After the first exchange Graham Oppy and I had on Cameron Bertuzzi’s show Capturing Christianity two years ago, Cameron hosted an after-show Q & A for his patrons. He has now made it available to the general public on YouTube. It runs for over half an hour and ranges over a wide variety of topics – the laws of logic, fundamental particles, divine simplicity and modal collapse, divine freedom, the “what caused God?” objection, dualism versus materialism, the Principle of Sufficient Reason, Thomism versus theistic personalism, potentiality versus actuality, and even capital punishment. Check it out.
You can see the first exchange Graham and I had on Capturing Christianity here, and the second one here. The debate has continued in print: Graham’s article “On stage one of Feser's ‘Aristotelian proof’” and my article “Oppy on Thomistic cosmological arguments” both appear in the latest issue of the journal Religious Studies.
I'm actually very curious about what Ed would respond to Oppy about that being a ''brute fact''.ReplyDelete
I don't buy what Oppy was saying even for a second.
It's good to see two distinguished philosophers with opposing views disagree respectfully and amicably. In his "Memoirs," the late great Jesuit philosopher, Frederick Copleston, spoke of his friendship with the atheist philosopher A.J Ayer.ReplyDelete
Two great mindsReplyDelete
Half an hour into the first debate, is it me or does Dr. Oppy let the cat out of the bag when he says an argument is necessarily untrue if it contains a contradiction? He begins his talk by claiming that arguments are inherently preceded by beliefs and theories, and a half hour later he is talking about the foundational aspect of contradictions in knowing what is untrue.ReplyDelete
Feser seemed to go all over the place with his answer to the modal collapse question.ReplyDelete
As Oppy observes, Feser is ultimately heading for a brute fact or he is stuck with an infinite regress of reasons.
I am unfamiliar with the modal collapse question, but I'm wondering if it relates to the set of past events. In college I had a professor who would agree that you cannot form an infinite set through successive addition, but he still thought it possible to have an infinite set of past events as a brute fact, and present events are then added to the 'brute fact'. We had an interesting discourse that followed a few years later, and I got a sense of how Aquinas was correct about the rational possibility of an eternal universe.Delete
If it has a reason or reasons, it is not a brute factDelete
Can someone give the approx. time point on the video where modal collapse is discussed?Delete
The modal collapse argument claims that divine simplicity entails that God NECESSARILY created this specific world and that there are no contingent creatures or actions. Ryan Mullins pushes this argument but I don't think it is any better than his The End of the Timeless God which I am working through at the moment and which begs the question numerous times in the initial chapter. Elsewhere, Mullins thinks that there is nothing wrong with God being a prisoner of time.
Christopher Tomaszewski has a good article on it, "Collapsing the Modal Collapse Argument: On an Invalid Argument against Divine Simplicity."
See also, Steven Nemes, "Divine Simplicity does not entail modal collapse" in Roses and Reasons: Philosophical Essays. I have both of these articles.
Mullins's attacks don't work but there are a number of things he gets right in The End of the Timeless God, such as that the medieval scholastics were presentists regarding time (as is Mullins) and that the Hellenization thesis used by some opponents of classical theism is fallacious and worthless.
About 10 minutes into the video I think.
God is not a "brute fact" for a classical theist. God's own nature provides sufficient reason for His existence.Delete
It's important to note that a "brute fact" is not a fact that is necessarily true, in the way that the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus is necessarily true. A "brute fact" is one which has no justification for its being true, one which cannot, even in principle, be explained or justified.
I agree that Dr. Feser answer to it was a bit strange, maybe he just was not expecting it. If they had more time on that, maybe he could had pushed more his point on possible worlds not being not the best tool or they could discuss more Dr. Oppy idea of free choices being brute.
It is a shame the the subject was not touched upon on the debate, that would had been cool.
Free choices can't be brute though, since they are done for reasons, which a brute fact isn't. There are no acts that happened for no reason at all. The difference between indeterministic events and a free choice is the contingent self-determination free choices have, while in an indeterministic event, like in quantum physics, the explanans always entails the explanandum, the only indeterminancy can be detected in the temporal dimension. Free choices though are a genuine power over different causal events. They are limit cases that can't be analyzed through anything else.Delete
Pruss and Rasmussen co-authored a paper on that issue, I forgot the name though. Timothy O'Connor as well
Tim Finlay, heymike3 responding, thanks for the informative response. I'm going to think about that for a while. The sense I got for the rational possibility of an eternal universe from that discussion with my professor, was a picture of a universe that begins in the present and has the appearance of an infinite set of past events. And the further that 'we' look in the past, the more that phenomena will come into existence.Delete
Yer a great guy Ficino but yer confusing the Scholastic PSR with the Rationalist PSR. We don't do the Rationalist version around here son.Delete
@Son of Ya'Kov:Delete
"Yer a great guy Ficino but yer confusing the Scholastic PSR with the Rationalist PSR. We don't do the Rationalist version around here son."
?? Jim, did you mean to address this to someone else? I haven't made any statements about the PSR on this thread.
Is indeterminism (as distinct from free choices) only about events, or can it also be applied to the way things perform their acts through their own causal powers?
I'm reminded of Alex Pruss' example of an indeterministic die that lands on any number indeterministically - the landing isn't just an event, rather the die has the ability to land on any of its numbers, and the landing is in a sense caused by the die as well in some way, insofar as the landing proceeds from the die itself, and presumably the way you throw it doesn't affect the result.
What would be the nature of causality for indeterministic acts like that?
And could you also explain how the explanans still entails the explanandum in indeterministic causation / events? I thought indeterminism is by definition the opposite of that.
Also, do you have any literature on the metaphysics of indeterminism in general to recommend? It seems scarce - the only thing I found after asking Pruss is Elizabeth Anscombe's paper on causality where she briefly states that causality needn't be deterministic, but she doesn't make any arguments in favor of it or describes the way it works in detial.
>?? Jim, did you mean to address this to someone else? I haven't made any statements about the PSR on this thread.Delete
Ayi it is Jim. Sorry I confused you with the other guy Walter. My bad.
"in an indeterministic event, like in quantum physics, the explanans always entails the explanandum, the only indeterminancy can be detected in the temporal dimension."
Are you suggesting that QM is deterministic after all? There are viable deterministic interpretations of QM, for sure, though it's a minority view. It'd be nice for you to clarify, however.
Son of Ya'kov
Good to hear you consider me a great guy.
I am not confusing those two PSRs.
no I'm not suggesting that at all. The only thing I said though is that the exercise of the kind of power is determinate, the indeterminacy coming into the picture as to when it is exercised. Particular fields (there's one for every fundamental particle) are indeterminate in regard as to when they emit or absorb a particle. This is not predictable. However the field will ever only emit or absorb the particular particle, everything else is impossible. And this is where the difference to agent causation comes in, something that always makes me bang my head into the wall when I hear the suggestion that free choices are comparable to quantum events (Oppy used that comparison as well). The agent has a much wider array of powers that are possibly exercised in a free choice, while the field is restricted in an incomparably narrow way. Plus the choice is informed by an active intellect that weighs in reasons and propositions which by themselves don't have causal power.
The PSR formulated to free choices and to quantum events (in this example restricted to each) would be formulated differently. *That* it applies is undoubtedly true though since a brute free choice can't be free at all, since the agent has no bearing on a brute fact. How could it, after all?
Joe, I'll reply to you later.
Since every being’s existence has either an extrinsic or intrinsic reason/explanation for its existence, if God’s existence is explained by God’s intrinsic nature, then God’s existence is not a case of brute fact.Delete
God’s intrinsic nature is just Existence (divine simplicity). Just as the nature of triangularity is to be triangular, the nature of Existence is to exist (it would be an intrinsic contradiction for Existence to not exist as it is for triangularity to be not triangular).
Hence it is not a brute fact on why anything exists at all rather than nothing exists because fundamentally Existence necesarily exists.
johannes y k hui
While there are some quantum events that are indeterminate with regards to when a certain thing will be done, others are about what action a particle will take - IIRC electrons can go either up or down, and which direction they go at any particular point is what's indeterminate; photons also have the ability to either go through an polarised film or not go through it, and whether they go through it is what's indeterminiate.
Would these things also be defined as temporal indeterminism, or is there another name for those?
Also, I wonder if this would apply to indeterministic dies - the amount of possible results that the die can show is 6, so it isn't just one but multiple results which can happen indeterminately.
"Are you suggesting that QM is deterministic after all?"
If it was indeterminate, then events at the macro scale, like computer glitches and brain ticks, could be effected every now and then by quantum happenings that appear out of nowhere.
Consider that the immediate effect of an uncaused cause would appear out of nowhere due to the unobservable nature of this 'singularity' that can affect change without changing.
"The agent has a much wider array of powers that are possibly exercised in a free choice"
The agent other than yourself is presumably aware of its action. The agent is also a kind of unmoved mover, in its ability to act or affect change without being acted upon.
"while the field is restricted in an incomparably narrow way"
I do wonder how the unobservable nature of an unmoved mover changes the philosophy of science and how we approach phenomena that appears to be uncaused.
id say a pretty unrewarding interaction. it seems like its mostly a problem with communication. and i suggest to you at least to start using numbers more often to gauge intensity and conviction (or whatever attribute a statement has) 1-9 . pretty easy. 33% . pretty clearReplyDelete
Since this happened in Capturing Christianity, I think you should know that he is hosting a Q&A on Divine Simplicity with William Lane Craig and Ryan Mullins 9/2/21.ReplyDelete
- theme is divine simplicityDelete
- puts no one who actually believes in it
That seems a dick move. Are you sure there will be not a third guy there?
Not really doubting. Cameron did this with the pressups before, so it is possible.
Just the two. It's not just to have one who believes in it but one who can defend it. It is painful to watch one who believes in it but cannot defend it quite well..Delete
That truly is painful to see. That is why i tend to be a bit scared when subjects like that are debated, not the easier theme to argue for and be well understood.Delete
A shame. There are a lot of good defenders of the thomistic divine simplicity* that could appear. The Classical Theism Podcast has a lot, for instance, and the monks at the Thomistic Institute likely would accept too.
*which seems the more popular type by far
I remember Ryan Mullins v Steven Nemes, Mullins said he didn’t understand something about classical theism, I think the appropriate response would be “well that’s your problem”Delete
It’s unfortunate when defenders of divine simplicity can’t defend it. Like when defenders of universalism can’t defend it (eg keith Giles on capturing Christianity).Delete
Whay really means when we can't answer an objection? When people watch these debates they think that when a defender cannot answer an objection that mean that the objection is correct or the proposition defended is false. So they don't search for more.Delete
Well, at least that danger we will not face on this live.Delete
Being a good debater does not necessarily mean that the position you're taking is correct. And vice versa.ReplyDelete
I thought Feser did a good job answering Oppy’s objections. It’s too bad Feser won’t be able to join Mullins and WLC in September 2.Delete
The problem with Thomism in contrast to personalism is illustrated by the Fourth Way. What is the hottest thing in the universe? Well, a star somewhere most likely. What is the most good thing or things? Well if you don't believe in spiritual things than it the most moral person or people or alien. So where is Aquinas's argument? It goes from the material to the spiritual by a belief that there must be a best substance in reality, and one that is infinite. Yet this substance fascination is not about what is ethically good. If God has a substance at all it is because God wills to be good. So how does God will to be good if he has no options? Obviously the way someone infinite can be infinite perfect, the most perfect that can be, is not by the stuff of his substance but through suffering. The Thomistic idea that God doesn't suffer or feel is false and this is proven by Thomists insistence on the perfect "stuff" in God's nature. God is much better understood in an esoteric way and without the categories of Aquinas. God works, he feels, he suffers infinitely, yet wills the good and this alone is a logical way to view God. By insisting on a substance of necessity Thomists have fallen into the realm of fantasy and of the ridiculous. Think of Jesus's suffering. The humanity of Jesus would be greater than his divinity if his divinity never knew what suffering was and never overcame itReplyDelete
Your long paragraph contains many errors. Unfortunately, you tend to jump from one topic to the next without spacing. You may not intend to do this, but this is what some call a "Gish Gallop" - laying out a bunch of arguments one after the other regardless of how well they work.
On the Fourth Way, it seems that you don't understand the argument. What St. Thomas is trying to do is show that to the extent that transcendental features like goodness, truth, nobility, and the like come in degrees, they must be traceable to a maximum. These things are all convertible with each other and being, and St. Thomas has other arguments showing that God, the maximum being, can be neither material (and thus cannot have "stuff") nor experience change (and thus suffer) since such things would detract from His perfection. Your argument is very silly when you actually look at the Fourth Way rather than pulling objections out of your backside.
Your understanding or lack of it is what is ridiculous here...Delete
I can see a bit the appeal of this idea of suffering beings being better on a existencial level, but it truly is pretty dumb.Delete
And one can't really say that suffering beings are better and them talk about Our Lord when the Bible makes clear that God does not suffer:https://biblehub.com/hebrews/4-15.htm
Why would Christ being capable of suffering even be noticed if the Father does it too?
Jesus suffered for those he loved. That's a type of good not reflected by Aquinas's GodDelete
If the Fourth Way needs addition arguments then it is not an argument.
Jesus suffered in his humanity and this was noticed by God even though God has suffered as well. This is because all suffering is noticed by God. A child has innocence and a being can have infinite innocence, however moral sacrifice is not something you can just have in your substance. It is necessarily an obtained good by it's nature and so cannot be something the Thomistic God has. You can't think of sacrifice in terms of substance. Jesus is the lion of Judah because of what he did. If God never had moral courage he is not a lion but instead a child. So there are goods he lacksDelete
First, Jesus Christ had two natures - divine and human - that were hypostatically linked. Jesus only experienced suffering in his human nature, not in His divine nature.Delete
Second, God being able to suffer as humans do would not be good for two reasons. First, suffering implies the ability to be harmed or diminished, which would detract from God's perfection. Second, suffering implies the ability to go from a better state to a worse state, and being able to undergo such changes would imply that God changes and thus requires a cause. The only reason suffering is good for us in certain circumstances is because we can offer up our sufferings to God. Otherwise, the ability to suffer would be a mere sign of our finite abilities.
The Fourth Way is fine as is. The problem is that you don't understand it, for the reasons I gave earlier.
God can only be harmed by himself. God is bound to reality just as any being. And I've shown he can't have the goods of sacrifice by substance alone. Also I do understand the Fourth Way. All you said was that addition arguments are needed and I responded that the argument doesn't work by itself then. I am familiar with all the Thomistic "arguments" on this subject and I know for a fact that Thomists honor substance over personhood because their ontology is deficient.
Here is a good book to start on:
I go beyond what he says but it's a good start
Theistic Personalists are no better than idolaters. Such a vile pagan godless belief system unworthy of a Catholic or Orthodox Christian's belief.Delete
You make assertion after assertion in vain, as none of your arguments ring true. Even the book you cite does nothing but beg the question!
New video of William lane Craig on divine simplicity:ReplyDelete
Follow up: it’s disheartening that Craig repeats objections that have been addressed and fails to engage the rejoinders from defenders of DDS.Delete
According to Craig, "Thomas says nothing to justify this idea of a real distinction between essence and existence" (at minute 17:52 of the video). I had to stop watching at that point.Delete
That is probably just a mistake on his part for he at least has a idea of the thomistic argument: https://www.reasonablefaith.org/media/reasonable-faith-podcast/is-god-simple-or-complex/
One will notice that he never tries to respond to the thomistic argument, he resumes it, say than the doctrine is dificult(as if his Trinity is okay!) and that is it.
If i had to guess how Dr. Craig would respond i say than he would probably reject the essence-existence distinction as a conceptual thing and move on. This is a good resource in trying to imagine his answer: https://www.reasonablefaith.org/question-answer/P40/proof-of-divine-simplicity
Yea, i know that it kinda sucks. While i have a lot of respect to Dr. Craig and would probably not even be a theist nowdays if i had never knew him, he does not seems to know ancient and medieval philosophy very well. His insistence that divine simplicity is just a thomistic thing pretty much shows that alone.
Did you guys see that live video earlier of Craig and Mullins bashing DDS? I wish Feser had been able to make an appearance.Delete
I forgot it was a thing. Being more direct: does it have anything new or the two just repeat their older objections? Because i think only Mullins would be able to generate anything interesting, Dr. Craig is focusing on his systematic theology and, lets face it, is stuck on modern metaphysics.Delete
Both of them repeat the same arguments they’ve previously made without a serious effort to steel-man the objection. Mullins doesn’t even mention the name “Feser” despite written and printed exchanges with each other on the topic, and (unintentionally, mistakenly) insinuates that Rob Koons deviates from DDS further than DDS proponents would tolerate — even though Koons has explicitly argued that God’s essence and existence are the same and that God is identical to his single act of existence, that God is purely actual, that God’s Omni attributes are really all identical to each other and to God’s existence, etc. Koons articulates and approaches differently from Augustine, but Koons still counts as an advocate for DDS.Delete
Unless I’m missing something?
That is sad. I thought that Mullins could had gotten something diferent from his objections om the times he interacted with some thomists thanks to the Classical Theist Podcast and other resourcers.Delete
That stream them is probably Cameron way of saying that he finds the idea dumb and will not give it more attention, like he did with the presuppositionalists*. He gave the reformed folks one video discussing it and another attacking it, both with no actual pressups, and that is all. I had not much interest on they at the time i saw the videos and already finded it a dick move.
Remembering a video of his(i think one with Matt Fradd) were he said that finding thomistic classical theism(the kind he knows) false is to him a reason to not be a catholic, that is pretty bad.
One can hope that the video gets some viewers curious, them.
*is this right? That is quite a hard word