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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

James Anderson and non-contradiction

Dr. James Anderson has recently completed, with Greg Welty, the forthcoming paper "The Lord of Non-Contradiction," in which he argues for the existence of God from the laws of logic. We may divide the argument into two portions, the first where he holds that there is a necessarily existent mind, and the second that such a mind must be the mind of God. His summary of the first part of the argument proceeds thusly:

"The laws of logic are necessary truths about truths; they are necessarily true propositions. Propositions are real entities, but cannot be physical entities; they are essentially thoughts. So the laws of logic are necessarily true thoughts. Since they are true in every possible world, they must exist in every possible world. But if there are necessarily existent thoughts, there must be a necessarily existent mind" (p20).

Of course this is a summary only, and in the full paper each step in this argument is carefully defended with sub-arguments. For my own part, while I am mildly suspicious of concluding that propositions are thoughts (as opposed to properties or contents of thoughts, or something along those lines), I only firmly disagree with two steps in this initial argument for a necessarily existent mind: First, it is not the case that the necessary truth of a proposition requires the necessary existence of a proposition; second, it is not the case that the necessary existence (as a thought) of some proposition requires the necessary existence of some particular mind. I do not discuss in this blog post the latter portion of the argument, in which he concludes that the necessarily existing mind is God's.

Regarding the first point of disagreement, we appeal to a distinction made by Robert Adams in his paper "Actualism and Thisness" (1981). Adams prefers to treat possible worlds as maximally-consistent sets of propositions which tell "world-stories," that is, which describe hypothetical states of affairs imagined by us. We can then distinguish between a proposition p being true at a world w, whereby it appears in the set associated with w, and being true in w. The latter sort of truth involves the proposition not only existing here in the actual world where we can use it to describe a hypothetical state of affairs and assign it a truth value in that capacity, but also existence within w, where denizens of that world can express it and assign it a truth value from their own point of view. Given that propositions exist in any world only insofar as beings with sufficiently-developed minds express them, this distinction seems intuitive and meaningful, and hence required in order to avoiding conflating existence inside a non-actual world of some truth there with its existence here in the actual world. Indeed it appears to have been championed quite independently of Adams, including by myself before I read his paper, and by Kit Fine under the labels "inner" versus "outer" truth (cf. "Plantinga on the reduction of possibilist discourse," 1985).

With this distinction in hand we may proceed to critique Anderson's inferences. To show that propositions which are necessarily true also exist necessarily, Anderson constructs two arguments: First, he points out that in ordinary language we are not permitted to utter something like, "the laws of logic are truths in [a possible world] w, but there are no laws of logic in w" (p14). So if ordinary language reflects what we can coherently imagine, it must follow from the truth of, say, the law of non-contradiction (LNC) in w that the LNC is itself in w. We can analyze the inappropiateness we detect in the sentence by asking ourselves what is meant by saying that the laws of logic "are truths in w." If by this we mean in part that the laws of logic exist inside w, then we have no business saying that the laws of logic "are truths in w." Instead, we must say only something like, the laws of logic are true at w. Once we change "truths" to "true" and "in" to "at," the modified sentence no longer sounds inappropriate: The laws of logic are true at w, but there are no laws of logic in w.

Although Anderson cites Plantinga's argument against weak necessity in his paper, Planting does not tackle the in/at distinction propounded by Adams and others. Instead, he discusses a more radical form of weak necessity whereby propositions are weakly necessarily true iff they "could not have been false" (cf. Plantinga, Warrant and Proper Function, 1993, p119). To rebut the Adams objection, then, Anderson in a blog post appealed to an argument from Thomas Crisp in his paper "Presentism" (2005, The Oxford Handbook of Metaphysics). There Crisp notes that a proposition p is true "at" a world w, on Adams' view, iff p is a true description of w, but complains that he knows no other way to make sense of p being a true description of w except to say that, "were [w] to be actual, [p] would be true" (p229). Such statements, of course, run quite contrary to Adams' analysis of truth at w. Thus we have no concept of a description of w compatible with the in/at distinction, and hence the distinction is not meaningful.

It seems to me, however, that Crisp's key premise that p describes w iff, were w actual, p would be true is false. Our intuitive understanding of what descriptions are informs our statements about descriptions---not the other way round. As long as we have such an understanding, we are not required, I don't think, to explicate it in English, or to construct a definition in terms of possible worlds semantics. If this bothers Crisp (or Anderson), then we can do as well with the following: p describes w iff, were w actual, p would be the case. Thus we have satisfied Crisp's demand for an account of descriptions compatible with Adams' in/at distinction.

So the ordinary language argument doesn't hold up to scrutiny, but Anderson offers a second argument, this time from "property attribution," and which he states succinctly: "If only existents can bear properties, and the laws of logic are propositions that bear the property of truth in every possible world, then we can only conclude that the laws of logic exist in every possible world, as the bearers of that property" (p15). However this line of argument depends again on the premise that propositions are true in each possible world, which given Adams' distinction is not evidently the case. Instead we can only say that propositions are true at each possible world, and we have no means of deducing from this that propositions have properties in each world.

Thus we have no defense for a crucial step in Anderson's argument whereby he concludes that necessary truth of a proposition requires its necessary existence. Indeed, this notion seems to be false; for to the extent that our imagination is a guide to what is (broadly) logically possible and what is not, then since we can imagine a world without sufficiently developed minds for producing propositions, and hence a world where propositions do not exist, it is possible that, say, the LNC does not exist in some world w. Thus there is no necessarily-existent (in the sense of being imagined) mind which thinks the LNC.

Still, it could be argued perhaps that our imagination isn't fully coherent when we attempt to drain it of our own point of view. So perhaps we can even imagine ourselves in the role of another, but we can never fully extract ourselves from our own imagined situation. Alternatively, one might argue for idealism of a sort where sufficiently developed minds for framing a model of the world also must be capable of conceiving propositions. In either case, we upset the in/at distinction that Adams wishes to make, preventing us from objecting to Anderson's argument on the grounds of propositions not necessarily existing. I should stress that Anderson declines to raise either of these points, and indeed I don't think they pan out in the end. Nevertheless, as an idealist they do concern me to some limited degree, and so we might wonder how they cash out in terms of Anderson's argument. That is, if Anderson is correct (but for the wrong reasons) that the laws of logic necessarily exist, can we resist any other premise in his argument to avoid the unwelcome conclusion that there is a necessarily existent mind?

I think so. For also demanded for Anderson's argument is the premise that the necessary existence (as a thought) of a proposition requires the necessary existence of a particular mind which thinks that proposition, a premise which seems to me quite false. His argument to support it runs thusly (p20, note 31):

(1) "thoughts belong essentially to the minds which produce them;"
(2) "consequently, the thoughts of contingent minds must be themselves contingent."

From (2), then, we can conclude that any necessarily-existent (as a thought) proposition is produced by a necessarily-existent mind. However, in order to deduce (2) as a consequence of (1), he appears to require the following additional premise:

(3) if a proposition p exists in world w and essentially belongs to a mind m, then m exists in w.

At least, without supposing something like (3), I don't see how to obtain (2) from (1).

Now, I happen to disagree with both (1) and (3) simply on the basis of how I understand thoughts and reference. However it turns out that if we assume they are true, along with the other premises required for Anderson's main argument, then they undercut his defense that the laws of logic are necessary truths. For in that case, since each human mind is contingent, it cannot be that any necessarily-existing proposition belongs (as a thought) to a human mind. Since furthermore Anderson requires that the necessary truth of a proposition implies its necessary existence, then it follows that human minds cannot have necessarily true propositions as thoughts. So for example, "2+2=4" cannot be the thought of a human being. This leads us to wonder, then, in what way shall we take human beings to conceive propositions? Obviously there is some sense in which a human being can conceive that 2+2=4, but if he is not actually having the proposition as a thought, then what is his thought which would lead us to say that he "conceives" that 2+2=4?

A presuppositionalist like Anderson might want to say that we conceive that 2+2=4 only imperfectly, i.e. that there is some unreachable ideal of "2+2=4" which only God can truly capture, and that "2+2=4" as we human beings can conceive it is not necessarily true, which on Anderson's view amounts to being possibly false. Yet if 2+2=4 is possibly false as each human being conceives it, then it's hard to see what "2+2=4" could mean for us at all; indeed a person would have to be deeply confused for his conception of 2+2=4 to be false in some possible world. Moreover, when we say that 2+2=4 is necessarily true, we do not typically refer to any external ideal, but rather to our own conception of what it means for 2+2=4. If a person is mistaken that "2+2=4" (as he conceives it) is necessarily true, then that seems to undercut any reason he would have for thinking that there is some ideal of his contingent propositional thought which exists necessarily. The same goes for the laws of logic as we can express them: By assuming (1) and (3), we find that the LNC as Anderson conceives it is not, in fact, necessarily true. Instead, he must assert the undefended (and probably indefensible) premise that there is some external perfect thought which is not within our conceptual reach, and which is necessarily true. In this way, his defense of the latter part of his argument appears to undermine his defense of the former.

Of course, whatever we mean by saying that we conceive 2+2=4 is true, or that the LNC is true, etc., it seems we must be able to say that whatever is our conception is necessarily true, on pain of violating the workings of natural language, and indeed any rigorously-constructed possible worlds semantics. Yet given (1) and (3), we cannot do this; therefore we ought to deny the conjunction of (1) and (3), preventing us from deducing (2) and hence also the necessary existence of any particular mind.

On his blog, Anderson denies that we need to attribute truth directly to human thoughts. So a human can instead represent a proposition by his thoughts, and we ascribe indirectly that representation a truth value by assessing the truth of the associated proposition. However in this case he makes a lot of work for himself by positing the existence of external objects, call them Anderson-propositions. For if we have no reason to think that such objects really exist, then obviously we cannot rightly take ourselves to refer to them when we talk about "propositions."

At first blush, this seems more of a denial of the premise that propositions are thoughts than that they must belong across all possible worlds to a single necessarily existent mind. For since we consider multiple thoughts to express a single proposition p, then since those thoughts are not identical to each other they cannot all be identical to p. Instead, we need to say something to the effect that p is a sort of "similarity class" of thoughts, i.e. that the different thoughts among human beings all exhibit some similar structure or character, as we might say that there is only one Ace of Spades, even though it has multiple incarnations. However this does not preclude the similarity class itself being a thought in my mind, and hence we need not deny Anderson's earlier premise. For although it must be unique to my mind in the strictest sense, leading us to posit again multiple "copies" of p instead of the single p which we might otherwise seek, that is tolerable for communication. Each of us, within his own sufficiently-restricted conceptual model, can understand p as a single similarity class of thoughts, and speak of p in that context. So p is still a thought in my mind---only not in the way Anderson envisions.

In summary, Anderson has failed to show that, first, a necessarily true proposition necessarily exists, and second, that a necessarily existent proposition requires a necessarily existent mind. Recall again that at least to the extent that our imagination is a guide to (broad) logical possibility, then since we can imagine a world without minds it certainly appears that there is no necessarily existent mind. Anderson's case to override this appearance breaks down in two places, and so we cannot accept it.

EDIT: Prof. Anderson has responded to this blog post here. You can also check out my counter-responses in the comments on that page.

39 comments:

JC said...

I think you are spot on when you state:

“since we can imagine a world without sufficiently developed minds for producing propositions, and hence a world where propositions do not exist, it is possible that, say, the LNC does not exist in some world w. “

I would note however that this is only true with LNC as a proposition, which is the argument Dr. Anderson tries to make. However, if we look at LNC as a metaphysical principle instead of merely a proposition (or logical principle) can we still imagine a world where LNC as a metaphysical principle does not exist? I think not. Thoughts?

Thanks,
Jnani

Ben Wallis said...

Jnani,

I can frame the LNC as a proposition in second-order logic or as a schema in first order logic. In either case, the LNC is going to be about language and inference. I'm not sure what role you have in mind for a "metaphysical principle," but if you're talking about the world independent of language/inference, then I don't see how the LNC could apply. It just doesn't have any descriptive content about the external world---except of course to the extent that the external world contains agents who use language and make inferences.

--Ben

Hezekiah Ahaz said...

The unbeliever has colored glasses cemented to his face. So, no matter what argument or evidence you present to him he's gonna twist it to suit his beliefs.

A paraphrase of Dr. Van Til.

Hello Ben.

Reynold said...

Uh, right Hezekiah....We're the ones who go out to "lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of darwin"

uh, wait...

Hezekiah Ahaz said...

Wow, Reynold you are everywhere.

How's everything?

Hezekiah Ahaz said...

For Ben,

The argument from life.

1. Atheists lack belief in God.
2. God is life.
3. Atheists believe in life.
4. Atheists believe in God Inference from 2 and 3
5. Contradiction From 1 and 4
C. Atheists don't have a lack of belief about God. Negation Intro via 5.

Reynold said...

Problem with premise number 2.

Hezekiah Ahaz said...

What's the problem reynold?

Ben Wallis said...

Hezekiah Ahaz,

Of course I have a big problem with premise (2). If you want to call life "God" then okay I guess, but that's not what I mean by the term. Certainly it is not true that I believe in God as traditionally understood by theists, i.e. an unembodied mind which created the universe using supernatural powers.

--Ben

Hezekiah Ahaz said...

Ben,

Is there a possibility that you may be delusional?

Ben Wallis said...

Hezekiah Ahaz,

"Is there a possibility that you may be delusional?"

Yes, but I'm not sure how that's relevant to James Anderson's paper or my response to it.

--Ben

Hezekiah Ahaz said...

Ben,

I responded to your response am I wrong Ben?

Ben Wallis said...

Hezekiah Ahaz,

I didn't see you address anything in Anderson's paper nor my response to it. Feel free to copy/paste if you think I missed something.

Anyway, carry on with whatever else you wanted to discuss...

--Ben

Hezekiah Ahaz said...

Ben,

I'm trying to avoid a circle here. All the evidence and arguments won't convince you. That was my point
but now that you said you could be delusional I think that's a good road to go down.

Ben Wallis said...

Hezekiah Ahaz,

I have changed my mind occasionally as the result of encountering persuasive arguments and evidence. Others report similar experiences.

If you think I am delusional in this particular respect (i.e. in regards to Christianity) then I don't know what to tell you. I don't have any reason to think I'm delusional, but then if I was delusional perhaps I would not recognize such reasons. In any case, I can only work with the cognitive tools available to me. If I happen to be delusional, that's rotten luck. But there's not much I can do about it, beyond doing my best to be reasonable.

So if you have any reasons to think I am delusional, feel free to let me know. But otherwise it remains one of those "anything is possible" scenarios which I haven't any inclination to worry about.

--Ben

Hezekiah Ahaz said...

Ben,

Christian arguments.

For example Dr. Van Til says:

The atheist can't account for counting or generally the sciences now I know your a math teacher.

So, Ben why is counting possible?

Ben Wallis said...

Hezekiah Ahaz,

Any answer I give is unlikely to satisfy you, so instead let's suppose for the sake of argument that I do not know why it is that counting is possible. What argument gets us from there to the existence of God, or to nontheists being delusional, etc. ?

In other words, what premise (2) will deliver a compelling argument of this form:

(1) Nontheists do not know how counting is possible.
(2) ???
(3) Therefore, God exists.

or

(1) Nontheists do not know how counting is possible.
(2) ???
(3') Therefore, nontheists are delusional.

--Ben

Ben Wallis said...

I should add that the obvious reason counting is possible is because we have evolved large brains capable of doing so.

Hezekiah Ahaz said...

C'mon Ben there is no need for the straw men but I'll deal with those later.

You said: "I should add that the obvious reason counting is possible is because we have evolved large brains capable of doing so."

Well, Ben now your begging the question. So, without question begging or circular reasoning why is counting possible?

Ben Wallis said...

Hezekiah Ahaz,

What straw men? What position did I attribute to you which you do not actually hold?

Also, you appear to be misusing the term begging the question, which refers to a logical fallacy in which the conclusion is assumed in a premise of an argument. In contrast, I did not even make an argument in my last post---I simply answered your question.

Presumably you mean to criticize my answer on the grounds that what is explained by the evolution of large brains is not what you wish to have explained. In that case, it might help to be more specific. The evolution of brains capable of counting seems a very satisfying explanation for the reality of our abilities to count. So if that's not what you're after, then what?

--Ben

Hezekiah Ahaz said...

Ben,

ok let's do this in its strictest sense even though if you read the whole wiki entry you will see that my use of begging the question is actually legitimate.

Anyway in the mean time

Can you put it in the form of an argument i.e. can you provide two premises to support your conclusion?

Ben Wallis said...

Hezekiah Ahaz,

What "conclusion"?

I'm having trouble making sense of your posts here. You accuse me of misrepresenting you when I have not done anything of the sort, and then of begging the question when I haven't even made an argument. Then you ask me to give an argument, but you don't specify what it is you expect me to argue. Nor am I clear on how this line of questioning is in any way relevant to the topic in the first place.

Anyway, I answered your last question, and as anticipated you did not find it satisfactory. I'm not sure what point there would be to pursuing the matter further.

--Ben

Hezekiah Ahaz said...

C'mon Ben is not that hard.

It's a simple a question how do you as an "atheist" account for something as simple as counting.

You can't just assert anything you want especially something like evolution that you know Christians reject.

You can't run all your life Ben sometime you gotta face the truth.


So, Ben if I can show you that your reasoning is fallacious will you recant and admit you really have no explanation for anything at all?

If you choose otherwise I understand no hard feelings.

Bahnsen Burner said...

Hello Ben,

I’m glad you posted an entry on Anderson & Welty’s paper. I have posted some initial thoughts in response to it as well over on my blog, here: Are the Laws of Logic “Thoughts” of the Christian God?

I listed two additional concerns in a comment that I posted to the blog as well. You might find it of interest.

I see that “Hezekiah Ahaz” – a blog troll – has found his way to your site. He’s been quite active on my blog since the summer. He posted the following argument:

1. Atheists lack belief in God.
2. God is life.
3. Atheists believe in life.
4. Atheists believe in God Inference from 2 and 3
5. Contradiction From 1 and 4
C. Atheists don't have a lack of belief about God. Negation Intro via 5.


Premise 1 is certainly true: atheists do in fact lack god-belief. But Premise 2 commits the fallacy of the stolen concept, and should be rejected. Life is biological, and folks who do not subscribe to supernaturalism (e.g., atheists) hold that life is the domain of biological organisms. With respect to Premise 3, atheists like myself hold that the essential nature of life is biological. But the Christian god is said to be immaterial and incorporeal, thus it could not be a biological organism. It has no body, it does not bleed, it does not need to eat, it does not need to breathe, it does not need a doctor, it can have no health problems, it does not face the alternative of life vs. death. Thus the concept ‘life’ as it is used in Premise 2 here, by equating it with ‘God’, denies the biological nature of life, and thus makes use of the concept while denying its genetic roots. I.e., a stolen concept. It is an attempt to hijack a genuine metaphysical phenomenon (life) in an attempt to construe a contradiction that does not exist. There is no contradiction in affirming the reality of living organisms and rejecting any form of supernaturalism, including theism.

Case closed.

Regards,
Dawson

Hezekiah Ahaz said...

Dawwsonnnnn you're alive!!!!!!

Of course a favorite tactic of "atheist" is to begin by poising the well.

You got a new post??? Greatttt!!!

Be there soon.

love in christ,
HA

Bahnsen Burner said...

Nide wrote: “love in Christ”

Is this the kind of “love” which biblegod had for its “only begotten” son – the son it allowed a ruthless mob of unjust reprobates torture and execute? If so, I have a much better love already, thank you. I would never allow my daughter to be tortured and executed if I had any way of preventing it, that’s for sure. Go enjoy your god’s “love.”

Now the question “why is counting possible?” came up in the foregoing discussion.

Human beings have the ability to count because:

a) there is a reality (i.e., existence exists);
b) the concretes which exist in reality have specific identity – they are what they are;
c) human beings possess the faculty of consciousness;
d) the nature of human consciousness includes the ability to form concepts.

Counting is a function of measurement, and measurement is epistemological, not metaphysical. *What* we measure – what we count – is metaphysical (e.g., how many balls is the child playing with, how big are they in relation to each other and other objects, etc.). The process of measurement begins at the perceptual level of cognition: one can see directly, for instance, that a tennis ball is bigger than a ping pong ball. Our awareness of such similarities and differences is immediate, firsthand, and perceptual in nature. The process of measurement continues into the conceptual realm of cognition as the similarities and differences perceived among various objects are explicitly identified by means of concepts. We have the concept of comparative adjectives, for instance: this ball is bigger than that one; that one is smaller than this one. We also form the concepts of numbers; numbers are in fact concepts, not free-floating metaphysical concretes existing in some Platonic netherworld which we can only access by means of imagination. Once we have numbers and other concepts, we can start to apply them to formalize the measurement process. We identify a unit as a standard of length, for instance, and use it to measure size, distance, area, etc., by multiplying or dividing it. This is all a conceptual process. For specifics, see Rand’s Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, which lays out the essentials of her theory of concepts. The first chapter is titled “Cognition and Measurement” and provides an analysis of the perceptual basis of measurement. It is the gateway to abstraction. She shows, for instance, how algebraic formulas are essentially conceptual in nature. She writes:

“The basic principle of concept-formation (which states that the omitted measurements must exist in some quantity, but may exist in any quantity) is the equivalent of the basic principle of algebra, which states that algebraic symbols must be given some numerical value, but may be given any value. In this sense and respect, perceptual awareness is the arithmetic, but conceptual awareness is the algebra of cognition.” (p. 18)

You won’t learn any of this from Christianity. It has no theory of concepts to begin with.

Regards,
Dawson

Hezekiah Ahaz said...

Blah blah blah is the same junk I've had to subject myself to for the last 7 months or so.

That doesn't account for counting it's actually quite simple God knows how to count see the "Proof"?

Hezekiah Ahaz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hezekiah Ahaz said...

By the way Dawson as I was telling your admirers "Ydemoc" and Jhall.

For the most part cognitive functions are automatic. Rand's "Theory of Concepts" is a bunch of loaded rhetoric that really is worse than useless.

We don't need it. The Good Lord above keeps things "regular" and hence I need not worry about a "Theory of Concepts".

Thanks Bud.

Reynold said...

Hezekiah Ahaz
That doesn't account for counting it's actually quite simple God knows how to count see the "Proof"?
Are you nuts? With all the simple mathematical errors in the bible, you're claiming that he's the one responsible for the ability to count???

Hezekiah Ahaz said...

As usual poison the well then proceed.

How about it Reynold why is counting possible?

Ydemoc said...

Trinity wrote: "For the most part cognitive functions are automatic."

What do you mean, "for the most part"? This seems to imply that not all "cognitive functions" are automatic -- care to elaborate on this for us? In your view, which part of "cognitive functions" are automatic and which ones aren't? And how did you find this out? When you were contemplating writing what you wrote in the above sentence, was that contemplation automatic? How about all your deleted posts -- was there any thinking involved in this, or did it just happen for you without thinking?

If you respond to my questions or not, was this choice "automatic"? Or did it require thought? If it required thought, what were the thoughts about? Were they thoughts about something as opposed to something else?

Trinity writes: "Rand's "Theory of Concepts" is a bunch of loaded rhetoric that really is worse than useless."

Is your use of concepts in what you've written here an example of an automatic "cognitive function"? If it is such an example, how do you know you're right or wrong as to your assessment of Rand's book? Have you read this particular book in its entirety? If you did, did you understand it?

Trinity concluded: "We don't need it. The Good Lord above keeps things 'regular' and hence I need not worry about a 'Theory of Concepts.'"

"Regular"? By "regular" do you mean such things as Conversational Asses, Chit-Chatty Snakes, City-Strolling Dead People, Water Turning Into Wine, A Morally Pure Being Creating Concepts, Including The Concept "Death," Knowledge With Nothing to be Knowledgeable Of, Awareness With Nothing To Be Aware Of and No Means Of Awareness, Objects of Consciousness Conforming To Consciousness?

Are these the types of things you mean when you speak of "regular"? Or is this "regularity," in your view, not absolute?

Ydemoc

Ben Wallis said...

Dawson,

Thanks, and I did read your post about Anderson's/Welty's argument. As you can see, you and I differ dramatically in our approaches. For instance, I (tentatively) regard the necessary/contingent dichotomy as meaningful, and with Anderson I do want to preserve as many intuitions as I can. And of course I'm no objectivist, so I don't share your criticism regarding their lack of a "theory of concepts."

However I did appreciate your concern about the idea of God not being "free" when his thoughts are necessarily existent. I don't think this is a problem for Anderson/Welty, who are likely to reject (along with myself) the notion of libertarian freedom. However it is a handy criticism for the naive evidentialist who thinks he can casually pick up a stray presuppositionalist argument!

--Ben

JC said...

Ben,

“I'm not sure what role you have in mind for a "metaphysical principle," but if you're talking about the world independent of language/inference, then I don't see how the LNC could apply. It just doesn't have any descriptive content about the external world”


By metaphysical principle I mean that LNC applies to reality independent of any mind. I don’t see how LNC “doesn’t have any descriptive content about the external world”. It sure seems to me that what we know of reality is at its core described quite well by LNC. I would be curious if you can give an example where LNC does not hold metaphysically?


Thanks

Ydemoc said...

Trinity wrote to Ben: ""Is there a possibility that you may be delusional?"

Trinity has asked similar questions of me in the past. To his question, I would ask for some clarification:

Delusional about what? Delusional as opposed to what? What is subsumed under the concept "delusional"?

Are you inquiring if I'm delusional about the concepts you used in your question? Might the concepts you used not really refer to anything in reality? Might the concepts you used in your sentence not really mean what I think they mean? Is this the nature of the delusion you have in mind?

Or can we rule that out that particular delusion, that I am not deluded about the concepts you are using? It seems you yourself assume that this is the case -- that your inquiry into an alleged, unnamed "delusion" does not apply to the inquiry itself. Is my assumption correct?

Ydemoc

Ydemoc said...

A of couple posts ago, I wrote the a comment in response to a question Trinity addressed to Ben. It is a question that Trinity has also posed to me on a few occasions. I chose to answer it with the following comment, (which has been edited for grammar and amended for clarity):
------------
Trinity wrote to Ben: ""Is there a possibility that you may be delusional?"

Trinity has asked similar questions of me in the past. To his question, I would ask for some clarification:

Delusional about what? Delusional as opposed to what? What is subsumed under the concept "delusional"?

Are you inquiring if I'm delusional about the concepts you used in your question? Might the concepts you used not really refer to anything in reality? Might the concepts you used in your sentence not really mean what I think they mean? Is this the nature of the delusion you have in mind?

Or can we rule out that particular kind of delusion, that I am not deluded about the concepts you are using? It seems you yourself assume that this is the case -- that your inquiry into an alleged, unnamed "delusion" does not apply to the inquiry itself. Is my assumption correct?

If my assumption is correct -- that you do not think I am delusional as to the concepts you are using in your inquiry -- then on what basis do you make such an inquiry? What evidence do you have to suggest that I am a holding a belief "in the face of evidence to the contrary, that is resistant to all reason." (Free Dictionary)

--------------------

Trinity then posted the following: "Ben how does one go about reporting a stalker?"

There is really no indication in this particular response that Trinity is referring directly to me. However, in past comments of his, he has suggested that I am stalking him by posting comments on other public blogs where he is a participant. Such suggestions fly in the face of all evidence.

In case Trinity's most recent comment is, indeed, another example of his falsely and recklessly accusing others of actions that do not rise the level of his allegation or insinuation, I would just like to say that the evidence is piling up that it is Trinity himself who is not only deluded as to his claim that a god exists, but it also appears that he is regularly displaying this disorder in other areas of his life, i.e., holding to a belief "in the face of evidence to the contrary, that is resistant to all reason."

Ydemoc

Ydemoc said...

Ben,

I see that Trinity has removed what he posted earlier:

I no longer see his comment:

"Ben how does one go about reporting a stalker?"

Perhaps he removed it. If so, wise "automated" choice, I would say. Luckily, I was able to capture it before it was removed.

Ydemoc

Ben Wallis said...

Hezekiah Ahaz did not remove his comments, I did, due to their inflammatory nature.

To anyone who is tempted to call people names (like "stalker" or "creep"), I AM NOT YOUR MOM. You are supposed to learn how to behave like an adult from her, not me. So get with the program, or move along.

Ben Wallis said...

Jnani,

Sorry for the late reply. Anyway, I'm not sure what constitutes an "example" of the LNC failing to have content about the extra-linguistic world. I suppose you could look at a special case, something like:

q = "it is not the case that Ben drinks coffee and Ben does not drink coffee"

where q does not tell me anything about the world (apart from language). I evaluate the truth of q not by appealing to anything about the external world, but rather to my own internal mental pictures. For suppose I can form a mental picture corresponding to some statement p, and another mental picture corresponding to ~p. I can evaluate the truth of ~(p&~p) by reflection. In particular, I find that I cannot combine the mental pictures corresponding to each of p and ~p into one big picture. This tells me something about how language captures our mental pictures of the world, not about anything language-independent.

--Ben