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Theoretical Philosophy » The Modal Problem of Evil » 5/18/2018 11:57 am

Miguel wrote:

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

How would you respond?

This argument based on the sheer possibility of gratuitous evil is similar to appealing to the sheer possibility of brute facts as a reason to think they are actually metaphysically possible. If PSR is true, then no gratuitous evil can exist, since we would have something happening for no reason whatsoever. Thus, the PSR also implies that no evil is truly gratuitous and without reason. The only reason we cannot see the direct analogy between appeal to possibility for brute facts and appeal to possibility for gratuitous evil is that one is metaphysical, while the other is moral and ethical, and our moral and ethical compasses simply aren't as sharp as our metaphysical ones.

Theoretical Philosophy » PSR thread » 5/08/2018 1:43 pm

Miguel wrote:

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.

One of the interesting things about the Humean conceivability argument, and one that is closely related to the discussion of possibility here, is that one reason why we should reject it is that it proves too much.

If something is really possible, an actual metaphysical possibility that we should take seriously in the here and now, just because we can conceive of it, then all is allowed.

Because then in order for something to be a serious possibility in the actual world, all that is required is that it be logically possible and not confuse it's semantics (i.e. it is not a strict semantic contradiction to propose that Miguel is actually a prime number, but in terms of essences it would be like saying that peaches are oranges - contradictory nonetheless, though not in a direct semantic sense like a married bachelor).

This means that we then have to take, say, things ceasing to exist for no reason suddenly as a serious option, as well as every other logical possibility under the sun. Which leads to extremely counter-intuitive conclusions which Hume et al. would be at great pains to avoid.

Theoretical Philosophy » PSR thread » 5/08/2018 12:21 pm

Miguel wrote:

 Every necessary fact or object that is actually the case is by definition possible. An actual necessary being would exist in every possible world, but obviously would also exist in at least one possible world, satisfying the definition.

I think I would have to disagree with that. Necessary facts aren't  "possible",  if by that one means they are like abstract possibilities and contingent beings. Necessary facts come prior to and before contingent facts, and they actually tell us what is possible and what is not possible, since they are grounded in the Divine Nature, and as such are logically prior to abstract possibilities.

Theoretical Philosophy » PSR thread » 5/08/2018 7:27 am

Miguel wrote:

Thread dedicated to discussing our favorite obsession. Share arguments and thoughts.

One of the interesting things I noticed is that we tend to use explicability arguments for existence as well as explicability arguments for other things.

How? Imagine you created 2 small rooms that are completely empty, and you isolated both rooms from any and all possible external causal and explanatory influences that could generate any new objects or disturbances within them. And let's say you also removed any and all possible causal and explanatory influences inside the rooms as well, such that you are guaranteed to have the rooms be simple rooms where nothing happens inside of them.

Let's say you close yourself up in room 1 for five minutes. Nothing happens.

Now close yourself up in room 2 for five minutes. You would expect nothing to happen, no bricks materialising above your head, no strange sounds appearing for no reason, no interferences whatsoever. 

Yet this is an explicability argument that rules out objects starting to exist / just appearing for no reason and interfering with your experiment. What this entails is that we already accept explicability arguments for the existence of things, and as such the contingency argument goes through on that intuition.

2) Another interesting thing I noticed is that in all explicability arguments, the thing that is problematic is the inexplicability / bruteness of the things that are rejected. 

It's not that an Archimedian scale cannot fail to balance if equal weights are on it (since it surely can fail to balance if a certain object were causing the other scale to stay up, if the screws on the second part of the scale aren't properly attached and are preventing the second scale from working, etc.), and it's not that a dissolvable tablet cannot possibly fail to dissolve in the water (since there can be causal / explanatory influences that can cause that to happen), it's that these things cannot happen bec

Theoretical Philosophy » PSR thread » 5/08/2018 7:18 am

seigneur wrote:

I'm not that obsessed with PSR. It may very well be that everything has an explanation, but this does not mean that we are going to find it. Still, the rational way of going about things is with explanations. This is my PSR.

The PSR as argued for by theists does not state that the explanations of things must be understandable or findable in principle.

It just states that everything  has  an explanation, not that we are necessarily able to find it out. To infer from the existence of explanation to the knowability of that explanation by us one must believe in something additional to the PSR, something the medievals called the  adequatio intellectus ad rem - the adequation of the intellect to things, i.e. the idea that our categories of thought in some sense map and reflect reality as it is.

Theoretical Philosophy » Evolution and Proportionate Causality » 5/07/2018 3:15 pm

seigneur wrote:

Empirically, this has not been achieved, so what gives? In my view, it must be that atoms are not everything there are to constitute a living biological organism. The life capacity is somewhere else than the atoms.

Of course atoms aren't enough to constitute a living being. The form is also needed, and the enformation of the matter occurs at the moment the atoms no longer function as individuals but are subsumed under their new identity as pieces of the dog - which would be when they are successfully arranged in dog form. Something similar happens with the substantial generation of water through the particular arrangement of hydrogen and oxygen.

seigneur wrote:

Is it really true death or is it more like coma or clinical death? And what is your answer based on?

Considering all of the dead bodies stored up in some of the existing cryogenic banks in the world, the answer is actually dead as opposed to mere coma.

My answer is based on intuitive considerations combined with hylemorphism. If technology could revive dead things back to life, what would happen is that the matter would have regained it's living form under artificial circumstances, and if the being revived also demonstrates it has intellect, then this means God must have co-operated in either creating a new rational soul for the revived matter, or has brought back the original seperated soul back to it's old revived body again.

Chit-Chat » How to end atheist provincianism/promote philosophical education? » 5/07/2018 11:01 am

DanielCC wrote:

Were it taken in this way naturalists, even very intelligent naturalists, would be at a disadvantage as few naturalists theories attempt to explain existence as theists ones do. So naturalists would be encouraged to up their game and provide some alternatives to theism. This was Quentin Smith's proposal in Metaphilosophy of Naturalism and one I whole-hardheartedly endorse.

Which is quite ironic because atheism means that the existence of things  doesn't  have an explanation at all.

Chit-Chat » How to end atheist provincianism/promote philosophical education? » 5/07/2018 10:52 am

Miguel wrote:

True. I do think that about some views (particularly logical revisionism, eliminativism, reductivism, and so on) but I like to think it's different from the provincianism I criticize, because at least I generally try to interact with the literature, and I don't reduce my opposition to the particular views I find completely ridiculous.

The problem with atheist provincianism isn't the attitude of dismissing Aquinas, Craig and the rest strictly speaking. If Aquinas, Craig and all the others really did have poor arguments in their favour, really did have only the straw-man version of cosmological arguments to bring to the debate, and really were of such a bad quality as to be refutable in a few sentences, then the provincianism would be understandable and the dismissive attitude justified.

The big problem with atheist provincianism is that all of this is false. Aquinas, Craig and the others do not have poor argmuents, they do not claim everything has a cause, they are not refutable in 5 sentence time spans, and as such the dismissive attitude is clearly unjustified. The fact that this attitude continues uncorrected is what contributes to it's obnoxiousness and it's foolishness. And the inability and unwillingness to be corrected especially as well.

Miguel wrote:

I guess it'd be hard to go on, but I really have a feeling there is something of sociological interest here. I think there really is a particular provincianism and anti-intellectualism that is rampant among contemporary atheist circles and it even spreads into academia sometimes. As much as it would be nice to say theists are just as guilty of it too, I do think it's disproportionately present among modern atheists - perhaps because of the scientism that has dominated anti-religious rhetoric in recent years...

You are completely correct. If you look back to the 1990's, you'll see that this attitude of provincianism almost didn't exist at all, and it was only Madalyn Murray

Theoretical Philosophy » Evolution and Proportionate Causality » 5/07/2018 10:09 am

seigneur wrote:

 Their material aspect could perhaps be artificially constructible, e.g. it is quite conceivable that humans could reproduce the body of a dog or whatever in laboratory conditions. However, it would be a mere corpse. The mere material arrangement has nothing to do with its life capacity, which is the true sign of a biological organism. Life capacity is of a whole different category than the body.

If we could assemble all of the requisite atoms that make up the body of a living dog, and were then to combine them in such a way as to produce an actual living dog, wouldn't this go against your claim that material arrangement has nothing to do with life capacity?

Surely, if a dog were to be created like that, with all of it's atoms brought together in a single instant, and arranged in a way a living dog's atoms would be arranged at some particular moment, it is then not inconceivable that the dog would also live?

It would merely be matter that we have cooked up ourselves being informed with the form of a living dog due to the formal arrangement of it's constituent atoms.

This would be similar to making any other substance from scratch ourselves. The matter would be provided and combined by ourselves, whilst the arrangement would be the form of the matter which makes it a living dog.

Something similar may or may not be said for the theoretical cryogenic revival of dead human bodies. The body would be brought back to life from a state of true death due to some sort of technology, whilst God may co-operate and bring back the seperated intellect into the body to enform it again, or create a new rational soul for the body (assuming the revived human body demonstrates it has intellect).

Religion » Trouble with Hell/Sin » 5/06/2018 2:43 pm

Miguel wrote:

On the first point, I don't think eternal punishment would be disproportionate to truly evil crimes. I understand the reasoning and motivation, but I don't buy it. I think it's plausible that a sadistic torturer, for instance, commits something that even if finite in length against his victim, is still evil in such a scale that it can deserve nothing less than eternal punishment. There are many dimensions to evil. We must also remember that these acts not only wrong the innocent, but first and foremost wrong God in the most frontal manner; they are crimes against infinite goodness itself.

A lot of the problems people have with an eternal Hell quickly go away if one does not have a view of Hell as an eternal torture chamber. Rather, the punishment of Hell is nothing more than shame for the sins one has commited.

Obviously, some would have more to be ashamed of than others, but the same principle applies to all since, if sin and evil are a reality, then shame would naturally follow as a consequence if such evil were to be punished. Heck, one doesn't even need to be directly punished in order to experience the consequences of one's sins, since all it takes for shame to occur is realising what one has actually done, especially if that happens before certain persons (i.e. God).

In this view, Hell exists in degrees, and those degrees are dependent on the sins one has commited throughout life, and any shame and suffering one has already experienced in this life may serve to lessen one's shame in eternity. Some Catholic theologians in the 19th century even speculated that the punishment of Hell gets lessened with time, never ending fully but being lessened, thus providing an even more merciful view of Hell.

Perhaps we could even make an  a priori  argument in favour of Hell on the basis of it being simply the consequences of one's sins, i.e. shame. Maybe this could even explain the justice of Hell and make it easily acceptable to modern pe

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