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Critique My Philosophy of Life? (Repost)
Posted: 31 December 2013 01:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Bryan - 31 December 2013 12:23 PM
Philosofer123 - 31 December 2013 11:23 AM

How does “the proposition that an entity must be ultimately responsible for the mental state leading to a given free will action” presume determinism?

I’m glad you asked.  Like I said, I phrased that poorly.

Strawson’s expression of Kane’s definition implies determinism as a prerequisite for free will, and of course Strawson dismisses the possibility based on a regress that reduces everything to luck.  But that’s a misrepresentation of Kane’s view of free will.

You have not answered my question.  How does the regress argument presume determinism?  Even if it is true that the argument implies that determinism is required for free will, that does not amount to an overall presumption of determinism.

Additionally, why would it matter if Strawson does not agree with Kane’s view of free will?

But most importantly, can you show that the regress argument is not sound?  To do so, you must either show that at least one of its premises is not necessarily true, or that the premises do not logically entail the conclusion.

Bryan - 31 December 2013 12:23 PM

In the case of theism, what is being postulated is the existence of the theistic God, will all of his unique and amazing attributes.  Such a claim is clearly extraordinary, and thus requires extraordinary evidence.

If it’s clearly extraordinary and requires extraordinary evidence then why do so many people believe in a god or gods?  Given the prevalence of god-belief, it is an extraordinary claim that we require extraordinary evidence for the existence of god.

There are plausible naturalistic accounts of the rise and propagation of religion.  Also, people of different religions believe in different types of gods, and what is at issue is whether a particular type of God—the God of classical theism—exists.  Additionally, the fact that many people believe in the existence of the theistic God is not a persuasive argument for his existence—compare to the widespread historical belief that the earth was flat, or that the sun revolved around the earth.  What matters is why people believe—is their belief based on sound arguments and credible evidence, or on other factors such as social conditioning, the desire for justice, or the fear of death?  If the former, then the arguments and evidence should be presented.

Bryan - 31 December 2013 12:23 PM

The burden of proof issue developed as a technique to get atheists off the hook for a set of very difficult arguments.  Here’s how the burden of proof ought to work:  Anyone who wants someone to share their beliefs about anything should be willing to bear the burden of proof for convincing them.  And anyone is free (using the term advisedly!) to have their own standard of proof—hopefully applied consistently.  There is no metaphysical rule requiring extraordinary evidence for claims deemed extraordinary.  But you’re welcome to make that rule your own if you wish.

There may be no metaphysical rule requiring extraordinary evidence for claims deemed extraordinary, but in my view, such evidence is required for doxastic rationality.  That said, I feel that the arguments and evidence provide strong support for atheism, regardless of who bears the burden of proof.  If you disagree, feel free to try to refute the atheological arguments summarized in the document.  Also, if you feel that there are any persuasive arguments for theism, please lay them out and we can discuss.

Bryan - 31 December 2013 12:23 PM
Bryan - 31 December 2013 01:14 AM

Doesn’t denying moral realism free you from the need to bother with reminding yourself to live a certain way?

Not at all.  My negative hedonism is derived, in part, from my moral skepticism.  My negative hedonism is based on rational considerations, not moral ones.  And once negative hedonism is established, advising myself on how to achieve and maintain peace of mind makes perfect sense.

Okay.  But that kind of makes you kind of like a hard-core would-be dictator fighting against your tendency to act in ways that do not lead to peace of mind.  By Strawson’s view, it’s entirely luck whether or not you choose to achieve the ends you’re expressing.  I think in your shoes I’d feel Nihilism nipping at my heels.

I agree that it is entirely a matter of luck whether or not I choose to achieve the ends that I am expressing.  And I feel fortunate that I have so chosen, and that I have been successful.  My views are very close to nihilism—both moral and existential—and I am perfectly comfortable with that.  Like many nihilists, I find my views liberating, as they enable me to pursue happiness with no external constraints.  But so I will not be misunderstood, let me point out that my philosophy does take empathy into account, as discussed in the section on negative hedonism.

[ Edited: 31 December 2013 01:23 PM by Philosofer123 ]
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Posted: 31 December 2013 02:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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Philosofer123 - 31 December 2013 01:20 PM

You have not answered my question.

I addressed your question.  I’m not going to defend the notion that the regress argument presumes determinism, which I have clearly admitted was a poorly-phrased statement.  I have explained what I intended to express.

Additionally, why would it matter if Strawson does not agree with Kane’s view of free will?

It matters because you’re basing your regression argument on Strawson’s argument which, in turn, attacks a straw man version of Kane’s definition of free will.  You want an argument that attacks the best the opposition can offer, not straw men set up for the toppling.

But most importantly, can you show that the regress argument is not sound?  To do so, you must either show that at least one of its premises is not necessarily true, or that the premises do not logically entail the conclusion.

I’d argue that Kane sets the bar unnecessarily high for free will.  If entity y can choose either x or ~x options and does so with a reasonable expectation of outcomes then the choice is free.  It doesn’t matter whether the entity was created entirely by another.  Strawson would argue that the outcome is luck if it is not causally determined, but as we can see, Strawson reduces *everything* to luck.  If everything is luck no matter what it is then luck ceases to mean anything.

Bryan - 31 December 2013 12:23 PM

If it’s clearly extraordinary and requires extraordinary evidence then why do so many people believe in a god or gods?  Given the prevalence of god-belief, it is an extraordinary claim that we require extraordinary evidence for the existence of god.

There are plausible naturalistic accounts of the rise and propagation of religion.  Also, people of different religions believe in different types of gods, and what is at issue is whether a particular type of God—the God of classical theism—exists.  Additionally, the fact that many people believe in the existence of the theistic God is not a persuasive argument for his existence—compare to the widespread historical belief that the earth was flat, or that the sun revolved around the earth.  What matters is why people believe—is their belief based on sound arguments and credible evidence, or on other factors such as social conditioning, the desire for justice, or the fear of death?  If the former, then the arguments and evidence should be presented.

You’re starting to sound like a moral realist.  Are you saying that people ought to have sound arguments and credible reasons for their beliefs?  Come on.  It’s just luck, isn’t it?  You could change your mind tomorrow about what it takes for you to believe in a god or gods.

There may be no metaphysical rule requiring extraordinary evidence for claims deemed extraordinary, but in my view, such evidence is required for doxastic rationality.

Ought we to strive for doxastic rationality?

That said, I feel that the arguments and evidence provide strong support for atheism, regardless of who bears the burden of proof.  If you disagree, feel free to try to refute the atheological arguments summarized in the document.  Also, if you feel that there are any persuasive arguments for theism, please lay them out and we can discuss.

I don’t see any point in that at present, unless I’m doing that for the sake of other readers.  You’ve identified yourself as one who will require extraordinary evidence to belief in a god or gods.  If I’m smart I look to drop that barrier down to something more approaching a reasonable set of evidences.  And instead of attacking individual arguments piecemeal, I’m leaning more toward the approach of prodding your philosophical statement for consistency.  I do think it’s odd to produce a statement like yours to remind one’s self of how one ought to act.  I’d expect it to serve more as a framework for inviting discussion, which is how you’re now poised to use it.

Who knows?  If you’re without a coherent philosophy perhaps luck will have you grab classical theism as the most appealing life-preserver here among the whitecaps.

I agree that it is entirely a matter of luck whether or not I choose to achieve the ends that I am expressing.  And I feel fortunate that I have so chosen, and that I have been successful.  My views are very close to nihilism—both moral and existential—and I am perfectly comfortable with that.  Like many nihilists, I find my views liberating, as they enable me to pursue happiness with no external constraints.  But so I will not be misunderstood, let me point out that my philosophy does take empathy into account, as discussed in the section on negative hedonism.

Why bother with empathy?  Doesn’t positing the existence of other minds parallel the error of classical theists in believing in unnecessarily multiplied entities?

[ Edited: 31 December 2013 02:11 PM by Bryan ]
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Posted: 31 December 2013 05:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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Bryan - 31 December 2013 02:09 PM
Philosofer123 - 31 December 2013 01:20 PM

You have not answered my question.

I addressed your question.  I’m not going to defend the notion that the regress argument presumes determinism, which I have clearly admitted was a poorly-phrased statement.  I have explained what I intended to express.

All right, you have answered my question—the regress argument does not presume determinism.  I will move on.

Bryan - 31 December 2013 02:09 PM

Additionally, why would it matter if Strawson does not agree with Kane’s view of free will?

It matters because you’re basing your regression argument on Strawson’s argument which, in turn, attacks a straw man version of Kane’s definition of free will.  You want an argument that attacks the best the opposition can offer, not straw men set up for the toppling.

The regress argument shows that free will—in the way in which I define it—is impossible.  As you know, I define free will as “that which is sufficient for one to be ultimately responsible for one’s intentional actions”.  It is this definition which is relevant to my philosophy, because showing it to be impossible renders irrational a whole range of negative emotions (see bottom of page 6 of the document), which strongly conduces to peace of mind.

Bryan - 31 December 2013 02:09 PM

But most importantly, can you show that the regress argument is not sound?  To do so, you must either show that at least one of its premises is not necessarily true, or that the premises do not logically entail the conclusion.

I’d argue that Kane sets the bar unnecessarily high for free will.  If entity y can choose either x or ~x options and does so with a reasonable expectation of outcomes then the choice is free.  It doesn’t matter whether the entity was created entirely by another.  Strawson would argue that the outcome is luck if it is not causally determined, but as we can see, Strawson reduces *everything* to luck.  If everything is luck no matter what it is then luck ceases to mean anything.

I have now explained why I use my definition of free will.  Your version of free will is a compatibilist one, which is irrelevant to my philosophy.

Bryan - 31 December 2013 02:09 PM
Bryan - 31 December 2013 12:23 PM

If it’s clearly extraordinary and requires extraordinary evidence then why do so many people believe in a god or gods?  Given the prevalence of god-belief, it is an extraordinary claim that we require extraordinary evidence for the existence of god.

There are plausible naturalistic accounts of the rise and propagation of religion.  Also, people of different religions believe in different types of gods, and what is at issue is whether a particular type of God—the God of classical theism—exists.  Additionally, the fact that many people believe in the existence of the theistic God is not a persuasive argument for his existence—compare to the widespread historical belief that the earth was flat, or that the sun revolved around the earth.  What matters is why people believe—is their belief based on sound arguments and credible evidence, or on other factors such as social conditioning, the desire for justice, or the fear of death?  If the former, then the arguments and evidence should be presented.

You’re starting to sound like a moral realist.  Are you saying that people ought to have sound arguments and credible reasons for their beliefs?  Come on.  It’s just luck, isn’t it?  You could change your mind tomorrow about what it takes for you to believe in a god or gods.

I am saying that one can be rational only if one has sound arguments and credible reasons for one’s beliefs.  This has nothing to do with my metaethical views.

Bryan - 31 December 2013 02:09 PM

There may be no metaphysical rule requiring extraordinary evidence for claims deemed extraordinary, but in my view, such evidence is required for doxastic rationality.

Ought we to strive for doxastic rationality?

Without doxastic rationality, we cannot have a meaningful conversation.  And in practice, doxastic irrationality could be disastrous.  Again, this has nothing to do with my metaethical views.

Bryan - 31 December 2013 02:09 PM

That said, I feel that the arguments and evidence provide strong support for atheism, regardless of who bears the burden of proof.  If you disagree, feel free to try to refute the atheological arguments summarized in the document.  Also, if you feel that there are any persuasive arguments for theism, please lay them out and we can discuss.

I don’t see any point in that at present, unless I’m doing that for the sake of other readers.  You’ve identified yourself as one who will require extraordinary evidence to belief in a god or gods.  If I’m smart I look to drop that barrier down to something more approaching a reasonable set of evidences.  And instead of attacking individual arguments piecemeal, I’m leaning more toward the approach of prodding your philosophical statement for consistency.  I do think it’s odd to produce a statement like yours to remind one’s self of how one ought to act.  I’d expect it to serve more as a framework for inviting discussion, which is how you’re now poised to use it.

OK, so you are not willing to discuss the arguments.  You are welcome to prod my philosophy for consistency.

Bryan - 31 December 2013 02:09 PM

Who knows?  If you’re without a coherent philosophy perhaps luck will have you grab classical theism as the most appealing life-preserver here among the whitecaps.

Ah, but I am not without a coherent philosophy.  And you seem to be implying that classical theism is unphilosophical.  I suppose this is not surprising, given that you are unwilling to discuss the arguments for and against it.

Bryan - 31 December 2013 02:09 PM

I agree that it is entirely a matter of luck whether or not I choose to achieve the ends that I am expressing.  And I feel fortunate that I have so chosen, and that I have been successful.  My views are very close to nihilism—both moral and existential—and I am perfectly comfortable with that.  Like many nihilists, I find my views liberating, as they enable me to pursue happiness with no external constraints.  But so I will not be misunderstood, let me point out that my philosophy does take empathy into account, as discussed in the section on negative hedonism.

Why bother with empathy?  Doesn’t positing the existence of other minds parallel the error of classical theists in believing in unnecessarily multiplied entities?

There is an abundance of evidence that other minds exist.  By contrast, there is no credible evidence that the God of classical theism exists, and a great deal of credible evidence that he does not.

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Posted: 31 December 2013 08:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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Philosofer123 - 31 December 2013 05:48 PM

The regress argument shows that free will—in the way in which I define it—is impossible.

I’m glad I was sitting down when I read that one. 

As you know, I define free will as “that which is sufficient for one to be ultimately responsible for one’s intentional actions”.  It is this definition which is relevant to my philosophy, because showing it to be impossible renders irrational a whole range of negative emotions (see bottom of page 6 of the document), which strongly conduces to peace of mind.

It doesn’t seem reasonable to achieve peace of mind on the issue of free will by eliminating the possibility of free will based on fallacious straw man reasoning.  But maybe that’s just me.

I think I’ll make up an absurd definition of atheism and declare it impossible.  And then act as if I showed atheism as anyone defines it as impossible.

Bryan - 31 December 2013 02:09 PM

But most importantly, can you show that the regress argument is not sound?  To do so, you must either show that at least one of its premises is not necessarily true, or that the premises do not logically entail the conclusion.

I’d argue that Kane sets the bar unnecessarily high for free will.  If entity y can choose either x or ~x options and does so with a reasonable expectation of outcomes then the choice is free.  It doesn’t matter whether the entity was created entirely by another.  Strawson would argue that the outcome is luck if it is not causally determined, but as we can see, Strawson reduces *everything* to luck.  If everything is luck no matter what it is then luck ceases to mean anything.

I have now explained why I use my definition of free will.  Your version of free will is a compatibilist one, which is irrelevant to my philosophy.

My version of free will is not compatibilist, though I am always eager to point out that my model produces every bit the same degree of “control” that compatibilists can claim yet remaining indeterministic.  You should rethink whether it’s relevant or not.  Compatibilism isn’t even at issue without determinism.

You’re starting to sound like a moral realist.  Are you saying that people ought to have sound arguments and credible reasons for their beliefs?  Come on.  It’s just luck, isn’t it?  You could change your mind tomorrow about what it takes for you to believe in a god or gods.

I am saying that one can be rational only if one has sound arguments and credible reasons for one’s beliefs.  This has nothing to do with my metaethical views.

It still kind of sounds like you’re implying that we ought to be rational, which is a corollary to claiming we ought to have sound arguments and credible reasons for our beliefs.  Since it’s all luck anyway, why bother drawing any distinctions?

Bryan - 31 December 2013 02:09 PM

Ought we to strive for doxastic rationality?

Without doxastic rationality, we cannot have a meaningful conversation.  And in practice, doxastic irrationality could be disastrous.  Again, this has nothing to do with my metaethical views.

What’s wrong with disastrous?  You say it almost as if it would be bad.

We probably can’t have a meaningful conversation without free will.  At least not without bringing it to the approximate level of the meaningful conversation between a cell nucleus and the outlying structures of the cell.

OK, so you are not willing to discuss the arguments.

When you say it that way it makes it sound like I’m not willing to discuss the arguments (at all).  It’s an issue of strategy, not ability.  If I remind you, for example, that the argument from evil is an inductive argument of unimpressive strength that’s not likely to matter to a person who holds that the existence of god is an extraordinary claim requiring extraordinary evidence.  It’s not extraordinary to point out weaknesses in atheistic arguments. You’ll stick to your default set of beliefs.

You are welcome to prod my philosophy for consistency.

You use moral-sounding language for things you insist are non-moral, and one of the foundations for your peace of mind is built on a foundation of straw (the Strawson straw man).

Ah, but I am not without a coherent philosophy.

You must be the one who knows, then.  wink

And you seem to be implying that classical theism is unphilosophical.

What’s the foundation for that inference?

I suppose this is not surprising, given that you are unwilling to discuss the arguments for and against it.

It would be inaccurate for you to imply that I am unwilling to discuss atheistic and theistic arguments except as a matter of strategy.  I’ve doubtless argued a number of them on this discussion board already.  And that content is dwarfed by arguments I’ve posted elsewhere.

There is an abundance of evidence that other minds exist.

Name one.  Earlier you referred me to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy to wrestle with arguments there.  Ever been to the section on other minds?

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/other-minds/#7

By contrast, there is no credible evidence that the God of classical theism exists, and a great deal of credible evidence that he does not.

I’ll leave it to you to develop the contrast beyond the level of bald assertion.

[ Edited: 31 December 2013 08:20 PM by Bryan ]
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Posted: 31 December 2013 08:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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Bryan - 31 December 2013 08:04 PM
Philosofer123 - 31 December 2013 05:48 PM

The regress argument shows that free will—in the way in which I define it—is impossible.

I’m glad I was sitting down when I read that one. 

Empty rhetoric.

Bryan - 31 December 2013 08:04 PM

As you know, I define free will as “that which is sufficient for one to be ultimately responsible for one’s intentional actions”.  It is this definition which is relevant to my philosophy, because showing it to be impossible renders irrational a whole range of negative emotions (see bottom of page 6 of the document), which strongly conduces to peace of mind.

It doesn’t seem reasonable to achieve peace of mind on the issue of free will by eliminating the possibility of free will based on fallacious straw man reasoning.  But maybe that’s just me.

You have yet to demonstrate any fallacy in the regress argument, or to show that the impossibility of free will—the way I have defined it—does not conduce to peace of mind.

Bryan - 31 December 2013 08:04 PM

I think I’ll make up an absurd definition of atheism and declare it impossible.  And then act as if I showed atheism as anyone defines it as impossible.

I am afraid that you are the one attacking a straw man.  I have not claimed or implied that free will in any way other than that in which I have defined it is impossible.

Bryan - 31 December 2013 08:04 PM
Bryan - 31 December 2013 02:09 PM

But most importantly, can you show that the regress argument is not sound?  To do so, you must either show that at least one of its premises is not necessarily true, or that the premises do not logically entail the conclusion.

I’d argue that Kane sets the bar unnecessarily high for free will.  If entity y can choose either x or ~x options and does so with a reasonable expectation of outcomes then the choice is free.  It doesn’t matter whether the entity was created entirely by another.  Strawson would argue that the outcome is luck if it is not causally determined, but as we can see, Strawson reduces *everything* to luck.  If everything is luck no matter what it is then luck ceases to mean anything.

I have now explained why I use my definition of free will.  Your version of free will is a compatibilist one, which is irrelevant to my philosophy.

My version of free will is not compatibilist, though I am always eager to point out that my model produces every bit the same degree of “control” that compatibilists can claim yet remaining indeterministic.  You should rethink whether it’s relevant or not.  Compatibilism isn’t even at issue without determinism.

If you believe that your definition of free will is relevant to my philosophy, then please show exactly how.

Bryan - 31 December 2013 08:04 PM

You’re starting to sound like a moral realist.  Are you saying that people ought to have sound arguments and credible reasons for their beliefs?  Come on.  It’s just luck, isn’t it?  You could change your mind tomorrow about what it takes for you to believe in a god or gods.

I am saying that one can be rational only if one has sound arguments and credible reasons for one’s beliefs.  This has nothing to do with my metaethical views.

It still kind of sounds like you’re implying that we ought to be rational, which is a corollary to claiming we ought to have sound arguments and credible reasons for our beliefs.  Since it’s all luck anyway, why bother drawing any distinctions?

Yes, I believe that one ought to be rational, but solely for prudential reasons, not moral ones.

Bryan - 31 December 2013 08:04 PM
Bryan - 31 December 2013 02:09 PM

Ought we to strive for doxastic rationality?

Without doxastic rationality, we cannot have a meaningful conversation.  And in practice, doxastic irrationality could be disastrous.  Again, this has nothing to do with my metaethical views.

What’s wrong with disastrous?  You say it almost as if it would be bad.

Again, I believe that one ought to be rational, but solely for prudential reasons, not moral ones.

Bryan - 31 December 2013 08:04 PM

We probably can’t have a meaningful conversation without free will.  At least not without bringing it to the approximate level of the meaningful conversation between a cell nucleus and the outlying structures of the cell.

Again, you are attacking a straw man.  The impossibility of ultimate responsibility does not preclude meaningful conversation. 

Bryan - 31 December 2013 08:04 PM

OK, so you are not willing to discuss the arguments.

When you say it that way it makes it sound like I’m not willing to discuss the arguments (at all).  It’s an issue of strategy, not ability.  If I remind you, for example, that the argument from evil is an inductive argument of unimpressive strength that’s not likely to matter to a person who holds that the existence of god is an extraordinary claim requiring extraordinary evidence.  It’s not extraordinary to point out weaknesses in atheistic arguments. You’ll stick to your default set of beliefs.

More empty rhetoric.  You are refusing to present any arguments because you predict that I will not be persuaded, but you do not know this.  And if you present no arguments, I can guarantee you that I will not be persuaded.

Bryan - 31 December 2013 08:04 PM

You are welcome to prod my philosophy for consistency.

You use moral-sounding language for things you insist are non-moral, and one of the foundations for your peace of mind is built on a foundation of straw (the Strawson straw man).

You have not demonstrated any inconsistency between my moral skepticism and the rest of my philosophy.  And you have failed to refute the regress argument.

Bryan - 31 December 2013 08:04 PM

Ah, but I am not without a coherent philosophy.

You must be the one who knows, then.  wink

More empty rhetoric.

Bryan - 31 December 2013 08:04 PM

And you seem to be implying that classical theism is unphilosophical.

What’s the foundation for that inference?

You basically implied that classical theism is chosen by those without a coherent philosophy.

Bryan - 31 December 2013 08:04 PM

I suppose this is not surprising, given that you are unwilling to discuss the arguments for and against it.

It would be inaccurate for you to imply that I am unwilling to discuss atheistic and theistic arguments except as a matter of strategy.  I’ve doubtless argued a number of them on this discussion board already.  And that content is dwarfed by arguments I’ve posted elsewhere.

The bottom line is that you are unwilling to discuss arguments for and against theism with me.

Bryan - 31 December 2013 08:04 PM

There is an abundance of evidence that other minds exist.

Name one.  Earlier you referred me to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy to wrestle with arguments there.  Ever been to the section on other minds?

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/other-minds/#7

As discussed in the section on the analogical argument, the behavior of others combined with the connection between one’s own mental states and one’s behavior constitutes evidence that other minds exist. 

Bryan - 31 December 2013 08:04 PM

By contrast, there is no credible evidence that the God of classical theism exists, and a great deal of credible evidence that he does not.

I’ll leave it to you to develop the contrast beyond the level of bald assertion.

My recommended readings on atheism demonstrate that there is no credible evidence that the God of classical theism exists, and the atheological arguments summarized in my document demonstrate that there is a great deal of credible evidence that the God of classical theism does not exist.

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Posted: 31 December 2013 10:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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Philosofer123 - 31 December 2013 08:55 PM

Empty rhetoric.

Nah.  Makes a nice segue to the explanation.

Bryan - 31 December 2013 08:04 PM

It doesn’t seem reasonable to achieve peace of mind on the issue of free will by eliminating the possibility of free will based on fallacious straw man reasoning.  But maybe that’s just me.

You have yet to demonstrate any fallacy in the regress argument, or to show that the impossibility of free will—the way I have defined it—does not conduce to peace of mind.

I’ve pointed out the straw man fallacy.  If you’re comforted by a sound argument based on a straw man fallacy then bully for you.  Doesn’t make it reasonable.

Bryan - 31 December 2013 08:04 PM

I think I’ll make up an absurd definition of atheism and declare it impossible.  And then act as if I showed atheism as anyone defines it as impossible.

I am afraid that you are the one attacking a straw man.  I have not claimed or implied that free will in any way other than that in which I have defined it is impossible.

What does “Free will impossibilism” mean on your list of philosophical positions?  Is there a tiny asterisk waiting to be viewed after I zoom in 500%?  You could improve your presentation by avoiding ambiguities.  If you mean free will is impossible then your wording is okay.  If you mean free will as you define it is impossible then your readers will appreciate a bit more explanation up front, including the caveat that free will according to Kane’s definition may be possible.

My version of free will is not compatibilist, though I am always eager to point out that my model produces every bit the same degree of “control” that compatibilists can claim yet remaining indeterministic.  You should rethink whether it’s relevant or not.  Compatibilism isn’t even at issue without determinism.

If you believe that your definition of free will is relevant to my philosophy, then please show exactly how.

It’s only important if the peace of mind you derive from your position on free will is supposed to be rational.  So it’s really up to you.  How do you justify on a rational basis achieving peace of mind by dispatching one particular definition of free will, that being a straw man of Kane’s position created by Galen Strawson?  What’s the point of using that straw man to rid one’s self of the emotions you listed?

Yes, I believe that one ought to be rational, but solely for prudential reasons, not moral ones.

Perhaps then it follows to use a non-rational argument (flattening straw man free will) for the prudent purpose of achieving peace of mind.

I believe that one ought to be rational, but solely for prudential reasons, not moral ones.

I’m not seeing the clear distinction between the two that you apparently see.  It smacks of George Smith’s attempt to bridge the is/ought divide by proposing that if one wants x then one ought to y.  But it begs the question of whether wanting x is an ought.

Bryan - 31 December 2013 08:04 PM

We probably can’t have a meaningful conversation without free will.  At least not without bringing it to the approximate level of the meaningful conversation between a cell nucleus and the outlying structures of the cell.

Again, you are attacking a straw man.

What’s the non-straw man?  I’m just telling you what I think.  I’m not altering anybody else’s argument, let alone producing a weakened version of it suitable for defeat.

The impossibility of ultimate responsibility does not preclude meaningful conversation.

Not surprising, since you appear to admit that it doesn’t preclude free will either.  All it does is preclude free will as you defined it.

More empty rhetoric.

It’s common sense.  I’ll be happy to explain further.

You are refusing to present any arguments because you predict that I will not be persuaded, but you do not know this.

I’m taking you at your word that you will require extraordinary evidence to accept the existence of god.  Yeah, you might be lying.  But I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt.

And if you present no arguments, I can guarantee you that I will not be persuaded.

No, you can’t guarantee it.  You might be unlucky this time.  wink

I’m not presenting no arguments.  I’m arguing the incoherence of your stated view of things, in the expectation that you will be more open to theistic arguments after confronting difficulties with your own view of things.  And you’re so smart I’ll be able to save time.  With a fresh perspective you’ll re-examine the old arguments in a new light and convince yourself far better than I ever could.  wink

You use moral-sounding language for things you insist are non-moral, and one of the foundations for your peace of mind is built on a foundation of straw (the Strawson straw man).

You have not demonstrated any inconsistency between my moral skepticism and the rest of my philosophy.  And you have failed to refute the regress argument.

You say we should be rational.  You claim to void negative emotions by showing the impossibility of free will.  It turns out your argument shows the impossibility of straw man free will (and you apparently admit it).  Is it rational to rule out the negative emotions if libertarian free will is possible according to Kane’s definition but not Strawson’s?  The soundness of a straw man argument is not particularly important, is it?

You basically implied that classical theism is chosen by those without a coherent philosophy.

Quote me?  I’m not seeing it.  It seems likely you misinterpreted something.  I’ll be happy to quell the misunderstanding once you identify the offending statement.

The bottom line is that you are unwilling to discuss arguments for and against theism with me.

Right now, as a matter of strategy, yes.  When you leave out that part repeatedly you produce a misleading impression.  That qualifies, if I can borrow your expression, as empty (and misleading) rhetoric.

As discussed in the section on the analogical argument, the behavior of others combined with the connection between one’s own mental states and one’s behavior constitutes evidence that other minds exist.

Arguments by analogy are notoriously weak, of course.  This isn’t news to you, is it?  I sent you to the summary conclusion.  You were to have read this:  “What is clear is that there does not seem to be what might be called a received solution to the problem.”  Instead, you cherry picked a grain of positive out of a sandbox of negative.

Bryan - 31 December 2013 08:04 PM

By contrast, there is no credible evidence that the God of classical theism exists, and a great deal of credible evidence that he does not.

I’ll leave it to you to develop the contrast beyond the level of bald assertion.

My recommended readings on atheism demonstrate that there is no credible evidence that the God of classical theism exists, and the atheological arguments summarized in my document demonstrate that there is a great deal of credible evidence that the God of classical theism does not exist.

That’s not the requested contrast.  You’ve got an argument by analogy that other minds exist.  You intend to stand pat with that?  It’s not much with which to build a case for contrast, even assuming your atheological arguments are stronger than you think they are.

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Posted: 01 January 2014 12:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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Bryan - 31 December 2013 10:49 PM
Philosofer123 - 31 December 2013 08:55 PM

Empty rhetoric.

Nah.  Makes a nice segue to the explanation.

You have consistently refused to engage with any arguments in the document, including the atheological arguments and the regress argument for the impossibility of free will. 

You have failed to show that theism is not an extraordinary claim that requires extraordinary evidence.  Your attempts to draw an analogy between theism and claiming the existence of other minds fail, as the latter is hardly an extraordinary claim.

I have explained why my definition of free will is relevant to my philosophy, but you refuse to listen.  You have not even attempted to show how negative emotions such as anger and regret can be rational in the absence of ultimate responsibility.  As a result, your repeated “straw man” accusations are a useless distraction.

Your overall strategy of attempting to find inconsistencies in the document has failed.  Nowhere in the document do I imply the existence of objective moral facts in the way in which I characterize them, and nowhere in the document do I make any statement that would require the existence of free will in the way in which I have defined it.

Recall that the purpose of this thread is to solicit feedback so that the document may be improved.  It is now clear that your feedback will lead to no improvements to the document, so I will end our conversation here.

Thank you for your time.

[ Edited: 01 January 2014 01:02 PM by Philosofer123 ]
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Posted: 01 January 2014 01:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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Phil if this is your first run in with Bryan you should know that he is a Reactionary and a christian. Heavy emphasis on Reactionary!!
He is a master of intricately obfuscating a discussion and using subtle effects to derail your main thrusts by attempting
to change your words around and also emphasizing irrelevant points to reform the argument to suit his thrust.

I don’t recall him ever actually stating a position here-ever. He only strives to derail your position, that’s all.
You should continue on with him a bit more. You got a good taste there, try some more. It’s really a good exercise in debate.

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Posted: 01 January 2014 01:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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VYAZMA - 01 January 2014 01:00 PM

Phil if this is your first run in with Bryan you should know that he is a Reactionary and a christian. Heavy emphasis on Reactionary!!
He is a master of intricately obfuscating a discussion and using subtle effects to derail your main thrusts by attempting
to change your words around and also emphasizing irrelevant points to reform the argument to suit his thrust.

I don’t recall him ever actually stating a position here-ever. He only strives to derail your position, that’s all.
You should continue on with him a bit more. You got a good taste there, try some more. It’s really a good exercise in debate.

Thanks for the information, VYAZMA. 

Sadly, Bryan’s posts are of relatively high quality compared to the other critiques I have received.  And I have posted on almost all of the major philosophy discussion boards.  I am still waiting for a discussion that precipitates a significant improvement to my document.

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Posted: 01 January 2014 02:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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Philosofer123 - 01 January 2014 01:11 PM
VYAZMA - 01 January 2014 01:00 PM

Phil if this is your first run in with Bryan you should know that he is a Reactionary and a christian. Heavy emphasis on Reactionary!!
He is a master of intricately obfuscating a discussion and using subtle effects to derail your main thrusts by attempting
to change your words around and also emphasizing irrelevant points to reform the argument to suit his thrust.

I don’t recall him ever actually stating a position here-ever. He only strives to derail your position, that’s all.
You should continue on with him a bit more. You got a good taste there, try some more. It’s really a good exercise in debate.

Thanks for the information, VYAZMA. 

Sadly, Bryan’s posts are of relatively high quality compared to the other critiques I have received.  And I have posted on almost all of the major philosophy discussion boards.  I am still waiting for a discussion that precipitates a significant improvement to my document.

Yes he’s well spoken. Acidly sarcastic, but well versed in the subjects, no doubt. But he’s very ideologically bent.
I don’t hold ideology against people myself(actually I probably do…), but it can make for some heated discussions.

It doesn’t help when the discussion revolves around philosophy either.
Very little empirical foundation for either side of debate to get a footing on.

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Posted: 01 January 2014 02:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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VYAZMA - 01 January 2014 01:00 PM

Phil if this is your first run in with Bryan you should know that he is a Reactionary and a christian. Heavy emphasis on Reactionary!!

Relevant how, in the current context?

He is a master of intricately obfuscating a discussion and using subtle effects to derail your main thrusts by attempting
to change your words around and also emphasizing irrelevant points to reform the argument to suit his thrust.

Any examples from the current context?  We have that from Philosofer, actually.  At first, he’s happy to discuss potential inconsistencies in his position statement.  Before long, his main issue is my supposed unwillingness to engage arguments of others not contained in the document.  Did you read his document, VYAZMA?  Read it and tell me if you get the impression that he’s saying that free will is impossible.  Philosofer says he doesn’t even imply it.  Even you should agree with me on that point.  Read it and offer your judgment and reasoning.  Contribute to the discussion.

I don’t recall him ever actually stating a position here-ever. He only strives to derail your position, that’s all.

Obviously my stated position above that free will is probably necessary for rational discussion doesn’t count.  One day VYAZMA will let me know what counts as taking a position and what doesn’t.

You should continue on with him a bit more. You got a good taste there, try some more. It’s really a good exercise in debate.

Well that’s kind of positive.  wink

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Posted: 01 January 2014 03:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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Bryan - 01 January 2014 02:54 PM

Relevant how, in the current context?


Well both of those will run counter to his philosophy in general. So I see that as relevant. Even in a critique setting.
After all what else is there but critique around here?

 

Any examples from the current context?  We have that from Philosofer, actually.  At first, he’s happy to discuss potential inconsistencies in his position statement.  Before long, his main issue is my supposed unwillingness to engage arguments of others not contained in the document.  Did you read his document, VYAZMA?  Read it and tell me if you get the impression that he’s saying that free will is impossible.  Philosofer says he doesn’t even imply it.  Even you should agree with me on that point.  Read it and offer your judgment and reasoning.  Contribute to the discussion.

I only followed ya’lls exchange regarding one point out of the many you both were exchanging. It was the one about credible or extraordinary claims regarding the existence of god.  I thought Phil’s position on that was pretty sound. I thought you kept twisting it around and around.
But again, I don’t want to go into this. It’s ideologically based. That’s the same reason I didn’t read Phil’s Thesis. Because I don’t want to critique it-or anything like that.
I have read lot’s of folks ideas on the free-will thread. Including yours. It can’t be settled. I am a hard determinist. I’d rather go along with someone who believes in Free-will explicitly than try to understand all of the grey areas that people try to flesh out like compatibilism etc etc.

Obviously my stated position above that free will is probably necessary for rational discussion doesn’t count.  One day VYAZMA will let me know what counts as taking a position and what doesn’t.

Yes I knew that statement of mine was risky and blurry. I’ll respectfully retract that. But not enthusiastically.

You should continue on with him a bit more. You got a good taste there, try some more. It’s really a good exercise in debate.

Well that’s kind of positive.  wink

Ha ha ha…yeah, I meant it positively. Really. I don’t want to war with you Bry. I wish you would be more open and come out from behind that
weird literary shield that you hurl barbs from. I reckon you feel outnumbered here and under siege when you visit. That’s understandable given the obvious ideological gulf that exists between you and the majority of members here.

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Posted: 02 January 2014 12:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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VYAZMA - 01 January 2014 03:24 PM

Well both of those will run counter to his philosophy in general. So I see that as relevant. Even in a critique setting.
After all what else is there but critique around here?

In my second reply in this thread, I mentioned to Philosofer that I am a theist.  So he’d already know that he’s getting a “hostile” critique.  It’s relevant if my POV colors the content of my criticism.  So if you’re going to say it’s relevant apart from letting Philosofer know that mine is a hostile critique, it behooves you to provide an example of what you’re talking about.  Without that, your actions come across as trying to discredit what I say by putting labels on me.  I don’t think that behavior matches the standard the CFI forum upholds as its ideal.  I’m not hung up on being labeled.  I’ll wear whatever label people pick out for me if they can bring themselves to address the content of what I write.  Calling me a reactionary is a stretch.  Call me that if you like, but provide some content aside from the labeling.

I only followed ya’lls exchange regarding one point out of the many you both were exchanging. It was the one about credible or extraordinary claims regarding the existence of god.  I thought Phil’s position on that was pretty sound. I thought you kept twisting it around and around.

I made two good points about the “extraordinary evidence” criterion.  First, it’s at least a cousin, rhetorically, to the fallacy of appeal to incredulity.  Though we agreed that it isn’t fallacious (I poked fun at myself while making that point).  Second, applied to the standard people use in real life it appears to be flatly wrong.  My main point wrt to the extraordinary evidence criterion is that it is cliched.  It’s fine to require good evidence for believing anything.  If somebody thinks they have good evidence no god exists then naturally it will be hard to change their minds without good evidence.

But again, I don’t want to go into this. It’s ideologically based.

The issue of whether Philosofer promotes the impression that he disproves free will using a standard definition requires hardly any philosophical knowledge.  It’s simply an issue of reading and interpreting English.  I’m sorry to see you pass on the opportunity to help Philosofer improve his attempt to communicate clearly to others.

I wish you would be more open and come out from behind that
weird literary shield that you hurl barbs from.

I think I’m kindly.  grin
Yes, I argue mercilously, in a sense.  But I’m careful not to make things personal as by namecalling and the like.  Bad ideas deserve rough rhetorical treatment.

I reckon you feel outnumbered here and under siege when you visit. That’s understandable given the obvious ideological gulf that exists between you and the majority of members here.

lol—don’t cry for me, Argentina!

I’m here because I choose to post here.  I’m not the least bit intimidated, and I don’t feel besieged.  I visited first because I think a group of skeptics will have better skeptical arguments than skeptics visiting theistic discussion boards (not the most solid thesis I ever came up with, but there are some good arguments here regardless).  Now I visit for the first reason plus my familiarity with the virtual community.  You’ve welcomed an outsider (not without a few bumps), and I appreciate it.  I like the people here, generally speaking.

And as for the current discussion, I’ve tried to keep my focus on two key issues: epistemology (that’s why I explored Phil’s view of the extraordinary evidence notion), and the coherence of his presentation.  I’ll post once more in reply to him, pointing out two areas where he can clearly improve his presentation.  It’s an argument that even one relatively uninterested in philosophy such as you claim to be ought to be able to appreciate.

And one final thing:  I’ve gone out of my way in this thread to be an open book in terms of why I’m approaching the issues this way.  Phil’s initial openness to criticism of the consistency of his presentation, followed by a declaration that my criticism has failed—unaccompanied by any attempt to reasonably address the criticism—is suspicious.  There’s reason to view his behavior as evasive.  Christians aren’t the only ones who play rhetorical games.

[ Edited: 02 January 2014 01:01 AM by Bryan ]
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Posted: 02 January 2014 02:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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Philosofer123 - 01 January 2014 12:33 PM
Bryan - 31 December 2013 10:49 PM
Philosofer123 - 31 December 2013 08:55 PM

Empty rhetoric.

Nah.  Makes a nice segue to the explanation.

You have consistently refused to engage with any arguments in the document, including the atheological arguments and the regress argument for the impossibility of free will.

Baloney.  I’ve addressed Strawson’s arguments in detail in the past, so I know the two primary weaknesses to his argument, both of which I have shared.  1)  His definition of free will alters Kane’s definition to make it amenable to his regress argument.  It’s a straw man.  2)  Strawson’s regress reduces every phenomenon to luck.  When everything is luck by necessity, it empties the word of meaning.

You apparently don’t care that it’s a straw man argument and keep repeating that I’m not attacking the soundness of the argument.  I’ve pointed out more than once to you that soundness doesn’t redeem a straw man argument.  Instead of addressing that issue you elect to terminate the discussion.

You have failed to show that theism is not an extraordinary claim that requires extraordinary evidence.

Bummer.  No doubt I also failed to turn a triple somersault while riding a dolphin.

Your attempts to draw an analogy between theism and claiming the existence of other minds fail, as the latter is hardly an extraordinary claim.

Oh. So if one thing is extraordinary and another thing isn’t, then it’s impossible to draw an analogy between them?  Regardless of any other similarities?

You’re not offering serious arguments, here.  Consciousness is immaterial, and there’s a perfectly reasonable comparison between your unwillingness to apply Occam’s razor to the issue of other minds when you’re zealous to wield it against gods and morals.  It’s an issue of consistency.

I have explained why my definition of free will is relevant to my philosophy, but you refuse to listen.

I listened and judged your claim of relevance spurious.  You’ve declined to explain how disproving straw man free will rationally justifies neutralizing negative emotions.  And your claim that you do not imply that you disprove free will aside from a version you’ve carefully defined doesn’t pass the sniff test.  You use the label “free will impossibilism” in your description of your philosophy.  That’s unequivocal.  Your subsequent use of Strawson’s regress argument gives the impression that you’re using a standard definition like Kane’s.  But you’re not.  You’re using Strawson’s corruption of Kane’s description.

You have not even attempted to show how negative emotions such as anger and regret can be rational in the absence of ultimate responsibility.

Right, but I was going to do that right after the dolphin and I jumped through three consecutive rings of fire (while each of us juggle 10 miniature marshmallows, which the fires will roast, after which we distribute the roasted marshmallows to the audience).

I really wasn’t expecting this type of silliness from you.  There’s no need for me to make any argument about the rationality of negative emotions.  The issue is your statement of philosophy and whether it is consistent.  You esteem rationality and then turn rationality on its head by dismissing negative emotions based on a disproof of one straw-man version of free will.  Any successful model of libertarian free will, perhaps the one defined by Kane, negates the would-be rationality of your argument.  It’s hard to break it down more simply than that.  Maybe I can come up with a suitable analogy if the concept stumps you.

As a result, your repeated “straw man” accusations are a useless distraction.

That doesn’t follow.

Your overall strategy of attempting to find inconsistencies in the document has failed.

If saying it makes it true, then you’re right.

The truth is that you used Strawson’s definition and Strawson’s regress argument.  Strawson’s definition changes Kane’s, so as a refutation of Kane’s argument for LFW, Strawson’s is a failure.  That should concern you deeply, and I’m puzzled why would would attempt to dismiss it so lightly.  It’s hard to imagine that your method of addressing the issue promotes peace of mind, unless the behavior is somehow connected to cognitive dissonance.

Nowhere in the document do I imply the existence of objective moral facts in the way in which I characterize them, and nowhere in the document do I make any statement that would require the existence of free will in the way in which I have defined it.

That is, as you say, empty rhetoric.  It is your statements in this thread that hint at objective moral oughts, not statements in your document, and I’m not charging you with an inconsistency on that count.  Though I’m still keeping tabs on it.

Recall that the purpose of this thread is to solicit feedback so that the document may be improved.  It is now clear that your feedback will lead to no improvements to the document, so I will end our conversation here.

It’s your prerogative to cease participation in our discussion, of course.  But there are two clear improvements you can make to your document based on my criticisms.  First, as I’ve already mentioned, make clear to your readers whether you claim to show LFW impossible or merely LFW according to the version that makes Galen Strawson’s regress argument work.  If you don’t do that, you’ll leave the impression that the argument shows that LFW conceptions such as Kane’s are impossible.  That’s misleading.

Second, until you rule out the best possibilities for coherently describing LFW you have no rational basis for discounting your negative emotions (or however you’ve worded it).  It’s akin to disproving the existence of balloons by proving that rubber doesn’t exist and then simply ignoring the possibility of mylar balloons.  If you’re going to discount negative emotions you’ll need a rational basis for doing it.  Strawson’s argument can’t do that for you.

Thank you for your time.

I’m still hoping you can do better.

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Posted: 04 January 2014 05:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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Philosofer123 - 29 November 2013 10:45 AM

Over the past few years, I have formulated my philosophy of life, a 13-page document that may be found at the following link:

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0Byh6JnTg3RMecHhxV0pYeklqV0U/edit?usp=sharing

I have found the entire exercise to be very beneficial personally, and I hope that you will benefit from reading the document.

I am posting my philosophy to solicit feedback so that it may be improved.  I welcome any constructive criticism that you may have.

Enjoy!

I’ll admit I clicked the link with my cynical specs on - but dang, that’s an interesting project you undertook and from my simpleton perspective you did an excellent job of covering the bases.  It helps that most of the… the… value judgements perhaps… in any event, I found much to agree with and nothing that made my eyes roll.

Great job.  And keep on keep’n on   grin

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