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Understanding self-evidence (with a bit of help from Aquinas . . . )

A plumbline

A plumbline tells whether a wall is true (straight) and plumb (accurately vertical)

It seems that one of the pivotal issues in reasoned thinking about design-related questions — and in general –  is the question of self-evident first, certain truths that can serve as a plumb-line for testing other truth claims, and indeed for rationality.

(Where, the laws of identity, non-contradiction and excluded middle are foremost among such first principles. And where also, some ID objectors profess to be “frightened” that some of us dare to hold that there are moral truths that are self evident.)

Where also of course, self-evident does not merely mean perceived as obvious to oneself, which could indeed be a manifestation of a delusion. Nay, a self evident truth [SET] is best summarised as one known to be so and to be necessarily so without further proof from other things.

That is, a SET is:

a: actually true — it accurately reports some relevant feature of reality (e.g.: error exists)

b: immediately recognised as true once one actually understands what is being asserted, in light of our conscious experience of the world (as in, no reasonable person would but recognise the reality that error exists)

c: further seen as something that must be true, on pain of patent absurdity on attempted denial. (E.g. try denying “error exists” . . . the absurdity is rapidly, forcefully manifest)

I think Aquinas has a few helpful words for us:

Now a thing is said to be self-evident in two ways: first, in itself; secondly, in relation to us. Any proposition is said to be self-evident in itself, if its predicate is contained in the notion of the subject: although, to one who knows not the definition of the subject, it happens that such a proposition is not self-evident. For instance, this proposition, “Man is a rational being,” is, in its very nature, self-evident, since who says “man,” says “a rational being”: and yet to one who knows not what a man is, this proposition is not self-evident. Hence it is that, as Boethius says (De Hebdom.), certain axioms or propositions are universally self-evident to all; and such are those propositions whose terms are known to all, as, “Every whole is greater than its part,” and, “Things equal to one and the same are equal to one another.” But some propositions are self-evident only to the wise, who understand the meaning of the terms of such propositions . . . .

Now a certain order is to be found in those things that are apprehended universally. For that which, before aught else, falls under apprehension, is “being,” the notion of which is included in all things whatsoever a man apprehends. Wherefore the first indemonstrable principle is that “the same thing cannot be affirmed and denied at the same time,” which is based on the notion of “being” and “not-being”: and on this principle all others are based, as is stated in Metaph. iv, text. 9.

In short, we have two facets here, First, standing by itself a SET has an objective character and is a first principle, a point of certain knowledge. But, that brings up the second aspect: we need to understand it, that we may grasp it. And, that may well fail, primarily by way of ignorance, secondarily by way of commitment to a contrary ideology that makes it difficult or even nearly impossible to acknowledge that which on the actual merits is self-evident.

How can we address the problem?

By understanding the significance of how rejecting a SET ends in absurdity. Which may be by outright obvious logical contradiction, or by undermining rationality or by being chaotically destructive and/or senseless. Moral SETs are usually seen as self evident in this latter sense.

For instance, by way of laying down a benchmark, let us take the SET that has been so often put here at UD, by way of underscoring vital moral hazards connected to evolutionary materialism (which entails that there are no objective foundations for morality, as many leading Darwinists have acknowledged on the record), to wit:

MORAL YARDSTICK 1: it is Self-Evidently True that it would be wrong to kidnap, torture, rape and murder a child. With corollary, that if such is in progress we are duty-bound to intervene to save the child from the monster.

It will be observed that essentially no-one dares to explicitly deny this, or its direct corollary. That is because such denial would put one in the category of supporting a blatant monster like Nero. Instead, the tendency is to try to push this into the world of tastes, preferences, feelings and community views. Such a view may indeed reflect such, but it is more, it asserts boldly that here is an OUGHT that one denies being bound by, on pain of absurdity. Which of course, further points to our world being a reality grounded in an IS adequate to sustain OUGHT, i.e. we are under moral government.

But, that is not all.

Let us again note Dr Richard Dawkins on the record, in Scientific American, August 1995:

Nature is not cruel, only pitilessly indifferent. This lesson is one of the hardest for humans to learn. We cannot accept that things might be neither good nor evil, neither cruel nor kind, but simply callous: indifferent to all suffering, lacking all purpose [--> It escapes Dr Dawkins that we may have good reason for refusing this implication of his favoured ideological evolutionary materialism] . . . .

In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but pitiless indifference [--> As in open admission of utter amorality that opens the door to nihilism] . . . . DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music. [“God’s Utility Function,” Sci. Am. Aug 1995, pp. 80 - 85.]

This is right in the heart of the science and society issues that rage over Darwinism and wider evolutionary materialist origins thought. Where, let us again remind ourselves, we must frankly and squarely face how Dr Richard Lewontin went on record also:

. . . the problem is to get [people] to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations, and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth [[--> NB: this is a knowledge claim about knowledge and its possible sources, i.e. it is a claim in philosophy not science; it is thus self-refuting]. . . . To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists, it is self-evident [[--> actually, science and its knowledge claims are plainly not immediately and necessarily true on pain of absurdity, to one who understands them; this is another logical error, begging the question , confused for real self-evidence; whereby a claim shows itself not just true but true on pain of patent absurdity if one tries to deny it . . ] that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality, and that, in contrast, the demon-haunted world rests on a set of beliefs and behaviors that fail every reasonable test  [[--> i.e. an assertion that tellingly reveals a hostile mindset, not a warranted claim] . . . .

It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes [[--> another major begging of the question . . . ] to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute [[--> i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ], for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. [From: “Billions and Billions of Demons,” NYRB, January 9, 1997. Bold emphasis and notes added. ]

These are smoking gun admissions as to the nature, prior commitments [viewed as self evident! . . . but actually only question-begging . . . ] and consequences of evolutionary materialist ideology, regardless of whether or not it is dressed up in the proverbial lab coat.

And, just as it is legitimate to confront a priori materialist impositions on the methods and conclusions of origins science  it is equally in order to raise serious questions on the moral implications of such ideologies and the way they irreconcilably conflict with yardstick cases of self evident moral truth.

Let us look back at that child.

S/he has no physical prowess to impose his or her will. S/he has no eloquence to persuade a demonic Nero-like monster to stop from brutally despoiling and destructive sick pleasures. S/he is essentially helpless. And yet, our consciences speak loud and clear, giving an insight that this ought not to be done, yea even, if we see such in progress we ought to intervene to rescue if we can, how we can.

Is that voice of conscience delusional, a mere survival trait that leads us to perceive an ought as a binding obligation where there is no such, or it is merely the perceived threat of being caught by superior state power or the like?

We already know from great reformers that the state can be in the wrong, though often that was taught at fearsome cost. (Nero’s vicious persecutions being themselves evidence in point.)

And, if one is imagining that a major aspect of mindedness is delusional, where does that stop?

In short, once the premise of general delusion of our key mental faculties is introduced we are in an infinite regress of Plato’s cave worlds. If we say we identify delusion A, who is to say but this is delusion B, thence C, D, E and so forth?

Plato's Cave of shadow shows projected before life-long prisoners and confused for reality. Once the concept of general delusion is introduced, it raises the question of an infinite regress of delusions. The sensible response is to see that this should lead us to doubt the doubter and insist that our senses be viewed as generally reliable unless they are specifically shown defective. (Source: University of Fort Hare, SA, Phil. Dept.)

Plato’s Cave of shadow shows projected before life-long prisoners and confused for reality. Once the concept of general delusion is introduced, it raises the question of an infinite regress of delusions. The sensible response is to see that this should lead us to doubt the doubter and insist that our senses be viewed as generally reliable unless they are specifically shown defective. (Source: University of Fort Hare, SA, Phil. Dept.)

{U/D Dec 4:}  A video adaptation (one that is closely accurate to the text of The Republic):

embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube Direkt

So, we see the cogency of UD’s own WJM as he has argued:

If you do not [acknowledge] the law of non-contradiction, you have nothing to argue about. If you do not [admit] the principles of sound reason, you have nothing to argue with. If you do not [recognise] libertarian free will, you have no one to argue against. If you do not [accept] morality to be an objective commodity, you have no reason to argue in the first place.

In short, resort to dismissing key mental capacities as general delusion is a morass, a self-refuting fallacy.  (Which is different from, whether one may be in specific error and even a great many may be in specific error. Indeed, if we look at the original Plato’s Cave parable, it side-steps that by pointing to the one man who is set free and recognises the apparatus of manipulation for what it is, then, having been led to see more widely, returns to try to help; only to face the power of a mass delusion rooted in an evident error that is clung to.)

Instead, we should respect the general capacity of our mental faculties, recognising their strengths as well as limitations, and how playing the general delusion card is self referentially incoherent and absurd.

There is absolutely no good reason to assume or brazenly assert or insinuate that our insight on moral yardstick 1, is delusional. We have instead every good reason to hold that we are morally governed, with conscience as a faculty of mind that serves that government, though it may be dulled or become defective or may be in error on specific points. (Much as is so for vision and hearing, etc.)

So, let us follow up:

1 –> Per MY # 1 etc., we see — on pain of absurdity if we try to deny — that there are self-evident moral truths, entailing that we are under the moral government of OUGHT.

2 –> Where by MY # 1, the little child has moral equality, quasi-infinite worth and equal dignity with us as fellow human beings, a status that immediately is inextricably entangled with that s/he has core rights that we OUGHT to respect: her or his life, liberty, personhood, etc.

3 –> So, we are under moral government, which requires a world in which OUGHT rests on a foundational IS that can bear its weight.

4 –> And, I am very aware of the dismissals of and debates regarding “foundationalism” out there {U/D Dec 02: link added with adjustments, “foundationalism” was there all along . . . }, on closer inspection we can readily see that our worldviews and arguments are invariably dependent on finitely distant start points on which the systems of thought or reasoning must stand:

A summary of why we end up with foundations for our worldviews, whether or not we would phrase the matter that way}

A summary of why we end up with foundations for our worldviews, whether or not we would phrase the matter that way

5 –> So, also, we confront the challenge that -  there is just one serious candidate for such a  reality-foundational IS that can bear the weight of OUGHT: the inherently good eternal Creator God, whose precepts and principles will be evidently sound from . . . moral yardstick self evident truths.

6 –> Where also we can highlight the framework of such truths in the context of civil society and government, by citing a pivotal historical case or two.  First, that when he set out to ground the principles of what would become modern liberty and democracy, John Locke cited “the judicious [anglican canon Richard] Hooker” in Ch 2 Sect 5 of his second essay on civil government, thusly:

. . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man’s hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . [[Hooker then continues, citing Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics, Bk 8:] as namely, That because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ] [[Eccl. Polity,preface, Bk I, "ch." 8, p.80, cf. here. Emphasis added.]

7 –> Less than a hundred years later, this was powerfully echoed in the appeal to self evident moral truths in the US Declaration of Independence of 1776:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, [cf Rom 1:18 - 21, 2:14 - 15], that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That [--> still, held self-evident!] to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government [--> right of judicious reformation and innovation, if necessary backed by the right of just revolution in the face of unyielding tyranny when remonstrance fails and threats or actual violence manifest in "a long train of abuses and usurpations" indicates an intent of unlimited despotism . . . ], laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security . . .

8 –> Those who would therefore seek to poison the well and the atmosphere for discussion on such matters, need to first pause and soberly address these historically decisive cases.

_______________

Therefore, the amorality of evolutionary materialist ideology stands exposed as absurd in the face of self-evident moral truths. Where, such moral yardsticks imply that we are under government of OUGHT, leading onward to the issue that there is only one serious explanation for our finding ourselves living in such a world — a theistic one. END

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405 Responses to Understanding self-evidence (with a bit of help from Aquinas . . . )

  1. Aquinas weighs in on understanding a self-evident truth.

  2. 2
    CentralScrutinizer

    MORAL YARDSTICK 1: it is Self-Evidently True that it would be wrong to kidnap, torture, rape and murder a child. With corollary, that if such is in progress we are duty-bound to intervene to save the child from the monster. It will be observed that essentially no-one dares to explicitly deny this, or its direct corollary.

    In the context of western Judeo/Christian religion and culture, you would largely be right. Hardly anyone would dare to deny this. However, in India, where reincarnation and karma are widely believed to be true, one might say that the child is getting what he deserved because of bad acts in a prior life. Thus, it is not necessarily self-evidently true to a Hindu that such suffering is evil.

    What if the suffering child is Hitler reincarnated and karma was dishing out suffering for his bad acts?

    Not so “self-evidently” true then, is it.

  3. CS:

    You are diverting attention to a straw man. The argument is not that “suffering” is evil, but rather that someone intentionally causing it for their own amusement *is* performing an evil act.

  4. … intentionally causing it for their own amusement **is** performing an evil act.

  5. And, in various Indian cultures, anyone intentionally causing the suffering of a child for their own amusement would be queuing up some “bad” karma they would have to pay for in some future life; even in the Eastern spiritualities, intentionally causing the harm of others for one’s own amusement is considered wrong and will reap negative consequences.

  6. What is really a wonder to behold is how hard people work to avoid the obvious. Rebellion against authority – even the authority of the self-evidently true, even to self-absurdity – seems to be of paramount importance to some. They simply will not kneel to the necessarily true even if it means self-obliteration.

  7. Kairosfocus, this is truly one your greatest efforts. It is on the same high level as your discussion of the fire tetrahedron and causality–well organized, carefully thought out, meticulously documented, and corroborated by Aquinas, perhaps the greatest thinker in history.

  8. Hi kairosfocus,

    I greatly appreciated your quote from Aquinas in this highly illuminating post of yours, which provides a much-needed defense of the foundationalist position and of the need for basing morality on a transcendent and omnibenevolent Creator. The quote from WJM was also straight to the point. Thank you.

  9. Gentlemen — CS, WJM, SB, VJT:

    First, thank you for significant comments.

    On these, I remark:

    1 –> CS, I agree with WJM that the focal matter is not whether the child is imagined to be paying for sins of a former cycle of life, but that the one who pounces like a Nero is doing great evil.

    2 –> Secondly, the act itself is evil, a despoliation and utter, horrific destruction of the valuable that frustrates the proper ends of being a child.

    3 –> WJM, it is indeed sad that some will prefer false light to true, and that too is a key challenge highlighted in Plato’s epochal parable of the cave. How we may break out of such traps — especially when the powerful benefit in material ways from the evils — is always a challenge.

    4 –> SB, I think it is necessary to underscore the importance and reality of SETs, including moral ones. And in context, to dismiss a major mental faculty as generally delusional or suspect — here, conscience — is fraught with unhappy self referential consequences.

    5 –> VJT, yes, I am taking a stance for what is so often derided and brushed aside as foundationalism today. Where I point to the need for a coherent foundation that is capable of bearing what must stand on it. When it comes to the IS that supports OUGHT, there is only one serious candidate. (Which makes me wonder whether the willingness of so many to accept absurdities about morality points to what we may now have to describe as “Theophobia.”)

    So, let us see how we may move the ball forward, on first principles of right reason, on cause and on morality.

    For, it seems ever more clear to me, that a lot of the stubborn resistance to the scientific merits of design thought traces to much broader and deeper worldview and ideological commitments as we can see from Dawkins, Lewontin and Sagan in the OP.

    If that is so, we dare not neglect these foundational issues.

    KF

  10. regarding: KF/CS #2 “it is Self-Evidently True that it would be wrong to kidnap, torture, rape and murder a child.”

    @William J Murray #3

    The argument is not that “suffering” is evil, but rather that someone intentionally causing it for their own amusement *is* performing an evil act.

    But it is apparently fine to do it for profit, out of hatred or fear, to save the whales and spotted owls, to reduce global warming, to save two other children, to save Germany from racial pollution, for the “greater good” of some sort,…

    Why do you and few others here always inject the qualifier “for their amusement” in the (perversely popular) “child torturing” example at UD? What difference does “amusement” make as a motivation vs any other, known or unknown?

    Is burning baby (or grownup) ants with magnifying glass OK if it is done for science project or out of curiosity but evil if it is done for “their own amusement”? Does it matter who is being amused by it e.g. is there a cutoff age below which it is OK to burn ants for ones own amusement?

    Are there other excuse criteria regarding the perpetrator or child victim? Is male lion killing cubs of the former pride male evil? After all, he is doing it so he can have a sex with the pride females (i.e. for his own pleasure) and from his facial expressions one can even see that he is clearly enjoying killing the cubs. Or is it just for humans? Or is there some species cutoff line?

    Is unknown or unknowable motivation sufficient as an excuse? Does your rule require the “real intention” or merely the “guessed intention”? Are there qualifications or rules as to what trait characterize or authorizes some guessers above other guessers of intention?

    Then who makes up all the rules and exceptions if the evil is “absolute” (whatever that may mean)? After all, gravity or electric forces act independently of any rules we might find convenient (if only we could impose).

  11. nightlight @ 10:

    @William J Murray #3
    The argument is not that “suffering” is evil, but rather that someone intentionally causing it for their own amusement *is* performing an evil act.

    But it is apparently fine to do it for profit, out of hatred or fear, to save the whales and spotted owls, to reduce global warming, to save two other children, to save Germany from racial pollution, for the “greater good” of some sort,…

    Under what circumstances is kidnapping, torturing, raping, and murdering a child profitable? Who is making money off of these acts? Your argument is patently absurd.

    Who states that it is okay to do those acts out of hatred or fear?

    Under what circumstances would doing those acts save the spotted owls? Or the whales? Or reduce global warming?

    Under what circumstances would doing those acts save other children? Care to provide an example?

    Your argument, as you have formulated it, is ludicrous and idiotic. Try again.

  12. 12
    CentralScrutinizer

    WJM @3: The argument is not that “suffering” is evil, but rather that someone intentionally causing it for their own amusement *is* performing an evil act.

    Interesting. You seem to be saying that the suffering an evil act produces may not be evil, but the one who metes out that suffering (assuming the sufferer deserves it from a karmic standpoint) is necessarily evil.

    That’s one weird way to look at reality, IMO. To each his own. Your self-evident truth is obviously not the same as my self-evident truth. Who decides who is right?

  13. @Barb #11 – it seems you didn’t understand the argument at all. Perhaps you should wait till someone explains it to you better than I could, perhaps as the debate unfolds, rather then jumping in the first.

  14. nightlight,

    The reason I throw in the qualifying motive is to put the kibosh on the corrupted minds of those in denial against the obvious, sure to come up with some kind of motivation (had I left it out) that will move the conversation down a rabbit hole, like: “What if you were torturing an infant to save 20 other innocents infants?” .. blah, blah, blah.

    The point is to make clear that there is at least one self-evidently true statement that all sane people would not only accept, but would feel both authorized and obligated to act upon given such a situation – their “subjectivist” views notwithstanding.

  15. As far as killing babies and taking pleasure in it:

    Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones

    Psalm 137
    King James

    and

    Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rock!

    Psalm 137
    English Standard Version

    In the Old Testament, the Lord’s army was expected to carry out genocide with a certain level of zeal. I suppose the Lord expected his troops to delight in doing the Lord’s work like the Salvation Army of today.

    Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known a man by sleeping with him.

    But all the young girls who have not known a man by sleeping with him, keep alive for yourselves.

    Numbers 31

    How were the little boys to be killed? Dashing them against rock, cutting them in half with a sword, by lethal injection preceded with anesthesia (not likely)? Who knows?

    In the Old Testament, Samuel completed a genocide by chopping a king into pieces. Curiously, Jesus uses the same imagery to describe how he will deal with his enemies upon his return:

    But as for those enemies of mine who were unwilling that I should become their king, bring them here, and cut them to pieces in my presence.

    Luke 19:27

    Thus it would seem the LawGiver is the one who tells us what is moral. We have some instincts, but they were not apparently universal for all time — that is, if one accepts the Old Testament as God’s truth.

    Do the above passages turn my stomach. Yes, for the very reason it seems that taking delight in killing babies seems like a self-evidently wrong thing to do, but apparently, that wasn’t always the case, that is, if one accepts the Old Testament account of God’s commands.

    Thankfully we don’t live in the era of the Old Testament.

  16. nightlight continues,

    @Barb #11 – it seems you didn’t understand the argument at all. Perhaps you should wait till someone explains it to you better than I could, perhaps as the debate unfolds, rather then jumping in the first.

    I can respond to anyone at any time. I am responding specifically to your post. Care to answer any of the questions I posed?

  17. There is a story in the old testament about the prophet Elisha who was traveling through a certain region of Israel and a gang of young people from a village came out and started mocking him and making fun of the fact that he was bald. Elisha is said to have turned around and cursed them. Immediately a bear came out of the woods and killed 42 of those teenagers.

    I think that what most people are ignoring about those stories is that, in God’s eye, every human being is guilty and got it coming. Or as Paul put it, human nature is desperately evil. God does not judge the body but the spirit. The spirit is the same always; it never changes. Hitler had the same spirit at the time of his death that he did when he was born. The moral of the story is that we don’t become asteroid orifices; we are born that way. Nobody is innocent. This is why we need salvation. Somebody has got to pay the price. Karma is a bitch.

  18. @William J Murray #14

    The reason I throw in the qualifying motive is to put the kibosh on the corrupted minds of those in denial against the obvious, sure to come up with some kind of motivation (had I left it out) that will move the conversation down a rabbit hole, like: “What if you were torturing an infant to save 20 other innocents infants?” .. blah, blah, blah.

    The point is to make clear that there is at least one self-evidently true statement that all sane people would not only accept, but would feel both authorized and obligated to act upon given such a situation – their “subjectivist” views notwithstanding.

    That doesn’t help at all in eliminating or disproving the existence of (programmable & programmed) ethical evaluation algorithms that arrive at (compute) ethical judgments.

    Consider a digital thermometer, which has little CPU, ROM and RAM, sensor,.. etc. The CPU runs a program (written by human programmers) which measures the state of the sensor and displays result as a conventional temperature.

    Your above strategy is then analogous to denying the existence of program behind the displayed results by taking the thermometer into extreme heat where the display always pegs at 999.999 and then claim, you see that no program is needed to show 999.999 since that is fixed and could have well been painted or built in there (i.e. it is inherent, absolute result).

    In other words you’re trying to refute the existence evaluation algorithms behind our ethical judgments (hence something which is programmable by the upbringing, genes and the environment) by picking example where the algorithms will almost invariably peg on the value “maximum evil”, for most individuals or eras, regardless of the details of individual’s evaluation program. Hence, like thermometer pegged at 999.999, it needs no algorithm to speak of to compute the fixed result (predetermined, absolute).

    My position is that ethical judgments are result of algorithmic evaluations which run on person’s hardware (brain), which are programmed and are programmable. Such algorithms terminate with a trigger of “good” or “bad” (right/wrong, happy/unhappy, pleasure/pain…) elemental inner experiences (qualia, inner sensation). The clear feeling of right or wrong is none other than that inner elemental +/- sensation triggered by the evaluation. It is clear and absolute in the same sense as pleasure/pain are.

    But there is nothing absolute (good or bad) about the algorithms and external events themselves. With the right program any outcome from any input is possible e.g. you can have pain in the arm without any damage to the arm, or even without having an arm. Similarly you may not feel any pain in the arm, and may even feel a pleasure when there is an actual damage being done to the arm. { Incidentally, whenever I go to get some dental work done, I refuse novocain, having learned how to mentally re-evaluate the pain of drilling into an interesting, even a pleasant sensation. Through a bit of accidental experimentation I have found that healing and recovery after the procedure are much quicker and easier than with pain temporarily numbed away. Basically, I am fully back to normal, even better than that, as soon as I am out of the chair, in contrast to dull pain and semi-disability lingering on for hours after the conventional novocain supported procedure. }

    History provides plentiful evidence for dominant ethical algorithms with evaluations exactly opposite from those of our presently dominant programs about pretty much any act one can conceive. Even today, a “misprogrammed” (differently programmed) individual or individual with “flawed” (differently operating) hardware kill children with the same inner sense of doing “good” as you get by helping or protecting a person in need.

  19. @Barb #16 – those questions have nothing to do with the point I was making or with my position. There is nothing to respond to or refute since they are either strawmen or unrelated questions altogether.

  20. Mapou,

    23 He went up from there to Bethel, and while he was going up on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him, saying, “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!” 24 And he turned around, and when he saw them, he cursed them in the name of the Lord. And two she-bears came out of the woods and tore forty-two of the boys.

    2 Kings 2

  21. scordova @20,

    Ah, two she-bears. That’s even better.

  22. I found it rather hard to believe that some would argue with the moral wrong presented! As for me, I would do all in my power to stop such an act, whether it was for amusement, profit, science, to save the earth or whatever. I would not have to even think about it. And, I doubt that those who here argue over the issue would hesitate to do likewise.

  23. Nothing new is stated in the above post. It’s the same stuff repeated countless times before here, and it leaves open the same questions.

    I believe morality exists because of our empathy, reason, and desires. I don’t want to be tortured, and it pains me when others are tortured. Others feel the same way due to also having empathy, reason, and similar desires, and we call this shared feeling or sensibility “morality.”

    There are areas of morality in which cultures differ, and even those within the same culture often disagree, but as humans share many similarities there are also many areas of agreement: Murder, rape, and stealing, for instance, are generally viewed as immoral and for good reason – even self-evident reasons – we don’t want to be murdered, raped, or robbed, and we empathize with victims of such crimes. Seeing such things occurs to others can even feel as if it’s happening to ourselves, and so it’s no wonder that we care so much about morality. I think it’s why so many want to call it “objective” or “transcendent,” etc.

    I think it’s a legitimate question as to where empathy and reason come from, but given that such qualities exist, it’s not really a mystery to me why morality itself would exist – I can hardly imagine how it could possibly not exist.

    It will be observed that essentially no-one dares to explicitly deny this, or its direct corollary. That is because such denial would put one in the category of supporting a blatant monster like Nero. Instead, the tendency is to try to push this into the world of tastes, preferences, feelings and community views. Such a view may indeed reflect such, but it is more, it asserts boldly that here is an OUGHT that one denies being bound by, on pain of absurdity. Which of course, further points to our world being a reality grounded in an IS adequate to sustain OUGHT, i.e. we are under moral government.

    If by “moral government” you mean the inter-subjectivity of morality, than I agree it exists. I see no reason, however, to believe that something beyond that is going on.

  24. Thankfully we don’t live in the era of the Old Testament.

    I agree with Sal. No logic can justify killing babies. All babies are innocent. Citing karma or war as the reason for killing babies is atrocious. There is no ‘Satanic baby’. Of course this doesn’t apply to other species where killing is dictated by resource constrain and is not a thought process.

  25. “@Barb #16 – those questions have nothing to do with the point I was making or with my position. There is nothing to respond to or refute since they are either strawmen or unrelated questions altogether.”

    So you were using logical fallacies to do…what, exactly?
    And how are your questions unrelated to the topic? Why did you post them, anyway?

  26. Now a thing is said to be self-evident in two ways: first, in itself; secondly, in relation to us. Any proposition is said to be self-evident in itself, if its predicate is contained in the notion of the subject: although, to one who knows not the definition of the subject, it happens that such a proposition is not self-evident.

    I think I offered such an example of a self-evident truth over at TSZ and it was rejected. Is Aquinas saying that it may not be self-evident to someone who is ignorant?

  27. Salvador:

    I suppose the Lord expected his troops to delight in doing the Lord’s work like the Salvation Army of today.

    I seriously doubt that the Salvation Army would at all appreciates your comparison of them to baby killing zealots.

  28. @Barb #14: “So you were using logical fallacies to do…what, exactly?”

    The point was made in the last paragraph. The preceding questions were drawing attention to the hopeless ambiguity of his position and that there was no way of avoiding drawing the lines.

    The question then becomes who decides, on what basis and on what authority how exactly those lines are drawn. History and personal examples show that this can be done in myriad different ways.

    The conclusion left is that moral judgments are result of programmed (and programmable) evaluation algorithms computed by our brains. They are programmed through the interaction of combined genetic/biological and social forces seeking to harmonize simultaneous optimization of numerous often contradictory objectives at multiple levels (from physical, biological to social).

    The morality is thus not an absolute order of things laid down from above but a transient net product of its time, locale and circumstances. Just as all of us are.

    As explained in the followup post, the experiential certainty one feels about their own moral judgments is still a result of those evaluation algorithms producing/computing the result — the trigger of the elemental two-valued inner sensation “good” or “evil”, just like analogous evaluations in the nervous system result in the inner experience of “pleasure” or “pain”, “happy” or “sad” etc.

    But the algorithms leading to those experiential states of certainty are programmed for given time, place and circumstances. They are thus changeable and can in principle be made (and have been made throughout history) to come up with any result for any particular action.

    Hence, the existence of moral judgment proves neither more nor less about any higher power than does existence of pleasure and pain, happiness and sadness, etc.

  29. Scordova, cites the following passage with delight:

    Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones

    Psalm 137
    King James

    The Psalms often express human emotion as it really is rather than how it ought to be. Since the Babylonians savagely mistreated the Israeli children, it is a natural enough emotion for those oppressed to say, “We will be happy when God does to your children what you did to ours.”

  30. StephenB,

    But then I cited this passage:

    kill every male among the little ones,

    Numbers 31

    Every male means even the babies. I pointed out, it is expected one should do the work of the Lord cheerfully (Col 3:23).

    Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’”

    And Samuel hacked Agag to pieces before the Lord in Gilgal.

    1 Sam 15

    How could this possibly be moral? God the Intelligent Designer could of course bring any of those killed back to life. He has the right to say who lives and dies and who can get resurrected. He brought back several who had died. He re-created the ear of someone who had it chopped off by Peter.

    As blood thirsty as some of the troops were, in the time of Moses, even for them, it was a little hard to kill helpless infants — but it was God’s command.

    Thankfully we don’t live in such times anymore. If I were one of the Israelites in the time of Moses, I don’t think I could do such a task cheerfully.

    The question arises, why is the New Testament such a contrast in the way life is expected to be lived. What seems moral seems radically changed? Perhaps it underscores the grace and the New Covenant that are now offered.

    So no, I’m not so sure it was a self-evident truth for all time regarding some things. I do believe it is true now that we are called to protect all life, that the instinct to care for infants is in accord with what is moral, but only because of God’s grace and the New Covenant.

    God is the Law Giver, what He commands is what is moral, not what we declare “self-evident”.

    I don’t think we can just use human reason to decide what is and is not moral. That knowledge must proceed from the lawgiver himself.

    As far as human compassion, when I see a horribly deformed baby or elderly person suffering, I must confess sometimes it would seem more merciful to euthanize them and hopefully send then to be with the Lord. It actually seems far more cruel to let them keep suffering. Where is the self-evident truth there? It seems to me, the decision is in the hands of the Lawgiver, not what we deem “self-evident” based on our preferences.

    The Discovery Institute recently highlighted the case of:
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....79621.html

    Obviously Scott Adams loved his father, but felt the moral thing was to euthanize his dad. That was Scott Adams self-evident truth. If it were not for the not-so-self-evident principles that God taught us, I’m not so sure I personally would be disagreeing with Scott, especially if that were the wishes of Scott’s own father.

    Oddly, there are a few rare cases where ones compassion might cloud what is the right thing to do. I don’t think the issues are quite as self-evident as people suppose.

    Another example is marital fidelity. If I had a daughter that was married to Charles Darwin or Roger Chillingworth, would I encourage her to remain with him?

    The Scarlett letter highlighted the difficulty in discerning what was moral is. I suppose most Christian girls would be thinking Hester Prynne should run off with Reverend Dimmesdale than remain with the fiend Roger Chillingworth. Probably in their eyes they would see happily-ever-after as more self-evidently moral than spending your life with a fiend whom you just happened to take wedding vows with. If it were not for what the Law Giver taught, I’d be seriously tempted to tell a daughter married to a fiend like Charles Darwin or Roger Chillingworth, “dump the bum and run off with someone who’ll make you happy.”

  31. 31
    CentralScrutinizer

    A strong emotional conviction does not equate to “self evident” no matter how much you guys wish it does.

    It’s a relativistic world.

  32. Scordova:

    But then I cited this passage:

    kill every male among the little ones,

    Numbers 31

    Yes, I know you did, but you didn’t address the passage that I explained. Let’s please take them one at a time. What is your answer to my response concerning Psalm 137:9? Did you find my answer satisfactory?

    If so, does it now occur to you that things are not always what they seem and that many Old Testament passages cannot simply be lifted out of context without analyzing the genre and the historical factors in play?

    While you are at it, tell me how all this Old Testament bashing relates to the discussion about self-evident truths. Then, if it isn’t too time consuming, and if your responses are reasonable, I may take up some of your other objections.

  33. CA:

    A strong emotional conviction does not equate to “self evident” no matter how much you guys wish it does.

    No one said that it did.

  34. Scordova:

    I don’t think we can just use human reason to decide what is and is not moral. That knowledge must proceed from the lawgiver himself.

    Of course if must proceed from the lawgiver. The Ten Commandments are nothing more than the Natural Moral Law made explicit. The problem is that you think God’s Divine Revelation about morality (Bible) is at war with God’s natural revelation about morality (conscience). It isn’t. Reason is simply the tool use to access God’s natural revelation, just as faith is the tool that we use to access God’s Divine revelation.

  35. By understanding the significance of how rejecting a SET ends in absurdity. Which may be by outright obvious logical contradiction, or by undermining rationality or by being chaotically destructive and/or senseless. Moral SETs are usually seen as self evident in this latter sense.

    There are many subjective statements that if denied end up with chaotically destructive and/or senseless consequences – as I tried to explain here. So this does not show that moral statements are objective.

  36. Scordova

    The question arises, why is the New Testament such a contrast in the way life is expected to be lived. What seems moral seems radically changed? Perhaps it underscores the grace and the New Covenant that are now offered.

    While God’s morality has never changed, nor could change, his creatures had to be brought along slowly. That is why the Bible progressively and gradually reveals the subtler aspects of the moral code as his people become progressively and gradually less crude. You can’t explain the finer points of the Sermon On The Mount to someone who is about to worship a calf.

  37. Yes, I know you did, but you didn’t address the passage that I explained. Let’s please take them one at a time. What is your answer to my response concerning Psalm 137:9? Did you find my answer satisfactory?

    Your response was good enough to cast doubt on my interpretation of Psalm 137, thus I had to appeal stronger passages.

    While you are at it, tell me how all this Old Testament bashing relates

    Old Testament bashing? I’m telling the way it is. It is not out of context.

    Compare Samuel’s behavior:

    Samuel hacked Agag to pieces before the Lord in Gilgal.

    To how Jesus describes his return:

    But as for those enemies of mine who were unwilling that I should become their king, bring them here, and cut them to pieces in my presence.

    Luke 19:27

    These are not easy passages to deal with. It paints a picture of the Intelligent Designer as not exactly Santa Claus.

    While you are at it, tell me how all this Old Testament bashing

    The real Old Testament bashing is putting the writings of Thomas Aquinas and our view of what is right and wrong over what the Law Giver himself has conveyed to us through the teachings of Jesus. Thankfully, at least in the case of infants, our intuitions are in line with what Jesus taught, but our intuitions are not the ultimate judge of what is right and wrong.

    Jesus had high regard for the Old Testament, and he makes reference even to some of the not so pleasant commands of in the Old Testament:

    He answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’

    “For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men – the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.” He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.

    “For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’

    Mark 7

    What is moral is not always so self-evidently clear. Regarding the passage of putting children to death because they curse mother and father, the solution is that the New Covenant extends grace to those with a death sentence over their head. The principle now is “let him who has no sin cast the first rock”.

    The reason it is not moral to carry out the command to put disobedient children to death is because we are now under the law of grace, not because it is self-evidently moral as reasoned by philosophers and theologians trying to reason from supposedly “self-evident” philosophy.

    Even today, it is a little horrifying to see some of Jews in Israel holding to old testament law and demanding the death penalty according that prescribed in the Old Testament. Thus the question of what is “self-evident” according to theologians and philosophers versus what is actually taught in the Bible is quite relevant.

    When talking science, I don’t appeal to the Bible as an authority to make my arguments at UD. I prefer to start even with materialist presuppositions to make some of my arguments in order to demonstrate contradictions.

    With respect to morality, I feel that must be revealed by the Intelligent Designer himself as to what is right and wrong, not some sort of reasoning from supposed first principles.

    I appreciate the fact there are a lot of Roman Catholics at UD. My mother is Roman Catholic, I am no longer Roman Catholic. Thus, I do not hold the teachings of Thomas Aquinas as necessarily direct from God any more than someone else who is a professing Christian teaching from the Bible.

    If one professes to be a Christian, I would expect one would appeal to the teachings of Christ as having priority over what they deem “self-evident” with respect to morality. Sometimes the right thing to do overlaps with what we conclude is “self-evident”, but I think if one professes to be a Christian, his morals should be founded on what Jesus teaches versus some philosophical exercise on “self evident” truths.

    The Old Testament commands to kill children are presumably given by Jesus himself on the premise Jesus is also one with the God of the Old Testament. I point this out to say, maybe the foundations of what is right and wrong cannot be deduced solely from intuition. Intuition is a heuristic, but it is not the perfect foundation, it is an inexact understanding of how the Law Giver wants us to understand right and wrong.

  38. Folks:

    In much of the above, there is a veering off course into debates on side-issues, that will do little to address the pivotal matter. (I suggest on such God/Theists is/are morally monstrous debates, here on may help give a little context. The issues we need to focus here are philosophical, as without these in order, nothing else will be in order in so deeply polarised and angry an age.)

    On the question of same old same old move along nothing to see, a few notes:

    1 –> There is an old saying that in whatever direction we go we meet Plato, Socrates and Aristotle on the way back, which echoes the even older point that on speculative matters there is nothing new under the sun.

    2 –> Like unto this, there is a saying that when you start with what is longstanding and sound, if it’s new it’s no good, and if it’s good it is old. In other words, the idea that you can tell progress or truth by the clock or by novelty is a fallacy.

    3 –> In this context, I am in part providing a clarifying description of what is being claimed when the assertion, X is a SET is made. This is necessary given a common confusion that SET simply means obvious or strongly held beliefs.

    4 –> This, BTW is one reason why I did something different, citing and commenting on a point about SETs made by the angelic doctor, the “slow, dumb ox” of a student who filled the world with his bellowing.

    5 –> Specifically, there is a double issue of [mis-]understanding what is being said when a SET is asserted. There are those who lack background to understand, and there are those — including the quite learned — who are locked into systems that block them from seeing the point.

    6 –> Indeed, one view of a rich parable from Plato — the cave — that keeps on giving fresh insights, is that some prefer false to true light because they are locked into a system . . . and Plato highlights/warns, how perceptions and interests can lead to bias. (Which leads to the importance of level playing field comparative difficulties in evaluating worldviews.)

    7 –> We must not forget that all conscious knowledge is subjective, i.e. there is a subject. This is not the antithesis of objective. The issue is whether something is ONLY subjective, i.e, tastes, preferences, perceptions — and delusions.

    8 –> And on this, above I am headlining a fresh argument, the issue that if one dismisses a major feature of mind as generally delusional, one faces the problem that there are no firewalls to block that inference, and one then faces serious questions as to the trustworthiness of thought and mind in general, leading to a regress of Plato’s cave delusional worlds. Thus, by implication, one is either self-referentially burning down the house of reasoned thought, or is being selectively hyperskeptical.

    9 –> That is, there is little sense in ascribing general delusion to any major feature of mind. Correcting specific error identified as such for cause is one thing, flinging broad-brush skeptical accusations or insinuations of delusion is quite another.

    10 –> And, reducing morals to tastes, preferences and the like backed up by manipulation or force is in the end little more than might makes ‘right’ amorality opening the door to chaotic nihilism, with the demonically mad Nero waiting in the wings. And I really don’t want to have to cite Suetonius on this again . . . do we really want to toss our cookies again?

    11 –> So, we come back to the point that the key test for SETs is not whether they are proved from something else, but that one who has appropriate experience will by understanding see that they are true and must be true on pain of PATENT absurdities. (That is, while I do recognise that some proposed analytic truths have suffered reduction to absurdity, if the steps are too abstruse, such will not be self-evident.)

    12 –> The point of MY #1, is that we do instantly recognise this to be a moral truth and would instantly recognise that we are compelled to come to the aid of a child in the grips of such a monster. Never mind the child has no might and is unable to manipulate such a tyrant, s/he has real, unalienable rights, starting with life.

    13 –> So, we live in a world that has to reckon seriously with something like that. Schemes such as Dawkins’ just don’t cut it.

    14 –> On the strength of this alone, we would be fully justified in rejecting Dawkins’ philosophy out of hand, never mind the lab coat he wears while pronouncing it.

    15 –> That is, simply on MY #1, we have a strong reason to see that materialism is dead, never mind how there is an elite that wants to prop it up and demand our genuflection.

    16 –> If you doubt me on that, simply re-read Dawkins’ words, and seriously ponder what they mean . . . insofar as the utterly absurd can have a meaning. (And the same can be said about the materialist account of the reasoning, knowing mind — its account is patently absurd in ever so many ways, self-referentially absurd. Just ask Haldane. There is no good reason why we should prefer such shadow shows to evident reality. Lab coats notwithstanding.)

    17 –> Instead, I draw attention once again to what Locke cited in his 2nd essay on civil govt, when in Ch 2 sect 5 he laid out the basis for modern liberty and democracy. Namely, this from “the judicious [anglican canon Richard] Hooker”:

    . . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man’s hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . [[Hooker then continues, citing Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics, Bk 8:] as namely, That because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ] [[Eccl. Polity,preface, Bk I, "ch." 8, p.80

    18 --> In particular, we live in a world where we are governed by OUGHT, which requires a foundational IS capable of bearing the weight of OUGHT. [And if you wish to go in for circularities (only relieved by the declaration that he sets of beliefs are mutually consistent) and/or infinite regresses instead, then sorry but such is an absurdity. We do have to reckon with the need for a finitely remote foundation for our arguments and beliefs. Yes, such need to be factually adequate, coherent and explanatorily elegant and powerful. Yes, we need to deal with comparative difficulties across alternatives. But neither of these evades that basic point: whether or not we acknowledge it by name, our arguments and worldviews start from a finitely remote foundation or a substantially equivalent root-point. For instance, the framework of Neurath's raft sitting in the ocean and buoyed up by pressure forces, is substantially equivalent to a house with a "floating" foundation supported by the general mass of the earth, or for that matter one embedded in bedrock.]

    19 –> Where, when it comes to the IS adequate to sustain OUGHT, we are looking at a situation where there is but one serious candidate: the inherently good, eternal [thus an immaterial and necessary being . . . ] Creator-God.
    _____________

    Let us start afresh in such light, and see how we can then move forward to a reasonable, sound understanding.

    KF

  39. Sal

    Old Testament bashing? I’m telling the way it is. It is not out of context.

    The Old Testament shows God’s justice; the New Testament shows God’s mercy. God is both just and merciful, not just one or the other. We cannot appreciate the latter without understanding the former, and we may be sure that both qualities will be present at the last judgment. It is up to every person to decide which side of God they will appeal to. To ignore God or spurn his mercy is to choose His terrible justice, which will be far worse than anything you read about in the Old Testament. Indeed, what He allowed to happen to his own Son is far worse than anything you read about in the Old Testament. Jesus received the ugly justice he didn’t deserve, and we receive the beautiful mercy we don’t deserve.

    With respect to those difficult passages, God never punishes any group that doesn’t deserve it and unless He has given them continuous and ample warning. Whether death comes from a sword or a flood, the sins of the fathers are always be visited on their children. Collateral damage will inevitably occur, even in the form of murder. God doesn’t take those kinds of measures until the corruption is at such a level that allowing that tribe or any person in it to survive would, ultimately, adversely affect His plan of salvation, which was very delicate and vulnerable at the beginning. Either way, God is the giver of life and has the moral right to take it away if there is a good reason for it, especially if He has made eternal provisions for those who die innocently. We don’t have that same right because we aren’t responsible for supervising the plan of salvation and we don’t have the power to place innocent victims in heaven to compensate for the apparent injustice of a premature death.

    Here, though, is the irony. You complain that some of us are elevating reason and the Natural Moral Law over God’s word. Yet, that is exactly what you are doing, albeit in a more intense way. Your natural sense of justice, the same moral sense that prompts you to accuse God of injustice, the same moral sense that moves you to draw a contrast between the Old and New Testaments, is nothing less than the natural moral law operating in your own mind. It is so instinctual and well developed that you are prepared to judge God’s actions in the Old Testament on that basis. For you, it is reason’s account of right and wrong crying out for and demanding answers. Why is it so powerful? Because God put it there. Yet you claim that reason plays no real role in our understanding of right and wrong.

    From any responsible theological perspective, it is unnatural to separate faith from reason. While faith is the superior component, it cannot come to full bloom in the absence of reason, which always protects the believer from two extremes, naïve gullibility and unnecessary doubt. Alas, you have fallen into the latter category and are experiencing a faith crisis, which is the inevitable result of trying to fly on one wing. God made faith and reason to be partners, not adversaries.

  40. Your natural sense of justice, the same moral sense that prompts you to accuse God of injustice

    No, I never accused God of injustice. You’re making stuff about what I said. That isn’t cool.

  41. Sal

    No, I never accused God of injustice. You’re making stuff about what I said. That isn’t cool.

    You accused the God of the Old Testament of injustice. I didn’t make that up. It is the basis of all your protests, all of which are founded on your natural sense of justice, which, at the same time, you claim has no value.

  42. @scordova 15

    When one goes to the cancer surgeon, do we ask him to remove only part of the tumor?

  43. Sal

    With respect to morality, I feel that must be revealed by the Intelligent Designer himself as to what is right and wrong, not some sort of reasoning from supposed first principles.

    God reveals his morality both in Scripture and in nature. Obviously, Scripture has more authority and is nobler in every way, since it also tells us how we can be saved, but without the natural moral law, there is no way to apply Biblical principles on a consistent basis. You will find nothing in Scripture on insider trading or in vitro fertilization or thousands of other contemporary moral problems. That is where reason and the natural moral law partner with God’s word. They are not in opposition. You can’t go to the Bible for everything. That is why God gave us our natural moral sensibilities and our conscience.

  44. You accused the God of the Old Testament of injustice.

    No I didn’t. I believe God is always just. You’re welcome to point to the readers where I explicitly made that accusation here or anywhere else. You won’t find it because I never made it. You’re just making stuff up. And long before this discussion, I described my thoughts on the matter:

    Malicious Design and Question of the Old Testament God

    The point I was making is that if you were in God’s armies in the Old Testment, and God told you to kill an infant, based on your principles of right reason, and self-evident truths, would you view this to be right? Would you view it immoral to do what God called you to do cheerfully?

    Just pointing out, you’re giving pre-eminence to your reason and intuition over what the Law Giver’s commands.

    This obviously has relevance to more subtle moral questions like euthanasia today for those who are in a state of suffering.

  45. The Old Testament shows God’s justice.

    Whether true or not, statements like that, and the attempt to justify what occurs in the Old Testament, are a big part of what drives people from Christianity and towards their mocking, ridiculing attitude towards it.

    If I had to pick between this kind of Christianity and atheism, I’d pick atheism as well. Fortunately, my choices are not limited to the two.

  46. Sal

    No I didn’t. I believe God is always just. You’re welcome to point to the readers where I explicitly made that accusation here or anywhere else. You won’t find it because I never made it. You’re just making stuff up.

    I am not making things up, and it seems that I am not the only one who reads what you say in that fashion (note buffalo @15). But if I misinterpreted your negative comments about God supervising Genocide as an act of injustice, then I happily apologize. I have no intention of misrepresenting anyone.

    Perhaps you are simply saying that God’s actions were just because of the circumstances, in which case, we are on the same page in that sense. If so, however, it seems that you are trying to have it both ways: On the one hand, you blast the Old Testament and say, “Isn’t that awful,” On the other hand, you also say, “never mind, God had his reasons after all.” I really do think you need to make up your mind.

    If you are saying that those who were under God’s supervision were forced, in some cases, to violate the natural moral law as we are discussing it, then I would be inclined to agree. However, that is no argument against the existence of that law in antiquity. It would simply mean that God temporarily overruled it for the sake of some emergency. Either way, I find no consistency in your arguments. There is also the problem that you ignore all my arguments—no small thing.

  47. William J. Murray

    Whether true or not, statements like that, and the attempt to justify what occurs in the Old Testament, are a big part of what drives people from Christianity and towards their mocking, ridiculing attitude towards it.

    That’s just the beginning. People also run from Christianity because it teaches the existence of hell, forbids sexual license, and bids us to forgive our enemies. Indeed, Jesus Christ drove a majority of his listeners away by telling them that they must eat his flesh and drink his blood. Hard sayings always drive people away. Everyone wants a religion that doesn’t make demands and allows them to define truth in terms that are congenial with their inclinations. It’s human nature.

    If I had to pick between this kind of Christianity and atheism, I’d pick atheism as well. Fortunately, my choices are not limited to the two.

    Yes, that is the modern temper. It’s all about choice, never about inconvenient truths.

  48. If we agree that X is self-evidently evil, and we agree that God is the embodiment of good, and a book you believe to be true says that god ordered someone to do X, it’s you that has to attempt to reconcile two apparently contradictory things, not me.

    What is interesting about this is that even atheists that hold that morality is subjective reveal their hand when they point at these things in the bible as examples of things that are so obviously, objectively immoral that it casts the Christian position into ridicule. They are unknowingly falsifying their own “subjectivist” position by pointing it out, but the point they make is sound IMO.

    You can’t point out the error of moral subjectivists who want to have it both ways while wanting to have it both ways yourself.

    It’s not me that is holding an apparently conflicted position that requires a rube goldberg explanation to justify.

  49. StephenB

    It’s all about choice, never about inconvenient truths.

    How do decide what’s true, without the tablets? You don’t have any evidence for divine truths. It’s just what you’ve made up.

    I don’t have a problem with that as long as you don’t use your made up opinions to impinge on the rights of others to disagree.

  50. Oops

    …others who disagree.

  51. Gentlemen:

    While theological-ethical debate-points may be engrossing, in this context they are distractive from what is primary.

    Now, I have already pointed here on, to some broadening perspectives on the usual hot-button points on such matters, which I suggest each of us take some time out to read and ponder in wider context.

    Note, in so doing that the texts in question form part of the Hebraic scriptures, and so kindly pause to reflect on the remarks by Rabbi Boteach in response to Christopher Hitchens’ accusatory talking points against Jews, and the onward implication of what would happen were one to direct to Jews and Judaism the tone and talking points so often directed to Christians and the Christian Faith on this matter.

    In addition I draw attention to the broader civilisational-ethical issues through the remarks of the great Jewish scholar [that's relevant as backdrop for his words], Bernard Lewis, as well as ethical dilemmas faced by statesmen and generals alike.

    In so doing, also look carefully at the photograph of Gen Eisenhower and the men he spoke with moments before they boarded aircraft for D-Day, June 6th 1944 — understanding that within a week, most of the paratroopers in the picture were dead or wounded; and, understand how his heart, as that of General Petain standing by The Sacred Way at Verdun in 1916, must have lurched . . . deeply wounded.

    Do not neglect the dilemma faced by the likes of Churchill and Roosevelt — knowing but unable to say that they were fighting a nuke threshold war with time running out, as they had to make decisions on the use of heavy bombers, knowing what would happen when the bombs fell on cities. (Note, Churchill’s agonised words in the aftermath, here.)

    Then — as your heart lurches sickeningly as (like Joseph) you begin to feel a taste of the clamping, chaining bite of irons of affliction that are there to put necessary iron in your soul to responsibly and adequately handle such issues (cf. here) — understand the sobering, heart-rending cost of dealing with entrenched, aggressively spreading evil that becomes a plague upon the earth.

    Then, finally, before drawing conclusions, understand that even as we speak, global leaders [as in 1938] are yet again flinching in the face of just such a dilemma; with millions of deaths — explicitly including likely attempted genocide of the Jewish race . . . — and massive global chaos in the stakes.

    I hope that, after a glance at such, we will appreciate why I think that we need to learn to crawl aright before we try to run with the horsemen.

    Let us not forget, what is at stake in this thread is first, that many in our civilisation have been led to reject or misunderstand the point that there are key self-evident plumbline principles and cases of truth that we can use to make sure our thinking in general and in particular on core morality is well founded, true, square and plumb.

    Gentlemen, I must therefore call our attention to making sure that first, foundational and framework-setting things are first.

    For if they are not, nothing thereafter will be in sound order. If one has not learned to crawl aright one has no hope of making a success of running with the horsemen.

    And, it seems, four of them are a coming, hoof-beats pounding over the horizon even as dark dust-clouds loom.

    KF

  52. @48 “If we agree that X is self-evidently evil, and we agree that God is the embodiment of good, and a book you believe to be true says that god ordered someone to do X, it’s you that has to attempt to reconcile two apparently contradictory things, not me.”

    Even in human terms, there are some circumstances under which is it just for one person to take the life of another, namely, when the victim no longer deserves to live. So natural morality takes reasons into account even though the act killing is repulsive, especially to the person who finds it necessary to carry it out. Morality isn’t always pleasing and there are plenty of people who reject the natural moral law on the grounds that only pacifism is moral pleasing to them.

    Of course, the subject of genocide raises the bar, but even at that level, reasons matter. If a human can morally take the life of one who no longer deserves to live, affecting not only the person but also his family, then why cannot God also morally take the lives of tribe members who no longer deserve to live, especially when His plan of salvation is being thwarted through rebellion and especially when He possesses perfect knowledge of all the temporal and eternal consequences of his actions, a trait that humans engaged in the moral act self defense do not possess.

  53. There are at least 3 (probably more) views in play:

    1. materialism, morality is an evolved intuition, there is no right or wrong in the ultimate sense

    2. what is right and wrong is self-evidently true, hence self-evident truths will give a complete guide to what is right and wrong — appeals to law of non-contradiction, excluded middle, and “self-evident” truths determine what is right

    3. intuition is an approximate guide to right and wrong, but what defines right and wrong is the Law Giver himself, how humans can have access to what the Law Giver says is right or wrong is the subject of debate and disagreement, and further the right thing to do is not always clear

    I subscribe to #3, and accept by faith that Jesus, being one with God, even the Old Testament God, is the one who tells us the law.

    In the case of the execution of infants in the Old Testament, it goes against human intuition of right and wrong. If I were living in Moses time, or Samuel’s time, when I see a crying helpless baby who is missing its parents, rather than trying to comfort the infant, would I draw my sword cheerfully and kill it? I think not, I’d probably ask the Lord for mercy on the child because I could not bring myself to do the deed…Would it be moral for me to kill the baby or would it be moral for me to let it live.

    For those who don’t believe the Bible, it’s not a problem. They’ll view as a fable, so it’s no problem for them. But for those that do, examples like that conflict with the notion of “self-evidence” in morality, it shows intuitions, though usually right, are not always right. What is right and wrong is a bit more nuanced.

    How is this relevant to today? I gave two examples for starters: euthanasia and marital fidelity. There are even more subtle ones. In some anti-Christian countries, they’ll torture the children of Christian parents in front of the Christian parents until the parents disavow Christ. What is the moral thing for the parents to do there? Where is the self-evident truth to guide the parents in the right thing to do? In the time of Nero, the Christian parents refused to disavow Christ even if meant their kids would be fed to the lions. What was moral wasn’t so self-evident.

    Though I’m surely closer to view #2 (theism and self-evident morality) than to view #1 (materialism, and no ultimate morality), view #2 is not universally agreed on by those in ID’s big tent. View #3 though sympathetic to view #2, has some disagreement with view #2, and I’ve tried to articulate some of those disagreements.

  54. StephenB @52:

    If a human can morally take the life of one who no longer deserves to live,

    Nobody (yes, not even babies) deserves to live. This is why we all die eventually and turn into dust.

  55. Nobody (yes, not even babies) deserves to live. This is why we all die eventually and turn into dust.

    Yet William Munny’s “Deserve’s got nothing to do with it” aroused objections elsewhere on UD. Go figure.

  56. On the subject of the Old Testament, I will give Scordova and William J Murray the last word. I promise.

    In defense of the Natural Moral Law, I would simply point out that we have no other source with which we can arbitrate between secular and religious disagreements. In matters of politics and civil law, we will be ruled either by tyrannical men or by universally-binding principles. In religious matters, we will either fight each other to the death over theological issues, or we will rally around self-evident moral truths. Third options are not available.

    If we cannot agree on a basic and universal foundation for morality, then we are forever doomed to a war of all against all. Once we do establish our rational foundation however, we can exert our influence through the power of argument, persuading those of other religions to embrace our own belief system and holding our secular leaders accountable to the same moral principles that we must obey. If someone can come up with a better suggestion, please bring it forward.

  57. There is only one spiritual and physical law in the universe: unity. The universe is ONE and any and all violations to this ONENESS will be corrected sooner or later. The concept of unity, which derives from yin and yang, is part of both Christianity and eastern religions. The master said, “Let them be ONE with us as we are ONE together.”

    On a lighter note, what did the Zen master say to the hot dog vendor?

    Answer: “Make me ONE with everything.”

  58. SB: Once we do establish our rational foundation however, … holding our secular leaders accountable to the same moral principles that we must obey

    Thats exactly what many are afraid of. I just thank the lord my leaders are secular.

  59. [We should hold our leaders accountable to the same moral law that we must obey}

    Graham2

    That’s exactly what many are afraid of

    LOL. If you break the moral law and steal from someone, your leaders will put you in jail; but if your leaders want to break that same law and steal from you, you’re OK with it.

  60. Our leaders are currently subject to the (secular) laws of the land. What you are talking about, with a straight face apparantly, is theocracy. No thanks. We have examples of both and I know which I prefer.

    Then I noticed this: persuading those of other religions to embrace our own belief system

    It just gets creepier. Do you ever read what you have written ?

  61. WJM @45 It would have been easier to just expunge these difficult passages, but they are left in. The Creator has the power over His created. So often when reading these passages one does not ask what happened to the soul. If these infants grew to adulthood in the immoral surroundings and propagated more evil, what then becomes of their soul? In God’s wisdom He could have saved their souls by allowing their death.

  62. G2: Kindly remember the basis for judgement at Nuremberg — there is a higher law, the law of our nature, that should be respected by our civil law and those charged to enforce it. Or, such civil laws all too easily become institutionalised injustice or worse enshrined under false colour of law. So, kindly drop the long since past sell-by date “theocracy” smear points. KF

  63. PS: G2 and others plainly need to be reminded yet again of the substance of that higher law. Let me yet again cite what G2 and ilk are ever so desperate to smear, the cited passage Locke used in his second essay on civil govt, Ch 2, from “the judicious [anglican canon Richard] Hooker” as the pivot for grounding what would become modern liberty and democracy:

    . . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man’s hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . [[Hooker then continues, citing Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics, Bk 8:] as namely, That because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ] [[Eccl. Polity, preface, Bk I, "ch." 8, p.80]

    On saddening track record, I predict that G2 and ilk will continue to studiously avoid such substance, as it does not fit their smear agenda.

    I hope he proves me wrong, but I am not holding my breath.

    And, we need to ask such — given that genuine rights are a manifestation of this same pattern of oughts tracing to the inherent value and worth of the individual human being (resting on our common nature), what foundational IS they propose capable of bearing the weight of such OUGHTs.

    KF

  64. PPS: Apart from, the nihilist’s creed: might and manipulation make ‘right.’

  65. PPPS: It is also worth the while of giving SB’s context in 56:

    In defense of the Natural Moral Law, I would simply point out that we have no other source with which we can arbitrate between secular and religious disagreements. In matters of politics and civil law, we will be ruled either by tyrannical men or by universally-binding principles. In religious matters, we will either fight each other to the death over theological issues, or we will rally around self-evident moral truths. [--> and kindly recall MY #1 above and where it points, directly away from "might and manipulation make 'right' . . . "] Third options are not available.

    If we cannot agree on a basic and universal foundation for morality, then we are forever doomed to a war of all against all. Once we do establish our rational foundation however, we can exert our influence through the power of argument, persuading those of other religions to embrace our own belief system and holding our secular leaders accountable to the same moral principles that we must obey. If someone can come up with a better suggestion, please bring it forward.

    Can G2 give me any good reason not to conclude that he set up a strawman by playing at snip and snipe tactics?

  66. buffalo,

    There are delusional people that do evil things they believe are commanded by god. It is my position that because of the capacity of humans to err, and err in horrible, delusional ways, that if we believe god is telling us to torture infants for fun (go against what we know to be self-evidently, and/or obviously true, and/or necessarily true), we must say “this cannot be from god” and instead hold that we are in error.

    StephenB,

    IMO, command morality is no better than, and is as dangerous as, subjective morality. Command authority morailty = “might makes right” writ large.

  67. KF: The higher law, yeah, right. And whos ‘higher law’ ? … why yours of course.

  68. WJM

    IMO, command morality is no better than, and is as dangerous as, subjective morality. Command authority morailty = “might makes right” writ large.

    I agree completely. I am totally against Divine Command authority and would not argue on that basis. That is why Islam’s doctrine of “abrogation” (God can change his mind about right and wrong on a whim) is irrational. I also agree that it would be just as bad as subjectivism. Both are just different variations of might makes right. If the Natural Moral Law is not flexible enough to fit into the Old Testament, then I cannot make a case.

  69. Graham2

    What you are talking about, with a straight face apparantly, is theocracy.

    Not even close. The Natural Moral Law is the safeguard against theocracy. You are simply misinformed.

    Then I noticed this: persuading those of other religions to embrace our own belief system

    Of course. If advocate of religion A cannot persuade advocate of religion B to convert, he should then just leave him alone. Tyrants don’t exhort or use persuasion. They say, “Convert to my religion or I will hurt you or even kill you.” It is unfortunate that you cannot grasp the difference.

  70. SB: I will make it a bit clearer: What I see here is complete arrogance, ‘my morality is right’. It is superior to civil law, superior to all religions (except mine of course), and I will do all I can to see that it prevails.

    Do you have any idea how frightening this sounds ?

  71. Graham2

    What I see here is complete arrogance, ‘my morality is right’.

    The Natural Moral Law is not “my” morality. It is the same morality alluded to in the The United States Declaration of Independence. Do you find that document “scary?”

    It is superior to civil law, superior to all religions (except mine of course), and I will do all I can to see that it prevails.

    If you do not understand that the civil law, any civil law, is always based on a higher law of some kind, then I cannot help you.

  72. SB: So if you & I disagree on some moral issue, (eg: is it OK to display Playboy magazines in public places), who is right ? Which of us is truly in touch with the ‘higher law’ ?

  73. What ever religion or whatever law is followed, no jury in the world will ever acquit anyone who kills a baby. Period. We should refrain from interpreting every aspect of our life in terms of scriptures. We already have many of a particular religion who are blowing up people because of that.

  74. SB

    In matters of politics and civil law, we will be ruled either by tyrannical men or by universally-binding principles.

    This is clearly not true. Virtually all democracies are not ruled by universally-binding principles but by messy compromises, what “sells” and the peculiarities of the political system. The result may be inefficient,  some of the laws and practices may be unacceptable to much of the population, but it is not tyranny.

    The Economist Intelligence Unit lists 25 full democracies:

    Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, New Zealand, Australia, Switzerland, Canada, Finland, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Austria, Ireland, Germany, Malta, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Uruguay, Mauritius, South Korea, United States of America, Costa Rica, Japan, Belgium, Spain

    They differ on major moral issues such as abortion, homosexuality, and the death penalty but none of them are tyrannies.

  75. G2:

    It seems you are only irresponsibly snipping out of context and sniping to try to score debate points. That speaks volumes, especially in the context at hand.

    First, you know or full well should know the higher law to which civil laws answer in light of the example of Nuremberg. The defense was, we are following orders of lawful superiors in accord with the laws of our community so who are you to judge us save as conquerors imposing their will by force.

    In short, radical relativism ends in the nihilism of might makes right.

    The answer to that was, there is a higher law to which we all answer and which we all know, the law of our nature as manifest in fundamental rights; which Germany under the Nazi regime grossly violated leading to 60 million dead, including 11 – 13 millions massacred in the holocaust, 6 million Jews, 3 million non-Jewish Poles, Gypsies and many others. Also including 20 – 25 million Russians. less than 6 millions of whom perished on the battlefield as combattants.

    The same higher law manifest in the implications of the self-evidently true Moral Yardstick #1 that you continue to duck and dodge, G2:

    MORAL YARDSTICK 1: it is Self-Evidently True that it would be wrong to kidnap, torture, rape and murder a child. With corollary, that if such is in progress we are duty-bound to intervene to save the child from the monster.

    The same law of our nature that you continue to duck and dodge which led Locke to cite canon Hooker thusly in Ch 2 sect 5 of his 2nd essay on civil gov’t, to ground liberty and justice for all in the community:

    . . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man’s hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . [[Hooker then continues, citing Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics, Bk 8:] as namely, That because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ] [[Eccl. Polity, preface, Bk I, "ch." 8, p.80]

    In short, you are hoping to distract attention and poison the atmosphere through insistently resorting to irresponsible rhetorical tactics in the teeth of repeated correction. That speaks volumes on your want of an answer on the merits for self-evident moral truth that points to our being under moral government.

    And yet, as MY#1 and other like cases show, we know ourselves to be under moral government. This means we live in a world where we have rights (and thus neighbourly duties of care to one another . . . including per the Good Samaritan, across lines of culture, hostility and enmity) that manifest that OUGHT is real and binding.

    So also, we live in a world that in its roots has an IS that can bear the weight of such OUGHT.

    Where, in the end, the verdict of thousands of years of debate and thought is in: the only serious candidate to be such an IS is the inherently good, eternal Creator-God, our Lord and dread judge.

    To whom you are obviously violently hostile and projective of resentment of being under legitimate authority.

    When I therefore see you pushing “theocracy” smear-points in future, I will — for cause — translate thusly:

    I, G2, resent legitimate authority and am bound up in worldviews and cultural agendas that undermine legitimate rights and duties tied to our nature, dignity, value and quasi-infinite worth as human beings. Such radically relativist views lead me to imply that might and manipulation make ‘right.’ This is the credo of nihilism, which has a horrific track record. However, I don’t care, I just want to do as I please in a community that upholds me in doing as I please without recognising the sort of fixed limits manifest in self-evident moral truths tied to our equal nature and worth, regardless of want of might or capability to manipulate. Yes, my views are absurd, but it is ever so easy to distract attention by pretending that light is darkness and darkness light, and especially by flinging false accusations of “theocracy” as well as willfully ignoring lessons of history and right reason. I want my own way, and I don’t care!

    G2, do you like the self-portrait you are painting?

    I doubt it.

    Why not take a pause, look seriously in the mirror, and make a positive change?

    KF

  76. MF: When such a list omits states like Barbados and many others across the Antilles, it is flawed; the Caribbean (especially the Anglophone and Dutch-speaking sub-regions) is one of the largest blocs of truly free and democratic states in the world — and also, one that is by and large not caught up in the sort of radically militant evolutionary materialism-driven secular humanism that seems to be sweeping the North. (Indeed, these are direct counter examples to the “theocracy” bogeyman that G2 would wish to conjure.) Of course these states are far from perfect; at any given time, liberty and justice for all is a work in progress in any state, and there is room for reform of a genuinely lawful state. In that context, the historical roots of modern liberty and democracy in Judaeo-Christian soil and the positive impacts of especially political Calvinism and its scripturally rooted double covenant view of nationhood and just government under the inherently good God who grants us his indelible image and worth commensurate with that thus unalienable core rights, particularly manifest in Locke and the US DOI of 1776 [anticipated in the Dutch DOI of 1581] should be recognised and appreciated. It is the lack of recognition of such key history that — especially when it is joined to the sort of drearily familiar well-poisoning that we see coming from new atheists and similar circles — gives me serious concern. Not least, for the sustainability of such liberty. KF

  77. Like most threads where religion is mentioned, the voices of opposition have turned away from the actual topic, presumably because they cannot accurately address said topic, and turned to mindless talking points rampant in holes of the internet that may as well have been copy-pasta from Reddit’s /r/atheism.

    They have this false sense of supercilious confidence as their echo chambers laud these streams of inanities they deem as the ‘kill shot’ to any argument regarding theism or religion. Yet, these shallow arguments have been addressed and refuted time and time over by minds far greater than ours.

    Go on, cherry pick more passages out of the Septuagint without any actual understanding, or context. It only betrays ignorance, and shows you just repeat Dawkins-esque tripe that appeals to emotional reaction rather than logical consistency.

  78. #76 KF

    Your comment is of course irrelevant to my point which is simply that there are plenty of examples of non-tyrannies that do not have universal moral principles. The majority of Caribbean countries are in the EIU’s next category of flawed democracies – this is quite a high standard it includes many Western European countries such as France and Italy. The complete list and the methodology is available free from
    https://www.eiu.com/public/topical_report.aspx?campaignid=DemocracyIndex12

  79. SR:

    If you will glance at the OP, you will see that the focal issue for this thread is not appeals to any particular scriptural tradition. Instead, it addresses the issue of self-evident truth with particular attention to self evident moral truth that points a way forward on sound, reasonable and just governance in the community.

    That pivots on the worth of the individual, down to a child or a baby — and I here include specifically those babies that are still in the womb.

    (Yes, we need to think soberly about the blood-guilt in the USA of 55 millions aborted since 1973 and the hundreds of millions of others around the world. Blood-guilt, mass blood guilt, is perhaps the most corrupting influence on ability to think straight on moral matters that there is. The historical example of the Roman mobs baying for blood and circuses [which were not at all innocent entertainment like we see today], should be chilling.)

    That said, it should be no surprise to see that in whole or in part, scriptural traditions, responsibly handled do in part or possibly on the whole in certain cases, communicate core morality and do tie it to the only serious candidate root IS that can ground OUGHT.

    So, some reasonable respect is in order.

    That said, there are things in scriptural traditions that are points of concern or are troubling. In the case of Islamic tradition, the institutionalisation and sacralisation of C7 Arabic raiding and feuding traditions, welding it into a concept of a universal war to impose Islam is of concern. Similarly, the concept of abrogation and anchoring morality to the raw will of God as understood, is of concern.

    But this is actually not typical of scriptural traditions of major religions, and even among Muslims, Al Qaeda and the like are a recognised extreme.

    In the Judaeo-Christian tradition, there are concerns on some events. I think it is appropriate to put such in context by citing Rabbi Boteach’s remarks in answer to Christopher Hitchens, a leading new atheist. Hitchens had said, “Torah verses will also be found that make it permissible to murder secular Jews as well as Arabs” — and yes, the way ever so many attack Christians on certain OT texts has very direct anti-semitic implications that should give serious pause. Boteach replied:

    . . . any Rabbi who was to praise a Jewish murderer would be fired from his post and banished from his community. The Torah is clear: ‘Thou may not murder’ (Exodus 20) and ‘Thou shalt not take revenge’ (Leviticus 19).

    Second, no Biblical story of massacre, which is a tale and not a law, could ever be used to override the most central prohibition of the Ten Commandments and Biblical morality. Murder is the single greatest offense against the Creator of all life and no Jew would ever use a Biblical narrative of war or slaughter as something that ought to be emulated. In our time Churchill and Roosevelt, both universally regarded as moral leaders and outstanding men, ordered the wholesale slaughter of non-combatants in the Second World War through the carpet- bombing of Dresden, Hamburg, Berlin, and Tokyo. Truman would take it further by ordering the atomic holocaust of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. How did men who are today regarded as righteous statesmen order such atrocities? They were of the opinion that only total war could end Nazi tyranny and Japanese imperial aggression. They did it in the name of saving life. Which is of course not to excuse their actions but rather to understand them in the context of the mitigating circumstances of the time. I do not know why Moses would have ordered any such slaughter even in the context of war. But I do know that the same Bible who relates the story also expressly forbids even the thought of such bloodshed ever being repeated.

    Those who are ever eager to seize upon such stories to characterise God and those who follow him in the Judaeo-Christian tradition should take due pause. (Also, cf. here on for a discussion in the wider context. If one is unwilling to tax a Rabbi whose ancestors perished in Auschwitz in such terms, please don’t tax Christians whose ancestors paid a bitter cost — a long, long row of white crosses (and stars of David) from North Africa to the Elbe — to liberate nations from the tyranny responsible for real genocide.)

    KF

  80. KF: My question to SB was the same one I have asked many times in this place: How do you know what the ‘higher law’ (objective morality) intends ? If 2 people have different views on some moral question, how can we tell which one lines up with the ‘higher law’ ?

    Its a simple question.

  81. MF:

    I appreciate the sharing of a link. However, any list of genuinely free democracies that does not include in particular Barbados, is flawed, period. I can understand a list that would identify Jamaica or Singapore as having significant weaknesses that push such down a notch or two, but not Barbados.

    Yes, this sounds good:

    Free and fair elections and civil liberties are necessary conditions for democracy, but they are unlikely to be sufficient for a full and consolidated democracy if unaccompanied by transparent and at least minimally efficient government, sufficient political participation and a supportive democratic political culture. It is not easy to build a sturdy democracy. Even in long-established ones, democracy can corrode if not nurtured and protected.

    . . . but when such a list is found excluding quite clear cases, it is deeply flawed.

    KF

  82. G2:

    You are — sorry to have to be blunt [but your sustained behaviour calls for plain speaking], being irresponsible again.

    What you profess to need to know has been on the table for a very long time, and enough at 101 level is in this thread’s OP. Your continual insistence on misrepresentations and insinuations in the teeth of adequate corrective evidence does not commend you.

    I will simply ask you to carefully ponder two things:

    (i) the concept of self-evident truth in light of why arguments including moral ones must start at finitely remote starting-points, and

    (ii) the part of the parable of Plato’s cave where when the former prisoner returns to share the light he has experienced, he is confronted by those who prefer false to true light.

    KF

  83. #81 KF

    I am not going to argue on behalf of the EIU. Their methodology is explained in the report. To repeat, my point was simply that there are many countries which are clearly not tyrannies and which do not have universal moral principles. Therefore, SB was wrong.

  84. KF: You take a long time to evade a question. Perhaps it would be simpler to just answer it. In fact, nobody has ever answered this question. .

    Why not break the spell and give it a go ?

  85. MF: I am sorry but my family was based in Barbados for over 20 years. Whatever methods the EIU used, if their method missed Barbados it is flawed, period. KF

  86. G2: You continue to be irresponsible, in fact — on your sustained track record — I doubt that you have seriously read the OP above, much less seriously and open-mindedly investigated and thought for even fifteen minutes about the issues therein and beyond. KF

  87. kf: And you continue to obfuscate. In fact, you cant give a direct answer.

  88. G2: If you were to show me signs of seriously interacting with the OP and onward discussion above, I would take your comments more seriously. In particular, if you had bothered to read and ponder the OP you would find more than adequate answers to legitimate questions or concerns on your part, noting that I make reference to pivotal historical antecedents — idea sources and state documents that have been pivotal in our civilisation for centuries. KF

  89. #88 KF

    I understand you teach sometimes. How you manage to do with successfully I cannot understand. You write obscure, abstract, lengthy OPs and then when someone asks a question you react by saying that are not taking you seriously and they should find the answers there. Has it never crossed your mind that you might not be expressing yourself clearly?

  90. MF:

    Pardon me but have you looked at the OP above? Your description seems to me quite out of synch with the responses say in the first eight or so comments (which includes one from a PhD philosopher and one from a graduate trained philosopher and communication specialist).

    I suggest — assuming you are not just pushing a rhetorically useful talking point — the problem is that there is a major worldviews gap here.

    You may indeed be familiar with modern phil thought, but I suspect there is a lack of familiarity with why some beg to differ; starting at common good sense level.

    To get specific and concrete, simply (a) look at the small infographic that lays out why arguments and worldviews have foundations, pointing to how alternatives can be inspected on comparative difficulties, and also (b) compare the description of three criteria a self evident truth must meet as a part of a reasonable foundation. Then, observe (c) a specific suggested case of a moral self evident truth.

    Do these remarks make sense to you, whether or no you differ? If no, why. If you differ, why in a nutshell.

    KF

  91. KF, excellent article! duly referenced for future use! :)

    On the physical reality of objective morality:

    As you have so clearly pointed out KF, that objective moral values really do exist is readily apparent to most people with common sense, save for the most die hard atheists who are willing to deny anything and everything rather than ever admit there is any evidence for God.

    “My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?”
    - C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

    Stephen Meyer – Morality Presupposes Theism (1 of 4) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSpdh1b0X_M

    Neo-Darwinists simply cannot maintain a consistent identity towards a stable, unchanging, cause for objective morality. In fact, Dr. William Lane Craig calls it a ‘knock down’ argument against atheists:

    The Knock-Down Argument Against Atheist Sam Harris’ moral landscape argument – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xL_vAH2NIPc

    And as KF’s article clearly points out, and as the preceding quote and videos show, refusing to acknowledge that objective morality is self evidently true results in logical absurdities. Yet to make the case for objective morality even stronger, since, as a Christian Theist, I hold that God continuously sustains the universe in the infinite power of His being, and since I also hold that God created our ‘inmost being’, i.e. our souls, then I also hold that morality is a real, objective, tangible, part of reality that we should be able to ‘scientifically’ detect in some way. I think this quote from Martin Luther King is very fitting as to elucidating what the Theist’s starting presupposition should be for finding objective morality to be a ‘real, tangible, objective’ part of reality:

    “The first principle of value that we need to rediscover is this: that all reality hinges on moral foundations. In other words, that this is a moral universe, and that there are moral laws of the universe just as abiding as the physical laws.”
    - Martin Luther King Jr., A Knock at Midnight: Inspiration from the Great Sermons of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

    And, contrary to what the materialist/atheist would want to presuppose about morality (that they can ‘make up’ their own morality as they go!), we find much evidence to back up Dr. King’s assertion that “there are moral laws of the universe just as abiding as the physical laws”. For instance, we find that babies have an innate moral sense very early on, before they have had a chance to learn them, thus directly contradicting the atheistic notion that basic morals are subjectively learned as we grow older:

    The Moral Life of Babies – May 2010
    Excerpt: From Sigmund Freud to Jean Piaget to Lawrence Kohlberg, psychologists have long argued that we begin life as amoral animals.,,,
    A growing body of evidence, though, suggests that humans do have a rudimentary moral sense from the very start of life. With the help of well-designed experiments, you can see glimmers of moral thought, moral judgment and moral feeling even in the first year of life. Some sense of good and evil seems to be bred in the bone.,,,
    Despite their overall preference for good actors over bad, then, babies are drawn to bad actors when those actors are punishing bad behavior.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05.....&_r=0

    Please note the highly developed moral sense of justice that was detected in toddlers in the preceding study! Simply fascinating! This following study goes even further in establishing the objective reality of morality by showing that ‘Moral evaluations of harm are instant and emotional’:

    Moral evaluations of harm are instant and emotional, brain study shows – November 29, 2012
    Excerpt: People are able to detect, within a split second, if a hurtful action they are witnessing is intentional or accidental, new research on the brain at the University of Chicago shows.
    http://medicalxpress.com/news/.....brain.html

    And although split second reactions to hateful actions are pretty good, non-locality of morals (i.e. morals that arise outside of space and time and are grounded within the perfect nature of God’s transcendent being) demand a more ‘spooky action at a distance’, i.e. quantum, proof. And due to the seemingly miraculous advances in science we now have evidence to even this ‘spooky’ beyond space and time level:

    Quantum Consciousness – Time Flies Backwards? – Stuart Hameroff MD
    Excerpt: Dean Radin and Dick Bierman have performed a number of experiments of emotional response in human subjects. The subjects view a computer screen on which appear (at randomly varying intervals) a series of images, some of which are emotionally neutral, and some of which are highly emotional (violent, sexual….). In Radin and Bierman’s early studies, skin conductance of a finger was used to measure physiological response They found that subjects responded strongly to emotional images compared to neutral images, and that the emotional response occurred between a fraction of a second to several seconds BEFORE the image appeared! Recently Professor Bierman (University of Amsterdam) repeated these experiments with subjects in an fMRI brain imager and found emotional responses in brain activity up to 4 seconds before the stimuli. Moreover he looked at raw data from other laboratories and found similar emotional responses before stimuli appeared.
    http://www.quantumconsciousnes.....Flies.html

    Can Your Body Sense Future Events Without Any External Clue? (meta-analysis of 26 reports published between 1978 and 2010) – (Oct. 22, 2012)
    Excerpt: “But our analysis suggests that if you were tuned into your body, you might be able to detect these anticipatory changes between two and 10 seconds beforehand,,,
    This phenomenon is sometimes called “presentiment,” as in “sensing the future,” but Mossbridge said she and other researchers are not sure whether people are really sensing the future.
    “I like to call the phenomenon ‘anomalous anticipatory activity,’” she said. “The phenomenon is anomalous, some scientists argue, because we can’t explain it using present-day understanding about how biology works; though explanations related to recent quantum biological findings could potentially make sense. It’s anticipatory because it seems to predict future physiological changes in response to an important event without any known clues, and it’s an activity because it consists of changes in the cardiopulmonary, skin and nervous systems.”
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....145342.htm

    As well, the following experiment, from Princeton University no less, is very interesting in that it was found that ‘perturbed randomness’ precedes a worldwide ‘moral crisis’:

    Scientific Evidence That Mind Effects Matter – Random Number Generators – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4198007

    Mass Consciousness: Perturbed Randomness Before First Plane Struck on 911 – July 29 2012
    Excerpt: The machine apparently sensed the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre four hours before they happened – but in the fevered mood of conspiracy theories of the time, the claims were swiftly knocked back by sceptics. But it also appeared to forewarn of the Asian tsunami just before the deep sea earthquake that precipitated the epic tragedy.,,
    Now, even the doubters are acknowledging that here is a small box with apparently inexplicable powers. ‘It’s Earth-shattering stuff,’ says Dr Roger Nelson, emeritus researcher at Princeton University in the United States, who is heading the research project behind the ‘black box’ phenomenon.
    http://www.network54.com/Forum.....uck+on+911

    Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research – Scientific Study of Consciousness-Related Physical Phenomena – peer reviewed publications
    http://www.princeton.edu/~pear/publications.html

  92. Thus we actually have very strong empirical evidence supporting Dr. King’s observation that ‘that there are moral laws of the universe just as abiding as the physical laws’. In fact, since the emotional reactions happen before the violent images are even viewed, or before the worldwide tragedies even occurred, then one would be well justified in holding that morality is an ‘objective’ part of reality that abides at a much deeper level of the universe than the ‘mere’ physical laws of the universe do (just as a Theist would rightly presuppose that morals would do prior to investigation). Moreover, the atheistic materialist is left without a clue as to how such ‘prescient morality’ is even possible for reality.

    Of supplemental note:

    This following video refines the Ontological argument for God into a argument that, because of the characteristic of ‘maximally great love’, God must exist in more than one person:

    The Ontological Argument for the Triune God – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGVYXog8NUg

    i.e. without this distinction we are stuck with the logical contradiction of maximally great love being grounded in one person (putting self above others) which is the very antithesis of maximally great love.

    Verse and music:

    Mark 10:18
    “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good–except God alone.

    Black Eyed Peas – Where Is The Love?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WpYeekQkAdc

  93. KF@75:

    Where you begin “I, G2, resent legitimate authority..”

    I would say “fear and resent”. Please note how they keep reiterating what they fear – that someone is going to force their version of morality on them, which is why they irrationally refuse that objective morality exists and deny the self-evident nature of a statement it is madness to deny.

    While the concern of having an improper morality forced upon people is legitimate, they irrationally conclude that the only way to prevent such religious abuse is to hold that all morality is relative, empowering them to refuse to submit to, and fight against if necessary, any particular morality should they find it offensive.

    They are only capable of seeing two extreme positions; that of a morality forced on others from claimed divine authority, or that of moral “freedom” where all morality is considered subjective.

    The problem is that both forced, objective moral authority and subjectivist morality are the same thing in practice: might makes right, and can validate any moral abuse. The forefathers of the USA understood that while any particular religion must not wield the power of government by forcing sectarian views on the populace, moral subjectivism would equally lead to the downfall of the nation. In their writings they make this view explicit.

    Which is why they appealed to universal, natural law and didn’t claim any particular command authority religious right. If we as a people cannot agree to the natural moral law regardless of our sectarian views that interpret the gray areas of morality differently, our society has no hope of succeeding because there is only the “might makes right” of moral subjectivism, or competing command authority views.

    While it is right to protect against religious tyranny, one should equally protect against the nihilistic anarchy of moral relativism. The only means to do so is by appeal to natural law and certain fundamental, self-evident moral truths, leaving the laws of the community to be as secular as possible, allowing people as much freedom as possible to follow their own moral views.

    The idea that whether or not a playboy magazine should be on display in a store is nothing more than rhetorical smokescreen by someone refusing to argue the principles at stake, and shows the vacuity of their argument.

  94. As you have so clearly pointed out KF, that objective moral values really do exist is readily apparent to most people with common sense, save for the most die hard atheists who are willing to deny anything and everything rather than ever admit there is any evidence for God.

    Exactly. I’ve asked this, and to MF, before: Can one find a single society that has no concept of murder?

    I think the willful ignorance was displayed when MF suggested that it is not a remarkable coincidence, and that every society to have ever existed seemed to simply arrive at the same moral idea.

  95. KF:

    Pardon me but have you looked at the OP above? Your description seems to me quite out of synch with the responses say in the first eight or so comments (which includes one from a PhD philosopher and one from a graduate trained philosopher and communication specialist).

    Of those eight comments – one was from you, 4 were from WJM, 1 from SB and 1 from VJ – all strong supporters of ID and unlikely to be critical and also sharing most of your assumptions.  The only one to the contrary was CS and he seized upon one small paragraph out of nearly 3000 words.

    To get specific and concrete, simply (a) look at the small infographic that lays out why arguments and worldviews have foundations, pointing to how alternatives can be inspected on comparative difficulties, and also (b) compare the description of three criteria a self evident truth must meet as a part of a reasonable foundation. Then, observe (c) a specific suggested case of a moral self evident truth.

    Do these remarks make sense to you, whether or no you differ? If no, why. If you differ, why in a nutshell.

    In a nutshell – I can’t make sense of your English both in your remarks in the comment and in the OP.  Some examples:

    “how alternatives can be inspected on comparative difficulties” . The verb inspect does not take the preposition on in standard English. I have no idea what this means. Nor do I understand what “comparative difficulties” are.

    “immediately recognised as true once one actually understands what is being asserted, in light of our conscious experience of the world (as in, no reasonable person would but recognise the reality that immediately recognised as true once one actually understands what is being asserted, in light of our conscious experience of the world (as in, no reasonable person would but recognise the reality that error exists))”. What does “in the light of our conscious experience of the world” mean?  Are you saying that we can observe it is true? We already discussed the difficulty with the phrase “error exists” – it appears you mean something more than “people make errors”, but you have never said what that more is.

    And so on….

    The problem may be due to a worldviews gap but the result is people don’t understand you.  If someone doesn’t understand you then there are two options – blame the reader for misunderstanding you or blame yourself for not being clear enough. I am simply suggesting a bit of more of the latter – short, clear sentences with supporting examples are ideal.

    We all fail to be understood from time to time. (It is very hard being clear and concise and I am no paragon). What matters is what you do when this results in questions or requests for clarification.

  96. Thomas Aquinas:

    Now a thing is said to be self-evident in two ways: first, in itself; secondly, in relation to us.

    Useless idea, and probably wrong.

    We mis-perceive things occasionally, what seems evident to us may be completely wrong. When I was in flight school the instructor would put me “under the hood”, that is I had to wear something that would only allow me to see my flight instruments and I couldn’t see out the window.

    He’d, have me close my eyes and then he’d slowly put me in very slight descending turn for about a minute, increasing the curve of the turn and steepness of the descent. The purpose was to make the change subtle enough that it was hard to tell exactly what was happening and to fool the body into thinking I was in straight and level flight….

    He then told me to open my eyes and flight to a certain heading and climb to certain altitude using only the instruments (I could not see out the window because my vision was blocked by the hood). I was “self-evidently” in level flight according to my sense of motion, but my instruments were saying I was on the wrong heading, in a turn, and descending. The first time he did this, I struggled to get the plane aright — this was because I was relying on my intuitive sense of motion, and I had to learn to reject my “self-evident” feeling that I was in straight and level flight when in fact I was spiraling toward a crash — quite deadly when flying in instrument conditions such as through thick clouds near the ground…..

    The presumption that we perceive the universe and things around us as “self-evident” is not always right, and sometimes wrong when it counts. Flying airplanes on “self-evident” feel and observing the retrograde motion in the planets leads to airplane crashes and construction of epicycles.

    Skepticism of what we deem “self-evident” is warranted, and in light of this, one has to question if Thomas Aquinas assertion has any utility since what really qualifies as “self-evident” is subject to debate.

    One example of “self-evident” is law of non contradiction. The problem with using law of non contradiction is whether the propositions are well-formed enough to make law of non-contradiction applicable. Gödel showed paradoxes where it was presumed propositions would be well stated enough to use the law of non contradiction, but it failed.

    Example: Is the following statement true? “in mathematical fields, the square root of each member exists in the field”

    Turns out, the question cannot be answered as true or false. The law of non-contradiction cannot be applied because the proposition is not sufficiently well formed. One can frequently argue then on how well a proposition is formed, and thus nullify the application of the law of non-contradiction.

    In regards to what Thomas Acquinas wrote, I just put forward some counter examples to his claim about “self-evident” truths. He presumes we perceive the world and things that relate to us correctly. That’s usually correct, but the times when it is not can be fatal (especially for pilots).

    How a thing is evident to itself is also seems questionable. Is a rock self evident to a rock? When you are dreaming is it self-evident you are dreaming? Again, Thomas assumes things can sense things correctly — that’s not a good assumption.

    Maybe it’s my Presbyterian exposure — I came from Francis Schaeffer’s denomination (Nancy Pearcy, an relatively well-known ID proponent is a Francis Schaeffer scholar) — maybe that’s where I started to become negative on Thomas Acquinas writings, even though at first I thought they were profound when I read them when I used to be Catholic. Now, I think they are right only to extent they accord with the Bible, but the rest, not so good and quite confused and full of unwarranted hasty generalizations and claims of universal truthfulness on pathetically small sample sizes.

  97. #94 TSErik

    Exactly. I’ve asked this, and to MF, before: Can one find a single society that has no concept of murder?

    I think the willful ignorance was displayed when MF suggested that it is not a remarkable coincidence, and that every society to have ever existed seemed to simply arrive at the same moral idea.

    Ignorance of what? I am not aware of any society that has no concept of murder (although there were plenty that approved acts of killing which we would call murder). The questions is why? You think it is because “killing is murder” is an objective truth which all societies have somehow recognised. I think it is because humans have evolved some common subjective moral standards. Just pointing to the fact it is universally accepted is not evidence for one view of the other.

  98. Mark Frank wrote:

    Just pointing to the fact it is universally accepted is not evidence for one view of the other.

    Agreed. Euclidean geometry was universally accepted as a “self-evident” immutable truth even when non-Euclidean geometries were blatantly in evidence (such as the 2D geometry on the surface of the sphere) — in such sphere-surface-based geometries we have spherical-triangles, sprherical-squares, and lot’s of other examples that violate what Euclid viewed as “self-evident” geometry.

  99. In matters of politics and civil law, we will be ruled either by tyrannical men or by universally-binding principles.

    Mark Frank

    This is clearly not true.

    My short cut description is not true because it did not include tyranny of the majority. However, if you include that element, then it is true. In other words, we will be ruled either by [a] principle, [b]tyranny of one or, [c] tyranny by majority or aristocracy.

  100. Ironic that the Plato cave allegory is used when trying to promote the notion of “self-evident” truths, when in fact Plato’s cave is a powerful criticism of the use of “self-evident” truths in favor of counter-intuitive truths.

    Questioning what is believed to be self-evident has lead to huge breakthroughs in understanding reality. In math and science, we often use the phrase “counter intuitive”. Equating what we intuitively believe to be true as some sort of universal self-evidence leads to the wrong conclusions like:

    1. geo centrism because the sun self-evidently rises in the east and sets in the west (HA!)

    2. purely classical physics where wave-particle duality can’t exist (a violation of non-contradiction), where all geometries must obey Euclidean principles

    3. all numbers must be rational and all numbers must be computable (describable) (HA!)

    4. in principle all math knowledge can proceed via logical deduction from a small set of axioms, we just need more logic (HA!)

    5. the universe is here to day, it was here yesterday, and the day before, etc. therefore it is eternal (HA!)

    A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, a great Jedi Master once said:

    Your eyes can deceive you, don’t trust them.

    Obi-wan Kenobi

  101. Scordova

    We mis-perceive things occasionally, what seems evident to us may be completely wrong. When I was in flight school the instructor would put me “under the hood”, that is I had to wear something that would only allow me to see my flight instruments and I couldn’t see out the window.

    He’d, have me close my eyes and then he’d slowly put me in very slight descending turn for about a minute, increasing the curve of the turn and steepness of the descent. The purpose was to make the change subtle enough that it was hard to tell exactly what was happening and to fool the body into thinking I was in straight and level flight….

    He then told me to open my eyes and flight to a certain heading and climb to certain altitude using only the instruments (I could not see out the window because my vision was blocked by the hood). I was “self-evidently” in level flight according to my sense of motion, but my instruments were saying I was on the wrong heading, in a turn, and descending. The first time he did this, I struggled to get the plane aright — this was because I was relying on my intuitive sense of motion, and I had to learn to reject my “self-evident” feeling that I was in straight and level flight when in fact I was spiraling toward a crash — quite deadly when flying in instrument conditions such as through thick clouds near the ground…..

    That you would use this example is a clear indication that you do not understand the principle.

    Maybe it’s my Presbyterian exposure — I came from Francis Schaeffer’s denomination (Nancy Pearcy, an relatively well-known ID proponent is a Francis Schaeffer scholar) — maybe that’s where I started to become negative on Thomas Acquinas writings, even though at first I thought they were profound when I read them when I used to be Catholic.

    Francis Schaeffer, for all his virtues, did not understand Aquinas, believing that the latter’s distinction of nature and grace constituted a separation of nature and grace. Normal Geisler and C.R. Sproul, two non-Catholics took Schaeffer to task for his error. So much so, that Schaeffer himself moderated his position.

  102. Scordova

    1. geo centrism because the sun self-evidently rises in the east and sets in the west (HA!)

    2. purely classical physics where wave-particle duality can’t exist (a violation of non-contradiction), where all geometries must obey Euclidean principles

    3. all numbers must be rational and all numbers must be computable (describable) (HA!)

    4. in principle all math knowledge can proceed via logical deduction from a small set of axioms, we just need more logic (HA!)

    5. the universe is here to day, it was here yesterday, and the day before, etc. therefore it is eternal (HA!)

    Again, these examples indicate that you do not understand first principles, which are not mathematical axioms or provisional scientific conclusions. Is it your goal to fill up cyberspace with irrelevancies?

  103. William J Murray

    The problem is that both forced, objective moral authority and subjectivist morality are the same thing in practice: might makes right, and can validate any moral abuse. The forefathers of the USA understood that while any particular religion must not wield the power of government by forcing sectarian views on the populace, moral subjectivism would equally lead to the downfall of the nation. In their writings they make this view explicit.

    Exactly right. Both Divine Command Theory and Moral Relativism end up in the same place—tyranny. Only the Natural Moral Law can provide the safeguard.

  104. That you would use this example is a clear indication that you do not understand the principle.

    On the contrary, you don’t understand that the claim is so ambiguous as to be useless and misleading. Schaeffer may have been wrong, but Thomas is even more wrong about his understanding of the world given what we know today.

    I know he is revered as a Catholic saint (I personally believe he is a saint in God’s book even though I’m protestant now), but for protestants that doesn’t give him special privilege over any other believer in Christ in understanding God’s truth.

    It seems in Catholic circles, his work is above criticism, that ID must be judged based on what Thomas says. Quite the opposite, Thomas writings should be judged on what has been articulated in ID literature, or for that matter modern science.

    His writings are needlessly wordy and mostly meaningless ambiguous longwinded essays and aren’t as rigorous in logic as they seem by today’s standards of rigor (like say Betrand Russell and Alfred Whitehead’s Principia). It doesn’t help the ID cause to appeal to Thomas Aquinas’ writings as if he were some authority above anyone else on how the world works. His ideas are obsolete and are useful mostly for historical purposes.

  105. SC:

    More to come later, I simply note that Euclidean geometry speaks to a planar space and in that context is quite valid, and the parallel lines postulate is valid as self evident. If you need, look at it by superposing an argand plane with origin at A of a triangle specifying the plane, then defining parallels using y = m*x + c. Our world of experience in the local suggests this space, int he large we cannot assume such a space, including spherical surfaces as a relevant space. Your adjustment to spherical triangle etc brings out the distinction.

    Also, if you look carefully at Plato, you will see that the freed man was able to accurately perceive the cheat, and to accurately perceive the truth outside the cave. (Thus we see the difference between specific even mass errors and general delusions.)

    The errors of the cave as portrayed were specific [set up misleading shadow shows], not general.

    Kindly look again at what a self-evident truth is.

    Aquinas was cited on a very particular point where he is manifestly right, expressed well and not as a blindly followed authority: a SET will be true in its own right, and we have to be in a position to understand it. In particular, one may not know enough to see it, or may be in a frame of mind that makes it very hard to see or accept. (Think here Jesus and his quite educated interlocuters in Jn 8:44 or thereabouts.)

    More later.

    BA:

    Thanks for thoughts. More later.

    MF:

    Sorry, two of the relevant parties were just as described and would not have lied to try to make me feel good — they could easily have ramained silent (which would have cost them nothing). I am inclined to believe that strong disagreement on your part may make that which should be clear appear hard to understand.

    Short note to be followed up.

    WJM:

    Yes, you are right, fear and resentment.

    I think the yardstick case on a morally self evident truth is absolutely pivotal, to force attention to the facts.
    ____________

    Pardon, more to come, I have to go.

    KF

  106. #99 SB

    My short cut description is not true because it did not include tyranny of the majority. However, if you include that element, then it is true. In other words, we will be ruled either by [a] principle, [b]tyranny of one or, [c] tyranny by majority or aristocracy.

    I am afraid the facts still do not support your case. The countries I listed include some that make the strongest provision for protection of minorities.

  107. I am not aware of any society that has no concept of murder (although there were plenty that approved acts of killing which we would call murder

    Your parenthetical statement certainly elicits emotional response, yet means nothing to the argument.

    Let us try some analogies.

    A group of people are walking in the forest and see a flower. One person says, “This flower is blue.” Another responds classifying the flower as “aqua”. Another says it is more of a “teal” color. The point is, while the exact hue of the flower is relative to the observer, there is indeed a flower and it has color that is represented on a very specific wavelength of light.

    So too, this concept is applied to the concept of murder. All societies have a concept of murder. There is relativism in how societies address murder as it relates to the bias of the observer, but the concept of murder certainly is innate. Your comment that certain societies have behaved in a way in which we would call murderous, means nothing as those societies still have a concept OF murder.

    In order to advance your position, you must find a society that has no concept, at all, of murder. One with a relativist worldview should expect to find such a society. Surely you would at least concede it an anomaly in the relativist worldview that through all the walks of humanity, this concept is prevalent in every one.

    It is, as far as I see it, willfully ignorant to stare in the face of an objective moral principle (the existence of murder)and say no objective morality exists.

  108. Kindly look again at what a self-evident truth is.

    I do not believe humans have access to self-evident truths, only the grace of God can ultimately reveal and correct the deceptive human heart, not some philosophical procedures of first principles. God can use our corrupted perceptions to lead us to the truth, but the presumption that we can self-perceive reality correctly on our own seems contrary to what the Bible teaches.

    Hence, ironically, I’ve been taking the Darwinist side of this discussion in regards to what is morally self-evident or what is self-evident in general — but I do so not because I’m a materialist, but because I believe, as the Bible teaches:

    The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick;

    Jeremiah 17:9

    And if I may offer another criticism. I’m quite happy to offer defense of ID from a very small set of pre-suppostions ( from math, logic, scientific method) without invoking the presupposition of God and the Bible (especially since many ID proponents don’t share my view of the Bible).

    The Bible teaches God’s creative work and his wrath are plainly seen. Meaning we don’t have to work from exactly the right set of presuppositions to perceive ID and even the malicious ID of God’s wrath, any more than we need the right set of presuppositions to conclude if we stand in the middle of busy interstate highway, we’d get run over!

    18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,[g] in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

    Romans 1

    But if we are going to talk about morality, I will not work from the same set of presuppositions that I use to defend ID. Morality and ID are best defended on different sets of presuppositions.

    For question of morality, I work from the Bible, because, it would seem we cannot deduce morality from evidence in hand like we do ID from the evidence in hand. We need access to the Designer of life himself to tell us right and wrong. Whether the Designer is the God of the Bible is subject to debate and is not universally accepted by all, but if one professes Christ, I think one would be trying to argue morality from the Bible versus Plato and Thomas Aquinas or for that matter what any mere man has to say on the subject.

    For non-Bible believers, there is no point in appealing to the Bible as an authority.

    You’re trying to argue morality from outside the Bible. God teaches we do have some intuition of right and wrong — Jesus said even evil parents know how to give good gifts to their children — but the Bible teaches we cannot ultimately know right from wrong without him.

    You’re trying to argue morality is evident outside the Bible, I can only say it is approximately evident, and ironically, I’m agreeing with the Darwinists about the failure of intuition to give us ultimate answers, but I take their side for different reasons.

    I believe the Law Giver himself, not our philosophical procedures developed by our corrupted fallen understanding of the world, is the correct guide to what is right and wrong.

    Trying to go about describing absolute right and wrong the way you, StephenB, WJM are doing it, I can’t completely endorse, even though we obviously share similar conclusions of what actually is right and wrong, your inferential methods I can’t agree with. Sorry.

    If one is a believer in the Bible one gets his standards of morality from what is written, if one is not a believer in the Bible he’ll have to construct it by some other means.

    In some of the churches I attended many years ago, there were those who were going to the mission field. One of them was Heather Mercer who was captured by the Taliban and sentenced to death because she healed the eyes of baby by praying in the name of Jesus. The Army Ranger’s rescued her. [She was that unnamed girl that was mentioned in the article in the April 28, 2005 edition of Nature that described how I came accepted ID.]

    At that time, I wrestled whether it was moral to encourage missionaries to go to the mission field and possibly to their death. Self-evident truth procedures will not answer this question. It will not answer the question whether Christian parents in the time of Nero should renounce Christ by the simple act of burning incense and thus spare their children from the lions.

    Yet, the Bible teaches to suffer for Christ is one of the highest moral things that can be done. The procedures you outline will not arrive at this kind of morality, and hence, I’m sorry, I can’t endorse your outlined procedure, and thus I’ve been highly critical of it even though I’m not a Darwinist nor materialist.

  109. Slightly off-topic:

    Regarding Euclidean and non-Euclidean geometries, it is easy to show, in my opinion, that neither are correct since they both assume the existence of the infinitely smooth line, i.e., of continuity, a bogus concept. This is why Pi is an irrational number. All the paradoxes and contradictions of Euclidean geometry instantly disappear as soon as one realizes that everything is discrete. The universe can thus be seen as the discrete lattice that it always was. Thus, at the macroscopic level, normal Euclidean geometry works fine to an acceptable approximation while non-Euclidean geometry is plainly bogus.

  110. Scordova

    On the contrary, you don’t understand that the claim is so ambiguous as to be useless and misleading. Schaeffer may have been wrong, but Thomas is even more wrong about his understanding of the world given what we know today.

    The point is that misperceiving elements of observation [your example] has absolutely nothing to do with self-evident first principles. Also, the Law of Non-Contradiction is not related to the time or era in which it is applied.

    I know he [Aquinas] is revered as a Catholic saint (I personally believe he is a saint in God’s book even though I’m protestant now), but for protestants that doesn’t give him special privilege over any other believer in Christ in understanding God’s truth.

    Normal Geisler, a non-Catholic, is a Thomist.

    It seems in Catholic circles, his work is above criticism, that ID must be judged based on what Thomas says. Quite the opposite, Thomas writings should be judged on what has been articulated in ID literature, or for that matter modern science.

    Any Catholic who thinks that Thomism should override evidence is no Thomist, even though he may call himself by that name. St. Thomas would be the last person to say that we should deny empirical evidence.

    His writings are needlessly wordy and mostly meaningless ambiguous longwinded essays and aren’t as rigorous in logic as they seem by today’s standards of rigor (like say Betrand Russell and Alfred Whitehead’s Principia).

    I can use Thomism to refute many of Bertrand Russell’s errors, and I doubt that Aquinas ever wasted a word. I don’t think Russell’s rigor was any match for Aquinas. Recall Russell’s famous question, “Who made God?” That is the equivalent of saying, “What caused the uncaused cause?

    It doesn’t help the ID cause to appeal to Thomas Aquinas’ writings as if he were some authority above anyone else on how the world works. His ideas are obsolete and are useful mostly for historical purposes.

    Most of Aquinas’ observations are timeless. That is why he is so important.

  111. MF,

    I have to take stuff in bites just now.

    A couple.

    “Comparative difficulties” is a term for a fundamental philosophical approach that evaluates alternatives in light of the difficulties they face WRT factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory power. If you look at the infographic I gave, you will see it identified relative to sets of first plausible views F1, F2, etc. We live in a common world and have diverse views, so we need to choose by comparing difficulties, in a context where no major view is without difficulties. (And, if the answers are easy, it’s not philosophy.)

    Second, please remember I am Jamaican and may sometimes slip into Jamaican patterns of thought and speech. I doubt “on” makes much difference concerning substantial meaning. Back on the point, we have alternative views, and we may need to inspect them and their consequences in regards to comparing difficulties with factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory power.

    This is in a context that when we start with some claim or belief A, we may ask, why accept it? There is going to be some reason which can be given, B. B might be that it is inferential, or that it is non-inferential. For instance, that I am conscious is incorrigible and self evident. In the case of something held because we accept B, a further claim, we repeat and are at C, D . . .

    Thus, we face the alternatives in the info graphic: infinite regress, circularity, or a set of first plausible beliefs etc. Infinite steps cannot be traversed one after the other, so we could not somehow count back down to A from infinity. Circularity boils down to question-begging.

    That leaves halting at a set of first plausibles, for short. To avoid begging questions, we then compare in regard to difficulties. That is, we decide which sets of difficulties we are willing to live with, in light of having examined live options.

    Next, we can see that some such first plausible claims, can be self-evident. They are not proved . . . we are at halting point. We see that — once we understand them as conscious, thinking, experienced creatures in our common world, they are true. They are not only true, but to try to deny them, ends in absurdities. For instance, to reject 2 + 3 = 5, will very rapidly show itself absurd, patently absurd. (And, if we need an abstruse, elaborate process of reasoning to arrive at a reductio, we may well rightly say something is analytically true but it would not be appropriate to claim that it is self-evident, as the basic meaning of the very term “evident” suggests. That the diagonals and side of a square are incommensurate can be satisfactorily shown but it is most definitely not self evident.)

    In the case of moral self evident truths, the case as repeatedly given will show how recognition of self evidence arises from our conscious, intuitive insight into the value of a human being:

    MORAL YARDSTICK 1: it is Self-Evidently True that it would be wrong to kidnap, torture, rape and murder a child. With corollary, that if such is in progress we are duty-bound to intervene to save the child from the monster.

    To see the contrast, imagine that someone does similar acts to an anatomically correct doll. We would infer that something is wrong psychologically with such a person, but we would not find ourselves responding so sharply.

    Where, also, I am highlighting that to write off conscience and its compass needle pointing to ought as generally delusional opens up the onward issue that the whole province of mind would be subject to the same dismissal. Which brings us right back to WJM’s point:

    If you do not [acknowledge] the law of non-contradiction, you have nothing to argue about. If you do not [admit] the principles of sound reason, you have nothing to argue with. If you do not [recognise] libertarian free will, you have no one to argue against. If you do not [accept] morality to be an objective commodity, you have no reason to argue in the first place.

    Moretime . . .

    KF

  112. 112
    CentralScrutinizer

    Sal @ 108

    Excellent post

  113. SC (and Mapou):

    I think I should take up matters Euclidean, noting that the properties of an abstract space may be logically valid and even sound on reasonable axioms without having to imply full applicability to our particular physical reality. All we need is a possible world.

    Here are some thoughts from elsewhere (onlookers, now you know why such things are included here on! . . . ), that get us to a continuum, to space and to Euclid’s fifth postulate as self evident in its proper context:
    _______________

    >> Now, for argument consider an empty world. To see how numbers are real in such, consider the well-known empty set, which collects nothing: { }. Then, consider — all of this is a mental, abstract exercise — the following steps:

    i: Assign { } the symbol, 0: { } –> 0

    ii: collect 0 as the sole member of the set 1: { 0 } –> 1

    iii: Similarly, collect to get 2: { 0, 1 } –> 2. The number 2 thus exists without a beginning or cause, nor can it cease from being — it is a necessary being. We cannot create a possible world in which 2 would not exist, given the abstract steps so far!

    iv: This recognition of the reality of numbers can continue indefinitely to yield the Natural Numbers, N.

    *************

    v: For the more mathematically inclined (fair warning . . . !), this can be extended by defining fractions and decimals to express Real and Complex numbers, by setting any real number as being a composite, WHOLE + FRACTION, where:

    Fraction = 0 + b1/10 + b2/100 + b3/1,000 + . . .

    . . . so that we get say 19.79 etc with the usual meanings, and where also we define a complex number c = p + i*q, i being the square root of minus 1 (very useful in Math) and p and q are real numbers. So we can have the complex number 1.978 + i*19.79. And, as we can see that for any neighbouring points defined on such whole + fraction terms, we can always extend to a number between them, by adding in more terms, i.e. we have here defined a continuum, the Real Numbers (taking in the negatives as simply the reversal of the positives such that x + [-x] = 0).

    [--> say, P = WHOLE.p1 p2 . . . pj pk pl pm . . .

    and a larger number

    Q = WHOLE.p1 p2 . . . qj qk ql qm . . .

    We can always define a number between them by doing a -- correction -- average:

    R = Q = WHOLE.p1 p2 . . . rj rk rl rm . . .

    This means the decimal number series can be used to in principle represent a continuum]

    vi: Now i*q is often assigned to a Y-axis and p the X-axis, so that p and i*q can be plotted on the Argand plane. We can then draw a vector r from the origin, to the point defined by the co-ordinates. Then, angles made by such a vector can then be defined relative to the X-axis from the usual trig ratios, and rotations can be defined, introducing time, t. By Pythagoras’ theorem, of course r^2 = p^2 + q^2, defining the magnitude (length) of r. BTW, a rotating vector is called a phasor.

    vii: Similarly, we can extend to three dimensions [using the i, j, k unit vectors along x, y and z axes], and allow a virtual particle p — notice, we are now in the world of contingent possibilities — to traverse on set coherent laws of motion, including introducing mass, force, momentum, energy etc. in what is now a virtual model world.

    viii: Bodies in such a world would be collections of linked particles, even as geometrical figures are clusters of linked points.

    ix: We now have a three dimensional virtual reality with a physics! (Computer graphics uses techniques related to this outline sketch.)

    x: This can then move to the or a real world by instantiation. This would of course require a creator with the skill, knowledge, intent and power to move from virtual worlds to actual ones.

    xi: As a corollary, it is worth noting on the parallel lines postulate of Euclidean Geometry. It is often said that the fact of non-Euclidean Geometry renders moot the idea that parallel lines never meet, which is equivalent to the angle sun triangle assertion that the sum of the three angles is 180 degrees of arc. Just look on how triangles on Earth’s surface can sum to a different value, and how parallels of longitude converge at the poles:

    [3-d image of a globe with lines of longitudeconverging at the N Pole]

    xii: But, a subtlety lurks. Parallel lines lie in a flat plane, as is specified by the vertices of a triangle, say ABC. (Such a plane can be set up algebraically using the Argand plane, with origin at say vertex A and 0X axis along the line AB, so we can define a vector of arbitrary length r pivoting from A within the plane and rotate it to sweep the plane, guaranteed to be flat by the mathematics involved. And with a spot of thought, this can be extended to the three-dimensional case.)

    xiii: Within the plane, straight lines can be specified by the usual expression y = m*x + c, and for a given m, the slopes will be the same for a family of lines with a range of values of c, say c0, c1, c2, . . . cn. These lines will be parallel, separated by the fact that 0Y-intercept is c and oX-intercept will be -c/m. The triangle between the origin, the 0Y and 0X intercepts will specify that the triangles for c0, c1 etc are similar, and the lines for two different values ci and cj will have a guaranteed separation linked to the value of cj – ci at any given point along the lines.

    xiv: That is, within a Euclidean, planar space, parallel lines indeed will never meet. Spaces where this fails are not planar. Hence the following from Wolfram Math World:

    In three dimensions, there are three classes of constant curvature geometries. All are based on the first four of Euclid’s postulates, but each uses its own version of the parallel postulate. The “flat” geometry of everyday intuition is called Euclidean geometry (or parabolic geometry), and the non-Euclidean geometries are called hyperbolic geometry (or Lobachevsky-Bolyai-Gauss geometry) and elliptic geometry (or Riemannian geometry). Spherical geometry is a non-Euclidean two-dimensional geometry. It was not until 1868 that Beltrami proved that non-Euclidean geometries were as logically consistent as Euclidean geometry.

    xv: So, equidistant straight lines in the same flat plane will be at the same separation anywhere. That is locked into what parallel means in this context — and to shift from such a world without notice is a case of equivocation, i.e. there has been a subtle shift in the meaning of triangle and parallel.

    xvi: In other words, the dismissive assertion that this fifth Euclidean postulate does not hold (as was used to create non-Euclidean Geometries) is equivalent to leaving such a space, e.g. cf. a “triangle” on the curved surface of the earth. The problem was that evidently such spaces had not been thought through as possible. Where also of course, post Relativity, whether the world we live in in the large scale is Euclidean is doubtful, but in the small scale it is sufficiently close that it suggested the idea of such a space.

    xvii: This little excursus shows us how the astonishing relevance and power of Mathematics in analysing the physical world can be easily explained on the use of such mathematics as the means of contemplating and creating the world, by God. Again, God is the best candidate explanation of a world in which mathematics (necessarily including logic) shows such astonishing power. >>
    ________________

    I hope that helps us come to a more balanced, more nuanced view.

    KF

  114. CentralScrutinizer @112:

    Sal @ 108

    Excellent post

    I agree.

  115. Scordova

    I do not believe humans have access to self-evident truths, only the grace of God can ultimately reveal and correct the deceptive human heart, not some philosophical procedures of first principles.

    The “heart,” as it is used in the Bible, is not synonymous with the intellect.

    God can use our corrupted perceptions to lead us to the truth, but the presumption that we can self-perceive reality correctly on our own seems contrary to what the Bible teaches.

    Romans 1:20 teaches that we can know God’s existence through his creation? The whole point of saying “they are without excuse” is to show that God has revealed himself in nature in a way that requires no faith. Faith is for those things which cannot be known, such as the plan for salvation or the Trinity or other truths that the mind cannot arrive at without help.

    Hence, ironically, I’ve been taking the Darwinist side of this discussion in regards to what is morally self-evident or what is self-evident in general — but I do so not because I’m a materialist, but because I believe, as the Bible teaches:

    It isn’t ironic at all. Your anti-Biblical fideism places you in the same epistemological camp as the agnostics. The Bible encourages the use of reason. “Come let is reason together saith the Lord.”

    And if I may offer another criticism. I’m quite happy to offer defense of ID from a very small set of pre-suppostions ( from math, logic, scientific method) without invoking the presupposition of God and the Bible (especially since many ID proponents don’t share my view of the Bible).

    That isn’t a criticism, it is a strawman. We all agree with it. The discussion about self-evident truths is distinct from (though indirectly related to)Id science. I, nor any other ID advocate that I know of, argues ID science on the basis of self evident truths.

    The Bible teaches God’s creative work and his wrath are plainly seen.

    It says much more than that. Reread the passage. It isn’t just God’s creative work that is evident. It is God that is evident through them. [The invisible is made evident by what is visible]

    Meaning we don’t have to work from exactly the right set of presuppositions to perceive ID and even the malicious ID of God’s wrath, any more than we need the right set of presuppositions to conclude if we stand in the middle of busy interstate highway, we’d get run over!

    If you are referring to Romans 1:20, you are right. We don’t need faith to apprehend what we can know naturally. That passage explicitly tells us that we should not be fideists.

    For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,[g] in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

    You are preaching to the choir. I already know what that passage means. I am trying to get you to understand it. Men can use their reason to apprehend the existence of God and his Natural Moral Law. That is why those who refuse to accept the testimony of their senses “are without excuse.” If knowing God or morality depended solely on faith, then anyone who didn’t have that gift would, indeed, have an excuse.

    For question of morality, I work from the Bible, because, it would seem we cannot deduce morality from evidence in hand like we do ID from the evidence in hand.

    Romans 1-20 also argues for the natural moral law. It says that both God and his natural moral law are evident in the universe. If you argue against the natural moral law, you are arguing against the Bible.

    For non-Bible believers, there is no point in appealing to the Bible as an authority.

    That is why we argue from the natural moral law.

    God teaches we do have some intuition of right and wrong — Jesus said even evil parents know how to give good gifts to their children —

    Thank you.

    but the Bible teaches we cannot ultimately know right from wrong without him.

    That is a bit tricky. We can know basic right and wrong without him (which is all that we are saying) but you cannot know the finer parts of advanced morality (the importance of having the right intention or loving our enemies. That requires Christian input.

    You’re trying to argue morality is evident outside the Bible, I can only say it is approximately evident, and ironically, I’m agreeing with the Darwinists about the failure of intuition to give us ultimate answers, but I take their side for different reasons.

    No, we are arguing, in effect, that most (not all) of the morality in Ten Commandments can be known without the Bible, but the morality in the Sermon on the Mount cannot be known without the Bible.

  116. God teaches we do have some intuition of right and wrong — Jesus said even evil parents know how to give good gifts to their children —

    Thank you.

    but the Bible teaches we cannot ultimately know right from wrong without him.

    That is a bit tricky. We can know basic right and wrong without him (which is all that we are saying) but you cannot know the finer parts of advanced morality (the importance of having the right intention or loving our enemies. That requires Christian input.

    You’re trying to argue morality is evident outside the Bible, I can only say it is approximately evident, and ironically, I’m agreeing with the Darwinists about the failure of intuition to give us ultimate answers, but I take their side for different reasons.

    No, we are arguing, in effect, that most (not all) of the morality in Ten Commandments can be known without the Bible, but the morality in the Sermon on the Mount cannot be known without the Bible.

  117. TSErik #107

    In order to advance your position, you must find a society that has no concept, at all, of murder. One with a relativist worldview should expect to find such a society.

    Why? I don’t expect to find a society that likes the smell of [nope- not on my watch, shame on you!] – yet that is an entirely subjective response.

  118. KF

    “Comparative difficulties” is a term for a fundamental philosophical approach that evaluates alternatives in light of the difficulties they face WRT factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory power. If you look at the infographic I gave, you will see it identified relative to sets of first plausible views F1, F2, etc. We live in a common world and have diverse views, so we need to choose by comparing difficulties, in a context where no major view is without difficulties. (And, if the answers are easy, it’s not philosophy.)

    Well now you have explained it – I can understand what you were trying to say.

    Second, please remember I am Jamaican and may sometimes slip into Jamaican patterns of thought and speech. I doubt “on” makes much difference concerning substantial meaning.

    As I said it is completely understandable that you may write things that others do not understand for many reasons. It is your reaction when they ask questions or explain they do not understand which I find not very constructive.

    Back on the point, we have alternative views, and we may need to inspect them and their consequences in regards to comparing difficulties with factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory power.

    OK. Now we are moving away from the difficulty of understanding you to discussing the subject. Fair enough.

    This is in a context that when we start with some claim or belief A, we may ask, why accept it? There is going to be some reason which can be given, B. B might be that it is inferential, or that it is non-inferential. For instance, that I am conscious is incorrigible and self evident. In the case of something held because we accept B, a further claim, we repeat and are at C, D . . .

    Thus, we face the alternatives in the info graphic: infinite regress, circularity, or a set of first plausible beliefs etc. Infinite steps cannot be traversed one after the other, so we could not somehow count back down to A from infinity. Circularity boils down to question-begging.

    That leaves halting at a set of first plausibles, for short. To avoid begging questions, we then compare in regard to difficulties. That is, we decide which sets of difficulties we are willing to live with, in light of having examined live options.

    This seems a rather long-winded way of saying that you can’t keep answering “why” for ever. At some point you just have to say “that’s the way it is”. I accept that.

    Next, we can see that some such first plausible claims, can be self-evident. They are not proved . . . we are at halting point. We see that — once we understand them as conscious, thinking, experienced creatures in our common world, they are true. They are not only true, but to try to deny them, ends in absurdities. For instance, to reject 2 + 3 = 5, will very rapidly show itself absurd, patently absurd. (And, if we need an abstruse, elaborate process of reasoning to arrive at a reductio, we may well rightly say something is analytically true but it would not be appropriate to claim that it is self-evident, as the basic meaning of the very term “evident” suggests. That the diagonals and side of a square are incommensurate can be satisfactorily shown but it is most definitely not self evident.)

    We have been over this territory before.You propose two criteria that must both be present for self-evident propositions:

    1) If we understand them then we immediately know they are true.

    2) If we deny them they lead to absurdity.

    I have concerns with both of them.

    With respect to (1)

    * There are many propositions that will be self-evident to one person but may not be to another even if they both understand it. For example, it is not immediately apparent to me that 25+17=42 but to a better mathematician it may be immediately apparent. There comes a stage in some children’s development where they understand addition but even as simple a sum as 2+2=4 is not immediately known to be true. Ironically you have proposed a relativist criterion!

    * The criterion applies to propositions which are subjective judgements as well as objective e.g. [snip -- language] smells awful.

    With respect to (2)

    * What kind of absurdity? Absurd can mean many things.
     

    In the case of moral self evident truths, the case as repeatedly given will show how recognition of self evidence arises from our conscious, intuitive insight into the value of a human being:

    MORAL YARDSTICK 1: it is Self-Evidently True that it would be wrong to kidnap, torture, rape and murder a child. With corollary, that if such is in progress we are duty-bound to intervene to save the child from the monster.

    What does this mean beyond the fact we all acknowledge that pretty much everyone (but not included the murderers of Jamie Bulger) accepts this as true?

    Where, also, I am highlighting that to write off conscience and its compass needle pointing to ought as generally delusional opens up the onward issue that the whole province of mind would be subject to the same dismissal.

    Lost me there …… I don’t understand what you mean.

     

    Which brings us right back to WJM’s point:

    If you do not [acknowledge] the law of non-contradiction, you have nothing to argue about. If you do not [admit] the principles of sound reason, you have nothing to argue with. If you do not [recognise] libertarian free will, you have no one to argue against. If you do not [accept] morality to be an objective commodity, you have no reason to argue in the first place.

    Moretime . . .

    Well we never got onto criterion 2!

  119. footnote to post 91:

    Of related note

    A caring, loving, touch from the baby towards the mother’s uterine wall is found very early in a baby’s development:

    Wired to Be Social: The Ontogeny of Human Interaction – 2010
    Excerpt: Kinematic analysis revealed that movement duration was longer and deceleration time was prolonged for other-directed movements compared to movements directed towards the uterine wall. Similar kinematic profiles were observed for movements directed towards the co-twin and self-directed movements aimed at the eye-region, i.e. the most delicate region of the body.
    http://www.plosone.org/article.....ne.0013199

    Twins also display inordinate love towards each other very early in their development:

    Twin fetuses learn how to be social in the womb – October 13, 2010
    Excerpt: Humans have a deep-seated urge to be social, and new research on the interactions of twins in the womb suggests this begins even before babies are born.,,,
    The five pairs of twins were found to be reaching for each other even at 14 weeks, and making a range of contacts including head to head, arm to head and head to arm. By the time they were at 18 weeks, they touched each other more often than they touched their own bodies, spending up to 30 percent of their time reaching out and stroking their co-twin.,,,
    Kinematic analyses of the recordings showed the fetuses made distinct gestures when touching each other, and movements lasted longer — their hands lingered. They also took as much care when touching their twin’s delicate eye region as they did with their own. This type of contact was not the same as the inevitable contact between two bodies sharing a confined space or accidental contacts between the bodies and the walls of the uterus,,,
    The findings clearly demonstrate it is deep within human nature to reach out to other people.
    http://phys.org/news/206164323.....-womb.html

    Of related note: Twins are fairly well known for having a ‘spooky’ bond with each other throughout their lives:

    (Spooky) Stories from and about other twins
    Excerpt: When I was 15 years old I had to have an operation on my tummy, which she (my twin) didn’t know about; when my mum called her from the hospital she had the pain too. She had the same operation exactly a year after I had mine and I felt her pain too. We always know when the other is in trouble or hurt and she’s the best friend that anyone could have.
    http://twinsrealm.com/othr_txt.html

    Dr. Raymond Moody, in his book ‘Glimpses Of Eternity’, has an example of twins who, even though the twins were separated by miles when one of the twins died, ‘shared’ a deep Near Death Experience.

    Glimpses of Eternity (Shared Death Experiences) by Raymond Moody
    http://www.amazon.com/Glimpses.....0824948130

    This “Shared Death Experience’ phenomena holds for people who, though they are not twins, none-the-less have a deep loving, life-long, relationship with each other:

    Dr.Raymond Moody on Shared Death Experiences – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-ihzzYjqeE

  120. SC:

    before moving on for now, a SET.

    Rocks of course have no dreams. They cannot be deluded that they are conscious.

    So also, even if we were to be grossly mistaken as to our circumstances (in the diagram I have used, brains in a vat), we cannot be deluded that we are conscious.

    This is incorrigible, true and self-evident.

    Where also, Rom 1 rebukes men for suppressing truth they know or should know; which is why they are without excuse.

    You may want to look back here at a little discussion of SETs, including the first principles of right reason. Where, too, I am by no means suggesting that SETs can constitute a worldview as a whole. Far from it.

    But, plumblines, squares and levels are important in building without exhausting the tools and materials used.

    KF

  121. I will have one more go at the question: How do we know objective morality when we see it ? If 2 people disagree on some moral issue, how do we know which one (if either) is informed by the ‘higher law’ ?

    No one seems to be able to answer this, yet objective morality is right at the core of all these discussions.

  122. kairosfocus @113,

    I’m sorry to say that you are deluding yourself, just as mathematicians have done for centuries, thereby severely retarding progress in the sciences.

    Anything that includes infinity in its definition is illogical for the simple reason that it leads to an infinite regress. The problem with infinity is that it cannot be compared to any finite number without introducing a contradiction.

    Why?

    Answer: Since infinity is infinitely greater than any finite number, it follows that a finite number is infinitely smaller than infinity. The contradiction should be obvious: a number cannot be both finite and infinite at the same time.

    PS. Yes, I realize that Christians and others maintain that God’s power and knowledge are infinite. To that I say, phooey! And yes, I am a Christian. This is the end of my arguments on this topic. Take it away.

  123. MF: Just a couple notes, one cf the infographic which I in effect cited. Also, there are indeed SET’s that some people do not understand — a point Aquinas made as cited in the OP; it is not new. Where also the species of PATENT absurdity resulting from rejecting a SET depends on the particular case. Gone again. KF

  124. I’m sorry to say that you are deluding yourself, just as mathematicians have done for centuries, thereby severely retarding progress in the sciences.

    This must be one of the most absurd sentences which I have read here at Uncommon Descent…

  125. Why? I don’t expect to find a society that likes the smell of [deleted - not on my watch] – yet that is an entirely subjective response.

    You show again either that you aren’t grasping the concept or you are intentionally being obtuse.

    This analogy isn’t congruous to the argument. The interpretation of the present and innate moral principle is not the same as the universal existence of said principle.

    To use your rather crude example: the subjective reactions to the smell of your [snip] doesn’t alter it’s existence.

  126. DiEb @124,

    And your opinion matters to me because of what again? I must have missed that part.

  127. I’d like to broaden Graham2′s question ” How do we know objective morality when we see it ? ” a little bit:

    Is there any possibility to differentiate the results of the existence of a universal moral truth and the absence of it, i.e., morality by consensus? (That is here on Earth, of course)

    To me it seems that history and societies can be explained equally well under both assumptions.

  128. @Mapour: my opinion doesn’t matter to you at all, I just made a a statement which is probably shared by many contributors and “onlookers”.

    But please, enlighten (or at least amuse) me, how did Newton and his ideas retarded the progress of science?

  129. This must be one of the most absurd sentences which I have read here at Uncommon Descent…

    Not a regular reader of Uncommon Descent, then, DiEb! ;)

  130. DiEb, you and your kind can kiss my asteroid and wallow in your ignorance, for all I care. How about that? :-D

  131. If 2 people disagree on some moral issue, how do we know which one (if either) is informed by the ‘higher law’ ?

    It’ll be the one wearing the cardinal’s hat carrying the thumbscrew!

  132. DiEb, you and your kind can kiss my asteroid and wallow in your ignorance, for all I care. How about that?

    Lack of empathy may indicate some underlying mental issue there, Louis.

  133. Scordova

    At that time, I wrestled whether it was moral to encourage missionaries to go to the mission field and possibly to their death. Self-evident truth procedures will not answer this question. It will not answer the question whether Christian parents in the time of Nero should renounce Christ by the simple act of burning incense and thus spare their children from the lions.

    The self-evident truths from which we reason are not the same things as the reasoning processes by which we draw conclusions. On the basis of truths inherent in the The Natural Moral Law, we can reason our way to other truths in keeping with that principle (the conditions for a just war). Using my parenthetical example, the conditions for a just war are not self-evident, but they can be arrived at through the application of Biblical principles, reason, and the natural moral law. These three intellectual resources can be integrated because each is compatible with and can be illuminated by the other. To suggest, then, that one can arrive at a sound moral decision by simply appealing to a self-evident truth, or that we are recommending anything of the kind, is, once again, to misunderstand the principles involved.

    Yet, the Bible teaches to suffer for Christ is one of the highest moral things that can be done.

    Of course, and acts that rise to that level of nobility are beyond the scope of the Natural Moral Law. No one has ever said that all of morality is reflected in nature.

    The procedures you outline will not arrive at this kind of morality, and hence, I’m sorry, I can’t endorse your outlined procedure, and thus I’ve been highly critical of it even though I’m not a Darwinist nor materialist.

    The question is this: Will you agree or disagree with our position (it is not an “outlined procedure”) once you come to understand it?

  134. Lack of empathy may indicate some underlying mental issue there, Louis.

    Absolutely. I never said I was sane. But my experience is that those who can see mental disorders in others are themselves crazy. :-D

    But then again, in an insane world, only the fruitcakes and the rebellious make any kind of sense.

  135. Is there any possibility to differentiate the results of the existence of a universal moral truth and the absence of it, i.e., morality by consensus? (That is here on Earth, of course)

    To me it seems that history and societies can be explained equally well under both assumptions.

    I’m not sure I totally agree. I think we can extrapolate from the ability and ingenuity of people (L Ron Hubbard,Joseph Smith) to make stuff up now, to that people have always made up and enjoyed listening to stories. No further explanation is necessary for all “moral truths”. You need some kind of supernatural or transcendent process for the appearance of an absolute moral truth. It’s less parsimonious.

    What happened to those tablets?

  136. Oh hi there, StephenB! Did you ever get round to explaining the concept of abstract reality?

  137. #125 TSErik

    OK let’s keep it simple.

    You said:

    In order to advance your position, you must find a society that has no concept, at all, of murder. One with a relativist worldview should expect to find such a society.

    I am asking why as a relativist must I find such a society. Maybe everyone subjectively agrees on a concept of murder.

    (If your response is to tell me that it shows I don’t understand the concept then perhaps a better explanation is in order.)

  138. To KF/SB et al: Could you answer my question at #121 ?

  139. StephenB describes me:

    Your anti-Biblical fideism places you in the same epistemological camp as the agnostics

    There you go again, making stuff about me that isn’t true. Where did I ever say, “I’m an anti-Biblical fideist”? Feel free to produce such a quote or some equivalent quote for the readers. You won’t, because you’re just making stuff up, just as you did when you claimed I accused God of being unjust. That’s two fabrications about me you’ve made in one discussions. Not cool.

    StephenB describes me:

    Your anti-Biblical fideism places you in the same epistemological camp as the agnostics

    There you go again, making stuff about me that isn’t true. Where did I ever say, “I’m an anti-Biblical fideist”? Feel free to produce such a quote or some equivalent quote for the readers. You won’t, because you’re just making stuff up, just as you did when you claimed I accused God of being unjust. That’s two fabrications about me you’ve made in one discussions. Not cool.

    That’s especially ironic given that I appealed to the Bible more in this discussion than you, whereas you’ve appealed to whatever…

  140. Graham 2

    I will have one more go at the question: How do we know objective morality when we see it ?

    You know it by its proper fit with human nature. If it promotes what is good for our nature, then it is objectively good; if it promotes what is bad for our nature, then it is objectively bad. If there is no such thing as human nature, then there can be no such thing as objective morality.

    If 2 people disagree on some moral issue, how do we know which one (if either) is informed by the ‘higher law’ ?

    Same answer as above.

  141. SB: You know it by its proper fit with human nature That doesnt answer the question at all. The whole point of the question is that different people have a different view on moral questions, ie: they have a different view of its ‘fit with human nature’. Thats precisely the point of the question.

    If we all had identical views on ‘fit with human nature’ we wouldnt have any problems, but this obviously isnt the case.

    You mave merely expressed the question in different words. I harp on about this because these threads bang on endlessly about some ‘higer law’ but this concept is completely meaningless unless we can recognize it when we see it.

  142. Scordova

    There you go again, making stuff about me that isn’t true. Where did I ever say, “I’m an anti-Biblical fideist”?

    “Plantinga defines “fideism” as “the exclusive or basic reliance upon faith alone, accompanied by a consequent disparagement of reason and utilized especially in the pursuit of philosophical or religious truth.” The fideist therefore “urges reliance on faith rather than reason, in matters philosophical and religious,” and therefore may go on to disparage the claims of reason.”

    You are a fideist. Fideism is anti-Biblical. In my posts, I am implicitly arguing against your fideism. You are not responding except to complain that I called you a fideist.

    Please respond to my arguments and stop trying to play the victim. You wrote a lot of words and I invested a lot of words in response.

  143. G2:

    If there is no ‘objective morality’, in some cultures they may prefer to eat their neighbors while some others don’t, do you have a preference one way or the other in determining what is not a proper fit for the nature of man?

  144. SB: You know it by its proper fit with human nature.

    Graham 2

    That doesnt answer the question at all.

    Yes, it does. You asked a question, and I gave you the answer.

    The whole point of the question is that different people have a different view on moral questions, ie: they have a different view of its ‘fit with human nature’.

    No. There are people who accept the fact that humans have a nature (and purpose) and there are those who do not. That is where the disagreement lies.

    You mave merely expressed the question in different words. I harp on about this because these threads bang on endlessly about some ‘higer law’ but this concept is completely meaningless unless we can recognize it when we see it.

    Recall that I asked you to comment on the Declaration of Independence, which contains references to this higher law. ["The Laws of Nature and Nature's God"]. It is time now, I think, for you to address this issue. You said that you are frightened by references to the higher law. So, my question persists: Are you frightened by the Declaration of Independence and its references to a higher law, the same higher law that informs civil law and natural rights. (You do know that natural rights come from the Natural Moral Law, right?)

  145. SB: That bears directly on this question. A ‘higher law’ is an intersting idea, it would certainly give us certainty, but my question is: How do we know it when we see it?

    What frightens me is when one person thinks he has identified some moral principle that comes from this ‘higher law’ and imposes it on me. Perhaps he is mistaken, perhaps this particular principle really isnt in accord with the ‘higher law’. How can we tell who is right ?

    I have no particular problem with the declaration (In any case, Im not American) but exactly the same question remains: How do we know the declaration is an expression of this ‘higher law’ ? Perhaps the original authors were mistaken.

    How can we ever tell if any decision made by a human being is in accord with the ‘higher law’ ? Does a bell ring or something ?

    Can you see the problem ?

  146. StephenB:

    Please respond to my arguments and stop trying to play the victim. You wrote a lot of words and I invested a lot of words in response.

    No dice. You make stuff up about me, you get called on it and then you demand I respond to your arguments. You said I’m anti-Biblical. You have no evidence to that effect because you fabricated that falsehood. Show the readers where I ever claimed “I’m an anti-Biblical fideist”?

    The fideist therefore “urges reliance on faith rather than reason, in matters philosophical and religious,”

    Where did I urge “reliance on faith rather than reason”, you’re making that up to.

    Show the readers where I ever claimed “I’m an anti-Biblical fideist”? Show the readers where I urge “reliance on faith rather than reason”, you’re making that up to.

    Because I disagree with you doesn’t mean I reject reason, I reject your reasoning. You need to make that distinction.

    As it stands you’re just making up falsehoods about what I said.

    Go ahead, show the reader where I insisted on “reliance on faith rather than reason”. You can’t because like the other falsehoods you’ve promoted about what I said, you’re promoting yet another.

  147. Graham 2

    How can we ever tell if any decision made by a human being is in accord with the ‘higher law’ ? Does a bell ring or something ?

    Yes. If you allow it to speak, your conscience will inform you. If you do the wrong thing, it will nag you; if you do the right thing, it will comfort you. On the other hand, one can compromise and eventually deaden his conscience if he continues to act in ways that are antagonistic to his nature. Humans are the only creatures who can pervert their own nature by acting like a lower being (animal).

  148. Gee StephenB

    I just googled around for all those ideas you falsely attribute to me, and no hits where those false claims can be demonstrated. I wonder why?

    Here are some you falsely promoted in this thread:

    1. that I accused God of being unjust
    2. that I’m an anti-Biblical fideist
    3. that I insist on “reliance on faith rather than reason”

    Like I said you have no evidence to that effect because you made those falsehoods up. Perhaps one would be tempted to sarcastically say it’s self-evident you’re making things up.

  149. Arguing with elitists, on either side of the ID debate, is an exercise in futility. They twist your words, pick things out of context and create strawmen like there is no tomorrow. It’s time wasting and discouraging.

  150. SB: So how can we tell when different people look into their conscience and come up with different answers ?

    How can we tell whose conscience correctly identified the ‘higher law’ ?

    You are consistently avoiding the question. Do you not understand the question, or are you just winding me up ?

  151. WJM @66 – Indeeed there are people that are delusional. Is you claim that in these Bilical passages that is the case?

  152. Scordova:

    Because I disagree with you doesn’t mean I reject reason, I reject your reasoning. You need to make that distinction.

    I would argue that to reject reason’s rules is to reject reason.

    As it stands you’re just making up falsehoods about what I said.

    No, I am not making things up. I am assessing your philosophical position, an opinion I formed on another occasion when you said this:

    I firmly believe not all truths cannot be reached via deduction, in fact, the most important truths can only be accepted through faith, and that included the faith acceptance of:

    1. logic
    2. the notion of ultimate truth
    3. God
    4. mathematics
    5. free will

    Also, on that same occasion, you expressed doubts about the Law of Non-Contradiction. In my judgment, your position constitutes fideism and, in my judgment, it is anti-Biblical. The Bible says that we do not need to rely on faith in order to know that God or truth exists. Nothing you have written on this thread prompts me to think that you have changed your position.

    I probably should not have characterized it as anti-Biblical, however, since such language could be misread as meaning that you are against the Bible, in principle, which would be incorrect. So I will retract that phrase.

    Meanwhile, a lot of argumentation has been left behind. Do you have any substantive comments about the debate.

  153. 153
    CentralScrutinizer

    StephenB: You know it by its proper fit with human nature. If it promotes what is good for our nature, then it is objectively good; if it promotes what is bad for our nature, then it is objectively bad. If there is no such thing as human nature, then there can be no such thing as objective morality.

    Haha.

    Hahahaha.

    Bwahahahaha.

    Dude, you don’t seem to understand the question that’s being asked of you.

    Wowsers.

  154. 154
    CentralScrutinizer

    Graham2 to SB: So how can we tell when different people look into their conscience and come up with different answers ? How can we tell whose conscience correctly identified the ‘higher law’ ? You are consistently avoiding the question. Do you not understand the question, or are you just winding me up ?

    Like you, I’ve been on the side waiting for a straight, objective answer. I wouldn’t hold your breath, hehe. One thing seems certain, he seems to think that he knows what the absolute morality is and you don’t.

  155. 155
    CentralScrutinizer

    Bottom line folks, when people ask “how do we know the absolute morality?” there is always going to be a subjective element in the answer because the person giving the answer is relying on subjective elements within his/her own mental faculties. Which means it’s a subjective world, folks. Deal with it.

  156. CS: I think thats obvious too, but SB, KF et al dont. Im curious to see if Im wrong.

  157. AL PACINO SPEECH – JUSTICE FOR ALL – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BofddwtPBPw

    Romans 3:10
    As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one;

    Benjamin Franklin’s Pursuit of the Virtuous Life – 2008
    Excerpt: ,,at the age of 20, Ben Franklin set his loftiest goal: the attainment of moral perfection.
    “I conceiv’d the bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection. I wish’d to live without committing any fault at any time; I would conquer all that either natural inclination, custom, or company might lead me into.”
    In order to accomplish his goal, Franklin developed and committed himself to a personal improvement program that consisted of living 13 virtues. (He failed to arrive at moral perfection):,,,
    “Tho’ I never arrived at the perfection I had been so ambitious of obtaining, but fell far short of it, yet I was, by the endeavour, a better and a happier man than I otherwise should have been if I had not attempted it.”
    http://www.artofmanliness.com/.....uous-life/

    Romans 3:23
    for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

    Top Ten Reasons We Know the New Testament is True – Frank Turek – video – November 2011
    (41:00 minute mark – Despite what is commonly believed, of someone being ‘good enough’ to go to heaven, in reality both Mother Teresa and Hitler fall short of the moral perfection required to meet the perfection of God’s objective moral code)
    http://saddleback.com/mc/m/5e22f/

    Falling Plates (the grace of propitiation) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGlx11BxF24

    Verse and Music:

    Matthew 22:36-40
    Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?
    And he said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
    This is the great and first commandment.
    And a second like unto it is this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
    On these two commandments the whole law hangeth, and the prophets.

    Third Day – Trust In Jesus
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BtaCeJYqZA

    Supplemental Note:

    At the 17:45 minute mark of the following Near Death Experience documentary, the Life Review portion of the Near Death Experience is highlighted, with several testimonies relating how every word, deed, and action, of a person’s life (all the ‘information’ of a person’s life) is gone over in the presence of God and judged against God’s perfect moral standard of love:

    Near Death Experience Documentary – commonalities of the experience – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nTuMYaEB35U

  158. BA77 I have no idea what that has to do with the topic or why you are allowed to spam threads, but wrt your music link – how can you bear to listen to such turgid nonsense? If that’s what getting religion does for one’s music tastes, then that is another very good reason to avoid it.

  159. 54: I agree, and BA77 is never criticized for this behaviour.

    So, SB,KF et al: Could you have a go at answering my question at #121?

  160. I wrote:

    I firmly believe not all truths cannot be reached via deduction, in fact, the most important truths can only be accepted through faith, and that included the faith acceptance of:

    1. logic
    2. the notion of ultimate truth
    3. God
    4. mathematics
    5. free will

    #1, #2, #4 are were deduced by Gödel’s logic, not faith-first fideism, thus it was through reason I arrived that these can only be arrived at by faith! They are rooted in considerations of mathematical incompleteness, Heisenberg uncertainty, and considerations of Kolmogorov complexity.

    #3 and #5 are reasonable suppositions from #1, #2, #4 and other considerations.

    Goes to show, StephenB is just promoting falsehoods about what I do and do not believe and my reasons for believing them, and what I’ve said and have not said.

    StephenB:

    No, I am not making things up. I am assessing your philosophical position

    It doesn’t matter that StephenB promotes false claims under the banner of “philosophical assessment” — they are rooted in falsehood and presumption, it is falsehood, and thus it is a fabrication from his misunderstandings and misperceptions and sloppy and inaccurate mischaracterizations.

    That he describe his fabrications as “assessing my philosophical” position doesn’t change the fact he is stating falsehoods about what I said, and what I intended by what I said.

    He takes issue that I don’t agree with his evaluation of what I meant when I’m probably in a better position than him to know what I meant. In my case, he seems to think his perceptions about what someone meant take priority over what that person says he meant.

    Maybe the civil thing to do is ask, “Sal am I understanding you correctly. Are you saying God is unjust. Do you believe God is unjust.” Or he could have asked, “Sal are you an anti-Biblical fideist? Do you insist on ‘reliance on faith rather than reason’?”

    But, noooo, his misperception of what I say takes priority. Even when I tell him that the claim “God is unjust” is not what I believe, that’s not what I said, that’s not what I meant to say … but noooo, the way he misperceives things about what I believe takes priority over what I actually believe. His false narrative (philosophical assessment) takes precedence over the truth.

    StephenB insists he understand what I intended write better than I.

    I never claimed God is unjust. Yet StephenB writes in comment 39:

    Your natural sense of justice, the same moral sense that prompts you to accuse God of injustice

    I point out in comment 40 that I never accused God of injustice.

    But even after telling him that, StephenB takes issue insisting I don’t understand my own thoughts on the matter better than his understanding of my own thoughts.

    Despite me clarifying my position, without any evidence that I said God is unjust, in the very next comment (41) StephenB says:

    You accused the God of the Old Testament of injustice

    He makes that assertion based on his misperception. Exactly making Mark Frank’s point that someone can misperceive the truth. Worse, StephenB insists his misperception is the truth.

    And then I assert again in comment 44:

    I believe God is always just. You’re welcome to point to the readers where I explicitly made that accusation [of God being unjust] here or anywhere else. You won’t find it because I never made it. You’re just making stuff up. And long before this discussion, I described my thoughts on the matter:

    Malicious Design and Question of the Old Testament God

    The point I was making is that if you were in God’s armies in the Old Testment, and God told you to kill an infant, based on your principles of right reason, and self-evident truths, would you view this to be right? Would you view it immoral to do what God called you to do cheerfully?

    That doesn’t stop StephenB from responding:

    I am not making things up, and it seems that I am not the only one who reads what you say in that fashion (note buffalo @15). But if I misinterpreted your negative comments about God supervising Genocide as an act of injustice, then I happily apologize.

    I don’t accept that as an apology. An apology is, “Sal I misunderstood you, I misperceived what was true, I was wrong to say you accused God of injustice.” StephenB’s notpology is rejected.

    StephenB could have asked, “Sal is it your position that God is unjust?” But noooooo, Stephen’s misperception of what I believe is more important to making his points than what I really believe, so for him, he’ll insist it is true. How does he know what I believe? He could ask? But he doesn’t…I try to tell him what I believe, and he’ll deny that this is what I believe!

    If StephenB can’t discern the truth about something as basic as to what I said or did not say, what I meant by what I said, even after telling him, “I’m not saying God is unjust” — why should I trust his line of argumentation about anything else. He’ll just make a philosophical assessment, ascribe the status of truth to that assessment, and then argue vigorously why his false assessment should be accepted as truth.

    Not very reassuring, especially when talking about self-evident truths.

  161. Graham2:

    I will have one more go at the question: How do we know objective morality when we see it ? If 2 people disagree on some moral issue, how do we know which one (if either) is informed by the ‘higher law’ ?

    No one seems to be able to answer this, yet objective morality is right at the core of all these discussions.

    “How do we know objective morality when we see it ?”

    I think we can’t “know” as in we know the theorems of math are correct based on axioms they are predicated upon. We make our best estimate of what is right. Like questions of science, there is a right answer, but we may not have the means to discern it. Thus, we may not always know what is right, even supposing, in the universal sense, there is right and wrong.

    “If 2 people disagree on some moral issue, how do we know which one (if either) is informed by the ‘higher law’ ?”

    Maybe we might not know. Each party can state what they believe, in good conscience is the right thing.

    I gave one example to highlight the point from the hypothetical story of Nathaniel’ Hawthorne’s scarlett letter where Hester Prynne is tempted to leave her fiendish husband and spend her life with Reverend Dimmesdale. If you, I or someone else had a daughter in Hester’s situation, what would you advise?

    If Emperor Nero threatened to throw a parent and his kids to the lions if they did not burn incense to the emperor, what would the moral thing to do be?

    With incomplete knowledge, one can decide what actions are consistent with ones belief system. Whether that belief system is aligned with the truth is not always evident, thus the best one can do in such cases is go by what one believes. If one is not completely sure, but frames it in terms of Pascal’s wager, then I’ve argued, one might consider seeking after God because one has more to lose by being disbelieving God than believing in him.

    This consideration has sparked my interest in creation science above and beyond ID. If ID is true, it doesn’t answer question about “How should we then live”?

    For me, I’ve tried to find evidence if the Bible is true. I’ve come to accept there is good evidence to move forward with Pascal’s wager that it is. My distribution function could of course be totally wrong, but the question of Pascal’s wager is which wager is most consistent with one’s assumed-by-faith distribution function.

    I believe the evidence indicates the world was designed and is the object of God’s wrath and coming wrath. Seeking the Designer’s mercy by any means is a better play than living ones life out like Richard Dawkins suggests that is: “create your own meaning”.

  162. scd: the best one can do in such cases is go by what one believes

    exactly.

  163. buffalo @ 151,

    I’ve never read the Bible, so I can’t comment specifically. It’s my opinion that anyone who claims god told them to torture infants for fun is either evil or delusional.

  164. “BA77 is never criticized for this behaviour.”

    LOL, that is an absolute laugh, since there has been a consistent set of people over the years (neo-Darwinian atheists for the overwhelming majority of times) that have constantly criticized me (including name calling, cussing, a few death threats and the whole bit). Perhaps you are just selective about who you want to criticize me since neo-Darwinists cry wolf (read lie) so much??

  165. BA77: Im not referring to the heathens, but the moderators. As long as you love jesus, anything goes.

  166. Scordova

    1, #2, #4 are were deduced by Gödel’s logic, not faith-first fideism, thus it was through reason I arrived that these can only be arrived at by faith! They are rooted in considerations of mathematical incompleteness, Heisenberg uncertainty, and considerations of Kolmogorov complexity.

    I am not concerned with the rationale for your anti-iontellectualism but the fact of it. I am not concerned with the reasons that you deny the Law of Non-Contradiction but the fact of it.

    It doesn’t matter that StephenB promotes false claims under the banner of “philosophical assessment” — they are rooted in falsehood and presumption, it is falsehood, and thus it is a fabrication from his misunderstandings and misperceptions and sloppy and inaccurate mischaracterizations.

    As long as you reject the Law of Non-Contradiction as a knowable, non-negotiable truth then I am not promoting a falsehood.

    StephenB could have asked, “Sal is it your position that God is unjust?”

    Well, not so fast.

    First, you take a violent passage from the Old Testament and say,

    How could this possibly be moral? God the Intelligent Designer could of course bring any of those killed back to life. He has the right to say who lives and dies and who can get resurrected. He brought back several who had died. He re-created the ear of someone who had it chopped off by Peter.

    So, right away we have confusion. Your first sentence suggests that it is not moral, but your second and third sentence say, in effect, that perhaps it can be justified after all.

    Then you say,

    As blood thirsty as some of the troops were, in the time of Moses, even for them, it was a little hard to kill helpless infants — but it was God’s command.

    So, now I get to juxtapose these two comments

    how can this [awful behavior] be moral?

    with

    but it was God’s command

    So, how do I interpret that? A perfectly reasonable take would be, “God commanded something awful that just doesn’t seem right.

    You tell me that I misinterpreted it, and so I take you at your word. Indeed, I am sorry that I did misinterpret it. But don’t say that I am making things up.

    Also, I did make a relevant comment which you ignored, when I said:

    —”Perhaps you are simply saying that God’s actions were just because of the circumstances, in which case, we are on the same page in that sense. If so, however, it seems that you are trying to have it both ways: On the one hand, you blast the Old Testament and say, “Isn’t that awful,” On the other hand, you also say, “never mind, God had his reasons after all.” I really do think you need to make up your mind.”

    So, I expressed my misgivings, and, as I often do, pointed to what I perceived as inconsistencies–potential reasons for misunderstanding you. I realize that you cannot respond to everything, but surely you could have taken time out to deal with that one.

  167. Salvador:

    In the Old Testament, the Lord’s army was expected to carry out genocide with a certain level of zeal. I suppose the Lord expected his troops to delight in doing the Lord’s work like the Salvation Army of today.

    Just a reminder to ask the Salvation Army what they think of Sal’s painting them as genocidal zealots in the lords work.

  168. SB: While you are back, could you answer my question at #121 ?. Ta.

  169. 5for as to

    “but wrt your music link – how can you bear to listen to such turgid nonsense?”

    Jealous????

    Steve Martin – Atheists Don’t Have No Songs
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFWA1A9XFi8

  170. Miscellaneous musings and random ruminations:

    Of course, it’s easily possible to justify murdering a baby! It’s done all the time. All you need to do is call it something else. “Fetus” comes to mind. Then, you argue about other, superseding rights.

    Same thing was done to Africans kept as slaves. They were called “property,” and slavery hid behind arguments about superseding rights, called “states rights.”

    . . .

    The smallest determinate value of Pi in all possible worlds is exactly 2, if the circle is large enough. The value for Pi also changes in strong gravitational fields. Think about it.
    . . .

    What’s the difference between the numbers used in physics that are rational from those that are irrational? Are irrational numbers ritually unclean? ;-)

    -Q

  171. Gragam2

    “SB: While you are back, could you answer my question at #121 ?. Ta.”

    Have your forgotten. I answered it @140, you responded @141, and I followed up @144.

  172. SB: Thats just plain dishonest. I clearly explained why you evaded the question. Not much use continuing this.

  173. I am asking why as a relativist must I find such a society. Maybe everyone subjectively agrees on a concept of murder.

    Because then it would lend credence to your assertion. Funny how atheists scream about parsimony until it bites them in the behind.

    I look at the world and I see disparate cultures, stretched over the eons without contact with one another, who cannot agree on anything, and yet they all share the concept of murder; a moral principle. Ockham’s Razor would suggest there is something innate in humans that would cause this, rather than the more difficult idea that humans all arrived at the same idea at the same time.

    Even the atheist camps have realized this and have begun to try to explain certain objective morality with things like evolutionary psychology. Table the question of whether or not the trait is divinely inspired.

    In this instance, Mr. Frank, you are quite simply wrong.

  174. scd: the best one can do in such cases is go by what one believes

    exactly.

    Both sides in the American Civil War had individuals convinced of the their moral warrant to aim guns at the other side.

    Joshua Chamberlain, who was a devout abolitionist and as a youth wanted to be a missionary writes:

    “I saw him sitting there gently reclined against the tree . . . this boy of scarcely sixteen summers,” he stated. “His cap had fallen to the ground on one side, his hand resting on his knee. It clasped a little testament opened at some familiar place. He wore the gray. He was my enemy, this boy. He was dead—the boy, my enemy—but I shall see him forever.”

    Bible believers were aiming guns at each other each convinced of the moral rightness of their cause. I think there was a right and wrong, but maybe not so clear.

    I think the South was wrong to sanction slavery, but there is some debate whether resolving the slavery problem had to be done with guns and at such a terrible price.

    Difficult questions like the Civil war exist today. For example, is it moral for one side to have its nuclear weapons pointed at cities?

    My mother was advised by doctors during one of her pregnancies to abort the fetus that would become one of my sisters because in their opinion pregnancy risked my mother’s life. My father and mother were at a loss as to what to do. I’m quite sure all the kids would have gladly laid down their life to save mom, but obviously they could not communicate that to the doctor, and even so, would it have been moral to terminate the pregnancy?

    Dad, when convinced that Mom would die, went to a Catholic priest for advice. The priest callously told dad, “let them both die”. The family never quite forgot that callous attitude. Dad prayed every day and both parents decided to risk mom’s life and hope the doctors were wrong in their diagnosis (they were wrong).

    In my parents case, what they viewed as moral, given the information they had, was to put mom and daughter’s life at risk so that the daughter would be born. I’m told what made Dad’s mind up was when the doctor’s described the abortion procedure and how his daughter’s lives would be terminated. The moral thing to do seemed quite clear to them, but in other cases, I can see that it might not be so clear. Hence, I don’t think, even supposing there is a right and wrong in God’s eyes, that it will always be clear to those who believe in God.

  175. SCordova @174

    Think of this, though Sal: The same moral principle is understood in all of your examples. It is the concept that ending life is wrong. This was understood in all examples. Would that not be the objective part?

    The questions concerning justification are certainly questions that have been debated from time in memoriam. But the subjective justifications must be explored because of this thing that compels us, as humans, to understand that ending life is wrong.

    Certainly there are just and unjust reasons for ending a life, however these justifications are satellites to the objective morality, and not the thing itself.

  176. Graham 2

    SB: Thats just plain dishonest. I clearly explained why you evaded the question. Not much use continuing this.

    I didn’t evade the question. Each time you asked me a question, I answered it, and each time you followed up, I answered the follow up. If you have another follow up, feel free to ask again.

    For some reason, you just don’t like the answers. The problem, I suspect, is that you have been persuaded into believing that all truths are empirical truths that can be empirically verified. This is not the case.

    If you don’t know that it is immoral to torture babies for fun, and if you don’t recognize it as a self-evident truth, there is nothing anyone could show you that would change your mind. Self evident truths cannot be demonstrated.

  177. #173 TSErik

    Because then it would lend credence to your assertion.

    It would lend credence – but it doesn’t mean I must find it. As I said before there are plenty of relative/subjective opinions which are found in every known society. Therefore, not being able to find a society that does not have opinion X does not prove X is objective. (If you can see your way through all those negatives).

    I look at the world and I see disparate cultures, stretched over the eons without contact with one another, who cannot agree on anything, and yet they all share the concept of murder; a moral principle. Ockham’s Razor would suggest there is something innate in humans that would cause this, rather than the more difficult idea that humans all arrived at the same idea at the same time.

    Even the atheist camps have realized this and have begun to try to explain certain objective morality with things like evolutionary psychology. Table the question of whether or not the trait is divinely inspired.

    Begun to realise this! It is the long-standing explanation of subjective morality since Hume that it is part of our nature just as we all like eating and sex. Of course he didn’t think it evolved, but it has long been accepted by relativists/subjectivists that the common core of our moral opinion is part of human nature (whatever your theory of how that developed). This is just as parsimonious explanation as some transcendent objective reality.

    In this instance, Mr. Frank, you are quite simply wrong.

    Wrong about what? You have proposed an absolutely absurd criterion for objectivity – universal agreement. That is all that I see.

  178. StephenB:

    If you don’t know that it is immoral to torture babies for fun, and if you don’t recognize it as a self-evident truth, there is nothing anyone could show you that would change your mind. Self evident truths cannot be demonstrated.

    Hosea 13:16:

    The people of Samaria must bear their guilt, because they have rebelled against their God. They will fall by the sword; their little ones will be dashed to the ground, their pregnant women ripped open.

    So, it is not immoral to have the babies killed just to make a point?

  179. F/N: Well, I managed to unthinkingly eliminate a comment on noticing and correcting bad language above again from MF. I will try again.

    I note on several points:

    113:

    Adjusted to use average, to eliminate pathologies not thought of y/day.

    Mapou:

    It is your privilege to reject what others find exceedingly useful, but understand that transfinite numbers are as coherent and useful in their own way as are zero, negative numbers and imaginary/complex ones.

    The same for the concept of continuum, limits, series, calculus etc. All of these involve use of the transfinite. And the modern world would be impossible without them.

    LANGUAGE:

    MF et al, you know full well that vulgar language is NOT welcome, and kindly do not hide under pretences about freedom of expression. The public exists as a legitimate domain in which for the protection of families and children, there are proper limits on behaviour, including verbal behaviour.

    MF:

    I am now satisfied that much of your objection above is a playing of further verbal games, in this case squid-ink cloud evasions.

    You are for instance, a trained philosopher by your own reckoning.

    Thus, you know or should know of major debates over the past several decades regarding worldview foundations and epistemological justification.

    So also, you know or should know precisely why I took time to lay out at 101 level — cf the infographic above in the OP, onlookers — a step by step short discussion of the alternatives and implications leading to how and why we can have a finitely remote foundation and how to avoid circularity in so doing. This ends up highlighting the issue of comparative difficulties across worldviews, and leads onwards to the stance, that one aims to hold a reasonable faith as the framework for one’s worldview.

    Your snidely dismissive language on this — all too reminiscent of the attitude in Ac 17 — tells me what I (and others) most need to know.

    G2:

    With all due respect, the answer, again, is in the OP, with particular reference tot he yardstick case and the state paper, the US DOI, which draws out its significance.

    If you find it “frightening” that it is patent that it is wrong to kidnap, torture, rape and murder a child, or that it is our duty to intervene to rescue such a child before it is too late, that speaks volumes.

    The same, if you find it “frightening” that we have a nature and a purpose that grants us rights endowed by our Creator, such as: life, liberty, pursuit of fulfillment and happiness in light of purpose. or is it “frightening” that we have a collective right to audit government [through a free, responsible and fearless press] and to petition for reform, failing which if there is defiance of remonstrance, we have a right of — thanks to the ballot box — peaceful revolution.

    The alternative to that, with all its problems, is the nihilist’s credo that might and manipulation make ‘right.’

    You obviously do not wish to admit that, and you plainly do not want to face where the implicit radical relativism probably shaped by evolutionary materialism and/or its fellow travellers that lurks behind your words leads. But that is where it leads, and for good reason anchored by a lot of painful history, I and many others refuse to go there.

    We cannot force you to let go of absurdities, but we can and will expose them for what they are — by the revealing light of self evident moral truths such as the yardstick discussed in the OP.

    SC:

    Pardon, but it does seem that SB has the better of your exchange.

    I suggest to you that there are self evident truths that once one understands, will show themselves true and true on pain of patent absurdity if they are rejected — an absurdity all too evident across the modern world. Yes there is a degree of faith involved in accepting them, but then this is a case of strong-form knowledge, well justified, certainly true belief at foundation level. Or, better yet, at plumb-line level.

    I draw your attention to the use of pistis in 2 Tim 3:13 – 17, with its echoes of the characteristic Greek use of pistis as soundly persuasive rhetorical proof. That is,

    faith in the NT sense is based on soundly arrived at conviction regarding key truth and trust in the object of faith in that light, leading to confidently taking God at his word and his promises, multiplied by joyful experience of the manifest power of God through the fulfillment of those promises which we experience directly and/or through the testimony of others.

    Faith in the biblical sense is a leap into the light, not a leap into the dark.

    (And yes, Schaeffer evidently misunderstood key points in Aquinas, probably echoing what he would likely have been taught or might have thought on reading early remarks without the much further along balancing thoughts. That is part of the problem, and we cannot really blame Aquinas for not anticipating how some would read and run with corners of what he had to say. But also Schaeffer is to be respected for his pioneering effective work on cultural critique towards a fresh reformation, cf my 101 on that here on.)

    KF

  180. DiEb:

    Pardon, with all due respect, kindly cf the OP on the moral yardstick 1.

    You will see that the yardstick case brings out the underlying issues, that:

    MORAL YARDSTICK 1: it is Self-Evidently True that it would be wrong to kidnap, torture, rape and murder a child. With corollary, that if such is in progress we are duty-bound to intervene to save the child from the monster . . . .

    Let us look back at that child.

    S/he has no physical prowess to impose his or her will. S/he has no eloquence to persuade a demonic Nero-like monster to stop from brutally despoiling and destructive sick pleasures. S/he is essentially helpless. And yet, our consciences speak loud and clear, giving an insight that this ought not to be done, yea even, if we see such in progress we ought to intervene to rescue if we can, how we can.

    Is that voice of conscience delusional, a mere survival trait that leads us to perceive an ought as a binding obligation where there is no such, or it is merely the threat of being caught by superior state power or the like?

    We already know from great reformers that the state can be in the wrong, though often that was taught at fearsome cost. (Nero’s vicious persecutions being themselves evidence in point.)

    And, if one is imagining that a major aspect of mindedness is delusional, where does that stop? In short, once the premise of general delusion of our key mental faculties is introduced we are in an infinite regress of Plato’s cave worlds. if we say we identify delusion A, who is to say but this is delusion B, thence C, D, E and so forth? . . . .

    So, we see the cogency of UD’s own WJM as he has argued:

    If you do not [acknowledge] the law of non-contradiction, you have nothing to argue about. If you do not [admit] the principles of sound reason, you have nothing to argue with. If you do not [recognise] libertarian free will, you have no one to argue against. If you do not [accept] morality to be an objective commodity, you have no reason to argue in the first place.

    In short, resort to dismissing key mental capacities as general delusion is a morass, a self-refuting fallacy. (Which is different from, whether one may be in specific error and even a great many may be in specific error. Indeed, if we look at the original Plato’s Cave parable, it side-steps that by pointing to the one man who is set free and recognises the apparatus of manipulation for what it is, then, having been led to see more widely, returns to try to help, only to face the power of a mass delusion rooted in an evident error that is clung to.)

    Going further, the reason why we see that it is wrong to so abuse a child, is that we recognise its inherent nature, value and quasi-infinite worth that confers rights. That is, we recognise the reflection of the image of God in that child, in the mirror of this extreme, undeniable case that unfortunately has been too often realised.

    And once we recognise the worth and rights of that child as equal in nature to our own selves, we see the force of the key text cited by Locke in his second essay on civil govt, to found what would become modern liberty and democracy, from canon Richard Hooker — as is also cited int eh OP:

    . . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man’s hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . [[Hooker then continues, citing Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics, Bk 8:] as namely, That because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ] [[Eccl. Polity,preface, Bk I, "ch." 8, p.80]

    From such a yardstick case and the principles it reveals, we readily reckon to others that are like unto it. In particular, you — as have others — have projected thoughts into our heads and words into our mouths that simply cannot belong there.

    Your projection of other motives and attitudes — which echoes similar talking points used by others — is improper and unworthy, a case of setting p and knocking over a strawman laced with toxic stereotyping and scapegoating accusations and insinuations then setting it alight.

    Kindly refrain from doing such again.

    KF

  181. G2: Kindly ponder the answer just given to DiEb based on the OP. KF

  182. F/N 2: A further reminder from the OP — lest it be again obfuscated, on what is meant by a self-evident truth:

    self-evident does not merely mean perceived as obvious to oneself, which could indeed be a manifestation of a delusion. Nay, a self evident truth [SET] is best summarised as one known to be so and to be necessarily so without further proof from other things.

    That is, a SET is:

    a: actually true — it accurately reports some relevant feature of reality (e.g.: error exists)

    b: immediately recognised as true once one actually understands what is being asserted, in light of our conscious experience of the world (as in, no reasonable person would but recognise the reality that error exists)

    c: further seen as something that must be true, on pain of patent absurdity on attempted denial. (E.g. try denying “error exists” . . . the absurdity is rapidly, forcefully manifest)

    Yes, one can lack the knowledge and insight to understand a SET. Primary, by simply lacking the experience base relevant to required understanding. Secondary, by being committed to ideologies that lock out or block such understanding. That does not prevent a SET from being so, no more than mere disagreement can change the actual facts of reality. Not, in a world where that error exists is an undeniable and self-evident truth. (Which BTW is one reason so many have been making heavy weather out of what should be almost too trivial to discuss . . . as we all got red X’s for cause in elementary school — that error exists.)

    We live in a world where SETs — starting with: error exists, we are certainly conscious, 2 + 3 = 5 etc — are real, so we have to climb down off ideological horses of various colours and reckon with what that logically leads to.

    Where also, MORAL SETS also exist, starting with things like MY #1. In these cases, the absurdity on rejection is a moral one, usually connected to assent to or enabling of the monstrous and destructively chaotic on explicit or implicit denial. That is why objectors seek to undermine the concepts rather than directly deny.

    Makes no difference to the price of such denial: clinging to absurdities of en-darkenment in a Plato’s Cave in the face of a sounder alternative.

    KF

  183. KF

    As I say – you have two options when someone says they don’t understand (or you think they don’t understand) – assume they are at fault for failing to understand or assume you are at fault for not explaining yourself well enough. You seem to be determined to make the first assumption. In the end this is your loss because you will never be able to make your case except to those who are already converted. So I will leave it at that.

    Meanwhile you have never explained what “error exists” means over and above “people make errors” and so the rest of your argument never gets off the ground.

  184. @KF

    1) You call a “survival trait” “delusional”. Why?

    2) “if we see such in progress we ought to intervene to rescue if we can, how we can.” I assume that God is exempt from this obligation to intervene – why?

    3) Again: Do you think that it is wrong to kill a baby for fun, but that it can be right to make a point as in Hosea 13:16? And if you think of this question as a straw-man, please explain me your reasoning.

  185. MF:

    I am aware that I have been obscure etc at times. I do not think this is a case of that, having taken great pains esp in the OP. When I saw G2′s remarks, I took time to deal with them by calling attention to the OP. Your intervention — with all due respect in light of evidence that I did successfully communicate with reasonable clarity — spews squid ink across that.

    The signature that something is wrong here, was your response to my explicit addressing of dismissals of foundationalism with outright sneering contempt. This, in a context where I know that at TSZ, that exact issue has come up in a current thread, in attempted dismissal of SETs.

    So, while I will endeavour to be as clear as I can be, I must also be aware of rhetorical squid-ink clouds spewed to allow evasion of uncomfortable points.

    The relevance of the latter became all too plain once I saw you — one trained in philosophy — dismissing something that focusses a key issue regarding worldview foundations. Which is a key context in which SETs are highly important.

    I take the good point and will endeavour to be clear as possible [but cf 113, simplicity is not always possible, once technical issues such as Euclid's 5th postulate enter the situation . . . ], but I must also refuse to be thrown off track by rhetorical spewed squid-ink.

    And finally, please do not resort to vulgar language again.

    Thank you,

    KF

  186. #185 KF

    And finally, please do not resort to vulgar language again.

    I am sorry if you found some of my language vulgar but I genuinely have no idea what you are referring to. Can indicate it to me so I may avoid it in the future.

    Meanwhile I would still like to understand what “error exists” means over and above “people make errors”.

  187. DiEb:

    >>1) You call a “survival trait” “delusional”. Why?>>

    Cf Plantinga on the difference between what may enhance survival and the accuracy of a concept, belief or perception to reality.

    Or, simply cf how models may be empirically reliable and useful without being accurate. It works and it is accurate or truthful or right are categorically, utterly distinct.

    In context, a mere survival trait sense that misleads us to see ourselves governed by OUGHT, would be delusional, and opens an infinite regress of Plato’s cave worlds.

    >>2) “if we see such in progress we ought to intervene to rescue if we can, how we can.” I assume that God is exempt from this obligation to intervene – why?>>

    God is in a very different position from us, as would be patent.

    I suggest you examine here on, where there is a skeletal outline of the Plantinga Free will defense that successfully overturned the deductive problem of evil. as you know or should know. It also puts the inductive form in due proportion. Also, cf, Boethius’ point on the underlying problem of good.

    Not everything can be laid out in detail in a blog thread, so kindly cf the link and watch the vid.

    >>3) Again: Do you think that it is wrong to kill a baby for fun, but that it can be right to make a point as in Hosea 13:16? And if you think of this question as a straw-man, please explain me your reasoning.>>

    First, this thread is philosophical, so theology and Sunday School tickler objections beloved of village atheists of old and resurrected by today’s new atheists inherently are side tracks. But these have been a-plenty above.

    In this case, let us therefore pause and look in context, from AMP:

    Hosea 13:12 The iniquity of Ephraim [not fully punished yet] is bound up [as in a bag]; his sin is laid up in store [for judgment and destruction].

    13 The pains of a woman in childbirth are coming on for him [to be born]; but he is an unwise son, for now when it is time [to be born], he comes not to the place where [unborn] children break forth [he needs new birth but makes no effort to acquire it].

    14 Should I ransom them from the power of Sheol (the place of the dead)? Should I redeem them from death? [a]O death, where are your plagues? O Sheol, where is your destruction? Relenting and compassion are hidden from My eyes.

    15 For though among his brethren [his fellow tribes] he may be fruitful, an east wind [Assyria] will come, the breath of the Lord rising from the desert; and Ephraim’s spring shall become dry and his fountain be dried up. [Assyria] shall plunder his treasury of every precious vessel.

    16 Samaria [--> stands for the northern kingdom, Israel in the narrow sense] shall bear her guilt and become desolate, for she rebelled against her God; they shall fall by the sword, their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their pregnant women shall be ripped up.

    Ch 14:1 O Israel, return to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled and fallen, [visited by calamity] due to your iniquity.

    2 Take with you words and return to the Lord. Say to Him, Take away all our iniquity; accept what is good and receive us graciously; so will we render [our thanks] as bullocks [to be sacrificed] and pay the confession of our lips.

    3 Assyria shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses, neither will we say any more to the work of our hands [idols], You are our gods. For in You [O Lord] the fatherless find love, pity, and mercy.

    4 I will heal their faithlessness; I will love them freely, for My anger is turned away from [Israel].

    5 I will be like the dew and the night mist to Israel; he shall grow and blossom like the lily and cast forth his roots like [the sturdy evergreens of] Lebanon.

    In short, Hosea here describes — as a warning of calamity consequential on rejecting the call to covenant faithfulness — a predictable horrific CONSEQUENCE of military defeat in the context of ANE cultural settings, as opposed to APPROVAL of that consequence.

    And indeed, we can give the known example that at Lachish, there was discovered a mass grave with 1500 mostly women and children in it, put there by the Assyrians who defeated that southern city as an extension of their campaigns in the North.

    Which, as a highly documented case, will give us a clear, though painfully repulsive picture of such consequences of defeat.

    Forgive me for having to go in horrific details.

    I point to the panels the Assyrian king put in his waiting room where visitors sat before an audience with that man, a by-word for wickedness.

    The walls of that room were covered with cartoons of what was done at Lachish.

    And, while the Assyrian king put images of three men being impaled naked while wives and children are led out and also shows was it two more with curly beards — Numidian/Ethiopian allies? — stretched on the ground to be skinned alive he (AFAIK . . . I have never seen that in the photos of the panels, only the women etc being led out with carts . . . ) does NOT in the same panel prominently show the 1,500 women and children being led out captive, doubtless some raped, all slaughtered and bodies dumped in a mass grave.

    I guess even he knew that that would infuriate to the point of desperate ferocity and building a massive coalition to destroy such a plague on the earth as Assyria was hell-bent on becoming.

    Which strategic omission exactly shows that seizing, torture, sexual violation and murder of the defenseless is full well understood to be beyond all limits, even by the utterly ruthless.

    That speaks to the exact point made in the OP.

    (Remember, the issue is to highlight a case that leads us to understand why we rightly see this as wrong: the nature, worth, value and unalienable rights of even a young child who has no ability to exert might and no eloquence to manipulate. The nihilist’s might makes right thus collapses. And, we are under government of OUGHT, living in a world with a foundational IS that grounds ought. With one serious candidate to be such an IS.)

    And, you need to be aware of further context, in light of say the story of Jeremiah’s visit to the potter:

    Jer 18:1 The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord:

    2 Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause you to hear My words.

    3 Then I went down to the potter’s house, and behold, he was working at the wheel.

    4 And the vessel that he was making from clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he made it over, reworking it into another vessel as it seemed good to the potter to make it.

    5 Then the word of the Lord came to me:

    6 O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does? says the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.

    7 At one time I will suddenly speak concerning a nation or kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it;

    8 And if [the people of] that nation concerning which I have spoken turn from their evil, I will relent and reverse My decision concerning the evil that I thought to do to them.

    9 At another time I will suddenly speak concerning a nation or kingdom, that I will build up and plant it;

    10 And if they do evil in My sight, obeying not My voice, then I will regret and reverse My decision concerning the good with which I said I would benefit them.

    11 Now therefore say to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, Thus says the Lord: Behold, I am shaping evil against you and devising a plan against you. Return now each one from his evil way; reform your [accustomed] ways and make your [individual] actions good and right.

    In short, even the most horrific warning prophecies have an implicit proviso, that general penitence leads to relenting, as happened with Nineveh through the warnings of Jonah — who ran away because he wanted Nineveh laid waste — 100 years before it relapsed into its old ways to do as described, and was in turn swept away by the Neo-Babylonian empire.

    Those who need more are directed here on.

    I trust we may now return from such side-tracks to the focal issue.

    KF

  188. MF:

    You full well know you made vulgar references to canine excrement above, which I have had to clean up just like if it was left on my lawn.

    Next, you full well know just what it means that error undeniably exists, both because you also doubtless went to school, and because you have been carefully presented with point by point explanations. You were forced to acknowledge the point but a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.

    KF

  189. KF

    1) Please make allowances for other cultures. I had no idea what you referring to because in my culture (by which I mean large sections of English speaking Western society) to call [SNIP-there you go again . . . in the face of full well knowing what you are doing] “excrement” is a euphemism and considered pretentious. Are you against using the language of Chaucer and Shakespeare? [You full well know that language shifts and that terms once acceptable become vulgar]

    2) I know full well that people make errors. These errors lead to results as varied as faulty machines, sums with wrong answers, poor judgements of character and missed penalties in soccer. It is reasonable to call these results errors as long we know that were created as the result of someone erring. [this was never at issue: error implies but is not equal to erring. noun is not verb . . . all of which was already pointed out] That much we rather painfully established. But I got the impression you meant more than that by the phrase “error exists”. I would also point out that while it is obviously true that errors exist in this sense, denying it does not lead any kind of logical absurdity [it has been shown that denying error exists leads straight into multiple patent absurdities, and you previously agreed under pressure, try, E, ~E, [E AND ~E] = 0, so on inspection ~E = 0.] . Denying it would just mean a society where everyday got everything right all the time – not realistic but logically possible [rubbish].

  190. MF: why are you acting like the bad neighbour who refuses to restrain his dog after his neighbour has already pointed out what that dog is regularly depositing on his lawn? Are you trying to exasperate me into removing your posts or shut down this thread so you and/or associates/ enablers can go elsewhere and make false claims about “censorship for mere disagreement”? Come on, do better than that. KF

  191. #189 KF –

    [You full well know that language shifts and that terms once acceptable become vulgar]

    I think you will find that language has shifted beyond what you are aware of and the words you find offensive are no longer considered offensive by most people – but I will refrain from offending you to the extent that I can anticipate correctly what will do so.

    I am glad to see that you are a relativist concerning this particular demeanour :-)

    [it has been shown that denying error exists leads straight into multiple patent absurdities, and you previously agreed under pressure, try, E, ~E, [E AND ~E] = 0, so on inspection ~E = 0.]

    I am sorry but I never agreed to this, maybe you were thinking of someone else? If E is the premise “error exists” please show me how this leads to logical absurdity. What you have shown is that if you assume E and ~E then you get a logical contradiction – but of course that is trivially true of any proposition.

  192. F/N: just to make a point clear from the OED concise, 1990, regarding a word MF has kept on using: “Coarse sl. Usually considered a taboo word.” That is, the pretence of its being okay in normal conversation is an example of the disrespect and if I can get away with it it’s okay nihilist attitude we are addressing. I think such need to be familiar with the broken window theory of policing. KF

  193. MF: Again, the point is that it can be shown on pain of reduction to absurdity that error exists is undeniably true. The ability to assign the error in the AND to ~E is specifically dependent on the meaning of the two assertions. So, we always have a case of error and there is no possible society in which it does not hold that E. KF

  194. The ability to assign the error in the AND to ~E is specifically dependent on the meaning of the two assertions.

    Please can you explain. This really is an extremely hard sentence to understand. Perhaps someone else can help?

  195. I am not concerned with the rationale for your anti-iontellectualism but the fact of it.

    Where did I claim to be an anti-intellectual? I did say I’m a bit of an anti-rationalist where rationalist is defined as:

    the view that “regards reason as the chief source and test of knowledge”

    That was anti-Rationalist in the usage of Whitehead, not some of the modern day usage of the term. In the battle between Rationalist vs. Empiricist schools, I’m closer to empiricism, since the mind when thinking is making empirical measurements and there is no guarantee that what the mind computes will be correct, so why should the mind be primary, facts adjudicate whether a mind’s ideas are correct. Feed a mind bad data, it will make logical inferences using bad data just like a computer will, only worse.

    “Beware of rational argument,” he said; “you need only one false premise in order to prove anything you please by logic.”

    Bertrand Russell

    I’m an evidentialist, I distrust those who think their minds can assert sweeping truths about reality from such small distorted samples sizes of how reality actually works!

    I am not concerned with the reasons that you deny the Law of Non-Contradiction but the fact of it.

    I agree with the strong form of LNC where this statement is false

    E = not-E

    but in the weaker version of LNC, one can accept non-LNC as an axiom and find propositions that fit this axiom

    (E and not-E) is true

    LNC is very good for mathematics and formal logic and computation, because the assumption of a system obeying non-contradiction makes it easy to make inferences about the system, in fact many deep inferences. But LNC is an axiom presumed.

    Perhaps you only presume it is inviolable because you only consider propositions that obey strong LNC, but there are many propositions that don’t because they are too ambiguous. Your insistence on its truth is rooted in confirmation bias and applying it only to propositions that weak and strong LNC applies while ignoring valid propositions where weak LNC does not apply.

    Barack Obama is beloved and not beloved

    or

    Barack Obama is a great and not great president

    If one is Stalinist I suppose Obama is a great president, if one is a free market loving American, Obama is not a great president.

    classical music is beautiful and is not beautiful

    Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto is beautiful, but chamber music — eh…..

    You’ll complain that’s LNC applies to the same thing at the same state at the same time and same sense. Fine! LNC applies to same thing in the same state and same time and same sense, and non-LNC can apply to systems outside those narrow parameters.

    It’s just not useful for formal logicians to drop the LNC axiom, but it doesn’t make non-LNC inherently false for non-LNC propositions, it is only assumed inherently false by logical convention since formal logic works well on system that are defined by LNC, and fails for non-LNC propositions, but it doesn’t mean non-LNC propositions are inherently false.

    This statement as it stands is true and conveys true meaning:

    (Barack Obama is beloved and not beloved) is a true statement

    If follows exactly the non weak-LNC axiom:

    (E and not-E) is true

    It is true because it conveys the fact that he is perceived differently by different observers.

    Assuming the non-LNC axiom describes ambiguous situations where the observer of a property is not well-defined.

    this food is bitter and not-bitter

    If someone doesn’t have the PROP-tasting gene it might not be bitter while some with the PROP-tasting gene will find it bitter. Who determines the self-evident property of the food being bitter, the guy with the PROP-tasting gene or the one without? One will say LNC applies to the essence of bitterness — fine, then permit non-LNC to apply to non-essence propositions.

    Martina is (a loser) and not-(a loser) at tennis games

    That statement, as it stands is true. It is a proposition under a set of propositions that can satisfy non-LNC axioms. Such propositions are not mathematically interesting, but in human language they do convey meaning. That statement as it stands is true.

    I recall you didn’t have much concern about Schrodinger’s cat being both dead and alive or when quantum bits are both true and false at the same time. But we find if we assume the non-LNC axiom, many propositions fit because of the inherent ambiguity of the observer.

    I also pointed to the fact Trinitarians can have that Law thrown in their faces. i.e. “3 is not 1, therefore God cannot be 1 and 3 according to the Law of Non Contradiction”. If you accept that the trinity can fall under non-LNC systems, then there is no problem.

    So I accept strong form of LNC always, and the weak form of where LNC applies.

    However it doesn’t mean there aren’t propositions that cannot fit under non-LNC axioms (where LNC is the weak form), namely those where different observers or kinds of observations will assert different properties.

    red is beautiful and non-beautiful

    Well, red is the color of warning light for your transmission, red isn’t so beautiful, but if red is the color of a ruby, it is beautiful. The property is context dependent, and propositions such as this fit well under the systems that accept the non-LNC axiom — dare I say where what is true is context dependent, subjective, or ambiguous.

  196. SC:

    Pardon, but I think a more basic pattern is to assess what is going on behind LOI, LNC and LEM . . . and that is the order because of the pattern.

    Start with a bright red ball, A, on a table, as a good example. We see a world partition:

    W = { A |~A }

    Once that partition obtains, immediately, we see that A is itself [LOI], is not simultaneously ~A [LNC] and that by dichotomy, we have A XOR ~A [LEM, strict form]. This obviously holds for things, the easiest to actually see. It also holds for thoughts and beliefs. A is X does not simultaneously in the same sense mean A is ~X.

    From this act of distinction, much follows.

    You will enjoy Paul of Tarsus’ statement:

    1 Cor 14:7 If even inanimate musical instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will anyone [listening] know or understand what is played?

    8 And if the war bugle gives an uncertain (indistinct) call, who will prepare for battle?

    9 Just so it is with you; if you in the [unknown] tongue speak words that are not intelligible, how will anyone understand what you are saying? For you will be talking into empty space!

    10 There are, I suppose, all these many [to us unknown] tongues in the world [somewhere], and none is destitute of [its own power of] expression and meaning.

    11 But if I do not know the force and significance of the speech (language), I shall seem to be a foreigner to the one who speaks [to me], and the speaker who addresses [me] will seem a foreigner to me. [AMP]

    The meaningfulness of communication pivots on the first act, distinction, thus dichotomy. This is then concatenated — it practically begs for a bit-wise analysis with Hamming distance metrics . . . — in accordance with a defined code and context to arrive at intelligible language thence thought, knowledge, reasoning, understanding, wisdom. (And all of this Paul tosses off in making a point about a matter of church discipline! How deliciously ironic is it that the relatively minor point of good order in the churches is the main emphasis and this so profound insight is just an en passant.)

    In the next chapter of course he uses a chained hypothetical argument then upends the lot with a magnificent denial at the end, just read on in 1 Cor 15. That is the follow on tot he pivotal passage in which the heart of the Nicene creed is stated in vv 1 – 11.

    So, principles of sound reasoning are deeply embedded in the pattern of Biblical thought and reasoning.

    KF

  197. A math professor pointed out there is no way to prove a mapping of human language description to a logical system is correct.

    Let E be the proposition “Barack Obama is Beloved” thus
    not-E is the proposition “Barack Obama is not-Beloved”

    The proposition

    E and not-E

    can be stated as

    (Barack Obama is Beloved) and not-(Barack Obama is beloved)

    or more to the point

    (Barack Obama is Beloved) and (Barack is not-beloved)

    As I pointed out previously, the statement as it stands is true. But if we tried to convert the statement to standard accepted logic, the result looks ludicrous to a logician.

    The problem is the system of formal logic does not like situations like this, it likes universal agreement on propositions by all observers.

    But it does not mean inherently the following statement is false:

    Barack Obama is beloved and not beloved

    It is a very very true statement, it just doesn’t fit conversion into accepted formal logic systems in a nice tidy way.

  198. 198

    Sal, I have a question for you:

    Can a proposition be true and false at the same time and in the same sense?

  199. MF:

    E = Error exists, and ~ E denies same.

    {E AND ~ E } = 0, the conjunction is necessarily false.

    One, or the other or both will be false, but E and ~E are exclusive, exhaustive and in direct opposition. We have a partition, W = {E | ~E} — > {E XOR ~E }

    But, in the relevant sense the conjunction is an error . . . we have a live example. So by the meaning involved, ~E is false.

    W = {E |~E }

    E, is true.

    KF

  200. SC:

    (Barack Obama is Beloved) and (Barack is not-beloved)

    . . . has a definition in the state of affairs that obtains, there are those who like him, there are others who do not.

    Some have mixed feelings, i.e. there are some aspects — key term — that are liked, others that are not and there is an internal superposition to give the overall valence of feelings towards the man who is currently the designated president of the USA.

    In fact, I suspect the situation is that by and large people have very mixed feelings: first black man to gain the White House, positive; made a mess of the Obamacare, negative; made a mess of Iran deals, negative; is getting US troops home from ME positive, etc. (In my own case, I actually have a weird negative gut feeling on the consequences of how troops are being pulled out under given circumstances, so my eval on that one is negative.)

    So the case is not a counterexample to the implications of distinction in the world, but an illustration of the complexity of how we have to work through that to arrive at an analysis that is clear, sound and distinct.

    It is actually possible to construct a weighted, balanced, observational behaviour or performance anchored score-card model (I prefer Rausch polytomous scales) and use it in decision analysis. (But then that is more or less how I grade.)

    KF

  201. KF:

    E = Error exists, and ~ E denies same.
    {E AND ~ E } = 0, the conjunction is necessarily false.
    One, or the other or both will be false, but E and ~E are exclusive, exhaustive and in direct opposition. We have a partition, W = {E | ~E} — > {E XOR ~E }
    But, in the relevant sense the conjunction is an error . . . we have a live example. So by the meaning involved, ~E is false.
    W = {E |~E }
    E, is true.

    I had a feeling this was what you had in mind. That is why it is important to agree exactly what E means. I took E to mean “there are errors that people make”. This is different from “there are potential errors that people might make”.  Your proof does not work if E has the first meaning because it is logically possible that no one ever asserted that E&~E so that error does not exist. If you define E in the second fashion that is trivially true and does not require such a complex proof. All that is required is that there is least one statement that is false. That statement is a potential error that it is logically possible someone might make.

    So which do you mean by “error exists”:

    A) there are errors that people make

    B) there are potential errors that people might make

    C) some third possibility I have not covered

  202. Scordova:

    A math professor pointed out there is no way to prove a mapping of human language description to a logical system is correct.

    No, a math professor fed you cool aid and you drank it.

    Let E be the proposition “Barack Obama is Beloved” thus
    not-E is the proposition “Barack Obama is not-Beloved”

    Beloved by whom? Not beloved by whom? The same people? This is nonsense.

    That proposition is to vague and mushy to qualify as a definitive statement of affairs or fact. Try this: Barack Obama is the first black President of the United States; Barack Obama is not the first black President of the United States.

    Now do your thing.

  203. Here is a proposition:

    The events happened at the same apparent time and they didn’t happen at the same apparent time

    That is true. If Observer A is stationary at the train station, and Observer B is in the Train and lightning hits both ends of the train, each observer’s clock will register a totally different history of events.

    The proposition can obvious be reformulated to fit under the LNC system with some rewording under Special Relativity, but it can also fit under a non-LNC system.

    Here is an observation from computer science, it is analogous to logical systems where determinism (true or false) is somewhat ambiguous from a certain perspective.

    In automata theory, a nondeterministic finite automaton (NFA), or nondeterministic finite state machine, is a finite state machine that (1) does not require input symbols for state transitions and (2) is capable of transitioning to zero or two or more states for a given start state and input symbol. This distinguishes it from a deterministic finite automaton (DFA), in which all transitions are uniquely determined and in which an input symbol is required for all state transitions. Although NFA and DFA have distinct definitions, all NFAs can be translated to equivalent DFAs using the subset construction algorithm,[1] i.e., constructed DFAs and their corresponding NFAs recognize the same formal language. Like DFAs, NFAs only recognize regular languages.

    NFAs allow an alternate representation than a DFAs. A non-LNC system can allow an alternate simultaneous descriptions of the same phenomenon.

    In an non-LNC representation:

    Barack Obama is beloved and not-beloved

    in an LNC representation:

    Bararck Obama is beloved by some and not-beloved by others

    Both statements are true, but one doesn’t nicely fit translation into an LNC system.

    The NFA above sort of illustrates multiple ways an objects can be perceived differently (“The events happened at the same time and not at the same time”). They can be stated in terms of an LNC system (DFA) or a non LNC system (NFA).

    It raises the question, which representation system LNC, non-LNC, NFA, DFA, etc. is correct? It usually boils down to which has more utility. LNC usually has more utility, but it doesn’t make propositions fitting non-LNC inherently false any more than an NFA is not inherently false versus a DFA.

  204. Mark Frank

    That is why it is important to agree exactly what E means. I took E to mean “there are errors that people make”. This is different from “there are potential errors that people might make”.

    “Error exists” means exactly what it says. False ideas, concepts, philosophies, and propositions exist. Yes, people hold them, but that is not the point being emphasized and it is not essential to the idea. How, when, where, or in what form the error exists is irrelevant to the proposition.

    If error exists, which it does, then it follows that the truth from which it deviates also exists. Accordingly, the truth that exists must be objective because only a standard outside the individual can determine the erroneous nature of the proposition or idea being put forward.

    If, for example, geocentrism is a false description of the relationship between the earth and the sun, there is also an objectively true description of that same relationship [heliocentrism]. Accordingly, the error is established on the basis of the objective truth which defines it as error.

    If, therefore, an error exists about a state of affairs or fact [geocentrism], then the objective truth about that state of affairs or fact, [heliocentrism], must also exist. Since errors do exist, therefore, objective truth exists. This follows as surely as night follows day.

  205. Scordova

    Here is a proposition:

    The events happened at the same apparent time and they didn’t happen at the same apparent time

    Apparent time? That is an equivocation.

    Also, and more importantly, the Law of Contradiction states that a thing cannot be true and false at the same time and and in the same sense. There are many ways that a thing can simply be true and false at the same time in an unqualified way.

  206. 206

    scordova is in moderation until he answers the question posed at 198. See the policy announced here:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....gue-at-ud/

  207. Sal, I have a question for you:

    Can a proposition be true and false at the same time and in the same sense?

    No.

  208. Sal, I have a question for you:

    Can a proposition be true and false at the same time and in the same sense?

    No.

    Apologies for not responding earlier, I was in the middle of typing something when your comment 198 appeared. I would have responded immediately if I had seen it.
    Sorry.

    Sal

  209. #204 StephenB
     

    “Error exists” means exactly what it says. False ideas, concepts, philosophies, and propositions exist. Yes, people hold them, but that is not the point being emphasized and it is not essential to the idea. How, when, where, or in what form the error exists is irrelevant to the proposition.

    It is fairly clear now that what you and KF mean is there are potential errors that people could make. Quite what “exists” adds in that context I don’t know. Consider the potential error 6293+4124=3829. I don’t suppose anyone has ever made that error. What is the significance of saying it exists? If all you mean is that there are lots of possible errors people could make then why not say that in normal English?

    If error exists, which it does, then it follows that the truth from which it deviates also exists. Accordingly, the truth that exists must be objective because only a standard outside the individual can determine the erroneous nature of the proposition or idea being put forward.

    If, for example, geocentrism is a false description of the relationship between the earth and the sun, there is also an objectively true description of that same relationship [heliocentrism]. Accordingly, the error is established on the basis of the objective truth which defines it as error.

    If, therefore, an error exists about a state of affairs or fact [geocentrism], then the objective truth about that state of affairs or fact, [heliocentrism], must also exist. Since errors do exist, therefore, objective truth exists. This follows as surely as night follows day.

    Whoa – there are lots of types of errors – not all of them are falsehoods. Here are some examples of errors:
    * Miss a penalty in soccer
    * Judge someone to be attractive (and later change my mind)
    * Think a film was funny (and later change my mind)
    * Believe homosexuality to be wrong (and later change my mind)
    None of these require any truth from which it deviates (although factual discoveries may influence you). Of course it is true that errors about matters of objective fact mean that objective truth exists – but that is kind of obvious.

  210. 210

    scordova is no longer in moderation.

  211. Prior to the question in 196, I said earlier in post 195:

    LNC applies to the same thing at the same state at the same time and same sense. Fine! LNC applies to same thing in the same state and same time and same sense,

    I should have been more terse so what I meant will be clearer. I point this out lest anyone accuse me of saying one thing before Barry’s question and another thing after Barry’s question. There was never a disagreement, only a misunderstanding. I would have responded immediately to Barry’s comment 196 if I had seen it just to set the record straight.

  212. I’d like to respond to Sal’s statement:

    Let E be the proposition “Barack Obama is Beloved” thus
    not-E is the proposition “Barack Obama is not-Beloved”

    Let’s state this as clearly as possible.

    Let E be the proposition “Barack Obama is beloved by someone.” Then not-E is the proposition “It is not the case that Barack Obama is beloved by someone,” or (assuming Barack Obama exists, which nobody disputes) “Barack Obama is beloved by no-one.”

    The statements “Barack Obama is beloved by someone” and “Barack Obama is beloved by no-one” cannot both be true at the same time.

    Likewise, the statements “Barack Obama is beloved by Tom Jones” and “Barack Obama is not beloved by Tom Jones” cannot both be true at the same time.

    What Sal’s objection shows, then, is that the Law of Non-Contradiction does not work for vaguely defined predicates (but then, whoever said it did?), and that in the case of predicates which refer to people’s beliefs, desires, preferences and other mental states, the identity of the person (or people) in question needs to be specified, as well as the time at which the statement is applicable.

    Sal also referred to the statement: “3 is not 1, therefore God cannot be 1 and 3 according to the Law of Non Contradiction.” But the question needs to be asked: one what? It is quite consistent to say that God is One Being, while at the same time affirming that God is Three Persons.

    I hope Sal will agree that subject to the clarifications made above, the Law of Non-Contradiction is an indispensable tool of thought. For what it’s worth, I always enjoy reading his posts.

  213. Graham2,

    You ask: “How do we know objective morality when we see it?”

    There are several questions which you can ask yourself that will give you the answer in nearly all cases. For example:

    1. Does the action aim at a good end, and does it achieve that end through a good means? (If it doesn’t, then it’s wrong.)

    2. Does the action proposed satisfy Kant’s maxim that we ought to regard people as ends-in-themselves? (If it doesn’t, then it’s wrong.)

    3. Does the action proposed frustrate any of our natural human ends? (If it does, then it’s wrong.)

    4. Does the action proposed violate any of our natural duties? (If it does, then it’s wrong.)

    5. Is the action proposed contrary to the public good? (If it is, then it’s wrong.)

    6. Does the action proposed conform to the Golden Rule? (If it doesn’t, then it’s wrong.)

    An action which satisfies all these conditions, and which doesn’t violate any existing obligation (be it natural or social) that we may have, or deny someone something which they are justly entitled to, can safely be regarded as right.

    Some legitimate disagreements can exist between two people regarding such matters as what the exact content of our natural and social obligations consists in, and what our natural ends are. For a good summary of the areas of disagreement between natural law theorists, please see here:

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entr.....rNatLawThe

    However, the possibility of disagreement between two people on certain judgments does not render their judgments purely subjective.

  214. However, the possibility of disagreement between two people on certain judgments does not render their judgments purely subjective.

    But they can’t both have made objective judgments at the same time and in the same sense, surely?

  215. the Law of Non-Contradiction does not work for vaguely defined predicates (but then, whoever said it did?),

    Agreed.

    Let’s state this as clearly as possible.

    Let E be the proposition “Barack Obama is beloved by someone.” Then not-E is the proposition “It is not the case that Barack Obama is beloved by someone,” or (assuming Barack Obama exists, which nobody disputes) “Barack Obama is beloved by no-one.”

    the alternate way I suggested :

    Bararck Obama is beloved by some and not-beloved by others

    Which results in no contradiction, and accurately states the state of affairs.

    The problem of presumption of one’s perception as being universal arose in physics and whether one observer’s perception can have objective priority over another’s. I alluded to it here:

    If Observer A is stationary at the train station, and Observer B is in the Train and lightning hits both ends of the train, each observer’s clock will register a totally different history of events.

    The problem is two honest, accurate observers will give two conflicting histories of events. From a physics standpoint, this was very disturbing as it raised the issue whether one can be in a privileged position on certain matters even in principle.

    Objective reality exists, but it highlighted some difficulties in framing certain questions like “did the lighting hit the train at the same time”. Observer A and Observer B will give truthful, accurate but conflicting accounts.

    How does one frame the predicates without vagueness? Simply by saying “Observer A will say the events happened simultaneously, and Observer B will not.”

    Nevertheless, this raises the general issue of extrapolating our perceptions and intuitions as some universal truth. One might naively conclude history of events is the same for all, Special Relativity says it is most definitely not.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wteiuxyqtoM

    Imagine two observers, one seated in the center of a speeding train car, and another standing on the platform as the train races by. As the center of the car passes the observer on the platform, he sees two bolts of lightning strike the car – one on the front, and one on the rear. The flashes of light from each strike reach him at the same time, so he concludes that the bolts were simultaneous, since he knows that the light from both strikes traveled the same distance at the same speed, the speed of light. He also predicts that his friend on the train will notice the front strike before the rear strike, because from her perspective on the platform the train is moving to meet the flash from the front, and moving away from the flash from the rear.

    But what does the passenger see? As her friend on the platform predicted, the passenger does notice the flash from the front before the flash from the rear. But her conclusion is very different. As Einstein showed, the speed of the flashes as measured in the reference frame of the train must also be the speed of light. So, because each light pulse travels the same distance from each end of the train to the passenger, and because both pulses must move at the same speed, he can only conclude one thing: if he sees the front strike first, it actually happened first.

    Whose interpretation is correct – the observer on the platform, who claims that the strikes happened simultaneously, or the observer on the train, who claims that the front strike happened before the rear strike? Einstein tells us that both are correct, within their own frame of reference. This is a fundamental result of special relativity: From different reference frames, there can never be agreement on the simultaneity of events.

    It’s easy to misuse the LNC when predicates have not been sufficiently disambiguated or if one observer presumes priority in declaring what is true when multiple observers will truthfully and accurately perceive the same thing different ways.

    I pointed to the Civil war conflict where people who had moral sense, believed in God the creator, and even rejected slavery (some Southerners rejected slavery), but were aiming guns at each other. Brothers in Christ seeing things with opposite views of right and wrong killing each other. My denomination (PCA) traces its history through the split in the church due to the war, and yet both professed essentially the same creeds at the time.

    I do believe in an ultimate right and wrong, but whose perspective is the most important? I do not think innate moral sense, though usually a good guide, is the perfect guide, the Law Giver is the best guide, but it is not always clear what he wishes.

    For what it’s worth, I always enjoy reading his posts.

    Likewise. Thank you.

  216. Hi Alan,

    The operative word in the sentence of mine which you quoted was “purely.”

    With regard to the contradiction you proposed, two mutually contradictory judgments cannot both objectively true at the same time and in the same sense.

  217. With regard to the contradiction you proposed, two mutually contradictory judgments cannot both objectively true at the same time and in the same sense.

    And, of course, I agree. However, how can we establish if any moral judgement is objectively true?

  218. Mark Frank

    It is fairly clear now that what you and KF mean is there are potential errors that people could make.

    It could be either potential or actual.

    Quite what “exists” adds in that context. I don’t know.

    The error.

    Consider the potential error 6293+4124=3829. I don’t suppose anyone has ever made that error. What is the significance of saying it exists?

    The error points to an objective truth: Both sides of an equation are equal. If that objective truth didn’t exist, then the error could not be established.

    If all you mean is that there are lots of possible errors people could make then why not say that in normal English?

    No, I actually mean what I said. Error exists. False ideas, concepts, propositions, and philosophies exist.

    If error exists, then it follows that the truth from which it deviates also exists. Accordingly, the truth that exists must be objective because only a standard outside the individual can determine the erroneous nature of the proposition or idea being put forward.

    If, for example, geocentrism is a false description of the relationship between the earth and the sun, there is also an objectively true description of that same relationship [heliocentrism]. Accordingly, the error is established on the basis of the objective truth which defines it as error.

    If, therefore, an error exists about a state of affairs or fact, then the objective truth about that state of affairs or fact must also exist. Since errors do exist, therefore, objective truth exists. This follows as surely as night follows day.

    Whoa – there are lots of types of errors – not all of them are falsehoods. Here are some examples of errors:
    * Miss a penalty in soccer
    * Judge someone to be attractive (and later change my mind)
    * Think a film was funny (and later change my mind)

    None of these require any truth from which it deviates (although factual discoveries may influence you). Of course it is true that errors about matters

    To miss a penalty in soccer, judge someone’s appeal, or interpret comedy is not to hold a false idea or deviate from the truth. The first is the misapplication of a rule; the second and third are aesthetic judgments: None of the three is related to a definitive state of affairs and cannot,, therefore, deviate from the truth.

    * Believe homosexuality to be wrong (and later change my mind)

    A belief is not necessarily an established error or statement of fact. It could be a false belief. It may not be a fact.

    Let’s return to the point: Error exists, therefore, the objective truth from which it deviates also exists.

  219. MF: Please note that the analysis works by actually instantiating an error, so the condition that errors contingently don’t exist is impossible to achieve (especially as once a proposition P exists by implication the proposition ~P that denies the original also exists . . . by implication P holds its meaning in contrast to its antithesis — the issue is, which one is one asserting). KF

  220. AF:

    I suggest, you start from the yardstick proposition in the OP. Then, reflect on what it means to affirm it and what it means to deny it, with particular reference to acting on what one says. Then consider consequences.

    KF

  221. PS: Then, consider which is absurd, why. Presto.

  222. PPS: Here’s a little help. Consider stepping up to the plate, publishing in your local newspaper of record and signing the following proposition and corollary:

    A: it is neither Self-Evident nor true that it would be wrong to kidnap, torture, rape and murder a child. With corollary, that if such is in progress we are NOT duty-bound to intervene to save the child.

  223. Scordova

    Perhaps you only presume it is inviolable because you only consider propositions that obey strong LNC, but there are many propositions that don’t because they are too ambiguous.

    It was I who pointed this out to you, alluding to your vague notion that Obama is both loved and unloved. Now you are preaching my own sermon back to me as if I needed to hear it and you didn’t?

    In any case, I am more concerned with your fluid position on the LNC. When Barry asks you a straight question, you give a non-equivocating answer, but you seem to have quietly changed your position. Recall many of our earlier discussions. Here is one I remember most clearly:

    SB: “Jupiter cannot both exist and not exist at the same time as an ontological reality.”

    Scordova

    Schrodinger’s cat paradox cast’s some doubt on such notions. Truth seem to have some dependence on observers, at least in the quantum world.

    What say you now? Can Jupiter exist and not exist at the same time as an ontological reality?

  224. VJT #213: You dont seem to understand the problem either. Start with your no. 1: What is ‘good’ ? Who decides ? Who is right ? Who is wrong ? The remaining points all suffer the same problem. They refer to ‘natural duties’, ‘public good’ etc, but according to whos judgement ?

    Eg: Playboy magazines are publicly displayed in western countrys, but not in, say, Egypt. So who is right ? Who is wrong ? How can you tell ?

    In general, any judgement from any person will be different. So how can you tell who is right ? You can apply a yardstick, but the yardstick is, itself, different for different people. My concept of ‘public good’ is different to yours, and yours to the next person, etc.

    Pleas note Im not disputing the existence of objective morality here (though I dont believe it exists) but for the moment Im simply arguing that we cannot identify it.

    Lastly, if there was truly some method of determining if a decision lined up with the ‘higher law’ then why do we bother with juries ? Why doesnt the judge simply apply your rules (see #213!) and come up with the ‘correct’ answer as per the ‘higher law’ ?

  225. SB

    It could be either potential or actual.

    Consider the potential error 6293+4124=3829. I don’t suppose anyone has ever made that error. What is the significance of saying it exists?
    The error points to an objective truth: Both sides of an equation are equal. If that objective truth didn’t exist, then the error could not be established.

    So here is an error that never actually happened but still exists!  This is philosophy gone mad. Following this rule to this every possible thing exists even if it never happened. If you want to use “exist” this way that is up to you but expect considerable confusion.

    If error exists, then it follows that the truth from which it deviates also exists. Accordingly, the truth that exists must be objective because only a standard outside the individual can determine the erroneous nature of the proposition or idea being put forward.

    It appears this is just an elaborate way of saying some things are objectively true. I have no problem with that. Many things are.

    To miss a penalty in soccer, judge someone’s appeal, or interpret comedy is not to hold a false idea or deviate from the truth. The first is the misapplication of a rule; the second and third are aesthetic judgments: None of the three is related to a definitive state of affairs and cannot,, therefore, deviate from the truth.

    Good so we have agreed that some errors do not correspond to objective states of affairs.

    A belief is not necessarily an established error or statement of fact. It could be a false belief. It may not be a fact.

    OK. I will rephrase that – one may make an error of judgement about whether homosexuality is wrong.

    Let’s return to the point: Error exists, therefore, the objective truth from which it deviates also exists.

    The use of the singular error is a trap. There are infinitely many errors of many types – some of them deviate from objective truths, others don’t as you accept above.  The question is what error is it to wrongly judge some act or person to be evil.  That remains just as open to dispute as it was before you brought all the error business into it.

  226. F/N: onlookers, the suggestion at 222 probably sounds over the top — precisely because it is absurd. However, there is a little shocker.

    Start, with dean of New Atheism, Dr Richard Dawkins’ statement in Sci Am, August 1995, as is cited in the OP:

    Nature is not cruel, only pitilessly indifferent. This lesson is one of the hardest for humans to learn. We cannot accept that things might be neither good nor evil, neither cruel nor kind, but simply callous: indifferent to all suffering, lacking all purpose [--> It escapes Dr Dawkins that we may have good reason for refusing this implication of his favoured ideological evolutionary materialism] . . . .

    In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but pitiless indifference [--> As in open admission of utter amorality that opens the door to nihilism] . . . . DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music. [“God’s Utility Function,” Sci. Am. Aug 1995, pp. 80 - 85.]

    Notice, carefully, what Dawkins says.

    Then, notice also, that the absurdity in 222, is a direct consequence of the amorality of evolutionary materialism as espoused by Dawkins.

    Then, please, think again.

    KF

  227. MF:

    Let us review AmHD again:

    er·ror
    (rr)
    n.
    1. An act, assertion, or belief that unintentionally deviates from what is correct, right, or true.
    2. The condition of having incorrect or false knowledge.
    3. The act or an instance of deviating from an accepted code of behavior.
    4. A mistake.
    5. Mathematics The difference between a computed or measured value and a true or theoretically correct value.
    6. Abbr. E Baseball A defensive fielding or throwing misplay by a player when a play normally should have resulted in an out or prevented an advance by a base runner.
    [Middle English errour, from Old French, from Latin error, from errre, to err; see ers- in Indo-European roots.]

    In short, neither SB nor the undersigned has indulged in idiosyncratic usage.

    Rather, it seems that — with all due respect — not wishing to accept the conclusion, you have sought to find objections that would otherwise be of very little value.

    KF

  228. G2:

    Pardon, but again, diversity of opinion is a matter of fact on any number of topics. That by no means implies that no-one is right on such, or that the “only” way to come to a conclusion is tastes and preferences perhaps backed up by controlling the mikes and the guns that stand behind the courts.

    That is precisely why key cases that reveal underlying bedrock principles and standards can help us move forward to understanding how we are governed by ought, and thus to learn how to value, respect and cherish neighbour as self. (And, BTW, pornography is a destructive, abusive plague that exploits especially young women in a species of human trafficking. The notion that it is harmless expression is far off the mark.)

    So, let us go back to the yardstick cases in the OP. Can you tell us what is so “frightening” — your repeated words, recall — about seeing it as duty to protect children from so horrific a fate as was outlined? Or, to respect life, liberty and the need to fulfill potential and purpose [what pursuit of happiness means], or the notion that governments derive legitimacy from the people and are subject to petition, remonstrance and replacement; this last especially (as bought at the price of blood) through the ballot box?

    KF

  229. Gragam2

    1:” What is ‘good’ ?”

    Anything is good for a thing if it fits its nature and purpose. A car has a nature and purpose. It’s nature, among other things, is to burn gas and turn wheels. It’s purpose is transportation. Gas is good for the engine, water is bad; oil is good for the crankcase, molasses is bad.

    “Who decides ?”

    Whoever creates the thing and establishes its purpose also decides what is good for it.

    “Who is right ?”

    Whoever recommends a policy or action in keeping with the thing’s nature and purpose. With respect to an automobile, anyone who recommends putting gasoline in the tank and oil in the crankcase is right.

    “Who is wrong ?”

    Whoever recommends a policy or action that violates a thing’s nature and purpose. Anyone who recommends putting water in the gas tank and molasses in the crankcase is wrong.

    “The remaining points all suffer the same problem.”

    What problem?

    “They refer to ‘natural duties’, ‘public good’ etc, but according to whose judgement ?”

    According to the judgment of those who know the nature and purpose of the public good.

    “Playboy magazines are publicly displayed in western countrys, but not in, say, Egypt.

    “So who is right ?”

    Those who don’t display it.

    ” Who is wrong ?”

    Those who do display it.

    “How can you tell ?”

    It violates the dignity of the human person, both the person being observed and the observer. Humans were made to love each other, not to ogle at other human beings as sexual objects, which is a very selfish and unloving thing to do.

    “In general, any judgement from any person will be different.”

    So what?

    “So how can you tell who is right ?”

    You are repeating yourself.

    “You can apply a yardstick, but the yardstick is, itself, different for different people.”

    The yardstick is not different for those who know it and the reason for it. It is different for those who do not know the purpose of a yardstick.

    “My concept of ‘public good’ is different to yours, and yours to the next person, etc.”

    What is your yardstick for the public good? Define the public good.

    “Please note Im not disputing the existence of objective morality here (though I dont believe it exists) but for the moment Im simply arguing that we cannot identify it.”

    The Ten Commandments, The Sermon on the Mount, and the Law of love, constitute objective morality and higher law. A large section of first part is easy to identify since everyone already knows it instinctively. It is not the same thing as the civil law, though the former ought to influence the latter.

    “Lastly, if there was truly some method of determining if a decision lined up with the ‘higher law’ then why do we bother with juries ?”

    Juries are not supposed to determine morality. They are supposed to decide whether defendants are innocent are guilty of violating morality.

    “Why doesnt the judge simply apply your rules (see #213!) and come up with the ‘correct’ answer as per the ‘higher law’ ?”

    Not all judges believe in that higher law. Besides, not every act is easy to identify as being moral or immoral. Also, many acts, perhaps most acts, are morally neutral. There are such things as hard cases. Without objective morality as a guiding principle, the hard cases become impossible cases.

  230. The yardstick is not different for those who know it

    So who ‘knows it’ ?

    You just dont get it.

  231. Mark Frank

    So here is an error that never actually happened but still exists!

    You are the one that introduced the word, “potential,”

    It is fairly clear now that what you and KF mean is there are potential errors that people could make.

    And you intruded that word in your example question:

    Consider the potential error 6293+4124=3829. I don’t suppose anyone has ever made that error. What is the significance of saying it exists?

    and you asked me to address it on that basis. If your don’t think it is potential, and I agree that it isn’t, then don’t ask me to address it on that basis. In fact, it is an actual error and it points to objective truth.

    This is philosophy gone mad.

    I agree. So, quit injecting it into the discussion. We are talking about actual errors. Let is speak of errors.

    Following this rule to this every possible thing exists even if it never happened. If you want to use “exist” this way that is up to you

    No, I don’t want to use “exist” the way you want to use it, because it is irrelevant to the argument. So please stop asking me to address questions that are framed that way. I want to use the word exist to mean what it means, actual existence. And I do not want to use the word potential since it is totally irrelevant. Are we clear on that. I hope so. Now that we agree on that point, do you have anything to say about the argument.” Errors exist, therefore, objective truth exists.

  232. Can Jupiter exist and not exist at the same time as an ontological reality?

    If I suppose on faith that Jupiter exists from my reference frame, in my corner of the quantum world, in my sense, in my state, then I assume it cannot simultaneously not-exist.

    But do quantum realities count as ontological? I don’t know the answer to that. If not, then no, if yes, then yes. I leave it to philosophers to answer such questions.

    But first some preliminaries. For large macroscopic objects like Jupiter, classical perceptions and physics rule, but when one starts describing objects at the atomic level that are close in proportion to Plank’s constant, then these sort of questions become quite serious.

    Thus, if Jupiter looks like it is there, there is virtually no chance it is not there in from our perspective. But for atomic and sub atomic size particles it’s not quite so cut and dry…

    Quantum computing is a serious technological advance and it does raise ontological questions because a quantum bit (Q-bit) can be both true and not true:

    (Q-bit = true AND Q-bit = false) = TRUE

    Hence we have the Schrodinger Cat paradox, but now, not a mere curiosity, but the Schrodinger Cat paradox is a means to make faster computers!

    So how does this not violate LNC? Perhaps the predicate is not well formed, or perhaps the notion of ontological reality is an ill posed question like asking “what is the structure of a square circle”. One solution is that there isn’t an objective reality. I reject that, but my point was, QM and GR begin to pose doubt on such questions in the minds of some…

    Btw, experiments have been run that re-write history such as the famous Quantum Erasure experiments.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Q.....experiment

    I also pointed out the train paradox. As in the case of the train paradox it doesn’t make sense to say: “did the events happen simultaneously or not”, it is an ontologically senseless question to ask. You have multiple correct, accurate, honest, but conflicting answers to the question.

    There may be ontological questions that shouldn’t even be posed like “does a square circle have diameter?”, but in the case of certain quantum uncertainties, even plain old existence may not be a well-posed question — like asking if Schrodinger’s cat is alive or dead.

    That said, if one accepts that there is God (physicists would call him the Ultimate Observer), then we can have objective reality. I accept this postulate, and hence I believe in objective reality.

    Others do not accept the God postulate, and hence the question of Jupiter’s existence is meaningless in the ultimate sense, only meaningful from our perspective. In the many-worlds interpretation of QM, Jupiter exists in one world and not another, and since there is no privileged observer, there is objective answer to the question, hence it can exist and not exist at the same time – whether that is ontological existence, I leave for the philosophers.

    But the Schrodinger cat paradox is not a mere intellectual curiousity, it’s what could fuel the next generation of computers that leverage “many worlds” (whether the worlds are real or virtual, is a philosophical question, I opt for believing the many-worlds of q-bits are only virtual in the ultimate sense).

    I do not hold the many-worlds, multiverse view. I believe in objective reality.

    You made the accusation:

    you deny the Law of Non-Contradiction but the fact of it.

    I did not deny the Law, that’s your mis-characterization of what I believe, I deny that it is universally applicable to every proposition.

    Philosophical ideas are usually couched in language that is not amenable to LNC, so why the emphasis?

    In my debates with Darwinists I rely heavily on LNC arguments. However, I’m not at all enthusiastic about the use of LNC in matters philosophical and theological because the propositions are not amenable to the rigors of an LNC system. The result is philosophers extrapolate their limited understanding of the world to universal scale thinking they have air tight arguments when really they were based on propositions that wouldn’t fit within LNC logic.

    You took offense that I criticized your notion of natural law in morality. Natural law is an approximate guide, but it’s not the most accurate. Adultery, theft, murder — these can be forgiven in God’s sight, but according to Christian doctrine, not trusting in Christ will result in greater punishment. Natural law theology doesn’t guide someone to the most important decision they’ll make, namely accepting Jesus as savior.

    I just found it distasteful to hear talk of objective morality from Christians, and hear no appeal to Jesus, the one with the most objective perspective. In the Christian view, the Bible was written from the ultimate objective reference, God himself.

    Now, there are competing religious texts. Hence, I’m interested whether there is physical evidence the Bible is indeed the objective perspective handed down from the Intelligent Designer himself.

    My personal interests to that effect:
    1. Genetic Entropy to confirm the genealogy of Christ,
    2. Archaeology to verify other claims of the Bible,
    3. Geology to detect evidence of Noah’s flood
    4. Cosmology and Physics to detect possible youthfulness of the universe.

    Hence, when those here demand objective evidence of right and wrong, if such evidence is found, if we have evidence the Bible is God’s word vs. any other sacred text, we have our objective law book.

    Natural law morality might be helpful to formulating government policy among parties with disparate beliefs, but in the scheme of things, if Christ is who he says he is, the law of grace is far more important.

    Relying on natural law ideas may lead to behaviors that violate what God wants. I gave some examples to consider, such as parents in Nero’s time, etc. Natural law is like a pilot relying on his sense of motion to guide him. It’s not too bad, he can get by for a while, but in instrument conditions, it could be his demise.

  233. Following this rule to this every possible thing exists even if it never happened. If you want to use “exist” this way that is up to you

    No, I don’t want to use “exist” the way you want to use it, because it is irrelevant to the argument. So please stop asking me to address questions that are framed that way. I want to use the word exist to mean what it means, actual existence. And I do not want to use the word potential since it is totally irrelevant. Are we clear on that? I hope so. Now that we agree on that point, do you have anything to say about the argument.” Errors exist, therefore, objective truth exists.

  234. SB: Can Jupiter exist and not exist at the same time as an ontological reality?

    Scordova

    If I suppose on faith that Jupiter exists from my reference frame, in my corner of the quantum world, in my sense, in my state, then I assume it cannot simultaneously not-exist.

    That is a far different story than the one you told Barry. He asked you if a thing can be true and false at the same time and in the same sense—period, and you answered with an unequivocal no.

    Do you not understand that you were saying, in effect, that the Law of Non-Contradiction admits of no qualifications or exceptions and that it takes logical precedence over the principles of Quantum mechanics. Now you seem to be saying what you have always said: that the principles of quantum mechanics take logical precedence over the Law of Non-Contradiction, which, you seem to be saying, does allows for exceptions in some circumstances.

  235. Well then I, I defer to you philosophical judgement, QM doesn’t count as ontological reality, many quantum worlds do not count as the same sense, hence QM will never over ride LNC. Never ever.

    I never said it violates LNC, but it was truthful of me to say, for some, it cast doubt on the matter. I certainly found the question perplexing.

    There are you happy?

  236. Scordova

    Well then I, I defer to you philosophical judgement, QM doesn’t count as ontological reality, many quantum worlds do not count as the same sense, hence QM will never over ride LNC. Never ever.

    I didn’t say that QM doesn’t count as ontological reality. On the contrary, QM does count as ontological reality. So, my question persists: Given that quantum mechanics is part of ontological reality (the reality that exists independent of mind) can you still say that QM will never override LNC. I realize that you will never grant it for what it is, namely a self-evident truth, since you think it must be taken on faith, but I would appreciate a direct answer.

    I never said it violates LNC, but it was truthful of me to say, for some, it cast doubt on the matter. I certainly found the question perplexing.

    I don’t know why it would be perplexing to consider the prospect that Jupiter cannot exist and not exist at the same time. It’s no more perplexing than the question of whether a thing can be true and false at the same time. The first question is the ontological version of contradiction and the second is its psychological/logical counterpart. If Barry’s question pertains to the latter, and you answered it without hesitation, why would you hesitate to answer the former question with equal conviction?

  237. SB: Can Jupiter exist and not exist at the same time as an ontological reality?

    Yes. Everyday, for half of the world, Sun exists while for the other half Sun ceases to exist. For atheist God doesn’t exist, for a child monsters under bed doesn’t exist until nightfall. For blind the world doesn’t exist, for color blind Red doesn’t exist. For a fly a single world doesn’t exist – it has compound eyes. In general what exists for one doesn’t necessary exist for all.

  238. 238
    CentralScrutinizer

    StephenB: I don’t know why it would be perplexing to consider the prospect that Jupiter cannot exist and not exist at the same time.

    Quantum uncertainly leads to ambiguities, that’s why. Apparently you know nothing of the subject. There are several interpretations of the quantum equations that attempt to make the realities of the empirical quantum world make more “sense” to us. For example, the Many Worlds interpretation is the view that a reality bifurcates every time a wave-function collapses and a superposition becomes “reduces” to a classical level object or event. Other interpretation try to approach the quantum evidence in other ways. My point is, all of the interpretation imply that “reality isn’t what we think it is in a common sense way.” If you are not aware of that, then you have no right to give Sal any static.

    If the Many Worlds interpretation is the “right” one, then two Jupiters would exist where only one existed before, when a superposition is reduced. SO, when you ask about “Jupiter” you have to be specific about WHICH Jupiter. It’s not a simple answer, as much as you’d it to be.

    The more you talk to Sal the more you sound like someone raised in the 19th century. Quite frankly, your arguments are patently ignorant of the state of the art. No offense.

  239. CentralScrutinizer,
    You can’t apply Quantum mechanics to Jupiter. I think my comments @237 would appropriately answer StephenB

  240. SB: Can Jupiter exist and not exist at the same time as an ontological reality?

    SelvaRajan:

    Yes. Everyday, for half of the world,

    Thank you for confessing that you are not a rational person.

  241. Central Scrutizer

    Quantum uncertainly leads to ambiguities, that’s why. Apparently you know nothing of the subject.

    I am aware of quantum mechanics and it varied interpretations. You presume too much.

    SO, when you ask about “Jupiter” you have to be specific about WHICH Jupiter. It’s not a simple answer, as much as you’d it to be.

    There is only one Jupiter and quantum mechanics has nothing to say that would invalidate that fact. Thank you for confessing that you are not a rational person.

    At least you and selvaRajan have the courage of your irrational convictions, which is more than I can say about some people on this thread.

  242. Thank you for confessing that you are not a rational person.

    you are welcome :-) Frankly, I find a lot of comments on this thread irrational and shocking, chief among them (implied) – ‘Killing babies is okay’

  243. Selvarajan

    You can’t apply Quantum mechanics to Jupiter

    Well you certainly can’t apply it to the fact of Jupiter’s existence. Maybe you can yet be be saved from irrationality

    In general what exists for one doesn’t necessary exist for all.

    You are starting to regress again.

  244. SelvaRajan:

    Frankly, I find a lot of comments on this thread irrational and shocking, chief among them (implied) – ‘Killing babies is okay’

    I am with you all the way on that one. It is truly irrational to suggest that killing babies is okay. You are definitely showing signs of life again.

  245. Hi SB,
    I certainly don’t see anything wrong with my comments @237. I may be irrational for you but not for everybody!
    If you could explain a bit why you would consider any of the comments @237 false, I could change my views.

  246. 246
    CentralScrutinizer

    SB: I am aware of quantum mechanics and it varied interpretations.

    By your words you appear to be patently ignorant of them, and the solid understanding that Sal has.

    There is only one Jupiter and quantum mechanics has nothing to say that would invalidate that fact.

    Again, ignorance on parade. I won’t bother dealing with you again. Good luck with him, Sal.

  247. 247

    Jupiter’s gravitational effects are ever present, regardless of whether anyone is actively observing it at a specific point in time. Can Jupiter’s gravity both affect and not affect the rest of the solar system relative to different observers at some time t? Of course not. If quantum realities make Jupiter’s existence uncertain for any reason, then there should be a measurable effect of that uncertainty upon the rest of the solar system.

  248. The “grue” paradox might apply here. In a logic class I once took, the color grue was defined as something that was green for 100 years (or more) and then briefly turns blue.

    - So, can an object be both green and grue at the same time?

    - How do you know whether something is green or grue, and how can you be sure?

    - If you can’t sort out colors, what chance do you have of sorting out moral or philosophical issues?

    -Q

  249. SB: There is only one Jupiter and quantum mechanics has nothing to say that would invalidate that fact.

    Central Scrutinizer;

    Again, ignorance on parade. I won’t bother dealing with you again.

    I will miss your reports from the Twilight Zone.

  250. 250

    Q: “The “grue” paradox might apply here.”

    The so-called grue paradox is simply an sophist abusing language, as they are wont to do. It has no application anywhere.

  251. SelvaRajan

    Hi SB,
    I certainly don’t see anything wrong with my comments @237. I may be irrational for you but not for everybody!
    If you could explain a bit why you would consider any of the comments @237 false, I could change my views.

    It will be my privilege. Thank you for asking.

    SB: Can Jupiter exist and not exist at the same time as an ontological reality?

    Yes. Everyday, for half of the world, Sun exists while for the other half Sun ceases to exist.

    No. The sun (or Jupiter for that matter) does not stop existing when it is no longer in view, nor does it begin to exist again when it comes back into view. What changes are the conditions that allow us to view it. Existence is not the same thing as the perception of existence.

    For atheist God doesn’t exist, for a child monsters under bed doesn’t exist until nightfall.

    Same as above. God’s existence does not depend on the atheist’s belief system. God does not die when someone chooses not to believe in Him, nor does He come back to life when someone chooses to believe in Him. Existence is not the same thing as belief in existence. And so on with the remainder of your examples.

    Because you have, through no fault of your own, been steeped in subjectivism, you have come to believe that your beliefs and perceptions define reality. You are not alone. Many others on this thread labor under the same illusion (and delusion).

  252. SC: A superposition of wave states or the like [my favourite quantum example being hybrid orbitals for the C-atom, especially in the Benzine ring . . . ] is not a contradiction. There is a tendency to suggest that it is but that is driven by the ideology, not the proper meaning of such. KF

  253. Q:

    Grue and Bleen etc are put forth to suggest limitations on inductive knowledge. Namely, we cannort account for unobserved, rare changes in a generalisation from a pattern of observations.

    There are two issues here.

    First, there is the question of the stability of the world. The best explanation of which is, the world is a product of ordering mind. Consequently it is reasonable to infer order from instances. Indeed, historically, in light of the Judaeo-Christian tradition, that is the root of modern science.

    The second is like unto it: miracles and unexpected transformations.

    In the Judaeo-Christian frame, there is no problem whatsoever in seeing that we deal with the ordinary course of the world, knowing that for good reason it is open to exceptions so to speak for good reason. Miracles.

    Where also, as inductive knowledge is provisional and subject to adjustment or replacement in light of further experience, if we ever do discover that some emeralds have a property that after a certain time they transform colour to blue, we can hold that this is a new phenomenon to be explained.

    There is in that view no reason to be concerned over whether the emerald is grue or green. If it can somehow spontaneously transform [which would mean there is a metastable state in it and a threshold would have been passed or a tunnelling effect], it was green then was transformed to blue. Just, our observations along the way were limited by ignorance of an interesting possibility.

    But in that, we have an evidence issue, as quantum tunnelling leads to a population effect so the transformation would occur on a population basis, and we would have something comparable to radioactivity and its half-life phenomenon.

    In short, much of the intellectual brouhaha over such issues is hinged to the inherent instability and absurdity of evolutionary materialism as a worldview, which is manifest in ever so many ways. But if this view is ideologically locked in and institutionalised [so that, inter alia it even unduly influences other views . . . ], then as the absurdities mount up, there is going to be a reaction, boiling down to the world is a chaos. Which should sound familiar.

    Comparative difficulties strikes again.

    KF

  254. This error business strikes me as pretty irrelevant as it is only a strange route to the conclusion that there are some objective truths – something everyone here would agree with anyway. However, I can’t resist challenging such extraordinary thinking.

    As I understand it, the case KF and SB make is on the lines of:

    Error exists – this is a self-evident truth which leads to absurdity if denied

    If there is error then there must an objective truth to which it is compared

    Therefore there are objective truths

     

    I have several problems with this. The two most important are

    I don’t know what “error exists” means.

    There are two meanings I could understand:

    a) People make errors

    b) There are lots of potential (and actual) errors  people could make

    In #218 I suggested to SB that it was (b). He replied “it could be potential or actual” which I took as agreement. However, in #231 he appears to be retracting that on the grounds I introduced the word potential. This does leave me confused. SB wants to say that some (in fact I guess most) errors exists even though no one has ever committed them!  I really struggle to know what the word “exist” is doing there. What is it saying over and above (b)? What would it be like for an error not to exist? He seems to be contending that errors exist in some sense apart from actual or potential acts or states of mind of people.

     

    Not all errors are errors of fact

    Errors come in a wide variety of types. Some are misunderstandings about objective facts and can be reasonably be opposed to objective truths. Others are errors of execution, or judgement, or timing or … I supplied some examples in #209 and SB appeared to agree in #218 (but given his apparent agreement on (b) in the same comment followed by retraction in #231 I am not confident). If we accept this then I have to wonder what we can deduce from the fact that error exists (whatever it means).

    Finally in #227 KF kindly supplies a set of definitions of “error” with the comment that neither SB or he have indulged in idiosyncratic usage. I never accused either of idiosyncratic usage of the word “error” only of the word “exists” in the context “error exists” which is not covered in the definition. So I don’t see the relevance of the definitions. However, it is interesting to note that the definitions support my contention that errors are acts or states of mind of people and that they are diverse including not just deviations from what is true also what is correct, right or an accepted code of behaviour.

  255. F/N: Perhaps it may help us all to watch a video adaptation of Plato’s parable of the cave, one that is closely faithful to the original text. KF

  256. MF: Pardon, but the issue is not just that there are objective truths, but that there are self-evident truths, truths that are certain on pain of absurdity on attempted denial. Which has momentous consequences for worldviews. KF

  257. MF: Further, I suggest that you have challenged the idea of error to the extent that you have challenged its status as a noun. One typically names that which exists, that we may discuss it. Are you denying that error exists in any meaningful sense? if so, then, you need to confront again the memory of X-marked elementary school sums or visit such a class in progress. If you mean that errors exist — as produced by the mistaken — but not a collective for them, error, I remind you of set theory, that it is reasonable to collect and name a collective that may be identified reasonably. If you doubt the case for error existing start with the empty set { }, assign it the concept 0, then go to the set that collects the set 0, {0}, then label this 1, and go on to {0, 1} –> 2, etc, so arriving at natural numbers. Are you prepared to deny the credible reality of these sets and their significance? I doubt it, given the province of learning called Mathematics. If you accept N, the natural numbers, then kindly allow us to discuss a set E, error on equally reasonable terms. So also, where entities are produced that manifest an intent to be accurate to reality but fail, errors exist and so also error [the collective set], exists. That set is inherently non-empty, as the propositional case of {E AND ~E} shows. Moreover, we can then go on to see that it is undeniable on pain of absurdity that E is so, i.e. error exists. KF

  258. Since the discussion has descended into the absurd, can I join the fun ?

    If I forget an appointment, I have made a mistake … an error has occured. Now does this error ‘exist’ ? In what universe can you possibly claim it exists ? How long does it exist ? Forever ? Can it ever die ? What if I suddenly realise I was right after all, does the original error cease to exist ?

    Intelligent Design is in safe hands(!).

  259. G2:

    Your problem is not the reality of error, it is the reality of the abstract — a typical problem of materialism and of those influenced thereby.

    Does 2 exist? (Consider the set based discussion just above.)

    Does information? (As in, what is it.)

    Time?

    The past?

    Thinking, understanding self-aware mind, beyond blind mechanical computation?

    Personhood as a stable, enduring identity not just a present state of a blind mechanical system?

    Oughtness, so that we actually exist as stable entities that can have rights and duties, and value that demands respect?

    Or is this the abyss of absurdities that you face, as described by Sir Francis Crick in his 1994, The Astonishing Hypothesis:

    . . . that “You”, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice might have phrased: “You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.” This hypothesis is so alien to the ideas of most people today that it can truly be called astonishing.

    Philip Johnson’s apt retort was that Sir Francis ought to have been willing to preface his books: “I, Francis Crick, my opinions and my science, and even the thoughts expressed in this book, consist of nothing more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.” (In short, as Prof Johnson then went on to say: “[[t]he plausibility of materialistic determinism requires that an implicit exception be made for the theorist.” [In Reason in the Balance, 1995.])

    At this stage, it should be evident that materialism faces big problems starting with common sense reality. Indeed, it is quite plainly utterly and irretrievably self-referentially incoherent. (Cf. here on in context.)

    I suggest you — and for that matter, all of us — scroll up to the OP where I have just added a video version of Plato’s parable of the cave, and take a few moments to watch it.

    KF

  260. PS: Necessary entities like the number 2 or the truth asserted in 2 + 3 = 5, have no beginning or end as they do not depend on external on/off enabling factors and are not impossible entities like square circles. And, given that we live in a cosmos that on overwhelming evidence is contingent, there is an underlying necessary being reality that accounts for such a cosmos. Cf. here on for a 101 level discussion that overlaps with this thread.

  261. KF #256

    I don’t deny that there are statements which if denied lead to absurdity – I would go further and say that different types of statement leads to different kinds of absurdity. Some of these statements could reasonably be described as truths.

    #257

    Further, I suggest that you have challenged the idea of error to the extent that you have challenged its status as a noun. One typically names that which exists, that we may discuss it. Are you denying that error exists in any meaningful sense?

    Following the definition you supplied the noun “error” means:

    1. An act, assertion, or belief that unintentionally deviates from what is correct, right, or true.2. The condition of having incorrect or false knowledge.3. The act or an instance of deviating from an accepted code of behavior.4. A mistake.

    I completely support these definitions which are all human actions or states of mind. You can say they exist if you like. I think it is more natural English to say they happen.  Your phrase is a bit like saying “anger exists”. It is clearer to say people get angry.

     

    If you mean that errors exist — as produced by the mistaken — but not a collective for them, error, I remind you of set theory, that it is reasonable to collect and name a collective that may be identified reasonably. If you doubt the case for error existing start with the empty set { }, assign it the concept 0, then go to the set that collects the set 0, {0}, then label this 1, and go on to {0, 1} –> 2, etc, so arriving at natural numbers. Are you prepared to deny the credible reality of these sets and their significance? I doubt it, given the province of learning called Mathematics. If you accept N, the natural numbers, then kindly allow us to discuss a set E, error on equally reasonable terms. So also, where entities are produced that manifest an intent to be accurate to reality but fail, errors exist and so also error [the collective set], exists.

    I am not sure why you call the set of all errors – “error” – but I happily accept that there is a thing which is the set of all errors. To be precise there is the set of all errors that have been committed. You might also conceivably talk about the set of all possible errors. This a rather weird idea. You could equally talk about the  set of all possible almost anything – the set of all possible promises or a set of all possible appointments or all possible animals. In each case to assert that such a set exists is no more than asserting that it is comprehensible concept. What would it be like for such a set not to exist? Is this all you are trying to say – that error is comprehensible concept?

    That set is inherently non-empty, as the propositional case of {E AND ~E} shows. Moreover, we can then go on to see that it is undeniable on pain of absurdity that E is so, i.e. error exists.

    Which set – the set of all errors that have been committed or the set of all possible errors?

  262. G2 – you are right this is all utterly absurd in little more than a philosophical game – but quite fun.

    KF – by your own definition errors are not abstract entities they are “acts, assertions or beliefs” i.e. things people do or mental states. THis is nothing to do with abstractions.

  263. MF (and others):

    It rather looks like today — on 3rd attempt — is spinal surgery day for my son. I think I will be offline for a while.

    I will note,on the way, the following on what a proposition is from Collins English Dictionary which renders the phil sense aptly:

    proposition (?pr?p??z???n Pronunciation for proposition )
    Definitions
    noun

    a proposal or topic presented for consideration
    (philosophy)
    the content of a sentence that affirms or denies something and is capable of being true or false
    the meaning of such a sentence: I am warm always expresses the same proposition whoever the speaker is
    Compare statement (sense 8)
    (mathematics) a statement or theorem, usually containing its proof
    (informal) a person or matter to be dealt with ? “he’s a difficult proposition”
    an invitation to engage in sexual intercourse

    verb

    (transitive) to propose a plan, deal, etc, to, esp to engage in sexual intercourse . . .

    I think the relevant sense of “assertion” in the definition of error should be clear: propositional. I think others can pick up from here on for now.

    And it is not wise to delimit the set of relevant minds to assert to human ones. (Yes, proposition entails mind in action, but to intend but fail to achieve truth or a correct result etc but fail entails the same. Cf the WJM aphorism in the OP.)

    Later, hopefully — prayerfully — with good news on progress for my son.

    G’day all

    KF

  264. G2: Kindly see just above on what assertions entails in this context, propositions; and yes proposition implies mind. KF

  265. KF – all the best for you and your son.

    Mark

  266. Yes, indeed, G, my hopes and best wishes for a successful outcome.

  267. Hi SB,
    Now I understand why you would consider me crazy(irrational is mild word!), but your question was specifically with reference to Ontology.

    SB: Can Jupiter exist and not exist at the same time as an ontological reality?

    I understand ontology from the following quote:

    It is widely accepted that the first ontological argument was proposed by Anselm of Canterbury in 1078 in his Proslogion. He suggested that, if the greatest possible being exists in the mind, it must also exist in reality. First critic of the ontological argument was Anselm’s contemporary, Gaunilo of Marmoutiers. He used the analogy of a perfect island, suggesting that the ontological could be used to prove the existence of anything

    In the context of the above quote, If you see my examples, you will realize:
    1. What exist in mind need not exist in reality -’ Monster under bed ‘ example
    2. What exist in reality can not be seen by all – ‘Everyday Sun example’
    3. What exist for all doesn’t exist for some – ‘Red color for Color blind’/Blind person’s world example
    4. What exist in reality might not be seen as reality – Compound eye of Fly example.
    so by corollary Jupiter can exist for some at the same time it may not exist for others.

    Hi CentralScrutinizer,
    Quantum mechanics is applicable to quantum particles(like Fermions, Gauge bosons, Higgs boson) only. Many people, right from Philosophers to doctors(like Dr.Chopra), companies like Quantumnman downloadable medicine are using the term to confuse innocent people.

  268. Mark Frank

    I don’t know what “error exists” means

    This response is not credible.

    Using Mark’s own example of an error,

    6293+4124=3829.

    [a] It is obvious that this, is, indeed, an error–and that it exists.

    [b] Clearly, this error deviates from and points to an objective truth that defines the error (both sides of an equation must be equal).

    Since Mark provided the error, it is not possible that he doesn’t know what an error is. It is also not possible that he doesn’t understand the argument being made: Error exists, therefore, objective truth exists.

    Still, he knows he cannot answer it, so he claims not to understand it. This is a pattern and cannot be a coincidence.

  269. #268 SB
    My example is a possible error. As far as I know it has never been committed by anyone. By “error exists” do you simply mean that there are possible errors which people may or may not commit? If so, I understand. If not, I do not understand and need an explanation which goes beyond “there are such things as errors and they exist”. For example, you might:

    * describe what it would be like for an error not to exist
    * give analogies e.g. do possible appointments, promises and animals exist in the same way, if not – what is the relevant difference

  270. It is obvious that this, is, indeed, an error–and that it exists.

    No-one is arguing that errors happen. I don’t think anyone apart from me suggests that “errors exist” is not really true as it smacks of “errors” lying in wait to happen and then remaining in a record somewhere. But , no big deal, in this sense, errors exist.

    What we want to know is how “error exists”; the (apparently) abstract reality of error, separate from an act that can be called an error, it’s anticipation or memory.

  271. #268 SB continued

    I have said countless times above that I accept that objective truth exists. Why would I be concerned if there was an argument that went “error exists, therefore objective truth exists”. Indeed I accept the argument:

    People make errors of fact
    There must be an objective fact to compare to their erroneous belief
    Therefore, there are objective facts

    It seems like a very clumsy way of establishing something everyone would accept without a moment’s hesitation – but it is valid. But is that all you mean?

  272. Hi kairosfocus @263, My best wishes for success of the spinal surgery

    Proposition: the content of a sentence that affirms or denies something and is capable of being true or false

    Let’s take the sentence : ‘The hatchback is red in color’
    1. Those who don’t known English wouldn’t understand ‘Red’. For them the proposition is neither true nor false

    2. For a color blind person, the proposition is false.

    3. For a blind person the proposition is false

    4. For genetically peculiar person, non-visual stimulus (Chromaesthesia) may generate ‘Red color’. For a person with Synesthesia, digits and letters will invoke colors, so for them the proposition may be true or false depending upon what stimulus they get by seeing the hatchback or seeing the numbers and letters written on the hatchback.
    So a proposition is not either true or false for everyone. We can only have a Venn diagram of proposition, where it’s true for some, false for some and false sometimes and true sometimes for others.

  273. Hi Mark Frank,

    May I make a suggestion?

    I think you would have no problem in accepting that the notion of theft presupposes the notion of property. Likewise, the notion of lying presupposes the notion of telling (what one believes to be) the truth. In a similar fashion, the notion of (factual) error presupposes the notion of factual accuracy, i.e. objective truth.

    Once you acknowledge that the term “factual error” applies to some of our beliefs and assertions, it follows that the notion of “factual accuracy” must apply to others. At least some of the things we say, then, are factually accurate, and hence are objectively true statements about reality. I think this is the point that kairosfocus was making.

    In your post at #271, you declare that you accept this line of reasoning, and acknowledge the existence of objective truth. I’m sure kairosfocus will be heartened to hear that.

    The next point at issue, then, is whether there are certain ethical statements which can be described as errors. Since I hold that true ethical statements are grounded in statements about what promotes our flourishing, and since I hold that flourishing – be it in plants, animals or people – is a state of affairs that can be readily observed (e.g. “That plant is thriving”), then I would say it follows automatically that some ethical statements are true. But I know that you will of course disagree with me on this one.

  274. #273 VJ

    Very reasonable. I am just curious to know if the line of reasoning I outlined in #271 is all KF and SB want to imply. I have repeatedly acknowledged that people make errors, and that there are objective truths, throughout this debate so I feel there must be more to it.

  275. #273 VJ

    Since I hold that true ethical statements are grounded in statements about what promotes our flourishing,

    “Grounded in” can mean “caused by”, “justified by”, or just “means”. They are all different and get conveniently conflated in the term “grounded in”. I tried to explain my view on this here.

  276. Hi Graham2,

    Thank you for your post at #224 above. I think StephenB did an excellent job of replying to it. I’d just like say a little more about your comment:

    1: What is ‘good’ ? Who decides ? Who is right ? Who is wrong ? The remaining points all suffer the same problem. They refer to ‘natural duties’, ‘public good’ etc, but according to whose judgement ?

    My position is that ethical statements are grounded in publicly observable conditions of human flourishing. Some things are objectively good for us – food and water, exercise, education, creative activity, the company of others, being raised in a two-parent family, living in a society governed by the rule of law, the appreciation of beauty, and so on. Correlative with this fact, we can say that some things are objectively due (i.e. owed) to the individuals and institutions that promote human flourishing. Hence, “Honor thy father and mother” is a command that binds us.

    In my post, I included a link from The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy that described the basis of natural law thinking, as well as the areas of legitimate controversy among natural law thinkers. I suggest you familiarize yourself with the contents of that article. It’s a good introduction to the subject. Cheers.

  277. Hi Mark Frank,

    Thank you for your recent posts, and for the article of yours that you provided a link to. When I say that true ethical statements are grounded in statements about what promotes our flourishing, I mean that they can be justified by those statements. More precisely, I mean that the various goods that promote our flourishing serve as truthmakers for ethical statements.

    I think this is the best place to begin our ethical reasoning: we should start with what is commonly acknowledged to be true about the flourishing of human beings in general.

  278. Hi kairosfocus,

    All the best for you and your son on this important day. My prayers are with you both.

  279. Folks: Thanks for well wishes, prayers and contributions in thread — though I don’t have focus to read them just now. Son is in surgery as we speak, for a major operation. Is to complete at about EST 1330 hrs, then to ICU. I am offline for now. KF

  280. Mark Frank

    My example is a possible error.

    Perhaps it was once possible, but it now exists. If it didn’t exist, I couldn’t reproduce it and offer as an example of error leading to objective truth.

    As far as I know it has never been committed by anyone.

    I agree. Most likely, no one had ever made that error until you did (knowing, or course, that it was an error) Before that, we can say (someone loosely, not formally) that it was a potential error, one that could possibly be made, but had not yet been made.

    However, this is neither here nor there. I also provided my own example of an existing error, geocentrism. I also showed that it can only be an error in the context of an objective truth (heliocentrism). Thus, objective truth defines and determines error, while error deviates from and confirms objective truth.

    By “error exists” do you simply mean that there are possible errors which people may or may not commit? If so, I understand.

    You keep asking that question, I keep answering it, and you keep ignoring the answer: An error is a false belief, idea, concept, proposition, or philosophy. This is very easy and you are trying to make it hard.

    If not, I do not understand and need an explanation which goes beyond “there are such things as errors and they exist”

    That is all anyone is saying. Everything else you added. Apparently, you are struggling with both the fact and the significance of that observation. If error exists, then objective truth exists. Many here do not agree because they have not thought the matter through. If you do agree, then I don’t understand what you are fussing about.

    For example, you might:

    * describe what it would be like for an error not to exist
    * give analogies e.g. do possible appointments, promises and animals exist in the same way, if not – what is the relevant difference

    An error (as defined) would not exist in a given context if everyone understood and accepted the truth.

    Neither a missed appointment or a broken promise would constitute a false idea, though each could be prompted by a false belief. It would be an error, for example, to believe that most people don’t value their time or appreciate those who keep their word. I suspect that there are people who hold false beliefs in that context, that is, they have cultivated the idea that only their time matters or that only others should keep their word. If that is true, then those errors exist; if it isn’t true, then they don’t.

  281. If not, I do not understand and need an explanation which goes beyond “there are such things as errors and they exist”

    That is all anyone is saying. Everything else you added. Apparently, you are struggling with both the fact and the significance of that observation. If error exists, then objective truth exists. Many here do not agree because they have not thought the matter through. If you do agree, then I don’t understand what you are fussing about.

    For example, you might:

    * describe what it would be like for an error not to exist
    * give analogies e.g. do possible appointments, promises and animals exist in the same way, if not – what is the relevant difference

    An error (as defined) would not exist in a given context if everyone understood and accepted the truth.

    Neither a missed appointment or a broken promise would constitute a false idea, proposition, or philosophy, though each could be prompted by one. It would be an error, for example, to believe that most people don’t value their time or appreciate those who keep their word. I suspect that there are people who hold false beliefs in that context, that is, they have cultivated the idea that only their time matters or that only others should keep their word. If that is true, then those errors exist; if it isn’t true, then they don’t.

  282. SB: The yardstick [for discerning the public good] is not different for those who know it

    So who ‘knows it’ ?

    There are many, including myself who know it. A good society is one in which it is easy to be good and hard to be bad; a bad society is one in which it is easy to be bad and hard to be good.

  283. As I observed on the previous thread, it is the ordinary “errors exist” that is undeniably true. But so what? Its status as “self-evidently true” results from a self-referential short circuit, and tells us nothing about the world. It does open opportunities for wishful reasoning, made possible by the referential flexibility of language.

    Further: “Error exits” entails the unjustified reification of “errors” into “Error.” Given that the mundane “errors exist” triggers the paradox of self-evidence without that reification, the self-referential “self-evidence” of “errors exist” does nothing to justify the promotion of “errors” into “Error”

    The self-evidence of “error exists” is parasitical upon that of “errors exist,” by means of an unjustified reification.

  284. This just in:

    Theatre just called. All went well. Now closing wound. Should be brought to ICU in 45 – 60 minutes.

    Thanks for well-wishes and prayers.

    KF

  285. RB: I cannot get into much of a back-forth but noticed tag end of your comment on posting an update. It can be shown that your analysis is wrong. Where E = Error exists, ~E is antithesis. {E AND ~E} is conjunction and must be 0, i.e. one is false. But already, the conjunction is an error so instantiates E. ~E is false. This is not reification, as error is a real world — and indeed common and factual — phenomenon. The matter at stake is that it is at the next level: E is also UNDENIABLY true and self evident as a consequence. Back to more close to home matters. KF

  286. To set the record straight.

    Sal, I have a question for you:

    Can a proposition be true and false at the same time and in the same sense?

    No.

    Can Jupiter exist and not exist at the same time and in the same sense.

    No.

    I don’t study philosophy, I don’t know what ontological or whatever else a philosopher means by it. In math, we only say exist, we don’t use ontological as qualifier, so I don’t know what StephenB was asking me.

  287. PS: Error denotes the set that collects errors. That’s all that is needed.

  288. Reciprocating Bill

    As I observed on the previous thread, it is the ordinary “errors exist” that is undeniably true.

    The existence of error is undeniably true because it is self-evidently true. If it wasn’t self evidently true, it could reasonably be denied.

    Its status as “self-evidently true” results from a self-referential short circuit,

    What is being apprehended is a truth or error about the real world, not the self.

    and tells us nothing about the world

    What is false about the real world confirms a truth about the real world, and what is true about the real world defines what is false about the real world.

    Further: “Error exits” entails the unjustified reification of “errors” into “Error.”

    To say that something exists is not reification if the thing really exists. Reification implies assigning real existence (or concrete existence) to something that isn’t real or concrete. Thus, the word “reify” is being misused here.

  289. Thanks for interesting post, Kairos. Discussion that developed was interesting.
    All the best to your son.

  290. Scordova

    Can a proposition be true and false at the same time and in the same sense?

    No.

    Can Jupiter exist and not exist at the same time and in the same sense.

    No.”

    OK. No worries.

    The difficulty comes in when some want to say, “Yes, except that quantum mechanics has changed that reality with respect to the micro world.”

    It is a common way to say, wrongly, that one can be selective in the application of LNC–as if “slit experiments” have proven that things can both exist and not exist at the same time in that one context.

    It’s a way of saying, wrongly, that LNC applies most of the time and in most ways but not all of the time and in all ways.

    It is a way of saying, wrongly, that QM can inform LNC (as in Victor Stenger and many of his followers) rather than correctly saying that LNC informs quantum mechanics.

    I don’t study philosophy, I don’t know what ontological or whatever else a philosopher means by it. In math, we only say exist, we don’t use ontological as qualifier, so I don’t know what StephenB was asking me.

    OK.

    One of the reasons it becomes necessary to use the word “ontological” is to make the distinction between what is real and what is perceived to be real. Because philosophy has been so corrupted over the last 300 years, many have been led to believe that a thing can exist “for you” even though it may not exist “for me.”

    Note that several on this thread have already indicated that Jupiter can exist and not exist at the same time “for them.” This radical subjectivism is largely a fallout from the perverse Kantian philosophy of the eighteenth century, which often prompts observers to define reality and perception as one and the same thing.

    I hope, therefore, that readers will understand that I am not being petty when I press the point. Everything turns on recognizing the fact that self evident truths, such as the Law of Non-Contradiction, apply both to our mental framework (logical and psychological) and to the real world outside of our mental framework (ontological). Without self-evident truths, we are not capable of rational thought, much less can we enter into a rational discussion with another person.

  291. Final note: post op, awake, alert, discomfort but no pain, no transfusion needed. KF

  292. RB: “As I observed on the previous thread, it is the ordinary “errors exist” that is undeniably true. Its status as “self-evidently true” results from a self-referential short circuit.

    SB: “What is being apprehended is a truth or error about the real world, not the self.”

    “Self” in “self-referential” has nothing to do with “the self” versus “the world.”

    In this context “errors exist” is shorthand for “propositions in error exist.” It is a statement characterizing some propositions. That statement is also itself a proposition, so it therefore potentially refers to itself. That self-reference accounts for the paradox that arises upon asserting that “errors exist” is in error, a paradox that tells us nothing about the world, nor about “self” for that matter. It does illustrate that ambiguities that can arise as a result of the referential flexibility of language (which permits self-reference) – not dissimilar to “This statement is false.”

  293. RB: This is simply a case where denial of the original proposition instantiated a case of error. That is not viciously circular, it happens to guarantee that the set that collects errors is non-empty. And that is crucial. It leads to undeniable certainty of warrant and knowledge, manifesting self evident truth. The only real problem with it is that ever so much of current thought disparages objective truth much less truth knowable to certainty. It’s not the point that’s the problem, it is that it cuts a wide swath across popular relativist and subjectivist ideologies and worldview beliefs. All that means, is it does a good job; kudos to Josiah Royce who spotted the point and Elton Trueblood who emphasised it. KF

  294. Great news, kairosfocus!

    All the best to you and your family!

    -Q

  295. Reciprocating Bill

    In this context “errors exist” is shorthand for “propositions in error exist.”

    That might be one way of putting it. Or, it could be short hand for saying “There are such things as errors.” Or, it could be shorthand for saying, “Errors are real.” However, I don’t consider the economical formulation of a noun and a verb to be shorthand. It’s a superior form of expression.

    It is a statement characterizing some propositions.

    Well, sort of. It is also a statement about ideas, philosophies, and concepts.

    That statement [errors exist] is also itself a proposition, so it therefore potentially refers to itself.

    Potentially refers to itself? You mean it doesn’t refer to itself immediately, but it may well do so at any time? Why don’t we call it a time-delayed predicate nominative?

    Let me make this easier for you. Error exists is a proposition about propositions. It doesn’t refer to itself. It refers to other propositions. It isn’t self-referential. It doesn’t say, “this error exists.” It couldn’t say that because it isn’t an error to say that errors exist, which is what is being said. It is the truth; it isn’t an error. Errors really exist.

  296. Heres a hint: An ‘error’ is like a ‘circle’ or ‘happiness’, etc. It is a concept invented by humans and exists in the minds of humans. It doesnt ‘exist’ anywhere else.

    Now proceed.

  297. Graham2

    Heres a hint: An ‘error’ is like a ‘circle’ or ‘happiness’, etc. It is a concept invented by humans and exists in the minds of humans. It doesnt ‘exist’ anywhere else.

    Here is a hint: To exist in the mind of a human is to exist. Nothing has been said about where error does or does not exist. When all else fails, try to follow the argument.

  298. Its all a pea-and-thimble game on the different meanings of the word ‘exist’.

    But then you believe we have a ‘mind’, like a grey cloud that follows us around. Fair enough.

  299. 299

    SB: Errors really exist.

    G2: It is a concept invented by humans and exists in the minds of humans. It doesnt ‘exist’ anywhere else.

    If there were no discontinuities in the cosmos, if inexorable law determined everything, then error would not exist. But there are necessary discontinuities in every instance of translated information. It’s a necessary part of the structure of reality if information is to function as a constraint on physical effects. Speaking on the subject of inexorable law, I think it was Plank (perhaps not) that said information gives us the sense that things “could be different”.

    Graham is convinced that error exist only in the minds of humans. One wonders why the cell was degrading mis-folded proteins long before man appeared on the scene.

  300. SB
    I am running out of enthusiasm to pursue this as I agree with the conclusion – there are objective facts – I just want to establish that all you mean by “error exists” is that people make errors. I don’t think you like this definition and struggle for some mysterious extra because while it is obviously true that people make errors it is not self-evidently true in the sense of leading to logical absurdity. 

    Perhaps it was once possible, but it now exists. If it didn’t exist, I couldn’t reproduce it and offer as an example of error leading to objective truth.

    You didn’t reproduce the error. All you reproduced was the characters: 6293+4124=3829. Those characters describe a possible error someone might make. As far as I know no one has made that error. Using KF’s handy definition there has never been an act, assertion or belief that 6293+4124=3829. 
    Curiously in this sentence you are contrasting “possible” with “exists”. This implies not all possible errors exist. So when does a possible error start to exist? When someone writes it down? When they sincerely believe it?

    However, this is neither here nor there. I also provided my own example of an existing error, geocentrism. I also showed that it can only be an error in the context of an objective truth (heliocentrism). Thus, objective truth defines and determines error, while error deviates from and confirms objective truth.

    No problem with this.  If by “error exists” all you mean is “people have made errors” – geocentrism is an error people have made.

    M: By “error exists” do you simply mean that there are possible errors which people may or may not commit? If so, I understand.

    SB: You keep asking that question, I keep answering it, and you keep ignoring the answer: An error is a false belief, idea, concept, proposition, or philosophy. This is very easy and you are trying to make it hard.

    But my question was not “what is an error” – but what do you mean by “error exists”. If you like we can broaden it to what do you mean by a belief, idea, concept, proposition, or philosophy exists? Do you mean people have held that belief, idea, concept, proposition, or philosophy – which would be fine – or do you mean they exist in some other sense which I do not understand?

    MF: If not, I do not understand and need an explanation which goes beyond “there are such things as errors and they exist”
    SB: That is all anyone is saying. Everything else you added.

    But that does not tell me what you mean by “error exists”. It just repeats the assertion. Suppose I was to assert that “undefined concepts exist”- you might reasonably ask what I meant by that. It would be an unsatisfactory response to say that “I mean there are such things as undefined concepts and they exist”.

    Apparently, you are struggling with both the fact and the significance of that observation. If error exists, then objective truth exists. Many here do not agree because they have not thought the matter through. If you do agree, then I don’t understand what you are fussing about.

    I accept that if people make factual errors then there must be objective truths they are wrong about. Equally I accept that if people make true factual statements there must be an objective truth they are right about.  This is not my concern. I simply want to understand what on earth you mean by error exists other than people make errors.

    An error (as defined) would not exist in a given context if everyone understood and accepted the truth.

    This implies an error only exists if people commit it. So 6293+4124=3829 does not exist because no one has ever committed that error. Right?

     

  301. =>An error (as defined) would not exist in a given context if everyone understood and accepted the truth.

    Me=> How will you define ‘truth’? Is truth same for everyone?

  302. CC:

    Today, the 24 hrs longest day continues so I am still a bit off stride. I think I can however give the best description of truth I have found, from Aristotle:

    the truth says of what is, that it is; and of what is not, that it is not . . . [Metaphysics, 1011b, sl. adapted]

    About as good a summary as one can get. And one that, where the standard is met, will hold for all who are but willing and able to see and accept.

    KF

  303. Q and others, thanks. G

  304. F/N: One thing that strikes me is how hard it has been for objectors to deal with a fairly simple and straightforward case of actual undeniable certainty. As scientific claims inherently cannot come close to such a degree of warrant, that speaks volumes for the way we have so often seen deadlock on debates in the context of origins that are forever beyond our direct observation. That gives us context and perspective to help us evaluate. KF

  305. UB:

    Graham is convinced that error exist only in the minds of humans. One wonders why the cell was degrading mis-folded proteins long before man appeared on the scene.

    Well said.

    KF

  306. Dr Selensky: It is always good to hear from you. All the best. KF

  307. #304 KF

    First – I am delighted to hear that your son’s operation is proceeding well.

    One thing that strikes me is how hard it has been for objectors to deal with a fairly simple and straightforward case of actual undeniable certainty.

    I wonder which undeniable certainty you are referring to? I have no problem dealing with some things being objectively true. I do have a problem with:

    The enigmatic statement “error exists” which I think just means that “people make errors” (which is unexceptional) but you can’t quite seem to bear to agree with that.

    The deduction that “error exists” is logically certain as opposed to just obviously true – which of course depends rather on what you mean by “error exists”.

    The axiomatic role that you give to this statement in deducing that there are objective facts when it would follow equally from other unexceptional premises such as “people sometimes make correct statements about the world” and “the world would exist even if there were no being able to perceive it”

  308. MF: Pardon, but you have inadvertently underscored the point with your description of “error exists” as an enigma. It is anything but perplexing or a sphinx-like riddle. It is quite simple: the set that collects errors is non-empty — which you can accept as the pivotal content of the proposition, there is at least one x such that x is an element of set E . . . that set which collects errors. The key onward point is that this factually well grounded and generally accepted observation is also UNDENIABLE, as the attempt to deny automatically generates one or more errors. Onward, this highlights that truth exists as what accurately describes reality, that in cases it is knowable even to absolute certainty, indeed self evident knowable truth exists and so also worldviews and ideologies that sit poorly with such a state of affairs are in trouble. KF

  309. O/T: A bit of explanation re spinal corrective surgery. KF

  310. SB:

    Error exists is a proposition about propositions. It doesn’t refer to itself. It refers to other propositions.

    Now you’ve shot yourself in the foot.

    If “error exists” is a proposition about other propositions, only, not about itself, then the truth value of the proposition “errors exist” is excluded from the evaluation of whether the proposition “errors exist” is true or false, and fails to compel the conclusion that it is true.

    That only occurs when the propositions to which “errors exist” refers includes itself. In which case the proposition “errors exist” is self-referential.

  311. Hi KF,

    truth exists as what accurately describes reality, that in cases it is knowable even to absolute certainty, indeed self evident knowable truth exists

    IMHO
    9/11 was pain and tragedy for many, joy for some. It was what God requested of some, it was a Satanic act for many. The perpetrators were shaheed for some, terrorist for many. Absolute truth cannot exist in thought, acts and religion of everyone.
    So philosophically, there can be no absolute error since error is nothing but deviation from truth.

  312. Reciprocating Bill

    If “error exists” is a proposition about other propositions, only, not about itself, then the truth value of the proposition “errors exist” is excluded from the evaluation of whether the proposition “errors exist” is true or false, and fails to compel the conclusion that it is true.

    Learn to differentiate between a descriptive, short-cut expression that emphasizes one particular aspect of a general argument in order to address an objection that raises that aspect, and the argument itself. “Error exists” is a statement about the real world of abstract ideas.

    Not all abstract ideas, however, are propositions. Some are simple concepts; others are complex philosophies. In fact, the statement “error exists” is more than a mere proposition or statement of opinion; it is a self-evident truth. In any case, the one thing the statement does not do is refer to itself. It does not say, “this statement is an error.”

    In case you have forgotten, or in case you didn’t know, there is an argument on the table. Here it is: Errors, exist, therefore objective truth exists. Other than searching for linguistic tangles that do not exist, do you have anything to say about the subject matter being discussed?

  313. RB:

    At first level, E = “error exists” is known to be factually true. It is not self referential and incoherent. The denial, ~ E = “it is an error to assert E,” as it turns out IS self referential and thus incoherent; as it is an error as already shown.

    SR:

    The 9/11 events were objectively an instance of mass murder, rooted in hostage taking. It is possible for people to believe that such was justified — people felt justified in throwing Christians to lions as perceived traitors to Rome unwilling to take a loyalty oath and as perceived enemies of humanity blameworthy for the fire in Rome of 64 too, but that mere matter of opinions one way or another does not affect its actual status as a patent violation of right to life. That IslamIST extremism promotes that sort of disregard for life is a sobering sign about that movement, not a good one. Let me again remind of canon Hooker’s summary cited by Locke in founding what would become modern liberty and democracy:

    . . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man’s hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . [[Hooker then continues, citing Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics, Bk 8:] as namely, That because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ] [[Eccl. Polity,preface, Bk I, "ch." 8, p.80]

    I suggest, further, that you examine the above video on the parable of Plato’s cave.

    Mass delusion and behaviour rooted in such are possible. That has nothing to do with whether self evident truth exists as was also discussed, or whether we can objectively know things to be wrong beyond reasonable doubt in many cases and even absolutely in others. Save, that one way to see the irrationality of trying to write off a major function of mind as delusional — conscience — is to realise that it opens the door wide to self-referential incoherence on the general credibility of the mind. As was also discussed.

    Finally, kindly examine:

    MORAL YARDSTICK 1: it is Self-Evidently True that it would be wrong to kidnap, torture, rape and murder a child. With corollary, that if such is in progress we are duty-bound to intervene to save the child from the monster.

    Would you be willing to write and publish a column in your local newspaper over your name and photo, defending the contrary:

    (a)it is NEITHER Self-Evident NOR True that it would be wrong to kidnap, torture, rape and murder a child.

    (b) if such is in progress we are NOT duty-bound to intervene to save the child

    Why or why not?

    That is, in just what ways can you escape the conclusion that denials (a) and (b) just now are patently absurd?

    Then, kindly explain your view of this from Dawkins [and which is cited in the OP], which DIRECTLY implies just these denials (a) and (b):

    Nature is not cruel, only pitilessly indifferent. This lesson is one of the hardest for humans to learn. We cannot accept that things might be neither good nor evil, neither cruel nor kind, but simply callous: indifferent to all suffering, lacking all purpose [--> It escapes Dr Dawkins that we may have good reason for refusing this implication of his favoured ideological evolutionary materialism] . . . .

    In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but pitiless indifference [--> As in open admission of utter amorality that opens the door to nihilism] . . . . DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music. [“God’s Utility Function,” Sci. Am. Aug 1995, pp. 80 - 85.]

    KF

  314. Mark Frank

    I am running out of enthusiasm to pursue this as I agree with the conclusion – there are objective facts – I just want to establish that all you mean by “error exists” is that people make errors.

    By “errors exist,” I simply mean that false ideas, concepts, propositions, and philosophies exist in the realm of abstract realities. Concepts can be analyzed without reference to processes or people.

    I don’t think you like this definition and struggle for some mysterious extra because while it is obviously true that people make errors it is not self-evidently true in the sense of leading to logical absurdity.

    I don’t like your definition because it isn’t my definition and because it emphasizes an activity and a process as opposed to an idea. I argue from my definition, not from your definitions, which, for me, would involve a useless distraction and a misleading emphasis.

    Let me try to express the point using your tactics:

    Mark, I don’t understand what you mean when you say “people commit errors.” Earlier, you simply said that they “make” errors. The first one sound less like a mistake and more like reckless activity. The second formulation sounds more like an accident. Seriously, Mark, I don’t understand what you are saying. Are these errors the result of bad timing, bad luck, or flat-out carelessness? Do they stem from wrong thinking, a misapplication of right thinking, or a combination of both? I am really trying hard to understand you, but so far I am just not grasping your meaning. Do you mean that people have accidents? Or do you mean that accidents happen to people? Are they avoidable or are they inevitable? Would you call them mistakes or errors. Seriously, I am trying to understand. Maybe you just mean to say that accidents and people come together in a random fashion. If so, I might be able to accept that. Or, maybe you mean to say that some accidents are actual and others are potential. That is also a statement I could live with. I am a very flexible and open-minded person and I will accept any definition that I get to choose, even if it has nothing to do with the argument you are making.

  315. @sR

    IMHO
    9/11 was pain and tragedy for many, joy for some. It was what God requested of some, it was a Satanic act for many. The perpetrators were shaheed for some, terrorist for many. Absolute truth cannot exist in thought, acts and religion of everyone.
    So philosophically, there can be no absolute error since error is nothing but deviation from truth.

    This only proves that subjective justifications exist in order to understand and resolve the absolute truth. It is often conflated, the distinction between the two.

    If a crowd sees a red light, debates can wage about the hue of the light, the duration, the brightness, and what the light means. However, these subjective thoughts are reactions to the observed red light. The light exists independent of the subjective interpretations.

  316. KF:

    At first level, E = “error exists” is known to be factually true. It is not self referential and incoherent.

    No one here has denied that “errors exists.” People commit errors all the time. “Error exists” reflects a reification of “error” that needs justification.

    The denial, ~ E = “it is an error to assert E,” as it turns out IS self referential and thus incoherent

    That is also correct. As incoherent and self-referential it says nothing about the world. And as incoherent and self-referential it cannot support the reification of “errors” into “error,” nor the reality of “Truth.”

    Now we’re getting somewhere.

  317. #314 SB

    I am sorry if you think what I am doing is tactics. I know that you essentially treat debate as competition and put great store on not giving an inch. Some of us don’t think of it quite that way.

    There is a bit of difference in the comprehensibility of:

    “Error exists”

    and

    “People make errors”

    Try stopping strangers in the street and asking which of the two they understand!

    Anyhow it all hangs on:

    ” false ideas, concepts, propositions, and philosophies exist in the realm of abstract realities. Concepts can be analyzed without reference to processes or people.”

    But do they exist without reference to people? You seemed to imply that people were required when I asked what it would mean for an error not to exist and you replied:

    An error (as defined) would not exist in a given context if everyone understood and accepted the truth.

    which seems to imply that errors only exist if someone holds the false ideas, concepts, propositions, or philosophy.

  318. SB denies that “errors exist” is self-referential and incoherent. KF States that it is.

    Obviously, the implications of “errors exist” are not subject to obvious, undeniable “self-evidence” given that even the two of you disagree on the propositions fundamental meaning and significance.

  319. F/N: Here we go again:

    KF, 313: >>At first level, E = “error exists” is known to be factually true. It is not self referential and incoherent. The denial, ~ E = “it is an error to assert E,” as it turns out IS self referential and thus incoherent; as it is an error as already shown.>>

    RB, 318: >> SB denies that “errors exist” is self-referential and incoherent. KF States that it is.

    Obviously, the implications of “errors exist” are not subject to obvious, undeniable “self-evidence” given that even the two of you disagree on the propositions fundamental meaning and significance.>> [BTW, observe that at 316, he cites what I said at 313, so something is really funny here.]

    RB seems to have failed to read carefully, and so has misrepresented what I stated at 313. Notice, I also went on to show how the DENIAL that error exists is self-referential and incoherent . . . which from the beginning is part of the reduction to absurdity on attempted denial.

    I hope RB will acknowledge his error. This one cannot be wriggled out of so easily.

    I trust, too, that if the resident nihilists at various fever swamp sites try to make something out of such a blunder, others will point out the error of their ways. But then they are making up how I have allegedly gone to their sites within the past several months and engaged in arguments there when I have done nothing of the sort. (I just hope there has not been an identity theft game going on.)

    KF

  320. MF: It is appropriate to focus on the error itself, the proposition error exists referring to the situation where the set that collects errors is non-empty. And BTW UB reminds us of cellular error detection and correction techniques that obviously are there long before we come to people. Errors can come about by accident or breakdown of systems or by noise and interference, so they are much wider than people making errors. KF

  321. Mark Frank:

    I am sorry if you think what I am doing is tactics. I know that you essentially treat debate as competition and put great store on not giving an inch. Some of us don’t think of it quite that way.

    There is a bit of difference in the comprehensibility of:

    “Error exists”

    and

    “People make errors”

    I am sorry Mark. I simply do not understand what you are saying. You might think that I am using your “I don’t understand” tactic just to avoid argument, but that isn’t the case. Could you define the words “debate” and “competition” for me.

    Are you saying that debates and competitions do not require people. You said nothing about people at all. I have never heard of a debate or competition without people. So I really don’t know what you mean by those words. Much less would I know what you meant if you said “debates exist in the world of public discourse.”

  322. Reciprocating Bill

    “Error exists” reflects a reification of “error” that needs justification.

    Is it really necessary for me to explain the meaning of the word “reify” to you once again?

  323. Is it really necessary for me to explain the meaning of the word “reify” to you once again?

    Wikipedia (and many others):

    “Reification generally refers to making something real, bringing something into being, or making something concrete, absent of evidence.”

    You attribute to the abstraction “Error” (as abstracted across and distinct from “errors”) reality that remains unjustified. That is reification.

    So, no, I don’t need any explanation.

  324. KF @ 313,

    Would you be willing to write and publish a column in your local newspaper over your name and photo, defending the contrary:

    (a)it is NEITHER Self-Evident NOR True that it would be wrong to kidnap, torture, rape and murder a child.

    (b) if such is in progress we are NOT duty-bound to intervene to save the child

    Why or why not?

    Of course not! See my comment @73, @242:
    SR@73

    What ever religion or whatever law is followed, no jury in the world will ever acquit anyone who kills a baby. Period.

    SR@242

    you are welcome :-) Frankly, I find a lot of comments on this thread irrational and shocking, chief among them (implied) – ‘Killing babies is okay’

    because it is self evident, absolute truth, but that is not the case with every situation in life.

    TSErik@315,

    However, these subjective thoughts are reactions to the observed red light. The light exists independent of the subjective interpretations.

    It is not so easy. God has not been seen directly, so can He be independent of subjective interpretation? Any way you look at it, truth is subjective:
    1. What exist in mind need not exist in reality -’ For a child, Monster under bed exists‘
    2. What exist in reality can not be seen by all – ‘Everyday Sun exists for some, ceases to exist for others’
    3. What exist for all doesn’t exist for some – ‘Red color doesn’t exist for Color blind’
    4. What exist in reality might not be seen as reality – Compound eye of Fly sees reality in multiple images not as a single image.

    The whole point is truth cannot be absolute in all situations. It depends on various variables.

  325. Reciprocating Bill

    You attribute to the abstraction “Error” (as abstracted across and distinct from “errors”) reality that remains unjustified. That is reification.

    From Wikipeda:

    “Reification (also known as concretism, or the fallacy of misplaced concreteness) is a fallacy of ambiguity, when an abstraction (abstract belief or hypothetical construct) is treated as if it were a concrete, real event, or physical entity.[1][2] In other words, it is the error of treating as a concrete thing something which is not concrete, but merely an idea.”

    Now show me how I used the word “error” as if were a concrete, physical entituy, or how I treated an abstract entity (error) as something that was concrete and not merely an idea. Show me how I committed the error of “misplaced concreteness.”

  326. RB:

    1: Are you going to correct your misrepresentaiton of me in 318 above?

    2: Are you going to acknowledge that error can properly denote the set that collects errors (if any exist), and so is not subject to the accusation of reification no more than the sets that denote the abstract property we call number, from { } –> 0, to {0} –> 1 to {0,1} –> 2 etc? [I just gave you a successor operation approach to constructing N, the set that collects the natural numbers.]

    3: Failing that, do you consider numbers to be reification, and if so/not, why? (What then are we to make of mathematics and its application to the real world and to abstract thought.)

    4: Above, UB pointed out that long before there were humans, cells had mechanisms for detecting and addressing errors in masking proteins etc. This underscores how chance processes, breakdowns and the like create errors independent of the existence of human beings. What are you going to say tot he point that errors exist in such contexts, leading to things such as cancer?

    5: In addition, the proposition E, error exists implies the existence of its antithesis ~E. It can be shown by conjunction that {E AND ~E} = 0, is a necessary error, so the set that collects errors is necessarily non empty. Kindly explain how accusations of reification allow this to be ignored, apart form act6ing as a rhetorical squid-ink cloud behind which the issue in the main can be evaded?
    ______________

    Bottomline: id this is how objectors to design thought object to an easily demonstrated case of self-evident — necessarily so — truth, what does that say on their attitude to scientific arguments which by the inevitable nature of induction cannot attain to such necessity? Are we not then plainly dealing with the entrenched, widespread fallacy of the ideologised, closed mind locked into a lab coat clad evolutionary materialist frame of thought for motives unrelated to actual merit and warrant?

    KF

  327. KF:

    RB seems to have failed to read carefully, and so has misrepresented what I stated at 313.

    I’ll make this more clear.

    I argued:

    In this context “errors exist” is shorthand for “propositions in error exist.” It is a statement characterizing some propositions. That statement is also itself a proposition, so it therefore potentially refers to itself. That self-reference accounts for the paradox that arises upon asserting that “errors exist” is in error, a paradox that tells us nothing about the world, nor about “self” for that matter.

    Here I attributed to self-reference the paradox that arises upon asserting that the proposition “propositions in error exist” is itself in error.

    SB, in direct response to the above:

    Let me make this easier for you. Error exists is a proposition about propositions. It doesn’t refer to itself. It refers to other propositions. It isn’t self-referential.

    Stephen denies that any self-reference is present. No self-referential paradox arises upon the denial of “propositions in error exist.”

    KF:

    At first level, E = “error exists” is known to be factually true. It is not self referential and incoherent. The denial, ~ E = “it is an error to assert E,” as it turns out IS self referential and thus incoherent; as it is an error as already shown.

    Now KF asserts that the denial of “error exists” IS in fact self-referential and thus incoherent. As it turns out.

    My conclusion, slightly modified for clarity:

    KF and I say that denial results in self-referential paradox/incoherence. For KF, this results in a reductio that makes his case. Yet SB denies that self-reference is present at all.

    Obviously, the consequences of the denial of the proposition “errors exist” do not exemplify “self-evidence,” given that even the two of you disagree on the the key import of that denial.

    Which stands.

  328. Reciprocating Bill

    Stephen denies that any self-reference is present. No self-referential paradox arises upon the denial of “propositions in error exist.”

    Show me where I address “the denial of propositions in error exist.” Give me the post number and the quote.

    Reciprocating Bill

    Obviously, the consequences of the denial of the proposition “errors exist” do not exemplify “self-evidence,” given that even the two of you disagree on the the key import of that denial.

    Show me where I address “the denial” of the proposition that errors exist. Give me the post number and the quote.

  329. I still think there is an interesting debate here about the nature of some types of abstract entities (SB appears to find it a sore subject and doesn’t wants to participate – which is fine – but others may be interested). I think I can make my concern clearer if I talk about propositions rather than errors – what does it mean (if anything) to say propositions exist or don’t exist. It is essentially the same concern.

    Consider the case of unicorns. To prove they exist you look for things meeting a certain description. If you find them they exist. If you repeatedly failed to find them you conclude they don’t exist.

    How do you prove if a proposition exists? I can only think of two possibilities.

    One route is to see if anyone has actually asserted or believed that proposition. If they have it exists. If they haven’t then it doesn’t. To say the proposition exists is a rather odd way of expressing it, but it is meaningful and somewhat analogous to the unicorns.

    The other is to say that all propositions that can be described exist. Just describing the proposition proves it exists. But then how could a proposition not exist? In the case of the unicorn we have a description and want to see if anything fulfils it. In the case of a proposition we just have the description.

    I would say the same holds of factual errors which are just those propositions which happen to be false.

  330. RB:

    I shekkin me poor aching haid, mon.

    I find it sad that you cannot simply and straightforwardly admit that you overlooked the word “not” in my 313 [I admit, I did not put it in block caps, I did not expect it to be a problem . . . ], and then triumphalistically — and mistakenly — accused SB and I of being in hopeless mutual contradiction.

    As for the side track, it has been anticipated.

    In effect ~ E is the assertion that the statement E is false, itself an error. That is — as 313 states, it is an ERROR to assert E. Where E = Error exists.

    In simple sets language, E asserts there is at least one x such that x is an error (and emphasis on existence is crucial, the existential quantifier asserts that at least one thing of interest exists). ~E denies this, it is saying the set that collects errors — if any can be found, is empty. This BTW would have to include that ~E is itself not false to reality, i.e. ~E is self-referential, notoriously a key vulnerability in reasoning.

    We know from vast factual experience that errors do exist (so we are highly confident ~E is false), but we are fishing for bigger fish.

    Namely, self-evidence.

    To get there, we observe that E and ~E intend to refer to actual states of affairs, are mutually exclusive, and are exhaustive of possibilities — ~E requires no x to exist, and should a single x exist E is so, E and ~E are a partition of possibilities such that we have

    {E XOR ~E} = 1,

    both cannot be true and both cannot be false, it is one or else the other. AUT not VEL, to use Latin. (Our legalistic AND/OR, the inclusive OR, is a rendering of VEL. AUT is the exclusive or famous for its use in the half-adder digital circuit.)

    That means that when we form the conjunction {E AND ~E} it must be false:

    {E AND ~E} = 0

    . . . and false in a way that is consistent with

    {E XOR ~E} = 1

    That immediately means that:

    (i) we have a successful candidate to be an x,

    (ii) the set that collects errors (if any) is non-empty

    (iii) the proposition that asserts this set to be empty is false, i.e.
    _____________________________

    (iv) CONCLUSION I: ~E is false and this is directly connected to its self-referential character, and so also

    (v) CONCLUSION II: E is true and is undeniably true as its denial immediately provides an instance of error, vindicating its truth.

    (vi) GRAND CONCLUSION: E is undeniably certain and self-evidently true on pain of absurdity on attempted denial. Here, by reduction of ~E to self referential self contradiction.

    This is rather a taking of a sledgehammer to crack a peanut, but it seems necessary in the teeth of determined refusal to acknowledge the obvious.

    And on the talking point that the term “error: is a reification, the fact as shown that all that is needed is to translate into the terms of sets should suffice to show its want of substance.

    Sets are abstractions that literally lie at the foundation of mathematics. Number is a property of sets that gives rise to another set of abstractions, the natural numbers that allow us to assign cardinality and ordinality. The concept, error is every inch as relevant and applicable as number, a property of failing to accurately refer or correctly function or the like.

    It is highly significant that we see adherents of evolutionary materialism and/or its fellow travellers running into trouble with abstractions. For, abstractions are the very stuff of information, thought, knowledge, reasoning, quantification, modelling, theorising, and truth. That is, evo mat and its fellow travellers are found in the lists undermining rational thought — again.

    KF

    PS: And no, there is no point in trying to go off on side tracks when the direct demonstration of the main point can be made: self-evident truth is real, and relevant as a plumbline. It is even more revealing to notice the struggles with moral self evident truths such as MY #1. I wonder if any objector will prove willing to step up to the plate and provide a draft for the column in denial of MY #1, also addressing Dawkins’ 1995 Sci Am piece that directly implies the denial of MY #1. Failing that, it is a case of no contest.

  331. PPS: Look again at 313, on its direct and plain meaning which you tried to turn into the opposite: “E = “error exists” is known to be factually true. It is not self referential and incoherent.” It is true that in general, propositions MAY refer to themselves directly or implicitly. But that is not always the case. And in the particular case we have in view, “Error exists” will be true if there is a single case of error — massively already known to be factually so. Also, as I stated it, the matter at stake is about a joint property self referential AND incoherent, so even if self referential but not self contradictory then not a vicious circle. . . . all that would be at stake is that SB and I would be in error on whether or not it is self referential, which would not entail that E is self contradictory, as not all self referential propositions are false. And as it is, it is not self-referential — it contains no internal reference to its own status as true or false. By contrast, the denial, in effect, it is an error to assert E, IS self-referential because it tries to rule the whole set of errors empty. In effect it denies that any propositions are false, making it self referential. The direct, E, leaves that possibility open, without any import that it itself is false or must be true — this is not, necessarily, error exists, but simply, error does as a matter of fact exist. And as just seen, ~E directly provides an example of error so refuting itself.

  332. F/N: This is square of opposition stuff in the end. E is a case of I, at least one x is R, and ~E is a case of O, no entity is R, it is not just that there are some things that are not error but an assertion that there are no errors whatsoever, for whatever reason . . . including of course the notion that error is a non existent category. The two are properly and fully contradictory, as the assertion E (there is at least one error) has existential import so can be contradicted by a denial of there being errors at all (~E).

  333. F/N 2: NOTICE, I hereby acknowledge my accession to Parson’s rehabilitation of the classic square, on the charitable and reasonable interpretation of the O form, implying that for this context, All S is P does include that there is at least one x in S but not every S is P includes that there is no x at all in S to be or not be a P . . . i.e. affirmatives have existential import but negations do not. I thank RB for triggering me to examine this point. Of course, I continue to accept the modern quantifications and view the classic one as including an implicit rider as noted, the modern view being extensible to capture the classical. KF

  334. KF

    Although this business of the ontological status errors is fascinating (hence my #329), as I understand it, its main purpose in your OP is to establish that there are such things as self-evident truths. I accept that there are assertions which if denied lead to absurdity. To my mind there is a more significant problem in your OP, which I raised before but it got lost in all the error debate. It turns on your paragraph:

    By understanding the significance of how rejecting a SET ends in absurdity. Which may be by outright obvious logical contradiction, or by undermining rationality or by being chaotically destructive and/or senseless. Moral SETs are usually seen as self evident in this latter sense.

    It may well be that if most people denied that killing children for pleasure is wrong, it would lead to a chaotically destructive society. This is an empirical hypothesis, to be proved or falsified by observation as far as possible, but a priori it seems very plausible. However, that does not in any way demonstrate that “killing children for pleasure is wrong” is an objective truth.  There are many clearly subjective assertions which if denied by most people would very likely lead to chaotic destruction. For example – “having children is a joy”. If pretty much everyone sincerely denied that, then we would cease to procreate – but it is a matter of opinion and there are a few people who have the opposite view – but not enough to lead to absurdity. Other subjective assertions that if denied would lead to this type of absurdity include:

    * I approve of people communicating with each other

    * The advancement of knowledge is a valuable thing

    What I cannot find in any of your writing is an attempt to show why self-evident (in the sense of leading to absurdity if denied) entails objectivity.

  335. MF:

    1: The only required ontological status for error is the same as that for the natural numbers and the members of that set.

    2: I simply suggest the experiment of publishing a column or advert in your local newspaper that asserts the following denials EXPLICITLY:

    <blockquote(a) it is NEITHER Self-Evident NOR True that it would be wrong to kidnap, torture, rape and murder a child.

    (b) if such is in progress we are NOT duty-bound to intervene to save the child

    3: I doubt that such will be publishable, but I note by contrast how the following — which DIRECTLY implies the above — was published in Sci Am by the dean of the New Atheists:

    Nature is not cruel, only pitilessly indifferent. This lesson is one of the hardest for humans to learn. We cannot accept that things might be neither good nor evil, neither cruel nor kind, but simply callous: indifferent to all suffering, lacking all purpose [--> It escapes Dr Dawkins that we may have good reason for refusing this implication of his favoured ideological evolutionary materialism] . . . .

    In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but pitiless indifference [--> As in open admission of utter amorality that opens the door to nihilism] . . . . DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music. [“God’s Utility Function,” Sci. Am. Aug 1995, pp. 80 - 85.]

    4: Obviously, one can get away with a lot more that is implied by something dressed up in a lab coat, than one can get away with directly saying it. But the subtler approach is the more dangerous as it misleads and erodes resistance to nihilist might makes ‘right’ folly. (Over time, if people are beguiled, manipulation makes ‘right,’ until we find ourselves tumbling over the cliff into an abyss of nihilistic chaos and end up begging the tyrants waiting in the wings to take over.)

    5: That we would practically end in absurdity — more likely a morass of deadly blood feuds as men act with lethal force to protect their loved ones and close family relations [as I discussed earlier], which leads to tyranny to restore a semblance of order. But it is not the real test, it is an historically anchored observation on the alternative to sound government. If we allow such to happen again, we are fools. And that tranping noise you hear is the march of folly beginning.

    6: The issue of absurdity comes long before such is manifest. The issue is that we have a major mental faculty that perceives moral worth and value, conscience. Evolutionary materialism and fellow traveller ideologies end up writing off conscience and its testimony to the binding nature of ought as delusions [however socially useful], genetically and or socio-psychologically programmed in, that’s it.

    7: This, as I point out, is a general delusion absurdity. There are no firewalls in the mind and once the bull of general delusion is let loose, the china will shatter and fly everywhere. We undermine judgement, rationality, perceptions, communication as suspect to be delusional in an infinite regress of Plato’s Cave worlds. There is just no stopping the chain.

    8: In short — yet again — we see modernist hyperskeptical materialism-driven or influenced thought burning down the mind. If evo mat and its fellow travellers were assumed true, man would be dead.

    9: So, absurdity. WJM’s warning on burning down the house to try to roast a pig follows:

    If you do not [acknowledge] the law of non-contradiction, you have nothing to argue about. If you do not [admit] the principles of sound reason, you have nothing to argue with. If you do not [recognise] libertarian free will, you have no one to argue against. If you do not [accept] morality to be an objective commodity, you have no reason to argue in the first place.

    10: Instead, we have very good reason to accept that the testimony of conscience is as good as that of eyes, ears and common good sense generally. Reject it on a general basis and absurdity results leading to chaos if we were to actually try the experiment. Yes, we face mistakes and possibility of error, but we have every good reason to accept the main testimony of such senses and good sense.

    11: In which context MY #1 and its corollary highlight the core worth and value of our fellow human being that decisively shapes sound, objective moral thought. I again cite Locke and Hooker on the point that launched modern liberty and democracy:

    . . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man’s hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . [[Hooker then continues, citing Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics, Bk 8:] as namely, That because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ] [[Eccl. Polity,preface, Bk I, "ch." 8, p.80]

    KF

    PS: Onlookers, observe how there is no direct denial of MY #1 or Hooker’s point.

  336. KF – there seems to be confusion here. I am not denying that true that it would be wrong to kidnap, torture, rape and murder a child. And I accept that widespread denial of this would lead to chaotic and extremely unpleasant society. So of course I would not place that advertisement in the paper because I do not agree with it. I agree with your statement MY 1 (using your criterion of self-evident – denial leads to chaotic absurdity)

    All I am saying is that all of this is compatible with the statement being a subjective one grounded in massively widespread, but subjective, human agreement on what is wrong. I support my case with examples of other clearly subjective statements which if there was widespread denial would lead to a chaotic and extremely unpleasant society.

    As far as I can see you have not attempted to address this argument but just repeated what I have agreed to.

  337. KF,
    There is no absolute truth for everyone. There may be some examples of absolute moral truth but most situations are nebulous, so truth can be only a Venn diagram wherein the truth and false hood can be represented as |A U B| = |A|+|B|+ |A ∩ B|

    About Dr.Dawkin’s quote – I am sure Dr.Dawkin’s wasn’t thinking about ‘killing human babies example’ when he talked about how Nature is indifferent. He would have meant the infanticide seen in other species. Of course unless someone asks him directly, we wouldn’t know what his quote meant, so there is no point attributing evil designs and dehumanizing him.

  338. #337 #selvaRajan

    I have to say I disagree. I think there are plenty of subjects where this is absolute objective truth although it may be hard to know it. I just don’t this includes moral judgements.

  339. MF: Subjectivity is not the opposite of objectivity — we are first and foremost conscious, self aware thinking reasoning subjects, and that is a lesson of how we have to think to avert falling into an infinite cascade of delusional Plato’s Caves. There is no more reason to doubt that we as correctly sense a moral order as that we sense a physical one. Of course there are complexities that become debatable and even controversial, but that holds for both, as the history of physics so tellingly shows. KF

  340. SR:

    I note:

    There is no absolute truth for everyone

    Do you see the problem at the outset? You have asserted an absolute claim attempting to deny such.

    More seriously, this illustrates the problem that there are some things that are true on pain of absurdity on attempted denial. As a baby step, kindly start with:

    2 + 3 = 5

    || + ||| = |||||

    Then, try that a rock has neither beliefs nor dreams so it cannot be deluded that it is conscious. We on the other hand, even if we are mistaken about much, cannot be mistaken of the fact that we [as the perceiving individuals sensing our own situation] are conscious, self aware beings. That is an example of an objective, self-evident truth of consciousness.

    On moral self evident truths, kindly cf above in the OP and the current exchange with MF.

    KF

  341. Hi KF @ 340,
    It is true that when it comes to mathematics or materials, we have a set rule and hence can conceive something as truth, but when it comes to philosophical understanding or emotion or religious truths, not everyone is on the same page.
    As I pointed out earlier, a terrorist believes that the God he believes in says his act of terror is correct and true. That same act is heinous for everyone else. For a soldier the act of killing enemy is correct and morally right. His truth is that he is defending his country. But for the mother or wife of the soldier who is killed, the truth is very different – the enemy soldier is a murderer.

  342. SR:

    when it comes to philosophical understanding or emotion or religious truths, not everyone is on the same page

    That is correct, and it is also correct for management, politics, medicine, history, social sciences, life sciences, physical sciences etc. We do not tell truth or good reasoning by seeing who holds 51% of the vote, or the bigger guns, or controls the mikes for news and views, or the staffing of class-rooms and uni lecture halls etc. . . . look at the vid clip with Plato’s Cave in the OP above.

    (Abraham Lincoln aptly said you can fool all the people some of the time or some of the people all of the time but not all the people all of the time. Jesus, that wisdom is justified by her children, and that the eye is the lamp of the body so if they are good you will be full of light but if they are bad, you will be full of darkness. He then said something astonishing: if the light in you is darkness, how great is your darkness. Just think about someone in a state where he inverts light and darkness, imagining that darkness is light and what is actually light, darkness. No wonder he warned some that they were in a state where, because he was telling them the truth they could not bear to hear or understand what he was saying.)

    It is precisely to move beyond a politicised clash of opinions that we need to attend to plumbline principles, comparative difficulties on foundational ideas, and warranted, credible facts. Some of these are self-evident truths, as described in the above.

    In our civilisation today, we need to begin thinking seriously about worldview foundations, starting with first principles of right reason and yes moral yardsticks also.

    Pardon me for this, but I think it needful to suggest you take a glance here on, on worldview foundations — just as a stimulus for thought.

    KF

  343. PS: No civilised country holds that soldiers on the other side are automatically murderers — there are such things as laws of war and war crimes. That would lead directly to gross abuse and murder of prisoners of war. And for families who have lost sons, brothers, husbands and fathers on the battlefield, no reasonable person automatically translates that into the soldiers on the other side automatically are murderers. But Boko Haram (usually rendered Western Education is forbidden, but the word there is obviously “books” . . . ) terrorists invading College campuses and murdering 50 students going about the ordinary peaceful business of life are blatantly murderers.

  344. KF:

    I find it sad that you cannot simply and straightforwardly admit that you overlooked the word “not” in my 313

    You’re right: I’m guilty of a lack of precision in 318. But mine at 316 makes it clear that I respect the distinction between “error exists” and “the denial of ‘error exists’” (and the resulting paradox/incoherence).

    So I’ll restate. In 292 I said:

    In this context “errors exist” is shorthand for “propositions in error exist.” It is a statement characterizing some propositions. That statement is also itself a proposition, so it therefore potentially refers to itself. That self-reference accounts for the paradox that arises upon asserting that “errors exist” is in error, a paradox that tells us nothing about the world, nor about “self” for that matter.

    The denial of “errors exist” results in a paradox due to self-reference.

    KF agrees agrees that the denial of “errors exist” results in paradox due to self-reference:

    The denial, ~ E = “it is an error to assert E,” as it turns out IS self referential and thus incoherent; as it is an error as already shown.

    But StephenB denies that self-reference is present at all:

    Error exists is a proposition about propositions. It doesn’t refer to itself. It refers to other propositions. It isn’t self-referential.

    Unless StephenB wishes to argue both that “error exists” is not self-referential and that the denial of “error exists” IS self-referential thus incoherent/paradoxical, KF and SB disagree on the self-referential root of the paradox of “error exits.”

    Thus evaporates the “self-evidence” of the implications of “error exists” and of attempting denial of same.

  345. RB:

    I appreciate the response.

    I must further respond by again pointing to the square of opposition, in the now rehabilitated classical form. (Cf, SEP, here and my accession at 333. F/N to Copi et al duly noted.)

    E = Error exists is an I-form proposition, which only affirms that at least one error exists: “There is at least one x such that x is properly collected by the set R that collects errors.” But by contrast, the denial proposition, by the diagonal opposition is a UNIVERSAL NEGATION, an E-form. ~E asserts that “R is empty, there is no x such that R collects it.”

    That universality of the E-form, by contrast with the particularity of the I-form, entails self reference.

    ~E requires that there are no errors, including no propositions that are false.

    E — a particular affirmation — simply does not do that, and has no internal entailment that demands that it itself be deemed true or false.

    (Kindly cf. the chart of the classic square of opposition as linked in light of the rehabilitative argument which restores the full square.)

    So, SB and I are in full substantial agreement. And, for good (albeit now not often thought- through) reason.

    Having duly noted, I agree, the classic square of opposition and syllogisms dependent thereupon, are not a major focus in current education.

    Though, the particular point of particularity vs universality, is along the X of full contradictions preserved in the modern approach that Parsons has aptly amended at SEP.

    And, that shift to the universal form is the key. Once we have an E-form, a single counter-example overturns it. Where, the conjunction {E AND ~E} is necessarily false and is a proposition which must be an error. So, simply by considering E, ~E and the conjunction we have an error directly entailed by denial of E. Which also allows us to see that of the two antithetical claims, it is ~E that must be false and so E is undeniably true.

    E is self-evident, as advertised. This is in addition to being a commonplace matter of fact.

    (The complexities of the square of opposition are only required to correct the particular error in your objection, they are not part of how an exercise of common good sense will see that the attempt to deny E boils down to saying: “it is an ERROR to say that eror exists.” Oopsie.)

    KF

  346. Reciprocating Bill

    But StephenB denies that self-reference is present at all:

    Reciprocating Bill is knowingly promoting falsehoods. I have asserted that “error exists” is not self-referential. I have not said the same thing about its denial.

    Unless StephenB wishes to argue both that “error exists” is not self-referential and that the denial of “error exists” IS self-referential thus incoherent/paradoxical, KF and SB disagree on the self-referential root of the paradox of “error exits.”

    I have argued only that error exists, that it is not self referential, and that it proves the existence of objecctive truth. That I have not yet discussed the denial aspect does not mean that I disagree with kairosfocus. It simply means that it is unrelated to my argument. Reciprocating Bill is just making things up. Why he thinks he can get away with it is a mystery.

    —-
    —-

    Inasmuch as Reciprocating Bill has ignored my challenge @325, I will assume that he concedes my point: To say “error exists” is not to assign concreteness to an abstract concept.

  347. SB:

    I have asserted that “error exists” is not self-referential.

    The proposition “Yellow balloons exist” entails the set “yellow balloons.” The scope of action of “Yellow balloons exist” is the larger set of objects, “balloons,” objects with the potential to satisfy “yellow balloons.” The proposition “Yellow balloons exist” is not a member of the set “balloons” (propositions are not balloons), does not fall within the scope of action of “Yellow balloons exist” and therefore gives no self-referential trouble when we examine each object within that scope to determine whether it is a member of the set “yellow balloons.” We don’t examine the proposition “yellow balloons exist” to determine whether it is a yellow balloon because propositions are are not balloons.

    The proposition “propositions in error exist” entails the set “propositions in error.” The scope of action of “propositions in error exist” is the larger set of objects, “propositions,” objects with the potential to satisfy “propositions in error exist.” The proposition “propositions in errors exist” IS a member of the set “propositions”, does fall within the scope of action of “propositions in error exist” and therefore does give self-referential trouble when we examine the proposition “propositions in error exist” to determine whether it is within the set “propositions in error.” We do examine the proposition “propositions in error exist” to determine whether it is a proposition in error because it is in fact a proposition, and is therefore within the scope of it’s own action.

    Therein lies the self-reference of “errors exist,” and the self-referential short circuit. It is membership within the scope of its own action that renders it impossible for “propositions in error exist” to be false. Other than illustrating a pathology that can arise as a result of self-reference, that conclusion tells us nothing about the world.

    (I was amused by the typo “propositions in errors exit.”)

  348. SB #346

    Inasmuch as Reciprocating Bill has ignored my challenge @325, I will assume that he concedes my point: To say “error exists” is not to assign concreteness to an abstract concept.

    RB has not answered this as far as I can see – so I will. The challenge was:

    Now show me how I used the word “error” as if were a concrete, physical entity, or how I treated an abstract entity (error) as something that was concrete and not merely an idea. Show me how I committed the error of “misplaced concreteness.”

    Just asserting that something exists is to assert that it is not merely an idea. To say that an idea exists is meaningless unless all you mean is that one or more people have had that idea – which you have repeatedly said is not what you mean when it comes to errors.

  349. Mark Frank

    Just asserting that something exists is to assert that it is not merely an idea.

    Reciprocating Bill, whom you are now trying to defend, said that the term “error exists” is a reification. To “reify” means to assign concrete or physical existence to an abstract idea. Show me how I have attributed concrete or physical existence to the term “error exists.”

    To say that an idea exists is meaningless unless all you mean is that one or more people have had that idea – which you have repeatedly said is not what you mean when it comes to errors.

    What in the name of sense does that have to do with reification? Please stay on topic.

  350. RB: Kindly, take time to acquaint yourself with the classic square of opposition as rehabilitated, and the difference between I-form and E-form assertions. Error exists is particular, the denial is a universal negative as the relevant diagonal will immediately show. It is the latter that entails there are no false propositions or assertions and is therefore self referential as it is a proposition. The former, being particular, addresses only that there is at least one entity x, such that it is properly collected by the set R, that collects errors. It does not even depend on there being false and erroneous propositions, any error will do, such as that which we find in protein synthesis and folding, which cells were dealing with long before humans were there to observe such. KF

  351. SB

    What in the name of sense does that have to do with reification? Please stay on topic.

    You have written many times:

    A) Error exists

    You also wrote:

    B) Now show me how I used the word “error” as if were a concrete, physical entity, or how I treated an abstract entity (error) as something that was concrete and not merely an idea. (my emphasis)

    I wrote:

    To say that an idea exists is meaningless unless all you mean is that one or more people have had that idea – which you have repeatedly said is not what you mean when it comes to errors.

    I am saying that when you wrote (A) you were using the word “error” in a way that implied it was not merely an idea. If you want to call that reification is up to you. I am merely responding to your challenge (B).

  352. KF:

    Error exists is particular, the denial is a universal negative as the relevant diagonal will immediately show. It is the latter that entails there are no false propositions or assertions and is therefore self referential as it is a proposition.

    My emphasis

    Don’t you see? It is also the latter that characterizes the argument you have repeated times many, including in the OP:

    KF in the OP:

    That is, a SET is:

    c: further seen as something that must be true, on pain of patent absurdity on attempted denial. (E.g. try denying “error exists” . . . the absurdity is rapidly, forcefully manifest)

    Again, my emphasis, The denial of the proposition “error exists” is incoherent because due to self-reference. IMHO, that referential paradox establishes nothing “self-evident” about the world.

    Of course, the former (“Error exists in particular”) only establishes that error is evident, not self-evident.

  353. RB:

    Pardon,, but you still have not paid adequate attention to the square of opposition.

    The actual contradictories are such that one is particular, there is at least one entity x that is an error. The denial is a universal that takes in all propositions including itself. That is how it is self referential.

    But despite your strained attempts, the former is not. Just because you imagine or assert it does not make it so.

    And the self evidence of E emerges as the denial ~E turns to be self referential [it implies there are no erroneous propositions], where it itself is such. The conjunction [E AND ~E] is false and an error, so also the denial ~E is an error. Thus, the criteria for self evidence are met:

    E is true, it is seen as true on understanding what it says, and the attempted denial immediately falls into error. (Your attempt just now to argue that the actual reason why E is self evident somehow makes it not so, would be laughable, if it were not sad. You need to ask yourself why you find yourself clutching at such straws to try to reject the prospect of self-evident truth.)

    Your earlier attempt to project that because the denial of E is self referential, E must also be so, is false as well — as was shown.

    As noted, E being true is in fact independent of the status of propositions as a class. The errors of protein synthesis — which come before any human being was able to observe them — are just that, errors.

    But in addition E is such that the attempted denial, refutes itself.

    That makes E true, and necessarily true on pain of absurdity coming out of attempted denial. E, error exists, is self evident.

    KF

  354. KF:

    As noted, E being true is in fact independent of the status of propositions as a class…that makes E true…

    Which makes it evidently true, not self-evidently true. That is no help to your efforts to demonstrate an instance of a self-evidently true proposition.

    The denial is a universal that takes in all propositions including itself. That is how it is self referential…But in addition E is such that the attempted denial, refutes itself.

    The denial is self-referential, as I have consistently asserted. Which characterizes the following argument, oft repeated:

    That is, a SET is:

    c: further seen as something that must be true, on pain of patent absurdity on attempted denial. (E.g. try denying “error exists” . . . the absurdity is rapidly, forcefully manifest)

    This generates a paradox due to a self-referential short circuit. I’m not persuaded that in so doing you have shown anything self-evidently true about the world.

  355. Mark Frank:

    I am saying that when you wrote (A) you were using the word “error” in a way that implied it was not merely an idea.

    You said that you wanted to step in and answer for Reciprocting Bill. Please do what you said that you will do, or else say that you can’t do it. Then, we can move on.

  356. Mark

    I am saying that when you wrote (A) you were using the word “error” in a way that implied it was not merely an idea. If you want to call that reification is up to you. I am merely responding to your challenge (B).

    It wasn’t my term. It was Reciprocating Bill’s term, and you agreed to defend him on that basis.

    Just asserting that something exists is to assert that it is not merely an idea.

    You just contradicted yourself. Ideas exist. That doesn’t make them more than they are. Concepts exist. That doesn’t make them more than they are.

    To say that an idea exists is meaningless unless all you mean is that one or more people have had that idea – which you have repeatedly said is not what you mean when it comes to errors.

    Let’s put your claim to the test: Does evil exist? Is that a meaningless statement? Is the atheist/agnostic argument “evil exists, therefore God does not exist” meaningless?

  357. SB

    Let’s put your claim to the test: Does evil exist? Is that a meaningless statement? Is the atheist/agnostic argument “evil exists, therefore God does not exist” meaningless?

    That’s easy. I would argue that people do evil things, which is a problem for an omnipotent benign God. I would never phrase that as “evil exists, therefore God does not exist”. If someone else did phrase it that way I would understand them as meaning people do evil things therefore God does not exist.

    If you want to claim ideas exist in any sense other than people having them give me one example of an idea that does not exist. Clearly you can’t. It is a meaningless predicate when applied to ideas in the abstract.

  358. SB #355

    You said that you wanted to step in and answer for Reciprocting Bill. Please do what you said that you will do, or else say that you can’t do it. Then, we can move on.

    Well now – this is the challenge

    Now show me how I used the word “error” as if were a concrete, physical entity, or how I treated an abstract entity (error) as something that was concrete and not merely an idea.

    These are the exact words of your challenge in #325. How can I meet it more directly than showing where you have treated an abstract entity as something concrete (by asserting it exists)? You might want to dispute that this counts as treating it as a concrete entity – but I cannot see how you think I am not addressing the challenge – I am following it almost word for word.

  359. Mark Frank

    I would never phrase that as “evil exists, therefore God does not exist”.

    You would seem to be all alone. For centuries, theologians, philosophers, and ethicists have discussed problems inherent in the fact that evil exists. Even those who deny the existence of evil, know what the phrase “evil exists” means.

  360. SB: “Now show me how I used the word “error” as if were a concrete, physical entity, or how I treated an abstract entity (error) as something that was concrete and not merely an idea.”

    Mark Frank

    These are the exact words of your challenge in #325.

    You bet they are.

    How can I meet it more directly than showing where you have treated an abstract entity as something concrete (by asserting it exists)?

    Are you even trying to be serious? You can stop leaving out the definitive word, “physical.”

    Did you even read the quote that you cited. You have to show where I treated error as a “concrete, physical entity. My whole point is that it exists even though it is not physical.

    From Latin res thing + facere to make, reification = thing-making; the turning of something abstract into a concrete thing or object. In reification, concreteness is synonymous with making a physical or material object. Obviously, I did not do that.

    Equally important, I have defined error several times as a false idea, concept, proposition, or philosophy. You claim that I said it was more than an idea or concept when, in fact, I defined it as an idea or concept. Much less did I define error as a physical or material object. You are wrong on every count.

  361. You have to show where I treated error as a “concrete, physical entity.

    I haven’t been able to get to this topic, but I will. But, briefly, “physical” isn’t a necessary component of reification (literal physicality may be involved – but it is hard to think of an example. Perhaps reifying the collective behavior of an ant colony as a super-organism and the Gaia hypotheses reflect inappropriate physical reifications). It is the unjustified attribution of “reality” to an abstraction that is key.

    An classic example of reification: A baseball team plays with an exceptional degree of camaraderie, enthusiasm, coordination and mutual loyalty and support. By way of description we might say that the players have have “team spirit.” But to attribute to “team spirit” causal efficacy above and beyond the sum of the camaraderie, enthusiasm, coordination and mutual loyalty and support is to reify it – to inappropriately attribute to “team spirit” a reality beyond the qualities from which it is abstracted.

    A similar reification in sports is that of “momentum.” When one team outplays another they “have the momentum,” as though there is a mysterious inertia to the game above and beyond the play and enthusiam of the players. One or two plays later, should the other team attain success (say, a pick-6 in foot ball) not only do the score and circumstances of the game shift, so does the “momentum.” But there is no causally efficatious “momentum” above and beyond the skill, effort and luck of the players. Momentum is a reification.

    Gilbert Ryle famously argued that the notion of “mind” reflected an inappropriate reification of individual actions and behavioral dispositions, such as the ability to speak, remember, behave, reason, etc. Obviously he was not saying that “mind” was being conferred an inappropriate physical reality – in fact the physical – nonphysical factor went the other direction – from physical particulars an abstracted commonality that is conferred a non-physical reality above and beyond the physical particulars from which it is inferred.

    These are examples of reification that, while attributing misplaced reality to abstractions, do not attribute concreteness in the sense of a physical reality.

  362. Reciprocating Bill

    These are examples of reification that, while attributing misplaced reality to abstractions, do not attribute concreteness in the sense of a physical reality.

    Reification has a formal meaning [and an official definition] of unjustificably elevating (or downgrading) abstractness to the level of physical concreteness. That is what it means. Some have tried to informalize the definition to mean the attribution of existence to something that doesn’t really exist, but that definition often gets confused and conflated with tropes and other manifestations of picturesque language. Neither of the latter two has anything to do with abstractness and concreteness, which is the central core of reification.

    However, even if I were to grant the informal definition arguendo, it would not bear on this discussion. Ideas and concepts, unlike “momentum” and “team spirit” are real things. Ideas, concepts, and philosophies have consequences. They change lives. Reifications are mere dramatizations of real things that have consequences: Creativity, for examaple, is real; “brainstorming” is its reification. Clearly, there is such a thing as creativity, but there really is no such thing as a brainstorm. The former is abstract, the latter is the former having been made concrete. In similar fashion, truth, error, evil, and goodness exist and are not reifications. At the same time, each can be described in more dramatic reified terms.

    That, by the way, is the real problem with the informal definition of reification. It is, at times, scarcely distinguishable from metaphor, metonymy, and synbecdoche. No such problem exists with the formal definition. With respect to my argument, I have already defined error as false ideas, concepts, propositions, and philosophies. As indicated previously, each can be described in more dramatic, reified terms. Nevertheless, each is real and each says something about the real world. Many have tried to argue, for example, that “evil exists, therefore God does not exist.” While I disagree with that conclusion, there can be no doubt that evil does, in fact, exist.

  363. 363

    StephenB: “Many have tried to argue, for example, that “evil exists, therefore God does not exist.”

    Indeed they have Stephen, many times. But if God does not exist there can be no transcendent objective moral standard. Therefore, the word “evil” means nothing more than “that which I do not prefer.” If we take the argument and substitute the definition for the word we get: “That which I do not prefer exists. Therefore God does not exist.” The conclusion does not seem to follow logically from the premise.

  364. MF: How can I meet it more directly than showing where you have treated an abstract entity as something concrete (by asserting it exists)?
    SB: Are you even trying to be serious? You can stop leaving out the definitive word, “physical.”

    You left it out when you wrote: “or how I treated an abstract entity (error) as something that was concrete and not merely an idea”. 

    SB: Equally important, I have defined error several times as a false idea, concept, proposition, or philosophy. You claim that I said it was more than an idea or concept when, in fact, I defined it as an idea or concept. Much less did I define error as a physical or material object. You are wrong on every count.

    I know you defined it that way. I did not claim you said it was more than an idea or concept. My point was not about the definition of error but about the use of “exists”. If you ascribe the predicate “exists” to an idea, concept, proposition, or philosophy (false or otherwise) the only meaning that “exists” can have is that someone has held that idea, concept, proposition, or philosophy (and as I have a materialist philosophy of mind that is a physical claim).  If you disagree, then please provide an example of an idea, concept, proposition, or philosophy that does not exist in your sense.

  365. #359 SB

    You would seem to be all alone. For centuries, theologians, philosophers, and ethicists have discussed problems inherent in the fact that evil exists. Even those who deny the existence of evil, know what the phrase “evil exists” means.

    Why did you omit my subsequent sentence:

    If someone else did phrase it that way I would understand them as meaning people do evil things therefore God does not exist.

    What is the point in misquoting me when the words are right here on the same thread.

  366. MF:

    It seems your objections to SB on the reality of error pivot on the underlying assumption you have of materialism. That begs big questions, and opens up the self referential incoherence and absurdity of materialism.

    But following that up in detail is not necessary for this exchange.

    A simple comparison is enough (one already pointed out but ignored): numbers and their properties and relationships.

    There is no more of reification — AmHD: reify: To regard or treat (an abstraction) as if it had concrete or material existence — or whatever modified version therof in style today in saying that error exists than in saying that 2, 3, 5 and the truth 2 + 3 = 5 all exist. Or, the natural numbers.

    If you are prepared to say numbers have no sufficient reality or intelligibility apart from people thinking of them — which is absurd, we have needed matched numbers of chromosomes and two parents to get to a child that is viable for reproduction, for a very long time, on your known view hundreds of millions of years before man existed — then you would at least be consistent. But I am sure you are not prepared to toss overboard numbers and basic arithmetic etc.

    Similarly, numbers do not depend for intelligibility or sufficient reality to make sense and be useful in any way on the existence of a physical world of concrete objects.

    We can see this by starting conceptually from the set that collects nothing, { } and then reasoning from { } –> 0, to {0} –> 1 to {0,1} –> 2 etc to create the whole world of mathematics, cf the outline in 113 above in this very thread.

    That something is a valid entity or is sufficiently real or at least intelligible and conceivable to be discussed and thought about does not equate to it must be a concrete physical entity or that it must be computed per some algorithmic process or the like on a physical substrate. To insist on that is to beg huge worldview level questions, and to run into endless difficulties with the inescapable incoherence of materialism, as Haldane pointed out long ago, echoing Leibnitz in his analogy of the mill:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” ["When I am dead," in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209.]

    As Searle’s Chinese Room shows, insightful reasoned thought is not the same as blind material processing by computing an algorithm of step by step actions. Without intelligent and insightful organisation of such we have no good reason to rely on such. As the problems with Pentiums and arithmetic processing leading to recalls showed. Rocks have no dreams and GIGO-limited computation solely based on rocks have no rationality beyond that of the designers of the programs either. (As to the notion that complex functional and reliable software beyond 500 – 1,000 bits of complexity can assemble itself blindly out of step by step filtered noise, the most charitable thing that can be said of that is, we will believe it when you kindly provide a good demonstration.)

    Getting back on the focal issue in contention, remember ~E boils down to being a claim that it is an ERROR to think or assert that error exists.

    Yes, the descent into absurdity on trying to deny E — error exists — is as swift and patent as that, right in the assertion ~E.

    Where also, the fundamental meaning of E is, that there is at least one entity x, such that the set that collects errors, R, is non-empty. That is there is at least one x such that it is a member of R. A set is an abstract entity, yes. One that is foundational to modern practice of mathematics, emphatically, yes.

    So, either you surrender the “meaningless” objection, or let go of the world of mathematics. Unless you are willing to be selectively hyperskeptical. (And BTW, that “meaningless” claim is suspiciously like the old logical positivist assertion of the verification principle that unless something is analytic or subject to empirical observational test/verification it is meaningless, which has been overturned as irretrievably self referentially incoherent long since.)

    At this stage, what is emerging, is that there is something that is powerful about the reality of self evident truths, so powerful and hitting so close to home for a priori Lewontinian evolutionary materialism that we see the sort of desperate, scorched earth resistance we are seeing above.

    A good sign for the importance of the point, and for insisting on hammering it home.

    And that holds double for the actual main emphasis in the OP above: MORAL self evident truths starting with MY #1 and its corollaries.

    KF

  367. KF – numbers are not I think ideas, propositions, beliefs or philosophies. Nevertheless I have a similar concern about what it means to say a number exists.

    You are right that at the heart of this is your belief that there are transcendental things which are not just sophisticated ways of talking about the material world. It is part of the materialist case that in the end you cannot say anything meaningful about these supposed transcendental things without relating it back to the material and observable. So when you say one of these things “exists” it is empty statement unless you mean that thing is manifested in some material way.

    I offer you a similar challenge to the one I offered SB. Give me an example of a number that does not exist. The closest you can get to it is something like the square root of minus one. But of course mathematicians have a trick for this which is to define a number which is the square root of minus one.

  368. RB:

    It is sad to see you blindly repeating the already corrected.

    First, show us a sign that you have seriously addressed the square of opposition, and the distinction between the I-form and its contradictory, which is an E-form. (Note, this still holds even through the modern interpretation where universal quantification is not held to have existential import.)

    Second, let us focus on the simple, obvious point made by ~E, the denial of E: it is an ERROR to think or assert that error exists.

    Oops.

    The point is made right there, on common good sense.

    Now too, you were trying to make an argument that boils down to that because E = error exists meets the criteria for a self-evident truth it is not self evident. Let’s zoom in a bit, clipping and augmenting the OP:

    of course, self-evident does not merely mean perceived as obvious to oneself, which could indeed be a manifestation of a delusion. Nay, a self evident truth [SET] is best summarised as one known to be so and to be necessarily so without further proof from other things.

    That is, a SET is:

    a: actually true — it accurately reports some relevant feature of reality (e.g.: error exists {–> this boils down to saying that there is at least one entity x, such that the set that collects errors, R, has x as a member.})

    b: immediately recognised as true once one actually understands what is being asserted, in light of our conscious experience of the world (as in, no reasonable person would but recognise the reality that error exists {–> start from red X’s in Miss Jones’ class in elementary school, and understand that “error” denotes the collective for things like that})

    c: further seen as something that must be true, on pain of patent absurdity on attempted denial. (E.g. try denying “error exists” . . . the absurdity is rapidly, forcefully manifest {–> as seen, the attempted denial is in effect to say it is an ERROR to assert or think that error exists.)

    Error exists is patently undeniably and self evidently true. With corollaries that the reality exists that we may be in error about, truth exists as that which accurately describes features of that reality, knowledge exists as even warranted, true beliefs, observed facts of experience [Miss Jones' red X's on our sums] can accurately correspond to reality, and more, much more. So much the worse for worldviews and ideologies that do not sit comfortably with such.

    And it seems clear to me that this is the root problem. (Especially when one raises the spectre of MORAL self evident truths starting from MY #1 and corollaries then highlight that a world like that demands a foundational IS that can adequately ground OUGHT. Not to mention, that the objectionable reality of evil then points onwards to the reality of good, and the need for a similar ground of good.)

    KF

    PS: On the problem of evil, I think one would be well advised to examine at least a 101 on Plantinga’s free will defense and Boethius’ observation.

  369. KF

    A reminder that I accepted that MY #1 was true. I just challenge that it follows that it is an objective truth. You still have not bridged that gap. You made the curious statement that subjective is not the opposite of objective. I don’t accept this, but I can easily adjust my argument to by-pass the issue. I offer examples of assertions that are not objective and:

    a) would be accepted by the vast majority of people and societies – much more widely than “error exists”!

    b) if sincerely denied by the majority of people would lead to chaos and breakdown of society

    To remind you the examples were:

    * Having children is a joy

    * I approve of people communicating with each other

    * The advancement of knowledge is a valuable thing

  370. MF:

    Before asserting a materialist case one first needs to ground that materialism has any coherence in the face of the issue of evident self-referential incoherence. For such a system is always suspect on its claims, ex falso quodlibet or equivalently ex contradictione sequitur quodlibet.

    Numbers, major cases of abstract entities, are sufficiently real that they exert causal effects, here, in absence of the right matched numbers of chromosomes and of parents, an on/off enabling condition cannot be met and reproduction fails. Either fails absolutely, no offspring or fails by the mule effect. More broadly, you are doubtless aware of the power of numbers in physical reality.

    Including, complex ones, which are actually 2-d vectors with a useful notation. That notation is linked to the point that if we define an i*[] operator such that on applying twice we reverse a vector in the plane, i*[] takes the definition sqrt-[1].

    That is, start with 1 the tip of the vector from 0 to 1 on the x-axis.

    Next, do:

    i*i*1 = -1.

    Thus i*i = -1

    Or, i = sqrt[-1]

    Thus, i, though termed imaginary, is as real as we need for many things. In effect i*x rotates the position vector 0x through a right angle anticlockwise; which opens up a whole world of study of oscillations and transients. Indeed, complex numbers are at least as real as negative numbers are!

    (Ever owed anybody something? Pay up and you see that x + [-x] = 0.]

    Just, i is conceptually difficult.

    (But then, I speak as one who for years at a time lived more in the complex frequency-transient behaviour Laplace domain than in the time-domain world we walk about in.)

    Now of course, we are embodied, self-aware, conscious thinking, reasoning, knowing beings; so indeed we do root our conceptual spaces in concrete experiences and abstractions therefrom. That does not mean that our access to abstract domains is a fiction, suspect of delusion at every turn. No more than our conscious experience is a fiction, suspect of delusion at every turn.

    That is, I again point out that conscious mindedness has no firewalls in it. If we assign general delusive-ness to any major feature, there is a spreading fire of absurdity, a cascade to infinity of Plato’s cave worlds. Reduction to absurdity, in short.

    Instead, we have every good reason to see that we are able to abstract from the concrete to the world of objects accessed through thought, including things like love, natural numbers and their extensions, propositions, triangles, circles, spheres, ellipsoids, laws of nature [which are often quantitative], the world of Mathematics, information and the like. Not perfectly, of course — for indubitably error exists [as shown by applying the principle of self evidence!], but with sufficient reliability, effectiveness and accuracy that there is excellent reason to routinely accept and make good use of their reality as entities, distinct from the concrete objects that we must also — nay, can only also — experience through our conscious mindedness.

    Nor should we forget that through hypothetical reasoning and modelling, we can use that world of abstract thought-objects to shape the world of physical, experienced objects. That for instance is how the computer you are using to read this came to be.

    But also, kindly note that it is not just numbers that I have again pointed to but the underlying sets and their ability to collect even abstract entities, in absence of any reference to a physical world as such.

    The Royce proposition E = error exists, is in the end, a statement about sets: there is an entity x such that the set that collects errors, R, contains x. That is all we need, we need no onward speculation about a world of forms or the like, just that there is obviously a world of thought that we share enough in common to intelligibly discuss it.

    As this thread of discussion exemplifies, in it s course exhibiting the reality of information and the fact that this abstract entity is sufficiently real for us to measure it in bits etc.

    KF

    [slightly edited]

  371. MF:

    Pardon, but:

    * Having children is a joy

    * I approve of people communicating with each other

    * The advancement of knowledge is a valuable thing

    . . . while subjectively experienced [as are all experiences!], are also objective. Taking just the last, over the past century sand has moved from being building material to being the substrate for the ICT industry based on advances in physics, chemistry and materials science etc, as well as in relevant Mathematics.

    Similarly, in a world of the challenge of Plato’s cave [I think here about the man coming back in from outside and being challenged], the sheer numbers who agree or disagree with an entity or claim, are of no consequence on whether or not the thing is true or right. Relativism fails, including the tyranny of the 51% as manipulated by the shadow shows put on by the media, their favoured politicians, and the education elites.

    We have to assess on good reason, starting with first principles of right reason and other self evident truths we access through our experience and understanding of the world.

    KF

  372. KF

    For such a system is always suspect on its claims, ex falso quodlibet or equivalently ex contradictione sequitur quodlibet.

    Please don’t use jargon. This is a blog not a course in the history of philosophy. I last did Latin in 1966 – I suspect many readers never did it at all.

    I still see no answer to two challenges:

    * Tell me of a number (or idea, proposition, belief, or philosophy) that does not exist.

    * Explain how you get from MY #1 to “moral truths are objective” (preferably in a few English sentences).

  373. MF:

    Pardon, I am actually giving a tribute to prof Harald Neiderriter of Austria, who first taught me mathematics in Uni. The cite was for him a bit of a motto.

    Second, a non-existent number is a contradiction in terms. Something like a square circle necessarily does not exist because its defining attributes stand in mutual contradiction.

    The objectivity of MY #1 was already discussed above in a few sentences. Boiling down, the rejection of the conscience — a major facility of mind — as generally delusive fatally undermines mind, as there are no firewalls in our world of thought. We have no more reason to suppose the conscience in general to be delusive than our sense of seeing, hearing and conscious awareness. And if we start by assigning any major feature of the mind to being a general delusion, we run into a cascade of Plato’s cave shadow shows all the way down.

    Reducing mind to absurdity.

    Instead, we properly understand that our conscious mindedness allows us to access reality, and that while we may and do err, we can and do also find out our errors step by step.

    Further, the fundamental point in MY #1, is that we see a child such as we once were, vulnerable, unable to argue effectively with a monster such as the predator Nero, easily taken captive and despoiled then destroyed. And, our consciences SCREAM, should we encounter such in progress: evil, violation of that which is of quasi-infinite worth with the same rights as we have, intervene NOW!

    I have no more reason to treat the screaming conscience as delusional than the eyes and ears that tell me that evil is in progress, or the experiences and resulting awareness that I have legs and arms and hands and maybe a cell phone to call help even as I rush in to do whatever I can and must.

    When duty calls for danger, may I never be [found] wanting there.

    KF

  374. PS: From the false, anything follows [in the logical sense], or from the contradiction, anything [true or false] follows. That is, reasoning on the false or the contradictory [which is necessarily false], will be unreliable.

  375. PPS: Wiki, on principle of explosion, is helpful:

    >> As a demonstration of the principle, consider two contradictory statements – “All lemons are yellow” and “Not all lemons are yellow”, and suppose (for the sake of argument) that both are simultaneously true. If that is the case, anything can be proven, e.g. “Santa Claus exists”, by using the following argument:

    a] We know that “All lemons are yellow” as it is defined to be true.

    b] Therefore the statement that (“All lemons are yellow” OR “Santa Claus exists”) must also be true, since the first part is true.

    c] However, if “Not all lemons are yellow” (and this is also defined to be true), Santa Claus must exist –

    otherwise statement 2 would be false. It has thus been “proven” that Santa Claus exists. The same could be applied to any assertion, including the statement “Santa Claus does not exist”. >>

  376. Pardon, but:

    * Having children is a joy

    * I approve of people communicating with each other

    * The advancement of knowledge is a valuable thing

    . . . while subjectively experienced [as are all experiences!], are also objective.

    I struggle with this. Are you really saying that they would be true even if there were no people around to have the opinion (which I think is a good criterion for objectivity)?

  377. a non-existent number is a contradiction in terms

    Precisely – so the predicate “exists” is doing no work when we say “the number 3 exists”. We said all that needed to be said by simply defining the number 3.

    Boiling down, the rejection of the conscience — a major facility of mind — as generally delusive fatally undermines mind, as there are no firewalls in our world of thought. We have no more reason to suppose the conscience in general to be delusive than our sense of seeing, hearing and conscious awareness. And if we start by assigning any major feature of the mind to being a general delusion, we run into a cascade of Plato’s cave shadow shows all the way down.

    But a subjectivist is not saying conscience is delusive. It could only be delusive if there was an objective truth. I am not saying we think there is an objective moral reality but actually there isn’t. I am saying that moral statements are subjective assessments – albeit some of them are in overwhelming agreement with the vast majority of other people.

    Reducing mind to absurdity.
    Instead, we properly understand that our conscious mindedness allows us to access reality, and that while we may and do err, we can and do also find out our errors step by step.

    That’s your view – but I see no evidence for it.

    Further, the fundamental point in MY #1, is that we see a child such as we once were, vulnerable, unable to argue effectively with a monster such as the predator Nero, easily taken captive and despoiled then destroyed. And, our consciences SCREAM, should we encounter such in progress: evil, violation of that which is of quasi-infinite worth with the same rights as we have, intervene NOW!

    That is equally applicable to a strongly held, common subjective opinion and so irrelevant to the argument.

  378. SB:

    Reification has a formal meaning [and an official definition] of unjustificably elevating (or downgrading) abstractness to the level of physical concreteness.

    Formal meanings are established when communities of users (e.g. legal, professional or scientific associations, etc.) agree to a definition for the sake of clarity. It remains to be seen whether you and I can agree to a definition of “reify.” Less formal uses may have the hazards you identify, but neither the examples I described nor my use of the term in this discussion reflect synecdoche, metaphor or metonymy. So we can dispense with that objection.

    There is no “official” definition of “reify” – no government body or authority regulates its use. The closest we come to in English is the OED. The free online version defines “reify” thusly:

    “Make (something abstract) more concrete or real.”

    Attending to the “or” in that definition, one acceptable use of “reify” is, “To make something abstract more real.”

    Which is the sense in which I am using it. (And, of course, “concrete” is itself used metaphorically in many definitions of “reify,” unless you are going to insist that because you’ve haven’t converted “errors” into cement and filler, you haven’t reified.)

    Ideas and concepts, unlike “momentum” and “team spirit” are real things. Ideas, concepts, and philosophies have consequences.

    You miss a logical level, at the same time you illustrate a point on my behalf. Ideas and concepts are real things, but it doesn’t follow that their referents, which are often abstractions, are necessarily real. It is the referents of abstract ideas that are reified. “Momentum” in sports is an idea, no less so than ideas such as truth, error, and evil. Nevertheless, the idea of momentum reflects reification in the manner I suggest above. Nor is “momentum” (mis)used as a mere dramatization of the events in a game: most uses of that term clearly indicate that the commentator believes that the outcome of play on the field is actually governed by shifts in “momentum” rather than by the play itself.

    The point you make on my behalf is that it indicates your belief that “real” things are not necessarily physical things. Therefore to be “made more real” is not necessarily to be made more physical – ultimately the point of my comment in 361.

  379. Mark Frank,
    from your materialist position, do you hold that the laws of nature “exist” – external from the human mind?

  380. RB:

    Nor is “momentum” (mis)used as a mere dramatization of the events in a game: most uses of that term clearly indicate that the commentator believes that the outcome of play on the field is actually governed by shifts in “momentum” rather than by the play itself.

    I’ll say instead, “above and beyond the play itself.”

  381. RB:

    For me momentum is a primary measure of motion, the cumulative effect of force acting across time. The bigger the momentum, the harder to stop, and the bigger the impact at collision — force being rate of change of momentum and impulse the change in momentum in the context of a collision event.

    There are qualitative and quantitative analogies to other dynamic situations where memory effects store up the effects of a driving variable and require a counter-drive to stop or reverse the direction of change.

    Thus using momentum as a qualitative term for initiative (and indicia of that), is reasonable. And, above and beyond the actual play of the game or situation, there will be a psychological effect that counts, and can be decisive out of all proportion. Which psychological effect can often be reasonably measured, rendering it both subjective and objective.

    “It’s in your head (or heart, or belly)” does not mean it is merely subjective and/or meaningless.

    KF

  382. PS: Taking truth as though it is just in the head — more or less synonymous with strong beliefs held by the prestigious or influential — clearly reflects a form of the Kantian ugly gulch between the inner world and that of things in themselves. F H Bradley’s corrective remark from the 1890′s on is apt. He who imagines to know that the world of things in themselves is unknowable, has already contradicted himself because this is a knowledge claim about that external world beyond the gulch. Safer, is to accept that our senses are imperfect but do give us significant access to states of affairs in the world. Likewise, the astonishing power of mathematics and logic in analysing, understanding, predicting and influencing that same world is a sign that — though limited — we are accessing key features of reality. Truth being the accurate correspondence of our ideas to reality. Knowledge, being that which is well warranted as credibly true and so is accepted (believed in the strong sense). And yes, language varies across time, but that is no excuse for its deliberate manipulation or corruption in ways that undermine clarity, precision and exactness of reference. But then, the tendency to be careless or worse, is itself likely fed by a tendency to think there is an unbridgeable gulch between the inner world and the outer one of things in themselves. Beyond a certain point, that leads us to habitually speak with disregard for duties of care to truth, accuracy and fairness — especially if there is a perceived advantage to be gained; which, if willful, becomes deceitful and slanderous. So, this is a case of a slippery slope problem.

  383. MF: Let me take knowledge again. We have no good reason to confine this or to confine progress in this to our selves. For instance, what if there happen to be other civilisations in our galaxy? Whether or not such a state of affairs is so, we have discovered for ourselves the power and progress of knowledge but that does not give us any right to assume a monopoly on such. For instance, key mathematical concepts and constants should be common to all possible civilisations, e.g. the value of pi or e, etc. Nor is the triple-point of water going to go anywhere. And much more. KF

  384. Reciprocating Bill:

    There is no “official” definition of “reify” – no government body or authority regulates its use. The closest we come to in English is the OED. The free online version defines “reify” thusly:”

    “Make (something abstract) more concrete or real.”

    Notice that both of our official definitions are somewhat at variance. It the word “reify” means whatever you want it to mean, then anything you want to be reified is, ipso facto, reified. And if it means whatever I want it to mean, then anything I don’t want to be reified is, ipso facto, not reified.

    If you have ever been in higher education, you will know that sociology and communication professors use and abuse that word every other day. One professor told me that “mind” was a reification. He didn’t want to deal with the prospect of an immaterial faculty, so he just reified it out of existence.

    By contrast, I think that you will find that most people do, in fact, acknowledge the existence of truth, error, goodness, evil, and justice without any further qualification. Very few would say that these things have been reified into existence.

    Attending to the “or” in that definition, one acceptable use of “reify” is, “To make something abstract more real.” Which is the sense in which I am using it.

    If reification now means making something abstract “more real,” as opposed to bringing it into existence, that would completely change the dynamic. With that definition, I cannot understand all your objections. As I understand it, you questioned the existence of truth, error, evil, justice etc. on the grounds that these things are mere reifications.

    Are you now saying that these things do exist after all in abstract form and that reification makes their existence more concrete? I understood your position to be that these things simply do not exist at all because there can be no such thing as abstract existence and that reification falsely assigns existence to them by making them concrete.

    In keeping with that point, are you now saying that there are levels of abstraction? If so, then where do you place truth, error, evil, justice, and good on that scale and why do you say they are not real if abstract realities can be real? Or, are you saying that they are real but not as real as they could be because they have not yet sufficiently been made concrete?

  385. #383 KF

    You are going to have to join up some dots for me. I agree with what you write to the extent that I can understand it, but cannot see the relevance of this comment to our discussion.

  386. SB:

    I find it interesting to look at a few reference sources:

    1] Wiki, disambiguation page: >> Reification generally refers to making something real, bringing something into being, or making something concrete, absent of evidence . . . . Reification (fallacy), fallacy of treating an abstraction as if it were a real thing >>

    2] Wiki, fallacy article:

    >> Reification (also known as concretism, or the fallacy of misplaced concreteness) is a fallacy of ambiguity, when an abstraction (abstract belief or hypothetical construct) is treated as if it were a concrete, real event, or physical entity.[1][2] In other words, it is the error of treating as a concrete thing something which is not concrete, but merely an idea.

    Another common manifestation is the confusion of a model with reality. Mathematical or simulation models may help understand a system or situation but real life may differ from the model (e.g. ‘the map is not the territory’).

    Reification is generally accepted in literature and other forms of discourse where reified abstractions are understood to be intended metaphorically,[2] but the use of reification in logical arguments is usually regarded as a fallacy. >>

    3] Concise OED, 1990, i.e. paper edn: >>convert (a person, abstraction, etc) into a thing; materialize [yes they used z]>>

    4] OED online just now: >> reify Pronunciation: /?ri??f??, ?re??-/ verb (reifies, reifying, reified) [with object] formal –> make (something abstract) more concrete or real: these instincts are, in man, reified as verbal constructs>>

    5] Merriam Webster online: >> re·ifiedre·ify·ing
    Definition of REIFY: to regard (something abstract) as a material or concrete thing>>

    6] AmHD: >> re·i·fy (r-f, r-) tr.v. re·i·fied, re·i·fy·ing, re·i·fies –> To regard or treat (an abstraction) as if it had concrete or material existence.>>

    7] Collins ED: >> reify [?ri???fa?] vb -fies, -fying, -fied –> (tr) to consider or make (an abstract idea or concept) real or concrete >>

    This is obviously a kidnapped, battered and abused word crying out for rescue from ideological captivity! (And yes, this is a deliberate metaphor.)

    The chief ideological culprit in the lineup is plain, as Wikipedia tosses off so blatantly:

    Reification (fallacy), fallacy of treating an abstraction as if it were a real thing

    Underlying ideological loading? That that which is not physically instantiated is not “real.” I guess the number 2, the property of two-ness, our need for 2 parents etc are not “real” then. Nor is 2 + 2 = 4. No, no no, all of these are abstract, they cannot be real! Tut tut clucks mother hen as she gets out her big red pen to mark big red X’s on the offending materials.

    Sorry, I don’t buy that, and I take the pattern above as a good index of which dictionaries to avoid in future. (And my remaining copy of the Concise OED, 1990 just joined my mom’s Merriam-Webster 7th Collegiate 1966 and my Webster’s 1828 in my permanent list of treasures to be preserved at all costs and passed down under oath to preserve and hide if necessary when the ideological thought police come by. I think my will will copy something from my Grandpa: the following dictionaries and books, notes and the like on logic etc are to pass down in the family direct line in perpetuity, never to be sold, discarded, given away, donated to a library [there is such a thing as a discard instruction . . . ] or destroyed, to be preserved at all costs, in the interests of preventing a 1984-style newspeak corruption of language, thought and reason: . . . and you are not paranoid if they really are out to get you.)

    Further to this, above, there is no way that the set R that collects errors, x,1 x2 . . . [if any] is being treated as a physical entity, no more than the sets { } –> 0, {0} –> 1, {0, 1} –> 2, and so forth up to the world of mathematics is.

    Just the opposite.

    The point is that truth that accurately conceptualises and describes reality is real and vital. never mind that it is not made of atoms. information, which truth uses to find expression, is not measured in kilograms or Joules, but in bits, and it is just as real as the computer in front of me processing the information now being typed.

    Just as the mind that I am using to process said information and ideas is real and rises above and beyond the physical substrate of my brain. Let us hear J B S Haldane again:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” ["When I am dead," in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209.]

    I skekkin mah haid . . .

    Lord, look what we have come to!

    KF

  387. MF: Did you not notice how you tried to confine knowledge to human beings above, as though we have a necessary monopoly on it? I think a conservative view on the nature, discovery/creation and possession of knowledge, would not beg that question. (By way of comparison observe above how Wiki’s kids in the basement or the equivalent, tried to confine reality to the physically instantiated.) KF

  388. KF

    MF: Did you not notice how you tried to confine knowledge to human beings above,

    No – I can’t see where I did this.

  389. MF: Kindly re-read 376 above, with particular reference to your comment after giving a list that includes knowledge in light of the normal meaning of “people.” KF

  390. #389 KF

    Fair enough – let me change it to something like “creatures with similar capabilities to humans” but that is not very snappy!

  391. Kairosfocus writes,

    This is obviously a kidnapped, battered and abused word crying out for rescue from ideological captivity! (And yes, this is a deliberate metaphor.)

    The chief ideological culprit in the lineup is plain, as Wikipedia tosses off so blatantly:

    Reification (fallacy), fallacy of treating an abstraction as if it were a real thing

    Indeed, we are dealing with an “ideological culprit” (nice turn of phrase) because it is a false notion that abstract “things” cannot exist and it must also be noted that a secondary definition of a “thing” has not been accounted for in the primary definition of reification.

    Is a thought, which clearly exists, a thing? Are we reifying when we acknowledge its existence? Without doubt, a thought is not a concrete thing, if concrete means physical or material. A concept or idea has no shape or weight and does not extend in space. Nevertheless, both concepts and ideas exist.

    The tree that we know as a tree, for example, is, indeed, concrete and physical, but our mental representation of that same tree (the concept) is not physical at all. That is why a mind, which is also immaterial, must play the role as the thought’s originator (though not necessarily as its sole processor).

    So a thought does exist as an abstract reality and we are not reifying when we say so. We may say the same thing about about evil, goodness, truth, error, and justice. They all exist as abstract realities.

  392. SB: It escapes me how, in a day and age where we rely on the power of mathematics, we can imagine that abstract = not real. I would like to hear some cogent explanations. KF

  393. SB: similarly, I would like to hear a good explanation of why we should accept that moral perceptions, unlike Mathematical ones, are purely subjective and so there is no underlying objective reality behind the sense of ought communicated by conscience. KF

  394. . . . Especially, in a context where the recent incident of attempted target painting in one of the objector sites that attempts to even more directly menace my family speaks to an attitude and mentality that makes us think twice before ignoring the implications of might makes ‘right’ amorality. What we are dealing with here is not merely theoretical. KF

  395. #393 KF

    What interests me is how is it possible for you and I to differ over the nature of moral judgements. We presumably mean the same things by “good”, “evil” etc. Each of us know the process we personally go through when we judge something to be good or evil. By and large we come to the same conclusions over fundamental issues such as the wrongness of murder, while disagreeing on others. So if I know my process and you know yours there appears to be only a limited number of options:

    The processes are indeed different. If so how do we decide which one is correct?

    The processes are essentially the same – in which case one or both of us is either lying or deceiving ourselves. If so, how do we know we deceiving ourselves?

    As far as the processes are concerned:

    As I understand it you

    a) deduce that something is good or evil by rational deduction

    b) in some sense perceive something is good or evil through conscience which is somewhat like a sense but it senses moral values rather than sights, sounds etc.

    My process is that I have an emotional response which I express by declaring something to be good or evil. This emotional response is not a whimsical unreasoned one. It is hugely influenced by all sorts of considerations – whether others suffer, how fair things are, commitments people have made, etc – but while all of these are important none are decisive. In the end my judgement is a personal response based on these reasons which luckily many, many people share.

    Do you think the two processes are so different? Or is one of us involved in self-deception (I will dismiss the possibility of lying)?

  396. SB, KF:

    Indeed, we are dealing with an “ideological culprit” (nice turn of phrase) because it is a false notion that abstract “things” cannot exist and it must also be noted that a secondary definition of a “thing” has not been accounted for in the primary definition of reification.

    No one has stated that abstract things cannot exist. It is misplaced or unjustified reification to which I have taken exception:

    283: “Error exits” entails the unjustified reification of “errors” into “Error.” Given that the mundane “errors exist” triggers the paradox of self-evidence without that reification, the self-referential “self-evidence” of “errors exist” does nothing to justify the promotion of “errors” into “Error.”

    316: No one here has denied that “errors exists.” People commit errors all the time. “Error exists” reflects a reification of “error” that needs justification.

    323: Wikipedia: “Reification generally refers to making something real, bringing something into being, or making something concrete, absent of evidence.

    The entire point of my discussion of self-referential nature of the “error exists” paradox is that it fails, in my opinion, to provide that justification.

    Is a thought, which clearly exists, a thing? Are we reifying when we acknowledge its existence?

    I repeat: “Ideas and concepts are real things, but it doesn’t follow that their referents, which are often abstractions, are necessarily real. It is the referents of abstract ideas that are sometimes inappropriately reified.”

  397. RB: Scroll up to 386, and see that I took several definitions of the word “reify” from various sources. You will see just which commonly encountered and influential sources in particular are being exposed. Let’s just say, I am going to pass down three classic dictionaries in my family on a stipulation that they are never to get out of the hands of our family, and I am probably going to lock down a fourth from the 1950′s from my dad. I am NOT going to have my native language stolen from me! KF

    PS: If you took time to notice, it has been repeatedly stressed — in the context of the rehabilitated square of opposition — that error exists means that there is an x such that it is a proper member of R, the set that collects errors (if any). There is no more of reification in that than in setting up the natural numbers. So, you can stop drumming away on the rhetorical drum with a hole in it now — all you are doing at this stage is exposing how desperate you are to avoid acknowledging self-evident truth. You are free to do that, but the price tag is clinging to absurdity, as you seem to be doing. Just remember, this gives us the right to point to this and highlight that when you object to something like the empirically based inference to design on FSCO/I as reliable sign, you will not even acknowledge self-evident truth so your opinion is of no credibility.

  398. KF

    RB: Scroll up to 386, and see that I took several definitions of the word “reify” from various sources.

    Words are tools. The meanings of utterances reflect not just the dictionary definitions of the words involved, but also the intentions of the speaker. I intend to convey the following: “Error” (over and above “errors”) attributes to an abstraction reality that isn’t justified. The OED indicates that “reify” can be used to describe same. Good enough for me. And if you correctly gather the meanings I intend, then the word has served me well enough.

    that error exists means that there is an x such that it is a proper member of R, the set that collects errors (if any). There is no more of reification in that than in setting up the natural numbers. So, you can stop drumming away on the rhetorical drum with a hole in it now — all you are doing at this stage is exposing how desperate you are to avoid acknowledging self-evident truth.

    Now you are conflating arguments. The first is that the “errors” paradox is attributable to self-reference (not reification) and tells us nothing about the world. That self-reference is independent of (and prior to) the the reification of “errors” into “Error.”

    The second is that reification of “Errors into “error” is unjustified. Whereas the establishment of abstractions such as mathematical objects and operation is justified axiomatically, the reification of “errors” into “Error” has no such justification, nor any other justification I can detect.

    your opinion is of no credibility.

    I’m just devastated, KF.

  399. Reciprocating Bill

    The second is that reification of “Errors into “error” is unjustified.

    That point has been refuted a number of times as has been the similar false notion that truth, justice, goodness, and evil are reifications. Each time I ask you if evil exists, you change the subject. Would you care to finally address the question?

  400. RB: You carelessly accused us of mischaracterising what you said. You were corrected on indubitable facts relating to 386 above, and without skipping a beat you proceeded with already corrected talking points, full speed ahead. Do you see the reasons for utter loss of credibility multiplying? Even if you don’t, others do. Kindly, think again and do better. KF

  401. RB:

    In addition, can you kindly respond to the very specific definition of error applied —

    that “error exists” means that this proposition asserts there is at least one x such that it is a member of the set R, which collects errors (if any)* —

    . . . and explain to us how this plainly and explicitly abstract entity (sets, with members) is properly to be regarded as an example of misplaced concreteness, assigning an abstract entity an implied or explicit status of being material like an object made of concrete.

    Absent a very cogent explanation [not seen to date], your talking point about how language changes is little more than a brazen attempt to rhetorical suggest the presence of a fallacy where you full well know due to being corrected, there is none. Those are the newspeak propaganda tactics exposed in Orwell’s 1984. (And I am holding on to my sound dictionaries — untainted by Orwellian tactics, thank you. They will get my sound, classic dictionaries from me when they pry them from my cold, dead hands.)

    In the end, it is obvious that what you are objecting to is clarity and specificity of concepts you are disinclined to accept. It seems that if something is definite and you don’t like it, it is to be inappropriately tagged “reification,” branded with that as a scarlet label — one you artfully refuse to clarify in light of non-loaded definition, and it is then rhetorically dismissed. As in: fallacy of the closed mind.

    Such tactics as I have just had to censure, reduce your credibility even further. Kindly, think again and do better.

    And, SB is quite right to challenge you to explain yourself regarding the existence and nature of evil.

    KF

    *PS: It turns out that the attempt to deny the proposition E, error exists means in effect: It is an ERROR to assert that error exists. Thus, it immediately and patently supplies an example of error. Thus, error exists is undeniably and self-evidently true as the attempt to deny instead provides substantiation of its truth.

  402. RB: One last thing, have you taken note of the significance of the square of opposition (as rehabilitated)? KF

  403. KF:

    . . . explain to us how this plainly and explicitly abstract entity (sets, with members) is properly to be regarded as an example of misplaced concreteness, assigning an abstract entity an implied or explicit status of being material like an object made of concrete.

    - My argument is not that sets with members are necessarily reified. With respect to the “error exists” paradox, my argument is that it arises due to self-reference, and tells us nothing about the world.
    - Per the OED, “reify” can properly deployed to refer to the act of attributing to an abstraction reality that isn’t justified. It is in that sense that I intend “reify.”

    It turns out that the attempt to deny the proposition E, error exists means in effect: It is an ERROR to assert that error exists.

    Due to self-reference, as you affirmed above. I’m not impressed.

    reduce your credibility even further.

    You going to finish those fries?

  404. SB:

    That point has been refuted a number of times

    Sorry, Stephen, I don’t see a refutation.

    A refutation would have the form of justification for said reification. You’ve provided none. KF is pressing one that doesn’t work.

    Each time I ask you if evil exists, you change the subject.

    Here are the subjects of my part in this thread to date:

    - “Errors exist” results in paradox due to self-reference. It fails to provide an exemplar of self-evidence of any significance.

    - “Promoting errors” into “Error” entails unjustified reification.

  405. RB: Just for record, kindly note that the point of the attempted denial is that it creates a new proposition, and that proposition turns out to have such reference to the world. Namely, it denies that error exists. In so doing, it creates an error, as has been shown. Attempts to wiggle off the hook notwithstanding, Error exists is true, is a matter of commonplace fact, and its attempted denial shows by instantiating an error, that it is undeniable as well thus self evident. It seems, however that you have such a horror of truth being shown so beyond reasonable doubt that you insist on manufacturing unreasonable and absurd fantasy doubts. KF

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