Some time back I was interviewed by Lauren Green about my book Five Proofs of the Existence of God for her Fox News Radio show Lighthouse Faith. You can now listen to the podcast online. [UPDATE: If you are having trouble with that link, some other options can be found here and here.]
Links to other radio and television interviews and the like can be found at my main website.
Thank link didn't work for me. But this one didReplyDelete
Hillary and Obama are giving loads of money to Google, Facebook and Twitter to steal the election and put crookedDelete
democatic politicians back in power to push open borders Look at this
Apparently we don't have access to the podcast link?ReplyDelete
Hmm, I'm having trouble getting the link to work. Don't know why, but it seems to be some glitch in Blogger's software. Anyway, if you follow the link given above to the "Media appearances" page at my main website and scroll down, you'll find another link to the podcast. That link works.ReplyDelete
I don't know why people, especially theists, keep saying that you can't prove God doesn't exist. If by proof, we mean a valid argument, it's not hard at all, even for theists. For example, if minds do not exist, and God is or has a mind, then God does not exist. Simple. (Whether such proofs are sound or not is another question of course.)ReplyDelete
I think it has to do with the idea that "proof" for most people includes not only validity, but also premises we know are true. Doubtless, there is likely an expectation that there either are no reasonable objections, or that they have all been answered. If there isn't a sound, deductive argument for atheism, we haven't proved that God doesn't exist.Delete
First, no one (theist or otherwise) uses the word "prove" to mean "give a valid argument". If anyone did, it would not be "hard at all" to prove false or absurd statements. For example:Delete
1) If Simon Blackburn suffers from coprophagia, then all human beings suffer from coprophagia.
2) Simon Blackburn suffers from coprophagia
3) Therefore, all human beings suffer from coprophagia
The argument is clearly valid and may even contain a true premise, but this hardly proves that everyone snacks on their own stool. At any rate, giving merely valid arguments is not a good way to prove God doesn't exist.
Second, you seem to have misunderstood what it means to be sound. There simply is no question about proofs being sound. If one shows that an argument is sound, then the conclusion of the argument has been proven.
I guess what I was getting at is that anyone can claim to have offered a proof for a given conclusion, if one has given a valid argument and answered objections (which seem to be what you guys consider a proof). And yet, does that make it true? I assume Feser has composed valid arguments and answered objections to them. But has he answered all possible objections to them? How could he know what are all the possible objections to his arguments? And if he can't know that, then he hasn't provided any proofs, since a proof, according to you guys, establishes something as true, and the truth cannot be otherwise than it is. The same applies to the atheist, by the way.Delete
@Anonymous: If that is your argument, then you should go to some very basic, 100 level philosophy website and learn the difference between validity and soundness.Delete
As they sometimes say over on another blog "You clearly aren't tall enough for this ride."
@anon#2, That's just condescending wind, not a proper response to my post. I know very well the difference between validity and soundness. Validity has to do with the structure of an argument, soundness to its truth. Feser has composed valid arguments, but for them to be sound, the premises need to be true. There are objections to said premises that he responds to. However, my contention is that we are in no position to know all possible objections to these arguments and so ought to withhold judgment as to the truth of their conclusions. For the mere absence of objections doesn't make an argument sound. So perhaps it is you who ought to avail yourself of an introductory logic course.Delete
If you think it is necessary to anticipate and refute all possible objections to an argument before you can refer to it as a proof, then you are indeed confused about soundness and its logical role.Delete
Your argument is a cognitive analog of the old canard you sometimes hear from freshmen undergraduates when they argue that we cannot know whether we are actually seeing anything because we cannot occupy a third-person perspective from which to verify that we aren't hallucinating or dreaming.
Whether a perceptual experience counts as an instance of seeing doesn't depend upon whether I can verify that its veridical. It has to do with what it is, not what I know about it. Similarly, whether something is a proof doesn't depend upon whether I can answer every conceivable objection to it. It has to do with what it is, not whether I can know what it is.
You are introducing an impossible and absurd standard of proof, and then using that impossible and absurd standard to make an incredibly jejune point about our inability to know with complete certainty whether an argument is a proof. And hence you are acting as if the distinction between validity and soundness turns on something epistemic, and hence my earlier comment that you are confused at a pretty basic level here.
If an argument isn't sound, show us which premise is false and why. That's what matters, not the mere possible existence of a disproof.
More hot air. As I have intimated, there is a way in which the soundness of a deductive argument can be demonstrated, which is by demonstrating that one has answered all possible objections to it. Otherwise, in claiming one's argument to be sound, one is saying that a particular conclusion is both true but might not be true, in the event of some hitherto unknown objection that shows one of the premises to be false. Again, validity has to do with the form of an argument, soundness to its truth. So if a proof depends on "what it is," as you vaguely put it, and "what it is" refers to its structure, then a successful proof is one that is merely valid, not necessarily sound. If "what it is" refers to its truth, then a successful proof is one that is sound, not merely valid. And once more, answering all extant objections to the alleged truth of the premises is not the same as answering all possible objections to the alleged truth of the premises. So one could not declare an argument definitively sound, and thereby declare it a proof as well on your view, unless one answered all possible objections to it. This isn't hard to process.Delete
You are the one not processing. Let's make this real simple. Here is a proof:Delete
1)All men are mortal
2)Donald Trump is a man
C)Donald Trump is mortal
Now here is a possible objection: Donald Trump is a cyborg and not a man. Therefore premise 2) is false.
I don't need to address the "Cyborg" objection in order for me to know that the original argument is sound and claim it as a proof.
What makes the argument a proof is the *fact* that it is a valid argument with true premises. Full stop. This means that its status as a proof has nothing to do with the existence of objections, my ability to answer objections, or even my awareness that objections exist. These things are pertinent only to my level of certainty with regards to the truth of one the premises, not with the status of the argument as a proof. This is because whether something is a proof depends upon whether it is a valid argument with true premises, not with whether it has true premises which are *indubitable* in addition to simply being true.
What makes it the case that I *know* it is a proof is the fact that I believe it is a proof, combined with the fact that it *is* a proof, in addition to the fact that its being a proof (formally) causes my belief that it is a proof in an appropriate fashion. It has nothing to do with objections, answers to objections, being unable to doubt the truth of the premises, actually doubting the premises, or anything else like that. You can know that Godel's proof is a proof no matter how confident you are in it its premises, and you can know this wholly apart from your ability to answer objections to it.
You haven't really addressed what I said. Doubting that the premises are true does not make them untrue any more than believing that they're true makes them true. Each of the premises requires its own justification, which involves answering all possible objections to them, in order to maintain soundness. To say that a proof is a valid argument with true premises is just to say that a proof is a sound argument. I'm not disputing said definition of a proof at this point. My point has been that, again, in order for an argument to be sound, all possible objections that would render the premises false must be refuted. If you don't do that, then you have a conclusion that is both true but might not be true at the same time, which is absurd. If it is not shown that all possible objections have been answered, then it remains a possibility that there is an objection, presently unknown, that would render one of the premises false. Again, that would mean that the truth could be otherwise than it is, which is impossible. If the argument is actually sound, no such objection could in principle exist, but in failing to demonstrate that no such objection exists, one cannot say definitively that the argument is sound. In your example, the objection that Trump is a cyborg would indeed show that the argument is unsound (though it would remain valid). So you would have to address that objection to maintain the soundness of the argument. Is it a silly objection? Sure, and for the same reason, it is easily refuted, thus establishing the soundness of the argument (assuming it is the only possible objection to it). In other words, such an objection raises the possibility that the premises are untrue. But if the argument is sound, then it isn't possible that the premises are untrue. There are no possibly true truths. Something is either true or it isn't. So the objection must be answered, otherwise your opponent is rationally justified in rejecting your argument. Once answered, one is rationally justified in accepting it. One could still reject it, of course, but one wouldn't be rationally justified in doing so. We would call such a person delusional. The fact is that you don't get to dismiss objections because you don't like them or think they're silly. If they affect the truth of the premises, you must address them if you want to regard the argument as sound. Nor do you get to declare an argument to be a proof just by asserting that it is one. Anyone could claim that of any argument. You actually have to show how it is a proof, and you do that in part by showing how all possible objections to the truth of the premises have been answered. This will probably be my last post, as I can only repeat myself to a seeming block of wood so many times.Delete
I hope one day you get an interview on FNN about contemporary philosophy, Dr. Feser. Bill would have been the natural choice but unfortunately he's no longer on Fox; but perhaps Mr. Hannity might be a good one (he also has a radio show if memory serves).ReplyDelete
Keep up the hard work. You've done alot of good.
What's the evidence that our senses are reliable?ReplyDelete
what's the point of posting if they aren't?Delete
Good point. The argument itself would be whats important. Not whether the person who made it is real.Delete
We could appeal to God, and there find one of two things to be the case: (1) our senses are generally reliable. (2) They are not, but God will not let us be decieved forever, even if there is some higher good gained by our temporary delusion.Delete
All knowledge starts with the senses. So the reliability of the senses is prior to the content of any argument.Delete
That's also why arguments against the reliability of the senses, assumes what they're trying to disprove, such as Descartes or Hume.
It is not clear that all knowledge starts with the senses. Some knowledge such as "Something can not come from nothing" or "whatever is moved is moved by another" certainly are defended on the basis of reason and rational demonstration rather than weaker sensory or inductive basis.
>That's also why arguments against the reliability of the senses, assumes what they're trying to disprove
What do you mean by evidence?Delete
Evidence is anything that makes a belief or claim true.
You are mistaken.
Knowledge is based on perception. Reason is a processing device on perception.
Concepts such as:
1/"Something can not come from nothing"
2/"whatever is moved is moved by another"
concerns understanding rather than knowledge.
Concerning arguments against the reliability of the senses.
Your confusion arises because the argument concerns reliability of senses (you stated this yourself)… not disproving the senses as you conclude...
A:You mis-understand the question
reasoning is a process deviceDelete
"It is not clear that all knowledge starts with the senses."Delete
Oh, but it is.
"Some knowledge such as "Something can not come from nothing" or "whatever is moved is moved by another" certainly are defended on the basis of reason and rational demonstration rather than weaker sensory or inductive basis."
But your knowledge of the nature of some things, or of any things, or change in itself, certainly started with the senses, even though you can grasp rational principles that goes beyond that individual sense data in itself.
This is classical empiricism - not modern.
As Feser has earlier quoted Paul Feyerabend:
"Aristotelian empiricism, as a matter of fact, is the only empiricism that is both clear -- one knows what kind of thing experience is supposed to be -- and rational -- one can give reasons why experience is stable and why it serves so well as a foundation of knowledge.
For example, one can say that experience is stable because human nature (under normal conditions) is stable. Even a slave perceives the world as his master does. Or one can say that experience is trustworthy because normal man (man without instruments to becloud his senses and special doctrines to becloud his mind) and the universe are adapted to each other; they are in harmony.
This rational context which enables us to understand the Aristotelian doctrine and which also provides a starting point of discussion is eliminated by the ‘enlightenment’ of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
…It is characteristic of this enlightenment that it constantly mentions new and undiluted foundations of knowledge… while at the same time making it impossible ever to identify these foundations and to build on them. (p. 35)"
>Oh, but it is.
Thats not at all clear though. To me at least.
>But your knowledge of the nature of some things, or of any things, or change in itself, certainly started with the senses,
How do we even see the concept of "nothing". That is simply an a priori truth.
How do we even see the concept of "nothing". That is simply an a priori truth.Delete
One is taught this as a child.
"How do we even see the concept of "nothing". That is simply an a priori truth."Delete
You sense any thing, and think of how it would be to subtract it, as nothing is the negation of anything - of any thing.
Just as you don't have to actually sense negative or non-existing apples in order to solve such equations in kindergarten: 'John has three apples. Then he gives Sarah three apples. How many apples does he have left?'
How do we even see the concept of "nothing". That is simply an a priori truth.Delete
As a point of observational input: it is not provable that we ever have "concepts" before we have sensory input. If you observe newborn babies, the level of "concepts" they harbor is clearly extremely limited, if at all. One of the reasons we think that we remember very little of our first years is that we have very little in the way of concept by which to pin them into recallable RAM. The Aristotelian theory says that (for a human) to have a concept of ANYTHING requires first that the mind have input from the senses upon which to formulate a conception regarding the thing from which the input is received. There is no such thing as innate concepts that are in the mind from before we have sensory input. Kant's category of "a priori" truth misses the distinction between a TRUTH that is correctly and properly received as "true" in the mind based on its own meaning (i.e. the meaning of the terms and the verbal operator) and no additional input from other premises, and the process by which we hold the meaning of the terms of the proposition, which ultimately never occurs without input from the senses to start the whole shebang of forming concepts.
A new born child, minutes out of its mother's womb will suckle its mother's breast for milk...
The question is; does the new-born infant have a concept of its mother's breast before it suckles, i.e.
The Aristotelian theory says that to have a concept of ANYTHING requires first that the mind have input from the senses upon which to formulate a conception regarding the thing from which the input is received.
Aristotle would appear to be incorrect, right?
Why does a child need a concept? In the case you illustraight it is clear the Child acts on instinct which is the result of evolution and natural selection of ofspring who drink vs those who starve.Delete
It has nothing to do with Aristotle and neither confirms nor denies his Metaphysics.
Son of Ya'KovDelete
So, you are stating that:
A child acquires the concept of "breast" by not starving and thus the concept of "breast" is instinctive.
Is this correct?