Monday, January 7, 2013

Oerter on inertial motion and angels


Last week I linked to my paper “The Medieval Principle of Motion and the Modern Principle of Inertia,” which appears in Volume 10 of the Proceedings of the Society for Medieval Logic and Metaphysics.  The paper addresses the familiar claim that Newton’s law of inertia has undermined the argument of Aquinas’s First Way, which rests on the principle that whatever is in motion is moved by another -- or, to state it more precisely, the principle that any actualized potency is actualized by something already actual.  I argue that when Newton’s principle and Aquinas’s are properly understood, it is clear that the objection has no force and that those who raise it have not even managed to explain exactly what the conflict between Newton and Aquinas is supposed to be.
  
The first half of the paper is devoted to developing five reasons why the appearance of conflict here is illusory.  In summary they are:

1. There would be no formal contradiction between the principles even if we took them to be using “motion” in the same sense.

2. In fact they are not using “motion” in the same sense, so that the objection rests on an equivocation.

3. That Newtonian inertial motion is commonly said to be a “state” which can be altered only by an external force in fact implicitly affirms, rather than conflicts with, Aquinas’s principle rightly understood.

4. Contrary to a common erroneous assumption, Aristotle and Aquinas do not hold that natural motions require a conjoined mover, which puts them much closer to Newton than is commonly realized.

5. Since Newton’s principle is intended to address a question of physics while Aquinas’s is intended to address a question of the philosophy of nature, the two principles rightly understood are not even addressing the same issues in the first place.

In the second half of the paper I examine, without endorsing, several ways of construing the relationship between the two principles, depending on whether:

1. We construe inertial motion as involving a genuine actualization of potency, 

2. We construe inertial motion as stasis in the sense of not involving any genuine actualization of potency, or

3. We construe not only inertial motion, but physical events in general, as not involving any genuine actualization of potency.

I note several objections that might be raised against various alternative ways of construing the relationship of Newton’s principle to Aquinas’s on each of these interpretations.  The reason I do not argue for or even endorse any particular interpretation is that it simply does not matter which one we adopt for purposes of evaluating the First Way.  For none of the interpretations eliminate, or in principle could coherently eliminate, the actualization of potency; at most they merely shift it around like the pea in a shell game.  And as long as there is some actualization of potency somewhere in reality, we have what is needed to get a First Way-style argument off the ground.  

Now, my longtime readers might expect, as I certainly would have, that atheist physicist Robert Oerter, a smart and usually serious guy with whom I have previously had some very useful and friendly exchanges (here, here, and here), would have something of interest to say in response to the paper if he bothered to comment on it at all.  If so, then they would be as surprised and disappointed as I was when I read this post which criticizes it.  Prof. Oerter completely ignores the first half of the paper -- that is to say, he completely ignores the paper’s main arguments -- and he ignores almost all of the second half too.  Instead he sums up the paper for his readers as follows:  

Newton says that an object that is completely isolated, so that it has no external influences on it, will continue to move. Aquinas denies this.

So how does Feser resolve the conflict? Easy! The object in uniform motion is moved along by....

(wait for it)

ANGELS!

Yes, angels are necessary to keep a moving object moving. I'm not making this up, he really says it…

End quote.  Oerter then proceeds to ridicule this thesis he’s attributed to me, saying, among other things:

And how many angels are needed for this heavenly guidance? If an asteroid is being guided by an angel, and suffers an impact that splits it in two, does the angel recruit another angel to guide the second piece? Or can the first angel handle both pieces? What if the asteroid gets shattered into smaller and smaller fragments? Maybe each elementary particle has its own angel? How many angels are needed to guide a fragment the size of a pin? (And do they dance?)

Once again we see the Sophisticated Theologian in action. When the world doesn't work the way you want it to, just invent some invisible, undetectable beings to fill the gap.

End quote.  Now those who read through my paper very quickly or only read the first half of it might have no idea what Oerter is talking about.  They will no doubt find themselves as shocked as I was to learn that the aim of my paper was to argue that angels move asteroids around.  But to afford Oerter the minimal fairness he has not afforded me, it is true that he has not spun his attribution out of whole cloth.  For you will find, nine pages into my paper, a single paragraph wherein I do discuss (though I do not endorse) the idea that angelic substances are the cause of inertial motion.  What Oerter has done is to rip this brief discussion out of context and insinuate that I endorse the thesis in question, that I think the thesis is needed in order to reconcile Aquinas and Newton, and that putting this thesis forward was the main point of the paper.

In fact, none of these things is true.  In fact I do not think that angels are the cause of inertial motion, I do not think that any appeal to angels is needed in order to reconcile Newton and Aquinas (one reason being that there’s no conflict between them in the first place), and the very idea of an angelic cause of inertial motion is discussed only very briefly in passing.  All I was saying in that passage is that IF one regards inertial motion as genuinely involving the actualization of potency and IF we reject the thesis that the external physical initiator of motion is sufficient to account for inertial motion and IF we also reject the impetus theory and IF we also reject the idea that the Unmoved Mover directly causes inertial motion, THEN the notion of intelligent or angelic substances might provide a model for a cause of inertial motion.  But I never endorsed every or even any of the options in this decision tree.

On top of that, Oerter offers no serious objection to the thesis in question, but merely ridicules it as an arbitrary “angel of the gaps” pseudo-explanation.  But it is not that at all.  Though I do not myself accept the thesis, it is not a silly one but makes perfect sense IF one moves down the decision tree in the way described above and IF one also understands what an angel is in the thought of an Aristotelian like Aquinas.  (Needless to say, the idea has nothing whatsoever to do with wings, golden hair, white robes and the other stuff of children’s books.  The relevant point is rather that an angel is something which, since it is not a composite of matter and form, has no inherent tendency toward corruption -- and is thus, unlike material substances, which do have a tendency toward corruption, a candidate for a cause of indefinite motion.  If you don’t like the word “angel,” call it X.)

In fact all Oerter is doing is tossing some red meat to the New Atheist mob, who are sure to get some cheap giggles at the word "angel" without bothering to understand exactly what a writer like Aquinas means by it, or to read an article which Oerter has implied is nothing more than an absurd attempt to apply Highway to Heaven to serious questions in physics.  No doubt the meme “Feser claims that asteroids are moved around by angels!” will soon be regularly thrown out in comboxes as something “everyone knows.”  Hope you’re proud of yourself Prof. Oerter. 

338 comments:

1 – 200 of 338   Newer›   Newest»
Anonymous said...

Generally, if someone associates themselves with Dawkins, Myers and the rest of that bunch, any attempts at polite and respectful conversation are purely for show. The moment it's opportune, they'll start dishing out the intellectual dishonesty and misrepresentation in spades.

It's sad to see Oerter fall in this category. But apparently he's become just that desperate.

Eduardo said...

Come on the guy has a stamp of stupidity (the Escarlate A!) right on his blog. That is pretty much all yoou need to know about the guy...

Oh well yeah this makes no sense, but let's face it, Gnu's are beyong any kind of reason.

Eduardo said...

Well maybe Oerter's atheism also informs his honor, ethics and choices just like PAPS!

They are from the rare species of humans called: Ignoramus Ateisticus!

Or maybe Oerter just got tired to have sex with his cardboard paper cut-out of Dawkins and decided to spread to the world all his experience and REACH OUT for his peers in order to help them see the light!

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

The only problem is that Oerter is standing right in front of a double slit where the sources of light generate a destructive interference unabling him to find this light he woud love to share with us.

Ismael said...

Oerter is an idiot (I do not mean he has a low IQ, but he's an idiot nonetheless)... as a physicist I am ashamed of physicists like him.

Really how can he call himself a scientists if he cannot even read a paper.

Does he do the same with scientific papers.

I wonder.

Ismael said...

PS:

perhaps a mnore appropriate meme would be with Oerter's picture and 'I do not always discuss philosophy, but when I do I prove myself a moron'

Anonymous said...

Would I be right that the Angelic or Intelligent Substances referred to are basically analogous to the Demiurge in the Platonic sense?

Papalinton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Papalinton said...

It seems Dr Feser and Dr Oerter share a little history.

Tit for tat?

Anonymous said...

If we are thought to have free will then isn't a human capable of actualising its own potential Dr Feser or of moving itself so to speak? If not then where is the free will...

Eduardo said...

You mean where is the libertarian free will.

That is a good question Anon, I remember I heard someone talking about that before, but there was no discussion of the subject

Glenn said...

A bit of hypothetical psychodrama (serving the purpose of addressing two birds with one 'truth'):

"I've been spanked in the past by that Feser guy. Still smarting, I am, from having been shown to not be as smart as I think I am. I am sore, and resentment festers. I will be on the lookout for something I can seize upon. When I find it, I will treat it as a Chia Pet; my keen desire to get even will then greatly accelerate the sprouting of the strands of ridicule with which I can throttle him but good. I will thus prove that, for an atheist like me, a resentment in motion continues on unabated unless and until it has its harborer making a fool of himself."

Glenn said...

That is a good question Anon, I remember I heard someone talking about that before, but there was no discussion of the subject

Given that there is that something which would actualize the potential in us, perhaps our free will is in the ability to choose to go along with or fight against that something. If I go along with it, and some good potential is indeed actualized, it may seem as if I myself actualized it. But is it really the case that I myself actualized it? Or is it the case that I really just out of the way (so to speak), and stopped interfering with that which does the actualization ("I am the vine, ye are the branches... Without Me, ye can do nothing")?

BenYachov said...

When we first encounter Prof Oerter over at dangerous minds he was Ernest and seemed open minded and unlike many nut job Gnus he actually read TLS.

He is having a brain fart now. He needs to own his mistake. If not for himself the honor of rational Atheists everywhere.

I still believe deep down he is a good person in spite of this lapse but he needs to man up now.

Glenn said...

I trust your judgment, Ben, so I accept your conclusion.

DNW said...

Professor Feser:

You are just going to have to accept that any language you use - no matter how hedged about, qualified, and/or thought-problem hypothetical - which could be deliberately misconstrued by someone fundamentally unsympathetic to your broader worldview, will be.

You could quote Aristotle, Plato, and The Dream of Scipio, till hell freezes over in order to try and convey what this least likely principle might actually mean, and it would be to no avail.

"Oh, so you believe the cosmos is composed of torches burning in a harmonium of nested crystal spheres rotated by "intelligences"!"

I can only imagine what a post modernist critic would do with C.S. Lewis's contention that the reason we do not burn witches is because we do not believe that certain identifiable persons actually are in league with and derive malevolent powers from real demonic forces.

"Oh! So you admit that you would like to burn females alive for the crime of being powerless in a regime of patriarchal oppression - if only you could find some justification for it!"

Anonymous said...

I've actually had some exchanges with oerter on his blog during the previous discussions he had with Feser and to say that I was appalled by his anti-intellectualism would be an understatement.

These types being as ignorant and as ridiculous as the entire new atheist mod is deserve nothing but dismissal if not downright ridicule.

Obviously he's upset that he got schooled by Feser and is now acting out.

Anonymous said...

Glenn,

But is it really the case that I myself actualized it? Or is it the case that I really just out of the way (so to speak), and stopped interfering with that which does the actualization ("I am the vine, ye are the branches... Without Me, ye can do nothing")?

I would say that our actual unity or an already actualized aspect of us is actualizing certain potentials. But we're still contingent beings and not in a position to actualize ourselves (i.e. se;f-generation).

I think the problem that is created with the way anon framed the question is that it gets lost in its own language. To actualize myself by learning Italian for example is not in any way an act of self-actualization in the sense that I have generated my own existence.

I'm pretty sure Feser covered this either in his books or on the blog but don't recall all the details off the top of my head.

Glenn said...

DNW,

Your comments remind of this humorous snippet from the Informal Fallacies chapter of Irving M. Copi's Introduction to Logic:

The following is quoted from F. L. Wellman, The Art of Cross Examination (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., 1946). The conclusion here, it should be noted, is implied rather than explicitly drawn.

A very well-known doctor had given important testimony in a case where his most intimate friend appeared as opposing counsel. These two men--doctor and lawyer--stood equally high in their respective professions, and had been close friends for many years and were frequent dinner companions at one another's homes, with their wives and children. In fact, they had practically grown up together. The lawyer knew that his friend had testified to his honest opinion, which no amount of cross-examination could weaken. He therefore confined himself to the following few interrogations; and, fearing that he could not keep a straight face while he put his questions, he avoided facing the witness at all, keeping his faced turned toward a side window.

Q. "Doctor, you say you are a practicing physician. Have you practiced your profession in the City of Chicago for any length of time?"

A. "Yes, I have been in practice here in Chicago now for about forty years."

Q. "Well, doctor, during that time I presume you have had occasion to treat some of our most prominent citizens. Have you not?"

A. "Yes, I think I have."

Q. "By any chance, doctor, were you ever called as a family physician to prescribe for the elder Marshall Field?"

A. "Yes, I was his family physician for a number of years."

Q. "By the way, I haven't heard of him lately. Where is he now?" (Still looking out the window.)

A. "He is dead."

Q. "Oh--I'm sorry. Were you ever the family physician to the elder Mr. McCormick?"

A. "Yes, also for many years."

Q. "Would you mind me asking where he is now?"

A. "He is dead."

Q. "Oh--I'm sorry."

Then he proceeded in the same vein to make inquiries about eight or ten of the leading Chicago citizens whom he knew his friend had attended, all of whom were dead, and having exhausted the list he sat down quietly amid the amused chuckles of the jurors with the comment: "I don't think it is necessary to ask you any more questions. Please step down."

BenYachov said...

One of Oerter people attempts a critic of Feser.

http://thebiganswers.wordpress.com/2013/01/08/principle-of-motion-versus-inertia/

To sum his argument he treats Feser's argument as an argument from physics and denies the Principle of Motion is a metaphysical principle.

QUOTE"I have shown that Feser has to explain the change in location during inertial motion as real change. He cannot explain it as stemming from an internal cause, as (notwithstanding his own arguments) that would violate the principle of motion. He cannot explain it with an external physical cause, as that implies contradicting the principle of inertia. He is reduced to invoking hypothetical “metaphysical” external causes such as God or necessary substances, whose causal effect is not a force. The only such possible cause is a sustaining cause – positing that something needs to cause the object to maintain its current velocity.

In short, Feser fails to combine the two principles in a satisfying manner. Combining the Aristotelian principle of motion with the Newtonian principle of inertia is only possible if one is ready to assume ad hoc redundant invisible sustaining causes.

Not A Metaphysical Principle

Finally, I would argue that Feser’s position is self-defeating. I have already showed that he must commit to additional external causal entities. But the Newtonian physics is fully consistent without assuming these other entities. Hence, the principle of motion cannot be a metaphysical principle, since it is possible to conceive of change without it – either by invoking internal causes such as impetus, or by declining to demand a cause to explain inertial motion at all.END QUOTE

You can't make this shit up it's Chris Hallquist all over again.

These guys have Positivism on the brain!

Another Anon said...

"or by declining to demand a cause to explain inertial motion at all."

Yep, and consciousness is an illusion.

Anonymous said...

"He is reduced to invoking hypothetical “metaphysical” external causes such as God or necessary substances, whose causal effect is not a force."

Did this guy just say that a person offering a metaphysical argument is "reduced to" positing metaphysical solutions?

I'm convinced that guys like this write what they do, knowing that they're completely missing the point, purely so really stupid atheists who are faced with arguments can link to it mindlessly as a refutation, confident that they won't understand the actual arguments at all so they won't be shaken when someone like Feser takes them apart.

Eduardo said...

Don't worry, they can always decline the possibility that they are wrong since I can conceive a world where they are not wrong!

I know it is not analogous.... But damn that was some hardcore input

Eduardo said...

So let me see, critic#2 pretty much is thinking of the following: Feser is showing a competing principle to the principle of inertia. Was the paper not clear that this wasnt the case?

He also seems to suggest that a metaphysical principle must be one which we cannot conceive a phenomena without it.... I could conceive that the whole world is just a product of my beloved unicorn-do-it-all model, so it follows that there is no metaphysical principle.

About change, the critic seems to pressupose his set of changeable characteristics and set them as the only possible characteristics that could be changed! Since Feser has not used then to argue for inertia as change therefore inertial is not really change. But of course someone could defend that there is no change at all, or that everything is change, the critic doesn't seem to think these as possibilities.

About what is satisfactory proposition, I unfortunately can only see this as a rethorical play. Unless there is an objective way to decide when we ought to be satisfied by an argument otherwise, it is just personal opinion and not in any a observation of the situation at hand.

BenYachov said...

He makes an emotive appeal to believing in Einstein and Parmedities but gives no philosophical argument to the effect.

He just treats APOM as a competing theory of physics and calls attempts to make distinctions between Philosophy of Nature vs Physics "word games".

Like I said Positivism on Crack.

Eduardo said...

Wow, I haven't heard the word games critique in a long time... Mostly they come from people througly ignorant in philosophy and heavily influenced by positivism or scientism xD.

Well, is he a physicist or physics loving person ?

Is very common to these people to look at Einstein as someone incredible, especially because of his influence in the understanding of space and time as defined in physics back then. Seriously the guy is a hero xD, no need for arguments Einstein said it

Anonymous said...

yair seems to be a fanboy of oerter. When I was over at oerter showing him his flaws he was there trying to parrot nonsense.

To show the extend of this man's idiocy, he once tried to argue (given modern metaphysics) that science can be had after rejecting the PSR.

No need to pollute this blog with every atheist drone's anti-intellectualism. Just ignore them.

Eduardo said...

Well you could do science, but theoretical science would be like a child's game, having nothing to do with reality whatsoever or at least we would have no reason to believe it does. At least it would cure scientism until people throw away coherence hahhahah.

To be quite sincere the problem is with how you define science. Some people define as methodological naturalism, other as our attempt to explain phenomena, other it is about modelling and some it is about truth.

Science in our society is fuzzy in terms of definition, so it is way more profitable to think not of science but the elements that compose science this way you diminish that fuzziness.

Now as PSR, exactly what depends on PSR, and what could be built upon it?

Anonymous said...

Well you could do science, but theoretical science would be like a child's game, having nothing to do with reality whatsoever or at least we would have no reason to believe it does.

I guess you can say that but I still don't see how science can be done without the PSR (given modernism). If there is no reason why things happen then what exactly are scientific models describing and more importantly how is it that they are describing in the first place.

Eduardo said...

Well the models? Welll.... They are describing a system that would be the cause of a number of phenomena IF the world acted in the way we wish it did. So the models describe our wishful thinking about reality.

Anonymous said...

Well the models? Welll.... They are describing a system that would be the cause of a number of phenomena IF the world acted in the way we wish it did. So the models describe our wishful thinking about reality.

Good. So in effect scientific realism is destroyed. At point point, the adherent of the rejection of the PSR (namely the atheist can no longer appeal to any scientific model in order to counter any non-atheistic belief. Strictly speaking it may very well be the case that a Cartesian demon created all living things including the universe 75 years ago with the effect of aging.

Another problem that would arise is, in regards to the modeling itself. Scientific models (whether pragmatic or realistic) all use inferences. So the question that naturally arises is, does idea A provide sufficient reason to conclude for idea B? Or is it all just some random chain of thoughts following one after the other without any reason in doing so.

Finally, the problem that I see with all this, is that is the PSR is just wishful thinking then why doesn't a pink hippo pop into existence from nothing landing on to my laptop smashing it to pieces?

To me, these are very serious problems. Even if one were to fall back on pragmatism I suspect that other problems, or similar problems would arise.

But I do agree, that given the vague definitions of science today a lot can pass around in the form of rhetoric with only very little if any substance at all.

Eduardo said...

Of course scientific realism is destroyed ahhahahaha, what really bugs me is that people wanna be activists and militants for scientism, yet they are up and ready to reject PSR or anything similar. Is just, you know, we know nothing of the truth but you have a moral obligation to think like me!

Actually, any belief goes! Astrology, homeopathy, shamanism.... Shit you name it!

Yep, all thoughts are just in browing motion in your head ahahahahh, no reason for reason whatsoever.

Well the pink Hippo doesnt occur because "eternal mystery that can't ever be solved due to the metaphysical necessity of it's unsolveness xD"

Anonymous said...

Well, they think that their ability to shout down ideas they don't like will nip that whole 'inconsistency' thing in the bud.

Eduardo said...

Yeahhhhhhh. So wait this critique up there was from Yair's?

Btw, was brownian motion xD, me and my typos.

Ismael said...

"If we are thought to have free will then isn't a human capable of actualising its own potential Dr Feser or of moving itself so to speak? If not then where is the free will..."

I think you are misunderstanding some things.

There are two types of causation, accidental (per accidens) and essential (per se). Accidental causes usually follow one another temporally, while per se causes are usually (but not necessarily) simultanous.

Feser has already talked about it in his books "Aquinas" and "The Last Superstition" and in this blog as well.


In accidental causation A moves (/causes/actualizes) B and then moves C independently from what happens to A after it moves B.


In causation per se A moves B and B moves C but if A stops B and C also stop (the hand pushes the stick pushes the stone example).


Now animals and humans are capable of self-motion, both physically and intellectually. So yes we have free will.

Such autonomous motion, however is related to accidental causes. I.e. we do not need a puppeteer moving our legs and feet.

On the other hand our own very existence and the existence of every atom in our body depends also on 'per se causes'.

For example if the atoms in your body disappear, you also disappear... this is a case of a material cause disappearing... an essential cause.

So basically God's actualizes/causes us to be in a 'per se' way, not (necessarily) an accidental way.

That is why we have free will and we can move our bodies on our own, etc...

Basically we have inertial and autonomous motion, we are 'self movers' in regard to "accidental causes", but not "per se causes" which do not, however, undermine our free will, but only determine our very existence.

It all rests on the two types of causation, accidental and per se.


I hope I was clear... in any case read these blogs posts by Prof. Feser.:

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.it/2012/07/cosmological-argument-roundup.html

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.it/2010/12/dreaded-causa-sui.html

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.it/2010/08/edwards-on-infinite-causal-series.html

יאיר רזק said...

I'll try to respond to the actual points raised against my view, ignoring the ad hominems and, ehm, "colorful commentary". Let's see how it goes.

@BenYachov:
" he treats Feser's argument as an argument from physics and denies the Principle of Motion is a metaphysical principle."

No I don't. I argue that the Principle of Motion is a FALSE metaphysical principle, but that's not the same thing. I nowhere treat Feser's argument as one from physics, only one touching on physics.

@Anonymous: "Did this guy just say that a person offering a metaphysical argument is "reduced to" positing metaphysical solutions?"

No. That guy just said that that person is reduced to hypothesizing external sustaining causes, rather than attributing causation to independently-established entities and/or to internal sustaining causes, external physical causes, or internal physical causes - which were also initially options. Thus, "reduced". It's a description of Feser's position at the point of the argument.

@Eduardo: "critic#2 pretty much is thinking of the following: Feser is showing a competing principle to the principle of inertia"

I start by saying that Feser is trying to show the two are compatible; that is hardly "showing a competing principle".

"He also seems to suggest that a metaphysical principle must be one which we cannot conceive a phenomena without it.... I could conceive that the whole world is just a product of my beloved unicorn-do-it-all model, so it follows that there is no metaphysical principle."

If you can coherently describe such a world, then yes. Metaphysics is the science of being qua being; of what we must think about being if we think about it coherently at all. If you can demonstrate that anything-goes, that there are no metaphysical principles - so be it.

For the record - that's not my position. I think, for example, that Eternalism is a metaphysical principle.

"About change, the critic seems to pressupose his set of changeable characteristics and set them as the only possible characteristics that could be changed"

Sorry, I don't understand what you're referring to.

"About what is satisfactory proposition... Unless there is an objective way to decide when we ought to be satisfied..."

I explicitly give the reasons Feser's solution is unsatisfactory: "ad hoc redundant invisible sustaining causes": the introduction of the additional causes is ad hoc, raised to save the principle of motion rather than stemming from other accepted principles; these extra causes are redundant, violating Occam's razor; these extra causes are "invisible", which is to say that there is no way to establish them empirically (being empirically verifiable is at least a great asset, so not being verifiable is a vice - and no, that's not positivism); and finally, these extra causes are sustaining-causes, thus requiring again a multiplication of the kind of causation we allow, in yet another violation of Occam's razor.

These are quite agreed-upon criteria (regardless of whether you think I applied them correctly). At least they are outside of this online community.

יאיר רזק said...

...
@BanYachov: "He just treats APOM as a competing theory of physics and calls attempts to make distinctions between Philosophy of Nature vs Physics "word games"."

In the paper Feser uses "metaphysical" to denote sustaining causes (i.e. causation other than by physical force), entities that are pure actuality, the inner-nature of entities, and so on - I used "metaphysical" in quotes, at times, to denote this misleading usage. In this abnormal sense, which I assume you subscribe to, sustaining causes are "metaphysical", and I explicitly have the APOM imply them so I treat APOM as a "metaphysical" principle.

I note that in the "real-world", the word 'metaphysical' is vague. Most often, metaphysical principles are those that are true for being qua being, that are valid in any possible world. They are hence specifically valid in the actual world, so that complaining that they in principle shouldn't be reflected in its physics is mistaken.

As for "word games".... You need to show what's implied by both principles in a common language to show that they are compatible. You need to show what the NPOI implies "metaphysically" (even if it's nothing), or what the APOM implies "physically" (even if it's nothing). It's just not true that "metaphysical" things never have "physical" implication - e.g. God, the ultimate "metaphysical" being, certainly has "physical" effects on the A-T view! Specifically in the case of the two principles, doing the comparison explicitly shows *how* they are compatible (only through extra external sustaining causes).

[I won't bother stepping into the quagmire of explaining the Humean rejection of the PSR, so I'll just leave you all with a little bit of categorical logic:

(NOT "All A are B") is not the sane as ("All A are NOT B").]

Yair

BenYachov said...

>No I don't. I argue that the Principle of Motion is a FALSE metaphysical principle, but that's not the same thing. I nowhere treat Feser's argument as one from physics, only one touching on physics.

Briefly, you say explicitly it is Not a metaphysical Principle.

Now maybe it is an English language problem on your part(you speak Hebrew I take it) but taken at face value that is what you said.

>I explicitly give the reasons Feser's solution is unsatisfactory: "ad hoc redundant invisible sustaining causes":

Yeh it likely contradicts metaphysical views involving materialism and physicalism but merely assuming without argument those systems & stating they contradict AT assumptions is mere question begging.

You have given no counter philosophical arguments for either materialism, physicalism or Positivism.

You clearly treat APOM as a competing view of physics.

More later.

reighley said...

@BenYachov,
"He makes an emotive appeal to believing in Einstein and Parmedities but gives no philosophical argument to the effect. "

Of course, that's typical of blog arguments. Both Einstein and Parmedities gave philosophical arguments for believing Einstein and Parmedities.

@Ismael,
"There are two types of causation, accidental (per accidens) and essential (per se). Accidental causes usually follow one another temporally, while per se causes are usually (but not necessarily) simultanous."

I think that the interface between physics and the philosophy of nature is where they use the same terms. If it is possible to make sense of either discipline it should be possible to come up with a definition (for instance) of "change" or "simultaneous" or "time" which can do service in both camps.

Oh wait I wanted to make a point about the nature of physical laws and now I'm defining things again! Sorry!

What I wanted to say was that I think the sticking point between the A-T concept of motion and the Newtonian one is that in Newton's theory "motion" and "rest" are completely symmetric to one another. So any proposition about motion applies equally to rest.

Can A-T philosophy of nature consent to the proposition that "anything at rest was brought to rest by another"? If it can then I see no conflict. If it cannot then I claim that is the point of contention.

Scott said...

"[T]he introduction of the additional causes is ad hoc, raised to save the principle of motion rather than stemming from other accepted principles . . . "

Since the very subject of the paper is the compatibility of the principle of motion with the principle of inertia, I can't really regard it as a problem that Feser points out that in one case reconciling them might require the introduction of additional causes. If the introduction of those causes is as unsatisfactory as you say, then its relevance to Feser's argument is simply that that case is one to avoid. But that the two principles can be reconciled in that way (on the view that inertia involves "change" in an Aristotelian sense) seems not to be at issue here.

Moreover, if there is independent reason to accept the principle of motion (a question Feser isn't discussing in this paper), then -- again assuming inertia involves real change -- there would be reason to accept those additional causes; their introduction would not in that case be ad hoc but required by the principle.

יאיר רזק said...

@Scott:

Would you agree that if the principles can be reconciled WITHOUT introducing ad hoc causes, that would be a superior or "more satisfying" solution? This is the case, for example, if we regard inertial motion as a state. In that case no additional causes are needed - the APOM is already maintained by the NPOI. I view this kind of compatibility as much more satisfying.

I argue, however (along with philosophers Feser quotes) that the change in position during inertial motion is a real change, not a state. If this is correct, then it isn't possible to "avoid" this ad-hoc way to make the two compatible. Which is unsatisfying.

It's still true that the two can be reconciled in this way. This is indeed not an issue. But it's still an unsatisfying solution in the above sense.

I also agree that if there is an independent strong reason to accept the principle of motion then we should accept the existence of said additional causes. They would still be "ad hoc", or rather "predictions" of the system that cannot be established in a broad manner, but they would be true. I insist that even in this case the solution would be better if their existence could be established on independent ground.

I'd add that I read Feser as providing a sketch of an argument for the truth of the APOM several times in the paper, but I didn't comment on that argument since it's besides the point of whether the two are compatible.

יאיר רזק said...

@BenYacov:"Briefly, you say explicitly it is Not a metaphysical Principle.

Now maybe it is an English language problem on your part(you speak Hebrew I take it) but taken at face value that is what you said."

A "valid" is supposed to be implied there. Perhaps this is an English language problem indeed.

"Yeh it likely contradicts metaphysical views involving materialism and physicalism..."

Since when is counting something being ad-hoc, or violating Occam's razor, a princple of materialism or physicalism per se?

"You have given no counter philosophical arguments for either materialism, physicalism or Positivism."

No do I need to. Especially given that I don't believe in any of them; I believe in panpsychism, naturalism, and, with some caveats, Bayesianism.

"You clearly treat APOM as a competing view of physics."

By agreeing that it's possible to reconcile it with Newtonian physics by introducing "metaphysical" causes? I... ehm... don't see it.

Cheers,
Yair

BenYachov said...

>[I won't bother stepping into the quagmire of explaining the Humean rejection of the PSR, so I'll just leave you all with a little bit of categorical logic:

Briefly,

More question begging, AT is not compatible with Hume and assumes Hume is wrong.

You have not made the case for Hume but Feser has made argument against him in TLS.

Yair I'm sure you mean well but your response & criticism are a mess.

I have work to do. I will deal with this later.

Eduardo said...

Yair

QUOTE = I start by saying that Feser is trying to show the two are compatible; that is hardly "showing a competing principle".

If you can coherently describe such a world, then yes. Metaphysics is the science of being qua being; of what we must think about being if we think about it coherently at all. If you can demonstrate that anything-goes, that there are no metaphysical principles - so be it. = QUOTE
----------------------------------

ME = Wait, the first paragraph doesn't answer the critique at all, I am saying that you are making a category error, I am talking about YOUR way of thinking and NOT what you think that feser is trying to do. But it could be my fault because I used the word "Begins".

Well.... coherence??? why is there a magical rule to how the world should be??? I don't know why it seems either we are stuck to just models which inevitably any model with enough ad hoc can become consistent with "reality" or metaphysics uses other procedures.

Is just weird, you seem to use a principle of necessity, that you MUST need something if that is meant to be a metaphysical principle... but errr... we need nothing, there is no rule that forces to proceed in this way and yes, the rule of coherence is not an active rule that stops people from being incoherent.

Now personally I think that metaphysics can solve these problem but if that is true then metaphysics can not follow this rule of being necessary in the thought process. = ME
-----------------------------------

QUOTE = Sorry, I don't understand what you're referring to. = QUOTE

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

ME = It is okay, this may not be relevant for now n_n. = ME

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

QUOTE = I explicitly give the reasons Feser's solution is unsatisfactory: "ad hoc redundant invisible sustaining causes": the introduction of the additional causes is ad hoc, raised to save the principle of motion rather than stemming from other accepted principles; these extra causes are redundant, violating Occam's razor; these extra causes are "invisible", which is to say that there is no way to establish them empirically (being empirically verifiable is at least a great asset, so not being verifiable is a vice - and no, that's not positivism); and finally, these extra causes are sustaining-causes, thus requiring again a multiplication of the kind of causation we allow, in yet another violation of Occam's razor.

These are quite agreed-upon criteria (regardless of whether you think I applied them correctly). At least they are outside of this online community. = QUOTE
-----------------------------------

ME = Well needless to say your reasons are based on your definition of metaphysics which in turn puts the medieval principle of motion as a competing principle to the Principle of Inertia.

I know ad hoc are seem as a trick, but once again, is this a rule based on reality or a rule based on pragmatism??? Yeah pretty much is the whole: Models with enough ad hoc can eventually become consistent with reality.

About it's social status, yep I know that these are very common rules to set in inquiries, but nothing stops me from doubting them, even if I agree to their usage n_n. = ME
-----------------------------------

Eduardo said...

Ad hoc

Now correct me if I am mistaken but Feser did tried to show from A-T metaphysics to why these causes exist.

I don't see this ad hoc idea as being something unrelated to just save the whole system but rather something that can be created by the system and the system by "itself" saves the day.

Scott said...

"Would you agree that if the principles can be reconciled WITHOUT introducing ad hoc causes, that would be a superior or 'more satisfying' solution?"

Yes, I'd agree with that much. I'd still say, though, that if it's true that uniform motion can't be regarded as a "state," and if there's independent reason to accept the principle of motion, then the causes introduced in Feser's reconciliation are not ad hoc.

George R. said...

Yair,

Let’s see if we can clear up some issues:

First of all, inertia cannot be considered a principle of motion in the Aristotelian sense of the term "motion". There is definitely an equivocation there, as Feser pointed out. For there are undeniably Categories of Being in which motion occurs which do not at all involve inertia. For example, in the category of quality: no one believes that an object that is becoming hot will continue to become hotter unless acted on by an outside force, or that something becoming white will continue to whiten all by itself. The same goes for the category of quantity. Therefore, inertia cannot be a principle of motion per se, but, at most, merely per accidens, i.e., insofar as it involves local motion.

Secondly, I’m having a hard time even accepting inertia as a principle at all. For is it not true that it is considered a principle only because it is thought not to be caused by an extrinsic force? But this would make inertia contingent on that assumption being true. But principles, properly speaking, are not contingent on anything, but are necessary and self-evident.

Therefore, this squabble seems to involve equivocations with respect to the words “motion” and “principle.”

Scott said...

"I insist that even in this case the solution would be better if their existence could be established on independent ground."

And I agree. But again, that establishing independent grounds for their existence is not one of Feser's aims in the paper we're discussing.

Scott said...

Please mentally cross out the word "that" before "establishing" in my previous post. (I don't seem to be able to edit the post, or I'd do so.)

Anonymous said...

I believe in panpsychism, naturalism

Then provide arguments/proofs for it. You can't just assume it and expects us to take it seriously.

Eduardo said...

Anon

His naturalism doesn't seem like the typical naturalism XD.

Unless as DNW was thinking before, naturalism is just some form of pragmatism XD.

But mainly, he is not really pressuposing naturalism, his argument seem to go for:

1_ To reconcile both concept you need ad hoc and ad hoc i not a satisfactory procedure

2_ ........ ....... yeah there is no two XD.

Anonymous said...

His naturalism doesn't seem like the typical naturalism

That's the problem though. These days naturalism is assumed to mean anything one likes it to mean.

But mainly, he is not really pressuposing naturalism, his argument seem to go for

The argument itself does not explicitly assert naturalism but hi entire position assumes implicitly. Since his argument is false, I thought about making it interesting and seeing if he can actually provide a proof for his beliefs, which he seems to explicitly identify with naturalism.

Let's see if he can prove it.

יאיר רזק said...

@Scott:

We seem to be in agreement, and what remains are semantic quabbles.

Yes, if the APOM is established on independent grounds then the extra causes aren't "ad hoc" so much as "uncorroborated predictions" or somesuch. I don't think this is a difference that makes a difference - as you agree, it would still be better to establish them on independent ground.

Similarly, while Feser can (and indeed does) show compatibility without providing such independent ground, we seem to agree that the solution would be more satisfying without such extraneous causes.

Cheers,
Yair

Eduardo said...

Anon

Well, yeah let's use the Robsville move and just erase the damn Naturalism word XD.

But let's see, so far he have supposed:

*Ockam's Samurai Sword
*Metaphysical principle as a concept that ones must absolutely use to "understand" something
*Rejection to PSR

Yeah Apparently that is it. how you marry those 3 in a philosophy? For instance what procedure reveals those 3? What principle produce those 3? What principle can marry those 3?

three three three XD.

Eduardo said...

Welll actually ... is sort of weird because Ockam was worried about explaining things within his nominalism. If we deny PSR as a principle IN nature then there is no reason to suppose there is explanation for anything... and having ad hoc or not becomes a valid approach.

If we deny PSR as a principle of thought then our studies become detached of reality if reality contains PSR. Well since there is no moral obligations in naturalism there is probably no reason to choose to not do that just because reality is different from what we got in our heads.

Could PSR be some place else?

Eduardo said...

So far these three premises seem to generate a contradiction. I don't think one can build a coherent philosophy, considering that a philosophy has to be coherent, on top of these three. Well at least not on top OF ONLY these three.

Eduardo said...

Actually if we deny PSR as a mental principle, we end up having a completely disorderly world in our heads, and if the world is equally disordered in reality odds are we won't be able to find the truth of the matter about any subject let alone say we are studying it XD.

The accurate statement is that we are INVENTING stuff and projecting it ONTO reality or onto whatever we are seeing and FOOLING ourselves that these inventions correspond to reality.

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

BTW, I ended up supposing naturalism in that post before... so maybe they are not really throughly incoherent just yet n_n! Ma bad!

But thinking again... how can I analyse them without supposing any else beyond those three little guys XD?

יאיר רזק said...

@Anonymous:

I have no time to justify my entire metaphysical stance here, nor is it really relevant to the argument (as you seem to realize). Please show where my "argument is false"; let's stay on topic.

@George R:
Yes, the NPOI applies to inertial local motion in the actual world whereas the APOM applies to any possible motion (change) in any possible world. I fail to see the problem.

The name "principle" is just a name. We can call it "George" or "(2)" if you prefer. The question is whether the propositions are compatible, not how they're called.

@Eduardo: I deny that I think of Feser's APOM as a "physical" principle; I consider it a false metaphysical principle. Please show where I treat it as a physical principle.

Why coherence? You are touching on the justification of the Principle of Non-Contradiction, which is a topic I'm struggling with. Here I can only agree with The Philosopher (Aristotle) that if we are to speak meaningfully, we must abide by the PNC. Even as I concede that argument is weak, I insist I cannot seriously consider an argument that violates the PNC, and hence the principle of coherence (which just is the application of the PNC).

" your reasons are based on your definition of metaphysics"

How is Occam's razor based on my metaphysics?

"I know ad hoc are seem as a trick, but once again, is this a rule based on reality or a rule based on pragmatism???"

There are numerous reasons for denigrating ad hoc assumptions, but that is really taking us quite far from the topic. You say you agree to their usage - that's enough.

"Now correct me if I am mistaken but Feser did tried to show from A-T metaphysics to why these causes exist"

No. He gave an example, which he agrees is no longer valid, for such causes in ancient A-T thought. He did not present any independent reason to believe they exist.

BLS said...

When an object A is moving, what is changing? The distance between it and another object B or the object A itself?

Eduardo said...

QUOTE = I deny that I think of Feser's APOM as a "physical" principle; I consider it a false metaphysical principle. Please show where I treat it as a physical principle. = QUOTE
-----------------------------------

ME = Welllll... I didn't said you were treating as a physical principle I said youo are treating as a COMPETING principle, that they are in same category fighting to influence the same thing. Feser think they are in different categories and that principle of motion includes principle of inertia, so therefore they are compatible. = ME
-----------------------------------

QUOTE = Why coherence? You are touching on the justification of the Principle of Non-Contradiction, which is a topic I'm struggling with. Here I can only agree with The Philosopher (Aristotle) that if we are to speak meaningfully, we must abide by the PNC. Even as I concede that argument is weak, I insist I cannot seriously consider an argument that violates the PNC, and hence the principle of coherence (which just is the application of the PNC). = QUOTE
-----------------------------------

ME = I'm sorry Yair, I am not telling you to accept the argument based on some awkward issue I raised, but rather I am asking how do we account to those in reality. Or are they just mental rules??? Is it because it is mental rules they must refer in any efficient way to the world???

What I was trying to show to you is that metaphysics may also include these issues and therefore your definition of metaphysics is wrong, or not fully complete. = ME
-----------------------------------

QUOTE = How is Occam's razor based on my metaphysics? = QUOTE
-----------------------------------

ME = Errr... you read it wrong, I am saying that your DEFINITION of metaphysics generates the problem because it supposes that a metaphysical principle must be this necessary concept that without things are not understandable. = ME
-----------------------------------

QUOTE = There are numerous reasons for denigrating ad hoc assumptions, but that is really taking us quite far from the topic. You say you agree to their usage - that's enough. = QUOTE
-----------------------------------

ME = Not really, remember your argument is about Satisfactory "procedure", talking about Ad hoc and what is it's relation to the topic is central to your argument. If ad hoc is just an invented rule that has nothing to do with reality, then Feser's argument "fly!" whether any of us like it or not. = ME
-----------------------------------

QUOTE = No. He gave an example, which he agrees is no longer valid, for such causes in ancient A-T thought. He did not present any independent reason to believe they exist. = QUOTE
-----------------------------------

ME = Thanks, I was reading your exchange with Scott, so I will believe that you folks are correct, and the issue I raised is incorrect = ME

Eduardo said...

"When an object A is moving, what is changing? The distance between it and another object B or the object A itself? "

The object A itself. He is going from the potential of being moved to movement, and if I am not incorrect, this is change in A-T metapysics.

Eduardo said...

BTW I am pretty certain that Ockam's Razor is based on his nominalism n_n and to belief that we can understand the world.

BLS said...

Well, I was asking about an object that is already in motion. If the distance is changing, would one say that it is being actively changed by an object in motion? If the object stops moving, or ceases to exist, then the change in distance also ceases to exist.

Eduardo said...

"Well, I was asking about an object that is already in motion. If the distance is changing, would one say that it is being actively changed by an object in motion? If the object stops moving, or ceases to exist, then the change in distance also ceases to exist."
------------------------------------

Well, I dunno if distance would be considered an object that is changing, but rather a thought in our minds that is realted to reality to changes in reality.

But ... maybe in platonism ... maybe, the change exist. I think, and this is personal especulation, in that case the change in distance is really caused by the object's movement.

Well this does lead us to true movement Vs Only-relative motion.

יאיר רזק said...

@Eduardo: "I said youo are treating as a COMPETING principle, that they are in same category fighting to influence the same thing. Feser think they are in different categories and that principle of motion includes principle of inertia, so therefore they are compatible. "

The fact that the APOM will include the NPOI if both are true precisely shows that the fact that they are in separate categories (metaphysical/physical) does not imply that they are not "fighting to influence the same thing". Both principles are about the structure of causation; both are correct only if there are extraneous sustaining causes during inertial local motion.

"What I was trying to show to you is that metaphysics may also include these issues and therefore your definition of metaphysics is wrong, or not fully complete"

I'm sorry - how does that pertain to the compatibility of the two principles? Please, let's not diverge from the topic. My time is highly limited. (I shouldn't be even typing THIS...)

"talking about Ad hoc and what is it's relation to the topic is central to your argument"

Indeed. I thought you said you agreed to apply the ad hoc criteria, however, even if you have doubts about them. If so, that's enough. If not, we can open the topic.

BLS said...

"Well, I dunno if distance would be considered an object that is changing, but rather a thought in our minds that is realted to reality to changes in reality.

But ... maybe in platonism ... maybe, the change exist. I think, and this is personal especulation, in that case the change in distance is really caused by the object's movement."

The APOM states "whatever is in motion(changing) is moved(changed) by another."

Does "whatever" have to be a concrete object? Or can it be an abstraction such as distance?

Eduardo said...

QUOTE = The fact that the APOM will include the NPOI if both are true precisely shows that the fact that they are in separate categories (metaphysical/physical) does not imply that they are not "fighting to influence the same thing". Both principles are about the structure of causation; both are correct only if there are extraneous sustaining causes during inertial local motion. = QUOTE
-----------------------------------

ME = Yeah, true. So the argument has throughly moved to ad hoc and independent prove of these extraneous causes. = ME
-----------------------------------

QUOTE = I'm sorry - how does that pertain to the compatibility of the two principles? Please, let's not diverge from the topic. My time is highly limited. (I shouldn't be even typing THIS...) = QUOTE
-----------------------------------

ME = You definition of metaphysics apparently creates the problem where the principle of motion is not correct. Remember your test to know that a metaphysical principle is correct is to ask if you can ONLY conceive a phenomena with it = ME
-----------------------------------

QUOTE = Indeed. I thought you said you agreed to apply the ad hoc criteria, however, even if you have doubts about them. If so, that's enough. If not, we can open the topic. = QUOTE
-----------------------------------

ME = I have no choice but to go there, I thought I had already opened this front XD though. Like I said, what is ad hoc's relation to reality, and how that influences the argument.

But as far as I can see, you and Scott have already reached the end of the discussion, where Feser is not really trying to argue for independent prove and that both principles are compatible. = ME

Eduardo said...

I WISH THE THOMISTS WOULD SHOW UP ... YOU KNOW... LIKE NOW!!!

"The APOM states "whatever is in motion(changing) is moved(changed) by another."

Does "whatever" have to be a concrete object? Or can it be an abstraction such as distance? "

Well it depends on the level of realism. Platonism is throughly realistic so I think the abstractions can change too, but A-T is more moderate about realism, so maybe the change of the abstraction only happens in the mind and not really in reality.

BenYachov said...

"whatever" can also be a power the object has by nature.

Why that nature has that power and what ultimately causes that nature to have that power is the question of metaphysics and philosophy of nature.
Yair wrote:
>I note that in the "real-world", the word 'metaphysical' is vague. Most often, metaphysical principles are those that are true for being qua being, that are valid in any possible world. They are hence specifically valid in the actual world, so that complaining that they in principle shouldn't be reflected in its physics is mistaken.

As you can see Yair is equivocating big time and in spite of his denials & is treating this as a problem in physics not metaphysics.

We must be kind and assume he doesn't mean too. But there it is.

more examples:

>You need to show what's implied by both principles in a common language to show that they are compatible.

They are in two different categories (i.e. science vs philosophy of nature).

I don't think he gets that.


>You need to show what the NPOI implies "metaphysically" (even if it's nothing),

Category mistake big time NPOI is a law of physics and in and of itself it has no metaphysical implications per se. One can model it in any particular metaphysics. One can make philosophical argument for a particular metaphysics or philosophy to know it's truth. Or one can polemic it philosophically.

But the philosophy precedes the science not the other way around.

>or what the APOM implies "physically" (even if it's nothing).

Another Category mistake. He insists on arguing the atomic weight of natural selection.

>It's just not true that "metaphysical" things never have "physical" implication - e.g. God,

To be fair Yair denies being a Positivist but this sounds a lot like it too me.

>the ultimate "metaphysical" being, certainly has "physical" effects on the A-T view!

I take it Yair has been arguing with a lot of ID people.

>Specifically in the case of the two principles, doing the comparison explicitly shows *how* they are compatible (only through extra external sustaining causes).

Until you recognize they are in different categories I'm afraid you can offer none of us a coherent critique of Feser's argument.

More later.

Thanks George R and Edwardo and Anon for keeping on the fight for philosophy!

Down with Positivism and anti-realism!

Cheers lads.

I hope the big guns chime in.

Scott said...

"As you can see Yair is equivocating big time and in spite of his denials & is treating this as a problem in physics not metaphysics."

Actually I think Yair's point is that the two aren't mutually exclusive. He's saying that a metaphysical principle applies to being as such and is therefore reflected in physical principles as well, in somewhat the same way that every physical law conforms to the mathematical truth that 2 + 2 = 4.

"Category mistake big time NPOI is a law of physics and in and of itself it has no metaphysical implications per se."

Perhaps not, but surely it has metaphysical presuppositions.

"To be fair Yair denies being a Positivist but this sounds a lot like it too me."

I don't understand why the claim that the existence of God has physical implications sounds like positivism.

"Until you recognize they are in different categories I'm afraid you can offer none of us a coherent critique of Feser's argument."

I think Yair recognizes that they're in different categories. What he's denying is that just because they're in different categories neither has implications for the other.

George R. said...

Yair:
The name "principle" is just a name. We can call it "George" or "(2)" if you prefer. The question is whether the propositions are compatible, not how they're called.

Yair, where I come from whether or not something is called a principle depends on whether or not it is a principle. And if one of the propositions in question is a principle, and the other is not, there can be absolutely no conflict between the two propositions, not even theoretically, unless the non-principle proposition were to get all cocky and try to act like a principle. The reason for this is that everything that is not a principle is necessarily posterior to that which is, and is to be understood in the light of the latter. Now APOM is a real principle. Why? Because it is necessarily true and self-evident to anyone who understands what motion is, what a mobile object is, and what a mover is. The same cannot at all be said about PI. For if we know what motion is, what a mobile object is, and a mover is, it does not necessarily follow that that which is in motion remains in motion, etc. That’s because PI is not a principle at all, but is merely an observation; and all observations, results, discoveries, etc., are to be understood in the light of principles, and can never be in conflict with them.


So don't forget to go tell all your science buddies: "WORDS MEAN THINGS."

BenYachov said...

>The name "principle" is just a name. We can call it "George" or "(2)" if you prefer. The question is whether the propositions are compatible, not how they're called.

Nominalism. But AT philosophy doesn't assume nominalism in fact it rejects it for moderate realism.

This is question begging. You need to make the case for nominalism.

How would one critique Feser's Paper in a valid manner(unlike the way Yair does it)?

1) acknowledge Feser's point that APOM is in fact not incompatible with Newtonian Inertia since they are different categories. One can model Newtonian Inertia with APOM just as one can model it with Plato or Parmedities.

2) Critique AT metaphysics from the ground up with philosophical argument(for your competing philosophical system) and polemics(against AT) not scientific or empirical arguments that are either category mistakes or question begging.

3)For example if you argue philosophically for nominalism and are successful then that is a strike against realism.

4)Feser does this in The Last Superstition. He doesn't just argue for God he argues AT metaphysics vs Hume vs Plato and he does it philosophically.

That would be a start.

I will say this in praise of Yair's polemic. Incoherent as it is at least he doesn't try to falsely claim Feser is arguing for Angels like Prof Oerter's lame critique which I think he still needs to apologize for.

Scott said...

" . . . the principle of coherence (which just is the application of the PNC)."

Hmm, I think I'd have to say that coherence is stronger than sheer non-contradiction. Certainly something contradictory would also be incoherent, but I think something more than simple lack of conflict is required for positive coherence. It's deucedly hard to say what it is, though.

Scott said...

"I will say this in praise of Yair's polemic. Incoherent as it is at least he doesn't try to falsely claim Feser is arguing for Angels like Prof Oerter's lame critique which I think he still needs to apologize for."

Yair is engaging Feser on the issues, which Oerter didn't even begin to do. I don't think Yair is being polemical or incoherent, either; whether you agree with him is of course another matter.

Scott said...

"That’s because PI is not a principle at all . . . "

I think this is right. The rule/law/whatever of inertia is not a fundamental truth but a more or less empirical observation.

"[I]f one of the propositions in question is a principle, and the other is not, there can be absolutely no conflict between the two propositions, not even theoretically, unless the non-principle proposition were to get all cocky and try to act like a principle."

That I'm not so sure about. Isn't it even "theoretically" possible for a proposed physical law to violate a metaphysical principle? If so, then a proposition that isn't (and doesn't purport to be) a principle could conflict with a principle, just as the proposition [i]Jophn is a married bachelor[/i] conflicts with the law of non-contradiction.

BenYachov said...

@Scott
>Actually I think Yair's point is that the two aren't mutually exclusive.

Of course not but treating Evolution as if it where physics would still be a catagory mistake. Treating the APOM as a problem in Physics does.

>Perhaps not, but surely it has metaphysical presuppositions.

Rather Newton had metaphysical presuppositions that where not in general scholastic. But Inertia itself as a law of physics does not. You can model it in Plato or Aristotle etc.

>I don't understand why the claim that the existence of God has physical implications sounds like positivism.

I am treating it as code for "You can make a scientific argument for the exist of God" or you can make a scientific argument for a particular metaphysics.

Otherwise it's ambiguous and really doesn't mean anything. Which I would expect from a nominalist like Yair.;-)

>I think Yair recognizes that they're in different categories.

I see no evidence of that. We can disagree.

>What he's denying is that just because they're in different categories neither has implications for the other.

Physics and Chemistry have implications for biology thus Natural selection but it is still a category mistake to ask for the atomic weight of Natural selection.

They must each stay in their own domain.

BTW I am remiss thanks for your contribution here too.

Scott said...

Damn it, I'm stupidly using IMDb tags on a site that accepts HTML. What I meant was John is a married bachelor.

Scott said...

"Rather Newton had metaphysical presuppositions that where not in general scholastic. But Inertia itself as a law of physics does not. You can model it in Plato or Aristotle etc."

Yes, but I think it still has metaphysical presuppositions (like the law of non-contradiction, for example).

"I am treating it as code for 'You can make a scientific argument for the exist of God' or you can make a scientific argument for a particular metaphysics."

Well, I think his point was just that since God is supposed to have created the physical world, it's pretty obvious that the existence of God has physical implications. ;-)

"I see no evidence of that. We can disagree."

He expressly acknowledges that they're in different categories -- for example, here:

"The fact that the APOM will include the NPOI if both are true precisely shows that the fact that they are in separate categories (metaphysical/physical) does not imply that they are not 'fighting to influence the same thing'."

"BTW I am remiss thanks for your contribution here too."

And thank you for yours. I must say that the quality of the posts on this blog is generally very high.

Anonymous said...

This might be of use:

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B7SKlRTfkUieN3dGVkhNTi1SQUU/edit?pli=1

Paper by Oderberg

George R. said...

Scott:
That I'm not so sure about. Isn't it even "theoretically" possible for a proposed physical law to violate a metaphysical principle?

I should have added, "assuming the non-principle propostion is true."

Scott said...

"I should have added, 'assuming the non-principle propostion is true.'"

Aha. Yep, I think that covers it.

Anonymous said...

yair,

I have no time to justify my entire metaphysical stance here, nor is it really relevant to the argument

It is relevant in as much as you assume it (which you do) implicitly. One always talks from a specific worldview. Philosophy is not done in suspended animation.

The pertinent question is not whether you have time or not (you obviously have time to be posting on blogs, no?) but whether you can actually do it. I don't think you can justify it.

יאיר רזק said...

I regret this will be my last post for today - I'll try to resume the discussion tomorrow. Work calls.

@Scott: Thanks for raising points for me! It will certainly cut down on what I need to write.

Specifically, you and I appear to agree that "the two [metaphysical & physical] aren't exclusive", or to be more exact that they are not separate magesteria; and you have correctly surmised that I recognize the two principles are in different categories, and that the "implications" I alluded the existence of God entails were indeed the existence of reality, and not "code" for God's existence being a scientific question.

"Hmm, I think I'd have to say that coherence is stronger than sheer non-contradiction."

I concede the point. However, wouldn't you still agree that a view of reality is flawed if it is incoherent?

@George R:
You seem to define "principle" in the sense that "it is necessarily true and self-evident to anyone who understands [the relevant things]". I would ask to call this a "metaphysical principle", not just a "principle".

As you noted, it is possible for the two propositions to be incompatible if the NPOI is FALSE (I note this is, in fact, the case). It is also possible for them to be incompatible if the APOM is an invalid metaphysical principle - if it's claimed as necessarily true, but it isn't (as I argue in my piece).

Regardless, the arguments so far have been relevant even if none of the two propositions is a metaphysical principle, or even true. They treat the proposition's content, not their status as a metaphysical or physical truth. I ask that we remain in that purview, as that allows us to not have to dwell on whether the APOM is actually a true metaphysical principle. I note that this is also the approach taken by Feser in the paper - he repeatedly says the APOM is true, but always as a side-note, proceeding to arguments that ignore that.

For the record - I think "principle" is a contextual term. What you describe is a "metaphysical principle", or "necessary truth", or "analytic truth", or "logical truth", or so on, depending on context. The NPOI is a principle of Newtonian physics. The principle of covariance is a principle of general relativity. The law that parallels don't meet is a principle of Euclidean geometry. And so on. But all that's besides the point.

@BenYachov:
"How would one critique Feser's Paper in a valid manner ...."

What you demand is a comprehensive treatment that is only possible in a lengthy book. Which in turn is only possible for an academic, or someone with equally free time to dwell on this topic, to write. That someone is not me.

Tell you what - you give me the grant money, and I'll write that book. I estimate it will take me two years, and I'm modest - just 25,000$ per year will do.

More seriously - one can point out problems and contradictions within an approach or paper without such lengthy presentations. If this wouldn't be the case, papers such as the one we're discussing here wouldn't be written.

"Treating the APOM as a problem in Physics does."

Proceed, please, to explain precisely what specifically is wrong instead of just saying "see - that's wrong!".

I argue that the NPOI implies that there would be no physical causes during inertial local motion whereas the ATOM that there would be (physical or "metaphysical") causes during inertial local motion, and thus that the ATOM invokes more causes et cetera et cetera. Where and how, precisely, is this argument treating the ATOM as "a problem in physics"?

Eduardo said...

Imagine that we have two principles, one which deals with A, B and C and the other deals with A, B, C, D and E.

Now if you argued that you don't need the second principle because you can explain A, B and C with the first one and you can simply pretend that D and E are not important or don't exist.

You seem to be living something this right now.

kuartus said...

Of the options Feser outlined, I will go with the impetus theory. Im not convinced by Fesers objection to it. He says how can a finite object contain an infinite effect? But in reality the effect is finite at any given point in time. At any point in time, the object has only traveled a finite distance. In fact the effect will never be infinite since an infinite distance can never be traversed.

Eduardo said...

QUOTE = I concede the point. However, wouldn't you still agree that a view of reality is flawed if it is incoherent? = QUOTE
-----------------------------------

ME = If the definition of ceherence is a rule of reality or a mental model of reality that hit the nail every time, I think Scott has to agree with you! Otherwise... nope, no reason to agree to your contention Yair = ME

Eduardo said...

BenYachov

Apparently Yair is not bringing APOM to Physics but rather bringing NPOI to metaphysics.

So basically he is saying that there is no need for the metaphysical principle of motion because you already have the metaphysical principle of inertia.

Anonymous said...

2) Critique AT metaphysics from the ground up with philosophical argument(for your competing philosophical system)

Exactly. That would entail providing proof for his commitments to naturalism (which are implicit in this whole discussion) like I asked. It doesn't seem that he can do it though so he instead resorts to this ad hoc accusations, which is neither interesting nor credible.

BenYachov said...

@Yair

>What you demand is a comprehensive treatment that is only possible in a lengthy book. Which in turn is only possible for an academic, or someone with equally free time to dwell on this topic, to write. That someone is not me.

Actually you could start by identifying a feature of the philosophy at it level and address it. Like arguing for Nominalism or Humean causality since neither is compatible with AT.

It can be modest.

>+-+Tell you what - you give me the grant money, and I'll write that book. I estimate it will take me two years, and I'm modest - just 25,000$ per year will do.

I'll keep you in mind if I win the Lottery.

>More seriously - one can point out problems and contradictions within an approach or paper without such lengthy presentations. If this wouldn't be the case, papers such as the one we're discussing here wouldn't be written.

I don't find your critiques coherent but I do appreciate the effort. It's better than mindlessly accusing Feser of arguing for Angels moving the planet. Like Prof Oerter did.

He should know better & if he turned in a critique like yours nobody would be upset by it even if we disagree or believe it is wrong.

Cheers.

Eduardo said...

The problem seems verry clearly to be about the Definition of the world METAPHYSICS.

So I think until we clear that, there is no point in continuing the discussion n_n!

BenYachov said...

@Yair

>What you demand is a comprehensive treatment that is only possible in a lengthy book. Which in turn is only possible for an academic, or someone with equally free time to dwell on this topic, to write. That someone is not me.

Actually you could start by identifying a feature of the philosophy at it level and address it. Like arguing for Nominalism or Humean causality since neither is compatible with AT.

It can be modest.

>+-+Tell you what - you give me the grant money, and I'll write that book. I estimate it will take me two years, and I'm modest - just 25,000$ per year will do.

I'll keep you in mind if I win the Lottery.

>More seriously - one can point out problems and contradictions within an approach or paper without such lengthy presentations. If this wouldn't be the case, papers such as the one we're discussing here wouldn't be written.

I don't find your critiques coherent but I do appreciate the effort. It's better than mindlessly accusing Feser of arguing for Angels moving the planet. Like Prof Oerter did.

He should know better & if he turned in a critique like yours nobody would be upset by it even if we disagree or believe it is wrong.

Cheers.

Scott said...

"However, wouldn't you still agree that a view of reality is flawed if it is incoherent?"

I would indeed. Non-contradiction is just a minimal requirement for getting through the door.

Eduardo said...

RE-POSTING

The problem seems very clearly to be about the Definition of the word METAPHYSICS.

So I think until we clear that, there is no point in continuing the discussion n_n!

BenYachov said...

>Apparently Yair is not bringing APOM to Physics but rather bringing NPOI to metaphysics.

I agree.

>So basically he is saying that there is no need for the metaphysical principle of motion because you already have the metaphysical principle of inertia.

Except Inertia is not a metaphysical principle it's an observed law of physics.

APOM is not a law of physics it is a metaphysical description of motion seen as change something going from potency to actuality.

He is equivocating and he won't or can't see it.

Scott said...

"If the definition of ceherence is a rule of reality or a mental model of reality that hit the nail every time, I think Scott has to agree with you!"

Well, there's quite a lot of question about what actually constitutes coherence, but there general idea is that the propositions in question cohere when they have something positive to do with each other. I suppose the ideal situation is the one envisioned by Brand Blanshard, in which every true proposition, properly understood in its context as part of an overarching system, actually entails every other true proposition. But there are problems with that ideal which this probably isn't the place to discuss.

Scott said...

"Specifically, you and I appear to agree that "the two [metaphysical & physical] aren't exclusive", or to be more exact that they are not separate magesteria . . . "

Certainly. If that weren't so, then (for example) the principle of non-contradiction could be ignored when we were talking about physics. If the domain of metaphysics is being as such, then its principles also inform and govern what we can properly say in this or that specific field.

Eduardo said...

BenYachov

Not according to Yair's definition of metaphysics XD.

THe problem is that you people are using different definitions, you people are slightly speaking pass each other.

Now to be quite sincere, the principle of Inertia is an extrapolation of experiments. It is taken to be true IF nothing else affected it. It seem that the principle of Inertia is just a bit beyond empirical facts, it sets forth a reason to the experiments instead of being a correlation to it.

But still I don't see why they are incompatible if you consider only them two.

Eduardo said...

QUOTE = Well, there's quite a lot of question about what actually constitutes coherence, but there general idea is that the propositions in question cohere when they have something positive to do with each other. = QUOTE
-------------------------------------

ME = About that proposition in the end that I did not quoted, YEAH TRUE, that would be pretty damn ideal XD.

Sure, but it seems we are going down one turtle. Now yeah I agree to you that your definition is pretty wide scope one and I think it is correct to what I think people mean by coherence.

But I think the question may be wayyyy more deep than we imagine, I am talking about what objectively grounds Coherence. Does coherence is obviously true due to our intuition/experience with the world. Does it springs from something else, is it a mental rule, or a limitation imposed by something.

Each choice generates a whole new way to see coherence and depending on what and why we choose it, coherence may not even be relvant to any subject!!! THAT IS RIGHT ... we can't even go THROUGH THE DAMN DOOR!!!

not that I believe this, but it is a possibility. = ME

Scott said...

"It is relevant in as much as you assume it (which you do) implicitly. One always talks from a specific worldview. Philosophy is not done in suspended animation.

The pertinent question is not whether you have time or not (you obviously have time to be posting on blogs, no?) but whether you can actually do it. I don't think you can justify it."

Ladies and germs, Yair is addressing exactly one point here, and he's sticking to it admirably: whether Feser is right to argue that the principle of motion is genuinely compatible with the principle of inertia. There's no need to sniff out Yair's metaphysics; nothing in his arguments depends on any specific metaphysical presuppositions, although he does say (rightly, in my opinion) that metaphysical principles have something to say about physical principles.

Anonymous said...

There's no need to sniff out Yair's metaphysics; nothing in his arguments depends on any specific metaphysical presuppositions

That would entail that one can do philosophy in suspended animation, which is absurd. It is pertinent and that is the reason why he even tried to raise a criticism in the first place. So you're wrong.

Anonymous said...

Yair is not bringing APOM to Physics but rather bringing NPOI to metaphysics.

So how exactly is inertia a metaphysical principle, exactly?

Scott said...

"But I think the question may be wayyyy more deep than we imagine, I am talking about what objectively grounds Coherence."

That is indeed a very deep question, but I don't think it's deeper than we (or at least I; I won't presume to speak for you) imagine. As far as coherence is concerned, that is the question, and it cuts straight to the heart of reality.

In the end, the question of what grounds coherence comes down to a question about what the world, reality, the cosmos, is like. Is it a system in which everything is related to everything else, or is it a ragtag assortment of loose ends any one of which could be different with no effect on anything else? Or something in between?

In general I agree with Hugo Meynell that reality, pretty much by definition, is what we come to know through the exercise of right reason. If that's so, then we're justified in thinking that reality answers to the ideal of rational thought, and therefore that it's coherent in some sense. The devilish bit is pinning down in what sense.

Eduardo said...

Scott is correct let's just stick to the subject at hand....

... I had a joke to do here but it wasn't funny ...

Scott said...

"That would entail that one can do philosophy in suspended animation, which is absurd. It is pertinent and that is the reason why he even tried to raise a criticism in the first place. So you're wrong."

Well, I'm wrong in the sense that his arguments do depend on metaphysical presuppositions of a very broad character, like the law of non-contradiction. But if you think you can find anything in his arguments that depends on something more specific, I'll be happy to listen to you.

Anonymous said...

Scott is correct

If that were the case, you'd be able to do philosophy without presuppositions and a worldview. That is simply not the case.

Eduardo said...

Anon

hhahaha I don't know xD. How we do do metaphysics.

There was that troll that use to post here that simply said that doing metaphysics is simply to have a rule that speaks more than what you have empirical evidence for, so basically saying, many scientific rules and theories are metaphysical in nature XD got it?

So anyways I don't know xD.

Eduardo said...

"If that were the case, you'd be able to do philosophy without presuppositions and a worldview. That is simply not the case. "

Anon .......................................................................... okay

Anonymous said...

hhahaha I don't know xD. How we do do metaphysics.

Oh, I'm not asking you to defend his claims to metaphysics. I'm just wondering how inertia is allegedly a metaphysical principle?

Scott said...

"Scott is correct let's just stick to the subject at hand...."

Thank you, Eduardo. And just to make clear what that point is, I'll briefly summarize Yair's claim as I understand it: he's saying that, since (in his view) it's not feasible to regard uniform motion as a "state" in a metaphysical sense, accepting the Aristotelian principle of motion would further commit us to accepting necessarily existing intelligent substances as having physical effects, and in that case Feser's attempted reconciliation would be unsatisfactory unless we had independent reason to believe in such substances, which (in his view) we do not.

That's the target, folks. Keep it in mind as you aim, and the discussion will be a whole lot more productive.

Anonymous said...

Eduardo,

And the question is not directed at you per se. I just noticed it in your post and raised the question to him (hair) and whoever else claims that inertia is a metaphysical principle.

Scott said...

"If that were the case, you'd be able to do philosophy without presuppositions and a worldview."

However, not all metaphysical presuppositions are wedded to any specific worldview. I think you'll find, for example, that the law of non-contradiction is common to all of them.

Crude said...

However, not all metaphysical presuppositions are wedded to any specific worldview. I think you'll find, for example, that the law of non-contradiction is common to all of them.

I have personally seen large groups of atheists explicitly question the LNC on quantum physics grounds.

Eduardo said...

Scott

You think isn't deep enough XD?, this is mind bogling!

Well hard to say. My position is that coherence in the very least must be part of the fabric of reality, like the idea of Modus Essendi in one of the links here in the blog.

I mean if we are to say that world can be comprehended in any sense I think coherence must at least be part of the fabric of reality.

Scott said...

"If that were the case, you'd be able to do philosophy without presuppositions and a worldview."

It just now struck me as ironic that this is actually a variant of Yair's own point that metaphysical principles are relevant to physics. ;-)

Anonymous said...

I think you'll find, for example, that the law of non-contradiction is common to all of them.

Not really. Like crude said, I've seen plenty of atheists deny the LNC. But an appeal to the LNC should still be grounded in one's ontology and as such must be able to provide justification for it. A materialist for example cannot appeal to the LNC. A nietzchean atheist and/or post-modernists of a specific kind cannot appeal to the LNC.

It's all connected.

Scott said...

"You think isn't deep enough XD?"

I think it's a very deep question -- again, one that cuts straight to the heart of reality.

"I mean if we are to say that world can be comprehended in any sense I think coherence must at least be part of the fabric of reality."

I agree. And that's one reason why I think it's proper to regard the cosmos/universe/reality as the product/activity/manifestation of an Absolute Mind.

Eduardo said...

Scott

Unfortunately the target of yair's critique is that the paper fails to provide reason to believe they are compatible.

I think Yair failed to show it and now the discussion has moved to what you are saying.

So I think we would have to provide evidence for these other entities however, how will we do it without supposing A-T metaphysics ??? It seems that we have no way to show anything without pressuposing our very own metaphysics which are exatly AT STAKE here!

Yeah maybe Ben's crazy idea isn't so crazy.

Crude said...

I just want to point out, my comment wasn't meant to imply that I think the demands for a full scale metaphysical defense from Yair was needed and all. Just, no, I've seen atheists ditch the LNC as quickly as ex nihilo nihil fit.

Scott said...

"Not really."

Well, it's common to the ones that I regard as intellectually respectable -- and, more relevantly, it's common to a broad range of metaphysical outlooks, so we don't necessarily need to fuss about Yair's precise outlook in order to address his arguments. If he claims (for example) that something is contradictory, we don't need to know his arguments for panpsychism in order to address his claim. Do you disagree?

Anonymous said...

It just now struck me as ironic that this is actually a variant of Yair's own point that metaphysical principles are relevant to physics.

I don't really see the "ironic" connection but whatever.

If you mean that metaphysics are inescapable and metaphysics are required to make sense of physics then I don't really see that as a variant of anything but a fundamental truth about reality.

Eduardo said...

QUOTE = I agree. And that's one reason why I think it's proper to regard the cosmos/universe/reality as the product/activity/manifestation of an Absolute Mind. = QUOTE

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

ME = Me too... or at least I have given some thought about that.

Now of course, it is up to me to explain why I think this is relevant. well we are talking about the heart of reality ; so if we gonna talk about reality that is why I bitch about the definition of coherence XD

Yeah I bet you obviously noticed it already that is what I going for but I wanted to make explicit = ME

Anonymous said...

Do you disagree?

I've found nietzsche's exploration of naturalism quite insightful and convincing. He obviously rejects it as the thorough naturalist that he was. So an ontological grounding of LNC would be required for a naturalist to be allowed to appeal to it.



Scott said...

"So I think we would have to provide evidence for these other entities however, how will we do it without supposing A-T metaphysics ???"

By showing that the principle of motion is genuinely "self-evident." (I agree with Bosanquet that "self-evidence" is a bit of a misnomer; really, the idea is that a supposedly "self-evident" proposition is presupposed by all thought whatsoever, so the principle is really "This, or nothing.")

If that principle is genuinely metaphysically inescapable, then we're committed to its cone=sequences as well.

Anonymous said...

And that's one reason why I think it's proper to regard the cosmos/universe/reality as the product/activity/manifestation of an Absolute Mind.

So you're a Theistic/Deistic Idealist? (totally out of curiosity, I won't ask you to defend it don't worry)

Scott said...

"I've found nietzsche's exploration of naturalism quite insightful and convincing."

Well, my question was about whether we need to know Yair's precise metaphysical views in order to understand and evaluate his arguments. I take it that we don't.

Scott said...

"So you're a Theistic/Deistic Idealist? (totally out of curiosity, I won't ask you to defend it don't worry)"

I'm a theist and more or less an (critical) idealist.

Anonymous said...

I'm a theist and more or less an (critical) idealist.

Do you have a preferred argument for Theism? One that you find very convincing? (again just out of curiosity - I don't mean to sound like I'm interrogating you)

Just briefly mention them. No need to present them formally. I'll look them.

Eduardo said...

Scott

Sure I agree to you as long as we don't suppose any metaphysics at all, I think then we could indeed show it.

Anonymous said...

*I'll look them up.

Eduardo said...

Well this is a good moment that Dr Feser or people more acquainted with Aristotle's and Aquina's work would crearify my doubt.

Just what is exactly metaphysics for them???

Scott said...

"Do you have a preferred argument for Theism?"

Aquinas's are actually very good. I also think well of Meynell's cosmological argument based on the intelligibility of the cosmos, which is somewhat distantly related to C.S. Lewis's "argument from reason," of which Victor Reppert has given an excellent explication.

I also think highly of Timothy Sprigge's argument for panpsychism, from which he also derives a version of theism that is not, in my view, strictly at odds with classical theism although not entailing it.

Crude said...

I also think highly of Timothy Sprigge's argument for panpsychism, from which he also derives a version of theism that is not, in my view, strictly at odds with classical theism although not entailing it.

Doubling interesting since Yair himself is apparently a panpsychist.

Anonymous said...

Scott,

What about arguments from Truth, in the Augustinian style (again related to the argument from reason). That argument is one idealists usually like. In addition, Dummett, has his own argument from Truth (based on his anti-essentialism and his justification semantics) are you at all familiar with it?

Scott said...

Here's Meynell: http://www.amazon.com/Intelligible-Universe-Cosmological-Argument-Philosophy/dp/0333281020. (I'm the reviewer; the "S" in "John S. Ryan" stands for "Scott.")

Scott said...

"Dummett, has his own argument from Truth (based on his anti-essentialism and his justification semantics) are you at all familiar with it?"

I am not. I know who Michael Dummett was but I'm not familiar with that specific argument.

Anonymous said...

Scott,

By the way, thanks for the Meynell and Springge arguments. That's exactly what I was looking for; arguments I have not yet read!

Scott said...

"Doubling interesting since Yair himself is apparently a panpsychist."

Yes, I'd noticed that. I don't know the grounds of his belief, however. Mine are basically Sprigge's: that we don't seem to be able to form any positive conception of something existing in its own right, independently of our consciousness of it, that isn't itself at least a primitive form of "experience."

Scott said...

"By the way, thanks for the Meynell and Springge arguments. That's exactly what I was looking for; arguments I have not yet read!"

You're very welcome. If you want any additional recommendations as to specific works by either Meynell or Sprigge, let me know. I think they're both worth reading; your mileage may vary. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Scott,

I did some searching around and found two Books by Springge, The God of Metaphysics and Vindication of Absolute Idealism. The second book seems to be where the argument probably is. Do you by any chance have a link handy that summarizes the argument? If not, don't worry about it.

Anonymous said...

...And I am reading your review of the book as we speak!

BenYachov said...

@Eduardo

>Just what is exactly metaphysics for them???

This might help:

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2012/05/natural-theology-natural-science-and.html#more

Scott said...

"Do you by any chance have a link handy that summarizes the argument?"

I do not, but I'll be happy to summarize it for you myself if you like. Sprigge's books are a bit pricey.

The argument is better presented in The Vindication of Absolute Idealism but unfortunately the book isn't his best work stylistically and it's hard to follow; you can find a better presentation of it in The Importance of Subjectivity.

His argument for panpsychism is, in a nutshell, that when we try to imagine in a positive way what reality-in-itself might be like, we can't do so without investing that reality with features that make sense only from the point of view of a subject. He concludes that some primitive form of experience must be the "noumenal backing" of physical reality; on his view, there's something, however primitive, that it's "like" to be an electron. From there he argues that all of reality must therefore be an overarching experience, "compounded" in a certain way from those nuggets of experience.

DNW said...

Crude said...

" ' However, not all metaphysical presuppositions are wedded to any specific worldview. I think you'll find, for example, that the law of non-contradiction is common to all of them.'

I have personally seen large groups of atheists explicitly question the LNC on quantum physics grounds.
January 9, 2013 3:19 PM "


Yes, I've seen it too. Here. What's interesting is that when you do see it, it's usually with the reference you mention, but without substantive argument, as if it's self-evident as to why the laws of non-contradiction or excluded middle should be invalidated.

Someone mentioned Copi's famous introductory logic text the other day. "Parameters"

Eduardo said...

BenYachov

Thanks xD.

Crude said...

DNW,

Yes, I've seen it too. Here. What's interesting is that when you do see it, it's usually with the reference you mention, but without substantive argument, as if it's self-evident as to why the laws of non-contradiction or excluded middle should be invalidated.

What I usually see is the claim (and this happens with the ex nihil discussion too) that 'science shows that...' Really, a lot of times it's ginned up to make it sound as if people observe LNC violations in the laboratory, or observe something coming from nothing without cause.

But yeah, once you start questioning it a lot of them just buckle or rely on 'Well I heard scientists say..!' It's parroting.

Anonymous said...

Scott,

His argument for panpsychism is, in a nutshell, that when we try to imagine in a positive way what reality-in-itself might be like, we can't do so without investing that reality with features that make sense only from the point of view of a subject

It reminds me a little bit of Eddington's argument for idealism based on epistemology.

Thanks for the summary by the way.

Eduardo said...

I get it... Yair's argument is basically that since metaphysics is the science of being as such, then he simply uses the rules of science and apply to metaphysics. Now I get why he did his argument!

Scott said...

"It reminds me a little bit of Eddington's argument for idealism based on epistemology."

I know what you mean and I agree. It's also not entirely unrelated to Aristotle, for whom, when we know an object X, we actually and literally have the form of X within our minds.

In general I think there's a powerful argument to be made for the basic "mind-relatedness" of the world from the fact that we seem to be able to think of it -- to make it the object of mental reference and understanding. If we're able to grasp the nature of the world, then that nature must be the sort of thing that can be got within a mind -- and from there, the inference to the best explanation is that it's within a mind already.

"Thanks for the summary by the way."

You're very welcome.

Scott said...

"I get it... Yair's argument is basically that since metaphysics is the science of being as such, then he simply uses the rules of science and apply to metaphysics. Now I get why he did his argument!"

Yes, I think you have it. His basic idea is that since metaphysics applies to everything that is, it also applies to physics -- so physical laws have to conform to metaphysical principles

Anonymous said...

On the who hair affair,

I still don't see how his objections have any force.

Before continuing with his critique and consequent responses by others he needs to explain why inertia is a metaphysical principle (if that's what he's really claiming). Also he needs to explain why as he puts it APOM is "fighting" with NPOI.

From reading this discussion it seems that there really is no argument here, just an accusation of ad-hocness. Unless I am missing something...

Anonymous said...

Eduardo,

Yair's argument is basically that since metaphysics is the science of being as such, then he simply uses the rules of science and apply to metaphysics. Now I get why he did his argument!

But metaphysics has a greater scope and more depth than just physics, since it's the foundation. If that is the case, then why would one expect a one-to-one relation between the two? I just don't see how that follows.

Also, can one reverse engineer the models of physical science to subvert metaphysics to it? That's another thing that sounds problematic to me.

Anonymous said...

it also applies to physics -- so physical laws have to conform to metaphysical principles

What isn't clear to me at this point is whether he demonstrated that there is a conflict (i.e. non-conformance) of the NPOI to APOM. I don't see that.

Anonymous said...

"From reading this discussion it seems that there really is no argument here, just an accusation of ad-hocness."

That is Yair's argument: that, since (in his view) uniform motion can't be regarded as a "state," in order to reconcile the principle of motion with the "principle" of inertia, we have to fall back on Feser's "necessarily existing intelligent substance[s]" as causes -- which is (he says) unsatisfactory because we have no independent evidence for the existence of such causes. That's precisely what, in his view, makes their introduction ad hoc.

Scott said...

That "anonymous" comment ^ was mine. I accidentally clicked a radio button while posting it.

Scott said...

"What isn't clear to me at this point is whether he demonstrated that there is a conflict (i.e. non-conformance) of the NPOI to APOM. I don't see that."

He's not claiming that they're actually in conflict. He's saying that in order to make the law of inertia compatible with the Aristotelian principle of motion, we have to introduce necessarily existing intelligent substances as causes -- and that seems to him to be ad hoc since we have (he thinks) no independent evidence for the existence of such substances. He contends that Feser's attempted reconciliation is therefore ultimately unsatisfactory because, in order to make it work, we have to introduce such ad hoc causes.

Scott said...

I should perhaps add here that I don't speak for Yair -- I'm simply summarizing his views as I understand them (and expressing neither agreement nor disagreement therewith). Yair can jump in here and correct me if I've misrepresented or misunderstood his opinions.

Eduardo said...

Scott

Well that part you spoke of I agree with Yair's. I am talking about his intentions to decide to do this argument. He is simply using basic rules that the scientific community use while deciding for theories. What I am saying ... is that he might be confused because of how metaphysics was defined in other places got it?

Scott said...

"What I am saying ... is that he might be confused because of how metaphysics was defined in other places got it?"

I understand your point but I don't know where Yair has exemplified it. Can you tell me where you think he's shown confusion about the definition(s) of metaphysics?

Anonymous said...

Scott,

He's saying that in order to make the law of inertia compatible with the Aristotelian principle of motion, we have to introduce necessarily existing intelligent substances as causes -- and that seems to him to be ad hoc since we have (he thinks) no independent evidence for the existence of such substances.

But if they are not in conflict then why would one need to reconcile them?

He also rejects local motion as a state, as opposed to what alternative? Also, what is his specific definition of state here is a bit unclear.

Finally, these "intelligent substantial causes" is a plural. Does he mean intelligent cause (singular as in God) or does he mean something else? If so, what?

That "anonymous" comment ^ was mine. I accidentally clicked a radio button while posting it.

Ha! It would be pretty crazy for me to be answering my own questions!

Eduardo said...

Let me see if I get this correctly, to Yair's one of the chracteristics of metaphysics is that it must be necessary for any phenomena, BUT he means that it must be a concept that is necessary, in other words YOU CAN'T escape it.

It has nothing to do with intuition of experience is just any concept you can come up with that people can not deny it. It is not grounded on anything except ur imagination, but as far as I saw people talking about metaphysics, it is not that at all.

Apparently metaphysical proposition must rise from experience, and not just an idea that you create and people can not deny it because of SOME OTHER idea you created.

Scott said...

"But if they are not in conflict then why would one need to reconcile them?"

That's a very good question and it goes directly to the aims of Feser's paper and of Yair's criticism.

Feser is basically showing that the two principles (well, one principle and one empirical rule) are not contradictory. In that sense they can be reconciled easily.

Yair's reply, in effect, is that the two still dont' cohere: we don't have any positive reason to accept the principle of motion, and trying to maintain it alojng with the law of inertia leads us into what Yair regards as an ad hocv invocation of causes for which we have no independent evidence.

So the upshot is that Feser argues that they're not in conflict, but Yair replies that although that's true, it's not good enough. The reconciliation, Yair says, is unsatisfactory because it fails to provide any positive reason to accept the existence of "necessarily existing intelligent cause[s]" -- which, in Yair's view, we must do, since there are other grounds for rejecting the other casses Feser considers in his paper.

Crude said...

Scott,

The reconciliation, Yair says, is unsatisfactory because it fails to provide any positive reason to accept the existence of "necessarily existing intelligent cause[s]" -- which, in Yair's view, we must do, since there are other grounds for rejecting the other casses Feser considers in his paper.

Well, at the end, Yair says...

Hence, the principle of motion cannot be a metaphysical principle, since it is possible to conceive of change without it – either by invoking internal causes such as impetus, or by declining to demand a cause to explain inertial motion at all.

The second one I want to focus on right now. Should I be interpreting 'declining to demand a cause to explain inertial motion at all' to mean 'declare that inertial motion is a brute fact'?

Scott said...

(Sorry about the typos in my previous post.)

"He also rejects local motion as a state, as opposed to what alternative? Also, what is his specific definition of state here is a bit unclear."

That's a matter to take up with Feser himself. The possibility that uniform motion can be regarded as a "state" is one that Feser himself considers in his paper.

"Finally, these 'intelligent substantial causes' is a plural. Does he mean intelligent cause (singular as in God) or does he mean something else? If so, what?"

Here again this is a matter to take up with Feser. In his paper he distinguishes between "necessarily existing intelligent substance[s]" on the one hand and God on the other, so it's tolerably clear that we're talking about whatever real-world entities might correspond to what the Scholastic philosophers meant by "angels" and the like. But at any rate Yair didn't introduce such causes to the discussion.

Anonymous said...

Scott,

Thanks for the clarification. So evidently then, yair's argument is Ockham's razor basically.

Scott said...

"The second one I want to focus on right now. Should I be interpreting 'declining to demand a cause to explain inertial motion at all' to mean 'declare that inertial motion is a brute fact'?"

I don't think I can answer that question on Yair's behalf. But I think it's safe to say that he's claiming the principle of motion can't be a principle of metaphysics because an alternative to it is conceivable.

The "second alternative" in question here is simply one possibility among others. Yair is saying that one possibility is to regard uniform motion as not requiring a causal explanation at all. Whether that might mean uniform motion is a "brute fact" I shall have to leave to him to explicate -- but I think it's safe to say he's not committed to it himself. He's simply taking it into account as a possibility in order to show that the principle of motion is not a necessary law of thought, or some such: we can conceive of a world without it.

Scott said...

"Thanks for the clarification. So evidently then, yair's argument is Ockham's razor basically."

Yeah, pretty much. Basically his claim is that if we accept the law of inertia, then in order to save the principle of motion, since we can't regard uniform motion as an Aristotelian "state," we have to introduce causes for which we have no independent evidence -- and the reconciliation is therefore unsatisfying.

Eduardo said...

Well then Scott, thee discussion is pretty much over, we agree to his contention. XD isn't it true?

Eduardo said...

But really, why not simply see if the fundamentals of A-T metaphysics can produce the answer to the problem?

Eduardo said...

Oh by the way Scott, how exactly we infer from what type of evidence, causation???

Another Anon said...

What does Feser mean by "formal" when he says "No formal contradiction" in his paper? Is he making a reference to Aristotelian formal causes or what?

How do we objectively determine location or position? Coordinates? I don't think coordinates exist apart from subjects/observers to establish them in the first place. If we use the distance between two actual objects to describe location, then I don't see how change in location or displacement cannot be explained/accounted for by the APOM. Whatever is being changed (distance between two actual objects) is being changed by something else (an object with some amount of kinetic energy).

Eduardo said...

Another Anon

I think the problem lies in the Aristotelean tradition tom say that if something is moving it IS REALLY moving.

Not just moving IN RELATION to something.

I think that is why Feser is talking about that.

kuartus said...

"the principle of motion cannot be a metaphysical principle, since it is possible to conceive of change without it –either by invoking internal causes such as impetus..."


Eh, what? The impetus theory was considered as an option in Feser's paper as a way TO RECONCILE inertial motion(as as genuine change as opposed to a state) and the principle of motion. How then does he think it could stand as a counter to the APOM? LOL!

"or by declining to demand a cause to explain inertial motion at all."

To conceive of something does not mean to just make a mental picture of it or just imagine it. It means to formulate a rational account of such. Saying that a thing is inexplicable or causeless is just to not give a rational account of it. Declining to do said thing does not count as a rational account! Therefore has not been conceived. It has in fact been denied conceivability. It is arguably the case that a contingent thing or phenomena not having a cause or an explanation is actually NOT rationally conceivable.

Anonymous said...

"Thank you, Eduardo. And just to make clear what that point is, I'll briefly summarize Yair's claim as I understand it: he's saying that, since (in his view) it's not feasible to regard uniform motion as a "state" in a metaphysical sense, accepting the Aristotelian principle of motion would further commit us to accepting necessarily existing intelligent substances as having physical effects, and in that case Feser's attempted reconciliation would be unsatisfactory unless we had independent reason to believe in such substances, which (in his view) we do not."

http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/phaedo.html

Eduardo said...

Sorry Anon, what is the point you trying to raise... btw nice text ahhahhaa it is pretty cool to read these kind of things

BenYachov said...

>Yeah, pretty much. Basically his claim is that if we accept the law of inertia, then in order to save the principle of motion, since we can't regard uniform motion as an Aristotelian "state," we have to introduce causes for which we have no independent evidence -- and the reconciliation is therefore unsatisfying.

But that objection is only meaningful if we concieve of the APOM as a rival or additional Law of Motion like any other Law of Physics which is an observation of an observed regularity.

Occum tells us we don't need another Law of Motion in additon to the Laws governing Inertia.

Well obviously!

But that is his problem. Yair conflates physics with metaphysics. He is treating metaphysics like an empirical science. He is as I said arguing with Dawkins that Natural Selection must be wrong because you can't measure it's atomic weight.

The guy means well but he is a walking talking category mistake.

BenYachov said...

Feser on Ockham


http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/03/razor-boy.html#more

יאיר רזק said...

@Eduardo and all: "Eduardo said...
Well then Scott, thee discussion is pretty much over, we agree to his contention."

I take there is no need, then, to pick up unfinished threads. If anyone does want to continue any of the previous arguments (that are on target), just say so and I'd be happy to oblige.

@ Scott: "Yair can jump in here and correct me if I've misrepresented or misunderstood his opinions."

You have summarized my views very well - in many respects, better than I did. (On both the main argument, and on the argument against the APOM as a metaphysical principle.) There are a few things I can quibble on, but they are minor.

"...[Sprigge] argues that all of reality must therefore be an overarching experience, "compounded" in a certain way from those nuggets of experience."

Since we're soliciting you for book/philosophy recommendations - I consider the Composition Problem to be the most difficult problem for panpsychism - do you know of any good solution to it? (In Sprigge or elsewhere.) I'd be especially interested in pursuing solutions based on the functional theory of mind while taking relativity and quantum mechanics into consideration; but that would probably be asking too much...

For the record - my own panpsychist position was mostly fueled by David Chalmers (although he is not one himself). It's based mainly on an argument from the impossibility of emergence, plus a Copernican or simplicity principle - bolstered by a genetic argument from evolution. Russell's arguments for neutral monism are in the background there, too.

"[we would have to provide evidence for these other entities by] showing that the principle of motion is genuinely "self-evident."

While that would certainly provide a strong reason to believe in the extra causes, it wouldn't exactly constitute "independent reasons" for believing in them. I don't want to enter the quagmire of whether the APOM is a valid metaphysical principle - that's a whole other discussion!

Isn't there a way to provide independent reasons for these entities? If one can do so from within the AT metaphysics, than one can at least argue that everything coheres from that perspective - you don't have to invoke new entities to save your theory, the entities are already entailed by other parts of it. I'm thinking here, for example, on Aquinas' other Ways - to the extent they don't rely on the APOM (and that they're valid), they provide independent reason to believe in an extra "metaphysical" cause within the AT framework. This raises the question of whether God as the direct sustaining cause of all inertial motion (but not, curiously, of accelerated motion!) is a satisfying solution in other respects; but at least the problem won't be ad hoc-ness.

I would also note that no one has attacked the first leg of my argument, namely that inertial local motion cannot be seen as a state. Here Another Anon's suggestion to treat distance as a "thing" is interesting. My understanding of AT metaphysics, however, concurs with Eduardo that location is a property of the object, so that this option is not viable under the AT metaphysics.

יאיר רזק said...

...

Similarly, no one attacked the second leg of my argument, namely that inertial local motion seen as real change indeed implies those extra causes. While this is Feser's position as well as my own, as kuartus notes the impetus theory will offer a way to reconcile the two without need for invoking further entities. Feser's arguments notwithstanding, my own argument against the impetus theory is that it contradicts the APOM. Since the impetus theory is apparently a fairly standard part of Scholastic metaphysics, however, I am very much open to the possibility I'm mistaken. I would greatly appreciate any arguments to the contrary. The reason I went to this blog is precisely to get schooling in AT metaphysics - bring it on! (Incidentally, the same applies to Feser's defense from natural motion.)

In short - don't agree with me guys, argue with me! :D

@kuartus: "The impetus theory was considered as an option in Feser's paper as a way TO RECONCILE inertial motion(as as genuine change as opposed to a state) and the principle of motion. How then does he think it could stand as a counter to the APOM? "

I argue explicitly that it does. The impetus is not some "other thing", which the APOM invokes.

"Saying that a thing is inexplicable or causeless is just to not give a rational account of it."

As I said above, I don't want to engage in two arguments at once (one is quite a lot already!); I therefore ask to postpone dealing with the question of what precisely we need to "conceive something" until the main argument is resolved. Or at least, better resolved. Pretty please?

Cheers,
Yair

BLS said...

"But that is his problem. Yair conflates physics with metaphysics. He is treating metaphysics like an empirical science. He is as I said arguing with Dawkins that Natural Selection must be wrong because you can't measure it's atomic weight."

I think the point is that the APOM cannot account for change in location, and since it cannot account for change in location, it must be supplemented with other causes, causes which we either do not need or for which there is little reason to believe in. I don't see how the APOM can't account for inertial displacement. Whatever is being changed (object's location) is being changed by something else (it's kinetic energy). If an object is in motion, why doesn't it just stop moving?

Untenured said...

@BY:

I'm catching up on this thread a bit late, but I actually think you are being a bit hard on Yair, Ben-Yachov.

From what I've read, he isn't committing any egregious mistakes. He just sounds like a typical analytically trained philosopher who doesn't know what the philosophy of nature is or even that it exists.

For most analytically oriented M&E types, there are only metaphysical truths, logico-mathematical truths, and empirical truths. The former are those which obtain in all "possible worlds", and which we (somehow) know through conceptual analysis.

There is no analytic consensus on the status of logico-mathematical truth, but most of them think it is real and that it concerns a priori necessary truths known through formal reasoning. (some Quineans excluded)

The only other option, for the party-line analytic, is empirical science which is what people do in the lab and is purely a posteriori. It both constrains and is constrained by metaphysics even though science has epistemic priority because it is more reliably truth-conducive than conceptual reflection, in their opinion.

So it is natural that Yair would see no point to things like (some versions) PSR and the act/potency distinction because their ultimate rationale doesn't fall into any of these previously listed categories; and thus he thinks its entirely okay to dismiss them with either a Humean "conceivability" argument or an appeal to Ockham's razor.

Thus, Yair's main problem, as I see it, is that he does not know that there is another level of analysis that is equally important and that is neither metaphysical in his sense nor wholly continuous with natural science or logico-mathematics.

For us A-T guys, there is also the philosophy of nature which is an intermediate level of analysis between metaphysics and empirical science. It is a science based upon basic a posteriori truths and a priori deductions about their actual-world necessary conditions.

So I don't think he is guilty of confusing metaphysics and science; he just doesn't see that we can marshal independent reasons for accepting things like PSR and the act/potency distinction without deriving those reasons either from pure conceptual reflection or from natural science.

Once again, the basic problem is that analytic philosophers have a limited conception of what philosophy can and should do, and so they have a huge blind spot. But a blind spot is not an egregious error; its just an impoverished methodology.

Untenured said...

@Yair:

Just saw that you commented, I thought you might have been done with this thread- otherwise I would have addressed you directly. And yes, for the record, the medieval impetus theory is completely inessential to scholastic philosopy of nature.

Scott said...

"Since we're soliciting you for book/philosophy recommendations - I consider the Composition Problem to be the most difficult problem for panpsychism - do you know of any good solution to it? (In Sprigge or elsewhere.)"

Sprigge discusses the matter to some extent in the fourth chapter of The Vindication of Absolute Idealism, but it's been a while since I read it so I'd have to skim it over again in order to summarize it reliably. (He also recommends Whitehead, especially of course Process and Reality, but having not read it myself -- life is short -- I can only pass along Sprigge's own recommendation.)

It seems to me that Galen Strawson has something to say on it too, but I don't recall where or what. It's probably somewhere in Consciousness and its Place in Nature.

BenYachov said...

>I would also note that no one has attacked the first leg of my argument, namely that inertial local motion cannot be seen as a state.

That is because nobody cares. Feser is not interested in arguing if motion is a state or not. It seems many physicists (Lee Simlon for example) take it as such. So Feser argues IF it is a state then it follows etc..

>Feser's arguments notwithstanding, my own argument against the impetus theory is that it contradicts the APOM.

But you seem to reject or are unaware that Scholastics are essentalists. Things in scholasticism have essences and powers. So having a power of intertial motion that can't actualize itself is clearly does not in itself contradict APOM (which BTW is not a Theory in the Scientific sense nor a Law of Motion). Why things have the natures and essences they do is the subject of philosophical investigation.

You seem to treat APOM as some form of occationalism. That God is required for all actions to be proformed in all things.

It is not irrelavent you metaphysics and understanding of metaphysics is at issue.

BenYachov said...

>I'm catching up on this thread a bit late, but I actually think you are being a bit hard on Yair, Ben-Yachov.

I have actually toned myself down. I could have been worst and yes it is possible I am taking my disappointment over Prof Oerter behavior out on him.

OTOH Prof Oerter told me his is dealing with Cancer in his own family like I am so maybe that is why he hasn't been quick on the apology.

I still want to think well of him.

I do think well of Yair & have praised him for at least taking Feser seriously even if I was my usual agressive self.

יאיר רזק said...

@BenYachov: "But that objection is only meaningful if we concieve of the APOM as a rival or additional Law of Motion like any other Law of Physics which is an observation of an observed regularity."

Not at all. It is meaningful in any case where there is uncertainty in the validity of APOM. As Scott said, if we can establish APOM with certainty, then the extraneous assumptions become conclusions and are not a concern. If, like me, you have a very low opinion of the APOM to begin with, then the ad hocness is an extremely serious concern. The strength of the objection depends on the probability of APOM. For anyone but a dogmatist, however - for anyone that doesn't assign "1" to that probability - the objection stands.

@Untenured: "Thus, Yair's main problem, as I see it, is that he does not know that there is another level of analysis that is equally important and that is neither metaphysical in his sense nor wholly continuous with natural science or logico-mathematics."

Indeed, I don't see it. The only other category I'd include is transcendant analysis, a la Kant; which I took to be what Feser defines as "Philosophy of Nature" in his article. If that is not the case, then I'm really at a loss as to what other "level of analysis" exists. I'd greatly appreciate any clarification of just what this level is, and how it's possible.

" yes, for the record, the medieval impetus theory is completely inessential to scholastic philosopy of nature"

You mean "essential", I presume, and that it isn't in contradiction to the APOM. I'd greatly appreciate an explanation of that, as well.

Cheers,
Yair

Anonymous said...

I was waiting for the moment someone brought formal and final causes into the discussion. Can't really do A-T without them.

BenYachov said...

Anyway excellent analysis Untenured 10,000 time better then I could have ever done.

I'm glad someone from the A-team has finally shown up.

I am going to sit on the sidelines for now and watch.

Untenured said...

@Yair:

Too bad I have to run out until this afternoon. But I hope you stick around, you seem like a good guy to dialog with.

Are you using "Impetus" to refer to Philopohous's dynamical theory that proliferated in the Middle Ages? If so, then I would say that it is certainly inessential to the philosophy of nature even if it appears as a regular feature in examples of physical change. I think you shear it off from the standard analysis of persistence through change that is the starting point for A/T philosophy of nature.

Sorry I can't get into this in any depth until much later!

Glenn said...

A bit late on this; but, oh well.

1. Crude: I have personally seen large groups of atheists explicitly question the LNC on quantum physics grounds.

2. DNW: Yes, I've seen it too. Here. What's interesting is that when you do see it, it's usually with the reference you mention, but without substantive argument, as if it's self-evident as to why the laws of non-contradiction or excluded middle should be invalidated. Someone mentioned Copi's famous introductory logic text the other day. "Parameters"

3. Crude: What I usually see is the claim (and this happens with the ex nihil discussion too) that 'science shows that...' Really, a lot of times it's ginned up to make it sound as if people observe LNC violations in the laboratory, or observe something coming from nothing without cause. But yeah, once you start questioning it a lot of them just buckle or rely on 'Well I heard scientists say..!' It's parroting.

- - - - -

Copi mentions "parameters" in connection with translating the premises and conclusion of an argument into "standard-form categorical propositions".

Turning to Copi, and employing a combination of 'plagarism' and substitution...

Consider the following argument:

Denials of the LNC are found only where careless thinkers have written, posted or uttered. There are denials of the LNC to be found in Quantum Physics Forum C. Therefore careless thinkers must have written, posted or uttered in Quantum Physics Forum C.

This argument is perfectly valid, but before it can be proved valid by our diagrams or rules, its premises and conclusion must be translated into standard-form categorical propositions involving only three terms.

If the parameter "places" is used to obtain uniform standard-form translations of all three propositions, the argument translates into:

All places where denials of the LNC are found are places where careless thinkers have written, posted or uttered. Quantum Physics Forum C is a place where denials of the LNC are found. Therefore Quantum Physics Forum C is a place where careless thinkers have written, posted or uttered.


I myself do not spend time on physics forums. Poking around now, however, it seems that "quantum superposition" sometimes is held to invalidate the LNC.

Over at What is quantum superposition?, we find:

Quantum superposition is the term physicists use to describe the manner in which quantum particles appear to exist in all states simultaneously...

Recently, scientists at the University of California, Santa Barbara, produced the first experiment in which quantum superposition in a visible object was observed. A strip of metal, barely big enough to be seen by the naked eye, was able to both oscillate and not oscillate simultaneously...

On a practical level, quantum superposition can be applied to the construction of computer hardware. Basically, researchers are developing quantum memory, in which individual bits can be stored simultaneously as both 0 and 1[.]


(cont)

Glenn said...

Now, it may be that the reading of things like this, in conjunction with another's or one's own inference that the LNC thereby is invalidated, might help to transmogrify some humans beings into parrots. But that something has been parroted does not make that something false. (Of course, that a claim is not false by virtue of its having been parroted does not itself lend support to the alleged truth of the claim.)

A not entirely rare statement (Google returned 'about 68 responses' when I searched the statement) is that, "But unlike classical bits, qubits can exist simultaneously as 0 and 1, with the probability for each state given by a numerical coefficient." (Emphasis added.)

Copi concludes his brief treatment of objections to the LNC (which he calls "the Principle of Contradiction") by stating, "When understood in the sense in which it is intended, the Principle of Contradiction is unobjectionable and perfectly true." And he concludes his brief treatment of objections to the Principle of Excluded Middle by stating, "When restricted to statements containing completely unambiguous and perfectly precise terms, [and unvarying contexts (if I may add)], the Principle of Excluded Middle also is perfectly true."

I think it fair to say, e.g., that the sense in which the PC (LNC) is intended is, to speak colloquially, a sense in which something is either 100% some way or 100% not that way.

Something any careless thinker can try at home: Flip a coin, keep it hidden from view, assert that the coin is simultaneously both heads and tails, provide a numerical coefficient for the probability of each result, and claim that the PC and PEM, either or both, have now been invalidated. Then look in the mirror while keeping a straight face.

BenYachov said...

>Too bad I have to run out until this afternoon. But I hope you stick around, you seem like a good guy to dialog with.

Well I hope you come back tonight.

Eduardo said...

Well the argument is more about we having a doubt aboout a principle so we can't accept any ad hoc ideas. Yeah I think that does make sense so exactly exactly you get a certain result about a principle?

Anonymous said...

But if contradications are possible, can't a perfectly good and moral God exist in a universe where there is pointless suffering?

Also, maybe this would be a good place to ask why the Act-Potency distinction exists in the first place. IIRC, don't they provide an explanation as to why change is even possible? If that's right, then isn't the APOM needed to explain how change occurs, once we know that it is possible for change to occur?

Eduardo said...

Anon

I feel like there is something written incorrectly in that last paragraph. I dunno, something just seems OFF XD.

grodrigues said...

Still have not had the time to read Prof. Feser's paper, so do not have much to say. Except bang on the QM-driven irrationality (grin).

@Glenn:

"Quantum superposition is the term physicists use to describe the manner in which quantum particles appear to exist in all states simultaneously."

This sentence is highly misleading. Quantum superposition is physics talk for what in math lingo is known as linear combination (*), in other words, when the quantum system is in a quantum superposition, the state of the system *is* a linear combination of states. It is not the case that the system *is* in all the states appearing in the linear combination simultaneously. This is just sloppy talk, from which I gather, ensue some of the inane claims that QM somehow contradicts LNC.

I mean do people even *read* what they say? Formalize QM, say in some background theory like ZFC. If QM entailed some contradiction of LNC, it would entail a contradiction, that is, there would be a sentence P, such that from the formalized QM we could prove P and not-P. This means that the formalized QM would be inconsistent. From an inconsistent theory by the principle of explosion *anything* expressable in the language of the theory is derivable; you could derive, say that 0 = 1. IOW, the predictive power of the theory is null and void.

(*) Actually this is not quite correct, but it is enough for my current purposes.

Eduardo said...

That is pretty damn awkward, they made the this tiny object to oscilate and NOT oscilate at the same time XD!

Weird, just weird XD.

BenYachov said...

>Still have not had the time to read Prof. Feser's paper, so do not have much to say. Except bang on the QM-driven irrationality (grin).

I hope you do soon. Another A-team contribute is a plus.

By A-team I mean someone with enough of a general knowledge of Thomism, Math and Science & some knowledge of modern Philosophy to put them all together in a coherent manner.

Anonymous said...

"I feel like there is something written incorrectly in that last paragraph. I dunno, something just seems OFF XD."

I'm getting it from that lecture video on Youtube that Feser linked to a few posts back. Parmenides argued that change is impossible, an argument involving the famous "from nothing, nothing comes" principle. I think the Act-Potency distinction is a counter to that, showing how change is indeed possible.

BLS said...

I also fee that a proper understanding/explication of per accidens and per se is vital to this discussion.

יאיר רזק said...

@Untenured: I've never even *heared* of Philopohous. My knowledge of impetus is based on Feser's paper and a few vague memories.

Hope to see you back. I'll be here.

@Eduardo: "exactly you get a certain result about a principle?"

Hopefully, you don't. The moment you become dogmatic, you lose the opportunity to change your mind. We can come close to certainty, however. :)

@grodrigues: I couldn't agree more on the QM/LNC thing. However, have you considered the objection to the LNC from paraconsistent-logic? It's specifically intended to stave-off the kind of explosion you refer to. And it's giving me a headache.

See, for example,
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/dialetheism/

The justification of the LNC is a topic I'm struggling with, and any way I try to think of it seems to presuppose it.

Scott said...

"The justification of the LNC is a topic I'm struggling with, and any way I try to think of it seems to presuppose it."

Which, traditionally, is its justification.

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