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Theoretical Philosophy » Verification critera and self-refutation » Today 12:04 pm

Miguel
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It is still self-refuting because in order to "test" it by seeing people's uses of the word "meaning" we already have to have a specific capacity of understanding universal terms. The meaning of a word is not a rock we find out there in the world; its meaning is not itself derived from a physical property - the soundwaves of the word "dangerous" are not what make it "dangerous" -, rather it is something public and universal that we have to grasp in abstraction and reason with. If that would be acceptable to the verificationist principle, then it is hard to see why metaphysics wouldn't. If we can see physical objects as signs that transcend their physical constitution - words with "meaning" -, why can't we see objects as contingent effects of a necessary creator? Why can't we see formal causes and final causes? And so on.

(Another problem: study the use of meaning and you'll quickly realize no common person adopts the verificationist criteria)

This goes for the second proposal as well. What sort of analytical recommendation lying outside of language would the verificationist principle be? If we could grasp it like that, surely we could also grasp metaphysics in general. Unless the verificationist principle is some sort of magic voodoo spooky thing that just mysteriously lies outside the boundaries it iself sets for everything else, yet we are able to come in contact with it and see its truth.

Finally, the third option is retarded. "Meaningless yet useful", well if we can sink that low in order to defend a failed philosophical principle, then whatever. And if they think something meaningless can be useful, then the same could be go for whatever meaningless bs people come up with.

So logical positivism remains self-refuting under pain of expanding the meaning of "verification" to something trivial that could also include metaphysics.

But I happen to think we don't even need to show logical positivism is self-refuting, because logical positivism is simply moroni

Theoretical Philosophy » The Modal Problem of Evil » 5/17/2018 4:15 pm

Miguel
Replies: 10

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DanielCC wrote:

Just to chip in some back reference srtuff: the modal problem of evil and a powerful supplementary argument for it given by Richard Gale were discussed here:

http://classicaltheism.boardhost.com/viewtopic.php?id=893

 
I think I agree with TomD's answer there. And I think the same difficulty with conceiving of "gratuitous" evil could also plague attempts at imagining PWE; maybe the very possibility of free choice there or perhaps the mere possibility of virtue and soul-building (even if wasted) would be good enough to offset the evil. Or as he said perhaps PWE really is impossible and this need not contradict libertarian free will. The modal argument from evil, while stronger than other versions, is not really as clear-cut as it might seem at first, and is not strong enough to the point where no theist can bite the bullet. In fact I think it's more reasonable to bite the bullet here than to think the universe exists because of magic (i.e. Brute fact).

I wonder if what I said about the leibnizian view couldn't be of any help here, though. If you talk to some common man (and not someone acquainted with contemporary modal logic) and ask what he thinks of this argument, I think he probably won't care much "well, it would be possible, but what matters is that it's NOT the actual case, and this is why God is good. He didn't create a world like that!". And I don't think this reply would be just out of ignorance. It could be expressing something close to Leibniz's distinction between logical and moral necessity; in a way Leibniz's issue with the "best possible world" was already close to the modal argument from evil, because Leibniz thought he had to insist that God could not create a world worse than the actual one, but he also wanted to hold that other worlds were possible and thus avoid Spinozism. The discussion is very close.

So it could be that the intuition supportive of P is not enough to establish a modal problem of evil. Gratuitous evil

Theoretical Philosophy » The Modal Problem of Evil » 5/17/2018 2:23 am

Miguel
Replies: 10

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Mysterious Brony wrote:

Hi Miguel,
I thought about this argument. Do you really think it all comes down to the PSR?

 
To me it kind of does, because I regard cosmological arguments to be the best arguments for the existence of God. Technically however one could accept the existence of a necessary cause of the universe that just so happens to not be good or personal. But then there are different arguments for moving from necessary being to theism, and we could use that as well.

In principle, however, one could use other arguments. If someone prefers an ontological or a teleological argument, they could use those as well. But the main point is that one can reject P if they find independent arguments for theism to be more convincing, since theism would imply P is false.

To weaken P itself one could try the somewhat "leibnizian" view I proposed. Another thing is that P crucially depends on the evil being gratuitous, and it may not really be that clear that we can have an intuitive grasp of the possibility of *gratuitous* evil, as that would require us to conceive of not just a world with evil or even a lot of evil, but a world in which nothing, nothing whatsoever can outweigh the evil in question. Maybe it can be done, but it is not so clear as it might seem at first.

Theoretical Philosophy » Is life meaningless without an afterlife? » 5/16/2018 7:19 pm

Miguel
Replies: 14

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I think one can make this argument, but currently it's not how I would frame it, because I think it's possible to make some serious arguments for meaning in a finite life. However, none of that would change the fact that there is in human beings a deep longing for perfect goodness and transcendence. We cannot help but desire perfect bliss, Goodness itself. If there were no way for us to achieve this perfect goodness, or if it didn't exist, then maybe we could still carry on with a life of finite meaning, but surely it would leave us with our biggest desire completely unfulfilled.

In this sense we could say life would be absurd, I guess. Like a bad joke. We have this inner drive in ourselves that is desperate for goodness itself, goodness without limits, pure perfection and bliss, and for whatever reason it could never be fulfilled. And only an eternal life of having this perfection forever could satisfy us. 

So whether or not life can have meaning in its finite duration, maybe in the cultivation of virtue, there is still this transcendent desire we have in our hearts, is something that does require an afterlife, as well as perfect goodness. And the idea that this desire could never be fulfilled would be enormously tragic, too tragic to accept with calm and ease.

Theoretical Philosophy » The Modal Problem of Evil » 5/16/2018 7:07 pm

Miguel
Replies: 10

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What do you guys think of the modal problem of evil, and how would you respond to it?

Basically, the modal problem of evil is based around the following thesis: (P) it is possible for there to be gratuitous evil. In other words, gratuitous evil exists in at least one possible world. But if that is the case then there can be no good necessary being, because in that possible world with gratuitous evil the good necessary being would be tolerating completely gratuitous evil; then by s5 it follows that there is no good necessary being in any world.

This argument seems stronger than evidential problems of evil because all that it requires is the possibility of gratuitous evil.

How would you respond?

One could, of course, say that we have even better reasons to believe in God (by a cosmological argument from PSR, or any other argument from natural theology, just insert your favorite here), therefore we can reject P. This is a standard move against all problems of evil; the modal problem may be stronger, but it's not enough to outweigh arguments from natural theology.

How can we specifically weaken P, however? Perhaps we could adopt some quasi-leibnizian distinction between logical and moral possibilities and argue that we only accept P by taking it as a logical possibility that nevertheless would never be actualized by God (because it is morally impossible for God to create such a possible world). Or perhaps we can use a similar principle, like that it's possible for there to be a theodicy for every world with evil in it.

Theoretical Philosophy » Contemporary reasons for rejecting final causality » 5/11/2018 12:12 pm

Miguel
Replies: 7

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DanielCC wrote:

RomanJoe wrote:

DanielCC wrote:

The common object is that irreducible dispositional properties would involve an intentional relation to a non-existent object. Intentional non-existents are a major worry for philosophers working with mental intentionality, one which many find more disturbing when the object doing the intending is not even consciuess. Armstrong discusses this objection somewhere as does George Molnar.

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/dispositions/

Why is this seen as disturbing? Do they think it entails something along the lines of panpsychism?

No, they suggest it entails non-existent objects 'having being' in some way. How can one stand in relation to a non-existent object? Powers theorists are fine to resist panpsychism as they reject the restriction of intentionality to the mental. 
 

 
Doesn't that beg the question against the fifth way, though? Part of the argumentation for the fifth way is that dispositional properties are intended towards objects that do not exist or do not exist yet, but since the disposition is there it must be explained by a divine mind ordering things (for instance, by having the intended objects in its intellect)

Religion » Trouble with Hell/Sin » 5/11/2018 11:14 am

Miguel
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Evander wrote:

Here is a summary of the video given by a commenter:

“This is brilliant, but the language is a little opaque. I suppose I'd summarise the key idea as follows: God's choice to create was a free choice - we do not worship a Pantheistic God who is part of Nature, or a god who is one among many -  we worship a God 'ontologically distinct' from creation, to use Hart's language. And we also worship a wholly good God. In this context, we must ask: is the eternal suffering of one creature, or even the 'risk' of the eternal suffering of one creature (for when the dice is thrown, that which is hazarded has already been surrendered) a wholly good choice of a wholly free being? Hart asks if the saved shouldn't see this creature as the scape-goat they could have been, their Christ? The doctrines of creation ex nihilio, of the goodness of God, and of the eternal damnation of any soul, are inconsistent, for how can creation be a good, free choice, if it is the choice to damn some (or to risk the damnation of some - again, this doesn't change the situation at all.) Hart stresses that this in some sense the 'infinite' evil of eternal damnation poses a far greater problem than the evil we see around us today: that while it may be possible that the future hope of the kingdom of God can somehow 'justify' temporary suffering, the same argument cannot be used to justify eternal suffering. He also insists that his universalism is linked to creation ex nihilio: if God's choice to create were not free, then perhaps he could reasonably settle for second best. But precisely because it was a free choice, God is morally responsible for every part of His creation. Finally, Hart insists his goal is not to judge God - he is merely questioning the validity of calling something 'good' which is clearly anything but good. When we talk of God, it is always in analogy, and words often only have limited meaning: but their meaning with regard to God should never be transparently opposite

Theoretical Philosophy » Theism and Tribalism » 5/11/2018 11:05 am

Miguel
Replies: 15

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I honestly don't know exactly who you're talking about when you mention classical theists and Thomists. There are indeed some radical strict observance thomists out there, but they are a very small minority when you compare to the rest. Most thomists I know are open-minded people who, although cautious about certain modern positions (otherwise they wouldn't be thomistic or aristotelian, would they?), are often eager to find new arguments and interesting positions to defend and see how they relate to A-T metaphysics. And this has been a historical trend, too, along the 20th century: Jacques Maritain interacted with many different modern philosophers, especially Bergson and others in the French tradition, and so did his followers; Norris Clarke fused thomistic metaphysics with personalism and phenomenology, defending a metaphysic of being as "being in relation", and he often also interacted with analytical arguments; Herbert McCabe, Geach, Kenny, etc mixed thomism with Wittgenstein and Frege; Germain Grisez, Finnis and other proponents of "new natural law" are still from a brand of thomism and obviously gave it their own twist; John Haldane, James F. Ross, David Oderberg, Edward Feser, Robert Koons, Alex Pruss, etc. all heavily interact wih analytic philosophy and have no problem using contemporary arguments to defend their positions -- that is common of all of them, even though some are more "thomistic" than the others. I really don't see these people telling others to "not study modern philosophy" or to think that all modern and contemporary philosophy is trash or anything like that.

Of course convinced Thomists will often criticize some modern philosophical positions and obsessions, but that's why they are thomists after all. Feser may exaggerate a little sometimes, but all he's doing is trying to bring attention to important questions and arguments that had been sadly ignored in the broad area of contemporary philosophy nowadays, confined to medievalists. And it

Theoretical Philosophy » PSR thread » 5/08/2018 1:08 pm

Miguel
Replies: 16

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If someone is skeptical of WPSR or WWPSR as a way to argue for PSR, however, then at the very least they would serve to block Humean objections. Because if we accept conceivability even as a defeasible guide for possibility, and if we accept that we can conceive of things coming to be with no cause, then certainly we also could conceive of WPSR or WWPSR, but those would entail PSR. So at the very least we block Hume's conceivability argument, and maybe we even turn it into an argument for PSR.

Theoretical Philosophy » PSR thread » 5/08/2018 1:05 pm

Miguel
Replies: 16

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DanielCC wrote:

Re the Gale-Pruss PSR think of it as the claim that for any contingent being that exists possibley its existence has an explaination (to get away from PSR language for any contingent being that contingent being could have been bought into existence by another). The upholder of this principle could grant Hume’s conceivability argument about the brick as they only need insist that said brick could have been brought into existence with a cause (after all we encounter plenty of bricks that are).

The big problem here is with orgins essentialism. If individual beings have their origins essentially it significantly weakens the case for Gale-Pruss PSR being that different from the normal PSR. Not only would bricks that come to be without a cause have that property necessarily but even bricks produced by regular methods would not have been able to come about in slightly different circumstances e.g. by being the work of a different brick cutter or coming from a different batch of clay.

 
Yes, but how plausible is origins essentialism? It seems more plausible when it comes to individuals like you and me, because we tend to base our identity around the persons we are, being born to specific parents, etc (even then, couldn't we think of ourselves as having had a different hair or eye color, for instance? Wouldn't that go against OE?). But when it comes to things such as bricks, rocks, water molecules, it seems weirder to suggest the origins follow essentially from *this* artisan, *this* rock, etc.

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