Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Logic and Reason

Logic and First Principles of right reason

L&FP, 52: Fallaciously “settled” (=begged) questions and the marginalisation of legitimate alternatives

Nowadays, we are often told “The Science is SETTLED,” as though Science is ever finalised or certain. To go with it, those who have concerns or alternative views and arguments are marginalised and too often smeared, scapegoated or even outright slandered. Sometimes — as Dallas Willard warned regarding moral knowledge — in this rush to judgement, legitimate knowledge is derided, denigrated and dismissed, leading to manipulation and indoctrination. Then, of course, wide swathes of the media and many educators will often jump on the bandwagon. As a result, policy and government become increasingly divorced from due prudence, leading to ruinous marches of folly. How can we rebalance the situation? First, as the media are the main conduit of indoctrination and Read More ›

L&FP, 51a: Extending the dilemma into the “multi-lemma” — getting out of thorny personal, organisational and policy thickets (aka, problematiques)

In one of the classics, in the Minor Prophets, we read a strange-seeming tale: Amos 5:18 Woe to you who desire the day of the LORD!Why would you have the day of the LORD?It is darkness, and not light,19 as if a man fled from a lion,and a bear met him,or went into the house and leaned his hand against the wall,and a serpent bit him.20 Is not the day of the LORD darkness, and not light,and gloom with no brightness in it? [ESV] Switching metaphors, we can imagine being caught in a thorny thicket, or facing the horns of a many-pronged “multi-lemma” or even feeling that we have gone over a cliff, and are trying to cope with battered Read More ›

L&FP, 51: The fallacy of the false dilemma

A classic rhetorical tactic is to pose a dilemma, an argument where the opponent is presented with alternatives, all bad so forcing him or her to either make a bad choice or back away from the position taken. In a variant, one of the choices is presented as a lesser of evils, which is to be taken even reluctantly. It is a powerful rhetorical strategy, and so it is often posed even when it is unwarranted, which is where fallacious dilemma arguments come from. This post is about that fallacious case, and the following infographic will help: Here, we see how policy proposal or argued position P is presented with a dilemma, Q XOR R — two exclusive, allegedly exhaustive Read More ›

L&FP, 50: The error(s) of telling ‘truth’ by the clock

In a given time and culture, characteristic fashionable fallacies too often gain persuasive power by mutual reinforcement, and/or by swinging from one extreme to another; bypassing the point of responsible balance. So, too, we end up in a thorny thicket of errors, a hard-to-escape problematique. And yes, that often includes the [neo-]marxist version of the Hegelian triad, thesis, antithesis, synthesis, repeat. Where, too, babylonian captivity to the spirit of the age or the community . . . nowadays, strongly shaped by relativism . . . is of the very essence of ill advised worldly, destructive false “conventional wisdom.” We must ask, then, what are the crooked yardsticks that we have substituted for what is truly straight, accurate, upright? (Have we Read More ›

L&FP, 49: Debating the validity (and objectivity) of infinity

Steve Patterson, among many points of objection, is doubtful on the modern concept of infinity (or more strictly the transfinite): The foundations of modern mathematics are flawed. A logical contradiction is nestled at the very core, and it’s been there for a century. Of all the controversial ideas I hold, this is the most radical. I disagree with nearly all professional mathematicians, and I think they’ve made an elementary error that most children would discover. It’s about infinity. I’ve written about infinity here, here, and here, and each article points to the same conclusion: There are no infinite sets. Not only do infinite sets not exist, but the very concept is logically contradictory – no different than “square circles”. Infinite Read More ›

L&FP, 48n: The Fair Havens/Malta model for community change

The events recorded in Ac 27 (a ship getting caught in an early winter storm due to imprudence and defiance of counsel) are a historical micro case study on how key changes too often have to happen in a community: Ac 27:8 Coasting along it [the south coast of Crete, in the second ship for the voyage] with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near which was the city of Lasea. 9 Since much time had passed, and the voyage was now dangerous because even the Fast [Yom Kippur] was already over, Paul advised them, 10 saying, “Sirs, I perceive that the voyage will be with injury and much loss, not only of the cargo and the Read More ›

L&FP, 48m: The legitimate authority of knowable moral truth in service to justice, thriving and prudence

In the current thread on an unfortunate event with a newborn, there is an exchange of comments: BA, 45: Suppose the overwhelming majority regarded dumping newborns in dumpsters as good. Would it then be good? Sev, 56: Presumably, it would be good in the minds of the majority who approved of it. It would not be a good thing from my perspective. This, of course reflects the core relativist thesis that rejects objective, warranted, generally knowable moral truth, and so I commented, 57: “thereby hangs the fatal error of relativising and undermining knowable, warranted, objective moral truth reducing it to clash of opinions backed by power. Justice evaporates.” Such brings us back to a core issue, legitimate, morally anchored authority Read More ›

L&FP, 48L: Can we restore confident knowledge of moral truth?

Yes. But it will be contested. As Dallas Willard highlighted: Human life has an inescapable moral dimension. That is, it essentially involves choices with reference to what is good and evil, right and wrong, duty and failure to do what ought to be done . . . . What characterizes life in so-called Western societies today, however, is the absence, or presumed absence, of knowledge of good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice: knowledge that might serve as a rational basis for moral decisions, for policy enactments, and for rational critique of established patterns of response to moral issues. In short, we are up against a culture-dominating, institutionally entrenched narrative that even though lacking warrant, is backed by Read More ›

L&FP, 48k: Dallas Willard on the key self-referentiality in the Relativist thesis that there are no generally knowable, objective moral truths

In the preface to his posthumous The Disappearance of Moral Knowledge (2018), Dallas Willard begins: Human life has an inescapable moral dimension. That is, it essentially involves choices with reference to what is good and evil, right and wrong, duty and failure to do what ought to be done. Any human community, whatever its scope, will exhibit patterns of such choices, more or less recognized as such by its fully formed members. Those patterns usually guide first responses to any question concerning what is to be done, and they provide a framework for further reflection on the appropriateness of actions, character traits, and social arrangements. He soon adds: Throughout history it has been knowledge—real or presumed—that was invoked to provide Read More ›

L&FP, 48j: Dallas Willard’s (partial) list of reasons for the unwarranted disappearance of moral knowledge

As we continue to explore the issue of the marginalisation of moral knowledge, let us highlight from 48b, Willard’s (incomplete) list of key causes: (2). How did this disappearance [of moral knowledge] come to be the case? Not through a discovery of some kind: e.g. that there was no such knowledge. But through a lengthy historical process of idea change. Some components: (A). The dismissal of theology from the domain of knowledge [i.e. the study and systematic knowledge of God, cf Rom 1:28 – 32], and the failure to find a secular basis for ethics [–> how can evolutionary materialism found ethics?].(B). Disappearance of the human self and knowledge of the self from “respectable” knowledge. (The “soul” from Plato on.) Read More ›

L&FP, 48i: Dallas Willard on the legitimate authority of knowledge (vs the radical narrative of oppression)

In the course of exploring the marginalisation/disappear-ING of moral knowledge, Professor Dallas Willard gave an expanded definition of knowledge that also draws out the legitimate authority of knowledge; including, moral knowledge, i.e. knowledge of duty to right conduct etc. As we can see from his handout for a 2010 video lecture: What is knowledge and what does it do? Knowledge is the capacity to represent something as it is, on an appropriate basis of thought and experience. It and it alone confers the right and perhaps the responsibility to act, direct action, formulate policy and supervise its implementation, and teach. This helps us see what disappears along with “moral knowledge.” He goes on to note on the “[f]ear or resentment Read More ›

L&FP, 48h: Building sound Government on a built-in, Natural Law base (The US Declaration of Independence as a case study)

The natural, built in law framework in 48g culminates: . . . in civil society with government, justice is a principal task of legitimate government. In short, nihilistic will to power untempered by the primacy of justice is its own refutation in any type of state. Where, justice is the due balance of rights, freedoms and responsibilities. (In Aristotle’s terms as cited by Hooker: “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 .”) Thus also, 11] Eleventh, that as the US DoI, 1776 Read More ›

L&FP, 48g: Is a child the moral equivalent of a fish we catch and eat for lunch?

Here, we follow up from the yardstick case of a child kidnapped, sexually tortured and murdered. No 60 in L&FP48a: >>Compare to such, a fish, that we lure to bite on a hook, then land, kill and eat for lunch without compunction. (And even for those who object to so treating a fish, they will do so by extension of the protective sense we have about say the young child — not the other way around.) But, unless there is a material difference between a young child and a fish, that sense of wrong is frankly delusional, it is just a disguised preference, one that we are simply willing to back up with force. So, already, once we let radical Read More ›

L&FP, 48f: Orwell exposes how Language and meaning are being relativised, too, with hints on how to correct it

When we have to resort to Orwell, it is a sad sign of how far the rot has gone. LF&P 48, no 146: >>it seems language itself (so, dictionaries and other reference resources by extension . . .) is under the gun of the elephant game. Orwell wrote about Newspeak replacing Oldspeak in the interests of IngSoc . . . English Socialism (the National Socialist English Worker’s Party we suppose), and how part of the dumbing down was to make it impossible to conceptualise heresy against the partyline. There was also Doublethink: To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to Read More ›