Monday, March 5, 2018

Carrier carries on


Richard Carrier has replied to my recent response to his critique of Five Proofs of the Existence of God, both in the comments section of his original post and in a new post.  “Feser can’t read,” Carrier complains.  Why?  Because – get this – I actually took the first six paragraphs of the section he titled “Argument One: The Aristotelian Proof” to be part of his response to the Aristotelian proof.   What was I thinking?

It’s all at about that level.  Trash talk, unacknowledged backpedaling, rookie misinterpretations of Thomistic claims, misrepresentations of what I said, question-begging scientism, persistent missing of the point, all expressed in prose with the flow and clarity of tar.  It would take a second book to explain all the ways Carrier gets the first one wrong.  Several readers have begged me not to engage with him any further, on the grounds that it would manifestly be a waste of time to do so.  And they are right.

Except for this: Carrier’s self-confidence is so absurdly out of proportion to his actual competence that he does not realize that the only deathblows he delivers are of the self-inflicted kind.  In particular, in no fewer than three places in his response, Carrier has inadvertently revealed himself to be either an extremely reckless liar or guilty of malpractice that would make any actual scholar (as opposed to the online hobbyist Carrier is) a professional laughingstock. 

No honest and objective Carrier reader who considers the examples that follow can have any further doubt (if any still remained) that Carrier has no credibility and should not be taken seriously, certainly not on the subject of Five Proofs.  Establishing that, as I think all my readers will agree, is worth one more post on Carrier.  So let’s get to it.

Exhibit A:

In my initial response, I pointed out that the apparent force of one of Carrier’s objections rested in part on his conflation of two separate premises from my Aristotelian proof.  In his latest post, Carrier responds as follows:

I won’t address every weird and false thing Feser says about my article.  There are many.  But, for example, Feser falsely claims I collapsed two premises into one when addressing his Aristotelian argument.  Nope.  I quote only Premise 41, exactly as he wrote it, verbatim. (Emphasis added)

End quote.  Now, why Carrier would bother making so easily refutable an assertion, I have no idea, but there it is.  Let’s now compare what he actually said in his original post with what I actually said in my book.  Here is the relevant passage from Carrier’s original post:

Feser’s formalization of this argument appears around page 35.  It has 49 premises.  I shit you not.  Most of them are uncontroversial on some interpretation of the words he employs (that doesn’t mean they are credible on his chosen interpretation of those words, but I’ll charitably ignore that here), except one, Premise  41, where his whole argument breaks down and bites the dust: “the forms or patterns manifest in all the things [the substrate] causes…can exist either in the concrete way in which they exist in individual particular things, or in the abstract way in which they exist in the thoughts of an intellect.” (Emphasis added)

End quote.  And here is the passage from my book that he is quoting from, at p. 37:

40. So, the forms or patterns manifest in all the things it causes must in some way be in the purely actual actualizer.

41. These forms or patterns can exist either in the concrete way in which they exist in individual particular things, or in the abstract way in which they exist in the thoughts of an intellect.

End quote.  As you can plainly see, Carrier really did do exactly what I said he did and what he now strenuously denies doing – he collapsed steps 40 and 41 into one step without telling the reader that that is what he was doing.  (See my previous response to Carrier for an explanation of why this is significant.)  Anyone who actually has a copy of my book and reads Carrier’s original review can easily check and see that I am telling the truth and Carrier is not.  (By the way, as a precaution, I took a screen capture of this Carrier passage and the ones to follow.  I will post these if Carrier attempts to go back and doctor his original posts by way of damage control.)

Exhibit B:

In his latest post, Carrier writes:

His attempt to defend his Aristotelian argument against my rebuttal illustrates this very point: he falsely claims I argued that he did not consider Platonism; false.  I said he did not consider Aristotelian Forms Theory, not Platonic Forms Theory.  And lo, he didn’t.  Nowhere in his book. And still not even in this response to my rebuttal.  It’s almost like he does not comprehend there is a difference between those two theories or what it is. (Emphasis added)

End quote.  Yes, you read that right.  Carrier actually asserts that “nowhere” in my book do I “consider Aristotelian Forms Theory,” and that it seems that I do not even “comprehend that there is a difference between those two theories or what it is.”  Anyone with even a cursory knowledge of my work will find this an absolutely bizarre claim, given that one of the things for which I am best known is, of course, being an unreconstructed Aristotelian hylemorphist.  For example, I devote a whole chapter of Scholastic Metaphysics and big chunks of Aquinas, The Last Superstition, and other works to defending the Aristotelian approach to form.

More to the present point, I do in fact explicitly address the topic several times in Five Proofs itself.  For example, at p. 97 I write: “There are three alternatives: Platonic realism, Aristotelian realism, and Scholastic realismLet’s consider each in turn.”  I then go on to do exactly that from pp. 97-102.  Earlier in the book, at pp. 28-29, I explicitly discuss the Aristotelian hylemorphist analysis of material substances as composites of substantial form and prime matter.  I discuss it again at pp. 55-56, 72-73, and elsewhere in the book. 

Again, anyone who has a copy of my book can easily verify that I am telling the truth and Carrier is not.  (And again, I’ve taken a screen capture in case Carrier decides to alter what he wrote in order to save himself from embarrassment.)

Exhibit C:

In a combox remark under his original post, a reader asks Carrier if my book “argue[s] for the Judeo-Christian God or just a generic diety [sic] he calls God.”  Carrier responds:

His closing chapters attempt to bootstrap his way to a traditional Christian God of some sort, by building on his five Proofs (which alone don’t get that far).  But since his Five Proofs don’t work, there was no need to bother addressing his attempts to build on them.  One could perhaps write a critique of just how he gets from the God of his Proofs, all the way to Christianity, but I found that a tedious waste of time.  His Proofs are false.  So why bother exploring what else he does with them? (Emphasis added)

End quote.  Now, as anyone who has read Five Proofs knows, in fact not only do I not address any specifically Christian claims in the book, I explicitly decline to do so.  For example, at p. 15, I write:

The real debate is not between atheism and theism.  The real debate is between theists of different stripes – Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, purely philosophical theists, and so forth – and begins where natural theology leaves off.  This book does not enter into, much less settle, that latter debate.  (Emphasis added)

End quote.  On pp. 268-9 I consider the following objection:

“Even if it is proved that there is a First Cause, which is omnipotent, omniscient, perfectly good, and so forth, this would not by itself show that God sent prophets to ancient Israel, inspired the Bible, is a Trinity, and so forth.”

And then in response, I write:

This is true, but completely irrelevant.  Arguments like the ones defended in this book are not claiming in the first place to establish every tenet of any particular religion, but rather merely one central tenet that is common to many of them – namely, that there is a cause of the world which is one, simple, immaterial, eternal, immutable, omnipotent, omniscient, perfectly good, and so forth.  If they succeed in doing that, then they show that atheism is false, and that the only remaining question is what kind of theism one ought to adopt – a purely philosophical theism, or Judaism, or Christianity, or Islam, or some other more specific brand of theism.  Deciding that would require further investigation and argumentation.  It would be silly to pretend that since the arguments of this book don’t answer every question about God, it follows that they don’t answer any question about God.  (Emphasis added)

End quote.  Once again, anyone who has a copy of my book can easily verify that I am telling the truth and Carrier is not.

Since Carrier cannot get even simple matters like these right, it is no surprise that he horribly mangles the more complex topics he addresses.  For example, he clearly hasn’t the faintest clue as to what Thomists and other classical theists mean when they attribute simplicity or intellect to God.  But that doesn’t stop him from devoting paragraph after turgid paragraph to developing objections that intersperse these misunderstandings with completely irrelevant blathering about the nature of space-time.  Then he declares victory when I don’t follow him on this wild goose chase.

If you’ve ever gotten stuck at a party sitting next to some bore who won’t shut up about the Trilateral Commission, or UFOs, or some other crackpot subject, and thinks he’s scored some major points because you’ve simply nodded politely and then beat a hasty retreat without having rebutted his assertions, then you have an idea of what it’s like to engage in an online exchange with Richard Carrier.  The guy badly needs someone to take him aside and offer some bracing maternal advice

160 comments:

  1. Still recommend the ‘No Platform’ approach.

    I wonder what it would take to convince atheists that citing or appealing to Carrier and his kind significantly reduce their intellectual credibility? Why insist on granting intellectual status to someone who is blatantly dishonest and logically incompetent?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think the only atheist who cite Carrier are misinformed teens who spend too much time on "infidel" website or other similar pseudo-intellectual platforms.

      As someone else noted in the previous post on Carrier, he was even banned from skepticon and his books are pretty much ignored by anyone of intellectual weight... when he's not laughed at I mean.

      Even other atheists take their distance from him.

      Delete
    2. I think Carrier's influence is very limited. His writings on theism and philosophy of religion are horrible, so he's pretty much ignored by philosophers. As for history, he is also not taken seriously in academia, and has a track record of defending pretty much the stupidest and most fringe anti-Christian views one may find (Jesus myth, even bullshit legends about how christians could be blamed for the destruction of the library of Alexandria, etc). His readers are mostly a very small group of new atheists obsessed with anti-Christianity.

      Delete
    3. Carrier is well known and worth dealing with *for the sake of saving his audience*. He can't be turned but it's good that a systematic rather than merely personal rebuttal of his crap is done.

      HesH got the Ayn Rand effect: some people follow him because hesh got the right temperament, says plausible sounding things, and theyvth never seen a reply to it. It's worth doing.

      Delete
    4. Sadly I can think of at least on philosopher of religion (Stephen Maitzen) who cites Carrier in support of various philosophical thesis.

      Why was Carrier banned from Skepticon?

      Delete
    5. The same Maitzen who defends the HEC principle by thinking we can explain the universe by an infinite chain of causes? Eeeek. Though I find this specific suggestion of his ridiculous, I don't want to badmouth Maitzen as he seemed serious. But Carrier, from what he has written in his review, just has no clue whatsoever of what he's talking about. He conflates potentiality with nothing (or he doesn't understand the aristotelian concept of change, could be either one of those) and somehow keeps insisting on his "Merdae Fit" (funny, his idea is literally shit) which just, you know, crucially depends on PSR/PC being false, with the added bonus of thinking nothingness precludes anything except conditions for probability calculation, somehow. How is someone supposed to take this shit seriously?

      Delete
    6. "Why was Carrier banned from Skepticon?"

      Sexual assault alligation.

      Delete
    7. From the little I have read I get the impression that Maitzen is like Law or Martin, an atheist philosopher of religion who tetters on the edge of New Atheisthood. It's a shame as he is obviously capable of sustained philosophical reasoning, he just lapses into perjorative and strawmen when theism arises.

      Delete
    8. Law, to give him credit, can be engaged in an adult tone of voice. I don't believe I've ever seen such a conversation occur with Richard. He wants worship, not conversation, anyway.

      Delete
    9. Carrier's view is similar to Nietzche's.

      "I can't believe in God because I cannot think that I am not him."

      Delete
  2. This is typical Carrier. He will never humbly own up to misunderstandings and errors. He is just going to come back and say you are a liar, you didn't understand what he said, or you are ignorant. This reminds me of an exchange he had with New Testament scholar Larry Hurtado in December of last year where he did the same thing that he is doing to Feser:

    https://larryhurtado.wordpress.com/2017/12/07/gee-dr-carrier-youre-really-upset/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's a useful -- and amusing --
      compilation of the way Carrier always responds to criticism here:

      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2015/12/bringing-a-gun-to-a-review-fight.html

      Delete
  3. Frankly I think he suffers from some sort of mental disease.

    No I do not mean just a severe Dunning–Kruger cognitive bias, but really it seems to me he has delusions as he makes up "facts" as he goes along. He does that in his books as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. narcissistic personality disorder

      Delete
    2. There are Catholic celebrities in Ireland, very active in referendums who are the same.

      Delete
    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    4. Yeah, but the ones I met on the Emerald Isle aren't so obvious. They are the covert kind. Going around screwing over Catholic or charity groups etc. and hijacking the public discourse during referendum for their own self aggrandizement and attention.

      There is a great:

      Youtube video on this problem. https://youtu.be/L5dlpDGL034

      Out these people. The destroy lives!

      My warning is beware and don't become an enabler to these dark personalities.

      Delete
  4. It seems to me that Carrier's position is merely a reactionary one against Christianity. It doesn't seem like he rationally arrived at atheism, but rather, that he is violently reacting against something he hates in some form of Christianity. I think a lot of atheists in many ways are reactionists to the hierarchy and history of the Catholic Church and to the intellectual errors in Fundamentalist Protestantism (Young Earth Creationists, etc.). Dr. Feser's work (and similar authors) is hopefully restoring the intellectual reputation of theists. However, as for rebelling against any kind of structured religion, there is really no help against that. There is such a thing as willful defiance and willful ignorance. If the man is committed enough, even God's grace cannot touch his defiance. I pray that that is not the case for Richard Carrier.

    ReplyDelete
  5. While we're at it, his claim that "[String Theory] can predict exactly all the particles of the Standard Model and all of their peculiar fundamental features and constants" is utterly wrong. Not a single string theorist on the face of the planet that believes that claim. So, we can add "physics" right after "philosophy" and "mathematics" to Carrier's growing know-nothing resume.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When a philosopher tells you that you know nothing about philosophy and a physicist tells you that you know nothing about physics . . . . Time to give up?

      Delete
    2. Clearly the philosopher "can't read" and the physicist is "a kook"

      Delete
    3. But of course String Theory can do all that! All it takes is an idealized version of the theory in some form that’s convenient to Carrier’s conclusions. That is, all it takes is for reality to bend to his view of what it ought to be.

      I have trouble escaping the sense that he’s bending a lot things that way.

      Delete
  6. Carriers comments on Essence might deserve a look, has anyone done that?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jack,

      I'm afraid Carrier's comments on essences are abysmally ignorant. He writes:

      "...'[E]ssences' don’t exist. And we’ve long known they don’t exist. That’s why they are no longer used in any scientific theory. But other phenomena that 'essences' were a failed attempt to explain, do exist. This is why the Wikipedia article on 'Essences' never once mentions any scientific use or application of the term. And why the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has a whole section titled Death of Essentialism. Set theory has replaced the entire concept."

      1. The section titled "Death of Essentialism" is in an SEP article on Species (biological species, that is). In the same article, there's a subsequent section titled, "The New Biological Essentialism," which discusses and critiques the recent work of Devitt (2008), who espouses "intrinsic biological essentialism."

      2. Carrier's claim that sets have replaced essences is bogus. The article cited by Carrier takes a dim view of set theory, concluding that philosopher P. Kitcher’s motivation for asserting that species are sets is "not substantiated by biological theory or practice."

      3. While the Wikipedia article on Essences doesn't mention their relevance to science, the SEP article on Natural Kinds at https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/natural-kinds/ discusses them is connection with biology, chemistry, psychology and social science, and has a special section on essentialism, a view which is treated with respect in the article. The author discusses LaPorte's view (2004) that "biological kinds (species, genera, etc.) do have essential properties, and these are historical rather than intrinsic properties."

      4. In any case, Feser is not committed to species essentialism. He says on page 145 that he could happily concede that there are no biological essences, if pressed, while still maintaining that the physical particles which make up objects have clear-cut essences. And as he points out on page 144, the view that all essences are constructs of the human mind is self-refuting, as it invokes an essence of its own (that of the mind).

      Delete
  7. Ouch! Let the back-slide begin! "Well, I didn't mean he literally wrote that..."

    ReplyDelete
  8. I have to agree he seems mentally ill. Ignoring him is probably the kindest thing to do.

    ReplyDelete
  9. The next Carrier reply to Ed should be amusing (popcorn is ready).

    ReplyDelete
  10. Here's my response to Carrier's dumpster fire. It seemed to me his proposal is just wildly incoherent, even on its own terms in addition to his critique of "Five Proofs" being totally preposterous:

    https://mathomablog.wordpress.com/2018/03/06/carrier-contra-feser-part-1/

    ReplyDelete
  11. How big is Carrier's audience?

    ReplyDelete
  12. Maybe that section on parts in his latest article merits serious response?

    ReplyDelete
  13. I had to refresh my memory of what Carrier said in the original review. When I got to this paragraph:

    Ironically, a third option that in fact I’m quite certain is actually true, is the very option described by Aristotle himself. Aristotle took Plato to task for the mistake Feser is making, pointing out that it is not necessary that potential patterns actually exist in some concrete or mental form. They only have to potentially exist. Hence Aristotle said of Plato’s “world of forms” what Laplace said to Napoleon of God: “Sir, I have no need of that hypothesis.” Potential things are by definition not actual. So obviously we don’t need them to be actualized to exist. That’s a self-contradictory request. It’s thus self-contradictory of Feser to insist that potential things must be “actualized” somewhere (a mind; concrete things). Obviously there is no logical sense in which they must be actualized in that way. [my emphasis]

    and could not go any further. I could not decide whether it turned my stomach, or was just laughably ridiculous.

    Friends, I understand why you charitably want to hope that Carrier is merely mentally ill. It is a kindly thought. But I fear that mental illness alone does not account for paragraphs like that. It takes real density to produce that. Now, a person may be no more responsible for his density than for his mental illness, I grant you that, so perhaps we should all just refrain from beating a dumb donkey and pull a cover over this benighted review.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Hence Aristotle said of Plato’s “world of forms” what Laplace said to Napoleon of God: “Sir, I have no need of that hypothesis.” "

      Funny how Carrier himself links to the place where one can find John Lennox' excellent explanation of what Laplace actually meant and how this quote is misused by the atheists.

      Delete
  14. If Carrier is indeed a narcissist as someone else claimed maybe the 'No Contact' approach is best... but I also think his readership (as seen on Twitter) need to know that he isn't a trustworthy source. There are many credible atheist scholars to follow instead.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No contact is a solution to interpersonal issues not to theoretical disputes (especially with an audience around). Also the no platform approach to debate threatens to fall into the building that poisons the minds of the left constantly.

      Delete
    2. I think you misunderstand me. Interacting with narcissists (as a full blown personality disordered) are bad for any normal persons mental state.

      I am against 'No Platforming'. I just don't know if it would be a good idea to directly interact with Richard long-term. Let his 'arguments' slash and burn, certainly.

      Delete
  15. Did Richard just delete his reply and edit the original post? Seriously, why has this fraud got a following?

    ReplyDelete
  16. My mistake it was not deleted, but he edited his reply.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Just Google 'Richard carrier is a narcissist' and you will get many skeletons from his past.

    I am now of the view you should no longer directly engage, but it would be worthwhile for the sake of his cult(?) following to knock some of the gibberish he peddles.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I remember him from the early days of the internet infidels. He used to be one of the more rational, well-behaved atheists there. He was a strong critic of the very Jesus Mythicism he now embraces. But somewhere along the way he decided he wanted to be famous more than he wanted to tell the truth. I actually think he knows that a lot of what he writes is absurd bullshit, but how else is he going to get much more reputable figures to spread his name? There are a lot of new atheists in this sort of performance artist game (John Loftus and Lawrence Krauss spring to mind) whose public personas seem to clearly be a put on. We should pity their followers like we pity the followers of televangelists. A lot of them probably have no idea they're being had.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I very much enjoyed reading this. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  20. How ironic is Carrier’s name, given how much of the (ahem) intellectual load of atheism he carries. I had someone mention him to me in a bookstore the other day, in relation to his (ahem) work on Bayes’ theorem and history.

    Where would atheism be today without him? One can only dream, I mean, imagine.

    ReplyDelete
  21. "Generic diety": Just like God, but skinnier.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Speaking of self-incrimin New Atheist comments, did anyone hear about Richard Dawkins' recent defense of the moral justifiability of cannabilism? I hope Dr. Feser will comment on this.

    See here:
    https://www.dailywire.com/news/27912/famous-atheist-lets-eat-human-meat-hank-berrien

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What's so wrong with that? I thought you heard, we're just matter in motion. Nothing special here. Or some such nonsense.

      I do hope that some will realize that on atheism there is no reason objective reason to criticize Dawkins. That if God is really dead, things cannot remain the same. Human dignity is only intelligible in a certain, theistic ecology of ideas. Take that away, and why not get rid of what would just be the 'yuck' morality Dawkins criticizes.

      Delete
    2. Not surprised. In the same territory as Peter Singer’s defense of infanticide.

      On the bright side, Denmark has recently banned bestiality (yes, it was legal): http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/32411241/denmark-passes-law-to-ban-bestiality

      “Denmark has become one of the last European countries to ban bestiality.
      Until the new law was passed on Tuesday, sex with animals was still legal in the country as long as the animal was unharmed.
      Activists claimed the strange law was difficult to prove, and was making Denmark a hotspot for animal sex tourists.
      Hungary, Finland and Romania are now the only EU countries where bestiality, or zoophilia, is legal.”

      There is still hope.

      Delete
  23. For anyone who thinks Carrier is arrogant. Look at what Feser wrote--

    "The real debate is not between atheism and theism."

    Of course, Feser's book does nothing to show that atheism is false. He fails to prove the First Cause is good in any moral sense (and spare me the theistic personalist complaint, which I dealt with already). The First Cause can't be good because free will is impossible and entails randomness, because nothing determines (and hence you have no control over) what your choice will be. No free will means no moral perfection.

    Contra Feser, the debate is between atheists of different stripes. Idealists, materialists, and panpsychists. Theism is finished; most people are just too stupid or prideful to realize it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yikes.

      You're taking what Feser wrote out of context. There in the book, he claimed that since he has shown that there is a God, then it follows that the debate is no longer about atheism or theism... that is, now it's about theists "of different stripes," to use your wording.

      In sum, Feser's quote concerns the opposite of what you thought it did. But you'd know that, if you read the book.

      Delete
    2. ... aaand I just realized that the "stripes" wording was Feser's and not yours. Regardless, all of this was in Feser's quote above. Did you stop reading?

      Anyways, are you saying that the will can only be free if there is randomness and it's determined?

      More over, how can people be too stupid or prideful to realize that theism is finished if there's no free will? They couldn't possibly realize otherwise!

      Delete
    3. Dude, you're dumb enough to think atheism would be compatible with a personal, omnipotent and omniscient transcendent creator of the universe who happens to be amoral (in your view), spare us any more of your obsessive question-begging of randomness objections.

      Delete
    4. Also if this moron happens to be a follower of Richard Carrier, then the "independent scholar" is even worse than I thought.

      Delete
    5. Please don't feed the trolls. This one is particularly imbecilic and virulent.

      Delete
    6. "More over, how can people be too stupid or prideful to realize that theism is finished if there's no free will? They couldn't possibly realize otherwise!"

      The stupidity or pride was inevitable, but still there.

      "you're dumb enough to think atheism would be compatible with a personal, omnipotent and omniscient transcendent creator"

      The definition of God is omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect. That's theism. If one can prove that even one of those attributes if false and/or incoherent, then they have proven atheism. They haven't proven naturalism, but that's not the same thing.

      "spare us any more of your obsessive question-begging of randomness objections."

      If there's no reason for adopting one set of reasons over another, then that is randomness. You have no control over what your will will land on. Any attempt to obscure that amounts to word games, as I will show later on.

      Delete
    7. >The definition of God is omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect. That's theism.

      But it's not Classic Theism. Feser channeling his inner Brian Davies doesn't believe God is a moral agent. No Classic Theist does dumbass!

      Delete
    8. You aren't paying for that course with Carrier, are You?

      Delete
    9. "If there's no reason for adopting one set of reasons over another, then that is randomness."

      I asked you to spare us your obsessive question-begging of the randomness objection. I guess you can't help it since in your mind you have no choice over whether to keep begging the question against Pruss over and over again, right?

      Good luck identifying yourself as a non-naturalistic ATHEIST who believes there is a transcendental, omnipotent, omniscient, personal creator of the universe who just happens to be amoral as you see it. Judging by your writing, you're not just dumb, you have some issues and you appear crazy.

      Anyway, no one in this blog is interested in your petitio principii fallacies, so "try" to deterministically get the fuck out and stop wasting your time, especially since by your own question-begging view you don't think you can make any difference. Leave.

      Delete
    10. I never said God is a moral agent. He is still morally perfect in the sense of being the eternal law, even though he is not subject to it. I can even quote Feser if you want me to.

      I don't grant all those attributes. I'm saying I don't care whether there is a First Cause, because even if there is one, it is not morally perfect and hence not God.

      "I asked you to spare us your obsessive question-begging of the randomness objection."

      Does the agent have control over which reasons are adopted? If yes, then it is determined by the agent's nature (his character, inclinations, etc.). If no, then even if there is an explanation, it's random and the agent has no control, so he can't be held responsible. Even if you want to call that free will, it's not the kind of free will that makes people morally accountable. Also, proving free will would actually prove Sartre-like atheism, since it is not compatible with foreknowledge.

      I'll go more in depth later.

      "get the f--- out"

      I sense frustration. I guess that's what happens when you can't have non-contraceptive sex ;-)

      "Leave."

      I have no choice. When I see this much stupidity, I have to comment.

      Delete
    11. *contraceptive sex, not non-. Sorry.

      Delete
    12. Get lost you silly troll.

      Delete
    13. Seems to be common from atheists:

      "Of course atheism isn't moral nihilism; that's a misrepresentation of what we believe."

      "But by the way, there is no such thing as free will, and so yeah there is no such thing as moral responsibility and no such thing as moral duty."


      Greg

      Delete
    14. Counter rebel, you need to quit posting and start reading and learning. You do not know what you're talking about:

      "I never said God is a moral agent." This is what you wrote about Feser, "He fails to prove the First Cause is good in any moral sense."

      What is it, then? Can morality be ascribed be to God or not?

      On free-will,"Does the agent have control over which reasons are adopted? If yes, then it is determined by the agent's nature"

      Read that carefully before you type again, do you see how incoherent is to say that if I can choose among reasons, then I am determined? or that if I cannot choose among reasons, then my actions are random?

      If you're putting your soul at stake over such inanities, then you're a fool. Stop dividing by zero, study more, and then come back in a few years.

      Delete
    15. I do affirm moral nihilism. We can't be responsible for our actions if we couldn't have done otherwise. Even if we have free will (at least the kind defended in this comments section), we still can't be responsible since we can't select which set of reasons to act on. (That would lead to an infinite regress. Can we control what we select? Do we have control over the controlling of what we select, ad infinitum.) It's just an arbitrary decision with no contrastive explanation--random. No matter how strong your desire to do the good is (and how reasonable), BAM! "your" will could do wrong anyway. More like libertarian un-free will. So even if Catholicism were true, why struggle to do good if I could sin 30 seconds before I die, and then go to Hell?

      Delete
    16. This moron will keep question-begging the randomness objection and assming an explanans has to necessitate its explanandum. It's all he does, I told you guys.

      And by the way, Mr. Contraception, anything BUT libertarian free will is incoherent with respect to rational beings and finite goods, because no finite good can determinately move the will, since a finite good by definition is finite -- lacking in part in desirability and thus repelling the rational will inasmuch as it's finite. And this applies to a "finitely better", too. So you can be very motivated and attracted by a finite good, but it is always up to the rational agent to act since the will will simultaneously be repelled in some measure by the finite good. Which is how there is free action, which is neither determined nor random. There is no chance, but order: final causality, goodness as goodness attracts us, and determinately so in the case of infinite goodness; but not any determinism in the case of finite goods, hence free action.

      But of course that would require you to actually study the subject instead of vomiting the same tired question-begging randomness objection you learned in baby's first philosophy of action article. Get a grip, stop entertaining delusions of grandeur when you don't know 1/100 of this discipline and buzz off.

      Delete
    17. "What is it, then? Can morality be ascribed be to God or not?"

      I said Feser did not prove First Cause is moral IN ANY SENSE, whether it is being subject to the moral law or identical to the moral law. On theism, there is a moral law, and it is God. But if free will and thereby morality is incoherent, so is God. Your heretical New Testament even says God is good.

      "do you see how incoherent is to say that if I can choose among reasons, then I am determined? or that if I cannot choose among reasons, then my actions are random?"

      In the first case, there's no reason for selecting one reason over another, so your actions are performed with reasons but not FOR those reasons. Ultimately, this kind of free will is non-rational, but I thought God gave us a rational free will. In the second case, yes, if you're not acting for a reason, then it's random.

      "If you're putting your soul at stake"

      I already tried being a Catholic, and it led me to suicidal depression. So if I don't be Catholic, I go to Hell. If I be Catholic, I kill myself and go to Hell anyway. I have nothing to lose. And even if I live a near-perfect life, given free will, I could sin 30 seconds before I die, and go to Hell despite all the struggle. Might as well enjoy life and fornicate "a thousand times a day," as Luther pointed out.

      "Stop dividing by zero, study more, and then come back in a few years."

      Oh, spare the intellectual elitism. The arrogance of Catholic philosophers is appalling. I've read Augustine, Plantinga, Ludwig Ott, Feser, Mackie (the most beautiful), Camus, Strawson and others. But what does it matter anyway? You'll just tell me I'm misreading them.

      Delete
    18. Counter Rebel, I've no idea what you mean by the freedom, "defended in this comments section." Do you speak of Thomist compatibilism? synchronic freedom? Does the freedom defended here also mean the ability to choose evil for the sake of evil? Is it the ability to choose among the affection for justice and the affection for the advantageous? The ability to fully control rationality itself or just the ability to choose among several rational options?

      There's no reason for the infinite regress argument you put forth. Explanations have to end somewhere, and it ends with the contingency of the will, i.e. its ability to will the opposite. I repeat, it is the nature of free-will to be free and it is unfair to say that this is randomness, specially if reasons are a part of the explanation for my choosing.

      Saying that the ability of the will to choose requires further explanations is like saying that contingent things in general require further explanations for their contingency and if there's no explanation forthcoming then randomness is at work.



      Delete
    19. >I said Feser did not prove First Cause is moral IN ANY SENSE, whether it is being subject to the moral law or identical to the moral law.


      You are either a liar or a dumbass or both.
      You said "He fails to prove the First Cause is good in any moral sense (and spare me the theistic personalist complaint, which I dealt with already)" END QUOTE.

      Basically you don't say what you mean and that is either because being a moral nilihist you don't feel the need to be honest or you are just a Troll punk & a dumbass.
      (Also your complaints over Theistic Personalism is just an example of "No Fair defending the God you believe in vs the one I wished you believed in!").
      At this point people I suspect this jackarse is Stardusty. Get rid of him. Geez can't we have nice rational Atheists who don't read Dawkins but do read Oppy or Jack Smart? Get rid of this brain dead intellectually inferior punk!

      Delete
    20. "I already tried being a Catholic, and it led me to suicidal depression.
      So if I don't be Catholic, I go to Hell. If I be Catholic, I kill myself and go to Hell anyway."

      So your reasons for rejecting Catholicism are partially or mainly psychological and not rational. You need counseling, and less rational discourse.

      Delete
    21. Counter Rebel:
      S.O.Y. is correct. You’re equivocation on “moral sense” is evasive. Even worse you’re redefining *God* just to sing another Euthyphro melody. How is that (..per your melody...) “in” God it is the case that Reasoning “stuff/parts” interface(s) with Willing/Volition “stuff/parts” which then (Time? Tense?) interface(s) with Knowing (or some-thing-y) “stuff/parts” ? After all, given the Christian metaphysic — and not what you wish that metaphysic to be — none of that applies and — therefore — your Euthyphro melody is disharmonious — even flat.

      ~
      scbrownlhrm

      Delete
    22. I think this clown is Stardusty.

      Delete
    23. I wasn't being dishonest when I said God, by definition, is morally perfect. I never said He is a moral agent.

      Here are some quotes from Feser from his post on the euthyphro dilemma:

      "He is already Goodness Itself and therefore already possesses supreme Beatitude, and there is accordingly no rule or measure outside Him against which His actions might be evaluated. He is not under the moral law precisely because He is the moral law." So God is good.

      "Since moral goodness concerns the will, it follows that God is morally good, and perfectly so." So God is good.

      Let's not also forget the New Testament --

      "And Jesus said to him, Why callest thou me good? None is good but one, that is God." (Mark 10:18, Douay-Rheims Bible) So God is good.

      So stop with the crap. If free will is incoherent, morality is incoherent, and so is God.

      "because no finite good can determinately move the will, since a finite good by definition is finite" I don't accept this the whole model of finite vs. infinite goods. I'm not a Thomist. As long as the intellect perceives something desirable, and there's nothing more desirable, then that moves the will. Your strongest desire is your will.

      "assming an explanans has to necessitate its explanandum." I'll address this more in depth later. If your explanation doesn't entail the outcome, then it's inexplicable which possible outcome comes to pass. You have no control. Your desires, your reasoning don't determine the will's movement. Nothing does. That's random, and you just label it "free will."

      If you want to learn what a moron is, look in the mirror. I'm not the one who thinks free will is incompatible with foreknowledge, and that poor people deserve Hell because they don't want to raise fifteen children.

      "Saying that the ability of the will to choose requires further explanations"

      I'm saying that free will (or at least, morally significant free will, since I'm not that much opposed to Sartre's type of free will) is incoherent. Either your will moves one way (or another) for a reason, or the will moves randomly toward one desire/reason-set. There's nothing internal to the will saying "act on A" or "act on B" since that would go back to determinism. So it's totally arbitrary to hold someone accountable for what their libertarian un-free will does. I'm not going to force my children to roll a die and then torture them in the basement forever if it happens to land on 5.

      "Geez can't we have nice rational Atheists who don't read Dawkins but do read Oppy or Jack Smart?"

      Don't expect any kindness when you demonstrate no kindness. This isn't Christ-like behaviour. I won't be surprised if we see each other in Hell. ;-)

      "So your reasons for rejecting Catholicism are partially or mainly psychological and not rational. You need counseling, and less rational discourse." Let's not pretend that no one has psychological reasons for believing what they do. I do have rational reasons in addition to my emotional ones, such as J.L. Mackie's argument from evil, which has never been refuted.

      "Even worse you’re redefining *God*" Re-defining God as good? Give me a break. This is how God has traditionally been defined. Even Yeshua affirmed God's goodness.

      Delete
    24. "So your reasons for rejecting Catholicism are partially or mainly psychological and not rational. You need counseling, and less rational discourse."

      As I said, he looks like he has some issues, and appears somewhat crazy as well. Unfortunately, instead of seeking help he just keeps clogging up comboxes repeating the same tiresome and inane fallacies over and over again. And this has been going on for months; before him it was Strawdusty polluting the comments. Now it's Mr. Contraception.

      New Atheist trolls will always pollute philosophy blogs, it seems.

      Delete
    25. "Unfortunately, instead of seeking help he just keeps clogging up comboxes repeating the same tiresome and inane fallacies over and over again."

      Well, how can you blame me? Either I was determined to act that way, or on your model, I chose A over B, but for no reason. In one possible world, I choose A circumscribed by rA (desire for A). In another world, I choose B circumscribed by rB. But I have no higher-order desire, no reason internal to the will itself, that makes it move toward one or the other. Ultimately, I act for no reason at all. I can't select which desire is adopted--I can't select what I choose. There's nothing that brings about world A over B. So it is random.

      As for seeking help, I tried that already. Antidepressants and whatnot. Your religion sent me into an endless spiral of extreme misery. Constant anxiety of going to Hell. Confession multiple times a week. Stress, making me sin even more, so I get stressed even more about Hell, then sin more, then the stress multiplies--and balancing this with a job--it's just an unlivable scenario. Thank Brahman for determinism. I will not bend the knee to a monster who tortures people forever because their wills happened to have landed on the "bad" desire rather than the good one. If I were omnipotent, we would all be in Heaven right away. No child would ever be raped. No Jew ever placed in a concentration camp. I love G-d, and so I affirm His nonexistence until the Messianic Age. I would NEVER spit in His face by saying He allows the rape of a child. Also, I am not a New Atheist. I'm a good ol' fashioned Reform Jewish existentialist. I don't want to eliminate theism outright, just Islam and Christianity and any religion with eternal Hell.

      "This poor girl of five was subjected to every possible torture by those cultivated parents. They beat her, thrashed her, kicked her for no reason till her body was one bruise." "Rebellion," The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky. This is the god you guys worship. How sympathetic of you. And it's convenient and easy, when you're not the little girl being tortured.

      Delete
    26. Yep this piece of Garbage is definitely Stardusty.

      He has been caught lying and I don't deal with liars.

      Nobody here owes this twit the dignity of a rational argument because he is neither rational nor honest.

      Gnus have nothing to offer in terms of intellectual challenge or dispute. Only base sophistry and fallacies of equivocation.

      Ban the troll! Ban the Troll! Ban the Troll!

      Delete
    27. Counter Rebel:

      "Either your will moves one way (or another) for a reason, or the will moves randomly toward one desire/reason-set. There's nothing internal to the will saying "act on A" or "act on B" since that would go back to determinism."

      How is it the case that (...per your inharmonious Euthyphro melody...) “in” ("out" ? "in" ?) God it is the case that Reasoning “stuff/parts” interface(s) with Willing/Volition “stuff/parts” which "then" (Time? Tense?) interface(s) with Knowing (or some-thing-y) “stuff/parts”?

      After all, given the Christian metaphysic — and not what you wish that metaphysic to be — none of that applies.

      Perhaps you should start with "out" or "in" God, as in [A] God vs. [B] Stuff "in" God, then perhaps you can move to Eternalism / Presentism in that "chain-of-interfaces", and then move to those supposed "interfaces" of said "Parts/Stuff" as a sort of starting point.

      Don't worry about any explanatory termini. Well, not yet, not now.

      Delete
    28. This clown is Stardusty. He is quite mad and not in the angry sense like moi.

      Delete
    29. "I'm saying that free will (or at least, morally significant free will, since I'm not that much opposed to Sartre's type of free will) is incoherent. Either your will moves one way (or another) for a reason, or the will moves randomly toward one desire/reason-set. There's nothing internal to the will saying "act on A" or "act on B" since that would go back to determinism. So it's totally arbitrary to hold someone accountable for what their libertarian un-free will does. I'm not going to force my children to roll a die and then torture them in the basement forever if it happens to land on 5."

      This exactly is the same question begging non-sense you've been repeating all this time without any justification,
      your argument simply boil down to "the action isn't entailed by antecedent conditions,therefore its random" but that hardly is an argument.

      Delete
    30. But seriously, stop responding to this guy, it takes up almost a full third of the thread and goes nowhere in that space. Leave him be.

      Delete
    31. "I don't accept this the whole model of finite vs. infinite goods. I'm not a Thomist. As long as the intellect perceives something desirable, and there's nothing more desirable, then that moves the will. Your strongest desire is your will."

      Yeah, a finite good which is intrinsically unsatisfactory somehow determines your will. Very coherent and intelligible, hm?

      Anyway, I can't help but find it a little funny how you just begged the question without a second thought. It is like you're trying to fit exactly what I said of you. "I don't accept this model of yours and I'm not a thomist. Your strongest desire is your will". Okay. You're free to keep begging the question against libertarian free will. Now go seek some help.

      Delete
    32. Please don't learn about free will from Carrier. It will be a waste of money

      Delete
    33. "He has been caught lying and I don't deal with liars."

      Show the lie. I said God is morally good, and I backed it up with quotes. You're the one either lying or being stupid.

      This is slander. Do you understand that word?

      "This exactly is the same question begging non-sense you've been repeating all this time without any justification,"

      It's not question-begging to say that it's random if your will moves for no reason (that's what randomness is) towards one set of desires rather than another. You can make up excuses, but it's still random.

      "a finite good which is intrinsically unsatisfactory somehow determines your will." Well, it's desirable, and the intellect perceives that it will make him or her happier in some sense. In the absence of anything more desirable, it moves the will.

      "You're free to keep begging the question against libertarian free will." No. Either your will is determined by reasons, or it moves for no reason--random. Free will is an impossible middle ground.

      Please tell me why the will went with the reasons for doing A, rather than the reasons for B. There's only two options. Either it had a reason for going with the reasons A, or it moved for no reason. The first is determinism, and the second is out of the agent's control, for he could not see to it that he acted that way instead of the other way.

      Libertarian free will is the dumbest idea ever.

      "The basic picture may be said to be Leibnizian in character. One's P-reasons affect one's decisions, but in so doing only incline one towards, and do not necessitate one in, particular decisions to perform particular actions. But the following question now arises: upon what, exactly, are the agent's decisions about actions now supposed to be based, other than upon its P-reasons? The agent-self is represented as sitting in detached judgement upon its desires and beliefs as they develop and combine and settle out in such a way as to present as reasons for action. It then decides on an action in the light of these reasons for action. ... For if it has no such desires or principles of choice governing what decisions it makes in the light of its initial reasons for action, then the decisions it makes are random relative to its reasons for action: they are made by an agent-self that is, in its role as decision-maker, ungoverned by reasons for action, lacking any principles of choice or decision. The agent-self with its putative, freedom-creating power of partially reason-independent decision becomes some entirely non-rational (reasons-independent) flip-flop of the soul." -Galen Strawson, Freedom and Belief, pgs. 45-46

      Delete
    34. ACR is clearly a troll or he is barking mad. You cannot debate irrational Gnus and debating the mentally ill is just cruel.

      Delete
    35. It's not question-begging to say that it's random if your will moves for no reason (that's what randomness is) towards one set of desires rather than another. You can make up excuses, but it's still random.

      See, there ,once again No one said it moves for no reason at all, just that its not necessitated by those reasons but that itself doesn't make it out of control.So that again hardly
      amounts to any argument.

      "The basic picture may be said to be Leibnizian in character. One's P-reasons affect one's decisions, but in so doing only incline one towards, and do not necessitate one in, particular decisions to perform particular actions. But the following question now arises: upon what, exactly, are the agent's decisions about actions now supposed to be based, other than upon its P-reasons?

      That made my chuckle, you flat out label it dumbest idea based on that?
      As if no Libertarian has ever addressed just the passage you quote.

      Once again this has same problem as your previous claim, this simply assumes that just because P-reasons didn't necessitate,they haven't explained anything at all, therefor randomness and no agential control.
      This is simply flat out asserted later

      ....For if it has no such desires or principles of choice governing what decisions it makes in the light of its initial reasons for action, then the decisions it makes are random relative to its reasons for action: they are made by an agent-self that is, in its role as decision-maker,ungoverned by reasons for action...

      Why think this is true?

      Delete
    36. Son of Ya'Kov, he's already banned. He's the SP wannabe who Feser specifically banned. I have no idea why people keep feeding him.

      Delete
    37. Red you are a patient man

      Delete
    38. "No one said it moves for no reason at all, just that its not necessitated by those reasons" Well, that's what it reduces to even if libertarians don't want to admit it.

      Okay, so you have the reasons with A and for B. Two possible worlds--1, where the reasons with A were adopted, and 2, where the reasons for B were adopted. Let's say 1 transpires. What accounts for why 1 was actualized, and not 2? It would be circular to say 1 was actualized because of the reasons with A, for that would be equivalent to saying "The reasons with A were adopted because of the reasons with doing A." That doesn't tell us why 1 was actualized and not 2.

      The will is moving toward a reason, not for a reason. There is no reason internal to the will itself that tells it go one way rather than another, so it is out of the agent's control.

      This is randomness.

      "this simply assumes that just because P-reasons didn't necessitate,they haven't explained anything at all, therefor randomness and no agential control. "

      If neither reasons entail the outcome, then the reasons alone don't serve as a full explanation for what happened. It may or may not happen. Why does it happen? The mere existence of the reasons with doing A do not serve to explain it. Something else is needed, such as the movement of the will towards those reasons. But then why did it move toward those reasons rather than the reasons?

      "Why think this is true?"

      It's clearly explained by Strawson in the book. The intellect perceives different reasons, those with A and those with B. (Neither are reasons FOR doing either until acted on.) But none of those reasons need bring about their respective potential outcome. (They only show that doing A or B is possible.) So it's open. Either there is a reason why the will moves towards those reasons or these reasons, one that is internal to the will itself, or it is anarchy. Random. Without a second-order desire/reason for acting on one initial desire rather than another, then it's random which one is acted upon because it's moving for no reason. That's what random means.

      Delete
    39. Okay, so you have the reasons with A and for B. Two possible worlds--1, where the reasons with A were adopted, and 2, where the reasons for B were adopted. Let's say 1 transpires. What accounts for why 1 was actualized, and not 2? It would be circular to say 1 was actualized because of the reasons with A, for that would be equivalent to saying "The reasons with A were adopted because of the reasons with doing A." That doesn't tell us why 1 was actualized and not 2.

      But that doesn't make sense, If you ask why A were acted on ? then its meaningfully explained by agents choice to bring about particular outcome tied to those reasons. If you ask why that particular outcome is the one that is chosen to be brought about then that is explained by all the reasons in A , there is no vicious circularity here, albeit explanation here is a teleological one..

      The will is moving toward a reason, not for a reason. There is no reason internal to the will itself that tells it go one way rather than another, so it is out of the agent's control.

      If neither reasons entail the outcome, then the reasons alone don't serve as a full explanation for what happened. It may or may not happen. Why does it happen? The mere existence of the reasons with doing A do not serve to explain it. Something else is needed, such as the movement of the will towards those reasons. But then why did it move toward those reasons rather than the reasons?

      But this odd distinction between moving towards and moving for and demand for full explanation only seems meaningful If You've already established that there is something wrong with explanation that is provided or there is some circularity there which I've already argued above is not the case.

      Similarly here once again same mistakes are made.

      The intellect perceives different reasons, those with A and those with B. (Neither are reasons FOR doing either until acted on.) But none of those reasons need bring about their respective potential outcome. (They only show that doing A or B is possible.) So it's open. Either there is a reason why the will moves towards those reasons or these reasons, one that is internal to the will itself, or it is anarchy. Random. Without a second-order desire/reason for acting on one initial desire rather than another, then it's random which one is acted upon because it's moving for no reason. That's what random means.

      Given what I said above I don't find this line of reasoning plausible.

      Delete
    40. Other libertarians have explained similar problems with the above.

      "Galen Strawson's claim that the indeterminist's conception of of an agent as acting in view of prior motives while not being determined by them ineluctably leads to a vicious regress. For, he
      claims, we can conceive of an agent sitting in detached judgment on the matter of whether to act in accordance with motive X or motive Y only if he has some further desires or principles of
      choice that decisively inclines him in one of these directions. But if this is the case, then the agent is self-determining in making his choice only if he is somehow responsible for the presence of those further factors, which requires his having chosen to be that way.

      ...we should [....] reject the suggestion that the libertarian must be assuming (if the account is to avoid positing fortuitous, irrational choices) that the agent has further, second-order reasons that explain why he chose to act in accordance with one set of motives rather than another. Consider a scenario in which an agent is deliberating between two courses of action X and Y, each of which has considerations in its favor. (I will refer to these sets of considerations as {X} and {Y}, respectively.) Suppose further that the agency theory is correct and the agent herself brings about the decision to take option X. The question, "Why did the agent perform that action?", is meaningfully answered by citing {X}, even though these reasons did not produce the agent's decision, and she could have chosen differently in those very same circumstances. In citing {X}, we are explaining the motivating factors that were in view when the agent made a self-determining choice. It is not necessary to try to ascend to a level of second-order reasons (for acting on first-order reasons) in a desperate bid to render this conception of action intelligible" Agent Causation,Timothy O'Connor


      And most important thing to consider is that Libertarianism defended here satisfy two criteria for agential control in these situations it is both true that he could have done otherwise and that he is the source of his actions( There is a true counterfactual, Had he not chosen option 1 ,X would not have happened) So we have good evidence to take the agent responsible.

      Delete
    41. Counter Rebel,

      You STARTED by going on and on about Stuff/Parts and some bizarre sort of chain-of-events somehow "in" "God" and you (there, at the start) equated all of that to the Divine Mind, as in the Necessary Being. All of that is on your part far too sloppy and muddied.

      Now, hundreds of words in, you're muddying up the waters by floating various concepts about contingent beings with respect to Mind & Reason and ..carrying.. on As If you are in fact discussing the SAME topic as you were at the start.

      Why? It's dishonest if you're aware of it and simply uninformed if you're not aware that you are doing it. Or just self-deceptive.

      Like Carrier you take [Not-A] and equate it to [A] and then go on about how the Christian's premise of [A] is incoherent.

      Perhaps in your own way you've given the Christian good evidence for his (the Christian's) own "QED", so to speak, regarding the topic of the thread. It approximates self-deception on the part of the Non-Theist in his (the Non-Theist's) pretend analysis of the Christian metaphysic.

      E. Feser comments on a few basic criteria in the landscape of self-deception:

      [1] http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2015/10/walter-mitty-atheism.html?showComment=1444541683395#c5184040431704814012

      [2] http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2015/10/walter-mitty-atheism.html?showComment=1444541694376#c6385469427809387454

      ~

      scbrown(lhrm)

      Delete
    42. In possible world 1, A was chosen in the light of reasons with A and B. In possible world 2, B was chosen in light OF THOSE SAME REASONS. So what is the basis for the actualization of one particular world, with everything being exactly the same prior to actualization, and the same reasons present at the moment of actualization? As you said, nothing necessitates either world.

      "The question, "Why did the agent perform that action?", is meaningfully answered by citing {X}, even though these reasons did not produce the agent's decision, and she could have chosen differently in those very same circumstances. In citing {X}, we are explaining the motivating factors that were in view when the agent made a self-determining choice."

      But the question still arises why did the {X} take priority over {Y}, when in both worlds, they are both present? In light of the reasons for doing both things, why in one world, does he choose one (will to act with this particular motive), and in the other world, the other thing? The only answer seems to be "{X} took priority because the agent acted on those reasons," but then this becomes circular, because why did the agent act on those reasons rather than not? Without a second-order reason, then the answer is "the agent acted on those reasons because he acted on those reasons." Of course, this is circular and leaves no reason why {Y} was ignored. So it is random.

      "If you ask why A were acted on ? then its meaningfully explained by agents choice to bring about particular outcome tied to those reasons."

      Thank you. So A was chosen because A was chosen ("the agents choice to bring about a particular outcome tied to those reasons").

      "why that particular outcome is the one that is chosen to be brought about then that is explained by all the reasons in A"

      The reasons for A exist alongside B. So without something that explains the setting-aside (as it were) of one reason-set, something is missing. Since, as you admit, the P-reasons don't necessitate the outcome, then the agent-self is at least partly reason-independent in its movement, and to act not for reasons is to act randomly, even if it's in the light of reasons. Ultimately, it seems you'll have to say he chose A because he chose A. Did he control what potential world was actualized? Did he control (either determine or choose) what is choice would be? This sparks up the regression fireworks ;-)

      Within the next seven days, I plan on addressing the whole subject of explanations necessitating the outcome. Stay tuned.

      Delete
    43. @MetaChristianity -- I honestly don't know what you're going on about. All I've done is give my opinion on why Feser failed to prove that the sentient first cause is God, and that it's because libertarian free will is incoherent.

      Speaking of "self-deception," I'm reminded of Sartre's notion of bad faith (which is better translated "self-deception"). I think theists (Catholics and Orthodox especially) are suppressing the knowledge of atheism and determinism, contra Paul's Romans 1:18-21, for psychological reasons (fear being a big one, and wanting to feel superior to others "I deserve Heaven; the guy next to me is evil piece of trash who deserves Hell, and revenge). It's very obvious that free will models are indistinguishable from randomness, and all attempts to show otherwise amount to meticulous butchering of language. I picture the will as the queen on a chessboard (the chessboard representing the intellect), with the bishops to one side ("don't commit adultery b/c it's sinful") and the rooks on the other side ("do commit adultery b/c it's fun"), but the queen herself has no internal reasons that determine its movement toward one particular side, so it ultimately moves randomly. And nothing controls the will's movement--it is unhinged...free...random...wild. So even if free will is true, the agent can't be responsible since there was no way to control (to see to it), that the Queen moved towards the bishops.

      Delete
    44. “….libertarian free will is incoherent…”

      And the premises you’ve stood on to make that “stick” need to be justified. If you want to draw a distinction of limit and of finiteness to the contingent being, well then welcome to Christianity. But you didn’t start there. You started with attempting to draw a distinction of limit and of finiteness to the Divine Mind and you did so by injecting – floating – some sort of vague concept akin to a kind of “chain-of-events” between [A] “Reasoning” “Stuff/Parts” (…which are “in” God somehow amid God and God’s Parts…) and [B] “Will/Volition “Stuff/Parts” (…which again are “in” God somehow amid God and God’s Parts…) and [C] “Knowing” (…or whatever…) “Stuff/Parts”.

      You were invited to justify that entire scene there “in” God and when the comments of others pressed on you what did you do? You equivocated in that you moved your lens off of the Divine Mind and onto the contingent mind.

      On charity let’s assume that deep down what you meant to say by that shifting-of-lens is that the Contingent Being is not Free in the same sense as the Necessary Being and *therefore* …. First Cause…. Etc… etc….

      Which is, again, foisting that [Non-A] equals [A] as you analyze the Christian’s claims about [A].

      Delete
    45. Counter R. again...

      Self-Deception: The links I gave had nothing to do with what you went on about but about a rather specific situation in which Coyne & Co. (...and here Carrier and yourself etc...) are consistent in re-defining the Christian's proverbial "X" and then proceeding to opine about how incoherent the Christian's X is and all with a layer of self-talk which has obvious import.

      Delete
    46. "...Did he control what potential world was actualized? Did he control (either determine or choose) what is choice would be? This sparks up the regression fireworks... Within the next seven days, I plan on addressing the whole subject of explanations necessitating the outcome...."

      Apparently Divine Simplicity, void of Parts, has an infinite (...Time? ...Tensed?...) regress.

      And in 7 Days Counter Rebel is going to show us why and how that is the case.

      This marks the second or third time that Eternalism / Presentism there "in" ? the Divine Mind has been given to C.R. for justification. And it marks the first time that he has promised to provide such justification regarding his claimed infinite regress in the Divine Mind.

      Because Contingent Beings and the Necessary Being are.... the same...? ...different...?

      ~

      Delete
    47. In possible world 1, A was chosen in the light of reasons with A and B. In possible world 2, B was chosen in light OF THOSE SAME REASONS. So what is the basis for the actualization of one particular world, with everything being exactly the same prior to actualization, and the same reasons present at the moment of actualization? As you said, nothing necessitates either world.

      But once again in world 2 , either his choosing of B is explained by all the reasons he had for favoring B over A so the explanation about his acting on those reasons is given by his choice to bring about the outcome tied to those reasons or If you somehow find this problematic then you're simply asking Why the actual world is the actual world rather than not? but then such a question is simply non nonsensical for anyone who is commited to some actualist theory of modality, they don't seek to provide some reductive explanation of what actual is , instead it is taken as a primitive so What is actual? is meaningfully answered by that what is actualized. So I don't think that both the charge of randomness or vicious circularity you make really stick, if there is any apparent circularity here at all its not vicious type specifically the way this all ties to responsibility , once again in both worlds the relevant outcome does counter-factually depend on the agent.

      But the question still arises why did the {X} take priority over {Y}, when in both worlds, they are both present? In light of the reasons for doing both things, why in one world, does he choose one (will to act with this particular motive), and in the other world, the other thing? The only answer seems to be "{X} took priority because the agent acted on those reasons," but then this becomes circular, because why did the agent act on those reasons rather than not? Without a second-order reason, then the answer is "the agent acted on those reasons because he acted on those reasons." Of course, this is circular and leaves no reason why {Y} was ignored. So it is random.

      But here his choice is not identical to those reasons for making the choice.So either priority is explained by his choice for outcome tied to those reason or you're once again asking Why the actual world is the actual rather than not? which would once again either make no sense or will get a non-viscous circular answer in both cases the responsibility is secured.

      Thank you. So A was chosen because A was chosen ("the agents choice to bring about a particular outcome tied to those reasons").

      But I was't talking about the choice A , was explaining the adoption for reasons for A.

      The reasons for A exist alongside B. So without something that explains the setting-aside (as it were) of one reason-set, something is missing. Since, as you admit, the P-reasons don't necessitate the outcome, then the agent-self is at least partly reason-independent in its movement, and to act not for reasons is to act randomly, even if it's in the light of reasons. Ultimately, it seems you'll have to say he chose A because he chose A. Did he control what potential world was actualized? Did he control (either determine or choose) what is choice would be? This sparks up the regression fireworks

      This once again doesn't make sense, question Did he choose his choice is trivially answered as Yes, thats just a tautology, similarly there is no good reason to think that non-necessitating reasons would make the agent reason independent, to make him act not for a reason. So again either the circularity here isn't viscous or the question is meaningless .

      Delete
    48. Dennis Bonnette on God's Freedom: http://disq.us/p/1qskyk5 (...also can link via https://strangenotions.com/how-cosmic-existence-reveals-gods-reality/#comment-3796910069 ...).

      ~

      Delete
    49. Quoting Dennis Bonnette:

      This view assumes that whatever God wills he wills of necessity because he is the Necessary Being. But God's necessity pertains solely to the necessity of his existence and certain essential properties, since his essence and his existence are identical.

      This view also arises from the belief that God's unchangeable eternity is identified with his own will and will act, such that if his will were otherwise he would be a different God.

      But, as I said above and as St. Thomas also says, God's necessity pertains solely to those things that are essential to his nature, such as his own goodness. Thus, God wills his own goodness of necessity, while lesser goods are the object of his free choice, such as to create this world or some other world or no finite world at all.

      It is true that God is eternal and unchangeable. But what the critics miss is that he is identical with his own eternal free choice, including the choice to create this world and no other. I find Christians have little trouble understanding this simple truth, while atheists find it a mortal stumbling block.

      While it is true that God cannot change his will to create this specific world, it is, as St. Thomas points out, a suppositional necessity. That is to say, given that God chose to make this particular world, it is true that he must make this particular world. But nothing makes him have to have chosen as he did. (Note here the misunderstandings that can arise from our need to speak in tensed predication, while God is entirely outside of time in his eternal now in which all his activity is timeless.)

      Suppositional necessity means no more than something like the fact that I have chosen to rob a bank means that I now necessarily am choosing to rob this bank -- but nothing makes me rob the bank in the first place. So, too, once God in timeless fashion chooses to create this world, it is true that he must choose to create this world -- simply a matter of the principle of identity.

      Still, Christians easily grasp that God is his own eternal absolutely free choice and that whatever he chooses less than his own goodness can be chosen freely by him.

      God remains absolutely free with respect to his having created and continuing to create this world.

      End quote.

      Delete
    50. Something I found from Mark Balaguer, that is relevant to "across worlds randomness":



      "I will begin by responding to objection 1, and in doing this, I want to focus on Ralph’s decision to move to New York.22 The first point I want to make here is that it simply doesn’t follow from the fact that Ralph would choose differently in different “plays” of the decision that he didn’t author or control his decision. There is no inconsistency in claiming that(#) Ralph chooses differently in different plays of the decision, and (##) In each of these different plays of the decision, it is Ralph who does the choosing, or who authors the decision and controls which option is chosen. Thus, if we replayed the decision and Ralph chose to stay in Mayberry in play number 2, it wouldn’t follow that it wasn’t him who chose to move
      to New York (and who controlled which option was chosen) in play
      number 1. Second, and more important, it’s not just that there’s no inconsistency
      between (#) and (##); there isn’t even any tension between the two. Indeed, we can make an even stronger point than this. Given that Ralph is making a torn decision, if we take (##) as a hypothesis, then we should expect to get(#); that is, if we assume that in each play of the decision, the choice flows from Ralph—i.e., that it’s him who authors and controls the decision—then given that he’s torn, we should expect that he would choose differently in different plays of the decision. For consider: Given that Ralph is torn and hence that his conscious reasons don’t pick out a unique best option, it would seem very suspicious if he always chose the same way in multiple plays of the decision. If he always chose to move to New York, then it would be plausible to think, “Look, that can’t be a coincidence; something must be causing him to choose in that way; and since (by assumption) his conscious reasons and thought aren’t causing this, it must be something else, for example, a random, nonmental event in his nervous system, or a subconscious mental state.” (Of course, you might think that if his choice was determined by a subconscious mental state, then it would still be Ralph who authored and controlled the decision. But we will see below [subsection 3.3.2] that at the very least, this would diminish Ralph’s control.) On
      the other hand, if Ralph chose differently in different plays of the decision, that would fit perfectly with the hypothesis that the choice is flowing from him (or more precisely, from his conscious reasons and thought); for since Ralph is making a torn decision, we know by assumption that he is neutral between his two live options, at least in his conscious thought.

      A third point here is this: Just because Ralph’s decision was arbitrary or random (or if you like, chancy or lucky) in some senses of these terms, it doesn’t follow that it was arbitrary or random in the sense that’s relevant here. The sense of nonrandomness that’s relevant here is the one that’s
      required for free will, that is, the one that involves authorship and control
      (and possibly other things as well, such as rationality). But it could be that
      this sort of nonrandomness is compatible with various kinds of randomness.
      And, indeed, it seems to me that it clearly is. For it could be that (i)
      Ralph chose (or, more to the point, he authored and controlled the decision),
      and (ii) because he was torn as to which option was best, and because
      he had to choose (because he believed that choosing right then was better,
      all things considered, than remaining in a state of indecision), he just
      chose, so that his decision was, in some sense, arbitrary or random, despite
      the fact that it was his choice and that he controlled which option was
      chosen. There is no tension at all between (i) and (ii) here. The fact that Ralph chose randomly or arbitrarily does not undermine the claim that it was him who made the choice and who controlled which option was chosen."

      (Don't know exact source, but: "Free Will as an Open Scientific Problem")



      Greg

      Delete
    51. Why do you think that free will and randomness are the same? Probably because you believe the only alternative to a deterministic universe is total chaos. Since you see that there is order and predictability in nature, you think that determinism is true because think it's the only alternative to a random world. But you keep assuming that your decisions must be caused by something and this is the question begging aspect of your philosophy. A decision that is caused is not a decision. Maybe you think it's self-evident that everything we do is caused, but that's not true. We all have the experience of making a choice. We know how it feels to choose one option over another. You can say that something made you choose one option over the other, but you can't prove it.

      Delete
  24. How many forms does a mountain have?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In order for the idea of forms to make sense, such a question needs an answer.

      Delete
    2. You gave the answer in your question. You said "a mountain." Singular.

      Delete
    3. Why isn't it "planet", singular?

      Delete
    4. Forms aren't singulars (particular is the technical term in ancient literature) except grammatically.

      Delete
    5. Singular "planet" isn't why it?

      Delete
    6. There is no way to define what a form is. Is a smiley sticker on a balloon part of the form of the balloon or it is its own form?

      Delete
    7. Dear iwpoe: Every embodied particular has its own singular form if it exists as itself, not as a characteristic of something else.

      Delete
    8. Its impossible to always say what a particular thing is. Is a car a particular, or are each tire a form instead. Are "two" boulders that are loosely held together one form or two? Why, anyways, do we have to assume two principles, prime matter and form. Why not one principle?

      Delete
    9. Anonymous I suspect you may not have read up on substance, accident, artifacts and forms in enough detail. Also something can be virtually present or there can be conglomerate with several forms subsisting in one connected mass.
      Remember there are four causes also, and this is important when considering 'form' and matter.

      http://www.thomistica.org/problems/material-substance/hylomorphism-and-modern-physics/

      http://alertandoriented.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/2000-Apr-A-Decaen.pdf

      http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.467.3137&rep=rep1&type=pdf

      Delete
    10. Planets do have forms in my view, just as stars do.

      Delete
    11. There is no evidence there has to be two principles in a tree. One tree, one principle. Let me as you, how tightly welded together must two pieces of metal be in order to have one form?

      Delete
    12. Again, Anonymous, that depends. Is one piece of metal a "characteristic" of the other piece of metal? Or do they together form a single substance, as form and matter do in a human? In the latter case, the metal together would have a single form, as itself--as a work of art, for instance.

      Delete
  25. Bravo! We want one more reply!

    ReplyDelete
  26. There is no Truth within. There is no Truth in the past. There is no Truth in the future. Having no consolations, we exist in this moment, floating in space, whatever that is, totally sublimed, beyond consolation or belief, without the slightest fraction of abstract verbal philosophy or metaphysics to console us, without the slightest fleshy prominence standing out against Infinity to make us happy.

    That is our condition. That is the Truth of it. That is it. That is all there is to it. And it is not an answer. There are no questions or answers in it. All your struggling for information and certainty is just more of the same old foolishness. It is all open ended. You go to your death without the slightest trace of knowledge.

    Everything changes on a moment to moment basis. It is all a light show. Therefore the Law of the universe is change, the sacrifice of everything that arises.

    Sacrifice is simply the Divine Law, the disposition of love. Sacrifice is inherently happy, inherently free. It has no need for questions. It has no answers. Everything will change, Thus it is not in time that we have the Eternal Vision. It is in the moment, in our disposition in our love, in our sacrifice, by throwing everything away and being totally willing to be dead.
    You are only free in this moment, you are also profoundly happy, and ridiculous.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Brilliant comment, sir or ma'am. Ever see the movie Wings of Desire?

      "It is all a light show."

      Yes. Just sentient photons. In the movie I mentioned, there is a scene with Crime and the City Solution, where they play "Six Bells Chime", which is part of the album: Room of Lights.

      "being totally willing to be dead."

      Because death is an illusion. You simply pass into a new shell. Different memoria. "memoria, memoria..." -Nirvana, "Come as You Are"

      Delete
    2. Oh. Well, okay.

      Delete
    3. How interesting, Anonymous, tell me, what is your argumentation for why one should consider that view of yours to be true, other than your intuitions about nature? Or how else did you acquire that divine insight?

      Delete
    4. This is very clearly a trivially false cosmology despite your unconvincing bull session style going on about philosophy. You should have had a realization around the time you chose to write "floating in space whatever that is" but you kept talking.

      Delete
    5. [1] "...There is no Truth within. There is no Truth in the past. There is no Truth in the future... You go to your death without the slightest trace of knowledge..."

      [2] "...That is our condition. That is the Truth of it..."

      It's not surprising that the Counter Rebel seems to agree with that contradiction given that contradictions in general constitute so much of the Counter Rebel's cords and tones.
      ~

      Delete
  27. Maternal advice for Carrie and Carrier. Was this intentional or a coincidence? :-O

    ReplyDelete
  28. A good rule with internet atheists is that often, their arrogance is in direct proportion to their ignorance.

    ReplyDelete

  29. Carrier, you must have realized by now, is an attention seeking tar baby like many of his type.

    You touch such a thing at your peril.

    No matter how well intentioned - and you may merely be trying to clear an obstacle from the public pathway - it will cling and writhe and do all the things that weak and neurotic males who have the undeserved privilege of living in societies created by morally better and more personally powerful and honorable men - do in order to prove to the world that they exist, and must be taken into account.

    That is the fundamental thing about the neediness of the A+ kind. On the basis of their own anthropology, if they are not noticed, they don't, or might as well not, exist.

    That's why these dweebs are always whining about solidarity, when they are not being insulting.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I find Richard Carrier a useful idiot.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Carrier aside, the parties I go to are more likely to discuss UFOs than the Trilateral Commission ...

    ReplyDelete
  32. “In response to Richard Carrier’s recent review of Edward Feser’s Five Proofs for the Existence of God, Dr. Smith presents his own observations…” – with a few other items added for context →

    Philos-Sophia Initiative Foundation & Dr. Wolfgang Smith https://philos-sophia.org/

    What are 'Proofs of God'? (from Philos-Sophia Initiative) https://philos-sophia.org/what-are-proofs-of-god/

    Feser & Carrier part 1: http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2018/02/carrier-on-five-proofs.html?m=1

    Feser & Carrier part 2: http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2018/03/carrier-carries-on.html?m=1

    Wolfgang Smith, a bit more from that corner: https://thesocraticcatholic.com/wolfgang-smith/

    ~
    scbrown(lhrm)

    ReplyDelete
  33. Redefining “God” is the mark of the dishonest or uninformed. So **GOD** has parts, eh? Reasoning “stuff/parts” which interface(s) with Willing/Volition “stuff/parts” which interface(s) with Knowing (or some-thing-y) “stuff/parts”.

    Sure. Okay. In that case well done.

    Meanwhile, the Christian shrugs, sips a bit of coffee, and wonders what it is you’re going on about.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Richard Carrier advocates the assertion that Jesus Christ never existed.
    Robert M. Price advocates that the Gospels are so unreliable that while Jesus may have existed, what can be known reliably about him is probably vanishingly small.
    Both advocate extreme positions but note that the difference in their personalities (Price is cheerful, affable and will admit mistakes) vs Carrier's narcissism is reflected in how they couch their position. Price is a doubter, a sort of libertarian reader of text that takes him away from orthodoxy; whereas Carrier is an authoritarian dictator of 'what's what' and of the very stripe he claims to despise.

    ReplyDelete
  35. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Either I am God or God doesn't exist.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And with a single premise he undercut the entire theological tradition, bringing an end to thousands upon thousands of years of theistic thought and insight. All around the world priests threw down their collars, rabbis burned their books, and Muslims poured into pork-based all-you-can-eat buffets. The very foundations of civilization shook as the world itself seemed to realize the blinding truth of Anon's premise, and with the subsequent realization that "Anon is not God, so there must not be a God."

      And yet hope remained. Deep, deep in an underground cavern, an old hermit, armed only with memories of Philosophy 101, scratches a list of fallacies on the cave wall with his twisted hands. As he finishes, he pauses, and remembers one more - one that the entire world had forgotten. He trembles, and scratches two short, simple words into the wall before running out into the sun.

      FALSE DICHOTOMY

      Delete
    2. Dear Rene: So nicely done, a pleasure to read. Thank you.

      Delete
  37. Edward Feser, answer me one thing! The evolutionary theory of species would be impossible, or at least have to have a strong teleological implication if the law of linear causality were the only valid one. However, it is current philosophical consensus that causality is complex, where a cause can generate a non-proportional effect. From this perspective, the transmutation of species is possible!

    ReplyDelete
  38. Does anyone else suspect Porphyry might have imposed his own views onto what we have of Plotinus' writings?

    ReplyDelete
  39. https://jonathandavidgarner.wordpress.com/2017/12/03/five-proofs-of-the-existence-of-god-feser-book-review/

    Does anyone think this review is any good?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Eh, it's respectful enough, but the guy doesn't develop any of his objections enough to provide a serious takedown so much as a list of "Here's where people can and do disagree with this." Fine so far as it goes, and that may have been all he intended, but more needs to be said before it develops into a serious critique as opposed to a commentary.

      Delete
    2. Stopped reading at his criticism of the first proof. Trying to cast doubt into act/potency (which are really just names for what is quite trivial; that something can become X at one point in which it isn't yet X, etc) was bad enough, but the bit about hierarchical causes made me question whether the guy read the book with any attention. Under naturalism there would be nothing to cause a hierarchical series to stop existing? What? Did he not get what hierarchical series are? Did he not get that the problem is that a thing first has to exist in order to cause something, and that if something doesn't have existence as its nature then it will have no inherent tendency to exist (and therefore no tendency to remain in existence, which would be unintelligible)?

      Delete
  40. An argument can be made that "Space-Time" or the "World" is a necessary being based on the modern definition of necessity as not failing to obtain in any possible world. I'd formulate it something like this:

    (1) A necessary being is the being that cannot fail to obtain in every possible world

    (2) In order for there to be a possible world X, there first has to be a world

    (3) Therefore, The "World" itself cannot possibly fail to obtain in a given possible world X

    (4) Therefore, "World/Scenario/State of Affairs/Space-Time Continuum/Existence" is a necessary being.

    In other words, if there is one constant for all possible worlds is that they are all Worlds.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Besides the conclusion being at odds with our deepest modal intuitions, 2 is false or at the very least begs the question, since you are assuming that possible worlds have to have their alethic modality grounded in a *spatiotemporal world*. Where is the justification for that?

      Anyway, even if the universe were modally necessary, this wouldn't block even the rationalist proof, since one is searching for the ultimate explanation of things -- even if they exist in all possible worlds --; material reality can't be self-explained for several reasons other than its modal contingency: it is composed of parts (whether physical or metaphysical); it undergoes change; it's unintelligible how something material would be infinite in perfection so as to be pure, self-explanatory existence itself; etc.

      Delete
    2. That's why I'm using th term "world" loosely. Think of it as a "scenario" or "State of affairs".

      What an atheist may press on is that some sort of basic substrate reality can't fail to exist and that it has it's own qualities, which in turn give life to different worlds. That would not commit him to theism because such Reality would be impersonal.

      Delete
    3. But there being a necessary state of affairs that is not itself a spatiotemporal reality is perfectly coherent with the arguments; indeed, theists take there to be such a state of affairs: the existence of God. Your conclusion in 4, however, is that a state of affairs of SPACE-TIME CONTINUUM is a necessary being, however you have provided no argument whatsoever for why we'd ground alethic modality in a spatiotemporal being. You need to argue that the alethic modality of possible worlds is grounded not in strictly logical possibility; not in Lewisian possible worlds; not in a divine being; but in a spatiotemporal being. That is an even stronger claim than saying a spatiotemporal being is necessary.

      And again, it doesn't even affect the arguments Feser gives. The point of the arguments is that there must be an explanation for the existence (including continued existence) of conditioned beings (not self-explanatory; either in terms of act/potency, parts, essence/existence, or what have you). Even if such conditioned beings existed in every possible world, there would still be a need to explain their existence in those terms - the fact that they are dependent beings, the fact that they are composite (what keeps their parts together?), the fact that they are not purely actual yet somehow exist, the fact that ther essence is distinct from existence yet they somehow exist, etc. Their being modally necessary would be controversial enough, but even then that is not what the arguments are inquiring.

      So given that they have an explanation (either by PC or PSR), there is an unconditioned, independent, purely actual and simple being responsible for the existence of all conditioned beings. Just saying this being would be "impersonal" begs the question against all the arguments Feser gives for the divine attributes. For instance, that it is immaterial and eternal, that it is a mind or closer to a mind than anything else, that it has will, that it has an intellect (from the PPC), etc.

      Have you even read Feser's book? It amazes me how many atheists just think they can accept an "impersonal first cause" and that's it, as if there were no arguments for why the first cause is divine and personal. The whole thing goes: (cosmological feature to be explained: change; composite beings; essence/existence; dependent beings; etc) -> (first cause/necessary explanans) -> (why the first cause is immaterial, has intellect, will, etc)

      Carrier just skips and ignores the entire last part on the nature of God and acts as if he could take some "basic impersonal substrate" of reality to be an adequate cause or explanation to what the arguments are saying.

      Delete
  41. Taking Carrier to the woodshed.

    ReplyDelete
  42. The amusing thing is that Carrier posted his original essay in response to requests to "take on Feser". Presumably, there were atheists who were worried by Feser and wanted to see someone (try to) refute him. Unfortunately, there were no genuine experts to do the job, so they sent in Carrier instead.

    ReplyDelete
  43. I've replied to Carrier's latest blog post. In case it doesn't make it through moderation, I'm posting it here as well.

    (#1)
    Dear Dr. Carrier,

    Thank you for your response. After carefully reading Dr. Feser's book, and carefully re-reading his and your blog posts, it seems to me that you are misunderstanding some of the philosophical subtleties that are present in Feser's arguments. This is seen especially in your latest reply to Feser here in this very post. This constant, and annoying, tendency on both sides to claim that the opponent is illiterate and stupid isn't helping the situation, and is foreign to the spirit of philosophy.

    Allow me to reply to each of your three points.

    A.
    Feser's point is that you've collapsed two different phases (not steps) of his argument into one, which you've clearly done (granted, his lists of premises don't easily bear out this phase-shift, but it's there if you look for it). He isn't taking offense at you merely inserting his definition. Rather the problem comes from you inserting your definition and then going on to claim that he's committed a false dichotomy. As Feser states, premise 40 is the conclusion to a sub-argument aiming to show that "the forms or patterns in question exist in the purely actual actualizer." Premise 41 begins a new phase in his overall argument (in which Feser attempts to show the manner in which the forms and patterns in question exist in the purely actualized actualizer), and takes this sub-conclusion as established. And as Feser rightly points out, "I do consider and give arguments to rule out alternatives to those two [alternatives of premise 41]... Since the purely actual actualizer is not an abstract entity, that already rules out a third alternative such as the Platonic realm." Thus, premise 41 is not speaking of the way in which forms and patterns might exist taken broadly, but only the way in which they might exist in the pure act actualizer. Indeed, in collapsing these phases of Feser's argument, you've opened it up (wrongly) to a charge of presenting a false dichotomy (which, although wrongly charged, it still is not guilty of).

    [I will post the rest once this post has been approved and I can reply to it.]

    ReplyDelete
  44. (#2)
    B.
    You seem to be selectively quoting Feser, especially at page 100. There he makes it clear that he is speaking of abstractions qua abstractions: "Hence, though [abstract objects] do exist in mind-independent reality, they do not exist there as abstract objects, but only as tied to concrete particular individuals." This is completely Aristotelian, through and through, and when this distinction between abstract objects as such and abstract objects as instantiated is kept in mind, the rest of Feser's discussion (on Aristotle's theory of forms) is in line with Aristotle's thought and Aristotelian realism.
    (Around page 100 of his book he constantly speaks in terms of this distinction. Another example: "Animality considered in abstraction from these things exists only in the mind." pg. 100.)
    In sum, you claim that Feser spent his pages "talking about abstractions as properties only of a mind." But this is plainly false, as page 100 alone shows numerous times.

    C.
    You say that "I never said Feser defended a specifically Christian God," and yet in the comment in question you do say that. "One could perhaps write a critique of just how he gets from the God of his Proofs, all the way to Christianity, but I found that a tedious waste of time." Clearly if Feser is arguing "all the way to Christianity," he is arguing for a specifically Christian God. You cannot backpedal and twist your words to mean that Feser only "argues to the kind of God Christians want to exist." If you really implied this, you would have realized that Feser's arguments apply equally to the "kind" of God that Muslims and Jews "want" to exist.
    Rather than putting something into the arguments that isn't there., consider the possibility that Feser is arguing, and that his arguments lead to something that has the attributes that are traditionally associated with the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim God (rather than just Christian).
    More over, you claim that Feser "tries to go from God being “good” in a sense having no moral meaning... to it meaning moral goodness." I would certainly like a source for this claim, since for Feser, and indeed the entire classical theistic tradition, God is not a moral agent. Again, I challenge you to find a quote from Five Proofs in which Feser argues that God is a moral agent, or, in your words, that God is morally good. (I leave aside your misunderstanding as to what exactly it means for something to be purely actual, and therefore good.)

    In sum, it is clear that you are reading things into Feser's arguments that aren't there (or in some cases, reading things out of them). While some, more vocal, commentators on these posts might disagree, I do not think you've done this on purpose. A careful, honest, and charitable reading, on both sides, is called for. I think such a reading will show that your critiques, especially the ones I've replied to here, are unfounded. As to your numerous other critiques, there is only so much time in the day, and I for one have no desire to write a book in Feser's defense. It might be profitable to narrow the discussion further, assuming the discussion continues.

    All the best to you Dr. Carrier,

    René Ardell Fehr

    ReplyDelete
  45. Good summary René. Hopefully Carrier responds on his blog.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Daniel. But it doesn't look like Carrier approved my comment.

      Delete
    2. It can take a while before Carrier approves some comment, so he may still do so.

      Delete
    3. Good post, René.

      You probably shouldn't hold your breath though. I could be wrong, but I think I've never seen Carrier approve a critical comment to his site, that he doesn't simultaneously answer with a reference to a new blog post.

      I guess it looks more aesthetically pleasing that way. Or. You know. Sophist.

      Delete
    4. Carrier replied, and I've replied to him:

      Dr. Carrier,

      Thank you for your reply. There are some points I wish to address:

      A.

      As I stated in my original reply, Feser is not objecting to you having "inserted" his definition in place of the word "these." He is objecting to you collapsing two different phases of his argument, which, contrary to your protests, you have done. I quote myself here: "Thus, premise 41 is not speaking of the way in which forms and patterns might exist taken broadly, but only the way in which they might exist in the pure act actualizer." But you neglect this fact, instead preferring to attack premise 41 as if it were arguing how forms or patterns might exist taken broadly (which was the subject of the previous phase of the argument). This is collapsing an argument.

      B.

      You defend a rather strange notion of Aristotle's philosophy of universals which I have nowhere read in Aristotle, nor have I read it in any secondary literature. Thankfully, your reading of Aristotle can easily be shown to be in error. Let's take just one line of yours: "But Aristotle never said they [universals] exist “in individual particular things.”"

      There are many passages that one could point to in Aristotle's Physics or his Metaphysics. The most obvious example comes from the latter, wherein Aristotle shows that forms are not generated, but nevertheless do exist in the concrete individual, where "one part of the thing is matter and the other form." (VII, 8, 1033b19.) Now, forms are, by their natures, universals. Thus, Aristotle clearly believes that universals can exist in individual particular things.

      I'm not sure where you got the contrary idea. This notion of Aristotle's is all over his writings (one could even point to passages where he claims that numbers exist in individual particular things! Numbers!). Aristotle's view is that universals are real, and that they depend for their existence on particulars. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aristotle%27s_theory_of_universals for a very simplified version of his theory.)

      More over, you neglect to defend your quote that I pointed out, and which I said summed up my point, where you said that Feser "[talks] about abstractions as properties only of a mind...." and which I subsequently showed to be false.

      [Will post the rest after this post goes through moderation.]

      Delete
    5. (#2)
      C.

      With regard to the "Christian God" point, you say "This confusion is now corrected so it’s a moot point." But you've only begged the question, since I very clearly and succinctly addressed your "correction," showing it to be anything but. Thus, to refer back to that same "correction" is only to beg the question. If you disagree with my arguments, show me how.

      With respect to God being a "moral agent," you say that "I can only assume you are using some bizarre, nonstandard definitions of the words “moral” and “agent” here." But in fact we're (Feser, myself, and every classical thesist) using the same definitions you are. We simply deny that God is moral in the univocal sense. To do otherwise would be to hold God to some moral law and to introduce potentiality to him (among other things). You are equating the classical theist's conception of God with the theistic personalist's, but this error is something that is very, very well documented in the secondary literature.

      Anyways, this point is admittedly abstract, and requires some time of serious study to grasp. Regardless, as Feser points out in his book, God is perfectly good (p. 216-223). Please note that nowhere in those pages (or indeed anywhere in the book) does Feser say that God is moral, as you would have us believe. You say "he [God] acts morally (e.g. Feser, pp. 297-99)...." but here you are only reading things into Feser, as nowhere in those pages does Feser say this.

      And yes, God loves us, ensures justice for us, and performs miracles, but these are not to be understood (and never claimed to be understood as) God being morally good.

      Warm regards,

      René Ardell Fehr

      [Like a doofus, I completely forgot about what is perhaps the most damning piece of evidence against his reading of Aristotle (i.e. Carrier reads universals as potencies): Metaphysics IX. Ah well.]

      Delete
    6. I think you better put in one more reply to his nonsense so he doesn't get the idea that he "won" that exchange.

      Delete
    7. Rene. Don't you see? You forgot the first rule. You don't question the Carrier. He's Richard Carrier PhD after all! The rest of us are mere mortals who cannot compete with his dazzling intellect in every area of knowledge that there is!

      Delete
    8. I think you better put in one more reply to his nonsense so he doesn't get the idea that he "won" that exchange.
      He'll think that anyway. Plus, call me a wide-eyed philosopher, but it's not really about winning. It's more about helping each other to the truth. I don't think that we can do that.

      Rene. Don't you see? You forgot the first rule. You don't question the Carrier. He's Richard Carrier PhD after all! The rest of us are mere mortals who cannot compete with his dazzling intellect in every area of knowledge that there is!
      DARN! That first rule always gets me!

      I should note that if anyone is reading this who might be scandalized by Carrier's most recent reply, he's really done nothing but:
      1) Changed his position on Aristotle without acknowledging that he did so.
      2) Red-Herringed the berries out of the whole Aristotle discussion, as well as the "Christian God" point (here he took my point about question-begging to be about a different topic....)
      3) Took me to task for a reference which was never intended to be academic (he even admitted that I admitted this). I figured his understanding of Aristotle was about on the level of a Wikipedia entry. He used to this accuse me of being a bad academic, which, as any good academic will tell you, (especially in the context of a blog comment post and given the circumstances) is never a sign of a good, honest, and charitable academic who is in search of the truth.
      4) Accused me and a 1,600 year old tradition of "weird speak" because he couldn't understand either the concepts involved or that the concepts involved might be understood by some people and be legitimate. Rather than attempt to understand these concepts, he simply labelled them as foreign to the English language and refused to interact with them. This, I would argue, is most un-becoming of anyone who calls themselves a thinker. It's equivalent to plugging your ears and yelling. It's dogmatic, unphilosophical, and frankly, rather embarrassing to witness.

      I could go on. Given these points, do I think Carrier lost the "debate"? No. We're both losers in this scenario. I came out of it feeling rather sad, really. I thought he was better than this. If there are any winners, it would be those who witnessed what happened, recognized the sophistry and deceit, and came out of it with a greater appreciation for philosophy and truth.

      Anyways. That's about all I've got to say about that. I am curious to see if Feser read the exchange, and if I represented his points correctly.

      Thanks for reading folks!

      Delete
    9. I thought you did well considering who you were discussing with. What a pompous twit.

      Delete
    10. Carrier will always think he's won. He's like Monty Python's Black Knight. No matter how badly he's massacred in something, he'll stand up and proclaim victory.

      Delete
  46. I'm wondering how reason differs from a sort of Mind-God that in some sense obligates people to adhere to it, as if one "ought" to try to be rational both logically and experientially prior to making that attempt itself.

    ReplyDelete