Sunday, 28 January 2018

Ontology Questions?

Have "off-topic" questions about being qua being? the fundamental nature of the world? the ontology of Trump's hairline? Ask here or email us at ontologicalinvestigations@outlook.com.

21 comments:

  1. What do you think of the argument here?

    http://classicaltheism.boardhost.com/viewtopic.php?pid=9414#p9414

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    1. The argument looks like an attempt at a consequentia mirabilis argument for the PSR, but I'm not sure I understand what exactly the argument is supposed to be, which makes me hesitate to reply to it (clarity is courtesy). Nonetheless, I will chance a reply:
      If PSR is necessarily true, then brute facts are impossible because everything must of necessity have some sort of explanation which makes it in some way intelligible.

      The second premise looks to be saying “If PSR is necessarily true, then brute facts are impossible because, [by the PSR, there are no brute facts]”. In other words, that the PSR just is the principle that “Necessarily, there are no brute facts”.

      But in that case,
      If PSR is false, then it is necessarily false. This means that the proposition that there are no brute facts is necessarily false.

      the PSR as you've phrased it is something like L~∃x(Fx→Gx), and your claim is that from L~L~∃x(Fx→Gx) you're able to infer Lx(Fx→Gx).* But all that follows on purely logical grounds from L~L~∃x(Fx→Gx) is LMx(Fx→Gx).

      So at the very least you're missing something in there.

      *Let M be the symbol for possibility, L be the symbol for necessity, → be the implication symbol, Fx = x is a fact and Gx = x is brute.

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    2. Or perhaps your PSR is “Everything is intelligible”, where “everything” applies to no more than everything actual. Then your third premise yields “If there is at least one thing that is unintelligible in the actual world, there is at least one thing that is unintelligible in every possible world”. Again, doesn't follow on purely logical grounds.

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    3. I think the argument was meant to show that, if any contingent fact are true, some of them will of necessity be brute, especially ones about existence. But this would explain why certain brute facts are brute, namely that they are of necessity brute and must be so.


      And this contradicts the supposition that brute facts are without explanation.

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    4. Hello Joe,

      I think the argument was meant to show that, if any contingent fact are true, some of them will of necessity be brute, especially ones about existence. But this would explain why certain brute facts are brute, namely that they are of necessity brute and must be so.

      I think so too. The trouble is that he needs that inference from “PSR is false” to “the proposition there are no brute facts is necessarily false”, and I don't see how he can get it. (It doesn't follow on purely formal grounds, and doesn't appear to follow on material grounds either.) Now, perhaps there is a way he can get it, but right now he has more work to do.

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    5. Actually, it seems another part of his argument is independent from the idea that there necessarily must be brute facts because the proposition that there are no brute facts is necessarily false.


      He mentions how, if contingent facts obtain, some of them will specifically and of necessity be brute ones. But this would then explain why these facts are brute facts, namely that they must of necessity have no explanation and be unintelligible. But brute facts are by definition supposed to be without explanation, so to suppose the existence of brute facts ends up contradicting itself because of this.


      His argument is basically that brute facts end up being incoherent because they are without explanation, but to suppose the actual reality of brute facts is to end up saying that they must of necessity be brute, which explains them.

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    6. He mentions how, if contingent facts obtain, some of them will specifically and of necessity be brute ones.

      Why think this is the case, though, without his third premise? It certainly doesn't follow from the reality of contingent facts that some of them must be brute facts.

      To suppose the actual reality of brute facts is to end up saying that they must of necessity be brute, which explains them.

      It's not clear that it having to be brute that Trump is losing his hair entails that there is an explanation of why he's losing his hair. The proposition that "P is brute" is distinct from the proposition "P". "P had to be brute" might explain "P is brute", but it doesn't explain "P".

      Or if you prefer, "P" can be a brute fact without "P is brute" being one.

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    7. It certainly doesn't follow from the reality of contingent facts that some of them must be brute facts.


      Except it clearly does. If PSR is false, then it is necessarily the case that "All contingent facts have an explanation." is false.


      What this entails is that some contingent facts must be without an explanation, otherwise the PSR is true.



      The proposition that "P is brute" is distinct from the proposition "P". "P had to be brute" might explain "P is brute", but it doesn't explain "P".


      Understood. Though this adds to the irrationality of rejecting PSR, as you would basically have to say that there is an explanation as to why there is no explanation.

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    8. Except it clearly does. If PSR is false, then it is necessarily the case that "All contingent facts have an explanation." is false.

      I had Pruss's formulation “Necessarily, all contingent facts have an explanation” in mind.

      Where my second comment guts the overall argument, I'm not going to pursue this part of the conversation any further.

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    9. Man, you guys really like the PSR. I confess: I just don't share the intense interest. I think it's a fine principle, but where as far as I can tell arguments both for and against theism succeed I don't have as much hanging on it. I find myself in an epistemic stalemate, with arguments of equal weight on each side, forced to withhold judgment from theism, whether the PSR cosmological argument succeeds or not.

      I plan to write about all this in the future. For now, here is a post by Bill Vallicella extending a similar position to every substantive philosophical thesis and another on my preferred version of the accidental property obection.

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    10. Well, if what Bill and you think is true, then would it be right to say that there's room for progress to be made in metametaphysics and theory choice?

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    11. Hi Dennis,

      Well, if what Bill and you think is true, then would it be right to say that there's room for progress to be made in metametaphysics and theory choice?

      If BV is right, then no; metaphilosophical theses are a species of philosophical theses.

      (Not "progress" in the sense you mean, anyway. Charting out the various rationally acceptable positions is progress of a sort.)

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  2. What do you think of Kant's objection to the ontological argument for God's existence? Obviously it doesn't concern the modal one, but i've seen mixed responses regarding Kant's critique. Vallicella and Feser dismiss that Kant directed his critique to a perfect being of divine simplicity, while others like Ian Proops believe otherwise (Ens realissimum and all that). The continental side more or less believes that it was a nail in the coffin.

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    1. Towards the end of next month I'm going to be posting a review of Yujin Nagasawa's Maximal God which has an extensive section on the Pros 2 argument.

      I prefer to avoid that argument if only because the problems surrounding inflationary views of are far more technical than those surrounding the existence of God straight. There are two other points:

      1. Barry Miller's property view of existence is incompatible with axiom S5 or at least requires the restriction of that axiom to kinds instead of individuals.

      2. The real property view might also commit on to Meingonianism, a conclusion that would have most philosophers fleeing terror.

      P.S. I am assuming you mean by Kant's objection the straight-up statement that existence is not a property. Kant's own formulation of it might involve further weird stuff about concepts - anyway most philosophers who endorse the former do so without going into the latter.

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    2. 1) Is Barry Miller's property view of existence related to the accidental property objection to divine simplicity, or am I mistaken in thinking that?


      2) Doesn't Axiom S5 apply to logic as well? In other words, that square circles and such must necessarily be logically impossible and could never gain the status of possibility?

      If so, then rejecting S5 would mean that one accepts the idea that logic can change, which is absurd.

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    3. I will write a short post on this at some point. It, along with further issues about analogical language, is my main objection to Feser's Thomistic Proof.

      Yes, S5 applies to logic (broad or metaphysical logic), so denying it could technically mean that there are worlds inaccessible from our own in which square-circles are possible. To be fair the counter-examples don't in themselves open the door to that but denying the axiom is in principle odd.

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  3. What are your thoughts on Pruss' Thomistic defenses of the principle of sufficient reason presented in The Principle of Sufficient Reason: A Reassessment? That is, his "regress of existences argument," his "interdependence of existence and essence argument," and his "substance-accident argument"? Personally, I think the latter two are the strongest defenses of the principle of sufficient I've seen argued.

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    1. Alas, I don't have my copy of The Principle of Sufficient Reason with me, and it has been years since I read it. You will have to spell the arguments out for me if you want a hasty reply.

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  4. I have re-enabled comment moderation to cut down on spam while we're busy over the next few days. Your comments will usually be approved within the first couple hours after they're posted, unless it's very late, or very early.

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    1. Comment moderation is off again. Hopefully this time permanently. Sorry for any inconvenience.

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  5. Consider adding a reading list. What are the 20 Must Read Books on Theism (or 50, or whatever).

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