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Infinite regress of causes
 Posted: 16 March 2009 01:46 AM [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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Bryan - 15 March 2009 11:42 PM

The person arguing for infinite regress is not simply saying that it is possible that there was no first cause in the case of an infinite regress.

This is exactly what I am saying.  There is a possible infinite regress in this, and you fail to assert why this isn’t the case.

True, but beside the point AFAICS.  Perhaps you can explain it so that it is no longer beside the point.  I’ll look for that with interest.

Because, even given an actual infinite, there is nothing that stops you from identifying specific points within the set, or defining finite solutions between two points in the set (something you’re claiming is specific to ‘potential’ infinite, yes?).  The problem with actual infinite comes with the endpoints.  Arriving at our current time is not an endpoint in the infinite that has been crossed (a flaw in your anology), it is an arbitrary bound that you are setting; unless you care to further insist that time will also necessarily come to an end (in hindsight, you actually believe this, so…)

If events outside of our universe are not contingent upon time and specific order than why on Earth would we ever appeal to an infinite regress?  Wouldn’t we have made the infinite regress unnecessary and unlikely as an explanation?

Not exactly.  Unless you care to assert that the universe is within itself, you’re coming across the problem of what makes the universe specific as to require a cause, as a pose to your god which doesn’t, why it is a singular entity, why it must have the specific biblical attributes, and why all others are impossible (though much of that isn’t specific to the Kalam argument, the usual apologetics, particularly Dr. Craig since you’ve mentioned him, do a rather pathetic job of addressing those)

If you don’t flatly deny it then you imply that I’m right.

False Dichotomy

It could be a weakness in your approach to this argument.  I’m happy to see that you consider it a live possibility.  Perhaps I wouldn’t have done that in your shoes, being a Christian and all.

Given what else I posit in the realm of ‘possibility’ (on equal terms with your god, no less)...I think you may want to reconsider what you think of my position

I love specifics in association with statements along those lines.

Sorry, I didn’t think that I needed to bring in the highlights of your faith, including commandment #1 and the general insistance that all other gods/religions/dieties/moral systems/etc. are false and misleading compared to your own?  Granted, you seem to be a bit more liberal than most…but isn’t that inconsistent with the fundamentals of Christianity?  You’re not exactly a religion of tolerance.

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 Posted: 16 March 2009 06:57 AM [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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Bryan - 15 March 2009 11:25 PM

Judging from your post, one would think that you think me unfamiliar with either one.

But that isn’t realistic, is it?

Shall I just refer you to William Lane Craig’s replies to Oppy and Smith, or would you care to interpret their arguments, put them in your own words, and actually invest something in the argument?

Certainly not, though I found it quite amusing that you would be the devil’s advocate and then refer me to William Lane Craig. I have been to the Christianity today website to read his “God is not dead yet” essay. The title indicates a defensive stance. You don’t see “Atheism is not dead yet” essays on atheist websites.

From the essay, the kalam cosmological argument:

1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

In taoist philosophy:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tao

In Taoism, Tao both precedes and encompasses the universe. As with other nondualistic philosophies, all the observable objects in the world - referred to in the Tao Te Ching as ‘the named’ or ‘the ten thousand things’ - are considered to be manifestations of Tao, and can only operate within the boundaries of Tao. Tao is, by contrast, often referred to as ‘the nameless’, because neither it nor its principles can ever be adequately expressed in words. It is conceived, for example, with neither shape nor form, as simultaneously perfectly still and constantly moving, as both larger than the largest thing and smaller than the smallest, because the words that describe shape, movement, size, or other qualities always create dichotomies, and Tao is always a unity.

The Tao is like a well:
used but never used up.
It is like the eternal void:
filled with infinite possibilities.

It is hidden but always present.
I don’t know who gave birth to it.
It is older than God.

Dark energy/matter/fluid or vacuum energy?

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080131094056.htm

In Dr Zhao’s model, dark energy and dark matter are simply different manifestations of the same thing, which he has considered as a ‘dark fluid’. On the scale of galaxies, this dark fluid behaves like matter and on the scale of the Universe overall as dark energy, driving the expansion of the Universe. Importantly, his model, unlike some similar work, is detailed enough to produce the same 3:1 ratio of dark energy to dark matter as is predicted by cosmologists.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vacuum_energy

Vacuum energy is an underlying background energy that exists in space even when devoid of matter (known as free space). The vacuum energy is deduced from the concept of virtual particles, which are themselves derived from the energy-time uncertainty principle. Its effects can be observed in various phenomena (such as spontaneous emission, the Casimir effect, the van der Waals bonds, or the Lamb shift), and it is thought to have consequences for the behavior of the Universe on cosmological scales.

In Buddhist philosophy:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhist_philosophy

Early Buddhism displays a strong streak of skepticism; the Buddha cautioned his followers to stay aloof from intellectual disputation for its own sake, saying that this is fruitless and distracts from the practices leading to enlightenment.

Proponents of the view that Buddhism is a philosophy argue (a) that Buddhism is non-theistic, having no particular use for the existence or non-existence of a god or gods; and (b) that religion entails theism. However, both prongs of this argument are contested by proponents of the alternative view, that Buddhism is a religion. Another argument for Buddhism qua philosophy is that Buddhism does not have doctrines in the same sense as other religions; instead, Buddhism offers specific methods for applying its philosophical principles.

Why is there the obsession to prove the existence of a deity in the Judaic/Christian/Islamic religions?

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 Posted: 16 March 2009 01:06 PM [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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kkwan - 16 March 2009 06:57 AM

I found it quite amusing that you would be the devil’s advocate and then refer me to William Lane Craig.

I don’t see why you’d find it amusing.  I did nothing to force you to cut and paste the arguments of others.  If I feel like criticizing their arguments I’m more likely to do it in my own venue rather than this one.  After all, neither Oppy nor Smith posts here, from what I can tell.  If you’re going to cut and paste your arguments then I don’t see why I shouldn’t do the same.

Why is there the obsession to prove the existence of a deity in the Judaic/Christian/Islamic religions?

I don’t know.  In this thread we were just talking about the concept of an infinite regress.  The Kalam argument was introduced to the thread because of its relevance on that point.  I’m happy discussing the concept of the infinite regress.  If you’re obsessed with trying to prove the existence of a deity in the Judaic/Christian/Islamic tradition then you can go start a thread on that topic.

[ Edited: 16 March 2009 10:35 PM by Bryan ]
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 Posted: 16 March 2009 02:02 PM [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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Mathenaut - 16 March 2009 01:46 AM
Bryan - 15 March 2009 11:42 PM

The person arguing for infinite regress is not simply saying that it is possible that there was no first cause in the case of an infinite regress.

This is exactly what I am saying.  There is a possible infinite regress in this, and you fail to assert why this isn’t the case.

Look again, putting special attention on the portion that failed to make it past the editing process:

They are saying that there is no first cause and that history goes back infinitely—no other possibility, for you can’t have a first cause and an infinite regress both. Thus, under the condition of an infinite regress, we have the conditional necessity of an actual infinity.

I don’t simply assert that it isn’t a mere possibility of an infinite regress.  I explain why proposing an infinite regress for the sake of argument asks us to suppose that we have, in fact, an infinite regress.  And if we have an infinite regress then the past is not just potentially infinite but actually infinite (revisit the ladders).

True, but beside the point AFAICS.  Perhaps you can explain it so that it is no longer beside the point.  I’ll look for that with interest.

Because, even given an actual infinite, there is nothing that stops you from identifying specific points within the set, or defining finite solutions between two points in the set (something you’re claiming is specific to ‘potential’ infinite, yes?).

Sort of, but in the case of the potential infinite we’re still adding elements to the set.  The actual infinite is already complete (the ladder always extending beyond your sight, not the ladder you need to periodically extend).

The problem with actual infinite comes with the endpoints.

What endpoints?

Arriving at our current time is not an endpoint in the infinite that has been crossed (a flaw in your anology), it is an arbitrary bound that you are setting; unless you care to further insist that time will also necessarily come to an end (in hindsight, you actually believe this, so…)

The problem isn’t the one endpoint in the present.  It is the endpoint in the past (the one you can never reach).  If the universe contracted and met in one point that stayed in stasis then time (at least as we know it) would end.  So you probably believe it, too.

If events outside of our universe are not contingent upon time and specific order than why on Earth would we ever appeal to an infinite regress?  Wouldn’t we have made the infinite regress unnecessary and unlikely as an explanation?

Not exactly.  Unless you care to assert that the universe is within itself, you’re coming across the problem of what makes the universe specific as to require a cause, as (op)pose(d) to your god which doesn’t, why it is a singular entity, why it must have the specific biblical attributes, and why all others are impossible (though much of that isn’t specific to the Kalam argument, the usual apologetics, particularly Dr. Craig since you’ve mentioned him, do a rather pathetic job of addressing those)

The topic is the notion of an infinite regress, not the existence of god.  Explain what you mean by “not exactly” and how “universe within a universe” relates without the need to bring God into it as anything other than simply a first cause.

If you don’t flatly deny it then you imply that I’m right.

False Dichotomy

It’s not a dichotomy at all, so how could it be a false one?
It is a statement about what is implied by your statement, as in producing an inference, not as in a necessary consequence.

(in a bit of a rush—if you want a reply to the rest simply ask)

[ Edited: 16 March 2009 10:37 PM by Bryan ]
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 Posted: 16 March 2009 02:03 PM [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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To the both of you:

If I wanted to see the merits of arguments posed by popular philosophers, I would take transcripts of their arguments and compare/contrast directly.  Otherwise, let’s not argue from authority, yes?

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 Posted: 18 March 2009 11:53 AM [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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Consider vagueness, the Sorites Paradox and the nature
of infinity in the infinite regression of causes scenario:

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/vagueness/#3

An infinite regression of causes is….infinity.

Less one cause in the regression is….infinity.

Therefore, less infinite causes in the regression is…...infinity.

Hence, there is no first cause. Infinity rules, OK.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tao

The Tao is like a well:
used but never used up.
It is like the eternal void:
filled with infinite possibilities.

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 Posted: 18 March 2009 12:22 PM [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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kkwan - 18 March 2009 11:53 AM

Consider vagueness, the Sorites Paradox and the nature
of infinity in the infinite regression of causes scenario:

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/vagueness/#3

I have little choice but to confront vagueness when arguing these types of issues.

An infinite regression of causes is….infinity.

Less one cause in the regression is….infinity.

Therefore, less infinite causes in the regression is…...infinity.

Hence, there is no first cause.

I don’t think we needed your help in order to realize that if we have an infinite regress then we do not have a first cause.  The question is whether or not we can cross an actual infinite in order to reach the present moment (Kalam argument), which could mean that the infinite regress is not an option.  Reducing the cardinality of the actual infinity doesn’t seem to touch the problem, for it remains an actual infinity that remains to be crossed by successive addition.

Infinity rules, OK.

Reach out and touch the problem.  Don’t try to dance around it.

[ Edited: 18 March 2009 01:02 PM by Bryan ]
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 Posted: 18 March 2009 04:18 PM [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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Bryan - 16 March 2009 02:02 PM

Look again, putting special attention on the portion that failed to make it past the editing process:

They are saying that there is no first cause and that history goes back infinitely—no other possibility, for you can’t have a first cause and an infinite regress both. Thus, under the condition of an infinite regress, we have the conditional necessity of an actual infinity.

I don’t simply assert that it isn’t a mere possibility of an infinite regress.  I explain why proposing an infinite regress for the sake of argument asks us to suppose that we have, in fact, an infinite regress.  And if we have an infinite regress then the past is not just potentially infinite but actually infinite (revisit the ladders).

Your entire case here rests upon insisting ‘actually infinite’ in the position you argue against.  This does not address the question I brought up.

If the regress is possibly infinite (which changes nothing from my position), how do you properly assert the necessity of your first cause?

Sort of, but in the case of the potential infinite we’re still adding elements to the set.  The actual infinite is already complete (the ladder always extending beyond your sight, not the ladder you need to periodically extend).

That makes no sense.  If the ladder is complete, then it is not infinite (it can’t be), it is just absurdly large.

What endpoints?

The endpoints that apparently must exist if you’re placing bounds upon infinity.

The problem isn’t the one endpoint in the present.  It is the endpoint in the past (the one you can never reach).  If the universe contracted and met in one point that stayed in stasis then time (at least as we know it) would end.  So you probably believe it, too.

Firstly, the issue of specific order, sequence, and time only applies within the context of our universe.  We’re speaking beyond it.  You’re claiming that something outside of the universe, directly caused the universe, and that this cause is not tied to any other cause.

Additionally, if we go with the contraction/expansion concept of the universe, then it is perfectly plausible to assert that the universe is eternal.

The topic is the notion of an infinite regress, not the existence of god.  Explain what you mean by “not exactly” and how “universe within a universe” relates without the need to bring God into it as anything other than simply a first cause.

The claim is that something outside of the universe must have caused it, because of how things seem to work within the universe.  This is a fallacy.  Unless the universe is within itself, it is not bound by the pattern of cause/effect that you are claiming that something outside of it is.

It’s not a dichotomy at all, so how could it be a false one?
It is a statement about what is implied by your statement, as in producing an inference, not as in a necessary consequence.

The realm of possibility includes things that you do not accept as possible (you aren’t allowed to, given your faith).  If you believe this to be a flaw in my argument, then you will need to demonstrate it instead of hailing yourself as generally ‘right’ by contrapositive.

(in a bit of a rush—if you want a reply to the rest simply ask)

Reply to what you want you.  No consequences of eternal damnation if you don’t

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 Posted: 18 March 2009 10:30 PM [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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Bryan - 18 March 2009 12:22 PM

I have little choice but to confront vagueness when arguing these types of issues.

I don’t think we needed your help in order to realize that if we have an infinite regress then we do not have a first cause.  The question is whether or not we can cross an actual infinite in order to reach the present moment (Kalam argument), which could mean that the infinite regress is not an option.  Reducing the cardinality of the actual infinity doesn’t seem to touch the problem, for it remains an actual infinity that remains to be crossed by successive addition.

Reach out and touch the problem.  Don’t try to dance around it.

Precisely, because these issues are vague, it is not possible to determine exactly what is true.

This means that the Law of the excluded middle fails.

The issues are:

The vagueness of the notions of infinity and crossing an actual infinite. How do you know when you are in the realm of the infinite? This points to a position of unknowability, not a position of impossibility.

Vagueness and the Sorities Paradox makes it futile to resolve the issue.

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/vagueness/

Many more believe that the problem is with logic itself rather than the manner in which it is applied. They favor solving the sorites paradox by replacing standard logic with an earthier deviant logic.

There is a desperately wide range of opinions as to how the revision of logic should be executed. Every form of deviant logic has been applied in the hope of resolving the sorites paradox.

[ Edited: 18 March 2009 10:55 PM by kkwan ]
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 Posted: 19 March 2009 09:23 AM [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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kkwan - 18 March 2009 10:30 PM
Bryan - 18 March 2009 12:22 PM

I have little choice but to confront vagueness when arguing these types of issues.

I don’t think we needed your help in order to realize that if we have an infinite regress then we do not have a first cause.  The question is whether or not we can cross an actual infinite in order to reach the present moment (Kalam argument), which could mean that the infinite regress is not an option.  Reducing the cardinality of the actual infinity doesn’t seem to touch the problem, for it remains an actual infinity that remains to be crossed by successive addition.

Reach out and touch the problem.  Don’t try to dance around it.

Precisely, because these issues are vague, it is not possible to determine exactly what is true.

At least let’s not evade the problem by being intentionally vague.

This means that the Law of the excluded middle fails.

Don’t you use the law of the excluded middle in order to reach that conclusion?  How did you eliminate vagueness sufficiently to accomplish that?

The issues are:

The vagueness of the notions of infinity and crossing an actual infinite. How do you know when you are in the realm of the infinite? This points to a position of unknowability, not a position of impossibility.

That’s an easy one.  We know we are dealing with an actual infinite because we are doing our experiments via thought experiment.  We know that an actual infinite is an actual infinite because it is so by definition—unless somebody comes along and tries to deliberately foul things up with ambiguity.

Vagueness and the Sorities Paradox makes it futile to resolve the issue.

Yet despite vagueness you were able to reach that conclusion:  The law of non-lawfulness, or something like that.

Bottom line, your attempt to make infinities resemble the Sorites paradox looked like a big flop, since altering cardinality (as you implicitly noted even while making the argument) leaves us with an actual infinity.  So you ended up with no reason to claim a relevant type of vagueness.  Despite this, you encourage us all to throw up and hands and find the issue incapable of resolution.

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 Posted: 19 March 2009 09:47 AM [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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Mathenaut - 18 March 2009 04:18 PM
Bryan - 16 March 2009 02:02 PM

Look again, putting special attention on the portion that failed to make it past the editing process:

They are saying that there is no first cause and that history goes back infinitely—no other possibility, for you can’t have a first cause and an infinite regress both. Thus, under the condition of an infinite regress, we have the conditional necessity of an actual infinity.

I don’t simply assert that it isn’t a mere possibility of an infinite regress.  I explain why proposing an infinite regress for the sake of argument asks us to suppose that we have, in fact, an infinite regress.  And if we have an infinite regress then the past is not just potentially infinite but actually infinite (revisit the ladders).

Your entire case here rests upon insisting ‘actually infinite’ in the position you argue against.  This does not address the question I brought up.

If the regress is possibly infinite (which changes nothing from my position), how do you properly assert the necessity of your first cause?

Perhaps I misunderstood the meaning of your question.  The point of the Kalam argument is that the actual infinite past is not possible.  So if we assume that it is possible in spite of the Kalam argument against then we would beg the question (unless we have good reason for not accepting the reasoning from the Kalam argument).  Certainly it makes no sense to appeal to the possibility of an infinite regress as a reply to the Kalam argument.

Sort of, but in the case of the potential infinite we’re still adding elements to the set.  The actual infinite is already complete (the ladder always extending beyond your sight, not the ladder you need to periodically extend).

That makes no sense.  If the ladder is complete, then it is not infinite (it can’t be), it is just absurdly large.

That’s a semantic quibble.  I explained what was meant in parentheses.

What endpoints?

The endpoints that apparently must exist if you’re placing bounds upon infinity.

Where am I placing bounds on infinity?  If you come up blank on that one then please return to my former question (“What endpoints?”).

The problem isn’t the one endpoint in the present.  It is the endpoint in the past (the one you can never reach).  If the universe contracted and met in one point that stayed in stasis then time (at least as we know it) would end.  So you probably believe it, too.

Firstly, the issue of specific order, sequence, and time only applies within the context of our universe.  We’re speaking beyond it.  You’re claiming that something outside of the universe, directly caused the universe, and that this cause is not tied to any other cause.

No, I’m claiming that an infinite regress is problematic by using the first step of the Kalam argument.  If you want to talk about those other topics once this plays out, fine.

Additionally, if we go with the contraction/expansion concept of the universe, then it is perfectly plausible to assert that the universe is eternal.

And do you think that model represents an infinite regress?

The topic is the notion of an infinite regress, not the existence of god.  Explain what you mean by “not exactly” and how “universe within a universe” relates without the need to bring God into it as anything other than simply a first cause.

The claim is that something outside of the universe must have caused it, because of how things seem to work within the universe.  This is a fallacy.  Unless the universe is within itself, it is not bound by the pattern of cause/effect that you are claiming that something outside of it is.

I said nothing about “outside the universe.”  I dealt specifically with “first cause.”  I suggest we deal with the matter of an infinite regress rather than delving into distractions relating to the nature of a first cause.

It’s not a dichotomy at all, so how could it be a false one?
It is a statement about what is implied by your statement, as in producing an inference, not as in a necessary consequence.

The realm of possibility includes things that you do not accept as possible (you aren’t allowed to, given your faith).

Perhaps the realm of possibility also includes things you do not accept as possible (such as me accepting things that you think I won’t).
So what’s the point?

If you believe this to be a flaw in my argument, then you will need to demonstrate it instead of hailing yourself as generally ‘right’ by contrapositive.

Meh.  Nice shifting of the goalposts!  I said that there could be a flaw in your argument.  That’s a statement from the realm of possibility.  You said that you doubted the flaw in your argument.  I noted that if you weren’t certain about it then my statement that it could be a flaw in your argument effectively stands unchallenged—and that would be the point about which I would be right, not that there exists in actuality a flaw in your argument.  Clear?

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 Posted: 19 March 2009 02:35 PM [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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Bryan - 19 March 2009 09:47 AM

Perhaps I misunderstood the meaning of your question.  The point of the Kalam argument is that the actual infinite past is not possible.  So if we assume that it is possible in spite of the Kalam argument against then we would beg the question (unless we have good reason for not accepting the reasoning from the Kalam argument).  Certainly it makes no sense to appeal to the possibility of an infinite regress as a reply to the Kalam argument.

Makes perfect sense.  Your claim is that it isn’t possible, I’m argue that it is.  You’re needing to establish that anything otherwise is impossible, or cede your argument to the realm of possibility.

That’s a semantic quibble.  I explained what was meant in parentheses.

This is beyond semantics.  There is functionally no difference between a ladder that extends beyond you as you climb and a ladder that extends beyond you as you climb.

Where am I placing bounds on infinity?  If you come up blank on that one then please return to my former question (“What endpoints?”).

You state that an infinite regress asserts moving beyond infinity, as if that makes any sense, for reasons that aren’t entirely sound.  It is impossible unless you place a limit at which infinity ends or are moving at a faster rate than the described infinity.

No, I’m claiming that an infinite regress is problematic by using the first step of the Kalam argument.  If you want to talk about those other topics once this plays out, fine.

Sounds like you’re playing hopscotch with logic to avoid the significant circumstances surrounding the claimed first cause.

And do you think that model represents an infinite regress?

Potentially, yes.  Functionally, just yes.

I said nothing about “outside the universe.”  I dealt specifically with “first cause.”  I suggest we deal with the matter of an infinite regress rather than delving into distractions relating to the nature of a first cause.

It’s hard to argue for first cause if you want to ignore all of the problems and issues that arise as a result.

Perhaps the realm of possibility also includes things you do not accept as possible

Practically (god, leprechauns, unicorns, etc.)?  Yes.

Absolutely?  Cant say. (after all, I can’t disprove them, no? )

So what’s the point?

The statement is moot.

Meh.  Nice shifting of the goalposts!  I said that there could be a flaw in your argument.  That’s a statement from the realm of possibility.

No, you implied a specific flaw in my argument.

You said that you doubted the flaw in your argument.

It’s a baseless assertion, I tend to do that.

I noted that if you weren’t certain about it then my statement that it could be a flaw in your argument effectively stands unchallenged—and that would be the point about which I would be right, not that there exists in actuality a flaw in your argument.  Clear?

Baseless assertions are not accepted on the basis of going unchallenged.  If you cared to actually support the point, then there would be something to work with.  Otherwise, it’s just something dismissable.  You can say that there is a possible flaw all you like…but until you care to support it with something, it’s as dismissable as the statement is pointless.

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 Posted: 20 March 2009 12:15 AM [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
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Mathenaut - 19 March 2009 02:35 PM

Certainly it makes no sense to appeal to the possibility of an infinite regress as a reply to the Kalam argument.

Makes perfect sense.  Your claim is that it isn’t possible, I’m argue that it is.

I don’t claim that it isn’t possible.  I present the Kalam argument to suggest that it appears impossible.  And I’ve been clear that the Kalam argument is not airtight.  You, as far as I can tell, assert that it is possible while apparently ignoring the power of the argument against.

You’re needing to establish that anything otherwise is impossible, or cede your argument to the realm of possibility.

I did that at the outset, so perhaps you should have paid closer attention.  If you want to hang your hat on a counterintuitive possibility without defending it from the thrust of the Kalam argument that’s up to you—but it’s hard to imagine a weaker response.

That’s a semantic quibble.  I explained what was meant in parentheses.

This is beyond semantics.  There is functionally no difference between a ladder that extends beyond you as you climb and a ladder that extends beyond you as you climb.

Meh.  You’re changing the scenario to fit your argument.  The illustration featured a ladder that allowed you to extend it further once you reached the apparent end.  You’re correct that there’s no functional difference between the ladders you describe (though you might well see the end of one and not the other—a possibility I expect you’d avoid by further tweaking the example), but it doesn’t solve the problem since it models the potential infinite no better than did the original example.  You simply tailored it to try to contort your way out of the problem.

Where am I placing bounds on infinity?  If you come up blank on that one then please return to my former question (“What endpoints?”).

You state that an infinite regress asserts moving beyond infinity, as if that makes any sense, for reasons that aren’t entirely sound.

I don’t make that assertion at all.  As I pointed out earlier, I explained what I meant parenthetically.

It is impossible unless you place a limit at which infinity ends or are moving at a faster rate than the described infinity.

Infinity is moving?
With all due respect, you don’t seem to know what you’re talking about respecting infinities.  It is the very limitlessness of an infinity that guarantees that you can always add one more.  The parallel from the ladder analogy is that you will always be able to ascend one more rung given sufficient time (and strength).  There’s no need to add more to an actual infinite, though Hilbert’s Hotel suggests that we could if we needed to!

No, I’m claiming that an infinite regress is problematic by using the first step of the Kalam argument.  If you want to talk about those other topics once this plays out, fine.

Sounds like you’re playing hopscotch with logic to avoid the significant circumstances surrounding the claimed first cause.

Since this thread has the infinite regress as its subject (check the thread title), you would appear far more vulnerable to that type of criticism than I.  I am perfectly willing to discuss the first cause once we have concluded the discussion respecting the infinite regress.  You seem to be the one eager to change the subject.

And do you think that model represents an infinite regress?

Potentially, yes.  Functionally, just yes.

Great.  Then we can ignore the model since functionally it is identical to a normal infinite regress.  Or if not you can explain the difference.

Meh.  Nice shifting of the goalposts!  I said that there could be a flaw in your argument.  That’s a statement from the realm of possibility.

No, you implied a specific flaw in my argument.

You are mistaken.

That could be a weakness in your approach to this argument.

I noted that if you weren’t certain about it then my statement that it could be a flaw in your argument effectively stands unchallenged—and that would be the point about which I would be right, not that there exists in actuality a flaw in your argument.  Clear?

Baseless assertions are not accepted on the basis of going unchallenged.

I didn’t say you accepted it.  I said your response implied that I was right.  And elsewhere you have admitted to the vast expanse represented by the possible.  So it stands to reason that if you did not regard it as a possibility then you would have denied it outright instead of merely doubting.

If you cared to actually support the point, then there would be something to work with.

No, I don’t care to support the point, because I don’t really care if you accept it or not.  I simply used that response as a rejoinder to the type of thing I’ve been hearing from you (“You may think that you’re set enough just playing upon the role of possibility, but at least in my experience, most christians are inconsistent with it”).  Want to have a pointlessness contest?  You’ll be a formidable opponent, based on quotations like the one preceding.

Let’s deal with the issue of the infinite regress, shall we?  Or do you wish to stand pat with the dubious possibility of an infinite regress without addressing the Kalam argument?

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 Posted: 20 March 2009 12:20 AM [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
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Bryan - 19 March 2009 09:23 AM

At least let’s not evade the problem by being intentionally vague.

Don’t you use the law of the excluded middle in order to reach that conclusion?  How did you eliminate vagueness sufficiently to accomplish that?

That’s an easy one.  We know we are dealing with an actual infinite because we are doing our experiments via thought experiment.  We know that an actual infinite is an actual infinite because it is so by definition—unless somebody comes along and tries to deliberately foul things up with ambiguity.

Yet despite vagueness you were able to reach that conclusion:  The law of non-lawfulness, or something like that.

Bottom line, your attempt to make infinities resemble the Sorites paradox looked like a big flop, since altering cardinality (as you implicitly noted even while making the argument) leaves us with an actual infinity.  So you ended up with no reason to claim a relevant type of vagueness.  Despite this, you encourage us all to throw up and hands and find the issue incapable of resolution.

The proposition is vague because the vague notions, infinity and infinite regression are present.

If a proposition is vague, the LEM cannot determine what is true or false. There is a truth-value gap. Therefore, there is no possibility of certain knowledge.

Can you please define actual infinity?

The Sorities Paradox is relevant to vagueness because it poses the question of how does one determine the boundary between, say the finite and the infinite. If it is not possible to do that, then vagueness kicks in and epistemicism is the result.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epistemicism

‘Epistemicism’ is a position about vagueness in the philosophy of language or metaphysics, according to which there are facts about the boundaries of a vague predicate which we cannot possibly discover. Given a vague predicate, such as ‘is thin’ or ‘is bald’, epistemicists hold that there is actually some sharp cut off, dividing cases where a person is actually thin from those in which they are not. Epistemicism gets its name because it holds that there is no semantic indeterminacy present in vague terms, only epistemic uncertainty.

[ Edited: 20 March 2009 12:23 AM by kkwan ]
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 Posted: 20 March 2009 12:49 AM [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
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kkwan - 20 March 2009 12:20 AM

The proposition is vague because the vague notions, infinity and infinite regression are present.

Why do you continue to think they are vague?  I took the argument you offered based on vagueness (adding and subtracting without fundamentally changing the nature of the actual infinite).  If your argument is this vague, how are we supposed to tell whether it is true or false?

If a proposition is vague, the LEM cannot determine what is true or false. There is a truth-value gap. Therefore, there is no possibility of certain knowledge.

That seems pretty vague.  Perhaps you should explain why you think an infinity is vague in the sense relevant to your argument.

Can you please define actual infinity?

Why?  Do you feel a need to suddenly shift the burden of proof?
Look it up.

The Sorities Paradox is relevant to vagueness because it poses the question of how does one determine the boundary between, say the finite and the infinite. If it is not possible to do that, then vagueness kicks in and epistemicism is the result.

Do you truly think that it is not possible to establish a non-vague difference between finite and infinite?  How do you justify your stance?

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