Metaphysics Finale (Part 4 of 4)
With my final coming tomorrow it appears it is time to finish the last of the topics to prepare for what will likely be a very unhappy examination. Seeing as what is the proper way of achieving an A (Carbon copying what the professor says to the book) is not how I like to learn I’m probably looking at another C.
That mini rant out of the way lets collect the 4 parts in a series of links for you:
Formulating and Explaining: Determinism.
Presenting, Explaining, and Evaluating: An Argument Against Moral Responsibility.
Presenting, Explaining, and Evaluating: The Kid Patriot Argument Against Soft Determinism.
Formulating and Explaining: Hard Determinism, Soft Determinism, Indeterminism.
Formulating and Explaining: Volitional Indeterminism.
Presenting, Explaining, and Evaluating: Volitional Indeterminism, The Ernest Patriot Argument Against Simple Indeterminism, The Vera Patriot Argument Against.
Part 4 (Below):
Formulating and Explaining: The Theory of Agency, Fatalism, Theism, and Atheism.
Presenting, Explaining, and Evaluating: What I take to be the best argument against The Theory of Agency, The Argument for Fatalism, What I take to be the best argument for Theism, and What I take to be the best argument for Atheism.
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So with that out of the way lets begin with a slew of formulations and explanations!
Externally Determined is defined as A being made physically necessary by events outside of A’s agent.
Example: Once you have jumped it is Externally Determined that you will come back to Earth. (via Gravity)
Libertarian Actions are defined as Actions that are not Externally Determined and are caused by their agent.
Example: The act of jumping is not externally determined (you don’t have to jump) and doing so is caused by the agent (you).
These definitions are important to help further understand the Theory of Agency:
The Theory of Agency
(1) There are some Libertarian Actions.
(2) People are acting freely whenever they perform Libertarian actions.
(3) People are morally responsible anytime they perform Libertarian actions.
The first tenant of Agency states that not all actions in the universe are forced by nature or natural law. It is not a universal statement and because of this even if a single action is Libertarian that would entail that some sum of actions are libertarian thusly making the first true. Secondly by the definition of Libertarian actions any action performed by oneself without external demands is a free actions. Finally the last tenant states that when you act of your own agency without outside forces you are morally responsible.
The best objection to the theory of Agency is the one of Unintelligibility. Which looks as follows.
The Mystery Objection to the Theory of Agency
(1) The Idea of Agent Causation is Unintelligible.
(2) if (1), then the Theory of Agency is Unintelligible.
(3) The Theory of Agency is Unintelligible.
The above argument states that the concept of Agent Causation is unintelligible. A simple example is the phrase “The baseball broke the window.” Whenever people say such a thing what they really mean is that the child who hit the baseball in the direction that they did broke the window. However even this statement is missing out on various other agents at play in the situation. Our languages functional level is not at a range of detail to properly detail a proper Agent Causation paradigm. Because of this any attempt to address the Agent Causation omits important factors that render it unintelligible. Furthermore in order to make the concept intelligible it requires the omission of a confounding amount of information. Intuitively when examining the idea of agency we find ourselves being very ambiguous.
Next we have the wonderful world of f..f…Fatalism! *gouges out his own eyes* Ok. Calm down Rico…We’ll make this quick because I’ve already ranted about this particular topic for 2 full days before.
(1) There exists now a set of propositions that explains exactly what might happen in the future.
(2) All propositions are either true or false.
(3) If (1) and (2), there exists a set of true propositions already depicting the future.
(4) If there now exists a set of true propositions the future is already Unavoidable.
(5) The future is Unavoidable.
The first tenant states that if you were to take every possible set of events and combine it in inverse manner with every other possible event that inevitably one of the near infinitely many possible outcomes would cover all of what might happen in the future. In Layman’s the idea is that you start with TFF, then TTF, then TTT, and so on until you’ve hit every combination. Except that you have unimaginably large quantities of lines instead of I believe the 9 possible from a series of 3 events. Properly written all propositions are either true or false, however it goes further than that, all propositions are false until true. This is the staple behind the concept of sanity, when you start believing in false propositions you are clinically insane. The third tenant states that there exists now a set of true propositions, it is only a half true statement. There exists now a set of propositions that will be true in the future. Tenant four simply states that if we already have defined our future than our future is unavoidable. Originally I felt that this argument was valid and perhaps sound. Now I would state that it is merely valid, IF all the above lines were true the conclusion would be true. However the above lines are not all true.
Quite simple the second Tenant is false (or at least gravely misstated). All propositions are false until they become true. While there exists a set of false propositions that will someday all be true that is only because there is a set of false propositions for all possible outcomes. Because of this it is impossible for one set of these propositions to not be filled entirely. That is the nature of infinity, it covers all possible ranges and because of this it governs absolutely nothing. The future is in no way unavoidable, however a future is. But really there is nothing fatalist about a future in that manner, unless you take the point that you’ll likely die someday. But that’s an philosophical thought for another day. For those who want a further explanation the breaking of the second tenant likewise breaks the third and fourth tenant. Leaving Fatalism with only a single tenant (tenant 1) that in no way concretely leads to tenant 5.
Now lets move on to the mightiest of all arguments (supposedly) the arguments of theism and atheism.
Theism: There is a god.
Atheism: There is no god.
There it was good to get that out of the way. Oh…wait you wanted more? Like a definition of what god is perhaps? Alright.
God as we will use it in the following arguments is a contingent being that is omniscient, Omni benevolent, and omnipotent. However it pays to define these four terms as well.
A Contingent thing is something that exists necessarily.
Omniscience is defined as knowing every true proposition. The reasoning behind this definition is a being knowing that red is green (a false proposition) is nonsensical and pointless. It is easy to argue that there is no reason to believe that God doesn’t know that as well but lets stick with what will keep the professor from grading me down ;).
Omnipotence is defined as being able to bring about any possible state of affairs. For those of you firing off the “God creating something larger than god can lift” this was meant to snuff out your hopes and dreams. Frankly I don’t see how a being can create something from nothing (IE exist in a universe where natural laws don’t exist) and yet cannot do other impossible things in this realm where all things are possible. But again…I have to omit that problem because I’ll see a big D on my final.
Omni benevolence is defined as always preferring what is best for the world. Why such an ambiguous definition? Well when you have 150k children a year (in the US alone I believe) for unknown reasons being still born or having other birth defects that lead to lifelong pain, early death, and terrible things like heart existing outside the infants chest you need to say that its not out of love. Those babies needed those hearts outside their bodies to help them remember they are born sinners. ANYWHO…those are the important definitions.
I apologize in advance because the next part requires me to take the best argument that was given in class to defend Theism. Don’t get me wrong I have heard some wonderful arguments but the following pool of options is terrible. So if you have a better one I’m sure I’ve heard it before and frankly I might even like it (I don’t agree with it but I may like it). So without further adieu here is the best argument for Theism from our class.
The Traditional Cosmological Argument
(1) Many contingent things exist.
(2) Every contingent thing has a cause.
(3) if (1) and (2), then there was a necessary first cause.
(4) If there was a necessary first cause, then there is a God.
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(5) There is a God.
Indeed there are many contingent things existing in our universe. It is the nature of contingency that gives us the balanced chaos that surrounds us. For everything that is contingent, that means that there must be something that happened to cause that thing to exist, thusly every contingent thing has a cause. If the first two tenants are true then it seems apparent that there must be a first cause. If there was a first cause it must have been god.
Now I’m not sure if this is a valid statement. I do not see how the first three lines lead definitively to a god in the fourth. Because of this I personally will say that it is invalid. Unfortunately this is a problem with all the arguments that I had available. They essentially say something like “Plastic is used in some bags, if this is true then there are planets made of marshmallows.” I do not see how the first observation leads to the second assumption.
I would further query as to why it is acceptable for God to be an uncaused cause and yet in that same breath say the universe cannot be. Likewise if nothing can be an uncaused cause what caused God to exist? We tend to look for causes for all physical things and yet nobody asks what the reasoning behind the lord (or any god) existing is in the first place. Why would some thinking being just exist? It seems reasonable to assume that a stone can exist, all it does is exist. Yet for an organism to exist in all known cases means it has a purpose, the most universal of purposes being to extend its genetic code for as long as possible. What is any God’s reasoning for existing? Is it reproducing? If not why exist at all? An eternity without any real non manufactured purpose seems exceptionally upsetting. Might explain the previously mentioned birth defects however (just a very bitter individual maybe).
The next and final piece to this long winded post is the best argument we were given for atheism. I in no way picked a poor argument above and then took the best argument below just to make theist look like fools, it was sort of forced upon me. Had I had the option I would have taken some amazing argument for Theism, unfortunately in my course it was entirely absent and I apologize to anyone feeling short changed.
To begin the final piece you need a short definition.
Principle for Ontological Parsimony: It is irrational to believe in the existence of anything unless the overall evidence supports your claim.
For those keeping count this is essentially the previous point about propositions, it is literally and definitively insane to believing in a false proposition as true.
The Argument from Ontological Parsimony
(1) There is no good empirical evidence for the existence of God.
(2) There is no a priori evidence for the existence of God.
(3) If (1) and (2), it is irrational to believe in the existence of God.
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(4) It is irrational to believe in God.
The support for tenant one comes from the fact that there is no repeatable test that can provide evidence for the existence of God. Likewise with tenant two there is no a priori evidence for the existence and as time moves on and technology advances to give people a better perspective of the world and surrounding universe the previously considered a priori evidence “Like our existence at the center of the universe and other false beliefs.” is devolving and vanishing. Finally the support for tenant three is that if you are believing in anything that the overall evidence does not support you are doing so irrationally.
It is important to note that this does not state that God exists or does not Exist, it merely states that believing in the existence of a being that there is no physical evidence supporting the existence of is irrational. Indeed all evidence that is physical is contradicted by other equally supported evidence (such as various religious texts) and all physical events that are used to support the evidence fall apart under scrutiny (such as the flood). The latter being explained by the fact that in early civilizations people lived near areas that were prone to having large floods and that if you had no access to cars or horses it would indeed appear that the entire world had flooded.
A good thought experiment is to look at the events in New Orleans and imagine how the native Americans would have explained it had they been in the center watching everything in all directions getting submerged beneath a massive wall of water. Or anyone who is victim to a large tsunami watching their friends, family, and some of the unfortunately contained livestock being consumed by a massive wave of water. Of course it appears the world has flooded.
So that’s it. I believe I’ve hit every topic that needs to be hit for the exam. Here is to hoping that this time around I don’t get a C. For those that noticed some inconsistencies with the Vera and Kid Patriot in my previous posts I will clarify.
Vera was supposed to simply be the volition of killing the president.
Kid Patriot was supposed to be the desire to kill the president.
Ernest was supposed to be the unfortunate victim of random events that lead to killing the president.
I hope that helps.