite chain of contingent causes (whether essentially or accidentally ordered, doesn't matter), we can still ask "why do these contingent causes exist, rather than other causes, or none at all?". The totality of contingent causes is just as contingent as any contingent thing. It could've failed to exist. Or there could've been a different totality, with different contingent things.

It's a big advantage.

Another potential advantage (this one is somewhat small, though) is that some people may find it easier to understand the contingent/necessary distinction than the potency/act one.

The "disadvantage" is that it requires a somewhat stronger principle than the aristotelian proof - PSR as the strongest, but at least an explanatory principle that seeks explanations for facts about the existence of contingent things (including pluralities). But most arguments given for the weaker principle of causality can also be given for a stronger explanatory principle, and in any case I think that most people who accept PC will likely accept the explanatory principle. So to me the advantages far outweigh the disadvantage.

Practical Philosophy » What would be a good introductory book on economics for lay persons? » 7/05/2018 7:41 pm

Miguel
Replies: 9

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A good introduction and summary of contemporary economics for lay people - not economics students.

Preferably impartial and uncontroversial. So, mainstream and orthodox leaning. No Austrian school or socialism or anything of this sort. (Not that I'm objecting to non-mainstream approaches, I find Austrian economics quite interesting for example, but I'm purposefully looking for some more mainstream and less controversial works, that is more likely to have wide acceptance)

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