Darwinist rhetorical tactics Food for thought Science, worldview issues/foundations and society

FFT: The worldviews level challenge — what the objectors to design thought are running away from

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It is almost — almost — amusing but then quite sad to see how objectors to design theory play with logic and worldviews issues, then run away when the substantial issues are taken up.

Let me clip from the FFT, AJ vs Charles thread to pick up these matters, but to avoid making this utterly too long, let me point here on for the underlying questions of worldviews, first plausibles and self-evident plumb-line truths such as the first principles of right reason.

While we are at it, let us observe from the diagram on the right, how worldviews issues influence everything we do as a civilisation, and how the issue arises, on whether business as usual is a march of folly and needs to be turned from to move to a more sustainable, more sound alternative.

In our day, it is pretty clear that evolutionary materialistic scientism and its fellow travellers rule the roost, but that such is inescapably incoherent, self-refuting, self-falsifying and amoral, opening the door to ruthless nihilist factionalism.

So, it is a service not only to the ID community but the civilisation to say what is not politically corrupt today, the unmentionable fact that A is A.

So, now, let us proceed by clipping some posts in the relevant thread:

153: >>April 10, 2017 at 5:22 pm

FFT5: The implications of the familiar extraordinary.

In this thread, there are arguments [posted] that . . . as an observable phenomenon . . . show that we are capable of significant choice and reasoning, i.e. we are responsibly, rationally, significantly free, conscious, en-conscienced, morally governed, communicating creatures. (Indeed, those trying to object are operating on the implicit premise that we are urged by conscience toward the truth and the right; and if we were not, this world would descend into a dark, chaotic ruin in short order. It is a good thing that something urges us on to the truth and the right.)

Locke, in Sec 5 of his essay on human understanding (and yes, I add scriptural references i/l/o his cites and allusions), aptly comments:

Men have reason to be well satisfied with what God hath thought fit for them, since he hath given them (as St. Peter says [NB: i.e. 2 Pet 1:2 – 4]) pana pros zoen kaieusebeian, whatsoever is necessary for the conveniences of life and information of virtue; and has put within the reach of their discovery, the comfortable provision for this life, and the way that leads to a better. How short soever their knowledge may come of an universal or perfect comprehension of whatsoever is, it yet secures their great concernments [Prov 1: 1 – 7], that they have light enough to lead them to the knowledge of their Maker, and the sight of their own duties [cf Rom 1 – 2 & 13, Ac 17, Jn 3:19 – 21, Eph 4:17 – 24, Isaiah 5:18 & 20 – 21, Jer. 2:13, Titus 2:11 – 14 etc, etc]. Men may find matter sufficient to busy their heads, and employ their hands with variety, delight, and satisfaction, if they will not boldly quarrel with their own constitution, and throw away the blessings their hands are filled with, because they are not big enough to grasp everything . . . It will be no excuse to an idle and untoward servant [Matt 24:42 – 51], who would not attend his business by candle light, to plead that he had not broad sunshine. The Candle that is set up in us [Prov 20:27] shines bright enough for all our purposes . . . If we will disbelieve everything, because we cannot certainly know all things, we shall do muchwhat as wisely as he who would not use his legs, but sit still and perish, because he had no wings to fly. [Text references added to document the sources of Locke’s allusions and citations.]

All of that is in the context of rebuking a lazy, sneeringly supercilious selective hyperskepticism that will scorn more than adequate warrant for ethical theism, because it shuns the premise of moral government: accountability on plainly recognisable duty, before our Maker, Lord, Governor and utterly just Judge.

But, that is a bit quick off the mark.

Let’s start with computational substrates, whether mechanically or electrically analogue or digital or neural network. For instance a ball and disk integrator as was used in tide table machines or naval gunlaying computers is clearly a cause-effect, blindly mechanical system. If it has a fault or is badly programmed, it will err, and it cares not, it is just like Monadology’s Mill-Wheels grinding away blindly. Leibniz:

[P]erception, and that which depends upon it, are inexplicable by mechanical causes, that is to say, by figures and motions. Supposing that there were a machine whose structure produced thought, sensation, and perception, we could conceive of it as increased in size with the same proportions until one was able to enter into its interior, as he would into a mill. Now, on going into it he would find only pieces working upon one another, but never would he find anything to explain perception.

There is no recognition of meaning, no perception, no purpose, just blind cause-effect chains externally arranged to yield the solution to certain differential equations. GIGO, and all that. Likewise, the old Pentium chip neither knew nor understood nor cared about the wired in errors that led to the early recall. And, a neural network is not in principle any different. (BTW this points to serious design inferences on the relevant hardware and software in bio-cybernetics systems, but that is a secondary point.)

The primary point has been highlighted by Reppert:

. . . let us suppose that brain state A, which is token identical to the thought that all men are mortal, and brain state B, which is token identical to the thought that Socrates is a man, together cause the belief that Socrates is mortal. It isn’t enough for rational inference that these events be those beliefs, it is also necessary that the causal transaction be in virtue of the content of those thoughts . . . [But] if naturalism is true, then the propositional content is irrelevant to the causal transaction that produces the conclusion, and [so] we do not have a case of rational inference. In rational inference, as [C S] Lewis puts it, one thought causes another thought not by being, but by being seen to be, the ground for it. But causal transactions in the brain occur in virtue of the brain’s being in a particular type of state that is relevant to physical causal transactions.

In short, a physicalist account of mindedness (much less, guidance by light of conscience) faces an ugly, impassable gulch.

In effect, rocks — even refined and carefully organised rocks — have no dreams; computation is not intentional contemplation.

At this point, evolutionary materialism and its fellow travellers — and nope you cannot properly, conveniently open up rhetorical daylight between some vague agnosticism and full-blown evo mat to deflect this — face an impassable gulch.

One, that brings out what was already highlighted: mindedness, consciousness, reasoned inference and conscience’s compass-pointing alike are all reduced to grand delusion on evo mat premises.

Grand delusion would collapse responsible, rational freedom and so falls into irretrievable incoherence and absurdity. Thence, the necessary falsity Pearcey and others have pointed to.

But in reality, rational, responsible, conscience-compass bearing consciousness is our first undeniable empirical fact. The fact through which we perceive all others.

This is the familiar extraordinary phenomenon, the pivot on which the project of building a sound worldview turns. In effect, unless a worldview is compatible with our being responsible, reasonable, conscience-guided and significantly free beings, it cannot even sit to the table for a discussion of comparative difficulties. It is silenced by being inconsistent with rationality. It is patently, irretrievably absurd and necessarily false. (Evo mat and fellow traveller ideologies, I am looking straight at you.)>>

So, we have to first face mindedness and the limitations of computational substrates.

178, >>

FFT6A: Last evening, in FFT5, we looked at the familiar extraordinary; it is almost amusing to see how this has been almost studiously pushed aside. One hopes that the latest focus for hyperskeptical dismissiveness, heptades, will now settle down.

At this point, we have to deal with a key conclusion in 153:

. . . a physicalist account of mindedness (much less, guidance by light of conscience) faces an ugly, impassable gulch.

In effect, rocks — even refined and carefully organised rocks — have no dreams; computation is not intentional contemplation.

At this point, evolutionary materialism and its fellow travellers — and nope you cannot properly, conveniently open up rhetorical daylight between some vague agnosticism and full-blown evo mat to deflect this — face an impassable gulch.

One, that brings out what was already highlighted: mindedness, consciousness, reasoned inference and conscience’s compass-pointing alike are all reduced to grand delusion on evo mat premises.

Grand delusion would collapse responsible, rational freedom and so falls into irretrievable incoherence and absurdity. Thence, the necessary falsity Pearcey and others have pointed to.

But in reality, rational, responsible, conscience-compass bearing consciousness is our first undeniable empirical fact. The fact through which we perceive all others.

This is the familiar extraordinary phenomenon, the pivot on which the project of building a sound worldview turns. In effect, unless a worldview is compatible with our being responsible, reasonable, conscience-guided and significantly free beings, it cannot even sit to the table for a discussion of comparative difficulties. It is silenced by being inconsistent with rationality. It is patently, irretrievably absurd and necessarily false. (Evo mat and fellow traveller ideologies, I am looking straight at you.)

What sort of world do we have to live in for there to be creatures like us?

That’s rather like a point R W Hamming made in addressing a thought exercise that counter-balances one of the mythical paradigm cases of empirical investigation, the dropping of a musket-ball and a cannon-ball from the famous leaning tower of Pisa. And yes, the very same News who so many hyperskeptics sneer at brought this to attention:

Let us next consider Galileo. Not too long ago I was trying to put myself in Galileo’s shoes, as it were, so that I might feel how he came to discover the law of falling bodies. I try to do this kind of thing so that I can learn to think like the masters did-I deliberately try to think as they might have done.

Well, Galileo was a well-educated man and a master of scholastic arguments. He well knew how to argue the number of angels on the head of a pin [–> which is actually about location vs extension], how to argue both sides of any question. He was trained in these arts far better than any of us these days. I picture him sitting one day with a light and a heavy ball, one in each hand, and tossing them gently. He says, hefting them, “It is obvious to anyone that heavy objects fall faster than light ones-and, anyway, Aristotle says so.” “But suppose,” he says to himself, having that kind of a mind, “that in falling the body broke into two pieces. Of course the two pieces would immediately slow down to their appropriate speeds. But suppose further that one piece happened to touch the other one. Would they now be one piece and both speed up? Suppose I tied the two pieces together. How tightly must I do it to make them one piece? A light string? A rope? Glue? When are two pieces one?”

The more he thought about it-and the more you think about it-the more unreasonable becomes the question of when two bodies are one. There is simply no reasonable answer to the question of how a body knows how heavy it is-if it is one piece, or two, or many. Since falling bodies do something, the only possible thing is that they all fall at the same speed-unless interfered with by other forces. There’s nothing else they can do. He may have later made some experiments, but I strongly suspect that something like what I imagined actually happened. I later found a similar story in a book by Polya [7. G. Polya, Mathematical Methods in Science, MAA, 1963, pp. 83-85.]. Galileo found his law not by experimenting but by simple, plain thinking, by scholastic reasoning.

I know that the textbooks often present the falling body law as an experimental observation; I am claiming that it is a logical law, a consequence of how we tend to think . . .

Coherence, factual adequacy and elegantly balanced explanatory power are far more powerful tools than, often, we are wont to believe. Indeed, the thought experiment was a favourite analytical tool for Einstein, and it was pivotal to the rise of Relativity. As in, taking a ride on a beam of light.

This ties back to the view that mathematics is substantially the logic of structure and quantity, which we may freely explore because we are responsibly and rationally significantly free.>>

Again: What sort of world do we have to live in for there to be creatures like us?

219, >>April 12, 2017 at 9:23 pm

FFT6B: At 178 above, we looked at a key question for comparative difficulties analysis:

What sort of world do we have to live in for there to be creatures like us?

This surfaces a key issue, that two truths x and y must be such that we never have y = NOT-x; that is in a coherent world all true statements — those that accurately describe facets of reality — will be mutually compatible. I note this, fully recognising that for many, this is actually quite a difficult point today; as, various ideologies have led to a conflation of truth with perception or opinion. Hence, a conversation I had today that turned on the concept, “my truth.” Language decay is an old problem, and Orwell pointed out what could be done through new-speak and double-talk. How many are two plus two, Mr Smith?

My answer was and is, that we already have perfectly adequate words for opinions and perceptions; so, there is no need to corrupt the meaning of the precious or even vital word, truth. The truth — as Ari noted long ago in Metaphysics 1011b — says of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not.

This in turn brings us to the question of being and non-being, of possible and impossible being, of contingent and necessary being. Thus, of causal roots of the world, of reality. And it points to the issue of possible worlds: comprehensive enough descriptions of how things could be or are.

Impossible beings such as a square circle cannot exist in any possible world. As, core characteristics stand in mutual contradiction and cannot hold of the same thing, X, under the same circumstances. Here, squarishness and circularity.

By contrast, possible beings could exist in at least one possible world. Contingent ones would not do so in all possible worlds but would exist in at least one. I think, in 100 years there will be unicorns, as biotech will be there and people will be willing to pay to have one. Just as we seem to be seeing ever more miniature sized horses already.

Necessary beings must exist in any possible world, as they are frameworking requisites of a world existing. For instance, two-ness or distinct identity (equivalent) must be there for a distinct world to be. This is non-trivial, as distinct identity has three immediate corollaries: Law of Identity, Law of Excluded Middle, Law of Non-Contradiction.

That is, core logic is built into any possible world; including of course the logic of structure and quantity, i.e. mathematical realities. (NB: We already see here, a key reason for the awesome power of Mathematics in our world and especially in scientific work. [So much for the sneer that this thread has little or no relevance to Science.])

Back to us, as being able to significantly freely discuss our concerns responsibly and rationally, and having an inner compass-sense that insistently points to the truth and the right — conscience.

What sort of world must this be to allow such. and what must be in its frameworking structure?

First, we already saw that the denial of responsible, rational, significant freedom lets grand delusion loose and instantly ends in absurdity. Self-evidently, this is a world in which responsibly rational and significantly free, morally governed creatures are possible and in fact actual.

That’s already a huge result and it sweeps away all worldviews — their name is legion — that are incompatible with such creatures. This of course includes evolutionary materialistic scientism, its fellow travellers, radical subjectivism and radical relativism. (Cf. the chain of comments here on, above.)

Next, we face the implication of the IS-OUGHT gap, on many levels. A world with moral government has to be such that OUGHT is well-rooted in the fabric and framework of reality. Post Hume et al and post Euthyphro et al, that can only be in the very root of reality, i.e. there must be a necessary being that so fuses IS-ness and OUGHT-ness, that they are inextricably entangled in the roots of reality.

What sort of being is capable of such?

The answer is utterly challenging, and I have long thought it is best posed in light of comparative difficulties and worldview level inference to the best candidate explanation.

We need to look at serious candidates (as opposed to something like a flying spaghetti monster, which will not be a necessary being — made up from bits and pieces, i.e. composite.)

There is just one serious candidate, after centuries of debate: the inherently good Creator God, a necessary and maximally great being, worthy of loyalty and the responsible, reasonable service of doing the good in accord with our evident nature (thus, the law of our nature).

This is not an arbitrary imposition, if you doubt, simply put up a viable alternative: ________ (this is after all comparative difficulties analysis).

Prediction: hard to do.

This also has a further highly relevant implication. For a serious candidate necessary being will either be impossible as a square circle is, or else it will be possible thus would exist in at least one world. And, as it would be a frameworking reality, it would be present in every possible world, including our own — an actual world. (And yes, I am not saying THE actual world.)

The God of ethical theism as described, is a serious candidate [e.g. NB’s have no beginning or end, are eternal]. This means that God is either impossible as a square circle is impossible, or he is actual. And decades ago, the problem of evils used to be trotted out to make that argument, but that option is effectively dead post-Plantinga and in fact post Boethius.

Then, too, if one claims to be an atheist or agnostic, s/he implies knowing good reason to doubt or dismiss the God of ethical theism as impossible even as a square circle is impossible. It would be interesting to hear what such a reason is: _______ (esp. post, problem of evils as a serious view as opposed to a handy piece of intimidatory rhetoric).

So, now, we are at a very important threshold, the God of ethical theism is on the table as a serious candidate necessary being, root of reality that grounds a world in which responsibly and rationally free creatures such as ourselves are possible and indeed actual.

That is a momentous turning-point, and it would be interesting to see if we will hear of the viable alternatives, including reasons why such a God is an impossible being.>>

Of course, these two blanks were never ever filled in cogently. So:

234, >>April 14, 2017 at 2:02 am

FFT6C: It is worth noting the unresponsiveness to 219 and 178 above, especially at the points where objectors were directly invited to put up alternatives.

We can take it to the bank that UD is obsessively monitored by denizens of a penumbra of hostile sites. Denizens, more than willing to pounce when they see opportunity.

In short, the above blanks left unanswered speak to yet another hovering ghost or three in the room.

Here, first, the point that there is no necessary appeal to design inferences and debates to build a case for ethical theism adequate to ground commitment to such.

Second, that the atheistical objectors and their fellow travellers have no cogent answer to the need for a necessary being root to reality, nor to the point that the God of ethical theism is a serious candidate to be such (by utter contrast with the cartoonish flying spaghetti monster etc), nor to the onward point that such a serious candidate will be either ontologically impossible [as a square circle is impossible] or else will be actual.

Third, they have no cogent answer to the significance of the point that just to have a real discussion, we must implicitly accept that we are responsible, reasonable, significantly free and intelligent beings under moral government. Not least, conscience is the compass within pointing to the truth, the right and our duties of care towards such. Undermining this dimension of conscious mindedness by implying it is delusional lets grand delusion loose in our minds, ending in shipwreck.

So, we can see that the evo mat scientism picture of the world falls apart, and that there is no need to go out of our way to accommodate it. It is self-referentially incoherent and so self-falsifying.

Nor, should we yield to the trend to corrupt the concept, truth. (That, too, is part of the benumbing and warping of conscience, as say Orwell brought out so forcefully in his 1984.)

The astute onlooker will also note that we have had a worldviews discussion, not one pivoting on parsing Bible texts. Though, I have noted that this analysis is compatible with at least one key summary argument in Scripture, one that points to this sort of analysis as valid on the whole if soundly done.

Let me clip:

Rom 1:18 For [God does not overlook sin and] the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who in their wickedness suppress and stifle the truth, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them [in their inner consciousness], for God made it evident to them.

20 For ever since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through His workmanship [all His creation, the wonderful things that He has made], so that they [who fail to believe and trust in Him] are without excuse and without defense.

21 For even though [d]they knew God [as the Creator], they did not [e]honor Him as God or give thanks [for His wondrous creation]. On the contrary, they became worthless in their thinking [godless, with pointless reasonings, and silly speculations], and their foolish heart was darkened.

22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory and majesty and excellence of the immortal God for [f]an image [worthless idols] in the shape of mortal man and birds and four-footed animals and reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their own hearts to [sexual] impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them [abandoning them to the degrading power of sin], 25 because [by choice] they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen . . . .

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God or consider Him worth knowing [as their Creator], God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do things which are improper and repulsive, 29 until they were filled (permeated, saturated) with every kind of unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice and mean-spiritedness. They are gossips [spreading rumors], 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors [of new forms] of evil, disobedient and disrespectful to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful [without pity]. [AMP]

The passage goes on to highlight how the warping of mind and conscience ends up in a topsy-turvy world that approves evil and by implication disapproves the good. That alludes subtly to another text, from the prophet Isaiah:

Isa 5:18 Woe (judgment is coming) to those who drag along wickedness with cords of falsehood,
And sin as if with cart ropes [towing their own punishment];
19 Who say, “Let Him move speedily, let Him expedite His work [His promised vengeance], so that we may see it;
And let the purpose of the Holy One of Israel approach
And come to pass, so that we may know it!”

20 Woe (judgment is coming) to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;
Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
21 Woe (judgment is coming) to those who are wise in their own eyes
And clever and shrewd in their own sight! [AMP]

This summary rings all too sadly true as we look out across the moral wasteland of our largely apostate civilisation that has so often deliberately turned its back on the truth and has refused to endure sound instruction. Instead, we have ever so often chosen to go out in the ways of cleverly constructed errors, leading many astray into ruin.

Given an onward exchange, I think I should note from Eta Linnemann on the undermining of theology:

Theology as it is taught in universities all over the world . . . is based on the historical-critical method . . . . [which] is not just the foundation for the exegetical disciplines. It also decides what the systematician can say . . . It determines procedure in Christian education, homiletics and ethics . . . . Research is conducted ut si Deus non daretur (“as if there were no God”). That means the reality of God is excluded from consideration from the start . . . Statements in Scripture regarding place, time, sequences of events and persons are accepted only insofar as they fit in with established assumptions and theories . . . .

Since other religions have their scriptures, one cannot assume the Bible is somehow unique and superior to them . . . . It is taken for granted that the words of the Bible and God’s word are not identical . . . the New Testament is pitted against the Old Testament, assuming that the God of the New Testament is different from that of the Old, since Jesus is said to have introduced a new concept of God . . . . Since the inspiration of Scripture is not accepted, neither can it be assumed that the individual books of Scripture complement each other. Using this procedure one finds in the Bible only a handful of unrelated literary creations . . . . Since the content of biblical writings is seen as merely the creation of theological writers, any given verse is nothing more than a non-binding, human theological utterance.

For historical-critical theology, critical reason decides what is reality in the Bible and what cannot be reality; and this decision is made on the basis of the everyday experience accessible to every person [i.e. the miraculous aspect of Scripture, and modern reports of miracles — regardless of claimed attestation — are dismissed as essentially impossible to verify and/or as merely “popular religious drivel”] . . . . . Due to the presuppositions that are adopted, critical reason loses sight of the fact that the Lord, our God, the Almighty, reigns. [Historical Criticism of the Bible: Methodology or Ideology? (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1993), pp. 83 – 88 as excerpted.]

There is nothing in historical-critical theology that has not already made its appearance in philosophy. Bacon (1561 – 1626), Hobbes (1588 – 1679), Descartes (1596 – 1650), and Hume (1711 – 1776) laid the foundations: inductive thought as the only source of knowledge; denial of revelation; monistic worldview; separation of faith and reason; doubt as the foundation of knowledge. Hobbes and Hume established a thoroughgoing criticism of miracles; Spinoza (1632 – 1677) also helped lay the basis for biblical criticism of both Old and New Testaments. Lessing (1729 – 1781) invented the synoptic problem. Kant’s (1724 – 1804) critique of reason became the basic norm for historical-critical theology. Hegel (1770 – 1831) furnished the means for the process of demythologizing that Rudolph Bultmann (1884 – 1976) would effectively implement a century later – after the way had been prepared by Martin Kähler (1835 – 1912).

Kierkegaard (1813 – 1855) . . . reduced faith to a leap that left rationality behind. He cemented the separation of faith and reason and laid the groundwork for theology’s departure from biblical moorings . . . . by writing such criticism off as benign . . . .

Heidegger (1889 – 1976) laid the groundwork for reducing Christian faith to a possibility of self-understanding; he also had considerable influence on Bultmann’s theology. From Karl Marx . . . came theology of hope, theology of revolution, theology of liberation. [Biblical Criticism on Trial (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 2001), pp. 178 – 9.]

Another text has haunted me for months as I have pondered the path of our all too patently willfully perverse civilisation:

1 John 2:15 Do not love the world [of sin that opposes God and His precepts], nor the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust and sensual craving of the flesh and the lust and longing of the eyes and the boastful pride of life [pretentious confidence in one’s resources or in the stability of earthly things]—these do not come from the Father, but are from the world. 17 The world is passing away, and with it its lusts [the shameful pursuits and ungodly longings]; but the one who does the will of God and carries out His purposes lives forever.

18 Children, it is the last hour [the end of this age]; and just as you heard that the antichrist is coming [the one who will oppose Christ and attempt to replace Him], even now many antichrists (false teachers) have appeared, which confirms our belief that it is the last hour.

19 They went out from us [seeming at first to be Christians], but they were not really of us [because they were not truly born again and spiritually transformed]; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out [teaching false doctrine], so that it would be clearly shown that none of them are of us.

20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One [you have been set apart, specially gifted and prepared by the Holy Spirit], and all of you know [the truth because He teaches us, illuminates our minds, and guards us from error]. 21 I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie [nothing false, no deception] is of the truth.

22 Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed)?

This is the antichrist [the enemy and antagonist of Christ], the one who denies and consistently refuses to acknowledge the Father and the Son. 23 Whoever denies and repudiates the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses and acknowledges the Son has the Father also.

24 As for you, let that remain in you [keeping in your hearts that message of salvation] which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning remains in you, you too will remain in the Son and in the Father [forever].

25 This is the promise which He Himself promised us—eternal life.

26 These things I have written to you with reference to those who are trying to deceive you [seducing you and leading you away from the truth and sound doctrine]. 27 As for you, the anointing [the special gift, the preparation] which you received from Him remains [permanently] in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you. But just as His anointing teaches you [giving you insight through the presence of the Holy Spirit] about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as His anointing has taught you, [c]you must remain in Him [being rooted in Him, knit to Him]. [AMP]

In the end, that is the diagnosis, and the answer to the spirit of our age.>>

Now, why should we reject these diagnostic notes, given something like this from Plato 2350+ years past in The Laws, Bk X:

247, >>Plato, on the warping of the moral compass and where it leads a community i/l/o the collapse of Athens:

Ath [in The Laws, Bk X 2,350+ ya]. . . .[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that fire and water, and earth and air [i.e the classical “material” elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art . . . [such that] all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only [ –> that is, evolutionary materialism is ancient and would trace all things to blind chance and mechanical necessity] . . . .

[Thus, they hold] that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.-

[ –> Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT, leading to an effectively arbitrary foundation only for morality, ethics and law: accident of personal preference, the ebbs and flows of power politics, accidents of history and and the shifting sands of manipulated community opinion driven by “winds and waves of doctrine and the cunning craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming . . . ” cf a video on Plato’s parable of the cave; from the perspective of pondering who set up the manipulative shadow-shows, why.]

These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might,

[ –> Evolutionary materialism — having no IS that can properly ground OUGHT — leads to the promotion of amorality on which the only basis for “OUGHT” is seen to be might (and manipulation: might in “spin”) . . . ]

and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [ –> Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality “naturally” leads to continual contentions and power struggles influenced by that amorality at the hands of ruthless power hungry nihilistic agendas], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is,to live in real dominion over others [ –> such amoral and/or nihilistic factions, if they gain power, “naturally” tend towards ruthless abuse and arbitrariness . . . they have not learned the habits nor accepted the principles of mutual respect, justice, fairness and keeping the civil peace of justice, so they will want to deceive, manipulate and crush — as the consistent history of radical revolutions over the past 250 years so plainly shows again and again], and not in legal subjection to them [–> nihilistic will to power not the spirit of justice and lawfulness].>>

But isn’t all this just an excuse to dress up right-wing fundy theocratic Christofascist totalitarianism in a cheap tuxedo?

No.

252, >>April 15, 2017 at 2:59 am

Of Lemmings, marches of folly and cliffs of self-falsifying absurdity . . .

FFT7: But, isn’t the whole exercise of a pretended ID science an attempt to dress up dubious religion in scientific clothes, with intent to impose onward some sort of right-wing Christofascist theocratic tyranny that for instance robs women of their “rights” to their own bodies — and maybe would gaol them for even a miscarriage? Etc?

I am of course outlining a summary of trends of strawman caricature argument commonly encountered over the years.

A serious-minded glance above will rapidly demonstrate that the main discussion I have made so far under the FFT theme, has been PHILOSOPHICAL, not theological, first and foremost setting the worldviews comparative difficulties context for discussion. It is in that context that I then proceeded to show why evolutionary materialistic scientism and fellow travellers have been tried and found wanting as inherently incoherent, self-falsifying, necessarily false views. They cannot get us to a responsibly, rationally free, morally governed, warranting, knowing mind. So they fail the test of our being able to have a rationally guided discussion.

It will be quite evident above, that active objectors and those lurking from the penumbra of attack sites, have no real answer to this. That’s not new, I have seen that for years at UD and for decades elsewhere. Before me, the point traces back to the likes of Plantinga, C S Lewis and even leading evolutionary theorist J B S Haldane.

He aptly says:

“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 invite the reasonable onlooker to scan above and see for himself, if there is a cogent answer forthcoming from the usual objectors or their backers across the Internet.

The truth will be evident, there is no non-incoherent evolutionary materialistic account of mindedness.

As for the associated amorality, radical relativism and reduction to nihilistic might and manipulation make ‘truth’ ‘right’ etc, that unanswered problem has been on record for 2350+ years, from Plato’s reflections i/l/o the collapse of Athens. If you want to see an example of the sort of misleadership that that toxic brew spews up, try Alcibiades as case study no. 1.

Resemblance to recent history is no coincidence, try out his parable of the mutinous ship of state.

Look above, to see if you can find a serious-minded grappling with such momentous issues and their implications. Try out the penumbra of attack sites. You will soon see why I have long been concerned about a civilisation-level march of ruinous folly that manipulates the public and democratic institutions only to lead us over the cliff. Luke’s real-world ship of state microcosm in Ac 27 should — should! — give us pause.

As one simple example I note that the right to life is the first, foremost, gateway right and so a civilisation that systematically dehumanises its posterity in the womb and warps medicine, nursing, pharmacy, law, law enforcement, government, education, media and more to promote and protect the holocaust of 800+ millions in 40+ years (and mounting up at a million per week now), is corrupting its soul through blood guilt, is utterly warping conscience to do so, and is wrecking the ability to even simply think straight and live by the truth and the right. It is setting itself up to be a plague upon the earth that morally taints the land, which will vomit us out.

If we do not repent of our bloody, soul-wrecking folly as a civilisation, we will ruin ourselves. And, whatever emerges from the bloody chaos and dark age to follow, will not see freedom as an important value, as liberty turned to libertinism and wicked, blood-guilty licence.

Yes, I am out and out saying we have become the enemies of sustainable liberty under just law that duly balances rights, freedoms and responsibilities.

If you want a personal motive, there it is. I come from a nation that wrecked its prospects for generations through irresponsible, wicked misleadership, agit prop, media shadow shows and blood shed. That includes a murdered auntie.

I know the hard way, that the lessons of sound history wee bought with blood and tears. Those who refuse to heed them doom themselves to pay the same coin over and over again in their futile folly.

(I have said as much, many times, but no. Those hell-bent on folly have to project garish caricatures unto those who dare stand athwart the path heading over the cliff and cry out, no.)

Anyway, the reader will simply not find a sober-minded response to such concerns.

After this, I set about a sounder foundation, several days ago now, which was of course studiously ignored. This was elaborated through pondering what sort of world has to be here for there to be creatures like us, then followed up.

All, studiously ignored in a rush to set up and knock over conveniently loaded straw men.

Let me clip key points from the last, FFT6C:

It is worth noting the unresponsiveness to 219 and 178 above, especially at the points where objectors were directly invited to put up alternatives.

We can take it to the bank that UD is obsessively monitored by denizens of a penumbra of hostile sites. Denizens, more than willing to pounce when they see opportunity.

In short, the above blanks left unanswered speak to yet another hovering ghost or three in the room.

Here, first, the point that there is no necessary appeal to design inferences and debates to build a case for ethical theism adequate to ground commitment to such.

Second, that the atheistical objectors and their fellow travellers have no cogent answer to the need for a necessary being root to reality, nor to the point that the God of ethical theism is a serious candidate to be such (by utter contrast with the cartoonish flying spaghetti monster etc), nor to the onward point that such a serious candidate will be either ontologically impossible [as a square circle is impossible] or else will be actual.

Third, they have no cogent answer to the significance of the point that just to have a real discussion, we must implicitly accept that we are responsible, reasonable, significantly free and intelligent beings under moral government. Not least, conscience is the compass within pointing to the truth, the right and our duties of care towards such. Undermining this dimension of conscious mindedness by implying it is delusional lets grand delusion loose in our minds, ending in shipwreck.

So, we can see that the evo mat scientism picture of the world falls apart, and that there is no need to go out of our way to accommodate it. It is self-referentially incoherent and so self-falsifying.

Nor, should we yield to the trend to corrupt the concept, truth. (That, too, is part of the benumbing and warping of conscience, as say Orwell brought out so forcefully in his 1984.)

The astute onlooker will also note that we have had a worldviews discussion, not one pivoting on parsing Bible texts . . .

It will then be no surprise to see that the grounding of ethical theism as a responsible worldview (by utter contrast with the radically self-falsifying and amoral evolutionary materialistic scientism and fellow travellers) does not turn on design inferences on empirical signs such as FSCO/I.

Evo mat scientism and fellow travellers are utterly incompatible with the responsible, rational freedom required to have a serious, fact and logic guided discussion seeking understanding of the truth. It rules itself out so soon as we must have a serious discussion.

We then address on comparative difficulties, how can we have a world with beings such as we are.

That takes us through the IS-OUGHT gap to issues of being and non-being and rootedness of a world with moral government. Which, repeat, is a condition of serious discussion.

That points to the only serious candidate for such a root, after centuries of debate. Candidate X was duly laid out, and the open invitation was given to put forth a comparable candidate Y that does not instantly collapse.

Silence.

Silence, for good reason: something like the flying spaghetti monster is simply not serious, never mind its appallingly common rhetorical use by those who should know a lot better.

Then, a second invitation to comparative difficulties discussion was given: part of X’s bill of requisites is necessary being. A serious candidate NB either is impossible (as a square circle is impossible) or it is actual.

The challenge was given, break X’s candidacy.

Silence, again.

So — as X = the inherently good creator God of ethical theism, a necessary and maximally great being worthy of loyalty and the reasonable, responsible service of doing the good in accord with our evident nature — it is clear that there is a very good warrant to adhere to ethical theism as a worldview.

Without even engaging design theory debates.

A point that needed to be put up on the table and warranted.

Which, it has.

That’s why at 220 and henceforth, I could freely write:

you will see the stage of argument in FFT6B just above. I wonder what our well-informed skeptical interlocutors will put up as alternatives? Especially, noting that THERE IS NO DESIGN INFERENCE in the argument to date, i.e. the design inference as such is demonstrably not an inherent, inextricable part of an argument to God as root of reality. Where, note, the case I am arguing here is not based in Scripture though it is compatible with it — truths will be compatible the one with the other. And of course, contrary to the talking points I heard today, the God of ethical theism is not automatically the devil, the author of evils and confusions.

Why then has there been such a hot debate over design, and why has it been laced with accusations about creationism in a cheap tuxedo and the like?

Simple: evolutionary materialistic scientism, from the outset in modern times [this is demonstrable historic fact], has tried to come up with a designer substitute that would plausibly put the creator-God out of a job. The idea is that if the world of life and onward the physical cosmos can be explained on naturalistic grounds, the perception of design can be dismissed while wearing the holy lab coat, and belief in God can eventually be made to seem to be the resort of the ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked.

That rhetorical stratagem has worked and has become institutionalised.

But at a terrible price.

First, it is ill-founded and credibly false, erecting falsity as the yardstick for judging truth. Where, science first and foremost must seek to discover the empirically grounded truth about our world.

Ill-founded, as there are credible, empirically warranted signs of design, which are copiously found in the world of life and in the structure of the cosmos.

Design theory is the empirically and analytically grounded scientific investigation of such signs, which in fact are not too hard to find. Start with the algorithmically functional text in DNA and the execution machinery of the cell that puts it to work. (This points to OOL and OO body plans. Design is evident in the tree of life from the roots up.)

Likewise, the corruption of science from definitions and outlines of its methods on up makes blatant falsity into the yardstick to judge truth by. Truth cannot pass the test of agreement with relevant falsity, and so the ideological imposition of evolutionary materialistic scientism inherently corrupts a pivotal institution of our civilisation.

So, those who hope to build a sound future will be found on the side of needed reformation of tainted science.

In that context, freed science can then return to its true path.

Such is being ruthlessly resisted because it threatens entrenched worldviews and power interests in many institutions. But, the only way to defend institutionalised and fairly obvious falsity is by means that cannot stand the cold light of truth, facts and logic. That is why we find the distortions, strawman tactics, stalking, stereotyping and scapegoating.

All of which are utterly corrosive to liberty, not just academic freedom.

And so, the time has come to find where one stands, why, even as our civilisation descends into chaos, confusion, folly, bizarre agendas and outright blood guilt all around us.

We stand at kairos.>>

We are at kairos, in the face of a civilisation hell-bent on a march of folly. It is time to think again, soberly. END

308 Replies to “FFT: The worldviews level challenge — what the objectors to design thought are running away from

  1. 1
    kairosfocus says:

    What the objectors here at UD run away from.

  2. 2
    Armand Jacks says:

    That takes us through the IS-OUGHT gap to issues of being and non-being and rootedness of a world with moral government. Which, repeat, is a condition of serious discussion.

    I have asked you this question repeatedly with no response.

    If we assume that there is no world-root IS to ground OUGHT, what type of world would you expect us to live in?

    My proposal is that it would result in societies trying to get by with an assemblage of subjectively derived moral values, many enacted into law. This could result in some long lived societies if the assemblage of values that they arrive at is stable over the long run, or short lived if it is not.

    A world where there is no world-root IS to ground OUGHT would have societies that embrace individual freedoms and equality. Societies that limit personal freedoms. Societies that limit freedom of one gender at the expense of the other. Societies that accept homosexuality. Societies that punish homosexuality. Societies that think it is acceptable to execute criminals. Societies that do not accept execution. Societies that engage in human sacrifice, including the sacrifice of children. Societies that do not accept human sacrifices. Societies that accept ritualistic cannibalism. Societies that are aggressive to other societies. Societies that are cooperative with other societies.

    Does this sound familiar?

    If all of the evidence is what we would expect if there was no world-level IS, why do you insist on pretending that one exists? Is it just wishful thinking?

    Conversely, if a world-level IS exists but societies are free to ignore it at a whim, of what value is it?

  3. 3
    kairosfocus says:

    AJ,

    You have again failed to focus the first pivotal question, our inescapable sense of moral government including the sense of urgency to truth and right that you presume upon in commenting.

    In a worldview — and no, we do not jump to the notion of a WORLD where such is groundless — where such is groundless (as has been repeatedly drawn out, not just in the clips shown above) we have a major, pervasively influential facet of mindedness resting on a delusion. That is not exactly an idiosyncratic view, any number of leading naturalists admit as much. Ruse and Wilson speak about it as a means of inducing us to co-operative behaviour, Others discus a much broader delusion including consciousness itself.

    The problem is, that this lets grand delusion loose in mindedness, without firewalls, ending in collapse of rationality and responsibility before truth and right.

    This is reductio, it cannot be right as even those who adhere to things that lead there cannot escape the need to discuss towards the truth and the right.

    There is a much wider collapse of rationality on evolutionary materialistic scientism and its fellow travellers also. An in a nutshell form comes from Haldane:

    “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.]

    What these show is that evo mat and fellow travellers are incoherent, which we can readily see robs us of ability to discern true from false, per ex falso quodlibet.

    So, we do not need to try to parse out an endless list of issues that are being pushed by cultural marxist agit prop agitators and media shadow shows, we know we are dealing with the principle of the reprobate mind that is from outset crippled in addressing truth and right. That is what needs to be faced and fixed.

    And then we can ask, what sort of world must we inhabit if we are indeed under moral government. As the above and previous and elsewhere draw out, that will be a world in which IS and OUGHT are inextricably fused at root level.

    As for what happens in societies that discard soundness on moral government, already in Plato 2350+ years ago we have a description courtesy the collapse of Athens, with Alcibiades as a chief exemplar of the kind of leadership that emerges. Again, as has been repeatedly pointed out and studiously ignored:

    Ath [in The Laws, Bk X 2,350+ ya]. . . .[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that fire and water, and earth and air [i.e the classical “material” elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art . . . [such that] all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only [ –> that is, evolutionary materialism is ancient and would trace all things to blind chance and mechanical necessity] . . . .

    [Thus, they hold] that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.-

    [ –> Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT, leading to an effectively arbitrary foundation only for morality, ethics and law: accident of personal preference, the ebbs and flows of power politics, accidents of history and and the shifting sands of manipulated community opinion driven by “winds and waves of doctrine and the cunning craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming . . . ” cf a video on Plato’s parable of the cave; from the perspective of pondering who set up the manipulative shadow-shows, why.]

    These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might,

    [ –> Evolutionary materialism — having no IS that can properly ground OUGHT — leads to the promotion of amorality on which the only basis for “OUGHT” is seen to be might (and manipulation: might in “spin”) . . . ]

    and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [ –> Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality “naturally” leads to continual contentions and power struggles influenced by that amorality at the hands of ruthless power hungry nihilistic agendas], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is,to live in real dominion over others [ –> such amoral and/or nihilistic factions, if they gain power, “naturally” tend towards ruthless abuse and arbitrariness . . . they have not learned the habits nor accepted the principles of mutual respect, justice, fairness and keeping the civil peace of justice, so they will want to deceive, manipulate and crush — as the consistent history of radical revolutions over the past 250 years so plainly shows again and again], and not in legal subjection to them [–> nihilistic will to power not the spirit of justice and lawfulness].

    The lessons of sound history were bought with blood and tears; those who neglect, despise or ignore them doom themselves to pay the same coin over and over again.

    Our civilisation in our time seems hell-bent on such a ruinous march of folly.

    KF

  4. 4
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Plato further drew out the issue in his Republic, with the parable of the ship of state:

    It is not too hard to figure out that our civilisation is in deep trouble and is most likely headed for shipwreck. (And of course, that sort of concern is dismissed as “apocalyptic,” or neurotic pessimism that refuses to pause and smell the roses.)

    Plato’s Socrates spoke to this sort of situation, long since, in the ship of state parable in The Republic, Bk VI:

    >>[Soc.] I perceive, I said, that you are vastly amused at having plunged me into such a hopeless discussion; but now hear the parable, and then you will be still more amused at the meagreness of my imagination: for the manner in which the best men are treated in their own States is so grievous that no single thing on earth is comparable to it; and therefore, if I am to plead their cause, I must have recourse to fiction, and put together a figure made up of many things, like the fabulous unions of goats and stags which are found in pictures.

    Imagine then a fleet or a ship in which there is a captain [–> often interpreted, ship’s owner] who is taller and stronger than any of the crew, but he is a little deaf and has a similar infirmity in sight, and his knowledge of navigation is not much better. [= The people own the community and in the mass are overwhelmingly strong, but are ill equipped on the whole to guide, guard and lead it]

    The sailors are quarrelling with one another about the steering – every one is of opinion that he has a right to steer [= selfish ambition to rule and dominate], though he has never learned the art of navigation and cannot tell who taught him or when he learned, and will further assert that it cannot be taught, and they are ready to cut in pieces any one who says the contrary. They throng about the captain, begging and praying him to commit the helm to them [–> kubernetes, steersman, from which both cybernetics and government come in English]; and if at any time they do not prevail, but others are preferred to them, they kill the others or throw them overboard [ = ruthless contest for domination of the community], and having first chained up the noble captain’s senses with drink or some narcotic drug [ = manipulation and befuddlement, cf. the parable of the cave], they mutiny and take possession of the ship and make free with the stores; thus, eating and drinking, they proceed on their voyage in such a manner as might be expected of them [–> Cf here Luke’s subtle case study in Ac 27].

    Him who is their partisan and cleverly aids them in their plot for getting the ship out of the captain’s hands into their own whether by force or persuasion [–> Nihilistic will to power on the premise of might and manipulation making ‘right’ ‘truth’ ‘justice’ ‘rights’ etc], they compliment with the name of sailor, pilot, able seaman, and abuse the other sort of man, whom they call a good-for-nothing; but that the true pilot must pay attention to the year and seasons and sky and stars and winds, and whatever else belongs to his art, if he intends to be really qualified for the command of a ship, and that he must and will be the steerer, whether other people like or not-the possibility of this union of authority with the steerer’s art has never seriously entered into their thoughts or been made part of their calling.

    Now in vessels which are in a state of mutiny and by sailors who are mutineers, how will the true pilot be regarded? Will he not be called by them a prater, a star-gazer, a good-for-nothing?

    [Ad.] Of course, said Adeimantus.

    [Soc.] Then you will hardly need, I said, to hear the interpretation of the figure, which describes the true philosopher in his relation to the State[ –> here we see Plato’s philosoppher-king emerging]; for you understand already.

    [Ad.] Certainly.

    [Soc.] Then suppose you now take this parable to the gentleman who is surprised at finding that philosophers have no honour in their cities; explain it to him and try to convince him that their having honour would be far more extraordinary.

    [Ad.] I will.

    [Soc.] Say to him, that, in deeming the best votaries of philosophy to be useless to the rest of the world, he is right; but also tell him to attribute their uselessness to the fault of those who will not use them, and not to themselves. The pilot should not humbly beg the sailors to be commanded by him –that is not the order of nature; neither are ‘the wise to go to the doors of the rich’ –the ingenious author of this saying told a lie –but the truth is, that, when a man is ill, whether he be rich or poor, to the physician he must go, and he who wants to be governed, to him who is able to govern. The ruler who is good for anything ought not to beg his subjects to be ruled by him [ –> down this road lies the modern solution: a sound, well informed people will seek sound leaders, who will not need to manipulate or bribe or worse, and such a ruler will in turn be checked by the soundness of the people, cf. US DoI, 1776]; although the present governors of mankind are of a different stamp; they may be justly compared to the mutinous sailors, and the true helmsmen to those who are called by them good-for-nothings and star-gazers.

    [Ad.] Precisely so, he said.

    [Soc] For these reasons, and among men like these, philosophy, the noblest pursuit of all, is not likely to be much esteemed by those of the opposite faction; not that the greatest and most lasting injury is done to her by her opponents, but by her own professing followers, the same of whom you suppose the accuser to say, that the greater number of them are arrant rogues, and the best are useless; in which opinion I agreed [–> even among the students of the sound state (here, political philosophy and likely history etc.), many are of unsound motivation and intent, so mere education is not enough, character transformation is critical].

    [Ad.] Yes.

    [Soc.] And the reason why the good are useless has now been explained?

    [Ad.] True.

    [Soc.] Then shall we proceed to show that the corruption of the majority is also unavoidable, and that this is not to be laid to the charge of philosophy any more than the other?

    [Ad.] By all means.

    [Soc.] And let us ask and answer in turn, first going back to the description of the gentle and noble nature.[ — > note the character issue] Truth, as you will remember, was his leader, whom he followed always and in all things [ –> The spirit of truth as a marker]; failing in this, he was an impostor, and had no part or lot in true philosophy [–> the spirit of truth is a marker, for good or ill] . . . >>

    (There is more than an echo of this in Acts 27, a real world case study. [Luke, a physician, was an educated Greek with a taste for subtle references.] This blog post, on soundness in policy, will also help)

  5. 5
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: Heine and Provine also add to the grim picture, the former warning on what was to come, c 1830:

    Heine

    Christianity — and that is its greatest merit — has somewhat mitigated that brutal German love of war, but it could not destroy it. Should that subduing talisman, the cross, be shattered [–> the Swastika, visually, is a twisted, broken cross . . do not overlook the obvious], the frenzied madness of the ancient warriors, that insane Berserk rage of which Nordic bards have spoken and sung so often, will once more burst into flame [–> an irrational battle- and blood- lust]. …

    The old stone gods will then rise from long ruins and rub the dust of a thousand years from their eyes, and Thor will leap to life with his giant hammer and smash the Gothic cathedrals. …

    Do not smile at my advice — the advice of a dreamer who warns you against Kantians, Fichteans, and philosophers of nature. Do not smile at the visionary who anticipates the same revolution in the realm of the visible as has taken place in the spiritual. Thought precedes action as lightning precedes thunder. German thunder … comes rolling somewhat slowly, but … its crash … will be unlike anything before in the history of the world.

    At that uproar the eagles of the air will drop dead [–> cf. air warfare, symbol of the USA], and lions in farthest Africa [–> the lion is a key symbol of Britain, cf. also the North African campaigns] will draw in their tails and slink away. … A play will be performed in Germany which will make the French Revolution look like an innocent idyll. [Religion and Philosophy in Germany, 1831]

    Provine:

    Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent . . . .

    The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them. Human free will, however, is another matter. Even evolutionists have trouble swallowing that implication. I will argue that humans are locally determined systems that make choices. They have, however, no free will [–> without responsible freedom, mind, reason and morality alike disintegrate into grand delusion, hence self-referential incoherence and self-refutation. But that does not make such fallacies any less effective in the hands of clever manipulators] . . . [1998 Darwin Day Keynote Address, U of Tenn — and yes, that is significant i/l/o the Scopes Trial, 1925]

    –> We cannot say that we were not warned in good time.

  6. 6
    Armand Jacks says:

    KF:

    You have again failed to focus, blah, blah, blah…

    I have focused quite well. I asked you a very simple question. Yet, as with most of the questions I have asked you, you refuse to answer. Let me repeat:

    If we assume that there is no world-root IS to ground OUGHT, what type of world would you expect us to live in?

  7. 7
    ronvanwegen says:

    ronvanwegen is no longer with us. Threats of violence are not acceptable even to make a point.
    UD Editors

  8. 8
    Armand Jacks says:

    Ronvanwagon:

    Armand Jacks may be onto something: that the world as it is might indicate that there is no IS grounding OUGHT. Frankly, Armand, I don’t care what you “think”. When I meet you I’m going to shoot you in the face.

    It’s nice to see that you people are willing to have an honest discussion without resorting to mindless hyperbole.

  9. 9
    rvb8 says:

    Is this the old Kairos favourite of suggesting there is objective right, and wrong, or am I once again, hopelessly off topic? The objective right, of course being grounded in scripture, and not just any old scripture, but Biblical scripture, and specifically Jesus centred New Testament ‘objectavism.

    And just a piece of advice Kairos; when you write, “but to avoid making this utterly too long…”, perhaps you should understand what those words mean.

    And, I can answer AJ’s question; Kairos expects the type of world which is ant-diluvian, a pre-fall world, a Garden of Eden world. All the while missing the point that we are evolved selfish beings, who upon rare occasions stumble upon goodness.

  10. 10
    john_a_designer says:

    Recently student activists at Claremont Pamona College in California succeeded in shutting down a lecture by conservative author Heather Mac Donald. In a letter to the school’s president they wrote:

    The idea that there is a single truth — ‘the Truth’ — is a construct of the Euro-West that is deeply rooted in the Enlightenment, which was a movement that also described Black and Brown people as both subhuman and impervious to pain,” the students’ letter stated, according to The Claremont Independent. “This construction is a myth and white supremacy, imperialism, colonization, capitalism, and the United States of America are all of its progeny.”

    The following article gives several more long excerpts from the letter:

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/m.....ee-speech/

    Libertarian writer, Kat Timf observes that…

    “Once you start trying to argue that it’s bad to encourage people to seek the truth, you have officially reached peak idiot. For one thing, admitting that you find valuing the truth to be offensive hardly helps your case when you’re literally trying to convince others that something is true.”

    Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/.....-supremacy

    Indeed, you can’t begin to make a moral argument unless it is based on moral TRUTH and that it is true that morality is really grounded in interpersonal moral obligation. It appears the Pomona students reject moral truth but still believe in some kind of interpersonal moral obligation. That is either hypocritical or absurd. Their beliefs and opinions are clearly based on passion not reason. When such idiotic thinking begins to spread through a democratic society it’s putting that society at risk. It will first lead to anarchy and then end up with tyranny or totalitarianism.

  11. 11
    LocalMinimum says:

    RVB8:

    Are you objecting to the notion of objective right and wrong? If so, the claimant’s source shouldn’t be at issue. If not, then why the gratuitous ad hominem?

    we are evolved selfish beings, who upon rare occasions stumble upon goodness.

    So, you do believe in objective right, but are pessimistic about human nature in general? Well, that goes along pretty well with Biblical teachings.

  12. 12
    kairosfocus says:

    AJ, With all due respect, you side-stepped the answers already there in both the OP and my reply, including what I cited from Plato et al. That is not a very hopeful beginning, perhaps we can start again by looking at what it means for the sense of our being under moral and rational government as responsibly and rationally free creatures to be regarded as fundamentally false, i.e. delusional. KF

    PS: I will start by citing again, William B Provine as was already cited — I here give a compressed version of the answer in the words of a well known advocate of evo mat scientism:

    Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent . . . .

    The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them. Human free will, however, is another matter. Even evolutionists have trouble swallowing that implication. I will argue that humans are locally determined systems that make choices. They have, however, no free will [–> without responsible freedom, mind, reason and morality alike disintegrate into grand delusion, hence self-referential incoherence and self-refutation. But that does not make such fallacies any less effective in the hands of clever manipulators] . . . [1998 Darwin Day Keynote Address, U of Tenn — and yes, that is significant i/l/o the Scopes Trial, 1925]

    Similarly, the Nobel Prize winner, Crick:

    . . . 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. {The Astonishing Hypothesis, 1994. To this, Philip Johnson replied in Reason in the Balance, 1995, that Sir Francis should have therefore been willing to preface his works thusly: “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.” Johnson then acidly commented: “[t]he plausibility of materialistic determinism requires that an implicit exception be made for the theorist.”

    Similarly, Alex Rosenberg:

    Alex Rosenberg as he begins Ch 9 of his The Atheist’s Guide to Reality:

    >> FOR SOLID EVOLUTIONARY REASONS, WE’VE BEEN tricked into looking at life from the inside. Without scientism, we look at life from the inside, from the first-person POV (OMG, you don’t know what a POV is?—a “point of view”). The first person is the subject, the audience, the viewer of subjective experience, the self in the mind.

    Scientism shows that the first-person POV is an illusion. [–> grand delusion is let loose in utter self referential incoherence] Even after scientism convinces us, we’ll continue to stick with the first person. But at least we’ll know that it’s another illusion of introspection and we’ll stop taking it seriously. We’ll give up all the answers to the persistent questions about free will, the self, the soul, and the meaning of life that the illusion generates [–> bye bye to responsible, rational freedom on these presuppositions].

    The physical facts fix all the facts. [–> asserts materialism, leading to . . . ] The mind is the brain. It has to be physical and it can’t be anything else, since thinking, feeling, and perceiving are physical process—in particular, input/output processes—going on in the brain. We [–> at this point, what “we,” apart from “we delusions”?] can be sure of a great deal about how the brain works because the physical facts fix all the facts about the brain. The fact that the mind is the brain guarantees that there is no free will. It rules out any purposes or designs organizing our actions or our lives [–> thus rational thought and responsible freedom]. It excludes the very possibility of enduring persons, selves, or souls that exist after death or for that matter while we live.>>

    And again:

    Ever since Newton physics has ruled out purposes in the physical realm. If the physical facts fix all the facts, however, then in doing so, it rules out purposes altogether, in biology, in human affairs, and in human thought-processes. [–> Note, this is by implication of evolutionary materialistic scientism] Showing how it could do so was a tall order. Until Darwin came along things looked pretty good for Kant’s pithy observation that there never would be a Newton for the blade of grass—that physics could not explain living things, human or otherwise, because it couldn’t invoke purpose. But the process that Darwin discovered–random, or rather blind variation, and natural selection, or rather passive environmental filtration–does all the work of explaining the means/ends economy of biological nature that shouts out ‘purpose’ or ‘design’ at us. What Darwin showed was that all of the beautiful suitability of living things to their environment, every case of fit between organism and niche, and all of the intricate meshing of parts into wholes, is just the result of blind causal processes. It’s all just the foresightless play of fermions and bosons producing, in us conspiracy-theorists, the illusion of purpose. Of course, that is no surprise to scientism; if physics fixes all the facts, it could not have turned out any other way. In fact, the mechanism Darwin discovered for building adaptations is the only game in town. [from: “The Disenchanted Naturalist’s Guide to Reality”
    by Alex Rosenberg here at Wayback Machine. For responses at length cf Feser here on ]

    With, Ruse and Wilson:

    The time has come to take seriously the fact [–> This is a gross error at the outset, as macro-evolution is a theory (an explanation) about the unobserved past of origins and so cannot be a fact on the level of the observed roundness of the earth or the orbiting of planets around the sun etc.] that we humans are modified monkeys, not the favored Creation of a Benevolent God on the Sixth Day . . . We must think again especially about our so-called ‘ethical principles.’ The question is not whether biology—specifically, our evolution—is connected with ethics, but how. As evolutionists, we see that no justification of the traditional kind is possible. Morality, or more strictly our belief in morality, is merely an adaptation put in place to further our reproductive ends. Hence the basis of ethics does not lie in God’s will … In an important sense, ethics as we understand it is an illusion fobbed off on us by our genes to get us to cooperate. It is without external grounding… Ethics is illusory inasmuch as it persuades us that it has an objective reference. This is the crux of the biological position. Once it is grasped, everything falls into place.

    [ –> And everything instantly falls apart as this would set grand delusion loose in our mental lives. Even logical reasoning is guided by the conscience-driven urge to truth, right and justice, so once such a grand delusion is let loose it undermines the general credibility of conscious mindedness, setting up a cascade of shadow-show worlds. The skeptical spider has enmeshed himself in his own web. Thus, any such scheme should be set aside as self-refuting.]

    [Michael Ruse & E. O. Wilson, “The Evolution of Ethics,” Religion and the Natural Sciences: The Range of Engagement, , ed. J. E. Hutchingson, Orlando, Fl.:Harcourt and Brace, 1991. (NB: Cf. a separate discussion on the grounding of worldviews and ethics here on, which includes a specific discussion of the grounding of ethics and goes on to Biblical theism; having first addressed the roots of the modern evolutionary materialist mindset and its pretensions to the mantle of science. Also cf. here on for Plato’s warning in The Laws, Bk X, on social consequences of the rise of such a view as the philosophy of the avant garde in a community.]

    –> These citations come from the horse’s mouth and show clearly that you are not dealing with just a random opinion out there. Leading advocates of evo mat scientism have plainly, repeatedly laid out the consequences of that worldview and that it directly entails that responsible, rational freedom is a delusion. If there is no world-root IS capable of grounding OUGHT, man is dead.

    –> That needs to be soberly faced and recognised for what it is, the expose of the utter incoherence of evo mat and by extension any other worldview that implies that responsible rational freedom under moral-rational government is a delusion. Reduction to absurdity by letting loose grand delusion in mindedness, indeed even argument such as is beginning to develop in this thread would collapse.

    –> And, of course, the fact that when challenged to find an alternative ground for responsible, rational freedom instead you tried to shift the burden of argument to effectively demanding that I articulate what happens were there no world-root IS capable of grounding ought (never mind that had already been given), strongly suggests that you — and by extension the circle of online objection that you could easily make reference to, even by Google etc search — have no alternative to Candidate X as given. If you do, kindly give it: ____________ . Alternatively, perhaps you need to explain to us why we should not take Plato, Heine etc seriously, and why we should not take Provine, Crick, Rosenberg, Ruse and Wilson et al seriously, either: _______

    –> I suspect, there will be no cogent answers; I suggest, instead, we need to start over again by asking ourselves, what sort of roots of the world are required for us to be able to recognise our responsible, rational freedom as being true to reality? (Cf the OP above.)

  13. 13
    kairosfocus says:

    RVB8, kindly see the just above. The Alinsky tactic of personalising, strawmannising, stereotyping and denigrating or mocking fails. It is patent that we cannot escape being under moral-rational government with the direct import of responsible, rational freedom. Even your retort above implies that we are accountable before truth and right. Our challenge is, is this sense of how the world is and how we are wrong? If so, we are under the sort of grand delusion as several leading advocates of evo mat scientism have admitted against interest. (Do you really think they would be trying to make the best of a bad hand if they could find an alternative?) That grand delusion is reductio, so comparative difficulties comes to the fore by asking, what alternative worldview emerges, with what factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory power, if we instead take those first facts of conscious mindedness seriously? You have long had opportunity to ponder the answers and to come up with a better alternative. Surely, you have it, kindly let us know: _______ . KF

  14. 14
    Bob O'H says:

    ronvanwegen @ 7 –

    When I meet you I’m going to shoot you in the face.

    Can you just clarify – this is hyperbole, and not a death threat? I can see it being read both ways, so I think it might be wise to make sure.

  15. 15
    kairosfocus says:

    BO’H: It is obviously a satirical summary of the implications of amorality let loose. I suggest that is the issue that needs to be soberly addressed instead of setting up a needless side track, oh, somebody is making threats. KF

  16. 16
    kairosfocus says:

    JAD, 10:

    you can’t begin to make a moral argument unless it is based on moral TRUTH and that it is true that morality is really grounded in interpersonal moral obligation. It appears the Pomona students reject moral truth but still believe in some kind of interpersonal moral obligation. That is either hypocritical or absurd. Their beliefs and opinions are clearly based on passion not reason. When such idiotic thinking begins to spread through a democratic society it’s putting that society at risk. It will first lead to anarchy and then end up with tyranny or totalitarianism.

    Prezactly.

    And, that is the message of Plato in The Laws Bk X based on the collapse of Athens, and again in his parable of the Ship of State.

    Both of which are in-thread above and both of which have been studiously ignored by the advocates of the party of amorality and radical relativism and/or subjectivism leading to might and manipulation make right nihilism.

    We are dealing with the principle of the reprobate mind here and its refusal to see the cliff just ahead, even as we are being induced to march towards it in a march of folly.

    KF

    PS: Geller catches a key clip on the ongoing flash-point in Berkeley, here:

    “‘As the violence escalated police in Berkeley stood down and retreated from the crowds,’ reporter Tim Pool tweeted. ‘I have never seen so few police at an event like this.’

    “One observer claimed police “ran away,” despite several Trump rally attendees being attacked.

    “Mother Jones reporter Shane Bauer saw two officers at a patrol car, not engaged in protecting citizens from violence.

    “‘Hey, how come you guys are hanging back?” he asked an officer standing in an open door of the car and another sat in the back seat.

    “‘That would be a question for the chief of police,’ an officer sitting in the driver’s seat responded.

    “‘You want a public statement, right?’ the standing officer asked the reporter.

    “‘I would refer you to our public information officer.’

    “‘Do they told you to hang back?’ Bauer said.

    “‘As I said, I refer you to our public information officer,’ the cop responded.

    “‘I’ve been watching all day people get beat up pretty bad and I haven’t seen you guys around much,’ Bauer said.

    “‘Okay, and?’ the officer responded.

    “Numerous videos show Trump supporters being beaten in the streets as police failed to keep the two sides apart.

    “At one point, several black-clad agitators isolated a lone Trump supporter and pummeled him with fists and feet.

    “Someone jumped in and clubbed him with a skateboard.”

    Of course, this time around, the Trump supporters had their own toughs, who counter attacked, leading to the scenes in the various vids online. (Last time, the pro-Trump etc supporters were swarmed and beaten with no defence, with the Police on obvious stand down — the toughs on the other side this time are the only real difference, and it sounds like these toughs were more experienced than the blackshirts, especially the woman tossing green glass bottles taken out by a punch “pulled” on realising it was a woman — yes, 95 lb women have no business in brawls with 180 – 250 lb men with much more robust skeletal structures and the muscle mass to back it, never mind Hollywood fantasies that are creeping into even military doctrine.) I am continuing to follow up in my longstanding thread on this topic. There are none so blind as those who refuse to see the inconvenient truth playing out on the streets.

  17. 17
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: I cross-posted to the agit-prop thread, here: http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-629736

  18. 18
    Pindi says:

    ronvanwegan, ffs, go and have a cup of tea.

    Wow. UD is supposedly the premier site of the “science” of intelligent design? What a cluster fuck.

  19. 19
    kairosfocus says:

    Pindi

    Your jumping-on in the attempted pile-on is ill informed and only shows you did not read the comment properly before latching on to what you imagined finding a handy excuse to lash at this site, which on long track record you hate.

    But, your jumping on and leap to attack UD is an occasion for challenging you to address serious worldviews issues that — yes — are connected to the ongoing imposition of evolutionary materialist scientism and fellow travellers on our civilisation. (Besides, are you commenting at the current Selensky thread? Did you have anything cogent to say at GP’s recent threads?)

    Let’s roll the tape:

    7
    ronvanwegenApril 19, 2017 at 8:19 pm (Edit)

    Armand Jacks may be onto something: that the world as it is might indicate that there is no IS grounding OUGHT. Frankly, Armand, I don’t care what you “think”. When I meet you I’m going to shoot you in the face. Welcome to your world! In your world that just “is”. [–> Notice, KF] If there are any who are shocked at that, again, I don’t care. Those of you living in the “ought” world experience one brain-chemical state. Those in the “is” world another. [–> see the direct echo of J B S Haldane and Sir Francis Crick, et al? What cogent answer do you have, Pindi et al? If you don’t, the jump-on game only shows bad faith on your part. KF] Again, Armand Jacks, I don’t care. I’m going to shoot you in the face anyway. And so on and so forth. Excuse me, I now have to go teach my young daughter (she’s five and cute as a button!) that the world as it is is such that if someone called perhaps Armand Jacks for want of a better name shoots her in the face – tough. That’s just the way the world is. [–> See the Is-OUGHT issue being brought out? Do i have to spell it out even more? KF] What a horror you’re fighting for Armand. Turn away.

    I think any fair-minded person would readily see that the closing remarks I just highlighted show plainly the intent: a satirical reductio, followed by a call to turn away.

    That things were snatched out of context to divert the discussion suggests strongly that the point was made and there is no good reply, ditto the wider issue in the OP and thread.

    All you are showing is the principle of the reprobate mind at work, confirming our concerns.

    KF

  20. 20

    Honestly, I don’t think they so much run away from it as they are functionally incapable of comprehending what the issues are. It seems to me they just cannot grasp the real concepts here. I think that AJ and RVB8 et al honestly believe they are responding to the issues brought to their attention.

    I mean, if we interpret them charitably and assume they are being honest and earnest in their replies, then we must conclude that they just don’t get it, and haven’t been able to get it in all the time they’ve been here.

    So, what to make of that, under a charitable interpretation? Either they are biological automatons as their views suggest and are simply responding as best they can according to limited programming with no capacity to conceptually understand anything, or they have made a decision to exist in denial which precludes the understanding of things that would undermine their chosen atheistic/materialist state of being.

    If we assume the latter, it’s really just up to them to choose to not be an atheist/materialist any more. I had to make that choice. You cannot prove or evidence or argue anyone out of what they have chosen to believe.

  21. 21
    Armand Jacks says:

    KF:

    AJ, With all due respect, you side-stepped the answers already there in both the OP and my reply, including what I cited from Plato et al.

    There was no answer in amongst that mass of verbiage. let me repeat the question again:

    If we assume that there is no world-root IS to ground OUGHT, what type of world would you expect us to live in?

    The answer should start with, “In my opinion, a world where there is no world-root IS to ground OUGHT would look like __________________”.

    The answer should not be more than a short paragraph in length. It is a simple question. It only needs a simple answer.

  22. 22
    john_a_designer says:

    Our regular interlocutors are motivated by either ignorance, delusion or dishonesty. There are no other choices. Whichever it is, there is no evidence that our interlocutors are here to engage in honest debate or dialogue.

    To enter into an honest debate one must be able to give honest arguments. An honest argument begins with premises which are, in some sense, either self-evidently true (as in mathematics,) probably true or at the very least plausibly true. In other words, your argument is a waste of everyone’s time unless there really is something or some things which are really true. That begins with the idea of truth itself. Notice the absurdity of the argument the Pomona students are making (see #10 above.) They are arguing that there is no “truth — ‘the Truth’ — “. But that is self-refuting, because their claim, there is no truth, is a truth claim– a universal truth claim. You can’t even begin to talk rationally about something like universal human rights, as they are trying to do, until you recognize there are moral truths that are universal. Indeed, the idea of truth itself is universal– it must be.

    Please notice, the implications this has for atheism. If atheistic materialism/naturalism is “true”* then is does not provide any grounding for human rights. So our atheist interlocutors do not, indeed cannot, support human rights. And it does not matter whether they believe that or not, they cannot rational argue otherwise.

    *Ironically atheists can’t even argue that.

  23. 23
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF

    This is a straw man as it assumes that knowledge is specific spheres comes from authoritative sources and random chance isn’t an authoritative source.

    From a comment on another thread.

    When I ask with the origin of that knowledge in organisms. I’m looking for an explanation for how intelligence results in a designer possessing it that knowledge. What is that explanation?

    Specifically I’m looking for criticism along the lines of “The explanation for that knowledge is X, Y and Z. However, evolution doesn’t fit that explanation.” This is in contrast to an appeal to induction by saying “every time we’ve experienced knowledge, it has been accompanied by intelligent agents.” and since the future (and distant past) resembles the (recent) past, the designer of organisms was an intelligent agent.

    But the future is unlike the past in a vast number of ways. It’s our explanations of how the world works that indicates what we will experience. For example, if our long chain of independently obtained explanations for how our sun works indicated it would suddenly grow cold when its fuel supply is exhausted and that will occur in roughly 4.6 billon billion years after it was formed, we wouldn’t expect the sun to rise tomorrow despite having experienced it rising every day for the entirety of human existence.

    In the absence of such an explanation, it’s unclear how you can say a designer is the best explanation for that knowledge. Not to mention that a designer merely being an authoritative source of knowledge is a bad explanation.

    However, I can see why a theists wouldn’t find that explanation problematic as theism is based on the philosophical idea that knowledge in specific spheres comes from God, who is an authoritative source. As does empiricism, which says that knowledge comes from observations. These two views simply exchange one authoritative source for another.

    “Atoms or random chance isn’t an authoritative source of knowledge” is a bad criticism because it’s applicable to everything. An authoritative source of knowledge has no explanation. It “just was” complete with that knowledge. ID’s designer is abstract and has no such explanation. It is capable of designing things by nature of having the vague property of “design”, which is basically a tautology. At best, this is the Aristotelianism in the sense of saying fire has the property of dryness.

    On the other hand, I’m saying that the explanation for how human designers create the knowledge they posses is variation and criticism. They create both explanatory and non-explanatory knowledge. Evolution does fit this explanation, in that the non-explanatory knowledge in genes is created by variation and selection. Both fall under the universal explanation for the growth of knowledge.

    IOW, the criticism that “blind chance”, calculators, etc. are not an authoritative sources of knowledge is a bad criticism because it’s applicable to everything. There are no authoritative sources of knowledge that merely choose things in an abstract sense. “It’s not magic”, is not a good criticism.

  24. 24
    kairosfocus says:

    WJM, I hear you, though I think there is more to the issue: HISTORY. Readily accessible history tells us why C20 was marked by holocaust after holocaust, a pattern that continues. That should be a warning-sign. Yes, there has been a lot of agit-prop, backed up by Plato’s Cave shadow-show games under false colour of being education and news or allegedly informed commentary. Yesterday, I saw another random snippet of one of the major Cable stations and shook my head, they aren’t even pretending to playing it straight anymore, it’s dirty spin tactics and even worse gaslighting in the teeth of patent reality all the way now. (And yes, I’m adding more to that other thread on that, still — I lived through a mini civil war and know all too well where this sort of playing with fire can end up.) But that in itself should be a wake-up call, if someone is even minimally responsive to the voice of conscience prompting to truth, fairness, the right. But then, the other day in our local library I had quite a conversation with a young man from here who was in the US and has been steeped in the “my truth” subjectivist-relativist myth. The thing is, truth accurately describes reality and sooner or later daylight opens up between error and reality. The challenge, then, becomes how we respond. And in turn that is why world-roots analysis on comparative difficulties is necessarily such a big part of the job UD faces. I go so far as to say that the ideological monkey is riding on the back of science and is blinding and deafening it to the evidence that is increasingly there for all with eyes open to see and ears unstopped to hear. Okay, gotta get moving fast to deal with RW issues. KF

  25. 25
    kairosfocus says:

    AJ, long since repeatedly answered, both in the OP and the thread above. There is no world where we are not governed by OUGHT, and the IS and OUGHT are and must be fused at world root level. There are many worldviews that try to imply that such a root is not there but inevitably end in implying grand delusion, revealing themselves to be self-referentially incoherent and self-falsifying. Among these views is evolutionary materialist scientism, and it has a flock of fellow travellers in the same boat. As a rule, nothing that implies that any major aspect of conscious mindedness is generally delusional will rise above self-refutation. This also exttends to the computational substrate view of mindedness, which fails to understand the vast difference between blind chance and mechanical necessity driving cause-effect, GIGO-constrained blind chains, and rationally aware ground-consequent contemplation informed by the inner conviction of duty to truth and right. An in a nutshell, your rhetorical trick of pretending you have not been answered like a stuck record in the teeth of repeated adequate reply is hereby called out for what it is. KF

    PS: For those wanting the fuller response cf here on, and yes I start from what a worldview is: http://nicenesystheol.blogspot.....u2_bld_wvu notice the in-context discussion here: http://nicenesystheol.blogspot.....#mrl_pltcv

  26. 26
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, I really have to go, you have projected and knocked over a strawman, unfortunately as usual. I just note to you that knowledge is best understood as warranted, credibly true (and so also reliable) belief; leaving off know-how which brings in the practical side. I suggest you take time to work through the just above linked. KF

  27. 27
    Armand Jacks says:

    KF:

    AJ, long since repeatedly answered, both in the OP and the thread above. There is no world where we are not governed by OUGHT, and the IS and OUGHT are and must be fused at world root level.

    That is not what I asked. Here it is again:

    If we assume that there is no world-root IS to ground OUGHT, what type of world would you expect us to live in?

    Again. It is a very simple question. I didn’t ask you if there was a world that not grounded by OUGHT. I asked you what a world without a world-root IS would look like. If you are not willing to have an honest discussion, please say so. Don’t dance around and lie about answering a question that all observers can see has not been answered.

  28. 28
    Bob O'H says:

    AJ – I hope he’ll correct me if I’m wrong, but I think what kf is implying is that such a world is so impossible that he can’t even visualise what it would look like. So you’re asking one of those questions that can’t be answered because (in kf’s view – if I have understood it correctly) is assumes something impossible.

    I’ll leave it to you two to discuss whether such a world is impossible to imagine. 🙂

  29. 29
    Armand Jacks says:

    Bob O’H:

    AJ – I hope he’ll correct me if I’m wrong, but I think what kf is implying is that such a world is so impossible that he can’t even visualise what it would look like.

    That is possible but I think that it is more likely that he refuses to answer because the logical conclusion of a world without a world-root IS would be similar to what we see around us. But, since KF is not willing to actually discuss this, what is your opinion? If their is no world-root IS, what do you think the world would look like?

  30. 30
    kairosfocus says:

    AJ, unfortunately, you are now showing a habitual rhetorical pattern of speaking in disregard to truth in hope that what you say or suggest will be taken as true. For multiple threads and topics you have taken to pretending that cogent answers to your challenges have not been given, sometimes from multiple directions. You have indulged the same above, where it cannot be reasonably inferred that you are so lacking in understanding that you don’t realise what has been said from the OP on or in direct answer. This suggests that you are exhibiting exactly the pattern of the principle of reprobation that, say Plato pointed to as the consequence of adhering to or being influenced by evolutionary materialism (and its fellow travellers). I think you need to consider your ways and do a lot better. KF

  31. 31
    kairosfocus says:

    BO’H: We inescapably live in a morally governed world so the relevant matter is that the question implies that such a moral sense is delusional, leading to setting grand delusion loose and refuting itself. I have already pointed out that moral government influences not only social behaviour but even reasoning through the sense of urgency towards truth and right, so undermining such by promoting amorality would promote marches of ruinous, bloody folly. And overnight, someone else gave a satirical illustration of such. Further to these, from Plato on we have historical examples of what happens when cultures fall under amoral influence: nihilism, domineering ruthless factions, chaos, tyranny driven by might and manipulation make right, mass murder. The past 100 years is especially horrific in this regard, with a toll in excess of 100 millions. What I cannot imagine is that any reasonably informed person is ignorant of the bloody horror of the past century. But then, we here are dealing with one who has resorted to dubious rhetorical devices in the face of the worst — and ongoing — mass slaughter of all. I can only conclude at this point, that we are seeing the principle of the reprobate mind at work, with pretty grim implications. KF

  32. 32
    Armand Jacks says:

    KF:

    AJ, unfortunately, you are now showing a habitual rhetorical pattern of speaking in disregard to truth in hope that what you say or suggest will be taken as true.

    KF, unfortunately, you are now showing a habitual rhetorical pattern of claiming to have answered questions that it is patently obvious you did not answer. And in the AJ thread you repeated the lie stated in the OP that I claimed to have a knock down refutation of ID. When called on this you refused to acknowledge your error. A lie of ommision. These are examples of you speaking with disregard to the truth (lying) that anyone can confirm.

    You can prove me wrong by simply linking to the comment that answered my very simple question. Or linking to the comment where you admit that I never claimed to have a knock down refutation of ID.

    Let’s try to start again and see if you have any shred of honesty. If we assume that there is no world-level IS to ground OUGHT, what would the resulting world look like? I am looking for your opinion, not clips of Plato. Your opinion.

    Your response to this will be very informative. My gut feeling is that you will avoid the question and delete this comment. Possibly request that I be banned. But I am an optimist. I would like to think that you are basically honest and will respond accordingly. Fingers crossed.

  33. 33
    kairosfocus says:

    AJ, it is now too late for you. You kept up the reprobate rhetorical patter5n one time too many. This is just a notice. KF

  34. 34
    Armand Jacks says:

    KF:

    AJ, it is now too late for you. You kept up the reprobate rhetorical patter5n one time too many. This is just a notice. KF

    KF, all I have done is ask you to answer a simple question or prove the claim you have made that you have already answered it. You and I, and all onlookers, know that you can’t do the latter. If the reputation of a liar is one that you are comfortable with, that is your choice. Alternately you could simply take the effort to actually answer the question.

    If we assume that there is no world-root IS to ground OUGHT, what do you think the resulting world would look like?

    For the life of me, I can’t fathom why you would refuse to answer this question, and lie about answering it. But, it is your reputation. Not mine.

  35. 35
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF

    Unanswered from a previous thread…

    [CR], I did not arbitrarily pick distinct identity from a field of candidates. The point is this is tied to a triple cluster self evident truth and grounds both communication and reasoning.

    Actually, I said deciding that some ideas are immune from criticism, while others are not, is arbitrary. This is implied in the dichotomy of basic (self evident) beliefs that can play the role of a foundation for non-basic beliefs. However, it’s not arbitrary if we tentatively adopt hard to vary explanations that we currently have no good criticism of.

    Specifically, when I suggested that all ideas are subject to criticism, why did you selected identity as an example of a supposedly self-evident truth, as opposed to other possible candidates? It was an idea you tried to criticize, but came back with none. If it was immune to criticism, you would have no reason to have selected it as an example as opposed to other ideas. The fact that identity is a useful idea that plays a hard to vary role in all of our current, best explanations, including communication, is a criticism to the idea that the idea of identity is itself wrong. IOW, this is just more criticism.

    Again, not having a good criticism of an idea not the same as assuming it is immune to criticism, which is what is necessary to be a foundation of knowledge that plays a unilateral role.

    But then, in our time, we have not been taught the significance of SETs, and may even have been taught to despise and dismiss them; e.g. the oh quantum objection that fails to reckon with how the objectors and the developers of the quantum theory had to implicitly rely on distinct identity starting with the proverbial scratch-marks on chalk boards; cf. here in the UD WACs. More sawing off of branches on which we must all sit. KF

    Pointing out there are other epistemologies that lack the problems of foundationalism is the opposite of being ignorant or dogmatically predisposed to rejecting it. Nor do I think they are unimportant.

    IOW, I’m still waiting for you to show how variation and criticism, without a foundation, is incompatible with what you call self-evident truths. It’s not that I think they are unimportant, but since they are not actually immune to criticism, they cannot be a foundation in the sense that you are implying.

  36. 36
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF

    Also unanswered from another thread..

    Again, even if we assume we are somehow “under moral governance”, for the sake of argument, it’s unclear how this helps you in practice. When actually faced with a concrete moral problem, how have identified what part of your conscious is from this moral governance? How do you know you have interpreted it correctly in your current situation? You use human reasoning and criticism, that’s how. It always comes first.

    The parable of the ship pilot is an argument for why the philosopher-king should rule. I’m suggesting that’s the wrong question. All of our ideas start out containing errors because they start out as guesses. So, we should setup institutions that make it easy to remove bad ideas without violence. The argument that things will always become corrupt is based on the idea that we started out with some perfect knowledge in the first place. We never truly discover knowledge, we just “remember it”, because it was always there in some perfect form in the first place. That’s a philosophical view of knowledge, including moral knowledge. And that ignores the problem of having to identify and interpret knowledge. Even if you could somehow identify it was God that spoke to you, you’d need to figure out what he meant by that in the context of your specific moral problem. Directly revealing the truth into your brain using divine means leads to the the question of distinguishing what God divinely revealed from your own ideas. Nothing in your experience of that tells you which is which. Many people disagree about what God supposedly reveals to them in ways that are mutually exclusive, so some of them are mistaken. Again, human reasoning an criticism always comes first.

    The problem of society becoming corrupt when it wasn’t before assumes that morality started out in some perfect state from which can only degrade. I’m suggesting that’s immoral because it implies that original state cannot be improved upon. It denies our ability to correct errors and make progress because it is immune to criticism. From this principle of criticism, we can get to approximations of moral truth, such as the immorality of slavery, torturing children, etc.

    Note, I’m not saying we do not face a problem. Problems are inevitable, but solvable. By presenting a false dichotomy between an infallible foundation and nihilism you are promoting the latter. You are holding morality hostage unless we accept your philosophical view of knowledge.

    From the podcast I referenced earlier…

    Well, I see human history as a long period of complete failure—failure, that is, to make any progress. Now, our species has existed for (depending on where you count it from) maybe 50,000 years, maybe 100,000 to 200,000 years. But anyway, the vast majority of that time, people were alive, they were thinking, they were suffering, they wanted things. But nothing ever improved. The improvements that did happen happened so slowly that geologists can’t distinguish the difference between artifacts from one era to another with a resolution of 10,000 years. So from the point of view of a human lifetime, nothing ever improved, with generation upon generation upon generation of suffering and stasis.

    Then there was slow improvement, and then more-rapid improvement. Then there were several attempts to institutionalize a tradition of criticism, which I think is the key to rapid progress in the sense that we think of it: progress discernible on the timescale of a human lifetime, and also error correction so that regression is less likely. That happened several times and failed every time except once—in the European Enlightenment of the 17th and 18th centuries.

    So you ask what worries me. What worries me is that the inheritors of that little bit of solitary progress are only a small proportion of the population of the world today.

    It’s the culture or civilization that we call the West. Only the West really has a tradition of criticism, a bit institutionalized. And this has manifested itself in various problems, including the problem of failed cultures that see their failure writ large by comparison with the West, and therefore want to do something about this that doesn’t involve creativity. That is very, very dangerous. Then there’s the fact that in the West, what it takes to maintain our civilization is not widely known.

    In fact, as you’ve also said, the prevailing view among people in the West, including very educated people, is a picture of the relationship between knowledge, and progress, and civilization, and values that’s just wrong in so many different ways. So although the institutions of our culture are so amazingly good that they have been able to manage stability in the face of rapid change for hundreds of years, the knowledge of what it takes to keep civilization stable in the face of rapidly increasing knowledge is not very widespread.

    In fact, severe misconceptions about several aspects of it are common among political leaders, educated people, and society at large. We’re like people on a huge, well-designed submarine, which has all sorts of lifesaving devices built in, who don’t know they’re in a submarine. They think they’re in a motorboat, and they’re going to open all the hatches because they want to have a nicer view.

  37. 37
    Armand Jacks says:

    CR:

    @KF
    Unanswered from a previous thread.

    I’m shocked.

  38. 38
    Armand Jacks says:

    CR:

    @KF
    Unanswered from a previous thread.

    I’m shocked.

  39. 39
    critical rationalist says:

    @WJM

    Please notice, the implications this has for atheism. If atheistic materialism/naturalism is “true”* then is does not provide any grounding for human rights. So our atheist interlocutors do not, indeed cannot, support human rights. And it does not matter whether they believe that or not, they cannot rational argue otherwise.

    Again, I’ve have yet to see anyone here address the following problem……

    Unless you have a way to infallibly identify a source of moral truth and infallibly interpret it, it’s unclear how you have any recourse other than human reasoning and criticism when faced with actual concrete moral problems.

    At best, it seems you could say that there would be some objective value and duty we must adhere to, but what that is would be, in your terms, “just your opinion”. How else do you solve this problem? I’m still waiting for an answer.

    IOW, “I believe that slavery is wrong” isn’t actually improved by saying “I believe that some moral authority says slavery is wrong”. You’ve just pushed the problem up a level without improving it.

  40. 40
    kairosfocus says:

    AJ, continuing the deceitful tactic leads to the point where I now ask you to leave this thread and any thread I own. You were already warned. KF

  41. 41
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, I find you here trying to indulge in a piling on tactic. Consider this a warning. KF

    PS: Given your tendency to inject your themes cross-purpose to just about any thread you intervene in, no I will not try to answer any and every thing you choose to bring up. I have tried to respond to what has seemed germane at the time.

    As for a blanket question as to how one solves specific moral questions, surely you know that that is unlimited and utterly expansive. That said, any reasonably morally educated person knows there are general principles applicable to particularities rooted in the value of the individual, though I distinctly recall that when this was raised you took occasion to run off on all sorts of tangents and claims.

    The general answer is that one’s senses are trained by reason of use to discern the good from the evil, across a lifespan and in a sound community across the generations.

    As for Plato’s conclusion that we need philosopher-kings, that is secondary to the primary issue I have highlighted, the dangerous inherent instabilities of democratic governments (especially in a morally degenerate community — note The Laws Bk X). So, as I have actually posted in OP’s here, we need to stabilise democracies, as say the rise of the US Republic with a DoI on key principles and a Constitutional framework illustrates. Undergirding such, I argued that only when general literacy, printing (and thus widespread moral training through Scripture and the rise of newspapers) multiplied by spiritual reformations and heart-softening, morally transformational revivals, did a reasonable stable form of democracy become possible. This means, not until v late C17 – 18, which, surprise — NOT, is just when such emerged. And indeed we do need people of high competence, high intelligence and high character in leadership, with accountability and transparency before an informed, responsible public. In Plato’s time, likely, only a lawful state based on good kings restrained by a corpus of sound law [and maybe with a significantly independent judiciary], was feasible as a long term solution, save with minor little centres that were not the heart of empires with great wealth and great military power. But then I doubt that you seriously interacted with that discussion or the underlying history.

    –> I do not write this to entertain all sorts of tangents, but just for record, showing an outline of what a serious solution looks like.

  42. 42
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, Pardon such directness on my part, but it is clear that your problems with epistemology taint your discussions, including on moral truth. Have you noticed that both WJM and I (and for that matter, SB et al) have consistently argued that there are intelligible, self-evident moral truths that serve as plumblines that allow responsible evaluation of our behaviour, especially when used with the principle of coherence, a key first principle of right reason? Have you forgotten how often we have discussed yardstick cases such as how it is self-evidently wrong to kidnap, sexually torture, rape and murder a young child for one’s sick pleasure? Do you still not see how such a truth leads onwards to principles of law amenable to the moral government of our nature? As in, did you not notice how in the discussion excerpted in the OP the rooting in the IS that grounds OUGHT in his goodness then leads us to understand that we are duty-bound to do that which is good and right in accord with our evident nature? As can be classically seen in the 2nd paragraph of the US DoI, 1776 and underlying sources and historically relevant context? I think it is increasingly clear that evo mat scientism’s irrationality and amorality, joined to fellow travellers and silly indoctrination that projects “fascist” or “theocrat” or the like on any who question a historically ruinous agenda, has led to a spirit of contempt-laced folly that imagines that marching over what history warns us is a cliff is wisdom, and those who object can only be ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked. No wonder our civilisation is in such deep and worsening trouble. KF

    PS: Just to inform us (and to demonstrate the force of the general point), here is Cicero in De Legibus, C1 BC:

    —Marcus: . . . the subject of our present discussion . . . comprehends the universal principles of equity and law. In such a discussion therefore on the great moral law of nature, the practice of the civil law can occupy but an insignificant and subordinate station. For according to our idea, we shall have to explain the true nature of moral justice, which is congenial and correspondent [36]with the true nature of man. We shall have to examine those principles of legislation by which all political states should be governed. And last of all, shall we have to speak of those laws and customs which are framed for the use and convenience of particular peoples, which regulate the civic and municipal affairs of the citizens, and which are known by the title of civil laws.

    Quintus. —You take a noble view of the subject, my brother, and go to the fountain–head of moral truth, in order to throw light on the whole science of jurisprudence: while those who confine their legal studies to the civil law too often grow less familiar with the arts of justice than with those of litigation.

    Marcus. —Your observation, my Quintus, is not quite correct. It is not so much the science of law that produces litigation, as the ignorance of it, (potius ignoratio juris litigiosa est quam scientia) . . . . With respect to the true principle of justice, many learned men have maintained that it springs from Law. I hardly know if their opinion be not correct, at least, according to their own definition; for “Law (say they) is the highest reason, implanted in nature, which prescribes those things which ought to be done, and forbids the contrary.” This, they think, is apparent from the converse of the proposition; because this same reason, when it [37]is confirmed and established in men’s minds, is the law of all their actions.

    They therefore conceive that the voice of conscience is a law, that moral prudence is a law, whose operation is to urge us to good actions, and restrain us from evil ones. They think, too, that the Greek name for law (NOMOS), which is derived from NEMO, to distribute, implies the very nature of the thing, that is, to give every man his due. For my part, I imagine that the moral essence of law is better expressed by its Latin name, (lex), which conveys the idea of selection or discrimination. According to the Greeks, therefore, the name of law implies an equitable distribution of goods: according to the Romans, an equitable discrimination between good and evil.

    The true definition of law should, however, include both these characteristics. And this being granted as an almost self–evident proposition, the origin of justice is to be sought in the divine law of eternal and immutable morality. This indeed is the true energy of nature, the very soul and essence of wisdom, the test of virtue and vice. But since every discussion must relate to some subject, whose terms are of frequent occurrence in the popular language of the citizens, we shall be sometimes obliged to use the same terms as the vulgar, and to conform to that common idiom which signifies by the word law, all the arbitrary [38]regulations which are found in our statute books, either commanding or forbidding certain actions.

    Atticus. —Let us begin, then, to establish the principles of justice on that eternal and universal law, whose origin precedes the immeasurable course of ages, before legislative enactments were in being, or political governments constituted.

    Quintus. —By thus ascending to first principles, the order of our discourse will be more methodical, so as to conduct us by agreeable gradations to the practical bearings of the subject.

    Marcus. —You wish, then, that we should seek for justice in its native source, which being discovered, we shall afterwards be able to speak with more authority and precision respecting our civil laws, that come home to the affairs of our citizens?

    Quintus. —Such is the course I would advise.

    Atticus. —I also subscribe to your brother’s opinion . . .

    –> It seems we have to be sent back to the pagans, to understand what we had and so contemptuously, shamelessly and carelessly discarded to our grave loss and potential ruin.

  43. 43
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: Let me clip onward from the already linked discussion of a self-evident moral yardstick. So, we can see what is being derided and dismissed without due consideration (and as an illustration of how our civilisation leads itself ill-advisedly into ruinous peril):

    normally responsive people will at least grudgingly respect the following summary of such core, conscience attested morality from the pen of Paul:

    Rom 2:14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them . . . .

    Rom 13:8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong [NIV, “harm”] to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. [ESV]

    Where, John Locke, in grounding modern liberty and what would become democratic self-government of a free people premised on upholding the civil peace of justice, in Ch 2 Sec. 5 of his second treatise on civil Government [c. 1690] cites “the judicious [Anglican canon, Richard] Hooker” from his classic Ecclesiastical Polity of 1594 on, as he explains how the principles of neighbour-love are inscribed in our hearts, becoming evident to the eye of common good sense and reasonableness:

    . . . 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 and alluding to Justinian’s synthesis of Roman Law in Corpus Juris Civilis that also brings these same thoughts to bear:] 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.]

    We may elaborate on Paul, Locke, Hooker and Aristotle, laying out several manifestly evident and historically widely acknowledged core moral principles; for which the attempted denial is instantly and patently absurd for most people — that is, they are arguably self-evident (thus, warranted and objective) moral truths; not just optional opinions.

    So also, it is not only possible to

    (a) be in demonstrable moral error, but also

    (b) there is hope that such moral errors can be corrected by appealing to manifestly sound core principles of the natural moral law.

    For instance:

    1] The first self evident moral truth is that we are inescapably under the government of ought.

    (This is manifest in even an objector’s implication in the questions, challenges and arguments that s/he would advance, that we are in the wrong and there is something to be avoided about that. That is, even the objector inadvertently implies that we OUGHT to do, think, aim for and say the right. Not even the hyperskeptical objector can escape this truth. Patent absurdity on attempted denial.)

    2] Second self evident truth, we discern that some things are right and others are wrong by a compass-sense we term conscience which guides our thought. (Again, objectors depend on a sense of guilt/ urgency to be right not wrong on our part to give their points persuasive force. See what would be undermined should conscience be deadened or dismissed universally? Sawing off the branch on which we all must sit.)

    3] Third, were this sense of conscience and linked sense that we can make responsibly free, rational decisions to be a delusion, we would at once descend into a status of grand delusion in which there is no good ground for confidence in our self-understanding. (That is, we look at an infinite regress of Plato’s cave worlds: once such a principle of grand global delusion is injected, there is no firewall so the perception of level one delusion is subject to the same issue, and this level two perception too, ad infinitum; landing in patent absurdity.)

    4] Fourth, we are objectively under obligation of OUGHT. That is, despite any particular person’s (or group’s or august council’s or majority’s) wishes or claims to the contrary, such obligation credibly holds to moral certainty. That is, it would be irresponsible, foolish and unwise for us to act and try to live otherwise.

    5] Fifth, this cumulative framework of moral government under OUGHT is the basis for the manifest core principles of the natural moral law under which we find ourselves obligated to the right the good, the true etc. Where also, patently, we struggle to live up to what we acknowledge or imply we ought to do.

    6] Sixth, this means we live in a world in which being under core, generally understood principles of natural moral law is coherent and factually adequate, thus calling for a world-understanding in which OUGHT is properly grounded at root level. (Thus worldviews that can soundly meet this test are the only truly viable ones. If a worldview does not have in it a world-root level IS that can simultaneously ground OUGHT — so that IS and OUGHT are inextricably fused at that level, it fails decisively.*)

    7] Seventh, in light of the above, even the weakest and most voiceless of us thus has a natural right to life, liberty, the pursuit of fulfillment of one’s sense of what s/he ought to be (“happiness”). This includes the young child, the unborn and more. (We see here the concept that rights are binding moral expectations of others to provide respect in regards to us because of our inherent status as human beings, members of the community of valuable neighbours. Where also who is my neighbour was forever answered by the parable of the Good Samaritan. Likewise, there can be no right to demand of or compel my neighbour that s/he upholds me and enables me in the wrong — including under false colour of law through lawfare; usurping the sword of justice to impose a ruthless policy agenda in fundamental breach of that civil peace which must ever pivot on manifest justice. To justly claim a right, one must first be in the right.)

    8] Eighth, like unto the seventh, such may only be circumscribed or limited for good cause. Such as, reciprocal obligation to cherish and not harm neighbour of equal, equally valuable nature in community and in the wider world of the common brotherhood of humanity.

    9] Ninth, this is the context in which it becomes self evidently wrong, wicked and evil to kidnap, sexually torture and murder a young child or the like as concrete cases in point that show that might and/or manipulation do not make ‘right,’ ‘truth,’ ‘worth,’ ‘justice,’ ‘fairness,’ ‘law’ etc. That is, anything that expresses or implies the nihilist’s credo is morally absurd.

    10] Tenth, this entails that 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 government is and ought to be subject to audit, reformation and if necessary replacement should it fail sufficiently badly and incorrigibly.

    (NB: This is a requisite of accountability for justice, and the suggestion or implication of some views across time, that government can reasonably be unaccountable to the governed, is its own refutation, reflecting — again — nihilistic will to power; which is automatically absurd. This truth involves the issue that finite, fallible, morally struggling men acting as civil authorities in the face of changing times and situations as well as in the face of the tendency of power to corrupt, need to be open to remonstrance and reformation — or if they become resistant to reasonable appeal, there must be effective means of replacement. Hence, the principle that the general election is an insitutionalised regular solemn assembly of the people for audit and reform or if needs be replacement of government gone bad. But this is by no means an endorsement of the notion that a manipulated mob bent on a march of folly has a right to do as it pleases.)

    12] Twelfth, the attempt to deny or dismiss such a general framework of moral governance invariably lands in shipwreck of incoherence and absurdity. As, has been seen in outline. But that does not mean that the attempt is not going to be made, so there is a mutual obligation of frank and fair correction and restraint of evil.
    _________________

    * F/N: After centuries of debates and assessment of alternatives per comparative difficulties, there is in fact just one serious candidate to be such a grounding IS: the inherently good creator God, a necessary and maximally great being worthy of ultimate loyalty and the reasonable responsible service of doing the good in accord with our manifestly evident nature. (And instantly, such generic ethical theism answers also to the accusation oh this is “religion”; that term being used as a dirty word — no, this is philosophy. If you doubt this, simply put forth a different candidate that meets the required criteria and passes the comparative difficulties test: _________ . Likewise, an inherently good, maximally great being will not be arbitrary or deceitful etc, that is why such is fully worthy of ultimate loyalty and the reasonable, responsible service of doing the good in accord with our manifestly evident nature. As a serious candidate necessary being, such would be eternal and embedded in the frame for a world to exist at all. Thus such a candidate is either impossible as a square circle is impossible due to mutual ruin of core characteristics, or else it is actual. For simple instance no world is possible without two-ness in it, a necessary basis for distinct identity inter alia.

    But, widespread or even general acknowledgement of many or most of the above as more or less useful rules of conduct is not the same as to further acknowledge that the sort of wrong we are contemplating is bindingly, objectively, universally something that OUGHT not to be done. And indeed, many will boldly assert today that it cannot be proved that it is absurd to reject the notion that core moral principles are objective and universally binding. Indeed an actual argument made is oh, how can you PROVE that such a list of truths is coherent? . . .

    –> This is how far we have now fallen.

    –> FWIW, my onward response:

    (My reply was, after several rounds:

    “truths must all be so together, a key point of a coherent world: on distinct identity the triple first principles obtain and so no x is both A and not-A, and so too no two truths x and y can be such that y = NOT-x. In this context, each of the 12 being in turn directly credibly true on grounds of patent absurdities on attempted denial, they are immediately credibly coherent. Next, it so happens that the principles are in fact linked together in a chain so they are mutually supportive and relevant, in fact framing the basis for moral principles in governance.”

    The onward question was absolute certainty regarding coherence, to which I responded that not even Mathematics — the logical study of structure and quantity — post Godel is absolutely certain, and that the relevant degree of certainty is moral, where I would be confidently willing to cast the weight of my soul on the above, and would be prepared to bet the future of civilisation on them. [Indeed, whatever moral view we take, we are casting the weight of our souls and the future of civilisation on it. The ethical component of our worldviews is awesomely momentous.])

    –> this is how irresponsible and careless we have become, weep for us.

  44. 44
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, BTW, when you hang around and tack on a comment after a thread has faded, you cannot reasonably expect that your arguments will be picked up and answered. The same holds for the just previous comment in which you again fail to understand the Agrippa Trilemma as it is called: infinite regress is impossible, circularity fails to warrant and so we are forced to address finitely remote first plausibles including key self-evident truths. Any number of times it has been pointed out that something like Neurath’s Raft where by standing on part A one may fix part B then switch to B to fix A etc both has to have internal integrity and rests on the sea and the principle of flotation. We cannot avoid finitely remote first plausibles forming a faith-point, we can only evade comparative difficulties analysis, which is what moves us beyond question-begging. And no, with all due respect I cannot again go down a shopping list of points that are endlessly recycled with little or no responsiveness, there are other things that I have to take up, here, post snap election announcement. I suggest that the OP, outlines I just made and other remarks already in thread should be a slice of the cake with all the ingredients. Time to go back to sleep for a bit before another day. G’night. KF

  45. 45
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF,

    Having read what seems to be a “pile on” of your own, I’m still left without an answer to the criticism I raised regarding how human reasoning and criticism always comes first. Apparently, you think God has somehow written some moral truths on our hearts as source of last resort that cannot lead us astray (or for which we have no excuse to be lead astray) But, again, this is result of a conjectured idea that is the result of human reasoning and criticism, which always comes first.

    Again, it’s unclear how “I believe that homosexuality is wrong” is improved by saying “I believe God decrees homosexuality is wrong and has revealed that to us by writing it on our hearts”. This just pushes the problem up a level without actually solving it. IOW, if we try to take an authoritative source seriously as an explanation for moral knowledge, it does not survive criticism.

    Again, I’m suggesting that all knowledge, including moral knowledge, comes from conjecture and criticism of some sort. Unless I’ve missed some response in the above, nothing you’ve written here is incompatible with that explanation.

    Have you noticed that both WJM and I (and for that matter, SB et al) have consistently argued that there are intelligible, self-evident moral truths that serve as plumblines that allow responsible evaluation of our behaviour, especially when used with the principle of coherence, a key first principle of right reason? Have you forgotten how often we have discussed yardstick cases such as how it is self-evidently wrong to kidnap, sexually torture, rape and murder a young child for one’s sick pleasure? Do you still not see how such a truth leads onwards to principles of law amenable to the moral government of our nature?

    No, KF. I have not forgotten your examples of self-evident truths. You having presented them is key to the argument I’m presenting.

    Again, when I suggested that all ideas are subject to criticism, why did you choose kidnaping, etc. as examples of self-evident truths, as opposed to other possible candidates? They were ideas you tried to criticize, but came back with none. If they were immune to criticism, you would have no reason to have selected them as examples, as opposed to other ideas. IOW, you yourself have presented a concrete example that is contrary to the idea that they are not subject to criticism.

    Not currently having any good criticisms of an idea is not the same as being immune to criticism, which is what would be necessary for self-evident truths. As for the principle of right reason, it is abandoned by deciding some ideas are not subject to criticism.

    For example, would you say that homosexuality is self-evidently wrong? Is that supposed moral knowledge immune to criticism as well? What about the rights of general artificially intelligent beings? Would they have the same “self evident” rights as human beings? What about moral problems that we have not even conceived of yet?

    Again, the idea that any moral knowledge is immune to criticism is immoral because it excludes the possibility that progress can be made in these areas and others. Being fallible, we should expect alll of our knowledge to contain errors to some degree and be incomplete. It is immoral because it discounts and even vilifies our means of correcting errors.

    Or perhaps you mean something other than “not subject to criticism” when using the term self-evident? But, if that were the case, how can they be a foundation that you say is necessary?

    Furthermore, how is this not an argument from undesired consequences? The argument that Foundationalists who, when presented with criticisms that indicate a foundation is impossible. will choose nihilism, because they hold a bad philosophy of knowledge, is an appeal to undesired consequences.Nor am I a nihilist, despite our different world views.

  46. 46
    Origenes says:

    CR: Having read what seems to be a “pile on” of your own, I’m still left without an answer to the criticism I raised regarding how human reasoning and criticism always comes first.

    Criticism based on what? I have asked you this one month ago and you fail to answer.
    Criticism obviously never comes first. And if it enters the picture at all then it needs a prior foundation. One cannot reason based on nothing. You seem to “overlook” that basic fact.

  47. 47
    critical rationalist says:

    Criticism obviously never comes first.

    So, it’s self-evident that criticism never comes first?

  48. 48

    CR said:

    Again, I’ve have yet to see anyone here address the following problem……

    And you probably won’t see it when I address it, even though your quote was apparently mis-attributed to me.

    Unless you have a way to infallibly identify a source of moral truth and infallibly interpret it, it’s unclear how you have any recourse other than human reasoning and criticism when faced with actual concrete moral problems.

    Humans operating in the physical universe don’t have an “infallible” means of doing anything. Fallibility is in our human nature, so you’re applying a standard that is both unreasonable and hyperskeptical.

    You cannot reason about anything unless you have something to reason from and about. You cannot offer reasoned criticism unless you have something to critically examine in the first place, and an accepted and presumed binding means of criticism in the second place.

    Reason and criticism must come second after we have established both the valid, binding nature of critical reasoning and have something to critically reason about.

    Whether or not we have an infallible means of identifying a valid critical reasoning methodology, or infallibly identifying what we should apply such examination about, or a means of infallibly coming to right conclusions afterward is irrelevant because fallibility is an intractable aspect of everything we do.

    At best, it seems you could say that there would be some objective value and duty we must adhere to, but what that is would be, in your terms, “just your opinion”. How else do you solve this problem? I’m still waiting for an answer.

    We’ve answered this many times, but you seem to be immune to accepting the answer as an answer. There are objective moral values and duties that we ought adhere to; it is our position that they are literally sewn into the fabric of existence. Some are self-evident and easy to recognize, like “it is wrong to torture the innocent for one’s personal pleasure”. It takes no reasoning or critical thinking to sort that out; every sane person on Earth recognizes this as true.

    Because they are sewn into the fabric of our existence, moral issues are usually recognized via a spiritual sensory capacity – the conscience – much as our other senses apprehend various aspects of the the physical world. I refer to the moral aspect of the world the “moral landscape”.

    The conscience (like any sensory capacity) is not infallible and not all moral situations are easily resolved. Some good rules and guidelines have been established by various individuals and cultures throughout history.

    When the mind is uncertain or confused about its moral obligation in a situation, that is where critical reasoning comes in – to sort through the issue and see how more obvious rules might apply to that situation.

    Now, everything I wrote above are not claims of fact, but rather my description of a worldview framework that establishes what morality is, how we perceive it, and how we proceed from there. I am not asserting that any of the above is true or factual; what I do assert, however, is that the above, or something similar, represents a theistic, natural moral law worldview that is necessary to ground a non-subjective morality that actually reflects how humans actually behave when they encounter a moral issue and provides a means for fruitful dialogue about morality.

    IOW, “I believe that slavery is wrong” isn’t actually improved by saying “I believe that some moral authority says slavery is wrong”. You’ve just pushed the problem up a level without improving it.

    That’s because you don’t understand what is being discussed. You think what is being discussed is how, in practice, the moral objectivist is qualitatively different from the moral subjectivist. It’s like when AJ asks what a world would look like that is not grounded in an “is”. You’re both asking the same thing – what is the qualitative difference between how the two different situations would look to the observer.

    The answer is: they may not look any different at all, but that’s not the point. That they might “look” the same is entirely irrelevant to the point. That one cannot tell the difference between Joe and an android replica of Joe doesn’t mean Joe and the android are “the same thing” for all intents and purposes.

    What the debate is about is what each premise means to the state of our existence and to the nature of discussion and debate about such things if true.

    IOW, if moral subjectivism is actually the truth the nature of our existence,that means one set of things as the necessary logical consequences of such a state of being.

    However, if moral objctivism is actually the truth the nature of our existence, that means an entirely different set of things must be true.

    If moral subjectivism is true, then at a fundamental level I have no logical reason to care about morality per se at all, but rather only care about how my actions are perceived by society and how such actions might best benefit me. If I feel a pain or conscience or empathy against doing a thing I reason will ultimately benefit me, I have every rational reason to justify the behavior and calm and benumb my disquiet and carry out the action best suited for my benefit. Also, I have no logical reason to worry about any actions that society or others will not ever be aware of, leaving me free to do anything at all as long as I’m relatively sure it won’t be observed.

    However, that’s not how good, sane humans actually act in the real world. We do what is right regardless of if anyone is watching and do it even if think it will ultimately not benefit us. We will do what we know is right even if society disagrees and it will cause us social problems. We will even violate the law if for our moral duties if they are clear enough. Some of us will actually sacrifice our own lives for the cause of what is right, even in the teeth of public disgrace and humiliation. Good, sane humans always act – and must act – as if morality is objective in nature, as if by promoting the good they are serving something greater than themselves, their society, or even the majority of humanity if the majority of humanity is doing what is wrong.

    Could people be programmed by evolution, chemistry and physics to act this same way, which seems in conflict with a putative “true state” of moral subjectivism? Certainly. A population of biological automatons could act exactly like free will individuals living an world with objective morality; but “behaving the same” belies an incredibly different actuality under the two scenarios.

    None of that proves that morality is actually objective in nature; nobody here can prove it is. Nobody can prove that it is subjective in nature, either. Our arguments are not about “proving’ anything, but are rather about showing the disparity between the logical ramifications (not the ramifications of appearances or behaviors) which describe the nature (not the appearance) of our existence under each premise.

  49. 49
    Armand Jacks says:

    YOU WERE ASKED TO LEAVE THIS AND EVERY THREAD I OWN. YOU HAD A CHANCE AND WASTED IT. GAMES OVER. KF

  50. 50
    john_a_designer says:

    [The following is something that I wrote back in 2010 on another site. I think many of the points are relevant to the “discussion” we are having here.]

    I was just thinking. Maybe we (or just me) don’t understand DL’s [doctor(logic’s)] particular version of moral subjectivism correctly. Here is moral subjectivism as it is described by Keith Augustine in response to Theodore Schick’s critique of it.

    First let’s start with Schick’s argument for rejecting moral subjectivism:

    Premise 1: What makes something morally right is that a person believes it is morally right.

    P2: Person A believes genocide is morally right.

    P3: Person B believes genocide is not morally right.

    4: Genocide is morally right (from 1 and 2).

    5: Genocide is not morally right (from 1 and 3).

    Of course, Augustine agrees that if premise 1 is true it leads to a hopeless contradiction. But, he then argues that he never claimed that he believes in premise 1. Please notice that he doesn’t claim that premise 1 is true or untrue, provable or un-provable but that it is something that he does not believe in.

    Instead he responds with the following counter argument that also ironically leads to a contradiction.

    P1: What makes something aesthetically better than some other thing is that a person believes that that thing is better than some other thing.

    P2: Person A believes that rock and roll is better than country music.

    P3: Person B believes that rock and roll is not better than country music.

    4: Rock and roll is better than country music.

    5: Rock and roll is not better than country music.

    Then he explains his argument:

    Now, again we have a contradiction; but does this mean that it is irrational for me to claim that rock and roll is better than country music? No, it is a rational claim. But it is a claim about my tastes and preferences. Similarly, it is perfectly rational for me to claim that genocide is morally wrong. But that expresses my emotional reaction to the action; it does not express some objective state of the world. It is rational because here premise 1 is false, just as it was in the example Schick provided. When I say that rock and roll is better than country music, it is tacitly assumed that I am expressing an opinion and not making a claim about the actual objective nature of rock and roll. Similarly, when I claim that genocide is wrong, I am not making an objective claim about the morality of an action; I am expressing an opinion.

    http://www.infidels.org/librar.....moral.html

    Do you see what Augustine has done? He hasn’t really answered Schick’s argument; he has turned the moral argument into an esthetic one. In other words, moral arguments are not really moral arguments. How can they be?

    Now I’ll concede, as the subjectivist does, that the vast majority of people are repulsed by murder, rape and genocide. But what do you do then about someone like Ted Bundy who is not repulsed by rape and murder? Or, the Nazi’s who instituted genocidal polices?

    Bundy justified his actions because he said that is how he found personal fulfillment. Those are his personal opinions, tastes and preferences. And, if morality is just a matter esthetic tastes then we have no moral grounds to condemn his behavior because there is no such thing as moral ground.

    By the way it does not matter that the Nazi’s (at least some of them) were moral realists. The moral subjectivist (at least as described by K. Augustine) still has no way to condemn their actions morally.

    It is absurd to describe this kind of thinking either moral or ethical. If Augustine’s argument is not a classic example of a category error I don’t know what is.

    https://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2010/10/morality-without-god-would-i-care/#comment-24079

  51. 51
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, I strongly advise you to read what WJM has counselled you, and consider your ways. KF

  52. 52
    vividbleau says:

    WJM RE 48

    WJM :”What the debate is about is what each premise means to the state of our existence and to the nature of discussion and debate about such things if true.

    IOW, if moral subjectivism is actually the truth the nature of our existence,that means one set of things as the necessary logical consequences of such a state of being.

    However, if moral objctivism is actually the truth the nature of our existence, that means an entirely different set of things must be true.’

    This topic has been debated on this site ad nauseam (sp) and the objectors always , without fail, never address the argument. They always go and bring up irrelevant points that avoids the obvious point being made. Folks this is not difficult and it amazes me that people like AJ and CR never get it. What are the logical consequences!!!!! Why is this so hard to grasp?

    No it is not about how things would be different, no it is not about how we can discern what is or is not objective moral values, no it is not about whether subjectivists cannot have moral values, etc, etc,etc, vomit, vomit some more, what is so hard to grasp here?

    Thanks WJM and save this for future use when this same thing comes up again.

    Vivid

  53. 53

    In short, objectors like AJ, CR and RVB8 think that KF, myself and others are attempting to show that morality is objective in nature. That is not what we are doing. We cannot show anyone that.

    We are pointing out what the logical (not the observable or the apparent) consequences are for each premise when it comes to our existential nature (not the observable consequences to our behavior) and the nature (not the appearance) of debate about anything of consequence. The point of this is that once one realizes what subjective morality means to the moral nature of their behavior (and that of others), they might realize that (1) they do not act that way, (2) they cannot act that way, (3) they would not accept such behavior or rationalizations from others, and (4) there would be no reason to consider “what is moral” at all, only what ultimately serves one’s own best interests, however they personally define that.

    Existentially, subjective morality = no morality, just as compatibilist free will = no free will. Existentially, subjective morality = “Do as I will is the whole of the law.” That may not be what anyone’s personal, subjective morality claims, but that is the root authorization of any subjective morality. You get to adopt a particular subjective moral rule or discard a particular subjective moral rule because do as I will is the whole of the law. You get to pick and choose because you can because it’s all subjective.

    Why even bother with the pretense that you are discussing morality, when all you are really discussing is how you prefer yourself and others to behave?

  54. 54
    critical rationalist says:

    @WJM

    We seem to have different goals.

    Again, when faced with concrete moral problems we must make choices. Moral knowledge is knowledge about which choices we should make in those cases.

    I don’t know about you, but what I want is to use the contents of moral knowledge to actually solve moral problems that people actually face. You seem to want to justify that knowledge.

    IOW, what we want from ideas are their contents, not their providence.

  55. 55
    Armand Jacks says:

    TROLL — already requested to leave threads I own, having used up his chance. KF

  56. 56
    Armand Jacks says:

    TROLL — used up his chances, is now descending to personalities. KF

  57. 57
    Armand Jacks says:

    TROLL — has used up his chances. Game over. Get your own blog. KF

  58. 58
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: It seems to be a commonplace notion that you do not need responsible, morally governed freedom for rational thought, discussion, decision and action. Hence, inter alia the notion that we can have a rational discussion on the premise that the sense of moral government is “subjective” or “relative,” esp. after all, people and communities disagree so there.

    The first grave error here is to imagine that we can ignore the fact that error exists, and can readily become entrenched. (Cf. the seven mountains diagram in the OP; it’s there for a reason.)

    Indeed, error backed by power — might makes ‘right’ ‘truth’ etc — can usurp the power of being the yardstick of judgement. When that happens, as truth accurately describes reality and error fails to do so, error entrenched as yardstick will lock out truth for truth will never line up with such a yardstick of folly.

    And, frankly, the truly evil would delight to be in that position.

    Until things go over the cliff (as is happening in Venezuela as we speak).

    I could give a long list, I just point out how an ongoing holocaust is being cast as a right, perversions are being turned into identities and demands for privileged status and more. (Start with what is suddenly happening to bathrooms.)

    Many can sense that things have gone topsy-turvy and chaotic, but few can spot the cynical manipulation of putting evil for good and good for evil, false for true and true for false, etc.

    And of course, the march of ruinous folly then demands approval of evil under threat.

    That is where our civilisation has reached, and it is suicidal.

    Now, let us go back to the beginning, to set things straight.

    If one is to reason, one needs the freedom guided by responsibility to truth and the right, that allows and motivates one to due care over what is so, what is not so, what ought to be and what ought not to be. Responsible, rational freedom to use understanding and knowledge to infer from grounds to consequences, including the general inductive case in which the points in evidence support but do not demonstrate the conclusion by logical entailment.

    As a consequence, no system that is driven by mechanical cause-effect alone, is capable of reasoned inference. Ground and consequent inferred on logical principles is categorically, ontologically different from dynamic-stochastic cause-effect processes. As a direct consequence no GIGO-limited computational substrate . . . analogue, digital or neural network . . . can reason in itself. Mechanised calculation on programs (including stochastic influences) is simply not the same thing as a process of rational inference. The computational substrate is about energy and signal flows, forces, noise etc triggering cause-effect chains, much as we can see in the ball and disk integrator used in the old analogue gunlaying computers and illustrated in the OP. The ball, disk, cylinder and shaft neither know nor care that they are arranged to help solve a differential equation, nor are they concerned to get it right. That is the job of the programmer.

    This has been repeatedly highlighted, pointed out and cited from others but it is and will be consistently ignored or dismissed or evaded by those entangled in evolutionary materialistic scientism and/or its fellow travellers due to their blinding worldview imposition that e.g. the “physical” facts fix all the facts.

    In short error is being imposed as yardstick.

    Let’s go on.

    It is a simple fact that we are inescapably bound by moral government, including our concerns and urges towards truth and right being exploited by those who would manipulate us.

    If we were in a world where such were a systematic delusion, little more than a subjective perception or a drummed in socially relative perception, grand delusion would taint not only our moral life but our rational one and indeed our whole faculty of mindedness. And such gross error without a firewall would collapse the whole project of rationality into the untrustworthy chaos of general, borderline lunacy.

    This is an example of how grand delusion leads to utter absurdity, revealing itself to be incoherent, self-falsifying folly.

    The sane conclusion is, we are morally governed in our responsible, rational freedom, and we therefore need to ask, what sort of world can root that.

    That’s what the OP discusses, and it is so utterly repugnant to many objectors that they have resorted to every sort of rhetorical stunt to not go there. Because of where it points: we need a world-root IS that inherently grounds OUGHT. For which, obviously, there is just one serious candidate. Notice how, yet again, objectors cannot provide a coherent, cogent alternative at the table of comparative difficulties.

    That speaks volumes.

    Now, we have been demanded, on pain of trollish misconduct, to imagine a world without a root of moral government. I have consistently pointed out that rationality — and indeed the rationality to structure and effect a world is implicated here too, it’s not just OUR moral government — requires such government so the demand is incoherent. Mindedness requires radical freedom and to be rational that freedom must be governed by responsibility to truth and right.

    So, with all due respect, just to have an orderly coherent world already points to moral government involved in framing a good world, not a chaos.

    Going further, what is feasible is to invent an incoherent, amoral ideology and try to impose it on the community. That has been tried many times and from the days of Alcibiades till now it consistently leads to marches of bloodily ruinous, often mass murdering folly. The past century is perhaps the most horrific cluster of such cases.

    But of course, such does not fit with the error-driven yardstick of evolutionary materialists and fellow travellers, and they will bend every rhetorical muscle to twist, deride, dismiss, and worse.

    Beyond a certain point, we are seeing the principle of the reprobate mind at work.

    And, we should take due note of that.

    I trust the point is clear enough.

    KF

    PS: Ironically, on the warped view we are discussing, there is one exception to the grand delusion: the sociopath. That alone should tell us something has gone seriously wrong.

  59. 59
    Armand Jacks says:

    TROLL. It’s time for you to face the consequences of your favoured scheme and your misbehaviour, which you seem determined not to acknowledge — and ironically hope to manipulate me on that quaint bourgeois notion, oh you ought not to lie. (Never mind, my truth is that you have indulged a trollish, threadjacking pattern of refusing to interact responsibly and pretending that answers to questions you pose have not been given. Even if you disagree with an answer and think it wrong-headed have the common courtesy to recognise that it is an answer. This latest twist on the “no evidence” talking point so beloved of atheistical hyperskeptics when presented with evidence is a disgusting, devillish twisted, ill mannered loutish tactic.) Games over, KF

  60. 60
    john_a_designer says:

    Does Armand Jacks think he has an inalienable right to be here? To do what? Anything he wants? To obstruct and obfuscate? To make any kind of stupid and inane argument? To demand that we answer his inane, and as anyone can see, disingenuous questions? Is this his thread? Is this his blog? Is he the one who makes up the rules? What basis does a moral subjectivist have for demanding that anyone else respect his rights?

    Interpersonal moral obligations assume there is some kind of objective moral standard, which is exactly the thing that subjectivists reject. AJ is either a hypocrite, a fool or both.

  61. 61
    kairosfocus says:

    JAD, sadly so, but just maybe this thread can help him hit rock bottom and wake up to the grave errors of his might and manipulation make ‘truth’ ‘right’ etc ways. Kant’s Categorical Imperative brings out that one way to detect an evil is that it cannot be universalised, it would end in absurdity, social disintegration or is outright impossible. That is evil parasites off good and profits from most not behaving like that. A world of liars, cheats, thieves, sadists and murderers would collapse in ruin. And we must not forget the great holocaust of our time: many are utterly warped in thought and deed because they are enmeshed in the bloodguilt of the 800+ million unborn children slaughtered globally since the 1970’s, and now mounting up at a million more per week. Just think of what has happened to the seven mountains to sustain this and pretend that all is well. And this is just one example that taints, warps and opens our souls to hellish influences. And of course this is the same troll who has bent every rhetorical muscle to block us from looking at and following the example of Wilberforce as he led the global response to another great evil, slavery and its wicked trade that together had fully holocaust level death tolls. Let us instead first straighten out our thinking and sense of responsibility, that we may find a road to repentance, renewal and reformation before it is too late and our civilisation goes over the cliff leading to another dark age. KF

  62. 62
    jdk says:

    Way to win the argument, kf: refuse to admit that there are genuine issues being raised by someone with a different perspective than you, and then get rid of the person if they persist in disagreeing with you.

    And you even have the audacity to delete some of AJ’s posts.

    Sad!

  63. 63
    john_a_designer says:

    So what is critical rationalist going to say about Armand Jacks? Was it right for KF to ask, then demand he leave? Did he violate AJ’s rights? But how can a moral subjectivist say anything about anyone else rights?

  64. 64
    jdk says:

    to AJ. (The rest of you shouldn’t even bother to read this.)

    I’ve been tempted to respond to your question to kf, but was able to resist, but now that he has brought your participation to a close, I have a few things to say.

    1. You asked, “If we assume that there is no world-root IS to ground OUGHT, what type of world would you expect us to live in?

    I think the common answer to your question given by many here is that ultimately you would expect a world where might makes right, and where anyone who truly followed the logical implications would be a nihilist for which anything is permitted.

    Clearly, the world is not like that. Of course, there are places and times where brute power can force itself upon the world, and there are at times where some people psychopathologically appear to have no moral sense at all.

    But for the bulk of humankind, across history and across cultures, human beings strongly feel, and willingly act in accordance with, moral and other cultural norms. On the other hand, as has been one of your main points, these moral and other cultural norms vary tremendously. Furthermore, even in our own culture, things which we now consider immoral (slavery, multiple wives, child brides, working on Sunday) were not considered immoral in the past

    My take on this is that human beings have some common biological foundations: the ability to talk and think, the ability and need to make moral judgments, the need to have a social group to have positive feelings for and with whom to be innter-dependent, etc.

    However, being dependent upon learning and culture and relatively free of instincts, and finding ourselves in radically different environments (physical, social, technological, etc.), we have had to create in our culture social, moral, and intellectual solutions that satisfy our basic underlying needs and abilities as well as the particular needs of the world we live in.

    Also, because of our dependence on learning, once a culture gets established it tends to perpetuate itself (especially when outsides forces, such as contact with other cultures, technological advance, environmental changes) don’t change the dynamics. Thus people tend to grow up thinking that their perspective is “right”, and they teach their children that, and on it goes.

    Education about the variety of human cultures can help someone being able to step out of their cultural upbringing, but only to a degree.

    This appears to be the big issue that the people here fail to address. All the philosophy about the logical consequence of not believing in the is-ought connection are really pretty irrelevant to the lives of real people. The anthropological/sociological/psychological/biological perspective is really where the truth about human beings lies.

    My quick 2 cents.

  65. 65
    Armand Jacks says:

    TROLL, left standing to demonstrate the incoherence of moral subjectivism and relativism, expecting others to be morally governed, accusing and projecting, even while continuing to act by the premise might and/or manipulation make right. KF

    KF:

    TROLL. It’s time for you to face the consequences…

    Ooh, I cringe. Please tell me. What are the consequences for someone who points out the fact that someone else is a compulsive liar?

  66. 66
    Mung says:

    Armand Jacks, where were you when Barack Obama was in office?

  67. 67
    Armand Jacks says:

    TROLL, left standing to demonstrate the onward agenda of imposing might and manipulation make right and the underlying refusal to be accountable over misconduct. KF

    Mung:

    Armand Jacks, where were you when Barack Obama was in office?

    North of the border, in the country repeatedly ranked in the top five places in the world to live. You?

  68. 68
    Mung says:

    Armand Jacks:

    North of the border, in the country repeatedly ranked in the top five places in the world to live.

    LoL. Of course.

    By people who have never actually lived in Canada.

    By people who have lived in Canada but nowhere else.

    I love polls/surveys.

    Have you checked the trolls per capita figures?

  69. 69
    Armand Jacks says:

    TROLL, left standing to document the onward refusal to reconsider ways. KF

    KF:

    JAD, sadly so, but just maybe this thread can help him hit rock bottom…

    I hit rock bottom when I expected you to have an honest discussion. Let’s examine your honesty:

    1) I asked you a question and you repeatedly claimed that you answered it. A claim that anyone here can see is a lie.

    2) I asked you a completely different question. Again you refused to answer and then repeatedly lied that you had answered. Another lie that all observers can confirm.

    3) You asserted that I claimed to have made a knock down argument that refuted ID. A claim that I never made.

    All of these facts can be confirmed by anyone here.

    Sadly, it is not my reputation on the line. And how has Gordo decided to respond? Delete my comments and threaten to ban me.

    KF, none of this is showing you in a good light. If you will take a suggestion from an atheist, which we know you are not capable of, admit your mistake.

  70. 70
    Armand Jacks says:

    TROLL, left standing to show the anything but focus on the pivotal issues for the thread or those revealed by earlier misconduct. KF

    Mung:

    Have you checked the trolls per capita figures?

    Don’t blame us for being more computer literate than the average American. After all, Joe is yours. But, Denyse is ours. So let’s call it even.

  71. 71
    Mung says:

    Armand Jacks:

    I hit rock bottom when I expected you to have an honest discussion.

    I didn’t hit rock bottom. Assume it had to do with my expectations. Or lack thereof.

  72. 72
    vividbleau says:

    JDK
    “I think the common answer to your question given by many here is that ultimately you would expect a world where might makes right, and where anyone who truly followed the logical implications would be a nihilist for which anything is permitted.”

    I think your wrong. As WJM pointed out in 48 and pay particular attention to “However”

    “If moral subjectivism is true, then at a fundamental level I have no logical reason to care about morality per se at all, but rather only care about how my actions are perceived by society and how such actions might best benefit me. If I feel a pain or conscience or empathy against doing a thing I reason will ultimately benefit me, I have every rational reason to justify the behavior and calm and benumb my disquiet and carry out the action best suited for my benefit. Also, I have no logical reason to worry about any actions that society or others will not ever be aware of, leaving me free to do anything at all as long as I’m relatively sure it won’t be observed.”

    However, that’s not how good, sane humans actually act in the real world. We do what is right regardless of if anyone is watching and do it even if think it will ultimately not benefit us. We will do what we know is right even if society disagrees and it will cause us social problems. We will even violate the law if for our moral duties if they are clear enough. Some of us will actually sacrifice our own lives for the cause of what is right, even in the teeth of public disgrace and humiliation. Good, sane humans always act – and must act – as if morality is objective in nature, as if by promoting the good they are serving something greater than themselves, their society, or even the majority of humanity if the majority of humanity is doing what is wrong.”

    It seems to me that AJ confirms WJM’s observation and my position as well. Dishonesty is wrong , period, end of story regardless of our subjective opinion otherwise why the outrage? Hypocrisy is wrong regardless of our subjective opinion otherwise what’s the problem? It is hardly a compelling appeal if its just based ” Oh dear me you are violating my personal sense of acceptable behavior”

    My reaction to the whining based on that appeal is “Yawn , who cares” But I am more interested in how AJ acts and he acts as if dishonesty and hypocrisy is objectively wrong.

    Vivid

  73. 73
    Armand Jacks says:

    TROLL: The rhetorical imposition and assumption that we are bound by the moral government that he refuses to acknowledge, continues. KF

    Mung:

    I didn’t hit rock bottom. Assume it had to do with my expectations. Or lack thereof.

    That’s where you and I obviously differ. I expect someone who claims to own the discussion thread to be honest and display some level of integrity.

  74. 74
    Armand Jacks says:

    TROLL: Continues to impose his amorality on the expectation of our adhereing to moral governance principles, showing the principle of the reprobate mind at work. KF

    JDK:

    I’ve been tempted to respond to your question to kf, but was able to resist, but now that he has brought your participation to a close, I have a few things to say.

    To paraphrase Mark Twain , ‘the rumours of my demise are greatly exaggerated’.

    Thank you for answering my question. I can’t think for the life of me why people like KF and WJM refuse to do so. Why one of them would repeatedly lie about not answering, something so easily disproven, is inexplainable.

    I realize that the non materialists (theists) believe that if there is no IS (objective truths/morality) then societal morality would be akin to a preference for vanilla ice cream. This is just absurd. They don’t take into account the impact of societal cohesion, cooperation, indoctrination, etc. These create a subjective moral assemblage within each of us that is every bit as strong and powerful as the objective morality that they rail on about.

    When there is general agreement on these moral values (eg., not killing, not stealing, NOT LYING) the society is brought closer together. Where there is less agreement (eg., abortion, same sex marriage, Donald Trump), there is dissent. If the disagreements are serious and numerous enough, society can fall apart. History is rife with examples of this.

  75. 75
    john_a_designer says:

    William J. Murray writes,

    Existentially, subjective morality = no morality, just as compatibilist free will = no free will. Existentially, subjective morality = “Do as I will is the whole of the law.” That may not be what anyone’s personal, subjective morality claims, but that is the root authorization of any subjective morality. You get to adopt a particular subjective moral rule or discard a particular subjective moral rule because do as I will is the whole of the law. You get to pick and choose because you can because it’s all subjective.

    Why even bother with the pretense that you are discussing morality, when all you are really discussing is how you prefer yourself and others to behave?

    In an article entitled, “Morality Requires God … or Does It?” Theodore Schick, tells this humorous joke to illustrate what he thinks are the weakness of “divine command theory.”

    ‘To better understand the import of the Divine Command Theory, consider the following tale. It seems that, when Moses came down from the mountain with the tablets containing the Ten Commandments, his followers asked him what they revealed about how they should live their lives. Moses told them, “I have some good news and some bad news.”

    “Give us the good news first,” they said.

    “Well, the good news,” Moses responded, “is that he kept the number of commandments down to ten.”

    “Okay, what’s the bad news?” they inquired.

    “The bad news,” Moses replied, “is that he kept the one about adultery in there.” The point is that, according to Divine Command Theory, nothing is right or wrong unless God makes it so. Whatever God says goes. So if God had decreed that adultery was permissible, then adultery would be permissible.’

    https://www.rationalresponders.com/forum/the_rational_response_squad_radio_show/freethinking_anonymous/670

    Of course, Schick is describing a caricature view that would be rejected by most Divine Command Theory proponents, who argue that God’s commands are based on God’s good character– God is good or as the Platonists would say “the Good.” In other words, we should see goodness as God’s essential nature along with His omniscience and omnipotence.

    Nevertheless if we go with what Schick is describing we end up with a kind of moral subjectivism on the divine level. He goes on to reject Divine Command Theory (at least the only version he knows) because it would, in his view, make the basis for human morals and ethics arbitrary. But if subjectivism on the divine level, involving just one moral agent (God), makes morals and ethics arbitrary, what happens when we multiply it by 300 million moral agents for a country like the US, or 6-7 billion moral agents for the world?

    From the standpoint of moral subjectivism, where by definition morals and ethics must be arbitrary, what basis do we have for universal human rights? Would a country like the US even be possible without a concept of universal human rights? Even though our concept of human rights at the founding of our country was very imperfect (slavery, mistreatment of native people, unequal rights for women) there is absolutely no basis for such universal rights from a moral subjectivist point of view.

    While not infallible the morality of western civilization is based on Judeo-Christian thought. There is no historical evidence that a society based on moral relativism can endure for very long. To suggest that moral subjectivist view would be an improvement over a moral objectivist view is completely irrational. Any kind of moral progress requires moral standards. Moral subjectivism which is an utterly arbitrary approach is the rejection of all standards.

    Schick, who rejects religion as a basis of morality agrees that society cannot be based on moral subjectivism.

    Fundamentalists correctly perceive that universal moral standards are required for the proper functioning of society. But they erroneously believe that God is the only possible source of such standards. Philosophers as diverse as Plato, Immanuel Kant, John Stuart Mill, George Edward Moore, and John Rawls have demonstrated that it is possible to have a universal morality without God. Contrary to what the fundamentalists would have us believe, then, what our society really needs is not more religion but a richer notion of the nature of morality.

    Nevertheless, a transcendent law-giver is the only sufficient basis for morality. But that is another discussion for another time.

  76. 76
    kairosfocus says:

    JAD, indeed we face the issue of the evident law of our nature as evidently responsibly and rationally free creatures, just to be able to have a reasoned discussion. It is the refusal to recognise such and the attempt to impose a yardstick of error and evil in its place that so clearly marks the failures of evolutionary materialistic scientism and fellow travellers. KF

    PS: Notice, above, that none of the objectors have seriously engages the issues from the OP on, but come waltzing in imagining tha they have a right to impose a tangential agenda, igfnore the issues and project to us the worst of motives etc? Do they not see that in a serious discussion, there needs to be a measure of disciplined focus and mutuality that will at least show common decency and courtesy? Why do they then take umbrage at the thought that after a certain degree of warning, someone is going to step in ans say, stop, maybe give a chance, then on seeing refusal to amend ways, step back in to address disruptive and counter-productive behaviour? (Has not AJ seen that there is a reason why his behaviour has crossed a threshold that that of others has not? Even, though the others have in some cases resorted to enabling and in one case piling on by deceit? [As in pretending that when one tacks on a comment on a faded thread that will not even be spotted in the flow of current comments, that is a mark of willful ignoring of a contribution by refusal to answer.])

  77. 77
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK,

    It seems to me that your pivotal error above is to fail to recognise the requisites of rationality, i.e radical freedom governed by moral considerations of responsibility appropriate to that order of being. This is in my view further compounded by the failure to recognise that as a matter of fact error exists [it is also a self-evident, necessary, absolutely knowable truth] and as a further matter of fact, error can be imposed on a community or an individual as a twisted yardstick of truth and right, leading to a case where the real truth and right that fit the world will never agree with the yardstick. The resulting topsy-turvy confusion, growing evil, folly and chaos heads for the cliff of social collapse. The past century or so is replete with cases, including Venezuela’s current collapse.

    Above, I pointed out that just to get to a rational, coherent, organised world that is predictable and lawful, fine tuned for C-chemistry, aqueous medium cell based life, already points to great power guided by responsible rational action. That is a point that Plato himself long since highlighted in The Laws Bk X, in responding to the follies of Alcibiades et al and the impact of evolutionary materialism in his own day.

    Which, you would be well advised to read and ponder, since presumably you will refuse to read Rom 1 – 2 or take it seriously. Cicero’s responsive discussion in the introductory part of De Legibus, would also be quite helpful in clarifying what a world looks like when we have significantly free and responsible, rational creatures governed by the evident law of our nature in it.

    In that sense, I am hardly saying anything new, I am just highlighting how the evolutionary materialist and fellow traveller schemes parasite off the fact that our civilisation was not built on their foundation of ideas, and as they succeed in imposing error and evil as yardsticks of truth and right, locking out the real truth and right that will not agree, they will have to impose by force and intimidation backing up fraudulent rhetoric, and they will then face a march of ruinous folly. There are endless cases in point, especially over the past 100 years so no reasonably educated person has any excuse of ignorance on this.

    This is the sad pass our civilisation has come to.

    KF

  78. 78
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: I now proceed to a point by point live action response on points raised by JDK, something I now only rarely do as it has become quite clear that those needing that will as a rule only respond to isolated points and go off on tangents rather than to the full balance of the case. I write for record:

    >>>>>>>>>>>>

    >>1. You asked, “If we assume that there is no world-root IS to ground OUGHT, what type of world would you expect us to live in?

    I think the common answer to your question given by many here is that ultimately you would expect a world where might makes right, and where anyone who truly followed the logical implications would be a nihilist for which anything is permitted.>>

    1–> And/or a world in which rationality has collapsed into blindly mechanical and/or stochastic computaiton on substrates governed by GIGO, as was repeatedly discussed and as is highlighted in the OP to the point of being illustrated.

    2 –> The discussion already is heading off the rails, as it fails to recognise that what is at stake is first that genuine rationality requires responsible freedom. Computational substrates of whatever architecture are NOT rational entities, but instead are blind, programmed cause effect systems that hopefully have been properly tested to be sufficiently reliable for good use.

    >>Clearly, the world is not like that.>>

    3 –> Precisely because, people generally recognise themselves to be morally governed and though we struggle with being finite, fallible, morally weak and too often ill-willed, we do not let loose with full-free irresponsible conduct.

    >> Of course, there are places and times where brute power can force itself upon the world, and there are at times where some people psychopathologically appear to have no moral sense at all.>>

    4 –> Yes, and you need to address what happens when the yardstick of truth and right is replaced by one of error and evil. Note above.

    >>But for the bulk of humankind, across history and across cultures, human beings strongly feel, and willingly act in accordance with, moral and other cultural norms.>>

    5 –> You recognise that we act as morally governed but set up radical relativism and failure to address the implications of moral governance of our mindedness being a grand delusion, a false perception of reality that pervades our whole project of being minded.

    6 –> Notice, that grand delusion is actually pivotal to what I have long argued and to what appears in the OP. if it is ignored, you are setting up a strawman target.

    >> On the other hand, as has been one of your main points, these moral and other cultural norms vary tremendously.>>

    7 –> Here comes the predictable cultural relativism, failing to address the problem of error being a fact that can be imposed as a yardstick.

    8 –> Bf social consensus or at least that of the dominant elites atop the seven mountains becomes the definition of truth and right, the immediate issue is that the reformer is instantly a lawless, evil person. A Wilberforce is drastically and instantly undercut. Slavery and its trade are supported by the majority, you are out of order, sit down or be escorted out by the Sergeant at Arms, Mr Wilberforce.

    >> Furthermore, even in our own culture, things which we now consider immoral (slavery, multiple wives, child brides, working on Sunday) were not considered immoral in the past>>

    9 –> As predicted, and utterly blind to the issue of imposed error.

    >>My take on this is that human beings have some common biological foundations: the ability to talk and think, the ability and need to make moral judgments, the need to have a social group to have positive feelings for and with whom to be inter-dependent, etc.>>

    10 –> In short the delusion of morality and that of rationality are to be replaced by the obvious computational substrate and the blind chance and mechanical necessity that have shaped and programmed it. here is JBS Haldane [a co-founder of the modern synthesis, yet again, warning and as has been systematically, willfully ignored:

    “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. (NB: DI Fellow, Nancy Pearcey brings this right up to date (HT: ENV) in a current book, Finding Truth.)]

    >>However, being dependent upon learning and culture and relatively free of instincts, and finding ourselves in radically different environments (physical, social, technological, etc.), we have had to create in our culture social, moral, and intellectual solutions that satisfy our basic underlying needs and abilities as well as the particular needs of the world we live in.>>

    11 –> The poof-magic of somehow emergent mindedness and morality, failing utterly to address the incoherence of such a scheme.

    12 –> We already pointed to the problem of the computational substrate, let us now point out from Plato, the socio-cultural import as further informed by 2350+ years of onward history (especially the past 100 years and the ongoing holocaust under false colours of rights and law) on where this predictably ends:

    Ath [in The Laws, Bk X 2,350+ ya]. . . .[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that fire and water, and earth and air [i.e the classical “material” elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art . . . [such that] all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only [ –> that is, evolutionary materialism is ancient and would trace all things to blind chance and mechanical necessity] . . . .

    [Thus, they hold] that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.-

    [ –> Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT, leading to an effectively arbitrary foundation only for morality, ethics and law: accident of personal preference, the ebbs and flows of power politics, accidents of history and and the shifting sands of manipulated community opinion driven by “winds and waves of doctrine and the cunning craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming . . . ” cf a video on Plato’s parable of the cave; from the perspective of pondering who set up the manipulative shadow-shows, why.]

    These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might,

    [ –> Evolutionary materialism — having no IS that can properly ground OUGHT — leads to the promotion of amorality on which the only basis for “OUGHT” is seen to be might (and manipulation: might in “spin”) . . . ]

    and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [ –> Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality “naturally” leads to continual contentions and power struggles influenced by that amorality at the hands of ruthless power hungry nihilistic agendas], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is,to live in real dominion over others [ –> such amoral and/or nihilistic factions, if they gain power, “naturally” tend towards ruthless abuse and arbitrariness . . . they have not learned the habits nor accepted the principles of mutual respect, justice, fairness and keeping the civil peace of justice, so they will want to deceive, manipulate and crush — as the consistent history of radical revolutions over the past 250 years so plainly shows again and again], and not in legal subjection to them [–> nihilistic will to power not the spirit of justice and lawfulness].

    13 –> All of this has long been pointed out, Pointedly, it is not engaged responsibly. What should we conclude about those who would lead us yet again down this predictably ruinous garden path?

    >>Also, because of our dependence on learning, once a culture gets established it tends to perpetuate itself (especially when outsides forces, such as contact with other cultures, technological advance, environmental changes) don’t change the dynamics.>>

    14 –> So, what happens when error and evil are imposed as yardsticks? What happens to the reformer, to what principles of correction can he appeal? What does justice mean? [Other than the DUE balance of rights, freedoms and responsibilities.]

    15 –> Notice also how the issue of grand delusion is ignored and the emergence of rationality per magic computational substrate is assumed.

    16 –> And all along, as one who has been in the classroom, the premise of growing responsible rational conduct is pivotal to successful education. What happens if students have been indoctrinated that our sense of right and wrong, truth and false is an arbitrary imposition of an oppressive patriarchate, on the strength of the new magisterium dressed up in lab coats?

    >> Thus people tend to grow up thinking that their perspective is “right”, and they teach their children that, and on it goes.>>

    17 –> In short, the grand delusion of moral government is a matter of socio-cultural relativism.

    18 –> the issue of grand delusion is ducked, again.

    >>Education about the variety of human cultures can help someone being able to step out of their cultural upbringing, but only to a degree.>>

    19 –> Oh yes, the William G Perry model of educational progress is fine [haven’t you thought through the sources of what you imagine is the gospel truth not yet another even subtler social imposition?], until it ends in cultural marxist power games, agit prop and media shadow shows that lead to ruin.

    >>This appears to be the big issue that the people here fail to address.>>

    20 –> Blatantly false. So, too, you haven’t even done the courtesy of reading what was cited from Plato as annotated, endless times over the course of years.

    22 –> Strawman duly set up and knocked over. Notice, the actual argument that addresses these and linked concerns has not been addressed cogently. Just the projection that we who differ from the yardstick must be ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked.

    23 –> And yes, the assumption is there.

    >> All the philosophy about the logical consequence of not believing in the is-ought connection are really pretty irrelevant to the lives of real people.>>

    24 –> Supercilious dismissiveness on the significance of phil as addressing the critical hard questions underlying what we commonly think and do.

    >> The anthropological/sociological/psychological/biological perspective is really where the truth about human beings lies.>>

    25 –> And, said Pilate, what is truth, and stayed not for the answer.

    26 –> In short, again, the substantial issues are dismissed without serious consideration.

    27 –> And at the end there, lo and behold, there is slipped in the presumption that WE have cornered the market on truth. [O/Night, I forgot to add, there is also an implicit appeal to duty to respond to big-T Truth — in short, there we have moral government i/l/o the received worldview narrative presented as truth on the grand scale.] Precisely the reaction to be expected of those caught up in the substitution of a crooked yardstick.

    28 –> And where is the discussion of what predictably, repeatedly has happened and is ongoing when this sort of imposition is made? Nowhere, poof, vanished, perish the thought.

    29 –> Sorry, there are 100+ million ghosts who need to have a world with you about what happens when amoral might and manipulation makes right and truth etc factions seize power. So also the souls of 800+ million unborn children slaughtered under false colours of rights and law, medicine etc.

    30 –> Weep for a civilisation that has lost its way and is hell-bent on a march of suicidally ruinous folly that parasites off the inheritance of the Christian world they despise, not knowing that sometime, the moral capital built up over centuries is going to be all eaten up.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>

    In short, fail, as predicted.

    Sad, but inadvertently this brings out the force of the concerns we have had.

    KF

  79. 79
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: It should be evident why in 58 above, I argued that the sort of world imagined by AJ in his questioning is an incoherent impossible world, not a credibly possible world. KF

  80. 80

    One wonders why a moral subjectivist would expect anyone else to behave the way they prefer and why they would be outraged when those people don’t behave the way they prefer. It’s like AJ expects others to abide some objectively binding rules of behavior.

    Oh, the irony. Moral outrage from a moral subjectivist. It’s like being outraged and throwing a tantrum in a restaurant because the people at the table next to you didn’t order your favorite dish even after you informed them it was your favorite dish. How self-centered do you have to be to expect others to behave as you personally wish, and then complain when they do not?

    Every post AJ makes reveals his moral objectivist behavior even while he argues that it doesn’t exist.

  81. 81
    Armand Jacks says:

    KF:

    Why do they then take umbrage at the thought that after a certain degree of warning, someone is going to step in ans say, stop, maybe give a chance, then on seeing refusal to amend ways, step back in to address disruptive and counter-productive behaviour?

    I am only taking umbrage at someone repeatedly making false accusations about me. A perfectly justified response.

    PS: It should be evident why in 58 above, I argued that the sort of world imagined by AJ in his questioning is an incoherent impossible world, not a credibly possible world. KF

    If you think that is an answer to my question, you have a serious reading comprehension problem. I did not ask you whether a world with with no world-root IS was possible. I asked you to imagine what such a world would look like. A very simple question. You could answer it by saying that it is a world where anarchy reigned, or you could have answered that it would be a world where humans are indistinguishable from animals. And then the discussion could continue. But rather than do this, you repeatedly claimed to have answered the question and then accuseed me of launching false accusations your way. That is not the behaviour of someone who claims to encourage honest debate.

    But, I will accept the possibility that you were simply incapable of understanding my highly complex request and let sleeping dogs lie.

  82. 82
    Armand Jacks says:

    WJM:

    One wonders why a moral subjectivist would expect anyone else to behave the way they prefer and why they would be outraged when those people don’t behave the way they prefer. It’s like AJ expects others to abide some objectively binding rules of behavior.

    We have been over this ground before. Many, many times. Just because morality is subjective doesn’t mean that I can’t expect others to behave in a manner that a subjectively derived society expects them to. But that doesn’t mean that they will.

    The truth is, both you and KF respond in exactly the way I have come to expect you to. I expect you to raise strawmen like this so that you can derive misguided pleasure in knocking them down. I expect KF to take offence at every criticism of his arguments and try to obfuscate with long incomprehensible rants, liberally salted with Plato, Lewontin, the IS/OUGHT gap, and accusations of strawmanning, oil of red herring and enabling those who are leading us over the cliff. And I expect that you have a fairly good expectation of how myself and others will respond. We are all creatures of habit.

  83. 83
    jdk says:

    AJ, your question is

    If we assume that there is no world-root IS to ground OUGHT, what type of world would you expect us to live in?

    kf’s answer, as you point out, is that

    the sort of world imagined by AJ in his questioning is an incoherent impossible world, not a credibly possible world.

    But I can easily imagine a coherent and possible world where a supreme being created our universe, with all the qualities necessary to produce the physics, chemistry, and biology that we see (that is, is the ground of IS), but who is supremely indifferent to the details of how the world goes, including the actions of the life forms within it (that is, is supremely indifferent to OUGHT).

    I see no incoherent impossibility, no self-refutation, in believing, or at least being able to imagine, that this is the type of supreme IS-ness that underlies the world.

  84. 84
    Armand Jacks says:

    Jdk:

    But I can easily imagine a coherent and possible world where a supreme being created our universe,…

    That is because you have an imagination and a degree of honesty that some others don’t. 🙂

  85. 85
    kairosfocus says:

    Notice, how the poi9nt by point response is sudedenly just part of the background noise?

    What does that tell us.

    KF

  86. 86
    john_a_designer says:

    My position can be stated very succinctly. For example earlier @ 22 I wrote:

    Our regular interlocutors are motivated by either ignorance, delusion or dishonesty. There are no other choices. Whichever it is, there is no evidence that our interlocutors are here to engage in honest debate or dialogue.

    To enter into an honest debate one must be able to give honest arguments. An honest argument begins with premises which are, in some sense, either self-evidently true (as in mathematics,) probably true or at the very least plausibly true. In other words, your argument is a waste of everyone’s time unless there really is something or some things which are really true. That begins with the idea of truth itself. Notice the absurdity of the argument the Pomona students are making (see #10 above.) They are arguing that there is no “truth — ‘the Truth’ — “. But that is self-refuting, because their claim, there is no truth, is a truth claim– a universal truth claim. You can’t even begin to talk rationally about something like universal human rights (as they are trying to do) until you recognize there are moral truths that are universal. Indeed, the idea of truth itself is universal– it must be.

    Please notice, the implications this has for atheism. If atheistic materialism/naturalism is “true”* [*something a subjectivist can’t rationally argue] then is does not provide any grounding for human rights. So our atheist interlocutors do not, indeed cannot, support human rights. And it does not matter whether they believe that or not, they cannot rationally argue otherwise.

    (emphasis added.)

    Truth and honesty, which requires the idea of objective truth, cannot be rationally defended or demanded by moral subjectivists. Incredibly they don’t seem to comprehend this.

    For example on an earlier thread Armand Jacks @ 49 responded to Origenes :

    “O, thank you for engaging in an honest discussion. I do not get that from WJM or KF.”

    To which I commented:

    Based on materialism how can someone like Armand even talk about honesty? Honesty based on what standard? Whose standard? Some of our other atheist interlocutors insist that moral values and obligations are totally subjective. But how do they know this? How can they prove this? But if they are subjective, whose moral standard is everyone else obligated to follow?

    Ironically, we can’t even have an honest discussion about honesty with these people.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-629358

    How did Armand Jacks respond? If you are interested see his comment @ #65 of that thread.

    Again, please notice, you can’t have honesty without some kind of interpersonal objective standard that everyone recognizes. How can a subjectivist even talk meaningfully about honesty? That itself is an honest question that deserves to be addressed.

    Also I on that same thread I wrote:

    I see most of our regular interlocutors as being motivated by smugness, an arrogant self-centered belief that what they believe is true. Why? Because they believe it and whatever smug people believe must be true.

    After eleven years of participating in on-line discussions I can spot these people from their very first posts. They always start from a contrarian even hostile stance and a condescending tone, from which never back off. And they never ever try to establish any kind of common ground. They appear to believe that high-minded but otherwise vacuous rhetoric is equivalent to good reasoning. Apart from a few occasional glib comments I no longer engage with people motivated by smugness. You cannot reason with people who do not understand what reasoning is.

    Unfortunately, too many people on my side (and you don’t need to be an ID’ist to be on my side) enable these peoples smugness by trying to reason with them. Like I said above, they aren’t interested in truth, reason or establishing any kind of common ground. For them winning is being able to shut down the discussion and debate. So when you try to reason with them they don’t see it as an offer to play fair but an opportunity to obstruct and obfuscate. Again if they are able undermine the discussion in any way they see that as winning.

    Notice that I haven’t named any names or given any specific examples. Why? Because that is one of the things that plays into their hands. Smug people crave being noticed, even if it’s negative. If nothing else they can feign being offended and that gives an opportunity to counter attack with sarcasm, mockery and ridicule… which causes frustration on the ID side… which cause retaliation, which then gets the discussion going in the direction they want it to go– downhill.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-629282

    As I have said before, for me truth trumps faith. I am open to having mind changed with truth and reason. Moral and epistemic subjectivism, however, does not lead one to truth and reason. It leads nowhere.

  87. 87
    Armand Jacks says:

    KF:

    2 –> The discussion already is heading off the rails, as it fails to recognise that what is at stake is first that genuine rationality requires responsible freedom.

    That is an untested assertion.

    3 –> Precisely because, people generally recognise themselves to be morally governed…

    Nobody is arguing this. What is being debated is the source of these moral values.

    and though we struggle with being finite, fallible, morally weak and too often ill-willed, we do not let loose with full-free irresponsible conduct.

    A young child does this all the time. Our behaviour becomes more conducive with that required to live in a gregarious society because we are indoctrinated from a very young age by parents, teachers, church leaders and peers to adobt these behaviours. Conditioned responses, if you would like. These are supplemented by our experiences and our ability to predict the outcome of our actions.

    4 –> Yes, and you need to address what happens when the yardstick of truth and right is replaced by one of error and evil. Note above.

    No we don’t right and wrong, evil and good are subjective terms.

    6 –> Notice, that grand delusion is actually pivotal to what I have long argued and to what appears in the OP. if it is ignored, you are setting up a strawman target.

    If it is pivotal to what you argue then you have already lost. Your “grand delusion” is itself a big flaming strawman. Our subjective morality and how we perceive things are judged on their stability within society and our ability to survive and thrive. Not on any self evident truths or objective moral values. Sometimes our perceptions don’t actually match up with “reality”, but if they do not negatively impact us as individuals or the society we live in, this misperception is not important to our lives. For example, whether the solar system is geocentric or heliocentric has no impact on the vast majority of people.

    7 –> Here comes the predictable cultural relativism, failing to address the problem of error being a fact that can be imposed as a yardstick.

    A non answer.

    8 –> Bf social consensus or at least that of the dominant elites atop the seven mountains becomes the definition of truth and right,…

    Nonsense. They have nothing to do with truth and right, they only have to do with the rules that we agree to live under, or the rules that are imposed on us. Nothing more, nothing less.

    …the immediate issue is that the reformer is instantly a lawless, evil person.

    Only if you subjectively label them as that. Much like you label abortion doctors as murderers. And abortion as a holocaust.

    A Wilberforce is drastically and instantly undercut.

    Nonsense. He will meet with resistance, but that is human nature. Same sex marriage prooonents met with stiff opposition and demonization, but they still prevailed because our subjective morality sees no harm in it.

    9 –> As predicted, and utterly blind to the issue of imposed error.

    Which simply means that our current idea of morality towards multiple wives, child brides, working on Sunday, etc. May be equally in error. Since that must be the case, what is the purpose and where is the value of an objective morality when we are totally dependent on our subjective interpretation of it?

    Well, that’s enough for now.

  88. 88
    jdk says:

    kf writes, “Notice, how the poi9nt by point response is sudedenly just part of the background noise? What does that tell us.”

    My comments were specifically addressed to AJ. I assumed kf’s response, if he bothered to make one, would just be more of the same. It is just background noise.

    More specifically, I didn’t read it because

    a) his idiosyncratic writing style is almost unreadable. He should use blockquote tags and standard punctuation sometime.

    b) it is nothing more than the umpteenth reiteration of things he has said before in this and other threads,

    c) it is full of idiosyncratic, hyperbolic, and repetitive rhetorical phrases, as well as dire apocalyptic accusations about people who don’t see things his way.

    d) and so on.

    But, I will address this comment to kf:

    But I can easily imagine a coherent and possible world where a supreme being created our universe, with all the qualities necessary to produce the physics, chemistry, and biology that we see (that is, is the ground of IS), but who is supremely indifferent to the details of how the world goes, including the actions of the life forms within it (that is, is supremely indifferent to OUGHT).

    I see no incoherent impossibility, no self-refutation, in believing, or at least being able to imagine, that this is the type of supreme IS-ness that underlies the world.

    Can you imagine such a supreme being? More importantly, can you explain why such a being, and thus such a world, would be incoherently impossible. Even more importantly, could you do so in simple sentences, perhaps avoiding some of the reasons I listed above as to why your posts have a way too small signal to noise ratio?

  89. 89
    daveS says:

    jdk,

    But I can easily imagine a coherent and possible world where a supreme being created our universe, with all the qualities necessary to produce the physics, chemistry, and biology that we see (that is, is the ground of IS), but who is supremely indifferent to the details of how the world goes, including the actions of the life forms within it (that is, is supremely indifferent to OUGHT).

    I see no incoherent impossibility, no self-refutation, in believing, or at least being able to imagine, that this is the type of supreme IS-ness that underlies the world.

    Very well put.

  90. 90
    HeKS says:

    @ Armand Jacks #81

    KF — PS: It should be evident why in 58 above, I argued that the sort of world imagined by AJ in his questioning is an incoherent impossible world, not a credibly possible world.

    AJ — If you think that is an answer to my question, you have a serious reading comprehension problem. I did not ask you whether a world with with no world-root IS was possible. I asked you to imagine what such a world would look like. A very simple question. You could answer it by saying that it is a world where anarchy reigned, or you could have answered that it would be a world where humans are indistinguishable from animals. And then the discussion could continue. But rather than do this, you repeatedly claimed to have answered the question and then accuseed me of launching false accusations your way.

    Huh?

    KF answers that a world of the sort you’re proposing is an incoherent impossible world. Your response is to criticize him and say that you didn’t ask him if it was possible but asked him to describe what it would look like. And you think KF is the one with the problem here?

    If one believes that a certain type of world is an incoherent impossibility, then it is absurd to ask that person to meaningfully describe what such a world would look like. That obvious answer is that it wouldn’t look like anything. You cannot describe what an incoherent impossibility would look like in any meaningful sense because there is nothing rationally coherent to describe. It would be like asking someone to describe what a 4-sided triangle or a married bachelor would look like. You can string the words together, but they represent incoherent impossibilities and so anything you might describe would not be a meaningful representation of those word groupings.

    Now, you could try to challenge KF on whether or not he’s correct about such a world being an incoherent impossibility, but to claim that he didn’t provide a valid answer to you is false.

  91. 91
    jdk says:

    heKS writes,

    Now, you could try to challenge KF on whether or not he’s correct about such a world being an incoherent impossibility, but to claim that he didn’t provide a valid answer to you is false.

    This is a good distinction. Also, the first part of the sentence above is the point I made to kf in #88.

  92. 92
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: It seems that there are those who imagine that rational, insightful inference — as opposed to cause-effect chains — can be obtained by mechanical necessity and/or stochastic, random chance processes. That shows the problem of “I can imagine” or the like. It also points to the underlying misconceptions that lead to the further imagination that one can have a world with rational beings and no basis for morality, while avoiding amorality and nihilistic chaos. And, in the teeth of a long and a recent chilling history of the consequences of attempts to impose such ideologies, they imagine further that the burden to disprove lies with the other. In short, they are manifesting exactly the might and manipulation make right and truth pattern warned against on painful history as long ago as Plato in The Laws Bk X 2350 years past. which of course they studiously ignore. This is a case where to be forewarned is to be forearmed. KF

    PS: I again point out Reppert’s apt summary of the problem of substituting a computational substrate for rational inference. Of course, this has been repeatedly pointed out, just studiously ignored in the rush to dismiss and pretend there is no evidence there is no answer there is no proof they will ever accept. So, for record, again, Reppert’s apt summary:

    . . . let us suppose that brain state A, which is token identical to the thought that all men are mortal, and brain state B, which is token identical to the thought that Socrates is a man, together cause the belief that Socrates is mortal. It isn’t enough for rational inference that these events be those beliefs, it is also necessary that the causal transaction be in virtue of the content of those thoughts . . . [But] if naturalism is true, then the propositional content is irrelevant to the causal transaction that produces the conclusion, and [so] we do not have a case of rational inference. In rational inference, as Lewis puts it, one thought causes another thought not by being, but by being seen to be, the ground for it. But causal transactions in the brain occur in virtue of the brain’s being in a particular type of state that is relevant to physical causal transactions.

    I have provided a warrant, I have no obligation to provide a willingness to understand or acknowledge the force of that warrant. And at this point I do not believe that I am dealing with a responsible interlocutor.

  93. 93
    Origenes says:

    HeKS @90, KF

    Armand Jacks may very well be “keiths”.

    One cannot be sure ,but what Armand is doing here is very similar to what happened during a previous encounter I had with this guy named keiths. At that time he emphatically claimed that my reasoning was based on a totally groundless expectation. What was my “groundless” expectation? I expected a relationship between cause and effect.
    Could I persuade this keiths of the reasonableness of my expectation? No way. Absolutely no way. Not one inch.

  94. 94
    Armand Jacks says:

    Heks:

    KF answers that a world of the sort you’re proposing is an incoherent impossible world. Your response is to criticize him and say that you didn’t ask him if it was possible but asked him to describe what it would look like. And you think KF is the one with the problem here?

    If he can’t envision a world with no world-root IS to ground OUGHT then, yes, the problem is KF’s. He has a complete lack of imagination. He didn’t answer the question because he didn’t want to have an honest discussion.

    I can think of several possibilities. The most likely being a world just like the one we live in. Even if he disagrees with that he could have answered that a world without IS would be anarchy. Or that it would be a world without humans. And then we could discuss it. As you would.

    You cannot describe what an incoherent impossibility would look like in any meaningful sense because there is nothing rationally coherent to describe.

    It is not incoherent. Anyone can reason that out. Even if KF is correct that humans need a world-root IS to ground OUGHT, and that is personal flavour of god is needed for this, what does a world without humans need with an IS to ground OUGHT?
    O:
    Armand Jacks may very well be “keiths”.
    Good guess. But wrong.

  95. 95
    kairosfocus says:

    Origines, we are not dealing with those willing to engage seriously. They are ignorant of things like the significant problem of cultural relativism that if community consensus makes truth and right then automatically the reformer who challenges the standard is by definition in the wrong. Never mind, that is a direct logical implication. As for the incoherence of the proposed world they wish to see, they already have an explanation of why it is incoherent, I think they may have seen too much sci fi about computers turning conscious, and fail to recognise that insightful ground consequent inferences are not the same sort of thing as a cause-effect pattern in a computational substrate; I suspect they have never designed or built something that has had to do computation and do not understand how such substrates work, e.g. an op amp integrator, a ball-disk integrator, a flipflop, the circuits in an ALU, or nodes in a neural network. They simply do not know the difference between insightful, meaning based inference and blind cause-effect driven signal processing. Leibniz’s Mill is lost on them, too. In the end to the committed materialist or fellow traveller, conscious rationality has to emerge this way as that is all there is to reality. Minds are simply locked, regardless of the issue. So, they simply will not acknowledge or understand how different rational, responsible freedom is from GIGO driven operation of a computational substrate. Not even when satire is used or when Haldane points it out or when it comes straight from the statements of significant advocates of their system. As for the grim examples of history including the past 100 years, they refuse to attend to such. Notice, unresponsiveness to the force of self-evident truth and selectively hyperskeptical dismissals or studious ignoring of reasoned argument and evidence backed by strawman caricatures and personalities. And so forth. KF

    PS: The only thing is it seems there was more of a reaction than at first seemed to me. Reaction, yes; informed cogent response, no. But I do not expect such. At this stage we need to more or less identify the fallacies and threats to reasonable civil society posed by what we are seeing. This is hostile indoctrination and cult-like programming we deal with. On which, sadly, the most effective way to get change is a crash-burn that hits rock bottom and shocks the system into seeing that something is drastically wrong. Unfortunately a civilisation scale crash-burn would be likely to trigger a dark age, following on massively destructive war.

  96. 96
    HeKS says:

    Origines @93

    I know keiths well. I lost all respect for him during our lengthy discussions about his ‘bomb’ argument. I was guessing that Armand Jacks might be Acartia Bogart (I think that was the name).

  97. 97
    john_a_designer says:

    Origenes, Heks,

    Yeah I was thinking it might be keiths as well, though I never interacted with him here. He also commented at Telic Thoughts where I first participated on-line.

    But I have always wondered, why keiths? Was there more than one of him/ them? Multiple personalities?

    Anyway that reminds me of this movie scene:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_u5A0H6PkqE

  98. 98

    KF @ 95: “Origines, we are not dealing with those willing to engage seriously.”

    This, of course, has been known for a long time. Yet you and so many others on this site continue to engage the unenlightened a/mats with compassion and kindness.

    My hats off to you guys. I honestly could care less about them or their views.

    By the way, has anyone heard from Born Again 77? I really miss his comments.

  99. 99
    Armand Jacks says:

    KF:

    Origines, we are not dealing with those willing to engage seriously.

    KF, sometimes you really make me laugh. You repeatedly avoid and evade questions and it is us not willing to engage? In the immortal words of Alanis Morrisette, “Isn’t it ironic? Don’t you think? A little bit ironic? I really do think.”

  100. 100
    jdk says:

    I wrote,

    But I can easily imagine a coherent and possible world where a supreme being created our universe, with all the qualities necessary to produce the physics, chemistry, and biology that we see (that is, is the ground of IS), but who is supremely indifferent to the details of how the world goes, including the actions of the life forms within it (that is, is supremely indifferent to OUGHT).

    I see no incoherent impossibility, no self-refutation, in believing, or at least being able to imagine, that this is the type of supreme IS-ness that underlies the world.

    Can you imagine such a supreme being? More importantly, can you explain why such a being, and thus such a world, would be incoherently impossible.

    Is this not “serious engagement”?

  101. 101
    kairosfocus says:

    TWSYF, I am concerned about BA77, and would like to hear from any contacts. KF

  102. 102
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, kindly scroll up and re-read, including on errors as yardsticks. KF

  103. 103
    jdk says:

    You wrote, “What happens to the reformer, to what principles of correction can he appeal? What does justice mean?”

    Your question doesn’t answer my question. What is incoherently impossible about the root of reality having absolutely no concern about how human beings behave?

    The fact that that supposition doesn’t provide “the reformer” with some “principle of correction” to which he can appeal is not an argument against such a root of reality, and certainly not against the logical possibility of such a root of reality. If the root of reality is supremely indifferent, than human beings just have to cope with figuring out how to behave as best they can, as AJ and a I have described several times.

    There is no logical reason why the supreme root of reality cares about, or has any expectations for, our behavior. That is a legitimate possibility. One can choose to not believe that that is the case, but you can’t claim it is impossible just because it doesn’t provide you with something you think the root of reality must provide.

  104. 104
    rvb8 says:

    Although I also wish for the health of BA77, and hope he will rejoin the threads, his comments were overly long, vacuous, full of links to other creationist sites, and sometimes quite nasty; at least to me.

    Hmmm, I like what jdk says @103, it chimes with logic, reality, and mine own thinking. An impersonal world, full of the family, and friends I need to navigate it, and then eternal peace. Sounds a hell of a lot better than eternity in the company of Billy Graham, Dembski,and many of the posters here; no thanks! You can keep that paradise.

    That’s actually a good question; what is in Christian heaven? Muslims are quite explicit; sex!What is Jesus’s place like?

  105. 105
    HeKS says:

    @Armand Jacks #94

    If he can’t envision a world with no world-root IS to ground OUGHT then, yes, the problem is KF’s. He has a complete lack of imagination. He didn’t answer the question because he didn’t want to have an honest discussion.

    I can think of several possibilities. The most likely being a world just like the one we live in. Even if he disagrees with that he could have answered that a world without IS would be anarchy. Or that it would be a world without humans. And then we could discuss it. As you would.

    I guess the problem I’m having is that with the specific way you are framing/describing the issue, KF is right that it is an incoherent impossibility…

    You talk about the lack of a world-root IS to ground OUGHT and talk about the notion of a world without IS being anarchy. This is where the problem lies. Without a world-root IS, there is NO WORLD AT ALL. It is not for nothing that theists speak of God as a necessary being. A being like God is logically necessary to explain the existence of any physical reality. There is no possible world in which God does not exist*. No God, no possible worlds. Only nothing. The idea that a world without God as root would be anarchy is incoherent, because it would actually be nothing, and nothing is not anarchy, it is nothing.

    Now, I think that maybe what you mean to say is something like ‘imagine a world in which the world-root IS does not ground any OUGHTs and describe what that world would look like.’ This is a scenario that could be probed to see whether or not it is ultimately coherent and, if so, whether such a world would look anything like this world. That would be a scenario in which the world does not lack a world-root necessary being, but lacks any objective normative values and duties. These are two very different scenarios.

    ————–
    * KF and I had a long discussion with DaveS about God as Necessary Being. I could probably find it on here if you think that would be helpful.

  106. 106
    mike1962 says:

    Armand Jack: Just because morality is subjective doesn’t mean that I can’t expect others to behave in a manner that a subjectively derived society expects them to.

    “Expecting” and being outraged when people don’t comply with your expectations are two different issues. And subjectively derived societies have all sorts of contradictory expectations, even within a given society. It isn’t laughable that you have expectations. My dog has expectations. What is laughable is that you would have any feelings of justification for outrage for any violation of your expectations or views. And yet subjectivists often act as if there is really and truly some justification for their outrage above and beyond their personal subjective views.

  107. 107
    kairosfocus says:

    HeKS,

    A world without beings is of course an incoherent concept, it is indeed not anarchy, it is utter nothing. Not, a quasi-space with a seething quantum foam, a genuine non-being. In general, were there ever utter nothing, as non-being has no causal capacity, such would forever obtain and no world would be possible or actual.

    That objectors challenging us on imagination do not realise this already shows us that they have not thought this through in any seriously informed way. Never mind that indeed it has been seriously discussed here at UD quite a few times. Doubtless it was seen as so much irrelevant “word salads” or the like.

    Such does not give us much confidence in the rest of what they imagine, for cause.

    If a world now is, something always was, and we are looking at the cosmological form of the Agrippa Trilemma as was discussed here many times. A world where we see now N produced by temporally successive causal chain faces, was there infinite regress, a circle of cause, or a finitely remote origin:

    a: Regress:

    . . . . N-k, . . . N-2, N-1, N –>

    b: Circle of cause:

    {Circle, J –> K AND K –> J] . . . N-k, . . . N-2, N-1, N –>

    c: World-root:

    ROOT –> N-k, . . . N-2, N-1, N –>

    Of course the observational evidence — such as we have in a world where evidence forced cosmologists to accept a big bang ~ 14 BYA frame — points to the last, but that is not all. Circularity of cause in which J causes K and K J with no further onward cause is absurd. Likewise — and there have been several long exchanges on the involved logic of structure and quantity — an endless, beginningless quasi-temporal succession of stages to reach now implies traversing the transfinite in finite stage successive steps. This too will fail but it seems many cannot be brought to see the unachievable supertask involved.

    We face a need for a finitely remote beginning to the causally successive temporal order, and we face a need onward to have an adequate cause thereof, a necessary [and thus eternal!] being. To see that requires the patience to work through the logic of possible vs impossible and contingent vs necessary, world-framework being. That too, when it was discussed was doubtless thought to be irrelevant verbiage. Unfortunately those who think like that then wish to imagine unfettered by the underlying logical constraints and so will not accept that they are proposing incoherent frames.

    Further to all of this, we notice — as has been repeatedly pointed out but was doubtless dismissed by objectors — how the objectors expect us to be regulated by force of OUGHT. That is their behaviour implies an expectation that moral government is real, e.g. we have duties of care to truth and right. (The alternative is we are in part dealing with the utterly reprobate and demonically cynical; though trollishness is clearly present, I think that has more to do with being entangled in indoctrination than the sort of wickedness just outlined.)

    What the objectors refuse to do is to engage seriously the implications of such moral government being merely a subjective perception and/or a culturally induced perception. Namely, setting grand delusion loose on mindedness with the force of the proverbial bull in the china shop.

    The resulting absurdity, they refuse to acknowledge, even as they cling to their indoctrination, and particularly the coat-tails of the Magisterium’s holy lab coats. They do not realise that evolutionary materialistic scientism is in irretrievable self-referential incoherence and is usurping an authority it has no warrant for; with the so-called march for science yesterday an embarrassing case in point that plainly states that science is now held ideological captive and will only say what the captors instruct. Lewontin is proved shockingly right.

    Going on, the evo mat picture leads to grand delusion, and of course attempts to ground mindedness in GIGO-driven computational substrates allegedly created and programmed by cumulative blind chance and mechanical necessity are not even wrong. Hopelessly wrong-headed. Simply trying to account for the required FSCO/I shows the utter failure of the ever more elaborate epicycles.

    The alternative is obvious, take our conscious experience seriously as empirical fact no 1, the fact through which all other facts are accessed and understood. That leads to recognising that we are and must be responsibly rational, significantly free morally governed creatures who can actually reason with enough freedom to make insightful, rational inferences from grounds to their consequents and/or from accepted evidence to explanations they support, etc.

    This is what, first, demands that moral government, oughtness, be properly rooted.

    (We deal with people who are evidently not even aware of the reformer’s paradox under radical, community driven relativism: if the majority automatically defines truth and right etc, the would-be reformer is necessarily in the wrong and promoting falsehood. Ironically, they see themselves as on a campaign of social justice and reform, not realising that they are showing themselves to be minions and useful dupes in somebody’s cynical will to power nihilist game.)

    Post Hume et al, that can only be at world-root level, cf his guillotine argument as it is called. We need a world-root is that fits the bill of being a necessary being IS capable of inherently (as opposed to the Euthyphro dilemma) grounding OUGHT. The only serious candidate is as the OP notes: the inherently good creator God, a necessary and maximally great being, worthy of loyalty and of our reasonable, responsible, freely given service of doing the good in accord with our evident nature.

    This is of course the God of generic, philosophically grounded ethical theism, but the description will be instantly familiar to those standing in or familiar with the Judaeo-Christian scripturally grounded faith-tradition. All this means is, such a faith is not inevitably rubbish, a resort of the ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked.

    As this is phil, if you challenge this, simply provide a credible alternative world-root that does not fall apart in incoherence: ____________ (It is noteworthy how consistently this challenge is ducked or diverted from.)

    But the matter goes deeper.

    We live in a cosmos, not a chaos.

    This points to an ordering, rational root of reality. For such to be rational, it too must exhibit the freedom to insightfully and rationally infer and the power of genuine freedom: to be a self-moved actuating, initiating cause, not just another link in the blind chain of mechanical and/or stochastic factors.

    That is the root of reality needs to also be rational and responsible, morally governed from within. We are back at the concept, inherently good, from another angle.

    Of course, those indoctrinated in atheistical, evolutionary materialistic scientism and/or fellow traveller ideologies are likely to be practically foaming at the mouth. Such need to realise that, first, no emotional state is sufficient to warrant a conclusion. Second, that no authority — not even the lab coat clad magisterium — is better than underlying facts, logic and controlling assumptions. Third, it is therefore to the facts, logic and controlling assumptions that we must go. Where, in the context of worldviews analysis, comparative difficulties is the answer to the usual projection that we are starting from question-begging assumptions.

    In particular, they need to take seriously the bull in the china shop, grand delusion issue.

    Going beyond, let us refresh minds on what Lewontin had to say when he let a few cats out of the bag:

    . . . to put a correct view of the universe into people’s heads [==> as in, “we” have cornered the market on truth, warrant and knowledge] we must first get an incorrect view out [–> as in, if you disagree with “us” of the secularist elite you are wrong, irrational and so dangerous you must be stopped, even at the price of manipulative indoctrination of hoi polloi] . . . the problem is to get them [= hoi polloi] to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations,

    [ –> as in, to think in terms of ethical theism is to be delusional, justifying “our” elitist and establishment-controlling interventions of power to “fix” the widespread mental disease]

    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 [–> “we” are the dominant elites], 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 . . . and in fact it is evolutionary materialism that is readily shown to be self-refuting]

    that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality [–> = all of reality to the evolutionary materialist], 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 [= the evo-mat establishment] 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 . . . [–> irreconcilable hostility to ethical theism, already caricatured as believing delusionally in imaginary demons]. [Lewontin, Billions and billions of Demons, NYRB Jan 1997,cf. here. And, if you imagine this is “quote-mined” I invite you to read the fuller annotated citation here.]

    Food for sobering thought,

    KF

  108. 108

    mike1962 @106: well said. Superficial materialists like those here live in and act according to a philosophical worldview infrastructure entirely built by theists. Those that live in the USA live in a country where the laws and mores are founded upon and embedded deep in natural law theism. Taking all of that foundation for granted, they stand at the top of the tower they insist there is no need for the very foundation that holds them up.

    They think that people can get along fine if they adopt the idea that morality is subjective – easy to say when you’re living in a society built by those who believed in objective morality and inescapable consequences to immoral behavior, and a spiritual duty to do what is right regardless of the personal consequences.

    Yes, AJ sits comfortably saying that he can expect others to behave according to a shared social contract because he has the luxury of living in a society embedded in the idea of objective morality for at least hundreds of years. Does he think this “shared social contract” will just continue on as more and more people abandon the idea of objective morality?

    How many people does AJ and others think are willing to put their lives on the line to protect their rights and freedoms if those people believe rights and freedoms are just things people make up subjectively? How many people are willing to put their lives on the line to do what is right if what is right is just a matter of personal preference?

  109. 109
    jdk says:

    to HeKS. I believe there were a few times where AJ said IS when he mean OUGHT. I also found this confusing, and took him to mean OUGHT.

  110. 110
    jdk says:

    HeKES writes,

    Now, I think that maybe what you [AJ] mean to say is something like ‘imagine a world in which the world-root IS does not ground any OUGHTs and describe what that world would look like.’ This is a scenario that could be probed to see whether or not it is ultimately coherent and, if so, whether such a world would look anything like this world. That would be a scenario in which the world does not lack a world-root necessary being, but lacks any objective normative values and duties. These are two very different scenarios.

    Yes, this is the scenario that I am saying is not incoherently impossible: in your words, one in “which the world does not lack a world-root necessary being, but lacks any objective normative values and duties.”

    And more broadly, one in which the world-root being takes no specific interest at all the actions of the life forms which it has instigated throughout the universe: that is, a supremely indifferent supreme being who is fully present in the IS of the universe, but has no interest in how it OUGHT to go within the physical, chemical, and biological limits and structures it has created and maintains.

    I see no logical impossibility in this scenario.

    To be clear, I’m not arguing for or against this as actually being the case. I am saying simply that it is a logical possibility that someone speculating about the root-level of being can’t dismiss just on logical grounds.

  111. 111
    daveS says:

    KF,

    Likewise — and there have been several long exchanges on the involved logic of structure and quantity — an endless, beginningless quasi-temporal succession of stages to reach now implies traversing the transfinite in finite stage successive steps. This too will fail but it seems many cannot be brought to see the unachievable supertask involved.

    The issue was that you invoked a premise, the truth of which is far from clear. Therefore the soundness of your argument, purported to show that the above fails, is in question.

    It’s also far from obvious, to some of us at least, that “the sort of world imagined by AJ in his questioning is an incoherent impossible world, not a credibly possible world”.

  112. 112
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, I won’t revisit the matter here, too much on the table already. But it was quite clear that given temporal-causal succession of finite stages that to span the endless past to get here was and remains impossible. Recall, every past stage had to have once been the present and gave rise to a sucessor causally, thus stepwise succession. From the logic of stepwise increments such succession will never actually traverse a transfinite span, which requires endlessness. KF

  113. 113
    daveS says:

    Well, if anyone is interested (doubtful), I invite them to check the tape for details.

  114. 114
    jdk says:

    daveS writes, “It’s also far from obvious, to some of us at least, that “the sort of world imagined by AJ in his questioning is an incoherent impossible world, not a credibly possible world”.”

    Yes, this is the current issue, not the other one brought back up in 107.

  115. 115
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, you mere imagining and declaring do not convert incoherent impossibility into a possible world. You need to attend very carefully to what rational, insightful inference requires and how such is governed towards truth and right, then address also the issue that there IS a general perception and conviction of being under moral government. The implication of such being a grand delusion needs to be reckoned with. Also, the critical gap between a computational substrate as an essentially mechanical system and the freedom required for rational, insightful inference, as has been repeatedly highlighted. Likewise, the lessons of history when power circles of cultures went over to amoral and/or radically subjectivist and relativist ideologies should be reckoned with. And finally, the rational order of the cosmos and its fine tuning for C-chemistry aqueous medium life have to be reckoned with. The notion that there is a neighbouring world in which we have a cosmos like this and creatures who exhibit morally governed responsibility and rationality like we do but where such moral government [and therefore rationality!] are rooted in grand delusion, is a radical secularist ideological, utterly incoherent fantasy — one often sustained by making a comparison of an idealised secularist utopia with a pretty jaundiced and unbalanced litany of the real and imagined sins of Christendom. Somehow, it does not dawn on such that honest, clear, accurate, logical thinking and civil, responsible behaviour are difficult to get on a widespread basis in a community and critically turn on the self discipline of conscientious behaviour. For one, so soon as grand delusion is let loose as a bull in a china shop, rational mindedness collapses into chaos. And more. KF

  116. 116
    jdk says:

    I notice in 107 that kf does respond to the IS-OUGHT issue, but he is not understanding the scenario I am positing. He says, as is his wont, that “they do not realise that evolutionary materialistic scientism is in irretrievable self-referential incoherence.”

    But I am not talking about “evolutionary materialistic scientism”.

    I am saying that there could be – it is quite logically possible –

    a) a supreme being, the root-level of what is, that created and maintains the universe with the physical structure that it has,

    b) that as part of that, has instigated, or made possible, life as we know it, throughout the universe, with such things as genetics, increasing levels of consciousness, and ultimately the ability for some life-forms to think abstractly and thus investigate the world we live in, but

    c) who takes no notice nor no interest in the particular actions of the life-forms that develop. It doesn’t care what we do. There is IS, but there is no OUGHT.

    This is a logical possibility. It is also not “evolutionary materialistic scientism.”

  117. 117
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Let me add, that we must never let secularist fantasisers forget that in the past 100 years, their would-be utopias and superman political messiahs cost over 100 million victims of democides, that right now similar amoral fantasies have materially helped to cost 800+ million unborn their lives and rising at a million more per week. Right now, such utopianism has Venezuelans eating out of garbage cans and facing a rising tyranny, and has been turning the streets of Berkeley into chaos. Not to mention the idiocy playing out in North Korea, with nukes in play. We need to wake up before it is too late, the price tag on such utopianism is far too high in a nuclear age.

  118. 118
    jdk says:

    117 is a distraction from the question at hand: logical possibility is the issue on the table.

  119. 119
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, we all know just how you plan to arrive at a world of utopian meatbots. I have pointed out that meatbots will not be — for emphasis: CANnot be — rational or responsible, and that a civilisation pivoting on such will be impossible to arrive at, period. We have already tried the experiment of elites with deadened consciences pursuing secularist utopias too many times in the past 250 years, to uniformly chaotic and bloody results. and that is in cases where the majority of ordinary people firmly believed in conscience-guided responsibility. It only takes a comparative handful to wreck a country, as my homeland learned to our enduring pain, loss and cost. Without stable moral governance rooted in the source of a world, you do not get rational responsibility, period, never mind the fantasies out there in science fiction. What you get is power elites living by what they can get away with in a brutal, ruthless power struggle, a Rom 1 chaos, a ship of mutinous fools chaos. And beyond lies the issue of getting to an ordered cosmos that facilitates life. Yes, it is all bound up in this, and my long considered evaluation is that such secularist utopian fantasies are incoherent impossible worlds made plausible by playing pick and choose consequences narrative games. Let’s just say I once worked in a place I called Star Trek World — the reality. It was ugly. KF

  120. 120
    Armand Jacks says:

    Heks:

    Now, I think that maybe what you mean to say is something like ‘imagine a world in which the world-root IS does not ground any OUGHTs

    But the original question was about there not being a world-root IS to ground OUGHT. That does not preclude a world-root IS for other purposes. I have been over this many times with KF. He knows exactly what I was asking, but refused to answer because of fear of the inconsistency of any follow-on arguments he could make.

  121. 121
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: It seems that the secularist utopian fantasisers fail to understand that sustained reasoning requires responsible, rational freedom that draws insightful, ground-consequent inferences motivated and kept going by a commitment to truth and right. The sort of fantasy they dream of will simply not play out as they imagine. Computational substrates are non-rational entities, and a world in which morality is a grand delusion decisively undermines rationality. Going beyond that to an imagined world of blind programming not only raises the question of where the FSCO/I comes from, but runs right into the Haldane challenge they so studiously ignore:

    “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. (NB: DI Fellow, Nancy Pearcey brings this right up to date (HT: ENV) in a current book, Finding Truth.)]

    The proposed world is an impossible, incoherent non-being. and of course, the diversion to debate this with the irrational and agenda driven and trollish only helps to distract the overall thread from its much broader worldviews grounding focus. We need to draw the responsible, prudent conclusion as to where the radical secularist agendas we see reflected in these distractions would take our civilisation — over the cliff — and act in defence of a sound future before it is bloodily too late. Already our guilt is adding up at a million further victims per week, just on one front. When will we wake up? KF

  122. 122
    jdk says:

    You are not addressing the topic at hand, kj. I am not discussing in any way ” secularist utopian fantasies” or any of the other apocalyptic concerns of yours.

    I will quit, and note that you have made no case whatsoever for the logical impossibility of the scenario I propose.

  123. 123
    Armand Jacks says:

    Mike:

    “Expecting” and being outraged when people don’t comply with your expectations are two different issues.

    No they aren’t. People get outraged for any number of reasons. I personally think some of these are justified (based on my subjective morality) and others I don’t. I suspect that your list and mine would be similar, but not identical.

    And subjectively derived societies have all sorts of contradictory expectations, even within a given society.

    Agreed. Like thinking that killing is immoral but the death penalty and war not being. But that really isn’t supporting your opinion.

    It isn’t laughable that you have expectations. My dog has expectations. What is laughable is that you would have any feelings of justification for outrage for any violation of your expectations or views.

    Answered above.

    And yet subjectivists often act as if there is really and truly some justification for their outrage above and beyond their personal subjective views.

    I would argue that we all do at the time that we act. But when subjectivists sit back and think about it logically and rationally, they don’t see a need to impose some mythical beast as an arbiter of morality.

    At a very young age, all we think about is ourselves. If we were to be judged based on what is seen during the first year of our lives, we would be judged as an extremely selfish, self centred species that does not care about anything but ourselves. Where is that objective morality when we were very young.

    As we get a little older, we realize that we are completely dependent on our parents for food and safety. We realize that it is in our best interests to keep them happy. Still completely selfish, but getting better.

    And, as with anything, repetition becomes habit. We are indoctrinated through our parents, other adults, teachers, church leaders, peers, etc. This is supplemented with life experiences and our ability to predict the consequences of our actions. I still don’t see any need for objective morality.

  124. 124
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Lest we forget or become distracted, Plato warned us in no uncertain terms 2350+ years ago:

    Ath [in The Laws, Bk X 2,350+ ya]. . . .[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that fire and water, and earth and air [i.e the classical “material” elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art . . . [such that] all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only [ –> that is, evolutionary materialism is ancient and would trace all things to blind chance and mechanical necessity] . . . .

    [Thus, they hold] that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.-

    [ –> Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT, leading to an effectively arbitrary foundation only for morality, ethics and law: accident of personal preference, the ebbs and flows of power politics, accidents of history and and the shifting sands of manipulated community opinion driven by “winds and waves of doctrine and the cunning craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming . . . ” cf a video on Plato’s parable of the cave; from the perspective of pondering who set up the manipulative shadow-shows, why.]

    These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might,

    [ –> Evolutionary materialism — having no IS that can properly ground OUGHT — leads to the promotion of amorality on which the only basis for “OUGHT” is seen to be might (and manipulation: might in “spin”) . . . ]

    and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [ –> Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality “naturally” leads to continual contentions and power struggles influenced by that amorality at the hands of ruthless power hungry nihilistic agendas], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is,to live in real dominion over others [ –> such amoral and/or nihilistic factions, if they gain power, “naturally” tend towards ruthless abuse and arbitrariness . . . they have not learned the habits nor accepted the principles of mutual respect, justice, fairness and keeping the civil peace of justice, so they will want to deceive, manipulate and crush — as the consistent history of radical revolutions over the past 250 years so plainly shows again and again], and not in legal subjection to them [–> nihilistic will to power not the spirit of justice and lawfulness].

  125. 125
    kairosfocus says:

    BTW, notice how we see the implicit appeal to the government of OUGHT in many objections above intended to promote amorality: we are to be bound by the oughts they wish to impose willy-nilly and at whim; multiply that by power seized and sitting in charge of the Lubyankas, Checkists and Gulags as well as firing squads and see where that gets you, other than what Cuban dissidents report as going on all night in the early 1960’s in Castro’s Gulags: Viva Christo el Rey, BANG, repeat, repeat, repeat (until c 1963 they gagged those about to be murdered for the crime of wanting to be free in mind and conscience). That direct contradiction, that they cannot even sustain an argument without implying the binding nature of ought — at least for those they wish to domineer over — should underscore to us just how impossibly incoherent the world they want to fantasise is. And of course they never want to be accountable before the bloody, tyrannical, oppressive history that such fantasies have repeatedly led to. Just as Plato warned against long since. Until the objectors can show us how they get to trustworthy reason without responsible, rational freedom, we can set aside their fantasies as utterly fallacious and ill-informed destructive secularist utopianism. KF

  126. 126
    Armand Jacks says:

    KF:

    PS: Let me add, that we must never let secularist fantasisers forget that in the past 100 years, their would-be utopias and superman political messiahs cost over 100 million victims of democides, that right now similar amoral fantasies have materially helped to cost 800+ million unborn their lives and rising at a million more per week.

    Since you have brought up abortion on what you claim to be your thread, maybe you will finally answer a question that you repeatedly evaded previously.

    If the early fetus has the same right to life as you and I, as you claim, why are you opposed to charging women who kill this life with planning and premeditation with murder? The same as we would do for any woman who kills their baby with premeditation.

  127. 127

    KF @ 117: “PS: Let me add, that we must never let secularist fantasisers forget that in the past 100 years, their would-be utopias and superman political messiahs cost over 100 million victims of democides…”

    True indeed.

  128. 128
    Armand Jacks says:

    KF:

    PS: Lest we forget or become distracted, Plato warned us in no uncertain terms 2350+ years ago:

    How can we forget something that you repeat several times a weak. What was irrelevant the first time you mention it is equally as irrelevant the hundredth time.

    What does this have to do about the possibility of envisioning a world where there is no way world-level IS to ground OUGHT?. And to avoid confusion, let’s assume, as jdk has, that a god does exist but that he really doesn’t give a damn one way or the other about humans. Maybe his “chosen people” are actually three toed sloths.

  129. 129
    jdk says:

    AJ has been a little strong about my proposal. 🙂

    1. Like kf, I refrain from calling the root-level of reality “god”, as that has connotations that I am trying to avoid.

    2. I know AJ was being flippant, but I’m serious about this: a root-level of reality could be responsible for all we see in the world, including potential and possible non-material aspects such as consciousness and even abstract thought, and yet have no concern whatsoever for the particular way anything played out. In whatever way such a root-level might be aware of what is happening in the universe (which is an additional speculation about its nature), it would be completely detached from any particular results arising from the ISness that it is responsible for.

    This is not a logical impossibility: an IS without an OUGHT.

  130. 130
    john_a_designer says:

    I think my side (those who are sympathetic with traditional theism) unfortunately, has allowed our atheist interlocutors to take the discussion off the rails. The key question is: does atheistic materialism/ naturalism provide a sufficient foundation for interpersonal moral values and obligations?

    That is the question that no one from their side has answered. Why haven’t they? Is it because they can’t?

  131. 131
    jdk says:

    to JAD: In 58, kf described a fundamental issue: “we need a world-root IS that inherently grounds OUGHT.”

    Later, in 79, kf write, “I argued that the sort of world imagined by AJ [one in which there is a root-level IS without an OUGHT] in his questioning is an incoherent impossible world, not a credibly possible world.”

    That is a strong statement, and a key issue which I am now engaging in, and focused on.

    kf has lots to say about what he thinks the dire consequences of such a world might, but nothing to say about why such a world would be logically impossible.

    I have made it clear that I don’t expect kf to address the issue: that is obvious based on this morning’s posts by him. But I do want to make it clear that I have seriously addressed his comment in 79, and he has not offered any argument for his assertion.

  132. 132
    HeKS says:

    Armand Jacks #120

    HeKS: Now, I think that maybe what you mean to say is something like ‘imagine a world in which the world-root IS does not ground any OUGHTs

    But the original question was about there not being a world-root IS to ground OUGHT. That does not preclude a world-root IS for other purposes. I have been over this many times with KF. He knows exactly what I was asking, but refused to answer because of fear of the inconsistency of any follow-on arguments he could make.

    And, again, that bolded part is the problem. Even though I think I know what you mean (assuming it is as I’ve identified in the quote above and as jdk has described), the way you are framing the issue is by positing that there is no OUGHT because there is no world-root IS to ground it. Presented this way, KF is correct in saying that ANY world lacking a world-root necessary being is an incoherent impossibility and so you can never even get to the point of considering the possible existence of OUGHT, since the absence of a sufficient world-root means there is nothing at all in existence, and so obviously there would be no OUGHT.

  133. 133
    jdk says:

    Hmmm, HeKS. It seems like AJ’s statement, “That does not preclude a world-root IS for other purposes” addresses the concern you have. I think this confusion has, if I dare use the word, distracted us from what is my main point, and I believe AJ’s also:

    A root-level of reality which grounds what IS, including life, but does not ground OUGHT–which is supremely unconcerned about specific events and behaviors in the world at all levels–is not a logical impossibility.

    If we accept your point that the IS part is necessary, what is your position? Is a root-level IS without an OUGHT an incoherent impossibility or a logical possibility?

  134. 134

    jdk:

    Why do you think whether or not the root “is” is “concerned” with our behavior has anything at all to do with whether or not there are oughts derived from the “is”?

    If gravity and physics represent the “is”, ought one step off the edge of a canyon if they want to avoid getting hurt? Ought one dive deeper than they have the lung capacity to survive? Are gravity and physics “concerned” about your actions?

    Whether or not God is personally concerned with any of our actions is utterly irrelevant to the fact that the world-root “is” nature of God and what God has created necessarily generates an entire system of oughts and ought-nots.

    The more precise question is: could a creator have created a world where there are no moral oughts, only physically relational oughts? Possibly, but that is not the world any sane person experiences, now is it?

  135. 135
    jdk says:

    wjm writes, “If gravity and physics represent the “is”, ought one step off the edge of a canyon if they want to avoid getting hurt?”

    This is an instructive example. One ought not step over the cliff because we don’t want to get hurt. That is an “ought” generated by us in respect to our own needs. The root-level IS need not care at all whether we get hurt, but we do.

    “Oughts” come from human beings, and are in respect to our needs and desires in the world. It is not logically impossible to accept this and yet hold that the root-level of reality doesn’t care at all, and thus adds nothing to the OUGHT that we ourselves generates.

    And, for clarity, I’ll point out that the subject at hand is whether it is logically impossible for the root-level IS to not also entail OUGHT, not whether that is the case or not.

    Logical impossibility is the subject.

    Noted in edit: I see that you say such as world is possible, so that satisfies me as to your answer.

  136. 136
    Armand Jacks says:

    I thought that it was clear that I was talking about morality which, presumably is limited to humans. None of this has to do with whether the universe is designed. It has to do with whether or not human morality must be part of this design. Which, clearly, it doesn’t. The earth would progress quite nicely without humans on it.

  137. 137
    critical rationalist says:

    @WJM

    Humans operating in the physical universe don’t have an “infallible” means of doing anything. Fallibility is in our human nature, so you’re applying a standard that is both unreasonable and hyperskeptical.

    That’s my point. You haven’t actually solved the problem. The epistemological view that there can be no knowledge without a foundation is foundationalism. I’m not a foundationalist. You are. A chain is no stronger than it’s weakest link and you haven’t removed infallible humans from the chain. For example…

    We’ve answered this many times, but you seem to be immune to accepting the answer as an answer. There are objective moral values and duties that we ought adhere to; it is our position that they are literally sewn into the fabric of existence. Some are self-evident and easy to recognize, like “it is wrong to torture the innocent for one’s personal pleasure”. It takes no reasoning or critical thinking to sort that out; every sane person on Earth recognizes this as true.

    By easy to recognize, you seem to be suggesting that there is some way to derive them from some form of experience. But this simply pushes the problem up a level because you have to infallibly identity that source (experience) and infallibly interpret it.

    Because they are sewn into the fabric of our existence, moral issues are usually recognized via a spiritual sensory capacity – the conscience – much as our other senses apprehend various aspects of the the physical world. I refer to the moral aspect of the world the “moral landscape”.

    So, apparently, there is an infallible source of morality, the “fabric of our existence”, which is infallibly interpreted by some inexplicable means by our conscience. It is at least in some ways infallible because we can identify self-evident truths. It acts a last resort which cannot lead us into error.

    Some are self-evident and easy to recognize, like “it is wrong to torture the innocent for one’s personal pleasure”. It takes no reasoning or critical thinking to sort that out; every sane person on Earth recognizes this as true.

    Again, the term “recognize” implies some form of deriving moral knowledge from some kind of experience.

    When the mind is uncertain or confused about its moral obligation in a situation, that is where critical reasoning comes in – to sort through the issue and see how more obvious rules might apply to that situation.

    We use human reasoning and criticism to determine when those basic or self-evident truths would be applicable.

    That’s because you don’t understand what is being discussed. You think what is being discussed is how, in practice, the moral objectivist is qualitatively different from the moral subjectivist. .

    Except, I’m not a moral relativist. And I’m the one who doesn’t understand what is being discussed?

    The answer is: they may not look any different at all, but that’s not the point. That they might “look” the same is entirely irrelevant to the point. That one cannot tell the difference between Joe and an android replica of Joe doesn’t mean Joe and the android are “the same thing” for all intents and purposes.

    When faced with concrete moral problems we have to make choices. And we base those choices on moral knowledge. So, the intent and purpose is helping people making those choices. I mean, isn’t that the point? If not, what is?

    What the debate is about is what each premise means to the state of our existence and to the nature of discussion and debate about such things if true.

    You are conflating having knowledge of an objectivity true moral value or duty with whether a value or duty is objectivity true. If you don’t have knowledge of it, how you can apply it to solve moral problems. What good is it if you can’t use it?

    Like all knowledge, moral knowledge is only relevant in the context of a problem. For example, we start out with a concrete problem, such as unplanned or potentially life threatening pregnancies. Or even how we can better resolve disputes about how to solve moral problems. Again, my point is, you’ve merely pushed that problem up a level without improving it.

    “I believe moral authority X is the accurate and complete set of objectivity true values and duties and that set contains duty Y” doesn’t help us solve problems any more than “I believe Y is an objectivity true moral duty”

    IOW, if moral subjectivism is actually the truth the nature of our existence,that means one set of things as the necessary logical consequences of such a state of being.

    I’m not a relativist about knowledge, moral or otherwise. I’m suggesting you’re mistaken about how moral knowledge grows. And yes, what you’re advocating has necessary consequences, which I’ve mentioned above. Specifically,…

    Again, the idea that any moral knowledge is immune to criticism is immoral because it excludes the possibility that progress can be made in these areas and others. Being fallible, we should expect all of our knowledge to contain errors to some degree and be incomplete. It is immoral because it discounts and even vilifies our means of correcting errors.

    All knowledge grows though conjecture and criticism. Even moral knowledge. That means we guess about how to solve moral problems, then criticize our guesses. Do they actually solve the moral problems we encounter? How can we better solve them? For example, one solution to unwanted and life threatening pregnancies would be to transfer an embryo or fetus to an artificial womb or to a woman who wants to become pregnant, but cannot. Unless something is prohibited by the laws of physics, the only thing that would prevent us from doing so is knowing how. But it’s not clear that you even see this as a genuine problem to be solved, as opposed to some kind of test that people are subjected to.

    If moral subjectivism is true, then at a fundamental level I have no logical reason to care about morality per se at all, but rather only care about how my actions are perceived by society and how such actions might best benefit me.

    Why should I care about “your opinion” of what is objectively morally correct? Without having knowledge of what is objectively morally correct, how can you apply it to make choices when faced wth concrete moral problems? Human reasoning and criticism always comes first.

    However, that’s not how good, sane humans actually act in the real world. We do what is right regardless of if anyone is watching and do it even if think it will ultimately not benefit us. We will do what we know is right even if society disagrees and it will cause us social problems. We will even violate the law if for our moral duties if they are clear enough. Some of us will actually sacrifice our own lives for the cause of what is right, even in the teeth of public disgrace and humiliation. Good, sane humans always act – and must act – as if morality is objective in nature, as if by promoting the good they are serving something greater than themselves, their society, or even the majority of humanity if the majority of humanity is doing what is wrong.

    Again, I’m a moral realist, not a moral relativist. My criticism is regarding appeals to authoritative sources of moral knowledge, not whether there are objectively better choices in moral situations than others, which that behavior is compatible with.

  138. 138
    critical rationalist says:

    To clarify, my criticism is your explanation as to how you know what are objectively morally correct choices to make when faced with moral problems, not whether some choices are objectively worse than others.

    My criticism on UD has always been that the explanation for knowledge in creationism, ID and inductivism is either supernatural (inexplicable), absent or irrational, not that there is no independent objective reality.

    In this case, your explanation for moral knowledge is a supposed supernatural means (our conscience) to interpret a source of knowledge (the fabric of our existence). Being self-evident implies they are immune from criticism, which is immoral.

    Actually, I said deciding that some ideas are immune from criticism, while others are not, is arbitrary. This is implied in the dichotomy of basic (self evident) beliefs that can play the role of a foundation for non-basic beliefs. However, it’s not arbitrary if we tentatively adopt hard to vary explanations that we currently have no good criticism of.

    Specifically, when I suggested that all ideas are subject to criticism, why did you selected identity as an example of a supposedly self-evident truth, as opposed to other possible candidates? It was an idea you tried to criticize, but came back with none. If it was immune to criticism, you would have no reason to have selected it as an example as opposed to other ideas. The fact that identity is a useful idea that plays a hard to vary role in all of our current, best explanations, including communication, is a criticism to the idea that the idea of identity is itself wrong. IOW, this is just more criticism.

    Again, not having a good criticism of an idea not the same as assuming it is immune to criticism, which is what is necessary to be a foundation of knowledge that plays a unilateral role.

    Replace “identity” in the above with any supposedly self-evident moral truth.

  139. 139
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Again, observe the patterns at work:

    notice how we see the implicit appeal to the government of OUGHT in many objections above intended to promote amorality: we are to be bound by the oughts they wish to impose willy-nilly and at whim; multiply that by power seized and sitting in charge of the Lubyankas, Checkists and Gulags as well as firing squads and see where that gets you, other than what Cuban dissidents report as going on all night in the early 1960’s in Castro’s Gulags: Viva Christo el Rey, BANG, repeat, repeat, repeat (until c 1963 they gagged those about to be murdered for the crime of wanting to be free in mind and conscience). That direct contradiction, that they cannot even sustain an argument without implying the binding nature of ought — at least for those they wish to domineer over — should underscore to us just how impossibly incoherent the world they want to fantasise is. And of course they never want to be accountable before the bloody, tyrannical, oppressive history that such fantasies have repeatedly led to. Just as Plato warned against long since. Until the objectors can show us how they get to trustworthy reason without responsible, rational freedom, we can set aside their fantasies as utterly fallacious and ill-informed destructive secularist utopianism.

    Oughtness in the end is either the law of our nature as responsibly and rationally free creatures [which has to go down to root reality to find firm grounding] or else we see grand delusion utterly undermining mindedness. This, is simply not going to be faced by locked in ideologues, but we can take due note i/l/o where such repeatedly ends. KF

  140. 140

    My criticism on UD has always been that the explanation for knowledge in creationism, ID and inductivism is either supernatural (inexplicable), absent or irrational, not that there is no independent objective reality.

    Your problem CR is two-fold (at least).

    1) You deliberately force biological ID to be an explanation for an ultimate source of “knowledge”, which it was never intended to be. Biological ID is concerned with understanding the origin of Life on Earth. By doing this, you allow yourself the intellectual freedom to ignore the physical evidence that ID presents towards its actual goal.

    2) You posit evolution as the source of “knowledge” required to explain the origin of life on earth. When it is pointed out to you that evolution is physically incapable of being that source, you merely ignore the criticism and start all over again. (see #1)

    You are confused and locked into a cyclical pattern. It appears that you will need either amnesia or a strong personal will to break free. A possible alternative is to stop avoiding criticism. This will include you not merely repeating erroneous statements as if they remain valid.

  141. 141
    jdk says:

    As the old joke goes, there are two kinds of people in the world: those that think there are two kinds of people in the world, as those that don’t.

    kf is the former: all is black-and-white

    He says,

    Oughtness in the end is either the law of our nature as responsibly and rationally free creatures [which has to go down to root reality to find firm grounding] or else we see grand delusion utterly undermining mindedness.

    Those are not the only two options. I’ve mentioned a third possibility that is logically possible: we are conscious, mindful creatures who are faced with the task of deciding how we want to act without recourse to anything beyond ourself. The universe doesn’t care, but we do, and therefore we are forced by our very existence to make choices about the norms (moral and otherwise) that we wish to live by in concert with our significant others, however we may define them. This is a legitimate philosophical position, and not a logical impossibility.

  142. 142
    Armand Jacks says:

    KF@139, What a steaming pile of nonsense.

    Who is saying that we are not governed by our conscience? Our morals? All we are discussing is a where these morals come from. And then you rant about the consequences of what would happen if our morality was subjective. Using real life examples to do so. Don’t you see the irony in this? You are claiming that morality is objective and then provide evidence of it not being objective. Your goal is at the other end of the pitch. Shouldn’t you be shooting for it rather than st your own goal?

  143. 143
    HeKS says:

    @jdk #133

    Hmmm, HeKS. It seems like AJ’s statement, “That does not preclude a world-root IS for other purposes” addresses the concern you have.

    Yes, I did notice that statement from AJ, and it does provide some further clarification of the point he is trying to make. However, I was trying to point out to him that the way he had previously been framing / describing the issue would unsurprisingly lead to precisely the kind of response he had gotten from KF. In other words, even though it was clear that he was ‘talking about morality’, he continually seemed to be asking what a world would look like if it didn’t have any OUGHTs because there was no world-root IS to ground them. KF response to that way of framing the issue was and is perfectly reasonable, and yet AJ was accusing him of lying for having said that he answered AJ’s question … even though he really had answered it. So I was just trying to get AJ to see why KF had responded as he did and that it really was a legitimate response to the way he had framed his question. He can doubt KF’s motives in the way he answered, but suspicion of bad motives seems unnecessary to me, since the response was perfectly reasonable.

    Moving on…

    I think this confusion has, if I dare use the word, distracted us from what is my main point, and I believe AJ’s also:

    A root-level of reality which grounds what IS, including life, but does not ground OUGHT–which is supremely unconcerned about specific events and behaviors in the world at all levels–is not a logical impossibility.

    If we accept your point that the IS part is necessary, what is your position? Is a root-level IS without an OUGHT an incoherent impossibility or a logical possibility?

    Well, I don’t think that the coherence of that proposition is anywhere near as obvious as you seem to believe. I think there are several problems with the idea, both logical and empirical, and at multiple levels, and I think KF has actually touched on some of these. That said, I have to run out for a few hours, so I’ll try to offer more thoughts on the subject either later tonight or tomorrow.

    Take care,
    HeKS

  144. 144
    Armand Jacks says:

    Jdk:

    This is a legitimate philosophical position, and not a logical impossibility.

    You should have learned by now. Whatever does not jive with KF’s peculiar world view is a logical impossibility and anyone who says otherwise is amoral, insane, enabling a holocaust or a liar. 🙂

  145. 145

    jdk says:

    This is an instructive example. One ought not step over the cliff because we don’t want to get hurt. That is an “ought” generated by us in respect to our own needs. The root-level IS need not care at all whether we get hurt, but we do.

    Think it through a little more, jdk. Are you saying “I don’t want to get hurt” is an “ought”? Nope – that’s the intention of the person who meets up with the cliff. Having the intetion of not being hurt doesn’t tell them what to do to not be hurt. Try again.

    “Oughts” come from human beings, and are in respect to our needs and desires in the world.

    So, if I need and desire to get to the bottom of the cliff, what I ought do is entirely generated by me? Can my “ought” be “jump and land softly”? If not, why not, if I am generating all the ought?

    It is not logically impossible to accept this and yet hold that the root-level of reality doesn’t care at all, and thus adds nothing to the OUGHT that we ourselves generates.

    If my intention is to fly, can I just make up whatever oughts I wish, or must I investigate and extract my oughts out of physics and the physical world?

    Like I said, you’re not thinking it through. If there is no is, there is no ought. Do you think an intention is an is or an ought? Do you think the physical world is an is or an ought?

    If the intention and the world are both “is”, then from where comes the ought? It comes from the relationship between an is of existence and an is of intent. Whatever my intent is, what I ought do to bring it to fruition is sewn into the nature of the world. There may be many ways to do it, but nonetheless, every possible way is indeed sewn into the nature of the world.

    I’m not sure what difference it makes if a creator could possibly have created a world with no moral oughts. What difference does it make if it is logically possible or not?

  146. 146

    If we take my analysis further, if there are no free, responsible beings in a world without moral oughts, then no “oughts” of any kind exist, because there is no “should” in such a world – only things doing whatever “is” dictates.

    “Should” only exists in relationship to a being that can freely choose one thing or another in order to acquire a goal. Without that freedom, there is only “is”. So the question moves to: can free, responsible (meaning, independently responsible for their actions) beings all be amoral – meaning, they exist in an amoral universe.

    Well, something to ponder for a while.

  147. 147
    john_a_designer says:

    Here is my very succinct argument as to why I think so-called moral subjectivism is highly irrational.

    I have no obligation (epistemically or morally) to accept ungrounded personal (subjective) opinions.

    On the other hand, interpersonal morality requires interpersonal moral obligation (what we ought or ought not to do.)

    Therefore, it is impossible to base any kind of interpersonal morality on ungrounded personal opinions.

    We can further conclude that what is referred to as “moral subjectivism,” cannot provide a viable basis for interpersonal morality. Indeed at best, the term “moral subjectivism” is an oxymoron; at worst, it’s just plain moronic.

    From what I can see so-called moral subjectivism is just a euphemism for self-righteousness. People use euphemisms when they don’t want to face the real implications of their beliefs.

  148. 148
    HeKS says:

    WJM #145

    I think what jdk is trying to say is that while the existence of objective morality might necessitate the existence of God, the existence of God does not necessitate the existence of objective morality.

    I think there are reasons to believe that’s ultimately wrong, but it’s not a stupid question or anything, and it’s less cut-and-dried than the need for a necessary being to ground reality. Of course, theists rarely argue that objective morality must exist because God does. Instead they argue the more obvious point that if objective morality exists then God does, since the existence of objective morality is something that most people want to affirm and even those who don’t want to affirm that it exists tend to live as though it does.

  149. 149
    jdk says:

    Don’t be so condescending, wjm.

    The scenario I have sketched posits free, responsible beings, but without any external source of morals. However, to say they would be amoral would be wrong. Such beings would recognize the need for morals and other socially normative behaviors, and would create such in conjunction with the community of fellow human beings around them. However, there would be nothing in the universe that would care: this would all just be between human beings.

    And, standard disclaimer for this discussion, I am merely arguing that such a scenario is not a logically impossible, incoherent, metaphysics.

  150. 150
    jdk says:

    HeKS writes,

    I think what jdk is trying to say is that while the existence of objective morality might necessitate the existence of God, the existence of God does not necessitate the existence of objective morality.

    Yes, although I (following kf) I am not using the word god because that carries a lot of connotations that I am avoiding: The root-level IS that I am positing is not one that consciously, willfully takes an active interest in the specific events of the world, which is usually implied by the word God. It is, however, a constantly creative and nurturing force in the world, broadly and pervasively, in ways which we can not apprehend nor comprehend.

  151. 151
    critical rationalist says:

    @UB

    From the Discovery Institute website

    Bernd-Olaf Kuppers has pointed out in his book Information and the Origin of Life that “[t]he problem of the origin of life is clearly basically equivalent to the problem of the origin of biological information.” As noted previously, intelligent design begins with the observation that intelligent agents generate large quantities of complex and specified information (CSI). Studies of the cell reveal vast quantities of biochemical information stored in our DNA in the sequence of nucleotides.

    Again, the information in an organism’s DNA contains a recipe of what transformations of matter are required to convert raw materials into an entirely new instance of a cell. As such, the original of a cell’s features is the origin of that knowlege.

    From one of the unresponded to comments starting here….

    When I ask with the origin of that knowledge, I’m looking for an explanation for how intelligence results in a designer possessing it that knowledge. What is that explanation?

    Specifically I’m looking for criticism along the lines of “The explanation for that knowledge is X, Y and Z. However, evolution doesn’t fit that explanation.” This is in contrast to an appeal to induction by saying “every time we’ve experienced knowledge, it has been accompanied by intelligent agents.” and since the future (and distant past) resembles the (recent) past, the designer of organisms was an intelligent agent.

    But the future is unlike the past in a vast number of ways. It’s our explanations of how the world works that indicates what we will experience. For example, if our long chain of independently obtained explanations for how our sun works indicated it would suddenly grow cold when its fuel supply is exhausted and that will occur in roughly 4.6 billon billion years after it was formed, we wouldn’t expect the sun to rise tomorrow despite having experienced it rising every day for the entirety of human existence.

    In the absence of such an explanation, it’s unclear how you can say a designer is the best explanation for that knowledge. Not to mention that a designer merely being an authoritative source of knowledge is a bad explanation.

    However, I can see why a theists wouldn’t find that explanation problematic as theism is based on the philosophical idea that knowledge in specific spheres comes from God, who is an authoritative source. As does empiricism, which says that knowledge comes from observations. These two views simply exchange one authoritative source for another.

    [The straw an of] “Atoms or random chance isn’t an authoritative source of knowledge” is a bad criticism because it’s applicable to everything. An authoritative source of knowledge has no explanation. It “just was” complete with that knowledge. ID’s designer is abstract and has no such explanation. It is capable of designing things by nature of having the vague property of “design”, which is basically a tautology. At best, this is the Aristotelianism in the sense of saying fire has the property of dryness. Again, the flaw in creationism, ID and inductivism is that the explanation for knowledge is either inexplicable (supernatural), absent or irrational.

    On the other hand, I’m saying that the explanation for how human designers create the knowledge they posses is variation and criticism. We [people] create both explanatory and non-explanatory knowledge. Evolution does fit this explanation, in that the non-explanatory knowledge in genes is created by variation and selection. Both fall under the universal explanation for the growth of knowledge.

  152. 152
    Armand Jacks says:

    WJM@145
    If you want to argue from the theatre of the absurd, dont be surprised if you are treated as an absurd character.

    However, if you can get past your stupid and ignorant assertions that subjective morality is nothing more than the preference of ice cream flavours, we might be able to actually have an honest debate. Until then, don’t be surprised if people laugh at you rather than with you.

  153. 153
    HeKS says:

    Armand Jacks,

    Are you Mark Frank? Or Acartia Bogart / William Spearshake?

  154. 154
    Armand Jacks says:

    Heks, so far you haven’t guessed correctly. But just for interest sake, did you have any problems with these three?

    But, more seriously, do you think that the concept of subjective morality is akin to a preference for ice cream flavour? You strike me as a person who actually thinks about what others say based on the merits of their arguments, not on the merits of inane and ignorant talking points repeated ad nauseum by people like WJM and KF.

  155. 155
    HeKS says:

    Armand Jacks,

    Acartia Bogart and William Spearshake were the same person as far as I’m aware, so adding Mark Frank into the mix makes only two people, not three. As for whether I had problems with them, no, not at all. We disagreed on most things but got along reasonably well. In fact, the only person here that I’ve had problems with as far I can recall was someone that went by the name of keiths (mentioned earlier in this thread). I typically try very hard to give people the benefit of the doubt for as long as possible, but keiths made it impossible for me to take him seriously or believe that he had even the tiniest amount of intellectual honesty.

    As for KF and WJM, I think they deserve far more respect than you are giving them. You may have an issue with one or both of their styles, but they have both thought deeply on these issues and make many excellent points, which I don’t think you have fully appreciated.

    Now as for the bit about subjective morality being akin to a preference for ice cream, it is specifically that reference that made me wonder if you were Mark Frank. As for whether or not I personally think that subjective morality makes moral preferences akin to preferences for ice cream flavors, it depends on the context in which you’re looking at. Subjectively speaking, the feeling that mass murder is wrong seems worlds apart from a preference for chocolate ice cream over vanilla, but objectively speaking, they bear identical moral weight, which is to say none. I talked about why this is so at some length with Mark Frank in the past, so if you want to know my thoughts on this point in more depth I’d be happy to find and link you to my comments explaining this further.

  156. 156
    Pindi says:

    My view is that it is the proposed system of objective morals that is incoherent, rather than subjective morals. I can readily understand how a species like us would invent a system of morals to help us live together. In fact the research shows that its not just humans that do this.

    But I just can’t understand how morals could be objective. Or probably more accurately, I can’t understand how it makes any difference. WJM says we sense the objective morals with our conscience much as we sense other aspects of the world with our other senses. But that seems to be me to be a really bad analogy. If I look at an animal and decide its a giraffe, I can confirm this by asking other people to look at the same object and tell me what it is. And I can look at photos and compare. And going further I could take a DNA sample and have it analysed. But what’s the comparison if I’m trying to decide whether its moral for me to avoid losing a government rest home subsidy by putting my house in a trust (which is a common concern for older people here in NZ)? Sure, I can ask other people what they think, and I would get a range of views. But how do I find out for sure what the objective moral rule is on this?

  157. 157
    critical rationalist says:

    @WJM

    So, if I need and desire to get to the bottom of the cliff, what I ought do is entirely generated by me? Can my “ought” be “jump and land softly”? If not, why not, if I am generating all the ought?

    If my intention is to fly, can I just make up whatever oughts I wish, or must I investigate and extract my oughts out of physics and the physical world?

    The contents our theories do not come from experience. It’s based on conjecturing (creatively arranging) existing theories about how the world works in an attempt to solve a problem, then testing those theories for errors. Furthermore, the existing theories we combine are themselves theory laden.

    IOW, none of the contents of our theories are out there for us to observe.

    From this TED talk….

    Now, how do we know about an environment that’s so far away and so different and so alien from anything we’re used to? Well, the Earth — our environment, in the form of us — is creating knowledge. Well, what does that mean? Well, look out even further than we’ve just been — I mean from here, with a telescope — and you’ll see things that look like stars, they’re called quasars. “Quasars” originally meant “quasi-stellar object,” which means “things that look a bit like stars.”

    But they’re not stars. And we know what they are. Billions of years ago and billions of light-years away, the material at the center of a galaxy collapsed towards a super-massive black hole. And then intense magnetic fields directed some of the energy of that gravitational collapse and some of the matter back out in the form of tremendous jets, which illuminated lobes with the brilliance of — I think it’s a trillion — suns.

    Now, the physics of the human brain could hardly be more unlike the physics of such a jet. We couldn’t survive for an instant in it. Language breaks down when trying to describe what it would be like in one of those jets. It would be a bit like experiencing a supernova explosion, but at point-blank range and for millions of years at a time.

    And yet, that jet happened in precisely such a way that billions of years later, on the other side of the universe, some bit of chemical scum could accurately describe and model and predict and explain, above all — there’s your reference — what was happening there, in reality. The one physical system, the brain, contains an accurate working model of the other, the quasar. Not just a superficial image of it, though it contains that as well, but an explanatory model, embodying the same mathematical relationships and the same causal structure.

    Now, that is knowledge. And if that weren’t amazing enough, the faithfulness with which the one structure resembles the other is increasing with time. That is the growth of knowledge. So, the laws of physics have this special property, that physical objects as unlike each other as they could possibly be, can nevertheless embody the same mathematical and causal structure and to do it more and more so over time.

  158. 158
    Armand Jacks says:

    Heks:

    As for KF and WJM, I think they deserve far more respect than you are giving them. You may have an issue with one or both of their styles, but they have both thought deeply on these issues and make many excellent points, which I don’t think you have fully appreciated.

    They deserve the level of respect they show towards those they disagree with. KF has repeatedly called me a liar with no justification, and falsely accused me of things I have said without acknowledging any error when this is pointed out to him. WJM behaves childishly towards those he disagrees with. Aside from this, they both have a history of propagating unfounded conspiracy theories that can damage innocent individuals. In spite of this, I have made repeated attempts to discuss honestly with both of them only to be exposed to the same behaviour.

    On the other side are people like you, Andrew, UB and many others. We fundamentally disagree on many things but we can have a discussion and still treat each other with respect.

    With respect to objective vs subjective morality, the only difference in my estimation is in where they originate. Not how they affect us. Your gut reaction to killing or rape or stealing or lying is probably the same as mine. You may argue that this is due to some objective proscription on killing. Whereas I say that it is the result indoctrination from a very early age by parents, teachers, etc., reinforced by our ability to predict the possible consequences of our actions. Neither of these are akin to a preferred flavour of ice cream. They are both deeply ingrained feelings that are not easily ignored.

    To give you an example of how something can become deeply ingrained, let’s pick something that we both agree has absolutely no moral value. When you get up tomorrow, try buttoning your shirt in the opposite direction than you normally do (top to bottom or bottom to top). You will be able to do it, but you would be lying if you said that it did not feel “wrong”. Now extrapolate that to something that you have been told is wrong from your earliest memory.

  159. 159

    CR,

    I chose not to respond to your posts because you chose not to respond to any of the points I made. See how that works? If I tell you that evolution cannot physically be the source of the “knowledge” of how to organize the cell (and tell you the reasons why), and you choose to not respond to my comments (other than to circle back and repeat your previous claims), then I have no obligations to respond further.

    When I ask with the origin of that knowledge, I’m looking for an explanation for how intelligence results in a designer possessing it that knowledge. What is that explanation?

    Please try to listen to what I am about to say. Have a temporary moment of amnesia, and pretend for a moment that you don’t have a pre-packaged defense to the following comment:

    Biological ID claims that a universal correlate of intelligence can be detected in the origin of Life on Earth. Understand?

    Biological ID is not about the ultimate source of knowledge (!!!) Biological ID is not about where the intelligence that organized the first self-replicating cell on earth got its knowledge. It’s not about the motivations, goals, or hair color of that intelligence. It’s about none of those things. It’s about the detection of an act of intelligence in the origin of life on earth.

    And here’s the other shoe: Physicists know specifically what type of physical system must be in place for open-ended evolution to occur (i.e. the type of system with enough capacity to specify its own translation apparatus, enabling semantic closure). That specific organization is required for evolution to occur, and as such, evolution cannot be the source of that system (i.e. if A requires B for A to exist, then A cannot be the source of B).

    Moreover, physicists can clearly identify that system among all other physical systems, and have only identified that type of physical system in one other place anywhere in the cosmos — that is, during the use of written language and mathematics, which are two universal correlates of intelligence.

    So who has the better-supported argument: you proposing a source that is physically incapable of actually being the source … or ID proponents, who propose the only source that can be demonstrated as actually being causally adequate to the task at hand?

    – – – – – – – – –

    … of course, I only pose this question rhetorically, knowing full well that none of this will even make a dent in your defense. That fact, however, doesn’t make the physics go away.

  160. 160
    HeKS says:

    Armand Jacks,

    This was the first article I wrote at UD. You can find a discussion about whether subjective moral choices are different than ice cream flavor preferences starting with…

    – Phinehas comment at #56

    – Mark Frank’s reply at #58 (unfortunately I just noticed that his linked article is no longer there)

    – The latter portion of my response at #91

    The relevant portion of my comment in #91 begins at this part:

    It is perfectly possible to provide a rational basis for a subjective opinion. We all do it all the time about all sorts of subjective issues – whether things are funny, awesome, disappointing, attractive etc. and morally good or evil is no exception. I cannot understand why people deny something so obviously true.

    Nobody does deny something so obviously true….

    I’ve course, I personally think it would be worth reading the whole article and comment thread, as it covered many interesting aspects of this discussion.

  161. 161
    Dionisio says:

    My mother-in-law told me that when she was a young girl, in the city Graudenz, on the first day of classes in Nazi-occupied Poland in 1939, as she walked to the school, she asked another Polish girl -in Polish language- something about the classes. A German girl who was walking nearby, reacted angrily asking:
    hast du nicht deutsch gelernt?
    and slapped my mother-in-law’s face.
    It’s written that a few years later many German citizens that remained in the “liberated” lands were badly mistreated by the soviet troops.
    What moral codes were observed by those different groups of people and by individuals in those separate cases?
    In every case, the offender(s) acted according to what was understood as “correct” and their victims were wrong.
    Welcome to this world!

  162. 162
    john_a_designer says:

    AJ @ 158

    With respect to objective vs subjective morality, the only difference in my estimation is in where they originate. Not how they affect us. Your gut reaction to killing or rape or stealing or lying is probably the same as mine. You may argue that this is due to some objective proscription on killing. Whereas I say that it is the result indoctrination from a very early age by parents, teachers, etc., reinforced by our ability to predict the possible consequences of our actions. Neither of these are akin to a preferred flavour of ice cream. They are both deeply ingrained feelings that are not easily ignored.

    What if someone doesn’t share your “gut reaction” or wasn’t “indoctrinated” the same way you were? Is he morally obligated not to kill or rape an innocent person? Ted Bundy certainly didn’t have the same subjective gut reaction that you would have and expressed a different opinion.

    The following* is a paraphrase from a tape recorded conversation between Ted Bundy and one of his victims.

    “Then I learned that all moral judgments are “value judgments,” that all value judgments are subjective, and that none can be proved to be either “right” or “wrong.” I even read somewhere that the Chief Justice of the United States had written that the American Constitution expressed nothing more than collective value judgments. Believe it or not, I figured out for myself – what apparently the Chief Justice couldn’t figure out for himself””that if the rationality of one value judgment was zero, multiplying it by millions would not make it one whit more rational. Nor is there any “reason” to obey the law for anyone, like myself, who has the boldness and daring “” the strength of character “” to throw off its shackles. … I discovered that to become truly free, truly unfettered, I had to become truly uninhibited. And I quickly discovered that the greatest obstacle to my freedom, the greatest block and limitation to it, consists in the insupportable value judgment” that I was bound to respect the rights of others. I asked myself, who were these “others”? Other human beings, with human rights? Why is it more wrong to kill a human animal than any other animal, a pig or a sheep or a steer? Is your life more to you than a hog’s life to a hog? Why should I be willing to sacrifice my pleasure more for the one than for the other? Surely, you would not, in this age of scientific enlightenment, declare that God or nature has marked some pleasures as “moral” or “good” and others as “immoral” or “bad”? In any case, let me assure you, my dear young lady, that there is absolutely no comparison between the pleasure I might take in eating ham and the pleasure I anticipate in raping and murdering you. That is the honest conclusion to which my education has led me””after the most conscientious examination of my spontaneous and uninhibited self.”

    (p17 Ethics: Discovering Right and Wrong, by Louis P. Pojman & James Fieser)

    It appears Bundy was a moral subjectivist. Notice how he justifies his rapes and murder:

    “[I]s there any ‘reason’ to obey the law for anyone, like myself, who has the boldness and daring “” the strength of character “” to throw off its shackles. … I discovered that to become truly free, truly unfettered, I had to become truly uninhibited.”

    In other words, rape and murder is the way he finds personal fulfillment. What is there in the universe to tell him that he ought not to fulfill his personal desires?

    I would say that he is rationalizing. But I am making that claim from the perspective of a moral realist. How can that claim be made from a moral subjectivist perspective? If morals and ethics are subjective aren’t they what ever Bundy decides to think they are? How can a moral subjectivist ever be said to be rationalizing?

    [*I originally posted this comment at Thinking Christian in 2010.]

    https://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2010/10/morality-without-god-would-i-care/#comment-24049

    Like I argued above at 147:

    I have no obligation (epistemically or morally) to accept ungrounded personal (subjective) opinions.

    On the other hand, interpersonal morality requires moral obligation (what we ought or ought not to do.)

    Therefore, it is impossible to base any kind of interpersonal morality on ungrounded personal opinions.

    Morality is about, is based on obligation not on subjective opinion. So you can continue to argue your baseless opinions about subjective morality but the moral realists here are not obligated to even consider your arguments because it’s just your subjective opinion. So why are you wasting peoples time? What is the point of your persistence?

  163. 163
    critical rationalist says:

    @UB

    An act implies a verb and a noun being acted upon. What is this act?

    The formalization of a symbol system using a set of spatially-oriented (rate-independent) symbol vehicles along with the set of non-integrable constraints required to interpret the symbols – i.e. a language. In an autonomous self-replicator, this formalization is required to achieve semantic closure, allowing self-replication to occur via a medium of information.

    To which I responded…

    IOW, what you seem to be suggesting is that a designer created the a set of macro functions in the form of DNA molecules that is a domain specific language (DSL) for creating organisms, in the way that the Ruby on Rails developers built a DSL on top of the Ruby programming language for creating web applications. However, the developers needed to first possess the knowledge of how to build web applications before they could abstract it into a DSL. And there is the matter of the knowledge in the ruby programming language itself.

    So, it’s a question of knowledge, which is why I keep asking you for the origin of that knowledge.

    Why do you think intelligence was the case?

    1) There was a system that was predicted as being necessary to establish an autonomous self-replicator capable of open-ended evolutionary potential. This is a well-documented historical fact, and is widely held as both coherent and correct. That system was a language system, which was then verified by its physical properties to actually exist within the cell. 2) Recorded language is a universal correlate of intelligence.

    Yes, UB. The explanation for the watch cannot be the same as the rock. It could only be knowledge. In the case of organisms the knowledge is a recipe in organisms themselves, which defines which transformations of matter are required to transform raw materials into entire cells. We seem to be in agreement on (1). However, you make a leap in (2). Correlation does not equal causation.

    Human designers are not magic. We have an explanation for how they create knowledge. And that explanation is compatible with natural selection.

    and that the constraints that determine the system’s function are not integrable with a microscopic (lawful) physical description of the system operation itself. In other words, the “state transformation” are indeed not determined by the system’s dynamic properties.

    Still not clear what you mean here. In regards to gene expression mediated by other parts of the system, those parts represent knowledge as to what mediations should occur. If you’re referring to the fact that what it means to be distinguishable is circular in Shannon’s theory of information, that is resolved in the theory of information I referenced. Again, what theory of information are you referring to?

    Yet, you haven’t provided one iota of reason to believe that the system is – against all observations to the contrary – actually established by its dynamics, or that it somehow evolved prior to the onset of its evolutionary potential.

    Again, we have concrete examples of the evolution of number systems, languages and computation. Each of which started out solving very limited, specific problems (limited reach) which was varied and improved. Then a disproportional leap to universality occurred, which we stumbled upon. And we have a concrete example in RNA, which is like Babbage’s Difference Engine, which was a precursor to a universal Turing machine, or Roman numerals.

    Since it depends on specific kinds of chemicals, such as proteins, DNA is presumably not a universal for specifying any kind of life form. However, it can also “program” organisms (give them instincts) to construct things outside of its bodies, such as nests, dams, etc. And utilize inorganics, such as calcium phosphate in bones, or the magnetite in a pigeon’s brain.

    What I’m referring to is a principle that all knowledge growth is by incremental improvement. It’s universal explanation for the growth of knowledge. But, in a number of fields, a threshold is exceeded when an improvement in the system causes a sudden, disproportional increase in reach, which makes it universal system in that relevant domain. When people brought about such leaps to universality in the past they rarely attempted to achieve it. That is, until the enlightenment, in which the universality of explanations people can create has become a priority.

    Note: this is why I keep asking for a explanation for the knowledge in organisms, not merely predictions or inductive inferences. We are universal explainers and that gives our knowledge reach that has allowed us to make rapid, open-ended potential to explain phenomena.

    The necessary physical proprieties necessary for replication is outlined in both papers I referenced. For example, this includes the ability to store information digitally, as it allows for error correction, etc.

  164. 164
    kairosfocus says:

    FFT: The astonishing, glaring — and obviously obliviously unintentional (it would be laughable, were it not so sad) — irony in the above is the patent contradiction between declared subjectivism and/or relativism and the obvious expectation that WE . . . the targets . . . abide by binding moral obligations as perceived towards truth and right.

    In short, the imaginary ideological fantasy of a world of rational creatures exhibiting moral behaviours but where such a binding duty of oughtness is NOT properly grounded is so incoherent . . . so self-referentially inconsistent and self-falsifying . . . that it cannot be argued for without parasiting off — big hint — the fact that implicitly we all know and typically (but not always!) do better.

    The above is replete with examples, just look again if you haven’t already spotted it.

    This has already been pointed out, of course, but the deeply indoctrinated and polarised who have become full of contempt for those who dare to differ with what they imagine is the wave of the future are not genuinely open to correction by mere words.

    (NB: A very familiar pattern for someone who cut his intellectual eyeteeth in dealing with Marxists full of visions of a workers paradise that would usher in utopia if only the wicked forces of reaction could be swept away. That was the 1970’s and 80’s. By the mid 1990’s, Marxism in its classical form was dead, exposed as a cruel, destructive fantasy responsible for the deaths of over 100 million victims of democide, not counting the very considerable contribution of such countries to the shocking Abortion holocaust total of 800+ millions and now mounting up at another million per week. BTW, notice the unresponsiveness and enabling behaviour in response to pointing this out? That is a portent of what is in store by way of infanticide, euthanasia then ruthless mass killing of the targetted, if what we are facing seizes unrestrained power. And no surprise, much of it is rooted in cultural marxist ideology and its resort to so-called critical theory approaches. Alinsky’s rules for radicals then swing into devillish play and we instantly can understand what we see: “4. “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules. You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity.” 5. “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. It is almost impossible to counteract ridicule. Also it infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage.” . . . . 13. Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Yes, Mischief, thou art at thy devillish work.)

    So too, as was pointed out above, when a crooked yardstick of error is set up as standard of truth, right etc, the real truth and right cannot ever pass the test as they will not conform to error; they already conform to reality.

    That is the sad pass we have reached.

    That is the civilisational march of ruinous folly on which we are embarked.

    And if such ill-advised mutineers win the fight to be kubernetes on the ship of state, a voyage of folly to ruin will follow as night follows day.

    That is why it is ever so important for us to first take seriously the task of setting our worldviews straight, and then to look to sorting out the now well-known seven mountains of influence, by reformation. For which, the example of Wilberforce is a vital historical case study.

    That would already be a lot.

    But we have more to say, again by way of repetition for reminder and record:

    HOW DO YOU GET TO A WORLD IN WHICH THERE ARE MORALLY GOVERNED CREATURES THAT LIVE IN COMMUNITIES CRITICALLY DEPENDENT ON MUTUALITY AND TEAMWORK BASED PRODUCTIVITY (INCLUDING FOR UPBRINGING OF CHILDREN)?

    The answer starts from observing — and that already implies that we have a duty of care to attend to evidence that can reveal the truth of the world around us — that we live in a fine tuned cosmos, one that is set to an operating point that facilitates C-chemistry, aqueous medium, cell-based life.

    Where does such a world come from, i/l/o what we know regarding the source of functionally specific, complex organisation? (And, again, duties of care to prudent inductive inference grounded on accurate observation come to the fore.)

    Our world is temporally-causally successive, as the current present — Now, N — leads to the next stage of the world, and as the chain of past once present stages recedes into the past. (More duties, of accurate observation and inference)

    That poses the temporal-causal form of a very familiar trilemma (by duty to follow logic to the bitter end). As was noted in 107 (but was studiously ignored as to its import):

    a: Regress [from a purportedly infinite past]:

    . . . . N-k, . . . N-2, N-1, N –>

    b: Circle of cause:

    {Circle, J –> K AND K –> J] . . . N-k, . . . N-2, N-1, N –>

    c: World-root:

    ROOT –> N-k, . . . N-2, N-1, N –>

    The first is absurd, as the infinite cannot be traversed in successive finite stage steps. The second is just as absurd, as circular causation does not account for origin — non-being cannot cause, and if J and K mutually depend on one another to come into existence, neither chicken nor egg will get started. There is no credible fourth alternative and so we find ourselves facing a finitely remote world root.

    As I went on to point out —

    and I must belabour: notice the implicit issues that we must not simply be driven and blindly controlled by our brain electro chemistry as Crick so self-referentially imagined, we must be free enough and willing enough to attend to, follow and heed the force of logical inference —

    . . . that:

    Of course the observational evidence — such as we have in a world where evidence forced cosmologists to accept a big bang ~ 14 BYA frame — points to the last, but that is not all. Circularity of cause in which J causes K and K J with no further onward cause is absurd. Likewise — and there have been several long exchanges on the involved logic of structure and quantity — an endless, beginningless quasi-temporal succession of stages to reach now implies traversing the transfinite in finite stage successive steps. This too will fail but it seems many cannot be brought to see the unachievable supertask involved.

    We face a need for a finitely remote beginning to the causally successive temporal order, and we face a need onward to have an adequate cause thereof, a necessary [and thus eternal!] being. To see that requires the patience to work through the logic of possible vs impossible and contingent vs necessary, world-framework being. That too, when it was discussed was doubtless thought to be irrelevant verbiage. Unfortunately those who think like that then wish to imagine unfettered by the underlying logical constraints and so will not accept that they are proposing incoherent frames.

    In short, we are looking at the need for a world-root necessary being is capable of creating a fine-tuned cosmos set up to the sort of operating point that our cosmos sits at. That essentially requires intelligence, rationality and awesome power, as say the lifelong agnostic and Nobel-equivalent prize winning Astrophysicist, Sir Fred Hoyle so frankly acknowledged out of his recognition of duties of care to intellectual integrity:

    Once we see that life is cosmic it is sensible to suppose that intelligence is cosmic. Now problems of order, such as the sequences of amino acids in the chains which constitute the enzymes and other proteins, are precisely the problems that become easy once a directed intelligence enters the picture, as was recognised long ago by James Clerk Maxwell in his invention of what is known in physics as the Maxwell demon. The difference between an intelligent ordering, whether of words, fruit boxes, amino acids, or the Rubik cube, and merely random shufflings can be fantastically large, even as large as a number that would fill the whole volume of Shakespeare’s plays with its zeros. So if one proceeds directly and straightforwardly in this matter, without being deflected by a fear of incurring the wrath of scientific opinion, one arrives at the conclusion that biomaterials with their amazing measure or order must be the outcome of intelligent design. No other possibility I have been able to think of in pondering this issue over quite a long time seems to me to have anything like as high a possibility of being true.” [[Evolution from Space (The Omni Lecture[ –> Jan 12th 1982]), Enslow Publishers, 1982, pg. 28. And, there is much more from Hoyle in a similar vein, this is actually the modern source of the term intelligent design.]

    But something deeper is at work, necessary being. Something like a fire is contingent, dependent on enabling, on/off causal factors (here, oxidiser, fuel, heat and an uninterfered with combustion chain reaction . . . how halon extinguishers work). Such beings begin, end if an enabling on/off causal factor is withdrawn, and while they would exist in some possible worlds, will not do so in all. By contrast, a necessary being is embedded in the framework for a world to exist and is independent of enabling, on/off factors. As a simple illustration, try to imagine a world in which distinct identity, A AND ~A — thus two-ness — does not exist, or how such could begin or end. Doubtless some ill-advised interlocutor may wish to suggest otherwise, but no such world — already a distinct identity! — will be possible; it would fail for incoherence.

    So, we can recognise necessary beings as a vital but not commonly discussed category of being.

    However, something more obtains: a serious candidate necessary being will either be impossible (as a square circle — and no, this is by implication a planar figure — is impossible as it requires core characteristics that mutually contradict) or else it will be possible, embedded in the framework for ANY possible world, thus in this actual one also. And, it will be eternal — without beginning or end.

    This is shocking to many today, seemingly preposterously extraordinary. So, let us add a bit more.

    Namely, that the biggest shock of all is that a world manifestly exists.

    Y’see, we can conceive of a true nothing, non-being. Not space, not time, not matter-energy, not-mind. Such has no causal capacity, there is nothing there to have capacities. Thus, were there ever utter non-being, such would forever obtain.

    As a result, if a world now is, SOMETHING always was, something independent of other things, something necessary and eternal. The world-root.

    And so, the biggest shocker of all is that a world is, and by simply being points by force of logic to a necessary being world root.

    One, that credibly is intelligent, purposeful and capable of setting up a world like ours.

    And that already surfaces a big challenge to dominant, domineering lab coat clad evolutionary materialism and its fellow travellers. Such cannot pull a world out of a true nothing. Nor can we appeal to an ultimate chicken-egg loop. Nor can we credibly traverse an actually infinite past in causally successive temporal stages.

    Such imagined worlds are credibly impossible.

    We are forced — by duty to logic — to face a necessary being world root.

    Where, such is credibly rational, thus free. But, freedom to enjoy rationality already embeds the sort of responsibility to truth, right, coherence etc that we have been noticing for ourselves all along. The world root IS, is inherently morally governed, just to get to an orderly, lawful, coherent cosmos. As that Bible thumping fundy — NOT! — Plato recognised in the same passage in The Laws, Bk X we have so often discussed:

    Ath. Nearly all of them, my friends, seem to be ignorant of the nature and power of the soul [[ = psuche], especially in what relates to her origin: they do not know that she is among the first of things, and before all bodies, and is the chief author of their changes and transpositions. And if this is true, and if the soul is older than the body, must not the things which are of the soul’s kindred be of necessity prior to those which appertain to the body?

    Cle. Certainly.

    Ath. Then thought and attention and mind and art and law will be prior to that which is hard and soft and heavy and light; and the great and primitive works and actions will be works of art; they will be the first, and after them will come nature and works of nature, which however is a wrong term for men to apply to them; these will follow, and will be under the government of art and mind.

    Cle. But why is the word “nature” wrong?

    Ath. Because those who use the term mean to say that nature is the first creative power; but if the soul turn out to be the primeval element, and not fire or air, then in the truest sense and beyond other things the soul may be said to exist by nature; and this would be true if you proved that the soul is older than the body, but not otherwise.

    [[ . . . .]

    Ath. . . . when one thing changes another, and that another, of such will there be any primary changing element? How can a thing which is moved by another ever be the beginning of change? Impossible. But when the self-moved changes other, and that again other, and thus thousands upon tens of thousands of bodies are set in motion, must not the beginning of all this motion be the change of the self-moving principle? . . . . self-motion being the origin of all motions, and the first which arises among things at rest as well as among things in motion, is the eldest and mightiest principle of change, and that which is changed by another and yet moves other is second.

    [[ . . . .]

    Ath. If we were to see this power existing in any earthy, watery, or fiery substance, simple or compound-how should we describe it?

    Cle. You mean to ask whether we should call such a self-moving power life?

    Ath. I do.

    Cle. Certainly we should.

    Ath. And when we see soul in anything, must we not do the same-must we not admit that this is life?

    [[ . . . . ]

    Cle. You mean to say that the essence which is defined as the self-moved is the same with that which has the name soul?

    Ath. Yes; and if this is true, do we still maintain that there is anything wanting in the proof that the soul is the first origin and moving power of all that is, or has become, or will be, and their contraries, when she has been clearly shown to be the source of change and motion in all things?

    Cle. Certainly not; the soul as being the source of motion, has been most satisfactorily shown to be the oldest of all things.

    Ath. And is not that motion which is produced in another, by reason of another, but never has any self-moving power at all, being in truth the change of an inanimate body, to be reckoned second, or by any lower number which you may prefer?

    Cle. Exactly.

    Ath. Then we are right, and speak the most perfect and absolute truth, when we say that the soul is prior to the body, and that the body is second and comes afterwards, and is born to obey the soul, which is the ruler?

    [[ . . . . ]

    Ath. If, my friend, we say that the whole path and movement of heaven, and of all that is therein, is by nature akin to the movement and revolution and calculation of mind, and proceeds by kindred laws, then, as is plain, we must say that the best soul takes care of the world and guides it along the good path. [[Plato here explicitly sets up an inference to design (by a good soul) from the intelligible order of the cosmos.]

    Of course, such has been pointed out but studiously, repeatedly ignored. We even have someone in-thread who lives in a world of inductively grounded knowledge who imagines that induction cannot deliver knowledge. Induction cannot deliver utter absolute certainty but it can and does often deliver reliable, trustworthy knowledge — warranted, credibly true belief.

    Where are we?

    At world-root.

    And there we see a bill of requisites building up: necessary, intelligent, powerful, skilled, creative [thus self-moved and initiating] being marked by rationality, responsibility [thus morally governed], goodness.

    No world will be possible without such a necessary being at its root, especially once we know we have a world like ours with morally governed creatures such as ourselves.

    If you would challenge this, kindly show why such a serious candidate necessary being is impossible: _____ (Remember, as fully drawn out we see just one serious candidate: the inherently good and wise and just creator God, the world root, a necessary, maximally great being worthy of loyalty and the free, responsible, reasonable service of doing the good in accord with our evident nature (i.e. the intelligible law of our nature). For years, this challenge has been ducked, dodged, side stepped, distracted from. No prizes for guessing why.)

    We can also see why objectors imagine they can have a world without such a root: they are committed to or deeply influenced by atheistical evolutionary materialistic scientism, directly and/or through its fellow travellers.

    Their favoured worldview is being challenged, and as they are using crooked yardsticks of error to judge truth and right, the errors become self-reinforcing. Especially as they find excuse after excuse to become increasingly polarised against the force of the logic that points so strongly to a different answer.

    They don’t even realise the irony of expecting us to adhere to the binding nature of oughtness, even as they demand the “right” to be subjectivists and/or relativists. They do not realise, that they are trying to make a fish live out of water, and wonder why every time they do that the poor creature soon starts flopping around, then dies.

    They don’t recognise that anything has an inherent nature above the latest incarnations of fermions and bosons and quarks, and so they completely misunderstand contemplative, rationally and responsibly free mind as opposed to GIGO-limited, blindly mechanical and/or stochastic computational substrates. Nor, will they see the incoherence in Crick, or the soundness of correctives from Haldane to Reppert.

    Everything must line up with their crooked yardsticks, or else.

    Might and/or manipulation must make truth, right, reason, etc.

    March of ruinous folly, in pursuit of the ill-advised fantasy of an irretrievably incoherent, impossible world.

    Let us turn back before it is too late.

    KF

  165. 165
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: For reminder, the ship of state:

    It is not too hard to figure out that our civilisation is in deep trouble and is most likely headed for shipwreck. (And of course, that sort of concern is dismissed as “apocalyptic,” or neurotic pessimism that refuses to pause and smell the roses.)

    Plato’s Socrates spoke to this sort of situation, long since, in the ship of state parable in The Republic, Bk VI:

    >>[Soc.] I perceive, I said, that you are vastly amused at having plunged me into such a hopeless discussion; but now hear the parable, and then you will be still more amused at the meagreness of my imagination: for the manner in which the best men are treated in their own States is so grievous that no single thing on earth is comparable to it; and therefore, if I am to plead their cause, I must have recourse to fiction, and put together a figure made up of many things, like the fabulous unions of goats and stags which are found in pictures.

    Imagine then a fleet or a ship in which there is a captain [–> often interpreted, ship’s owner] who is taller and stronger than any of the crew, but he is a little deaf and has a similar infirmity in sight, and his knowledge of navigation is not much better. [= The people own the community and in the mass are overwhelmingly strong, but are ill equipped on the whole to guide, guard and lead it]

    The sailors are quarrelling with one another about the steering – every one is of opinion that he has a right to steer [= selfish ambition to rule and dominate], though he has never learned the art of navigation and cannot tell who taught him or when he learned, and will further assert that it cannot be taught, and they are ready to cut in pieces any one who says the contrary. They throng about the captain, begging and praying him to commit the helm to them [–> kubernetes, steersman, from which both cybernetics and government come in English]; and if at any time they do not prevail, but others are preferred to them, they kill the others or throw them overboard [ = ruthless contest for domination of the community], and having first chained up the noble captain’s senses with drink or some narcotic drug [ = manipulation and befuddlement, cf. the parable of the cave], they mutiny and take possession of the ship and make free with the stores; thus, eating and drinking, they proceed on their voyage in such a manner as might be expected of them [–> Cf here Luke’s subtle case study in Ac 27].

    Him who is their partisan and cleverly aids them in their plot for getting the ship out of the captain’s hands into their own whether by force or persuasion [–> Nihilistic will to power on the premise of might and manipulation making ‘right’ ‘truth’ ‘justice’ ‘rights’ etc], they compliment with the name of sailor, pilot, able seaman, and abuse the other sort of man, whom they call a good-for-nothing; but that the true pilot must pay attention to the year and seasons and sky and stars and winds, and whatever else belongs to his art, if he intends to be really qualified for the command of a ship, and that he must and will be the steerer, whether other people like or not-the possibility of this union of authority with the steerer’s art has never seriously entered into their thoughts or been made part of their calling.

    Now in vessels which are in a state of mutiny and by sailors who are mutineers, how will the true pilot be regarded? Will he not be called by them a prater, a star-gazer, a good-for-nothing?

    [Ad.] Of course, said Adeimantus.

    [Soc.] Then you will hardly need, I said, to hear the interpretation of the figure, which describes the true philosopher in his relation to the State[ –> here we see Plato’s philosoppher-king emerging]; for you understand already.

    [Ad.] Certainly.

    [Soc.] Then suppose you now take this parable to the gentleman who is surprised at finding that philosophers have no honour in their cities; explain it to him and try to convince him that their having honour would be far more extraordinary.

    [Ad.] I will.

    [Soc.] Say to him, that, in deeming the best votaries of philosophy to be useless to the rest of the world, he is right; but also tell him to attribute their uselessness to the fault of those who will not use them, and not to themselves. The pilot should not humbly beg the sailors to be commanded by him –that is not the order of nature; neither are ‘the wise to go to the doors of the rich’ –the ingenious author of this saying told a lie –but the truth is, that, when a man is ill, whether he be rich or poor, to the physician he must go, and he who wants to be governed, to him who is able to govern. The ruler who is good for anything ought not to beg his subjects to be ruled by him [ –> down this road lies the modern solution: a sound, well informed people will seek sound leaders, who will not need to manipulate or bribe or worse, and such a ruler will in turn be checked by the soundness of the people, cf. US DoI, 1776]; although the present governors of mankind are of a different stamp; they may be justly compared to the mutinous sailors, and the true helmsmen to those who are called by them good-for-nothings and star-gazers.

    [Ad.] Precisely so, he said.

    [Soc] For these reasons, and among men like these, philosophy, the noblest pursuit of all, is not likely to be much esteemed by those of the opposite faction; not that the greatest and most lasting injury is done to her by her opponents, but by her own professing followers, the same of whom you suppose the accuser to say, that the greater number of them are arrant rogues, and the best are useless; in which opinion I agreed [–> even among the students of the sound state (here, political philosophy and likely history etc.), many are of unsound motivation and intent, so mere education is not enough, character transformation is critical].

    [Ad.] Yes.

    [Soc.] And the reason why the good are useless has now been explained?

    [Ad.] True.

    [Soc.] Then shall we proceed to show that the corruption of the majority is also unavoidable, and that this is not to be laid to the charge of philosophy any more than the other?

    [Ad.] By all means.

    [Soc.] And let us ask and answer in turn, first going back to the description of the gentle and noble nature.[ — > note the character issue] Truth, as you will remember, was his leader, whom he followed always and in all things [ –> The spirit of truth as a marker]; failing in this, he was an impostor, and had no part or lot in true philosophy [–> the spirit of truth is a marker, for good or ill] . . . >>

    (There is more than an echo of this in Acts 27, a real world case study. [Luke, a physician, was an educated Greek with a taste for subtle references.] This blog post, on soundness in policy, will also help)

    Will we ever learn? Or, are we doomed — as of all people Marx warned — to repeat the past, the first time as tragedy, the next as farce?

  166. 166
    hgp says:

    Armand Jacks @158:

    With respect to objective vs subjective morality, the only difference in my estimation is in where they originate. Not how they affect us.

    Do you know the essay “unspeakable ethics, unnatural law”[1]? It explains some of the differences that exist between those two, and why they are important. If you don’t know it, I recommend reading it. It makes several points about this difference much better than I could hope to explain.

    If you know this essay, then I would like you tell me, in what way you answer the points raised there and come to the conclusion that the only difference between the two kind of systems “is in where they originate”? The essay points out, that there is a qualitative difference between those two kind of systems.

    [1] http://scholarship.law.duke.ed.....ontext=dlj;

  167. 167

    HeKS @148

    Yeah, I get that – that’s why I said it was something to ponder for a while – I was going to think about whether or not one could have god without having moral oughts. One cannot have a universe without a necessary being to ground it (god); oughts do not exist without free, responsible beings with intents that extrapolate the “is” of the world into an “ought”; the question I was pondering is if morality is a necessary category of oughts in any such created universe with free, responsible beings.

    In one sense, the question is academic – we do not live in that universe and this universe was not created by an amoral God. The question remains an interesting one. I’m thinking that just as the physical universe carries in it the basis of oughts derived by beings with intention, so too do other physical manifestations of free will entities. Obviously, however, we have sociopaths that treat other beings as simply physical things and they extract “oughts” from their existence in an amoral manner.

    So, I would say that yes, it is possible for an amoral god to have created an amoral (no moral oughts) universe with free agents that behaved amorally. The next question I suppose from an objector’s standpoint would be, can an amoral god create a universe that – for whatever reason – is populated by free agents that imagine and invent moral codes for their own benefit? IOW, could a fictional structure of morality actually, at it’s heart, be an amoral manipulation of behaviors for the benefit of those who abide it (or at least for those in power)?

    BTW, I say that the question is academic and that we do not live in that world based on experience; through conscience I experience the moral landscape. I know it’s real the same way I know I’m breathing in air and in the same way I know gravitational effects are real. Thankfully I’ve managed to repair much of the damage I inflicted on my conscience when I was an atheist.

  168. 168
    kairosfocus says:

    HGP,

    Thanks.

    Let’s clip the opening remarks:

    UNSPEAKABLE ETHICS, UNNATURAL LAW*
    ARTHUR ALLEN LEFF**
    I want to believe-and so do you-in a complete, transcendent,
    and immanent set of propositions about right and wrong,findable rules
    that authoritatively and unambiguously direct us how to live right-
    eously. I also want to believe-and so do you-in no such thing, but
    rather that we are wholly free, not only to choose for ourselves what we
    ought to do, but to decide for ourselves, individually and as a species,
    what we ought to be. What we want, Heaven help us, is simultaneously
    to be perfectly ruled and perfectly free, that is, at the same time to
    discover the right and the good and to create it.
    I mention the matter here only because I think that the two contra-
    dictory impulses which together form that paradox do not exist only on
    some high abstract level of arcane angst. In fact, it is my central thesis
    that much that is mysterious about much that is written about law to-
    day is understandable only in the context of this tension between the
    ideas of found law and made law: a tension particularly evident in the
    growing, though desperately resisted, awareness that there may be, in
    fact, nothing to be found-that whenever we set out to find “the law,”
    we are able to locate nothing more attractive, or more final, than our-selves.
    My plan for this Article, then, is as follows. I shall first try to
    prove to your satisfaction that there cannot be any normative system ultimately based on anything except human will.’ I shall then try to
    trace some of the scars left on recent jurisprudential writings by this
    growing, and apparently terrifying, realization. Finally, I shall say a
    few things about-of all things-law and the way in which the impossi-bility of normative grounding necessarily shapes attitudes toward con-
    stitutional interpretation.
    2
    Consider what a “finder” of law must do. He must reach for a set
    of normative propositions in the form “one ought to do X,” or “it is
    right to do X,” that will serve in, indeed serve as the foundation for, a
    legal system. Once found, these propositions must themselves be im-
    mune from further criticism.
    [–> of course, Leff has absorbed the little error at the beginning, that there are no self-evident truths that can serve as a plumbline for our schemes of thought, he thus dooms his efforts to failure by attacking a strawman target] Of course, once the finder finds what it is
    he is looking for, his work is not necessarily over. He may still work
    with the propositions, show their interactions, argue about their reach
    and implications, rationalize, restate, and reflect. But the propositions
    he has found are the premises of his system, and once found they can-
    not just be dispensed with. That which is found becomes a given for
    the system, however the system may be systematically manipulated. It
    is not created by the finder, and therefore it cannot be changed by him,
    or even challenged.
    Imagine, now, a legal system based upon perceived normative pro-
    positions-oughts-which are absolutely binding, wholly unquestiona-
    ble, once found. Consider the normative proposition, “Thou shalt not
    commit adultery.” Under what circumstances, if any, would one con-
    clude that it is wrong to commit adultery? Maybe it helps to put the
    question another way: when would it be impermissible to make the
    formal intellectual equivalent of what is known in barrooms and
    schoolyards as “the grand sez who”? Putting it that way makes it clear
    that if we are looking for an evaluation, we must actually be looking
    for an evaluator: some machine for the generation of judgments on
    states of affairs. If the evaluation is to be beyond question, then the
    evaluator and its evaluative processes must be similarly insulated. If it
    is to fulfill its role, the evaluator must be the unjudged judge, the un-
    ruled legislator, the premise maker who rests on no premises, the un-
    created creator of values. Now, what would you call such a thing if it
    existed? You would call it Him.
    There is then, this one longstanding, widely accepted ethical and
    legal system that is based upon the edicts of an unchallengeable creator
    of the right and the good, in which the only job of the person who
    would do right is tofind what the evaluator said. Assuming that I know

    Oh, how far we have fallen. And oh, do we not sense in all of this an implicit appeal to an utterly evident law of our nature: we ought to seek and serve the truth?

    In short, the utter incoherence is there from the outset, in self-referential form. Hon. Master Leff, if WE are under force of ought, are you not also?

    The crooked yardstick, predictably, locks out the truth and the right.

    Let us remind ourselves from Cicero, in De Legibus:

    —Marcus: . . . the subject of our present discussion . . . comprehends the universal principles of equity and law. In such a discussion therefore on the great moral law of nature, the practice of the civil law can occupy but an insignificant and subordinate station. For according to our idea, we shall have to explain the true nature of moral justice, which is congenial and correspondent [36]with the true nature of man. We shall have to examine those principles of legislation by which all political states should be governed. And last of all, shall we have to speak of those laws and customs which are framed for the use and convenience of particular peoples, which regulate the civic and municipal affairs of the citizens, and which are known by the title of civil laws.

    Quintus. —You take a noble view of the subject, my brother, and go to the fountain–head of moral truth, in order to throw light on the whole science of jurisprudence: while those who confine their legal studies to the civil law too often grow less familiar with the arts of justice than with those of litigation.

    Marcus. —Your observation, my Quintus, is not quite correct. It is not so much the science of law that produces litigation, as the ignorance of it, (potius ignoratio juris litigiosa est quam scientia) . . . . With respect to the true principle of justice, many learned men have maintained that it springs from Law. I hardly know if their opinion be not correct, at least, according to their own definition; for “Law (say they) is the highest reason, implanted in nature, which prescribes those things which ought to be done, and forbids the contrary.” This, they think, is apparent from the converse of the proposition; because this same reason, when it [37]is confirmed and established in men’s minds, is the law of all their actions.

    They therefore conceive that the voice of conscience is a law, that moral prudence is a law, whose operation is to urge us to good actions, and restrain us from evil ones. They think, too, that the Greek name for law (NOMOS), which is derived from NEMO, to distribute, implies the very nature of the thing, that is, to give every man his due. For my part, I imagine that the moral essence of law is better expressed by its Latin name, (lex), which conveys the idea of selection or discrimination. According to the Greeks, therefore, the name of law implies an equitable distribution of goods: according to the Romans, an equitable discrimination between good and evil.

    The true definition of law should, however, include both these characteristics. And this being granted as an almost self–evident proposition, the origin of justice is to be sought in the divine law of eternal and immutable morality. This indeed is the true energy of nature, the very soul and essence of wisdom, the test of virtue and vice.

    And, Locke in Ch 2 Section 5 of his essay on human understanding [with onward discussion from Hooker]:

    >. . . if I cannot but wish [–> accurately perceiving my own moral worth and so my rights] 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 [–> accurately perceiving that here are others of like nature] . . . 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. [–> notice, imposes, by the sense of my own moral state and the perception of others who are as I am, I have reciprocity of duties of care in community] 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

    [–> these teach us so that we come to knowledge of morality: warranted, credibly true beliefs; of course, this is not the basis for that warrant, that lies in a world-foundational, world-root, world-source IS that inherently grounds OUGHT. And therein lieth a deep root of hyperskepticism on this, for if we are inherently — by patent facts of our nature as responsibly free and rational, valuable beings — under moral government and moral law, it points straight to a world root level Lawgiver and Governor. That is, to the inherently good Creator God, a necessary and maximally great being worthy of ultimate loyalty and the reasonable service of doing the good in accord with our nature]

    . . . [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 [–> being core principles of law derived from reciprocity and my sense of my own worth and quite evident to such as Aristotle] . . . [Eccl. Polity, preface, Bk I, “ch.” 8, p.80]

    St. Paul puts much the same point, this way:

    Rom 2:1 . . . you have no excuse or justification, everyone of you who [hypocritically] [a]judges and condemns others; for in passing judgment on another person, you condemn yourself, because you who judge [from a position of arrogance or self-righteousness] are habitually practicing the very same things [which you denounce]. 2 And we know that the judgment of God falls justly and in accordance with truth on those who practice such things. 3 But do you think this, O man, when you judge and condemn those who practice such things, and yet do the same yourself, that you will escape God’s judgment and elude His verdict? 4 Or do you have no regard for the wealth of His kindness and tolerance and patience [in withholding His wrath]? Are you [actually] unaware or ignorant [of the fact] that God’s kindness leads you to repentance [that is, to change your inner self, your old way of thinking—seek His purpose for your life]? 5 But because of your callous stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are [deliberately] storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed . . . .

    14 When Gentiles, who do not have the Law [since it was given only to Jews], do [c]instinctively the things the Law requires [guided only by their conscience], they are a law to themselves, though they do not have the Law. 15 They show that the [d]essential requirements of the Law are written in their hearts; and their conscience [their sense of right and wrong, their moral choices] bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or perhaps defending them 16 on that day when, [e]as my gospel proclaims, God will judge the secrets [all the hidden thoughts and concealed sins] of men through Christ Jesus . . . .

    Rom 13:8 [b]Owe nothing to anyone except to [c]love and seek the best for one another; for he who [unselfishly] loves his neighbor has fulfilled the [essence of the] law [relating to one’s fellowman]. 9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet,” and any other commandment are summed up in this statement: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong [–> NIV, “harm”] to a neighbor [it never hurts anyone]. Therefore [unselfish] love is the fulfillment of the Law.

    11 Do this, knowing that this is a critical time. It is already the hour for you to awaken from your sleep [of spiritual complacency]; for our salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed [in Christ]. 12 The night [this present evil age] is almost gone and the day [of Christ’s return] is almost here. So let us fling away the works of darkness and put on the [full] armor of light. 13 Let us conduct ourselves properly and honorably as in the [light of] day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and irresponsibility, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for [nor even think about gratifying] the flesh in regard to its improper desires. [AMP]

    How dare you quote that, that, that piece of rubbish written to oppress us under that imaginary bronze age sky tyrant!

    Actually, Paul is pointing to the law we can find as close as our own consciences and as close as our own outrage when we feel that we have been wronged (instantly forgetting that we are guilty of much the same).

    We show every sign of knowing that we have responsible, rational, significant freedom and ought to use that in the path of persisting in love that treats neighbour as we would wish to be treated. But, oh, how we want to be the exception to the rule, to indulge ourselves at the expense of the other!

    And so, it is our inconsistency that is one of the most striking evidences.

    Where, of course, the notion that we are not under any higher obligation than we make up opens the door to amorality and the nihilism of might and manipulation make right. Ending in ruin.

    Besides, this would directly entail that our inescapable, pervasive sense that we are under the law of a morally governed nature, is utterly delusional. Where, there are no firewalls in mindedness, so — never mind how this is brushed aside or dismissed or studiously, sullenly ignored — so the implication of this view is that we are victims of grand delusion.

    The proud edifice of rationalism then collapses, by its direct implication that as a race, we are mad.

    But of course, those who insist on measuring by a crooked yardstick refuse to hear or heed any such point.

    And they demand that we join the march of ruinous folly.

    KF

  169. 169
    kairosfocus says:

    WJM, responsibility and thus moral government is intrinsic to rationality, which requires freedom. The very act of conceiving of and creating a coherent world is shot through with moral considerations on truth, logic, coherence, etc. Just ponder the role of the logic of structure and quantity in a cosmos. That is, mathematics. Further to this, ponder the logic of necessary being (as in, framework to any possible world) keyed to the grand fact of the existence of THIS cosmos involving morally governed creatures. I discussed in more details earlier this morning. KF

  170. 170
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF

    The first is absurd, as the infinite cannot be traversed in successive finite stage steps. The second is just as absurd, as circular causation does not account for origin — non-being cannot cause, and if J and K mutually depend on one another to come into existence, neither chicken nor egg will get started. There is no credible fourth alternative and so we find ourselves facing a finitely remote world root.

    There isn’t?

    From this essay: Cracking the Dogmatic Framework of Thought

    The Dogmatic Structure

    Popper identified an authoritarian strand at the heart of Western epistemology in a paper delivered to the Royal Society in 1960 and reprinted as the Introduction to Conjectures and Refutations. In this paper he set out to resolve some aspects of the dispute between the British and the Continental schools of philosophy. The British school insisted that the source of all genuine knowledge was observation; in contrast the Continental school promoted intellectual intuition, the perception of clear and distinct ideas, as the basis of true beliefs.
    Popper pressed two claims:

    1.Both sides were wrong.
    2.Each had more in common than they realised.

    As to each side being wrong, he argued that observation and reason each have roles to play in the growth of knowledge, but neither can be described as authoritative sources of knowledge.

    As to their common features, they share a certain religious tone in their authoritarian attitude to the alleged sources of knowledge. They also share the naively optimistic view that the truth is clearly visible to all those who are willing to see it, meaning those who employ the right method and the right source of knowledge.

    Popper showed how overly optimistic theories of knowledge, combined with a strong element of moralism about being right, produce a very nasty downside – the conspiracy theory of ignorance. George Orwell described this as applied by Catholics and Communists: “Each of them tacitly claims that ‘the truth’ has already been revealed, and that the heretic if he is not simply a fool, is secretly aware of ‘the truth’ and merely resists it out of selfish motives”. [sound familiar?]
    Popper explained that the traditional theories of knowledge are essentially concerned with authoritative sources of belief. Consequently no amount of debate between rival schools does anything to challenge the authoritarian framework assumptions that they all share.
    In contrast, he argues that no ideal sources exist and all “sources” are capable of leading us in the wrong direction. He proposed to replace the question of sources by very different questions: “How can we generate better ideas to promote the growth of knowledge?” and “How can we hope to detect and eliminate error?”‘ For new ideas we have to make use of our imagination. For error-elimination we have to use all forms of criticism to the best of our ability (see the four forms of criticism described in my previous article on Popper).
    The question of the sources of our knowledge, like so many authoritarian questions, is a genetic one. It asks for the origin of our knowledge, in the belief that knowledge may legitimate itself by its pedigree…if possible from God.

    His own approach derives from the view that pure and certain sources do not exist, and that questions of origin or of purity should not be confounded with questions of validity, or of truth.
    This insight into the authoritarian tradition inspired Bartley to pursue a fundamental critique of the quest for positively justified beliefs, an error, which he labeled “justificationism”. The target of Bartley’s critique is the dogmatic or ‘true belief’ theory of rationality which demands positive justification as the criterion of rationality. This demand is summed up in the formula:
    Beliefs must be justified by an appeal to an authority of some kind, generally the source of the belief in question, and this justification makes the belief either rational, or if not rational at least valid for the person who holds it.

    The problem is to specify a suitable authority for certified beliefs. In the Anglo Saxon tradition of Empiricism the authority of sense experience was adopted. In the Continental Rationalist tradition, following Descartes, the locus of authority resides with the intellectual intuition. Both Empiricism and Rationalism evolved in conflict with ancient intellectual and religious authorities and their essentially individualistic ethos was recruited by political movements seeking liberty, equality and fraternity. But they did not challenge the deep-seated theory of justificationism, which provided the common framework of thought in which the rival schools waged their battles for intellectual, moral and political authority.

    Infinite Regress versus Dogmatism

    The true belief framework is fundamentally flawed due to the perennial problem of validation and the dilemma of the infinite regress versus dogmatism. Sextus Empiricus was one of the first people to draw attention to this (circa 200 AD) and more recently David Hume made it topical with his devastating critique of induction. The dilemma arises as follows: If a belief claims validation by a supporting argument, what justifies the support? Where and how does the chain of justifications stop? If one attempts to provide reasons for the supporting argument then an infinite regress can be forced by anyone who presses for more supporting statements which in turn demand justification. It appears that this can only be avoided by a dogmatic or arbitrary decision to stop the regress at some stage and settle on a belief at that point.

    This dilemma creates ‘conscientious objections’ to open-mindedness because a logical chain of argument apparently justifies resistance to counter arguments by suggesting that the only way out of the infinite regress is to place an arbitrary limit on criticism at some point: ‘Here I stand’. To the despair of people who believe in reason, their opponents can defeat the principle of open-ended criticism and debate on impeccably logical grounds, simply by pointing to the problem of the infinite regress.

    Critical Preference

    The solution is to abandon the quest for positive justification and instead to settle for a critical preference for one option rather than others, in the light of critical arguments and evidence offered to that point. A preference may (or may not) be revised in the light of new evidence and arguments. This appears to be a simple, commonsense position but it defies the dominant traditions of Western thought which have almost all taught that some authority provides (or ought to provide) grounds for positively justified beliefs.

    Bartley published his solution to the logical problem of rationality and the limits of criticism in the early 1960s but the impact of his work was blunted by several factors. He first spelled out his ideas in the context of the evolution of modern Protestant theology and neither the theologians nor the philosophers took much notice. Some regarded Bartley as an eccentric theologian with a tendency to atheism. The problem of rationality is generally posed in non-logical terms and so Bartley’s logical approach is likely to be regarded as unimportant or irrelevant. Threats to rationality are often depicted as psychological (pace Freud and Jung) or sociological (Marx) or due to relativity (Einstein) or uncertainty and indeterminism (Heisenberg.) In addition, as a revolutionary innovation Bartley’s theory renders redundant most of the academic debate about rationality and belief. This is a threat that many professional philosophers are more than happy to hold at bay.

    First, does this not seem familiar? Second, how is this not credible?

  171. 171
    daveS says:

    KF,

    A couple of questions, perhaps more FFT rather than anything:

    As a simple illustration, try to imagine a world in which distinct identity, A AND ~A — thus two-ness — does not exist, or how such could begin or end. Doubtless some ill-advised interlocutor may wish to suggest otherwise, but no such world — already a distinct identity! — will be possible; it would fail for incoherence.

    Do three-ness, four-ness, and five-ness also exist necessarily?

    My other question is in a completely different direction, and simply a request for clarification. I take it that just as in mathematics, there are no “free parameters” in objective morality. In other words, just as even God could not arrange for e^iπ to be a number other than −1, He cannot choose to make some action moral or immoral—it just is moral or immoral, period. Could humans simply have the ability to discern (however imperfectly) this objective morality, even in the absence of a God?

  172. 172
    critical rationalist says:

    … of course, I only pose this question rhetorically, knowing full well that none of this will even make a dent in your defense. That fact, however, doesn’t make the physics go away.

    Again…

    What physical theory of information are you referring to? How does making this request represent ignoring the issue? What physics will not go away? How does that translate into your conclusion?

    “The physics” therefore design is not an argument.

    IOW, I could just as well “predict” you will fail to produce an argument as to why my criticisms are not relevant.

  173. 173
    critical rationalist says:

    As a simple illustration, try to imagine a world in which distinct identity, A AND ~A — thus two-ness — does not exist, or how such could begin or end. Doubtless some ill-advised interlocutor may wish to suggest otherwise, but no such world — already a distinct identity! — will be possible; it would fail for incoherence.

    Yes, KF. Trying to imagine A AND ~A is an attempt to take a claim seriously for the purpose of criticism. That’s my point. Again, not having a good criticism of an idea is not the same as holding it immune to criticism, therefore making it a candidate for justifying non-basic beliefs. That a theory plays a integral role in our current, best theories is a criticism that the belief is false.

    In fact, having picked A AND ~A as an example means you attempted to criticize it and came back with none. If you held it immune to criticism, you would have no reason to have chosen it, instead of some other idea.

    Again, how is this incompatible with what you call basic-beliefs?

  174. 174

    CR,

    So, it’s a question of knowledge, which is why I keep asking you for the origin of that knowledge.

    Facepalm.

    You didn’t hear a word I said, did you? When I predict that you are incapable of responding to the actual claim of ID, the least you could do is try.

    But you don’t, and you can’t afford to. You can’t afford to acknowledge the actual claim of ID for the very reasons I have previously outlined. To do so would put you in the position of having to agree with those claims – the very last thing you can allow yourself to do.

    In any case, once more for the cheap seats:

    Biological ID claims that a universal correlate of intelligence can be detected in the origin of life on earth. Quoting directly from my last post:

    Biological ID is not about the ultimate source of knowledge. Biological ID is not about where the intelligence that organized the first self-replicating cell on earth got its knowledge. It’s not about the motivations, goals, or hair color of that intelligence. It’s about none of those things. It’s about the detection of an act of intelligence in the origin of life on earth.

    How the intelligence that organized life on earth knew how to organize life on earth is completely irrelevant to the detection of that intelligence. If SETI receives a narrow-band radio signal from space counting off the first 100 prime numbers, we will not ask “how do they know” what a prime number is? We will not say. “no, no, no … we must first know how they gained this knowledge” before we can grasp the significance.

    Again, you will not respond to this.

  175. 175
    critical rationalist says:

    Again, I already did respond to this. Coronation is not causation.

    Specifically I’m looking for criticism along the lines of “The explanation for that knowledge is X, Y and Z. However, evolution doesn’t fit that explanation.” This is in contrast to an appeal to induction by saying “every time we’ve experienced knowledge, it has been accompanied by intelligent agents.” and since the future (and distant past) resembles the (recent) past, the designer of organisms was an intelligent agent.

    But the future is unlike the past in a vast number of ways. It’s our explanations of how the world works that indicates what we will experience. For example, if our long chain of independently obtained explanations for how our sun works indicated it would suddenly grow cold when its fuel supply is exhausted and that will occur in roughly 4.6 billon billion years after it was formed, we wouldn’t expect the sun to rise tomorrow despite having experienced it rising every day for the entirety of human existence.

    The significance is based on the explanation for the origin of that knowelge not based on merely what we’ve experienced it in the past. If something else is compatable with that explanation, there can be more than one source of it.

    On the other hand, I’m saying that the explanation for how human designers create the knowledge they posses is variation and criticism. We [people] create both explanatory and non-explanatory knowledge. Evolution does fit this explanation, in that the non-explanatory knowledge in genes is created by variation and selection. Both fall under the universal explanation for the growth of knowledge.

    But don’t just take my word for it. Do you think every intelligent agent must have a complex material brain because every designer we’ve experienced had one?

  176. 176
    critical rationalist says:

    How the intelligence that organized life on earth knew how to organize life on earth is completely irrelevant to the detection of that intelligence. If SETI receives a narrow-band radio signal from space counting off the first 100 prime numbers, we will not ask “how do they know” what a prime number is? We will not say. “no, no, no … we must first know how they gained this knowledge” before we can grasp the significance.

    A narrow band transmitter would only be the result of explanatory knowledge, which has enough reach to, well, reach beyond the planet of origin so we could detect it. By reach, I mean the ability to solve problems beyond the exact situation originally encountered. Only people can create explanatory knowledge by conjecturing theories about the world works in an attempt to solve a problem, criticizing those theories and discarding errors we find. We are universal explainers. This is contrast to non-explanatory knowledge, which are useful rules of thumb, which have limited reach. So, yes, our explanation for the growth of knowledge is relevant in determining the significants of such a discovery.

    The idea that some other species would also value prime numbers is yet another explanatory theory that primes should have use not just to themselves, but to other people even in environments they have never observed before. That is reach.

  177. 177
    Origenes says:

    Critical Rationalist,

    CR: IOW, what you seem to be suggesting is that a designer created the a set of macro functions in the form of DNA molecules that is a domain specific language (DSL) for creating organisms, in the way that the Ruby on Rails developers built a DSL on top of the Ruby programming language for creating web applications.

    ID does not speculate on the way life was designed, or on the way that design was implemented. ID is neutral on the hypothesis that the design of life is similar to the way “that the Ruby on Rails developers built a DSL on top of the Ruby programming language for creating web applications”. IOWs ID does not concern itself with the ‘how’ question.

    CR: So, it’s a question of knowledge, which is why I keep asking you for the origin of that knowledge.

    ID has adopted a common sense approach wrt the origin of ‘knowledge’, evidenced by trillions of cases, namely that intelligence is involved.

    UB: Moreover, physicists can clearly identify that system among all other physical systems, and have only identified that type of physical system in one other place anywhere in the cosmos — that is, during the use of written language and mathematics, which are two universal correlates of intelligence.

    Another interesting follow-up question would be: “what is the origin of intelligence?” However, these second-order questions are outside of the domain of ID.
    You have also asked:

    CR: When I ask with the origin of that knowledge, I’m looking for an explanation for how intelligence results in a designer possessing it that knowledge. What is that explanation?

    I’m not sure if I understand your question, however, I’m pretty sure it also refers to something outside of the domain of ID.

    Eric Anderson: ID is not an attempt to answer all questions. It is a limited inquiry into whether something was designed. Questions about who, why, how, when are all interesting second-order questions that can be asked only after an inference to design is drawn. You may want, deeply in your heart of hearts, for ID to answer all of those questions. But that is a failure of your expectations, not ID itself.

    CR: What physical theory of information are you referring to?

    You may want to start here: biosemiosis.org

  178. 178
    HeKS says:

    jdk,

    We previously had this exchange:

    A root-level of reality which grounds what IS, including life, but does not ground OUGHT–which is supremely unconcerned about specific events and behaviors in the world at all levels–is not a logical impossibility.

    If we accept your point that the IS part is necessary, what is your position? Is a root-level IS without an OUGHT an incoherent impossibility or a logical possibility?

    Well, I don’t think that the coherence of that proposition is anywhere near as obvious as you seem to believe. I think there are several problems with the idea, both logical and empirical, and at multiple levels, and I think KF has actually touched on some of these. That said, I have to run out for a few hours, so I’ll try to offer more thoughts on the subject either later tonight or tomorrow.

    I don’t have a ton of time, but let me elaborate on this bit to explain why I don’t think a scenario where a world-root IS exists (something I consider a logical necessity) but no OUGHTs exist is an obviously coherent one.

    The first thing that I think needs to be kept in mind is some of the entailments of a necessary being vs a contingent being. A necessary being, in the absolute sense (which is what is needed as a world-root being), cannot depend on anything external for its existence. In other words, a being that is necessary in the absolute sense does not HAVE a context or exist WITHIN a context but is, itself, THE context. Anything that relies on a larger context for its existence is contingent to one degree or another, not necessary in the absolute sense.

    This means that at the root of reality we must have some necessary being that forms the context for reality but did not exist within some context larger than itself, like some kind of external spacetime. At some point that necessary being exhausted reality, with no space or time external to itself, and everything else that came to exist has its ultimate root in that necessary being. This means that the necessary being is the foundation or bedrock of reality and is suffused into the fabric of existence. Reality is, in some meaningful sense, directly out of this necessary being. It had to produce reality, not merely shape it. This, in turn, means that whatever this world-root necessary being IS in some way informs and forms the basis for what reality IS (and just to be clear, when I speak of “reality” I don’t just mean physical reality, but rather the entirety of everything produced by that necessary being, whether physical or otherwise). But if whatever this necessary being IS forms the basis for what reality is, then the nature of the necessary being would be properly normative for reality. Because the necessary being provides an absolute context for all of reality, it stands as the absolute standard for how reality OUGHT to be in order to be consistent with its ultimate nature and source. Because I and other theists believe it is necessary that this being must be personal, capable of making a free choice to cause a new effect, and because its personality would have to be directly rooted in its essential nature, its personality would form part of the normative standard for reality. So, to the extent that this necessary being would have ‘moral positions’ rooted in its essential nature, those moral positions would impose a normative moral framework on reality, somewhat similar to the way the laws of physics (in their actuality, not merely their scientific descriptions) impose a sort of normative physical framework on the physical world. As surely as walking off a cliff immediately results in you plummeting to your death, acting contrary to the moral framework undergirding reality immediately results in you plummeting into sin. The objective reality is what it is, but neither the laws of physics nor the laws of morality will prevent you from making stupid choices. (Let’s not get too wrapped up in the gravity comparison, as it is merely being used to illustrate a kind of ontological relationship, not an epistemological one).

    So, to summarize the problem presented here for your proposition of a reality with a world-root IS but no OUGHTs … If that world-root IS is a personal necessary being with moral positions rooted in its nature, then the concept of a reality produced by that being but lacking any OUGHTs would not seem to be a coherent possibility. And it’s important to note that this would be the case regardless of whether or not that being chooses to mete out any rewards or punishments for good or bad moral behavior. Indeed, it would hold even if the being didn’t ultimately care about moral behavior, because the OUGHTs, such as they are, would be derived not from that being’s interest in the moral behavior of intelligent beings, per se, but from the very nature of that being’s causal relationship to reality. This is also why the Euthyphro dilemma fails. The Good is not merely some external reality that God comments on, nor is it something that God establishes by decree on a whim, but it is rooted in the very essential nature of God and informs the fabric of reality that God has produced.

    Now, that is merely one of the logical problems with the proposition, but as I said earlier, there are also empirical problems, and Ill cover some of those very quickly.

    You speak of the potential lack of OUGHTs in the world on the basis of the possibility of a world-root IS that simply doesn’t care about outcomes in the world it produces. This seems problematic on numerous counts. To begin with, the initial conditions for the origin of our own universe appear to have been very finely-tuned to allow for a specific outcome, namely the arrival of intelligent life. I and many others here would say that further fine-tuning took place at the level of our solar system and planet for the same purpose, and at all these levels to make the universe scientifically discoverable to the intelligent life that would ultimately come to exist here. We also see some manner of intervention in the origin of life and at various other points on the path to intelligent human life. We also see a need for involvement in the creation of a rational mind capable of having thoughts that are about things and capable of rational deliberation and deducing conclusions on the basis of the contents of premises, all of which necessarily implies an aspect of the mind that goes beyond the merely physical. We also find that these minds not only have thoughts about moral issues, but a sense that these thoughts are connected to a deeper reality, and perhaps most telling, that we feel a deep-seated compulsion that we OUGHT to do what we BELIEVE is good, whether or not we happen to be correct in discerning the moral status of some particular behavior. I say that this last point may be the most telling, because even if there is disagreement about what courses of action really are good, the sense that we OUGHT to do whatever the good is is universal, except among those that we would consider to have some kind of mental or emotional pathology. And, of course, in the case of Christians, we believe there is historical evidence supporting the resurrection of Christ from the dead.

    All of these factors, individually and collectively, suggest a world-root IS that is anything but disinterested in the outcomes taking place within the reality it has produced. Instead they strongly point to a cause for existence that cares about intelligent life and about the moral behavior of that life.

    Anyway, those are just some fairly quick thoughts on the issue of whether it is coherent to suggest that there could be a world-root IS but no OUGHTs within the reality it produces. That coherence seems to face trouble on both logical and empirical grounds. The nature of the causal relationship between the world-root and the world would seem to call into question the logical coherence of the proposition, while the empirical facts we have access to would seem to seriously call into question its coherence as a possibly true description of the reality we actually live in. Its possible coherence might be limited to a narrow hypothetical scenario in which the world-root, though being personal, has no essential moral positions and produces a reality of pure chaos in which it does not intervene to make possible the existence of intelligent beings with ingrained moral proddings. But that, in any case, is not our reality.

    Take care,
    HeKS

  179. 179
    HeKS says:

    Critical Rationalist,

    Are you Popperian (the person who used to comment here under that name)?

  180. 180
    critical rationalist says:

    In case it’s not clear, the source of the signal would also be a “person” in the context I’m using the term because it was capable of creating explanatory knowledge. So would any general artificial intelligence. People are universal explainers.

  181. 181

    Oh good grief CR, you are constitutionally incapable of addressing the issue. On the one hand, you are setting up to argue that the capacity to establish a general purpose digital language isn’t really a correlate of intelligence (good luck on that one), and on the other hand you want to know if I believe designers have brains!!

    Hello?

    It does not matter if I believe designers have brains. It does not matter if you think designers have brains.

    1) ID claims that a universal correlate of intelligence can be detected in the origin of life on earth.

    2) That correlate of intelligence has been established by physical analysis. (about 50 years ago)

    It doesn’t matter if I believe the intelligence has brains or not. That is nothing but a distraction from the observable physical evidence. You just don’t seem to be able to get yourself (and your sociological needs) out of the chain of evidence long enough to grasp it.

    Again, you will not address this issue.

  182. 182
    kairosfocus says:

    CR,

    First, there is a point by point response in the old thread.

    Second, the trilemma framework for causal chains more or less exhausts options.

    Notice, I first pointed to the successive, temporal-causal structure of our world (implying finite stages BTW), Then the issue is the past root of the chain. Infinite succession, chicken-egg loop or finitely remote start point.

    While you posted a chunk about authoritarianism etc, you did not actually provide a fourth. If you believe there is, kindly give it, explaining the dynamics: _________

    I think, somewhere you seem to have objected to causality. If you do so, I suggest you ponder the chain of ancestry that brought you here, and stretch events back to say 13.8 or so BYA, and into whatever you imagine lies beyond. Kindly explain how causal-temporal succession of stages does not apply to the cosmological level being discussed, if you challenge cause: _________

    KF

  183. 183
    kairosfocus says:

    HeKs, 178 — good discussion. I add another factor, part of necessary reality is logical-structural [start with: Math as the logic of structure and quantity]. Further to this, failing to heed such structure tied to functionality and purpose will have painful consequences, already defining quite a fair number of oughts along the lines of giving a fish “freedom” outside of its existential requisite, oxygenated water. (a lot of the more idiotic demands for “rights” and “identities” that I see strike me as being much like fish complaining about being imprisoned in water instead of making the most of their life-giving medium.) A similar case for rational, socially interdependent and communicative creatures is that general deceit is ruinous, as the Kant Categorical Imperative indicates. But even at world-creative level, the structuring of a world is inherently a rational process. Such rationality inherently requires true freedom and responsibilities in its use in that grand creative context, thus moral government as a necessary component of sound rationality. What objectors really need to do is to come up with a coherent alternative world-root being: __________ I suggest, one reason they haven’t is because they cannot. Nor, can they cogently suggest a good reason why the candidate on the table is an impossible being. KF

  184. 184
    critical rationalist says:

    @UB

    2) That correlate of intelligence has been established by physical analysis. (about 50 years ago)

    It was? Then there should be decades of papers which you can reference. Where are they? Why has my question gone unanswered for the umpteenth time?

    Furthermore, ID is supposedly based on an inductive inference from human designers. There are trillions of observations of information correlated with “intelligence”. Nor have we observed information without a designer. Sources we have not observed are excluded. However, my criticism is that the future is unlike the past in a vast number of ways, and it’s simply impossible for them to continue in every way. For example, one could claim those very same observations are an inductive inference that establishes that intelligence is a sign of complex material brains. We know of no other form of intelligence. Yet I’m guessing ID proponents are unwilling to exclude non-material designers because they have yet to be observed. Nor can material brains design themselves.

    Instead of induction, I’ve suggested our expectations of what we will experience is not based on past experience, but explanatory theories about howe the world works. And I’ve given examples of this, including our expectation of experiencing the sun rising tomorrow.

    Finally, I’ve given concrete examples of precursors to universality in number systems, computation. etc. When people were the result of a leap to universality, it was often not an intentional goal. They stumbled upon it. RNA is a concrete precursor to DNA in biological organisms.

    As for failing to respond, I don’t recall you actually addressing the above criticisms by either quoting them or stating them back in a way that actually acknowledged the arguments they represent.

    Apparently, everyone knows organisms were designed. It’s obvious and no response is necessary.

  185. 185
    jdk says:

    to HeKS.

    Your post at 178 is thoughtful, articulate, and well-reasoned: a keeper as a statement in favor of the IS-OUGHT connection.

    However, it is based, as you say, on the fact that “I and other theists believe it is necessary that this being must be personal …”

    But that right there is the point under contention, because I am offering, as a logical possibility, that the IS of the universe is not a personal being. It is not a logical impossibility that the root-level of reality, while capable of creating the fine-tuned universe we live in, with all its features, including life, is not a personal being that is interested in the specifics details of what goes on in this world.

    Of course a theist sees this differently, but it is not a logical impossibility for a finely-tuned universe, with free, rational creatures within it, to exist without the root-level of IS having the personal characteristic of caring about, or having any expectations for, the behavior of those creatures.

    Similarly, from an empirical point of view (and that part of your post was also well done), you write,

    We also find that these minds not only have thoughts about moral issues, but a sense that these thoughts are connected to a deeper reality, and perhaps most telling, that we feel a deep-seated compulsion that we OUGHT to do what we BELIEVE is good, whether or not we happen to be correct in discerning the moral status of some particular behavior.

    You describe the sense of a theist, but the fact that some people feel this way is not evidence that what they feel is true. Other people (me, for instance) understand the nature of moral and other normative structures in people and society in a different way: one that does not posit their being connected to a deeper reality. Again, this is exactly the issue at hand.

    So you have done a good job of explaining how a theist sees the situation, arguing that an IS-OUGHT connection exists at the root-level of reality, but you haven’t really impacted the statement that it is logically possible for the IS not to contain the OUGHT. It is incoherent to the theist to consider such a world, but the argument here, for me, is not whether theism is true, but whether it might be, logically, that we live in a finely-tuned universe and be free, rational creatures, but that theism is false because the root-level of reality is a not personal being.

    And last, you write,

    Its possible coherence might be limited to a narrow hypothetical scenario in which the world-root, though being personal, has no essential moral positions and produces a reality of pure chaos in which it does not intervene to make possible the existence of intelligent beings with ingrained moral proddings. But that, in any case, is not our reality.

    I’m not sure why the a world-root “which does not intervene to make possible the existence of intelligent beings with ingrained moral proddings” would produce pure chaos. I find it easy to imagine that free, rational beings capable of understanding the physical and social world as we do might not produce various psychological and social structures about how people ought to behave in order to meet their needs at all levels: food and shelter, social interaction and validation, intellectual and artistic expression, etc. (This being “ought” with a little “o”, not OUGHT: creations of the free, rational creatures, based on their rational understandings, and freely chosen.)

    And I don’t think it is certain that this is in fact not our reality. But at least I feel fairly certain that such a world is not logically impossible.

  186. 186
    Origenes says:

    CR:

    UB: That correlate of intelligence has been established by physical analysis. (about 50 years ago)

    It was? Then there should be decades of papers which you can reference. Where are they? Why has my question gone unanswered for the umpteenth time?

    For the umpteenth time, you can find them here: http://biosemiosis.org/index.php/bibliography

  187. 187
    Armand Jacks says:

    JaD:

    What if someone doesn’t share your “gut reaction” or wasn’t “indoctrinated” the same way you were? Is he morally obligated not to kill or rape an innocent person?

    No he isn’t. As he obviously isn’t under your objective morality either. But, thankfully, subjective society has decided that we don’t care about what he thinks his moral obligations are. If he kills someone, society will not tolerate his walking free amongst us.

  188. 188
    HeKS says:

    jdk #185,

    Thanks for the thoughtful response. I’ll address some of your points as soon as I get some time, but would you mind telling me how you think an impersonal world-root, having neither intelligence nor free will, might have produced a world (i.e. all of reality) only a finite time ago and done so in a way that its values were finely-tuned to a tiny subset out of all combinatorial space that just so happened to allow for the existence of such a remarkable phenomenon as conscious intelligent life?

    I and other theists don’t simply assume that the necessary being is personal. We find it to be a logically necessary conclusion. It is the conclusion that the necessary being must be personal that leads to theism, not theism that leads to the conclusion the necessary being must be personal.

  189. 189

    I don’t recall you actually addressing the above criticisms by either quoting them or stating them back in a way that actually acknowledged the arguments they represent.

    Sure I did:

    1) You stated that evolution is responsible for the origin of “knowledge” in the genome. I responded that evolution requires a specific type of organization, which it cannot be the source of. How many times have I said to you “If A requires B to exist, then A cannot be the source of B” ?

    2) You stated (ad naseum) that ID must tell you how the intelligence responsible for life on earth acquired the “knowledge” it posited in the genome. I responded that ID is not concerned with any ultimate source of “knowledge”, and that it was only interested in being able to empirically detect an act of intelligence at the origin of life on earth.

    Let us hope that you now grasp these issues.

    – – – – – – – – – – –

    The physicist Howard Hunt Pattee (now retired) is fondly known among his peers, students, and faculty to be the first person who presented outright at a major biological conference that “Life is matter controlled by symbols” – tying together Peirce, Turing, von Neumann, Crick, Nirenberg, Zamecnik, etc in a coherent understanding of genetic translation from a laws-of-motion perspective. I believe that was in 1968.

    Among other things, he was trying to answer Karl Pearson’s question about being able to distinguish life from non-life (given a growing belief that life was ultimately reducible to mere chemistry). He then wrote very carefully about symbol systems and biology for almost 50 years, with his papers becoming almost foundational to the study of semiosis.

    The theme of this symposium is “Communication in Development,” and, as an outsider to the field of developmental biology, I am going to begin by asking a question: How do we tell when there is communication in living systems? Most workers in the field probably do not worry too much about defining the idea of communication since so many concrete, experimental questions about developmental control do not depend on what communication means. But I am interested in the origin of life, and I am convinced that the problem of the origin of life cannot even be formulated without a better understanding of how molecules can function symbolically, that is, as records, codes, and signals. Or as I imply in my title, to understand origins, we need to know how a molecule becomes a message.

    More specifically, as a physicist, I want to know how to distinguish communication between molecules from the normal physical interactions or forces between molecules which we believe account for all their motions. Furthermore, I need to make this distinction at the simplest possible level, since it does not answer the origin question to look at highly evolved organisms in which communication processes are reasonably clear and distinct. Therefore, I need to know how messages originated.

    How Does A Molecule Become A Message?
    –H.H. Pattee, 1969

    You can find some of Howard Pattee’s papers on my website, bibliography, and many more on academic edu.

  190. 190
    jdk says:

    to HeKS at 188:

    HeKS writes,

    …would you mind telling me how you think an impersonal world-root, having neither intelligence nor free will, might have produced a world (i.e. all of reality) only a finite time ago and done so in a way that its values were finely-tuned to a tiny subset out of all combinatorial space that just so happened to allow for the existence of such a remarkable phenomenon as conscious intelligent life?

    Although I may have not been perfectly consistent in every reply I wrote, I am not positing an “impersonal world-root”: I am positing a root-level “being” (which may or may not be an appropriate word) with all the qualities of intelligence, knowledge, and power to create this universe that IS, but which is indifferent to the specific actions and events that happen within it. A being who creates and maintains IS but has no interest in OUGHT.

    Back at 83, the very first thing I wrote about this was,

    But I can easily imagine a coherent and possible world where a supreme being created our universe, with all the qualities necessary to produce the physics, chemistry, and biology that we see (that is, is the ground of IS), but who is supremely indifferent to the details of how the world goes, including the actions of the life forms within it (that is, is supremely indifferent to OUGHT).

    And in 100,

    And more broadly, one in which the world-root being takes no specific interest at all the actions of the life forms which it has instigated throughout the universe: that is, a supremely indifferent supreme being who is fully present in the IS of the universe, but has no interest in how it OUGHT to go within the physical, chemical, and biological limits and structures it has created and maintains.

  191. 191
    critical rationalist says:

    @UB

    Nothing in your #198 response addressed criticisms in #184.

  192. 192
    HeKS says:

    jdk #190,

    I’m a little confused by your last response.

    In #185, you said of my argument in #178…

    [I]t is based, as you say, on the fact that “I and other theists believe it is necessary that this being must be personal …”

    But that right there is the point under contention, because I am offering, as a logical possibility, that the IS of the universe is not a personal being.

    In response, I asked:

    would you mind telling me how you think an impersonal world-root, having neither intelligence nor free will, might have produced a world (i.e. all of reality) only a finite time ago and done so in a way that its values were finely-tuned to a tiny subset out of all combinatorial space that just so happened to allow for the existence of such a remarkable phenomenon as conscious intelligent life?

    Your response to that was:

    I am not positing an “impersonal world-root”

    And you said you were merely positing one that “has no interest in OUGHT”.

    If you are not contesting that the world-root is a personal being (i.e. one with intelligence and will) then the logical force of my argument stands (given the conditions I originally stated).

    In #178 I pointed out that because of the nature of the causal relationship between the world-root and the world, it would not be necessary for that world-root (I’m just going to call it “God” except in places where other terminology will clarify the argument) to actively care about the moral behavior of humans in order for objective morality to be woven into the fabric of reality. Whether God cares about the moral behavior of humans has more to do with whether or not it is reasonable to expect any ultimate consequences for our moral behavior (i.e reward or punishment). But that care is not a logically necessary precondition for a moral dimension to be written into the fabric of reality. All that is necessary is for God, as the root and foundation of reality and the one who forms the absolute context in which reality exists, to have, for ‘himself’, any kind of position / thought / value that we might consider as being morally relevant, such as “life is desirable”. That would then form part of the contextual background and fabric of reality.

    Now, you could try to argue that God, in spite of being a personal being with intelligence, knowledge, power, etc. simply holds no positions or thoughts about anything we might consider morally relevant – even something so simple as “life is desirable” – but given that the proposition on the table involves a God who would have produced a physical reality that is fine-tuned to an unfathomable degree so that intelligent life would be possible (along with a variety of other things mentioned in my earlier post that are necessary to make that outcome possible), it seems highly unlikely to be true that he holds no basic positions at all that we would consider morally relevant. Instead, even just the foundational actions we’ve been discussing are a powerful testimony to the fact that it considers life to be desirable outcome.

    I’ll address the empirical side when I have another block of time.

    Take care,
    HeKS

  193. 193
    jdk says:

    to HeKS at 192:

    Yes, understand your confusion. I pointed out that I had not been perfectly consistent in my phrasing, although the phrase “personal being” is itself subject to having various connotations. I am envisioning a “being”, whatever that means, that has the intellect and other qualities necessary to create and maintain the universe we are in, including one in which conscious, free, rational creatures such as human beings exist, but doesn’t care how we behave: creates and maintains the IS but has no OUGHTS. Whether we call this a personal being because it can act intelligently or whether we call it an impersonal being because it is impersonal in the sense of not caring, is a matter of how we want to phrase things. But I am not positing a clockwork, mechanical, completely law driven force: that is not the sense in which I am using “impersonal”.

    As to your argument, I don’t think that the fine-tuning argument implies a judgment of “life is desirable” any more than it implies that any other object in the universe (which all also require some of the fine-tuning you mention) are desirable. . At the most basic, you could say that to the root-level IS this universe as a whole is desirable, but even saying this implies that it has the personal quality of “desire”, which may not be true.

    Here is a very different way of thinking about this. Given that the universe being posited can produce free, rational beings, the intent or “desire” might be that such beings are truly free: it’s up to us to figure out whatever we can about the world, including how to live with our fellow living creatures and the planet we are on, and create whatever meaning, including moral meaning, we want to. To be flippant, the attitude could be, “Here you go guys. Here’s an opportunity – see what you do with it.” This would make all the “oughts” human creations, but not anything embedded in the basic root-level of the world.

  194. 194
    Pindi says:

    I am enjoying the discussion between jdk and HeKs.

    But jdk, why couldn’t the “being” be a clockwork, mechanical, law driven force? Maybe its a thing that blindly produces universes. Is the objection to that this universe appears finely tuned? If so, I don’t get that. The universes that the being blindly produces (or maybe this is the only one it has ever produced) would have laws, constraints etc. No reason why it couldn’t have all the ones that our universe has.

  195. 195
    jdk says:

    to Pindi. That is a possibility that some have offered. However it leaves out the “intelligence” element that is fundamental to the design argument, and can easily be considered a purely materialistic proposal.

    My posited position for the sake of this discussion accepts an intelligent source of the fine-tuning and the existence of a non-material consciousness, free will, and rationality in at least some life forms (for instance, human beings). I do this in part because I am truly agnostic about these issues, and thus consider them legitimate ideas for speculation. I also, just to repeat myself, am, in this discussion, interested in the idea that a root-level IS without an OUGHT is not a logical impossibility. That is the focus of my participation, although I appreciate that HeKS has broadened the discussion in a productive way.

    And I am glad you are enjoying the discussion, and I am also.

  196. 196
    Pindi says:

    Ok, thanks jdk, that makes sense.

  197. 197
    HeKS says:

    jdk and Pindi,

    There are a number of logical reasons why the world root must be personal. It is not just a frivolous theistic add-on.

    HeKS

  198. 198
    HeKS says:

    By the way, I just want to be clear about something.

    At this point I’m not arguing that it is logically impossible for there to be a personal world-root and yet no moral OUGHTs. I haven’t entirely made up my mind on that point. Rather, what I’m arguing right now is that in order for the existence of moral OUGHTs to become logically necessary, very little is required to be true about the world-root – much less than some seem to think – and that we have a number of empirical reasons to strongly believe that those minimum requirements are met. And again, I’ll address those empirical factors more when get a chance.

  199. 199
    jdk says:

    In response to 197: I am sure that I have never stated, implied, or felt that considering the root-level of reality to have the personal aspects of a tradition personal God was just a frivolous add-on. I believe I’ve tried to respond to your posts respectfully, and have taken them seriously as thoughtful arguments.

    Just saw 198: I am interested in hearing your arguments, and in continuing the discussion.

  200. 200
    kairosfocus says:

    HeKS,

    just being rational entails responsible, reasoning freedom.

    Consider the required logic of structure and quantity embedded in a cosmos (by definition, a coherent world) as opposed to a chaos. Actually, it will not be possible to create a fundamentally incoherent world, for simplistic example involving square circles. A world involving unicorns, flying fairies and Giants is evidently feasible (those are contingent beings) but one involving planar figure square circles is not. The framing of a world fine tuned enough to facilitate life will indeed imply valuing life and acting consistently towards it, including care over coherence etc. So, again, from outset, a world free of oughtness from root up is not possible.

    Where, world composition and effecting so far as I can see, necessarily involves complex logically driven framing as well as great power, where also a world of relevant form — with a temporal-causal order, i.e. causally linked successive stages — will necessarily have a beginning, per the causal form of the trilemma. That is, chicken-egg loops are not effectively explanatory of origin and infinite spans cannot be traversed in successive finite stage causal steps where each must once have been the present — never mind clever assertions about at any given past point there would have already been a past infinity. (That would just postpone the question of infinite traversal to that point.)

    Going further, reasoning creatures in a world implies moral government of same, for a great many reasons, e.g. rationality implies freedom and responsibility including truthfulness and care in soundness to reason “aright.” I repeat, GIGO-bound, dynamic-stochastic processing on a computational substrate is not to be confused with responsibly free and reasoned, ground-consequent inference through rational contemplation.

    Of course the world we inhabit does contain rational, morally governed creatures, us; where the nature of our biology and need for communicative nurturing society directly leads to many manifest duties of care. Indeed, that is the exact context of the moral self-evident truth used as a yardstick: it is evil to kidnap, bind, gag, sexually assault, torture and murder a young child for one’s . . . obviously, demonically sick . . . pleasure.

    Much of the exchange above, rhetorically, serves as distractions from and evasions of the direct challenge this case poses to systems that posit subjectivism and relativism. And onward, from the linked challenge, that we need to consider what sort of world must WE inhabit where WE are responsibly and rationally free (just to be able to have a serious discussion, obligations to truth and right etc are manifest and are ALWAYS assumed in the talking points of objectors) thus morally governed creatures.

    KF

  201. 201
    HeKS says:

    Jdk #199

    I wasn’t suggesting otherwise. My comment wasn’t intended as a criticism. I was merely pointing out that the theistic view of a personal first cause isn’t just an add-on to the other characteristics derived from logical analysis. We conclude that personality is a logically necessary characteristic. In other words, it’s not just a case of having a theistic view of the first cause and then a workable competing materialistic view of that cause. We’re saying that the kind of materialistic version Pindi suggested is not logically viable.

  202. 202

    Nothing in your #198 response addressed criticisms in #184.

    CR, the thrust of your criticisms of ID were based on 1) the idea that ID must provide an answer as to where the intelligence (that created life on earth) got its “knowledge”, and 2) that evolution was responsible for the origin of the “knowledge” found in the genome.

    Your first criticism is clearly a misconception of ID, and is frankly not even logical. Your second criticism is also a misconception; the specific physical organization that enables evolution to exist is obviously not explained by evolution (i.e. if A requires B for A to exist, then A cannot be the source of B).

    The bottom line is that your lead arguments have been answered, yet you will not acknowledge any of it. And having withheld any acknowledgement, you now complain that I haven’t addressed your secondary criticisms.

    Would you like me to criticize your appeal to RNA?

    RNA is just a molecule. It is known to be fairly unstable and scarce. Most importantly, just like any other arrangement of matter in the cosmos, it doesn’t have the slightest bit of semantic or informational capacity until it’s organized in a system – a very specific system that establishes it as a medium of information, with the physical constraints required to interpret its content.

    In other words, the capacity to specify something in a transcribable memory (i.e. the fundamental requirement of biology) is the product of a specific type of organization, not the dynamic properties of its constituents, like RNA.

    I encourage you to read and discover for yourself exactly what those physical requirements are, particularly in an autonomous self-replicator – one that must achieve both high capacity (required to describe its system of constraints) as well as semantic closure (required to establish its primeval function).

    cheers

  203. 203
    kairosfocus says:

    UB, ever noticed how stoutly the selectively hyperskeptical, design inference denying perpetual objectionists resist the patently obvious concept, functionally specific, complex ORGANISATION and associated INFORMATION, FSCO/I? Even, while they have to create cases in point complete with their cause by intelligently directed configuration, just to object here in discussion threads? That is, all their objections are self-referentially incoherent and self falsifying. But ideologies do not need to be even remotely coherent in order to be very effective in seizing power and control of popular discourse, institutions and communities, even civilisations. Of course, if they then lead a march over the cliff [cf. Venezuela currently], that should not be surprising. KF

  204. 204
    kairosfocus says:

    Pindi,

    I think we would all benefit by pondering Newton in his General Scholium to Principia:

    . . . This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being. And if the fixed stars are the centres of other like systems, these, being formed by the like wise counsel, must be all subject to the dominion of One; especially since the light of the fixed stars is of the same nature with the light of the sun, and from every system light passes into all the other systems: and lest the systems of the fixed stars should, by their gravity, fall on each other mutually, he hath placed those systems at immense distances one from another.

    This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all; and on account of his dominion he is wont to be called Lord God pantokrator , or Universal Ruler; for God is a relative word, and has a respect to servants; and Deity is the dominion of God not over his own body, as those imagine who fancy God to be the soul of the world, but over servants. The Supreme God is a Being eternal, infinite, absolutely perfect; but a being, however perfect, without dominion, cannot be said to be Lord God; for we say, my God, your God, the God of Israel, the God of Gods, and Lord of Lords; but we do not say, my Eternal, your Eternal, the Eternal of Israel, the Eternal of Gods; we do not say, my Infinite, or my Perfect: these are titles which have no respect to servants. The word God usually signifies Lord; but every lord is not a God. It is the dominion of a spiritual being which constitutes a God: a true, supreme, or imaginary dominion makes a true, supreme, or imaginary God. And from his true dominion it follows that the true God is a living, intelligent, and powerful Being; and, from his other perfections, that he is supreme, or most perfect. He is eternal and infinite, omnipotent and omniscient; that is, his duration reaches from eternity to eternity; his presence from infinity to infinity; he governs all things, and knows all things that are or can be done. He is not eternity or infinity, but eternal and infinite; he is not duration or space, but he endures and is present. He endures for ever, and is every where present; and by existing always and every where, he constitutes duration and space. Since every particle of space is always, and every indivisible moment of duration is every where, certainly the Maker and Lord of all things cannot be never and no where. Every soul that has perception is, though in different times and in different organs of sense and motion, still the same indivisible person. There are given successive parts in duration, co-existent puts in space, but neither the one nor the other in the person of a man, or his thinking principle; and much less can they be found in the thinking substance of God. Every man, so far as he is a thing that has perception, is one and the same man during his whole life, in all and each of his organs of sense. God is the same God, always and every where. He is omnipresent not virtually only, but also substantially; for virtue cannot subsist without substance. In him are all things contained and moved [i.e. cites Ac 17, where Paul evidently cites Cleanthes]; yet neither affects the other: God suffers nothing from the motion of bodies; bodies find no resistance from the omnipresence of God. It is allowed by all that the Supreme God exists necessarily; and by the same necessity he exists always, and every where. [i.e accepts the cosmological argument to God.] Whence also he is all similar, all eye, all ear, all brain, all arm, all power to perceive, to understand, and to act; but in a manner not at all human, in a manner not at all corporeal, in a manner utterly unknown to us. As a blind man has no idea of colours, so have we no idea of the manner by which the all-wise God perceives and understands all things. He is utterly void of all body and bodily figure, and can therefore neither be seen, nor heard, or touched; nor ought he to be worshipped under the representation of any corporeal thing. [Cites Exod 20.] We have ideas of his attributes, but what the real substance of any thing is we know not. In bodies, we see only their figures and colours, we hear only the sounds, we touch only their outward surfaces, we smell only the smells, and taste the savours; but their inward substances are not to be known either by our senses, or by any reflex act of our minds: much less, then, have we any idea of the substance of God. We know him only by his most wise and excellent contrivances of things, and final cause [i.e from his designs]: we admire him for his perfections; but we reverence and adore him on account of his dominion: for we adore him as his servants; and a god without dominion, providence, and final causes, is nothing else but Fate and Nature. Blind metaphysical necessity, which is certainly the same always and every where, could produce no variety of things. [i.e necessity does not produce contingency] All that diversity of natural things which we find suited to different times and places could arise from nothing but the ideas and will of a Being necessarily existing. [That is, implicitly rejects chance, Plato’s third alternative and explicitly infers to the Designer of the Cosmos.] But, by way of allegory, God is said to see, to speak, to laugh, to love, to hate, to desire, to give, to receive, to rejoice, to be angry, to fight, to frame, to work, to build; for all our notions of God are taken from. the ways of mankind by a certain similitude, which, though not perfect, has some likeness, however. And thus much concerning God; to discourse of whom from the appearances of things, does certainly belong to Natural Philosophy. [Cf also his Rules of Reasoning.]

    KF

    PS: If a blind mechanical force acts, its consequence is present by mechanism and shows low contingency. Blind chance causes show stochastic scatter. Neither are good explanations for functionally specific info-rich complex organisation, such as we see for our evidently fine tuned, c-chemistry, aqueous-medium, cell based life facilitating cosmos.

  205. 205
    kairosfocus says:

    HeKS, how do we — from the roots — get to a coherent (thus feasible) world, esp one with creatures such as we are in it who cannot even object to moral government without implicitly appealing to it? Bear in mind the trilemma challenge. KF

  206. 206
    HeKS says:

    KF,

    Let me clarify even further.

    I think there are two different questions on the table here:

    1) Is it LOGICALLY IMPOSSIBLE that SOME personal world-root could produce SOME world that did not contain moral OUGHTs?

    2) If such a thing happens to be logically possible under some particular scenario, does that scenario serve as a coherent and plausible description of the world we actually observe.

    To the second question, I would say the answer is a clear ‘no’.

    To the first question, I would answer at present that I’m not sure, but it seems like it MIGHT be logically possible. For example, it doesn’t seem absolutely logically impossible that a personal world-root might not have any essential positions that we would consider morally relevant, and it doesn’t seem logically impossible that a world-root might produce a world void of any life, consisting only of atoms bouncing around. Again, we’re talking here only about pure logical possibility, and if this scenario is not obviously logically impossible, then it seems it would be logically possible for a world-root to produce a world without moral OUGHTs.

    That said, that kind of world is quite clearly not the kind of world we find ourselves in. Instead, we see many empirical indicators that the scenario described above does not describe our reality, and that the world-root DOES hold essential positions that we would consider morally relevant, and if THAT’S the case then it seems to become logically impossible that THIS world doesn’t have moral OUGHTs woven into its fabric.

    In other words, what we’re talking about here are possible worlds that are accessible from particular branching points. A certain set of possible worlds would seem to be accessible from a world-root that holds no morally relevant essential positions. Another set of possible worlds would be accessible from a world root that does hold morally relevant essential positions. As it turns out, we have a number of strong empirical reasons for believing we find ourselves within the latter set of possible worlds.

    Take care,
    HeKS

  207. 207
    timothya says:

    KF:

    “UB, ever noticed how stoutly the selectively hyperskeptical, design inference denying perpetual objectionists resist the patently obvious concept, functionally specific, complex ORGANISATION and associated INFORMATION, FSCO/I? Even, while they have to create cases in point complete with their cause by intelligently directed configuration, just to object here in discussion threads? That is, all their objections are self-referentially incoherent and self falsifying. But ideologies do not need to be even remotely coherent in order to be very effective in seizing power and control of popular discourse, institutions and communities, even civilisations. Of course, if they then lead a march over the cliff [cf. Venezuela currently], that should not be surprising. KF”

    Certainly, here are three current examples of the problem you are talking about:

    The United States of America
    The United Kingdom
    The Republic of France

  208. 208
    critical rationalist says:

    @UB

    Apparently, there is something implicit which you have yet to present, as your conclusion is not accepted by the field of biosemiotics as a whole.

    From Biosemiotics: a new understanding of life

    Today, the differences still exist, but there is also a ‘minimal unity’ in the field because there are two basic principles, or postulates, that are accepted by virtually all biosemioticians.

    1. The first postulate is the idea that semiosis is unique to life, i.e., that a real divide exists between life and inanimate matter. This sharply differentiates biosemiotics from ‘pansemiotics’, the doctrine that accepts the existence of semiosis even in the physical world.

    2. The second postulate is the idea that semiosis and meaning are natural entities. This sharply divides biosemiotics from the doctrine of ‘intelligent design’ and from all other doctrines that maintain that the origin of life on Earth was necessarily the product of a supernatural agency.

  209. 209
    critical rationalist says:

    1) You stated that evolution is responsible for the origin of “knowledge” in the genome. I responded that evolution requires a specific type of organization, which it cannot be the source of. How many times have I said to you “If A requires B to exist, then A cannot be the source of B” ?

    2) You stated (ad naseum) that ID must tell you how the intelligence responsible for life on earth acquired the “knowledge” it posited in the genome. I responded that ID is not concerned with any ultimate source of “knowledge”, and that it was only interested in being able to empirically detect an act of intelligence at the origin of life on earth.

    I stated that the origin of the features of an organism is the origin of the knowledge of which transformations of matter are necessary to construct it from raw materials. That knowledge is the what needs to be explained. Merely saying some designer “just had it” doesn’t add to the explanation because one could more efficiently state that organisms “just appeared” with it.

    This was a criticism of ID as explanation, or lack there of. Namely, because our expectations for what we will experience are based on explanations, not merely induction, which is impossible because the future is unlike the past in a vast number of ways. Nor do the contents of our theories come from observations. In the absence of an explanation for that knowledge, it’s unclear how do you know the explanation of variation and selection behind biological evolution is incompatible with that knowledge.

    Furthermore, I initially pointed out that specific organization is necessary for highly-accurate replication. Low fidelity replication does not.

    For example, our number systems evolved along with our need to represent numbers we regularly encountered. Even our earliest, primitive ways of representing numbers, such a tallies, were useful despite not being universal. They only had to compete with other non-universal number systems. Even then, some number systems could have been universal, but rules were put into place than prevented it. So, even when brought about by people, universality rarely was the intentional goal. We stumbled upon it. The same can be said for other forms of universality such as computation.

    In the same sense, primitive replicators that did not exhibit high-accuracy would be useful without the level of accuracy we see today. This was outlined in the paper on the constructor theory of life, which I originally referenced.

    3.3 Natural selection is permitted under no-design laws
    These conclusions imply that an accurate self-reproducer – together with an accurate replicator – is permitted under no-design laws that allow for information media. So, under such laws, it can be constructed from generic resources only, given enough knowledge: it could continue to exist, say, had a chemical lab created it.
    However, one must also address the question: can accurate self-reproducers arise from generic resources only, under such laws?
    Note that what the prevailing conception would aim to prove is that the emergence of accurate self-reproducers follows (with some probability) given certain initial conditions and laws of motion. This approach, informing the search for viable models for the origin of life, [25], is suitable to solve scientific problems such as predicting the existence of life elsewhere in the uni- verse – e.g., by providing bounds to how probable the emergence of those self-reproducers is on an earth-like planet. Here I am addressing a differ- ent problem: whether accurate self-reproducers are possible under no-design laws. This is a theoretical (indeed, constructor-theoretic) question and can be addressed without resorting to predictions. Indeed, the theory of evolution provides a positive answer to that question, provided that two further points are established. I shall argue for them in what follows.
    The first point is that the logic of evolution by natural selection is compatible with no-design laws because – in short – selection and variation are non-specific to its end products. This can be seen by modeling the logic of natural selection as an approximate construction, whose substrates are populations of replicators and whose (highly approximate) constructor is the environment. This occurs over a much longer time-scale than that of self- reproduction, whereby replicators – constructors on the shorter scale – become now substrates.
    Evolution relies upon populations being changed by variation and selection over the time-scale spanning many generations. Crucially, the mutations in the replicators, caused by the environment, are non-specific, (as in section 3.1), to the “end product” of evolution (as Dawkins put it, not “systematically directed to improvement” [27]). This constructor-theoretic characterisation of mutations replaces the less precise locution “random mutations” (as opposed to non-random selection, [5]). These mutations are all transmitted to the successfully created individuals of the next generation, by heredity – irrespective of their being harmful, neutral or beneficial in that particular environment.
    Selection emerges from the interaction between the replicators and the environment with finite resources. It may lead to equilibrium, given enough time and energy. If so, the surviving replicators are near a local maximum of effectiveness at being replicated in that environment.
    Thus, the environment is passive and blind in this selection process. Since it retains its ability to cause non-specific variation and passive selection again, it qualifies as a naturally-occuring approximation to a constructor. Crucially, it is a crude approximation to a constructor: crude enough that it could have arisen by chance and requires no explanation. Its actions – variations and selection – require no design in laws of physics, as they proceed by non- specific, elementary steps. So the logic of evolution by natural selection is compatible with no-design laws of physics.
    The second point is that natural selection, to get started, does not require accurate self-reproducers with high-fidelity replicators. Indeed, the minimal requirement for natural selection is that each kind of replicator produce at least one viable offspring, on average, per lifetime – so that the different kinds of replicators last long enough to be “selected” by the environment. In challenging environments, a vehicle with many functionalities is needed to meet this requirement. But in unchallenging ones (i.e. sufficiently unchangng and resource-rich), the requirement is easily met by highly inaccurate self-reproducers that not only have no appearance of design, but are so inaccurate that they can have arisen spontaneously from generic resources under no-design laws – as proposed, for instance, by the current theories of the origin of life [11, 31]. For example, template replicators, such as short RNA strands [32], or similar “naked” replicators (replicating with poor copying fidelity without a vehicle) would suffice to get natural selection started. Since they bear no design, they require no further explanation – any more than simple inorganic catalysts do.(11)
    I conclude that the theory of evolution is compatible with no-design laws of physics, that allow, in addition to enough time and energy, information media. These requirements do not contain the design of biological adaptations. Hence, under such laws, the theory of evolution fully explains the appearance of design in living organisms, without their being intentionally designed.

    Any theory about improvement raises the question: how is the knowledge of how to make that improvement created? This includes the features of organisms and how to more accurately self replicate.

    Unless something is prohibited by the laws of physics, the only barrier to achieving it is knowing how. This includes accurate self-replication, because a self replicating cell is created anew during replication by executing the recipe it contains. That knowledge is n

    Designers are themselves well adapted to design organisms. A “specific type of organization” represents being well adapted to serve the purpose of accurate replication. Explanations have reach, which extends beyond the knowledge found in organisms in our biosphere. That reach is independent of whatever ID’s goals are.

  210. 210
    jdk says:

    Quick response to HeKS at 201: thanks for the clarification. I am not arguing for a materialistic view of the root-level of reality. But I am arguing against the notion that “personality is a logically necessary characteristic” if by personality is meant being personally investing in the ways humans, or any life form, OUGHT to behave.

    So I’ll read over this morning’s post and hope to have time to respond.

  211. 211
    kairosfocus says:

    TA, did you notice how (a) you had to create an example of FSCO/I in order to make an objection, (b) you have had to appeal to duties to truth, right, prudence etc, and (c) how you left off the most glaring, long-running examples of self-refuting ideologies dominating our civilisation to wit (1) radical secularist evolutionary materialist scientism and (2) the abortion holocaust of 800+ millions and mounting up a million more per week under false colours of rights and law? KF

  212. 212
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, you are still missing in action in the face of a point by point response on Saturday, to a pair of comments you made in a faded thread then tried to use elsewhere to pile on to an accusation. I suggest, that point by point response would help you to sort out many of the more problematic aspects of your arguments such as in this thread and elsewhere at UD over time. KF

  213. 213
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF

    While you posted a chunk about authoritarianism etc, you did not actually provide a fourth. If you believe there is, kindly give it, explaining the dynamics:

    I have, KF. All knowledge is variation controlled by criticism. This includes the knowledge in books, brains and even the genome of organisms. These are all variations of the same underlying principle.

    From the same essay…

    Relativism, Dogmatism and Critical Preference

    In the light of Bartley’s ideas we can discern a number of possible attitudes towards positions, notably those of relativism, dogmatism (called “fideism” in the scholarly literature) and critical preference (or in Bartley’s unfortunately clumsy language, “pancritical rationalism”.) Relativists tend to be disappointed dogmatists who realise that positive confirmation cannot be achieved. From this correct premise they proceed to the false conclusion that all positions are pretty much the same and none can really claim to be better than any other. There is no such thing as the truth, no way to get nearer to the truth and there is no such thing as a rational position.

    Fideists are people who believe that knowledge is based on an act of faith. Consequently they embrace whatever they want to regard as the truth. If they stop to think about it they may accept that there is no logical way to establish a positive justification for their beliefs or any others, so they insist that we make our choice regardless of reason: ”Here I stand!”. Most forms of rationalism up to date have, at rock bottom, shared this attitude with the irrationalists and other fundamentalists because they share the same ‘true belief’ structure of thought.

    According to the stance of critical preference no position can be positively justified but it is quite likely that one, (or some) will turn out to be better than others are in the light of critical discussion and tests. This type of rationality holds all its positions and propositions open to criticism and a standard objection to this stance is that it is empty; just holding our positions open to criticism provides no guidance as to what position we should adopt in any particular situation. This criticism misses its mark for two reasons. First, the stance of critical preference is not a position, it is a metacontext and as such it is not directed at solving the kind of problems that are solved by adopting a position on some issue or other. It is concerned with the way that such positions are adopted, criticised, defended and relinquished. Second, Bartley does provide guidance on adopting positions; we may adopt the position that to this moment has stood up to criticism most effectively. Of course this is no help for dogmatists who seek stronger reasons for belief, but that is a problem for them, not for exponents of critical preference.

  214. 214
    kairosfocus says:

    HeKs [oops, originally, UB], thoughtful points as usual. My basic point is in key part driven by the freedom required for rationality, which leads immediately to responsibility and moral governance — notice how the very word “rationality” has a clear moral overtone. For example it seems to me there are duties of sound inference and truth. These are also closely tied to being a person. Further to this, the nature of a credible NB candidate world root is constrained by the realities of moral government of responsible, rational creatures in THIS actual world. Where a NB must be framework to all possible worlds — imagine a world, anyone, without distinct identity and thus two-ness. I would think there is a duty of care of sound world design, rather than creating a chaos also. I note a poss-world is a sufficiently complete, coherent logical description of how a or the world may be. These are factors in my considerations as to why the sort of world being imagined is inherently not a possible world. But obviously the matter is not self-evident. KF

  215. 215
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, I see something just now, an attempted idiosyncratic redefinition of knowledge. I simply highlight that knowledge is warranted, credibly true (and by implication credibly reliable) belief. Such involves logic of warrant, but does not commit to your grand apparatus. For one instance, the phrasing I used is so as it embraces common sense soft form knowledge which is of inductive character. Such is what is extended through scientific methods. KF

  216. 216
    Origenes says:

    CR: All knowledge is variation controlled by criticism. This includes the knowledge in books, brains and even the genome of organisms. These are all variations of the same underlying principle.

    Obviously criticism can improve knowledge, but it cannot be primary to knowledge, since it presupposes teleology, intelligence and knowledge. The act of criticizing presupposes a goal (e.g. to improve knowledge), it presupposes understanding of the thing being criticized, it presupposes the knowledge and ability to handle mental tools like logic, reasoning and scientific inquiry. It presupposes the ability to observe. It presupposes a rational person who is doing the criticizing — and so forth.

    The same goes for variation. Mindless variation will get you nowhere.

    So ‘variation’ and ‘criticism’, although they play a role in the formation of knowledge, they cannot be regarded as self-causing isolated starting points for knowledge, they exist contingent on a mental context.

  217. 217

    CR, I must admit I had a little chuckle at your quote in #208. Your quote comes from a paper entitled A Short History of Biosemiotics written by Marcello Barbieri in 2009, where he describes the struggle to get the various schools of thought on semiosis to come together and become a single and identifiable scientific program. The paper is available on my website in the bibliography.

    Barbieri tells us that in order to forge cooperation between the different factions involved in semiotic studies, they had to create two postulates to get the crowd to work together. The first postulate is that “life and semiosis are coextensive”. This was necessary to divide the group from certain anthropocentric ideas about semiosis existing inanimate matter. He goes on to lay out a great deal of reasoning behind this first postulate, and indeed makes his case forcefully. The second postulate is simply that the group would have nothing whatsoever to do with the idea of intelligent design. Would you like to know how much of the paper is spent providing the reasoning behind this second postulate? The answer is none. The second postulate is merely an edict, pushed forward in an academic environment that cannot allow any room for the idea. This is hardly news to anyone even remotely familiar with the debate, and certainly does not constitute reasoning. And even at that, it is a clear mis-characterization of ID. Biological ID does not “maintain that the origin of life on Earth was necessarily the product of a supernatural agency”. That should be clear to you by now.

    I find it interesting that you think an authoritative consensus should carry weight against fully documented empirical observations – and I certainly note that you provide no challenge those observations. Perhaps you are hoping to challenge the link between semiosis in the cell and the origin of a general purpose language. Good luck on that.

  218. 218
    jdk says:

    HeKS makes the distinction:

    1) Is it LOGICALLY IMPOSSIBLE that SOME personal world-root could produce SOME world that did not contain moral OUGHTs?

    2) If such a thing happens to be logically possible under some particular scenario, does that scenario serve as a coherent and plausible description of the world we actually observe.

    To the first, he says “maybe”, but then seems to add the qualifier such a world would be “void of any life.” I don’t see how this disclaimer is significant.

    Suppose, at some time, the only life-forms in the universee were approximately like amoebas here on earth. Do any OUGHTs bear upon amoebas? If the root-level of reality has created a universe, with the ability, through either its structure or through some active presence of that root-level, to instigate life somewhat as we know it, why would that necessarily entail any expectation, any OUGHT, about how amoebas should behave? They would just be amoebas, and manifesting their amoeba nature would be no different than water manifesting its nature, from the point of IS but no OUGHT.

    Going further, if life later developed so that free, rational creatures existed (in whatever way consciousness and rationality might slowly or suddenly come into being), then the argument I made in 193 would apply:

    Given that the universe being posited can produce free, rational beings, the intent or “desire” might be that such beings are truly free: it’s up to us to figure out whatever we can about the world, including how to live with our fellow living creatures and the planet we are on, and create whatever meaning, including moral meaning, we want to. To be flippant, the attitude could be, “Here you go guys. Here’s an opportunity – see what you do with it.” This would make all the “oughts” human creations, but not anything embedded in the basic root-level of the world.

    I see no logical impossibility in the root-level of reality creating a universe in which free, rational life-forms exists, and exercise that freedom and rationality with true freedom, without any superimposition of OUGHT upon their behavior.

    To the second question, HeKS says,

    That said, that kind of world is quite clearly not the kind of world we find ourselves in.

    Now I am not arguing that the world we live in is definitely one in which OUGHT does not exist, but I also disagree that the world we live in is clearly not that kind of world. I am arguing that for this world, it is not logically impossible that OUGHT might not exists.

    HeKS then says,

    Instead, we see many empirical indicators that the scenario described above does not describe our reality, and that the world-root DOES hold essential positions that we would consider morally relevant, and if THAT’S the case then it seems to become logically impossible that THIS world doesn’t have moral OUGHTs woven into its fabric.

    First, I continue to want to hear about these “many empirical indicators”.

    The only such indicator that I believe you have offered was back at 178:

    We also find that these minds not only have thoughts about moral issues, but a sense that these thoughts are connected to a deeper reality, and perhaps most telling, that we feel a deep-seated compulsion that we OUGHT to do what we BELIEVE is good, whether or not we happen to be correct in discerning the moral status of some particular behavior.

    I replied then that

    You describe the sense of a theist, but the fact that some people feel this way is not evidence that what they feel is true. Other people (me, for instance) understand the nature of moral and other normative structures in people and society in a different way: one that does not posit their being connected to a deeper reality.

    I don’t believe that “many people feel” is empirical evidence for the metaphysical truth of what they feel. More broadly, if you look at religious and philosophical belief cross-culturally, both now in the world’s major religions, and anthropologically over time, the empirical evidence is that people believe strongly in the truth of an extremely wide range of beliefs. I think this empirical evidence much more strongly supports the view that “oughts” are human creations, not reflections of root-level OUGHTS.

    What other empirical evidence might you suggest to support your view that in this world there is an IS-OUGHT connection at the root-level?

    Second, the quote above continues “that the world-root DOES hold essential positions that we would consider morally relevant.”

    How do we know what “essential positions” that the world root holds? A main point of this discussion is that is not logically impossible that the world-root has no “essential positions” on what we consider moral matters. Supporting this statement is what the discussion is about.

    And last, the quote ends with, “it seems to become logically impossible that THIS world doesn’t have moral OUGHTs woven into its fabric.”

    This statement also doesn’t follow, as the sentence preceding it is not supported.

    “Logically impossible” means that some purely logical argument exists that the world we live in must have an IS-OUGHT connection. Empirical evidence, even if supportive (and I have argued against what has been presented so far), would not of itself be an argument for logical impossibility.

    Again, I have looked back at previous posts, and found this argument in 178:

    But if whatever this necessary being IS forms the basis for what reality is, then the nature of the necessary being would be properly normative for reality. Because the necessary being provides an absolute context for all of reality, it stands as the absolute standard for how reality OUGHT to be in order to be consistent with its ultimate nature and source.

    This argument is much more general than the one we are really discussing. It says that everything is under a normative ought to be itself as it was created to be: everything is meant to manifest its own nature. I agree with this.

    But I can reply that if the IS did in fact create a world where free, rational creatures are truly free to choose how they wish to live, without the superimposition of any specific OUGHTs at the root-level, then that is the normative ought, of the kind you are describing, that applies to us: we have to live with that freedom.

    And then, succeeding this last quote, at 178, you wrote, “Because I and other theists believe it is necessary that this being must be personal …”

    Believing that the root-level being is a personal being of the traditional theistic kind is one thing, but believing it is “necessary” that it be such is another. That necessity, which would preclude the possibility of an IS without OUGHTS, is what I believe does not exist.

  219. 219

    I stated that the origin of the features of an organism is the origin of the knowledge of which transformations of matter are necessary to construct it from raw materials. That knowledge is the what needs to be explained.

    Yes, and the first feature of an organism is the capacity to provide a symbolic description of itself in a transcribable memory, and have the capacity to successfully interpret that description. Evolution does not explain the “knowledge” required for that feature. However, an act of intelligence can explain it, and is indeed the only source known to be causally adequate to the task. Not only that, but when the system is studied from a purely physical perspective, the system is found to be physically identical to the use written language — which is a universal correlate of intelligence.

  220. 220

    Recognizing that you are neither going to challenge nor acknowledge what is being presented to you, I am now removing myself from this conversation and allow HeKS and JDK to continue with the actual thread topic. We can pick it up some other time if you wish.

    I will leave you with a passage from the paper you quoted from earlier (and wish you well):

    A Molecular Language

    The discovery of the genetic code took place between 1961 and 1966 (Nirenberg and Matthaei 1961; Speyer et al. 1963; Nirenberg et al. 1966; Khorana et al. 1966), and immediately inspired the idea of a deep parallel between the genetic code and the codes of language. This idea was expressed in no uncertain terms by George and Muriel Beadle in 1966: “the deciphering of the genetic code has revealed our possession of a language much older than hieroglyphics, a language as old as life itself, a language that is the most living language of all — even if its letters are invisible and its words are buried in the cells of our bodies” (Beadle and Beadle 1966). But was this only a poetic metaphor or can we really say that the genetic code is a true molecular language?

    A language is based on signs and can exist only in systems that make use of signs, i.e., in semiotic systems. The genetic code would be therefore a real molecular language only if the cell is a real semiotic system, i.e., only if signs, or symbols, exist inside the cell and are instrumental to its functions. This is the great potential implication of the discovery of genetic code, but can we prove it?

    The idea that the cell is controlled by symbols was proposed explicitly for the first time by Howard Pattee at the symposia on theoretical biology organized by Conrad Waddington between 1966 and 1970, and was published in the proceedings of those symposia (Pattee 1968, 1972). The experimental evidence of the genetic code did not seem enough, on its own, to categorize the cell as a semiotic system, but Pattee argued that it becomes enough when we combine it with the theory of self-replicating automata developed by John von Neumann between 1948 and 1951 (von Neumann 1951, 1966).

    Von Neumann showed that a self-replicating system capable of open-ended evolution must necessarily contain a description of itself, and such a description must be categorically different from the construction it controls. Self-replication is a two-step process: the first consists in transferring the description to the descendants, and the second in using it to reconstitute the original system in each descendant. The description of a system, on the other hand, cannot coincide with the system itself (“the map is not the territory”) so it is necessarily a set of entities that represent, or ‘stand for’, the material components, and therefore function as symbols. According to von Neumann, in short, an evolvable self-replicating system must be a physical system controlled by symbols.

    The discovery that genes carry the information for the synthesis of proteins demonstrated that the cell is a system that contains two distinct categories, a software and a hardware (a genotype and a phenotype). But the cell is also a self-replicating system and Pattee concluded, on the basis of von Neumann’s logic, that the genotype must be a symbolic description of the cell. This is the argument that he used to conclude that “life is matter controlled by symbols”, a theme that he developed for nearly forty years in various publications (Pattee 1968, 1972, 1973, 1980, 1995, 2001, 2007, 2008). The idea that symbols exist at the cellular level was the first explicit argument in favour of biological semiosis. It was the beginning of what later would become known as biosemiotics.

  221. 221
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, logic does not depend on our perceptions. More later, meanwhile note my comment to HeKS above on where my concern lies, starting with what rationality entails, even — maybe, especially — at world root level. Oughtness bears on the rationality of a coherent world-root and world, start with structure and quantity. In the relevant sense, an incoherent proposed world is like a square circle. KF

  222. 222
    HeKS says:

    jdk #218

    I’m going to have to make this somewhat brief, but here we go…

    HeKS makes the distinction:

    1) Is it LOGICALLY IMPOSSIBLE that SOME personal world-root could produce SOME world that did not contain moral OUGHTs?

    2) If such a thing happens to be logically possible under some particular scenario, does that scenario serve as a coherent and plausible description of the world we actually observe.

    To the first, he says “maybe”, but then seems to add the qualifier such a world would be “void of any life.” I don’t see how this disclaimer is significant.

    Well, you’ll notice that the comment this was taken from was directed to KF. I was trying to explain to him why I thought that your proposition of an IS with no OUGHTs was probably not logically impossible in the strictest sense. As I understood KF, he was reasoning from the kind of world-root to which this actual world would be accessible, focusing on the characteristics of rational minds. I was pointing out that if we start at the other end of the equation, with a consideration of logically possible necessary beings, it seems logically possible that there could exist a world-root that is personal (by which I mean merely intelligent and able to make choices) but that has no positions on anything we would consider morally relevant. If that kind of world-root being is not logically incoherent then it is not logically impossible for that kind of world-root being to produce a reality that does not have moral OUGHTs baked into its fabric. And it would further be logically possible for such a world-root being to produce a reality that gave no empirical indication that the being might have any morally relevant positions, such as valuing life as an outcome, which would be a possible world in which there is no empirical reason to doubt that the world-root being is devoid of morally relevant positions.

    Suppose, at some time, the only life-forms in the universee were approximately like amoebas here on earth. Do any OUGHTs bear upon amoebas? If the root-level of reality has created a universe, with the ability, through either its structure or through some active presence of that root-level, to instigate life somewhat as we know it, why would that necessarily entail any expectation, any OUGHT, about how amoebas should behave? They would just be amoebas, and manifesting their amoeba nature would be no different than water manifesting its nature, from the point of IS but no OUGHT.

    I think the error you’re making here is that you’re failing to make a distinction between 1) the concept of objective moral truths that are part of the very fabric and context of reality, and 2) moral agents capable of rationally and responsibly acting in accord with or against moral truths.

    The objective moral truths come from the world-root being and form part of the backdrop of reality, regardless of whether or not responsible moral agents are around to act on them. Specific moral decrees relevant to particular types of moral agents, like humans, would merely be expressions of or extrapolations from the more fundamental moral truths and values lying at the base of reality. Any physical world that contains life of any kind requires unfathomable precision in its basic construction (intelligent life like humans just requires even more fine tuning), and that automatically calls into serious question (if not outright eliminates by definition) the possibility of a world-root that is absolutely disinterested in life as an end.

    Going further, if life later developed so that free, rational creatures existed (in whatever way consciousness and rationality might slowly or suddenly come into being), then the argument I made in 193 would apply:

    Given that the universe being posited can produce free, rational beings, the intent or “desire” might be that such beings are truly free: it’s up to us to figure out whatever we can about the world, including how to live with our fellow living creatures and the planet we are on, and create whatever meaning, including moral meaning, we want to. To be flippant, the attitude could be, “Here you go guys. Here’s an opportunity – see what you do with it.” This would make all the “oughts” human creations, but not anything embedded in the basic root-level of the world.

    I see no logical impossibility in the root-level of reality creating a universe in which free, rational life-forms exists, and exercise that freedom and rationality with true freedom, without any superimposition of OUGHT upon their behavior.

    Again, you’re failing to make a distinction between the existence of moral truths and values forming part of the fabric of reality because of their existence in the world-root being and whether or not that being ultimately cares about whether or not humans act in accord with them. My argument holds even if the being doesn’t ultimately care what people choose to do.

    Let me use an analogy, keeping in mind that when we’re dealing with concepts this fundamental to existence, an analogy is never going to be perfect…

    Suppose I think that action x (substitute whatever you like) is morally wrong. It would not follow as a matter of logical necessity that I personally care that lots of people might be engaging in action x in the world right now, right? What happens happens. People are free to make choices regardless of what my own views are. But now imagine that my mind produced an entire self-contained reality in which other distinct beings operated and freely lived their lives. It is conceivable that those beings might engage in action x, and it is conceivable that I might not ultimately care because they are free to live their lives. And yet, this self-contained reality is the product and extension of my own mind, which contains certain morally relevant beliefs and positions, including my views against action x, and so those would form part of the backdrop and fabric of this reality. In a world that has no access to any reality or context higher than my own mind and which is produced by and an extension from my own mind, my mind wholly determines the nature of that reality. If I think that action x is wrong, it is wrong, period. That simply becomes a fact of this reality, and it remains a fact even if I don’t really care whether or not the beings in this reality freely choose to engage in it. They would, in the process, be engaging in moral error, but if I didn’t really care about their actions then there would probably be no ultimate consequences for their choices.

    This type of scenario would hold true infinitely more strongly for a being lying at the root of all reality, in no small part because any morally relevant positions it would hold would have to come out of its own nature rather than from some interpretation of or deliberation on the realities of some external context. This is what I mean when I speak of an “essential position” (which is just my own term) … a position that must be derived from the essence of what it IS in its very nature rather than from analysis of or beliefs about external realities.

    Coming back to your point about freedom, the freedom of people to act as they please simply says nothing about the moral status of their actions or about whether or not the world-root being cares about those actions. At least, it doesn’t serve as any argument that actions don’t have a moral dimension or that this being doesn’t care (if anything, it suggests the opposite, as ensuring freedom implies value and interest in choice).

    Think about secular authorities on earth. For the most part, they don’t render you physically incapable of breaking laws, so you are free to act as you please. But they do ultimately care about whether or not you act in accord with those laws. How do you know this? Well, they typically 1) establish the laws in the first place, 2) inform you about their existence, and 3) punish you if they catch you breaking them.

    Likewise, from a theistic perspective, God 1) establishes the objective moral values that form the backdrop of reality as I’ve described above, 2) informs humans about these laws, partly by implanting them “on our hearts” and partly by communicating them directly through inspired writings, and 3) by rendering ultimate justice, which for each of us remains a future prospect.

    And, once again, I’ll have to put off address the empirical aspects to another post (though I’ve written two relevant articles here that address the matter, which you can find by entering my name into the search box on the main page).

    Take care,
    HeKS

  223. 223
    kairosfocus says:

    HeKS,

    again here briefly.

    Thing is, possible worlds are a bit hard to set off like separate trees with different roots and branches, the concept is inherently general: sufficiently complete logically coherent descriptions of how the or a world may be. Note, the intimate role logic plays in this, as no two truths X and Y can be such that both accurately correspond to reality and Y = ~ X. And BTW, just above CR’s schemes collapse in spectacular, even classic, self-referential incoherence.

    So, once there is an actual world that credibly contains morally governed creatures — and objectors have to implicitly appeal to our duties to truth, right and reasonableness in order to object (showing the specious nature of their objection) — this has implications. For, the ONLY level that oughtness can be fused with is, is at world-root.

    Where, we also know such a root needs to be a necessary being, one that is framework to all possible worlds.

    Even as, 2-ness/distinct identity is.

    So, just from this world, we have a strong constraint on the ontology of the world root.

    We need an IS strong enough to sustain OUGHT in our world, and that IS will also be at root of ANY actually possible world.

    Just as 2-ness/distinct identity is.

    Of course, there is only one serious candidate, and things like logic of structure and quantity take their place in that context as being eternally contemplated. A world of pure contemplative thought . . . the computer sim world WJM has sometimes contemplated . . . much less one with bacteria or one with us or the like, will all be inherently of morally grounded character.

    This is also reflected in the nature of rationality, requiring genuine freedom of action, thus moral governance as the law of such a nature.

    For us, in the end prior to us, for the Root, inherent to the nature as jointly necessary and maximally great, thus inherently good.

    Hope this helps, later . . .

    KF

  224. 224
    critical rationalist says:

    @UB

    Evolution does not explain the “knowledge” required for that feature. However, an act of intelligence can explain it, and is indeed the only source known to be causally adequate to the task.

    It can? Then what is that explanation? And if it can explain that feature, why not the rest? Explanations have reach, so it’s unclear why you’ve decided to artificially limit it’s application, should you actually have one.

    I’d suggest it’s because what I actually keep hearing is an appeal to induction (experience), rather than an explanation. “The only source known” you mean the only observed source, which excludes sources that have not be experienced. I’ve commented this at length, but you have still yet to respond.

    Would you like to know how much of the paper is spent providing the reasoning behind this second postulate? The answer is none.

    Then where are all the papers and evidence that support your conclusion? You act as if it is obvious for anyone to see, yet a quick scan of all papers in the reference section of the website you referenced does not appear to contain any such argument. Shouldn’t I have found it by now?

    I find it interesting that you think an authoritative consensus should carry weight against fully documented empirical observations – and I certainly note that you provide no challenge those observations.

    Organisms were designed because they contain information? And I’m not denying that organisms contain information?

    Again, it all seems to come down to an inductive argument about what we have experienced, rather than an actual explanation. Nor have you addressed the section of the paper I quoted or concrete examples of the evolution of universals.

  225. 225
    kairosfocus says:

    CR,

    did you really ponder the source you cited above with approval, when it said:

    According to the stance of critical preference no position can be positively justified but it is quite likely that one, (or some) will turn out to be better than others are in the light of critical discussion and tests. This type of rationality holds all its positions and propositions open to criticism and a standard objection to this stance is that it is empty; just holding our positions open to criticism provides no guidance as to what position we should adopt in any particular situation. This criticism misses its mark for two reasons. First, the stance of critical preference is not a position, it is a metacontext and as such it is not directed at solving the kind of problems that are solved by adopting a position on some issue or other.

    Including the position just cited?

    Do you not sewe the gross self-referential incoherence and so also self-falsification implied in the highlighted?

    There is a world of difference between being critically aware and going to the extreme of reification that erects being aware that errors exist into the core of the system and denying that essentially anything can be justified beyond reasonable doubt.

    I suggest to you that as a start for each of us it is undemniably true and evident to us that we are conscious, once we are.

    Second, The Josiah Royce proposition that error exists is not only a matter of fact but can be demonstrated to be undeniably so, as the attempted denial leads straight to a case in point.

    More broadly, there are significant numbers of self-evident propositions beyond these two, that serve as plumblines for rational, responsible discourse. Starting with distinct identity and its corollaries the triple first principles of right reason, LOI, LNC, LEM. Just to object to such you have to implicitly rely on them, bringing your whole scheme into self-referential incoherence and self-falsification.

    Such has been pointed out to you any number of times across literally years, here at UD. I don’t doubt that others elsewhere have tried to set you to rights also.

    I suggest you are clinging to a system that is utterly and irretrievably self-falsifying, and that you would do better to take a reasonable time out and reconsider your worldview from the ground up.

    I suspect, I am simply writing for the record, given your track record, but this point of reference will always be there to point you to if and when you insist on popping up with the same again and again.

    FTR,

    KF

  226. 226
    kairosfocus says:

    UB, you are right, yet again. It is now evident that we are not dealing with those who are responsive to facts, evidence and reason. Sad, really. KF

  227. 227
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF

    Again, UB pointed to those papers as supposedly supporting his conclusion. However, after a quick scan, no such arguments were found. In fact, one paper explicitly indicated Intellegent Design was not a conclusion of that evidence.

  228. 228
    Origenes says:

    KF @225, CR

    CR: According to the stance of critical preference no position can be positively justified

    Kairosfocus: Including the position just cited?
    Do you not sewe the gross self-referential incoherence and so also self-falsification implied in the highlighted?

    Indeed, if “no position can be positively justified”, then it cannot be positively justified that no position can be positively justified. IOWs CR’s narrative is simply poorly reasoned self-defeating nonsense. Surely he is not the only one; self-referential incoherence seems to be a requisite stamp on all materialistic musings.

    Kairosfocus: I suggest to you that as a start for each of us it is undeniably true and evident to us that we are conscious, once we are.

    “No position can be positively justified” … well, Critical Rationalist, go for it: try criticizing “I think, therefore I am”. Good luck with that.

  229. 229

    CR,

    I am trying to give you the benefit of the doubt here. You are making it difficult.

    You tell me that the universal observations of science are to be disregarded; that the principle of uniformity underlying all of historical science is to be ignored; and apparently in place of our methodological documentation of nature, we should instead take into account observations that no one had ever made, or has ever even come close to making.

    Yet, on the other hand, you seem utterly transfixed by someone who completely confuses one (well-documented) physical process for another, then based on this verifiable error, concludes exactly what you want to hear.

    In other words, it now appears to me that you are prepared to blow the whole damn thing up before you will bend your conceptualizations to fit the physical evidence as it is actually found and documented in nature – even by people who are sympathetic to your own point of view.

    Is the anticodon-to-amino acid association temporally and spatially independent of the codon-to-anticiodon association? You don’t seem to know, or to want to know, or care what the implications are either way. But yet you turn around and wonder what documentation supports the observations being made. These things are irrational and incoherent if they are genuine, and they are anti-intellectual as a defense.

    I think we should end this conversation.

    – – – – – – – – – – –

    EDIT:

    #227

    It is abundantly clear that you could not even state what my conclusion is, nor what would be required to support it. This is not a minor issue where you are concerned.

    cheers

  230. 230
  231. 231
    critical rationalist says:

    It is abundantly clear that you could not even state what my conclusion is, nor what would be required to support it. This is not a minor issue where you are concerned.

    I’m still waiting for even a quoted response from criticisms in #184, let alone a restatement.

  232. 232
    jdk says:

    to HeKS re 222.

    I see you have the same problem with being brief that I do! 🙂

    Also, I saw that your 206 was to kf, but I thought it was general enough that I could respond.

    You write,

    I think the error you’re making here is that you’re failing to make a distinction between 1) the concept of objective moral truths that are part of the very fabric and context of reality, and 2) moral agents capable of rationally and responsibly acting in accord with or against moral truths.

    You go on to argue as I think you have once before in different words, that merely by making a universe where life can and does arise

    automatically calls into serious question (if not outright eliminates by definition) the possibility of a world-root that is absolutely disinterested in life as an end.

    and later, after I argue that some creatures might be truly free, without the superimposition of any root-level OUGHTS, you write

    Again, you’re failing to make a distinction between the existence of moral truths and values forming part of the fabric of reality because of their existence in the world-root being and whether or not that being ultimately cares about whether or not humans act in accord with them. My argument holds even if the being doesn’t ultimately care what people choose to do.

    That such root-level moral positions might exist irrespective of whether any creatures know about them or act or them might be the case, but I don’t think you present any argument that it must be so. Traditional theism certainly supports the distinction you make: that the moral truths are there, but we are free to follow or not. But there is no logically necessary “definition” that says that allowing of and providing for the existence of free, rational creatures means that, whether those creatures know it or not, moral OUGHTS are built into the fabric of root-level reality.

    I fully appreciate that you feel this must be so, but I don’t see that your arguments support this as a logical necessity.

    You then provide a long analogy explaining how moral positions could reside in the root-level being even if it didn’t care whether other free agents acted upon them. But you don’t explain why the root-level would have those moral positions at all. It might, but it might not: there is no logical reasons why they would be necessary. You say,

    This type of scenario would hold true infinitely more strongly for a being lying at the root of all reality, in no small part because any morally relevant positions it would hold would have to come out of its own nature rather than from some interpretation of or deliberation on the realities of some external context,

    but you don’t explain why it would have any morally relevant positions at all.

    This type of conversation could go on, I think, without any further resolution. You are thoroughly a theist, and I don’t mean this disparagingly: you articulate your intuitions very well, and are quite familiar with the theology and philosophy of theism.

    You summarize thusly,

    Likewise, from a theistic perspective, God 1) establishes the objective moral values that form the backdrop of reality as I’ve described above, 2) informs humans about these laws, partly by implanting them “on our hearts” and partly by communicating them directly through inspired writings, and 3) by rendering ultimate justice, which for each of us remains a future prospect.

    None of that is part of my background or belief system.

    My position, which it may not make sense to belabor anymore, at least about this logical issue, is that your intuitions, no matter how sure they feel to you, do not have the logical force that you feel they do to someone who does not share those intuitions and background.

    And last, you write,

    And, once again, I’ll have to put off address the empirical aspects to another post (though I’ve written two relevant articles here that address the matter, which you can find by entering my name into the search box on the main page).

    I continue to be interested in this. I’ve made some comments about how the wide range of beliefs and feelings that people have about these issues is, to me, evidence that all of this is human invention and speculation, and that we can’t actually know anything about the root-level of reality, much less establish anything about it by pure logic.

    But I’d be willing to read the posts you written about this, if you could provide some links, or take the time to summarize here. (I did a search on your name, but too much stuff came up for me to know what posts you might be referring to.)

  233. 233
    HeKS says:

    jdk #232

    I see you have the same problem with being brief that I do! ????

    Yup 🙂 A quick look any of the conversations I’ve participated in here will show that I’m not known for my brevity.

    Regarding your comments in #232, I get the sense that you are still not understanding my argument … or the distinction between what I am and am not arguing. The arguments I’m making are conditional, not absolute. I’m arguing essentially two points: 1) IF certain things are true, THEN other things would seem to logically follow; 2) The conditions that need to be true in order for those other things to follow are fewer and more basic than what you (and many others) seem to think.

    I am not arguing that any being capable of producing a world must, as a matter of logical necessity, produce a world with moral OUGHTs. What I’m arguing is that IF a world-root being holds any ‘essential positions’ (as I defined that term in my previous comment) that we would consider morally relevant, THEN it would necessarily produce a world where those morally relevant essential positions form part of the backdrop of reality, such that reality would have within its fabric an objective moral dimension or framework, and that this would be true EVEN IF the being didn’t care about how free beings chose to act in relation to that framework.

    and later, after I argue that some creatures might be truly free, without the superimposition of any root-level OUGHTS

    I think part of the problem we’re having here is with your idea that the objective moral framework would be superimposed ON TOP OF reality … after the fact. I’m saying it would be precisely the opposite. It would lie at the very root of reality. It would be baked in. I think what you’re talking about is whether or not free beings would have a responsibility to act in accord with the framework, and that’s a different question. As I pointed out in my prior illustration, the two issues are not inextricably linked by some logically necessary bond. There could be courses of action that are objectively right and wrong and free agents could also be free of any responsibility to act in accord with them, just like there could be secular laws that are technically on the books but that are never enforced. The responsibility to act in accord with the moral framework may be imposed on free agents once they are on the scene, but that is a different issue from the basic existence of the moral dimension of reality. The basic existence of such a moral dimension would be derived directly from the the world-root being by virtue of the nature of its causal relation to reality.

    That such root-level moral positions might exist irrespective of whether any creatures know about them or act or them might be the case, but I don’t think you present any argument that it must be so. Traditional theism certainly supports the distinction you make: that the moral truths are there, but we are free to follow or not. But there is no logically necessary “definition” that says that allowing of and providing for the existence of free, rational creatures means that, whether those creatures know it or not, moral OUGHTS are built into the fabric of root-level reality.

    I fully appreciate that you feel this must be so, but I don’t see that your arguments support this as a logical necessity.

    Again, I think you’re blending together a series of distinct issues and looking at some of them backwards. As I said above, my arguments about logical necessity are conditional rather than absolute. I’m not making the absolute claim that Y is logically necessary. Instead, I’m arguing that IF X is true, THEN Y would seem to be logically necessary.

    Whether or not the X in this case is true (and whether under all or only specific scenarios) is open to investigation through a combination of both logical and empirical considerations, but I don’t presently think that you can simply declare as a matter of logical necessity that ANY being capable of producing a world will, as a matter of logical necessity, produce a world with moral OUGHTs. I can imagine what seem to be logically coherent scenarios where that might not be true … it’s just that those scenarios don’t look anything like the world we find ourselves in.

    You then provide a long analogy explaining how moral positions could reside in the root-level being even if it didn’t care whether other free agents acted upon them. But you don’t explain why the root-level would have those moral positions at all. It might, but it might not: there is no logical reasons why they would be necessary.

    This tells me that we’re not presently on the same page. I didn’t argue for the logical necessity of the root-level being having such positions because I never claimed that it was logically necessary that ANY possible root-level being must have such positions. I was simply trying to get you to understand that IF the world-root being had any such basic positions, THEN that is all that would be necessary for a moral dimension to become a logically necessary aspect of reality … EVEN IF that being didn’t choose to impose any responsibility on free beings to act in accord with its own positions.

    This type of conversation could go on, I think, without any further resolution. You are thoroughly a theist, and I don’t mean this disparagingly: you articulate your intuitions very well, and are quite familiar with the theology and philosophy of theism.

    ….

    My position, which it may not make sense to belabor anymore, at least about this logical issue, is that your intuitions, no matter how sure they feel to you, do not have the logical force that you feel they do to someone who does not share those intuitions and background.

    And, again, this comment suggests that we’re not really on the same page about the argument. I’m not trying to convince you of my intuitions, nor am I suggesting that my intuitions have any particular logical force. I’m not arguing that any world-root being MUST have moral positions because my intuition tells me so. In fact, I’m not making that claim at all. I’m merely trying to establish the distinctions between different concepts that are relevant to this discussion (which will be important as the discussion progresses into different areas) and to show the actual minimal conditions necessary to establish the presence of an objective moral framework as a logical necessity.

    In short, there are two areas of distinctions that it is important to recognize.

    First, it’s important to recognize that there is a distinction to be made between a Moral Value (an essential moral truth lying at the base of reality that relates to or establishes moral worth) and a Moral Duty (a responsibility to act in accord with and in a way that respects Moral Values), with the latter being a kind of law imposed by a lawgiver.

    Second, it’s important to understand the distinction between Moral Ontology (related to the existence of an objective moral framework) and Moral Epistemology (how we might get to know about the details of the objective moral framework if it exists). Whether or not objective morality exists is a separate question from whether or not we can come to know its specifics and, if so, to what degree. The vast majority of arguments people make against the existence of objective morality fall into the error of actually addressing Moral Epistemology rather than Moral Ontology.

    As for the two articles I’ve written here on the subject, here are the links:

    DOES IT MATTER WHAT WE BELIEVE ABOUT MORALITY?

    Reply To An Argument Against Objective Morality: When Words Lose All Meaning

    The comment threads to these posts covered a lot of ground in some great depth, including issues you’ve raised here, so you might find them useful as well.

    Take care,
    HeKS

  234. 234
    Origenes says:

    CR: Instead of induction, I’ve suggested our expectations of what we will experience is not based on past experience, but explanatory theories about howe the world works.

    In the context of the design inference, there is no dichotomy between past experiences and explanatory theory. Intelligence, as a cause, explains the presence of complex specified information in life.

    You have a problem accepting intelligence as a cause for several reasons. First, you hold that an explanation must be an “ultimate explanation”. Here, you seem to assume that only physical explanations can be ultimate explanations, which is incoherent given that there is no reason to assume that the universe brought itself into existence.

    As an alternative explanation for knowledge you offer “variation” and “criticism”. One problem with these proposed ‘causes’ is that they cannot explain on which they depend. Criticism and variation presuppose, among many other things (see post # 216), what they attempt to explain: knowledge.

  235. 235
    jdk says:

    to HeKS re 233:

    OK, I get that you don’t think I am understanding your arguments, so, in part as an exercise in trying to communicate fairly precise abstract ideas, I’ll try to focus here on understanding what you are saying.

    First, you write,

    IF a world-root being holds any ‘essential positions’ (as I defined that term in my previous comment) that we would consider morally relevant, THEN it would necessarily produce a world where those morally relevant essential positions form part of the backdrop of reality, such that reality would have within its fabric an objective moral dimension or framework, and that this would be true EVEN IF the being didn’t care about how free beings chose to act in relation to that framework.

    and in your previous post you define “essential position” as “a position that must be derived from the essence of what it IS in its very nature rather than from analysis of or beliefs about external realities.”

    I think I get this, and I accept your conditional statement. Of course, determining that the root-level has such essential positions is the real issue.

    Also, I think my use of the word “superimposed” has caused some of the confused, and I’ll accept your statement “The basic existence of such a moral dimension would be derived directly from the the world-root being by virtue of the nature of its causal relation to reality,” without reference to how any free, rational agents in the world might relate to that moral dimension. (With, of course, the above disclaimer about the antecedent part of the conditional, “IF such essential positions exist at the root-level”.)

    However, I thought I had expressed understanding of this when I wrote,

    That such root-level moral positions might exist irrespective of whether any creatures know about them or act or them might be the case, but I don’t think you present any argument that it must be so. Traditional theism certainly supports the distinction you make: that the moral truths are there, but we are free to follow or not. But there is no logically necessary “definition” that says that allowing of and providing for the existence of free, rational creatures means that, whether those creatures know it or not, moral OUGHTS are built into the fabric of root-level reality.

    You, however, said I was still misunderstanding, and wrote,

    Again, I think you’re blending together a series of distinct issues and looking at some of them backwards. As I said above, my arguments about logical necessity are conditional rather than absolute. I’m not making the absolute claim that Y is logically necessary. Instead, I’m arguing that IF X is true, THEN Y would seem to be logically necessary.

    However, this seems to be what my first sentence says: I accept that if x, then y, but you don’t seem to have presented any evidence for x.

    So when you write,

    And, again, this comment suggests that we’re not really on the same page about the argument. I’m not trying to convince you of my intuitions, nor am I suggesting that my intuitions have any particular logical force. I’m not arguing that any world-root being MUST have moral positions because my intuition tells me so. In fact, I’m not making that claim at all. I’m merely trying to establish the distinctions between different concepts that are relevant to this discussion (which will be important as the discussion progresses into different areas) and to show the actual minimal conditions necessary to establish the presence of an objective moral framework as a logical necessity.

    I really think I understand that, and have understood it.

    So the next step is to explain what these minimal conditions are that would establish the logical necessity, and thus the truth, of the antecedent condition that the root-level reality of this world does indeed hold “morally relevant essential positions.

    Also, as a last comment, I’m sure I understand the distinctions between ontology and epistemology.

    I may read your linked posts, although in genreal trying to revive past discussions is not as fruitful as just having a current one.

    So perhaps we can move on: what are the minimal conditions for establishing that the root-level of reality for our world indeed has essential moral positions, and what are the arguments and/or evidence for those minimal conditions being met?

  236. 236
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, I suggest you look at my response to HeKS yesterday, at 223 above, and other remarks further above. Remember, this is a worldviews discussion i/l/o comparative difficulties and using key first principles of right reason to guide discussion, so it may be helpful to cf here on, including here on on the issue of being, these being at 101 level. Sorry, this is not light, obvious stuff that is simply and briefly resolved. By best definition, phil is the study of hard fundamental questions, known to be such as there are no easy answers, forcing comparative difficulties as key approach. Where, ALL answers bristle with difficulties so the issue becomes, comparison. KF

    PS: A key consideration in my assessment is that to be truly rational, capable of insightful, logical inferences from ground to consequent and/or to construct cogent inductive inferences from empirical grounds to well supported conclusions, an agent needs to be responsibly free. That is, issues of duty to truth, proper inference and the like lurk, and such cannot be merely mechanical or stochastic, blindly grinding out what are tagged conclusions on being given inputs. That is non-rational, cause-effect behaviour [cf the ball and disk integrator in the OP], not reasoning. A coherent cosmos is then instantly shot through with reasoning, and that is not accounted for on either chicken-egg loops or proposed but infeasible infinite chains of causal-temporal succession or the like. It is of course then left to a finitely remote world root and such will need to be capable of the sourcing of a coherent cosmos — logically and dynamically coherent. I note too that moral duty is not to be conflated with fear of being hauled before some cosmic version of a Judge’s bench to give an account.

  237. 237
    jdk says:

    P.S. to HeKS: I took a quick look at the first part of the first link you provided, and quickly saw that it wasn’t too relevant to our discussion. I am positing the existence of a non-material root-level of reality, not a materialistic atheism. Therefore, I hope we can just continue our discussion as it is going and not confuse it with other perspectives.

  238. 238
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Reppert on reasoning, building on points argued by Haldane and Lewis:

    . . . let us suppose that brain state A, which is token identical to the thought that all men are mortal, and brain state B, which is token identical to the thought that Socrates is a man, together cause the belief that Socrates is mortal. It isn’t enough for rational inference that these events be those beliefs, it is also necessary that the causal transaction be in virtue of the content of those thoughts . . . [But] if naturalism is true, then the propositional content is irrelevant to the causal transaction that produces the conclusion, and [so] we do not have a case of rational inference. In rational inference, as Lewis puts it, one thought causes another thought not by being, but by being seen to be, the ground for it. But causal transactions in the brain occur in virtue of the brain’s being in a particular type of state that is relevant to physical causal transactions.

    We need to ponder, what is reasoning. Then, how it connects to responsible freedom.

    KF

  239. 239
    critical rationalist says:

    @UB #220

    A molecular language

    There is a language in organisms, so they were designed? Is that more accurate? Still not seeing it. J

    So, how do you connect those two dots? Nothing in the papers you referenced connects them.

    Is it probability? But probably is only applicable when applied inside an existing theory that constrains the number of options to choose from. It’s unclear how you know what options there are for alternative theories, such as those we have yet to conceive of yet, those that you haven’t observed, etc. Furthermore, if you’re appealing to probably, how probable are other designers at the place time that this supposed act of intelligence occurred? We haven’t observed any designers other than human beings and they couldn’t have designed themselves. If the only designers we know of are so improbable, how can some other designer be the probable cause of organisms? IOW, it’s unclear how you can calculate the probability that a designer did it. It’s simply not applicable in this case.

    Is it induction? But we’ve been over this before.

    Bertand Russell’s story of the chicken and the farmer not only shows that one cannot induce truth from past experience, but that it’s a myth that one can extrapolate observations to form new theories.

    For Russell’s chicken to reach a false prediction via induction, it must have first interpreted the farmer’s actions (being fed every day) using a false explanation, such as the farmer had benevolent feelings towards chickens. However, had the chicken first guessed a different explanation, such as the farmer was feeding the chicken so it would fetch a good price when slaughtered, then it would have extrapolated the farmer’s actions quite differently.

    As such, it’s unclear how one can extrapolate observations without first putting them into a explanatory framework. This is why I keep asking for an explanation, not merely an appeal to inductivism.

    Again, symbols in a language represent knowledge. What is the origin of that knowledge?

    Ruby on Rails is a framework for developing websites. But it’s not just a framework as it adds what appears to be new languages keywords to Ruby. It’s as if the Ruby language itself was extended just for developing websites. How was this accomplished? The developers of the framework took all their previous knowledge of past and current projects, along with the meta programming features of the Ruby programming language, and abstracted it into a domain specific language (DSL) for building server side web applications. When these new “keywords” are encountered by the Ruby interpreter, they are expanded and that knowable is applied.

    The key point being, if the developers did not possess that domain specific knowledge, they could not abstract it into a DSL. So, a language represents knowledge. And, in people, knowledge grows via conjecture and criticism.

    This is why I’ve said, a designer that “just was”, complete with the knowledge of just the right genes (domain specific knowledge) that would result in just the right proteins, that would result in just the right features, already present, doesn’t serve an explanatory purpose. This is because one could more efficiently state that organisms “just appeared”, complete with the knowledge of just the right genes that would result in just the right proteins, that would result in just the right features, already present.

  240. 240
    critical rationalist says:

    @Origenes #228

    Indeed, if “no position can be positively justified”, then it cannot be positively justified that no position can be positively justified..

    Are you serious? Why would someone who has given up on positive justification try to positively justify fallibilism?

    I wrote:

    Second, Bartley does provide guidance on adopting positions; we may adopt the position that to this moment has stood up to criticism most effectively. Of course this is no help for dogmatists who seek stronger reasons for belief, but that is a problem for them, not for exponents of critical preference.

    What would it look like to be a fallibilist about fallibilism?

    SOCRATES: Wait! We are fallible in all our thinking? Is there literally no idea that we may safely hold immune from “criticism?

    HERMES: Like what?

    SOCRATES: [Ponders for a while. Then:] What about the truths of arithmetic, like two plus two equals four? Or the fact that Delphi exists? What about the geometrical fact that the angles of a triangle sum to two right angles?

    HERMES: Revealing no facts, I cannot confirm that all three of those propositions are even true! But more important is this: how did you come to choose those particular propositions as candidates for immunity from criticism? Why Delphi and not Athens? Why two plus two and not three plus four? Why not the theorem of Pythagoras? Was it because you decided that the propositions you chose would best make your point because they were the most obviously, unambiguously true of all the propositions you considered using?

    SOCRATES: Yes.

    HERMES: But then how did you determine how obviously and unambiguously true each of those candidate propositions was, compared with the others? Did you not criticize them? Did you not quickly attempt to think of ways or reasons that they might conceivably be false?

    SOCRATES: Yes, I did. I see. Had I held them immune from criticism, I would have had no way of arriving at that conclusion.

    HERMES: So you are, after all, a thoroughgoing fallibilist – though you mistakenly believed you were not.

    SOCRATES: I merely doubted it.

    HERMES: You doubted and criticized fallibilism itself, as a true fallibilist should.

    SOCRATES: That is so. Moreover, had I not criticized it, I could not have come to understand why it is true. My doubt improved my knowledge of an important truth – as knowledge held immune from criticism never can be improved!”

  241. 241
    critical rationalist says:

    @Origenes

    In the context of the design inference, there is no dichotomy between past experiences and explanatory theory. Intelligence, as a cause, explains the presence of complex specified information in life.

    I fail to see how merely choosing to call inductivism an “explanation” helps because, in the context that you’re using the word, it means the same thing.

    You have a problem accepting intelligence as a cause for several reasons. First, you hold that an explanation must be an “ultimate explanation”. Here, you seem to assume that only physical explanations can be ultimate explanations, which is incoherent given that there is no reason to assume that the universe brought itself into existence.

    Explanations have reach. They extend beyond the immediate problem. That’s what differentiates explanatory knowledge from non-explanatory knowledge.

    Again, a designer that “just was”, material or not, complete with the knowledge of what transformation of matter are necessary to a copy of a biological organism from raw materials serves no explanatory purpose. This is because one could more efficiently state that organisms “just appeared”, complete with that knowledge already present.

    If you’re going to improve the problem, you would need to explain that knowledge.

    As an alternative explanation for knowledge you offer “variation” and “criticism”. One problem with these proposed ‘causes’ is that they cannot explain on which they depend. Criticism and variation presuppose, among many other things (see post # 216), what they attempt to explain: knowledge.

    You’re assuming knowledge requires a knowing subject and that all forms of criticism needs to happen consciously or even by people. You seem to be having difficulty taking yourself out of the equation.

  242. 242
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, in addition to many other problems, you seem never to have acknowledged that induction in the modern sense describes argument that supports conclusions (generally i/l/o empirical evidence), rather than demonstrating them. It explicitly does not guarantee truth of conclusions but in many instances is capable of moral certainty, and moreover, we cannot but reason inductively. KF

    PS: One important form of inductive argument is inference to the best [current] explanation, aka abduction. This has been pointed out many times so the dismissive talking point above is less than acceptable.

  243. 243
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Merriam-Webster:

    >>
    Definition of criticism

    1
    a : the act of criticizing usually unfavorably seeking encouragement rather than criticismb : a critical observation or remark an unfair criticism had a minor criticism of the designc : critique

    2
    : the art of evaluating or analyzing works of art or literature; also : writings expressing such evaluation or analysis an anthology of literary criticism

    3
    : the scientific investigation of literary documents (such as the Bible) in regard to such matters as origin, text, composition, or history>>

    KF

  244. 244
    Origenes says:

    CR @240

    CR:

    Origenes:
    Indeed, if “no position can be positively justified”, then it cannot be positively justified that no position can be positively justified..

    Are you serious? Why would someone who has given up on positive justification try to positively justify fallibilism?

    Because this someone holds fallibilism to be true.

    CR: What would it look like to be a fallibilist about fallibilism?

    It would look like self-defeating incoherent nonsense, which is my point.

    CR:

    SOCRATES: Wait! We are fallible in all our thinking? Is there literally no idea that we may safely hold immune from “criticism?

    HERMES: Like what?

    SOCRATES: Like the idea that we are fallible in all our thinking.

  245. 245
    HeKS says:

    CR,

    The discussion over fallibilism has happened here before, and it actually went more like this:

    SOCRATES: Wait! We are fallible in all our thinking? Is there literally no idea that we may safely hold immune from criticism?

    HERMES: Like what?

    SOCRATES: [Responding immediately:] The Law of Identity and other essential rules of right reasoning

    HERMES: How did you come to choose those particular propositions as candidates for immunity from criticism? Was it because you decided that the propositions you chose would best make your point because they were the most obviously, unambiguously true of all the propositions you considered using?

    SOCRATES: No.

    HERMES: Then how did you determine how obviously and unambiguously true those candidate propositions were, compared with others? Did you not criticize them? Did you not quickly attempt to think of ways or reasons that they might conceivably be false?

    SOCRATES: No.

    HERMES: Then what is the reason for your choice?

    SOCRATES: Because the Law of Identity and other essential rules of right reasoning are absolutely foundational to the very process of rational criticism. In their absence, criticism is meaningless, and the degree to which anyone could ever even conceivably use argument to undermine these basic laws of reasoning is precisely the degree to which they undermine their argument against them. The idea that it is even possible that rational criticism could succeed in undermining the the very laws of reasoning that undergird and provide validity to rational criticism is self-referentially incoherent.

    HERMES: ….

  246. 246
    HeKS says:

    jdk,

    I’ll respond as soon as I have some time.

  247. 247
    jdk says:

    Thanks for the update – we both have many other things to do, I’m sure.

  248. 248
    Origenes says:

    CR @241

    CR: I fail to see how merely choosing to call inductivism an “explanation” helps because, in the context that you’re using the word, it means the same thing.

    I am not “choosing to call inductivism an ‘explanation’”.

    CR: Again, a designer that “just was”, material or not, complete with the knowledge of what transformation of matter are necessary to a copy of a biological organism from raw materials serves no explanatory purpose.

    We have been over this before. It is utter madness to say that Leonardo da Vinci serves no explanatory purpose wrt the Mona Lisa.

    CR: This is because one could more efficiently state that organisms “just appeared”, complete with that knowledge already present.

    It is utter madness to hold that one could “more efficiently state” that the Mona Lisa “just appeared, complete with that knowledge already present.”

  249. 249
    HeKS says:

    jdk,

    Just quickly…

    P.S. to HeKS: I took a quick look at the first part of the first link you provided, and quickly saw that it wasn’t too relevant to our discussion. I am positing the existence of a non-material root-level of reality, not a materialistic atheism. Therefore, I hope we can just continue our discussion as it is going and not confuse it with other perspectives.

    I understand the difference between the position you are positing here an the one I primarily addressed in that first article. However, that article does address the specific objection you raised to the existence of objective morality, which is the fact that people have differing opinions on moral issues. That argument is also addressed in the comment thread.

    You can find this covered in the article under the subheading, “Arguments Against Objective Morality”

    HeKS

  250. 250
    jdk says:

    Thanks, HeKS. I read the section Arguments Against Objective Morality, where you conclude that “the most common arguments against the existence of objective morality that do no simply assume Materialism carry no logical force whatsoever.”
    FTR: [http://www.uncommondescent.com/atheism/does-it-matter-what-we-believe-about-morality-a-guest-post-by-heks/]

    However, I don’t think your post accomplished what you say it did.

    If you have time and the interest to make your arguments again here and discuss them, I would be interested. I don’t want to respond deeply, however, to an old post that was in another context. However, I will say that quite a bit of your post was about why the theist would expect there to be a lack of uniformity among people, about moral judgments, given in the context of theism itself: the fall, quotes form the Bible, and statements such as,

    That there happen to be differences of opinion over what really is “the good” in some cases, even among theists, only highlights why the theist can reasonably expect some form of moral direction from the Creator of material reality and the ground of moral truths if the theist is right in thinking that such a Being exists, for why would he create a material reality that includes a moral dimension and cause to exist intelligent moral agents such as our ourselves who feel the moral prodding of a conscience if he does not care that we live according to the moral values and duties that he grounds. And if he cares, why would he not aid us in understanding his desires?

    and

    The more important one is that this state of affairs [various cultures having some similar moral values] is expected under theism because it is believed that God implanted in humanity a natural grasp of his moral laws.

    But these are all arguments for logical possibility, not logical necessity: possible explanations that are consistent with a belief in Christian theism.

    Unless you can show that other explanations for mankind’s moral behaviour are logically impossible, all you have done is establish that theism is one of the explanations on the table, which I don’t deny.

    I have proposed a non-materialistic root-level of being who doesn’t have any essential moral positions, and a world in which human beings, as free, rational creatures, create cultural normative expectations and rules based on our own understanding of, and in attempted harmony with, our social and individual nature and needs. The fact that there is some commonality across cultures (but perhaps less than you might expect if you have a broad understanding of different cultures, primitive and modern) is not surprising, because we do have some common human needs. On the other hand, the vast variety of cultural norms is also not surprising, because we are dependent on learning, as opposed to instinct, for most of the understandings which structure our behavior.

    So the question at hand in this discussion is different than your prior post. Our topic is not “can theism explain the wide range of beliefs in the world”. If you assume such things as a caring God, the fall, etc. then of course you can explain the wide range of beliefs.

    However, our topic is if you don’t assume such things, but do accept a non-materialistic root-level as I have proposed, can one also explain the wide range of beliefs, including the moral norms and sensibilities, without their being any logical contradiction? Is it logically impossible that our world is like this?

    I don’t think your previous post addresses that question.

  251. 251
    jdk says:

    So here is where I think we left off:

    You have written,

    IF a world-root being holds any ‘essential positions’ that we would consider morally relevant, THEN it would necessarily produce a world where those morally relevant essential positions form part of the backdrop of reality.

    I’ll agree to that. The question is whether the antecedent of that statement is true.

    You have also said that there are “minimal conditions necessary to establish the presence of an objective moral framework as a logical necessity”, and offered to explain what they are as well as what the arguments and evidence are that establish that those minimal conditions are met. That is the part I would like to hear about.

  252. 252
    HeKS says:

    jdk @250

    Thanks, HeKS. I read the section Arguments Against Objective Morality, where you conclude that “the most common arguments against the existence of objective morality that do no simply assume Materialism carry no logical force whatsoever.”

    However, I don’t think your post accomplished what you say it did…. quite a bit of your post was about why the theist would expect there to be a lack of uniformity among people, about moral judgments, given in the context of theism itself

    ….

    But these are all arguments for logical possibility, not logical necessity: possible explanations that are consistent with a belief in Christian theism.

    The response to that argument in my post was not in any way intended to prove the existence of objective morality as a logical necessity. The purpose was to show that the existence of different moral views does nothing to prove that objective moral values and duties do not exist. There is no logical conflict between the existence of objective moral truths and the failure of humans to grasp them all perfectly. The argument is, in fact, a confusion between Moral Ontology and Moral Epistemology. (I should also point out that the comments go into this argument in quite a bit more depth)

    So, again, when you say:

    I don’t think your post accomplished what you say it did

    I have to disagree. All I say/said it accomplished was to show that 1) there is no logical contradiction between the existence of objective moral values and duties and the existence of different moral opinions, and 2) that the simultaneous existence of both is specifically expected under Christian theism. (Note that Bible quotes in that article were not being used to prove the truth of anything to a non-Christian but merely to show the lack of conflict between Christian expectations and the state of affairs pointed to in the argument against objective morality)

    I’m hoping I’ll have time to get to more today but I’ll have to see.

    HeKS

  253. 253
    jdk says:

    I see: I agree that disagreements about moral values is not a logical proof that objective moral values don’t exist, and I understand the epistomology vs ontology distinction.

    I’m just trying to return the discussion to the topics I think we are focusing on, which are, I think

    a) it is not logically impossible that this world has no objective moral value, as described by the non-material root-level of reality that I have posited as a possibility,

    b1) your counter statement that there exists minimal conditions necessary to establish the presence of an objective moral framework as a logical necessity, and

    b2) your offer to explain what they are as well as what the arguments and evidence are that establish that those minimal conditions are met.

    These are things that I think are next topics in this discussion.

  254. 254
    hammaspeikko says:

    The subject of objective vs subjective morality is certainly one that creates a lot of discussion and emotion. However, I don’t see how it can develop into any consensus. I believe in objective morality because that is what I was taught from a young age. But I can also understand the perspective of those who think that it is subjective. After all, it would be hard to look at the world and see a universal objective morality.

    I think the one thing that both sides would agree with is that humans, for whatever reason, have a sense that we have certain “moral” obligations. To me, the big question isn’t whether there is objective universal morality. It is where our sense of “moral” obligation comes from. Is it designed? Is it the result of evolution? Is it possibly a combination of both?

  255. 255
    critical rationalist says:

    @Origenes

    You wrote:

    In the context of the design inference, there is no dichotomy between past experiences and explanatory theory. Intelligence, as a cause, explains the presence of complex specified information in life.

    I wrote:

    I fail to see how merely choosing to call inductivism an “explanation” helps because, in the context that you’re using the word, it means the same thing.

    You wrote:

    I am not “choosing to call inductivism an ‘explanation’”.

    You’re claiming there is no difference between inferences from past experiences and explanations, when it comes to intelligent design. They are equivalent. What else is that other than choosing to call inductivism an explanation?

  256. 256
    critical rationalist says:

    @Origenes

    It is utter madness to say that Leonardo da Vinci serves no explanatory purpose wrt the Mona Lisa.

    Yes, we’ve been over this before. You’re comparing oranges to apples.

    For example, let me fix that for you…

    da Vinci being “just born” complete with the knowledge of what transformation of matter are necessary to a copy of the Mona Lisa from raw materials serves no explanatory purpose.

    The Mona Lisa is a piece of art, not a template replicator. It does not contain a recipe (the knowledge) of what transformations of mater are necessary to make a copies of itself from raw materials. As such, that recipe was external to the paining, like a car built in a factory. The proximate cause of an organism is that knowledge, as the entire cell is constructed anew during replication.

    Furthermore, da Vinci had great flexibility in depicting a woman artistically. He could have used Surrealism, Impressionism, Expressionism, Photorealism, etc. Accuracy is not necessarily a goal of art, because its purpose is to evoke response from the viewer.

    In addition, we have explanations for how da Vinci brought about that painting. Part of that includes the concepts of beauty, especially during the early 1500s, the the female form, etc. Designers start out as raw materials that are adapted into biological structures, such as arms, legs, nervous systems, etc., which allow them to manipulate the physical world. Human beings created the knowledge used to make pigments, develop panting techniques. etc. Knowledge grows via conjecture and criticism.

    It is utter madness to hold that one could “more efficiently state” that the Mona Lisa “just appeared, complete with that knowledge already present.”

    Let me fix that for you as well…

    It is utter madness to hold that one could “more efficiently state” that the Mona Lisa “was just painted”, complete with the knowledge of how to make a copy of itself from raw materials already present.

    This would be like saying Mona Lisa came off da Vinci’s easel with with the knowledge of how to make copies of itself from raw materials, despite da Vinci not possessing that knowledge. Or da Vinci being “just born” with that knowledge already present.

    However, since the Mona Lisa doesn’t actually contain a recipe of how to build a copy of itself from raw materials, saying that recipe was “just painted” with it isn’t applicable either. It’s not present there.

    IOW, you don’t seem to understand the argument being presented.

  257. 257
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF #242

    Again, I’m suggesting that people are confused about how we make progress, not that we do not make progress. Choosing to call conjecture and criticism “induction” doesn’t help. Yes, I’m suggesting we can be mistaken about how we create knowledge. We can be mistaken about what we’re doing or unaware of a deeper unification that underlies that process.

    From the Wikipedia article on Abductive reasoning….

    Abductive reasoning allows inferring a as an explanation of b as a result of this inference, abduction allows the precondition a to be abduced from the consequence b. Deductive reasoning and abductive reasoning thus differ in the direction in which a rule like ” a entails
    b” is used for inference.

    As such, abduction is formally equivalent to the logical fallacy of affirming the consequent (or Post hoc ergo propter hoc) because of multiple possible explanations for b.

    For example, in a billiard game, after glancing and seeing the eight ball moving towards us, we may abduce that the cue ball struck the eight ball. The strike of the cue ball would account for the movement of the eight ball. It serves as a hypothesis that explains our observation. Given the many possible explanations for the movement of the eight ball, our abduction does not leave us certain that the cue ball in fact struck the eight ball, but our abduction, still useful, can serve to orient us in our surroundings. Despite many possible explanations for any physical process that we observe, we tend to abduce a single explanation (or a few explanations) for this process in the expectation that we can better orient ourselves in our surroundings and disregard some possibilities. Properly used, abductive reasoning can be a useful source of priors in Bayesian statistics.

    @KF #243

    Definition of criticism

    Again, I’ve referenced this by presenting a definition of knowledge that does not require a knowing subject. You seem to be having difficulty taking yourself out of the equation.

    Knowledge is information that plays a casual role in being retained when embed in a storage medium. The critical test is that it solves a problem. Specially, it can play a causal role in being copied into the next generation.

    For example, when someone drives over a bridge, that represents criticism of the knowledge of what structure would be necessary to support a vehicle. However, the driver or the car is just trying to reach their destination and this was not intentional.

  258. 258
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, your problems demonstrably start with first principles of right reason. I suggest to you that you try to comment without implicitly relying on distinct identity, starting with alphanumeric characters. When that proves impossible, try to speak without doing the same. Oops, impossible again, try to think without having distinct thoughts. Double oops. In short, you need to deal with a fatal foundational flaw before you have any basis to say anything. It’s not rocket science — as the No Ko’s seem to be struggling with — to see that. KF

    PS: The living cell is not a template replicator, but is a metabolising automaton that incorporates a molecular nanotech von Neumann kinematic self replication facility.

  259. 259
    kairosfocus says:

    HP, agreement, with all due respect, is not a criterion of correctness nor is its absence a criterion of error. In the case of objectivity of moral government, even objectors implicitly appeal to the binding nature of duty to truth, right, sound reasoning etc. This is a clue. Further to this, such pervade the reasoning process and urge themselves on us even when we do, say, a bit of math and send the clear message of binding duty. Either that is merely a subjective perception or it is the voice of a compass sense that detects a real fact beyond delusion. If delusional, we are talking of a pervasive delusion undermining mindedness including rationality in general. A point actually made by many advocates of evolutionary materialism, who seem not to realise that they have just blown up the project of rational discourse and plunged into absurdity. It is therefore reasonable to hold that our sense of being under moral governance is reflecting an objective reality . . . something BTW which was never seriously questioned until the otherwise demonstrably self refuting evolutionary materialist worldview became a significant issue. Indeed, to be rational, we need to be responsibly and rationally free and all the evo mat ideologies founder on trying to squeeze rationality out of a blindly mechanical and/or stochastic computational substrate. All of this, I already pointed out above. the real issue is, what sort of world do we inhabit, to be responsibly, rationally significantly free? KF

  260. 260
    Axel says:

    If I may presume to interject (feel free to refuse, both of you), you are saying it is tangential, CR.

    If I understand your concluding paragraph correctly, adducing that knowledge exists, on its own, as it were, without reference to any intelligence, you seem to be making the same mistake as the materialists who claimed that, observations in the double-slit experiment could be made by a camera, instead of by a human being, thereby countering the notion of the observation being necessarly subjective, i.e. by immediate, human corporeal agency.

    Whereas it has been pointed out that any and everything intelligible would be meaningless without personal, human cognition, i.e. in this case, setting up the equipment and interpreting the data captured by the camera.

    It goes back, I think, to Planck’s observation :

    ‘Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature. And that is because, in the last analysis, we ourselves are a part of the mystery that we are trying to solve.’

    And the more extended quote :

    ‘All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particles of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. . . . We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent Mind. This Mind is the matrix of all matter.’

  261. 261
    HeKS says:

    jdk #253

    My comments are going to have to come in snippets for the time being because I just don’t have much time. (EDIT MADE AT THE TIME I FINISHED WRITING THIS COMMENT: I failed in my intent to write a brief snippet of a comment)

    I’m just trying to return the discussion to the topics I think we are focusing on, which are, I think
    ….
    b1) your counter statement that there exists minimal conditions necessary to establish the presence of an objective moral framework as a logical necessity, and

    b2) your offer to explain what they are…

    Regarding this point, about what the minimal condition is to establish the existence of an objective moral framework as a logically necessary part of the backdrop of reality, I’ve already said what it is, you’ve quoted it, and you’ve said you accept it. Let me repeat that here:

    HeKS: IF a world-root being holds any ‘essential positions’ that we would consider morally relevant, THEN it would necessarily produce a world where those morally relevant essential positions form part of the backdrop of reality.

    I’ll agree to that. The question is whether the antecedent of that statement is true.

    Let me just remind you that the point I was making here was that, unlike people often claim, it is not necessary to show that this world-root being actively cares about the actions of humans in order to establish that there is necessarily an objective moral backdrop to reality. All that is necessary is that this being itself holds certain essential positions that we would consider morally relevant. Establishing that this being cares in some fashion about human behavior might be important in establishing that humans have moral duties, but it is not important in establishing that there are certain things that really are morally right and others that really are morally wrong, whatever those turn out to be and however it is that we get to know about them.

    So that is the condition in the conditional argument that would establish the existence of an objective moral framework as part of reality if it turned out to be true. I have commented on this condition being “minimal” because it involves less than many people seem to typically think.

    Now, to continue the other part of your ‘b2’…

    b2) your offer to explain what they are as well as what the arguments and evidence are that establish that those minimal conditions are met.

    So again, to be clear, I haven’t claimed that you can prove this as a matter of pure logical necessity, and by “pure logical necessity” I mean starting at the beginning, with only the being, and proving as a matter of logical necessity that ANY world-root being MUST have morally relevant essential positions. At present I don’t that’s true, though perhaps someone could convince me. The only way I think you could possibly argue for the logical necessity that this being have morally relevant essential positions is by starting with what exists and working back to the type of being that is logically necessary to explain what actually exists. And as I recall, the comment I made entering this discussion was that I didn’t think it was obvious that it wasn’t logically necessary that the being responsible for this actual world meet the conditions necessary to make the existence of an objective moral framework logically necessary.

    Was that statement confusing? I think so. To reword it (though I don’t know if this will be much better): I think the details of the actual world may make it a logically necessary conclusion that the being responsible for this world has essential positions that would make the existence of an objective moral framework a logically necessary aspect of reality. And, again, I’ve indicated what some of these details are, and I will address them further when I have a moment, but it may come down to definitions, in the sense that this world-root being would have carried out actions that indicate morally relevant essential positions by definition.

    But now I want to come back to your ‘a’ point, because I think it might the most important underlying issue of all.

    a) it is not logically impossible that this world has no objective moral value, as described by the non-material root-level of reality that I have posited as a possibility

    I like having discussions about logical possibility, impossibility and necessity. They are interesting and mentally stimulating. For people committed to logic, they also force us into at least a minimal necessary worldview and take others completely off the table if we want a worldview that is rational at its core, which is a place where I think the materialists routinely fail (or refuse) to look. But the fact of the matter is that we don’t live our lives only according to absolute logical necessity. If we acted only when in possession of absolute certainty we would mostly never act at all. I’d like to paste something I said here in another discussion about selective hyper-skepticism, not because I’m saying that this trait necessarily applies to you (it doesn’t seem to me so far that it does), but because in the process of discussing that mindset I said some things relevant to the point I’m currently making:

    Normal skepticism is generally equitable and a good thing. It applies a reasonably consistent demand for warrant across the board before some claim of fact or some argument is accepted. It prevents one from being credulous, but allows one to believe what is reasonable to believe once one has received a reasonable amount of supporting evidence and/or argumentation. There’s obviously some subjectivity here in terms of what one person considers to be a sufficient or reasonable amount of evidence or argumentation vs another, but the typical idea is that one is willing to believe if they’ve received sufficient evidence to bring about Moral Certainty rather than requiring Absolute Certainty. In other words, enough to warrant action or acceptance by a person who is not heavily biased.

    Conversely, hyper-skepticism … is virtually never equitable. Rather it is highly selective. Selective Hyper-Skepticism results when one requires a much higher degree of warrant in order to accept things that they prefer weren’t true. It most often comes up when worldview issues are at stake. It’s the application of a double-standard where one demands sufficient evidence to support absolute certainty (which is generally impossible) on certain facts they’d rather not have to believe, but they are willing to accept a much more lax standard of evidence and argumentation on matters of a very similar profile that don’t threaten their worldview.

    So, the point I’m making here is that, as interesting as this conversation is and as much as I’m enjoying it, if I’m ultimately unable to prove to your satisfaction that the root-level being must meet the condition of having morally relevant essential positions as a matter of logical necessity, that really shouldn’t matter. The more important question should be whether the evidence we have available to us makes the conclusion sufficiently likely to make action on your part warranted. In other words, if you were attempting to approach the issue as unbiased as possible and looking at the evidence, what conclusion would seem more reasonable, and is the issue important enough that it would warrant action on your part if it were true? In still other words, we should be aiming for Moral Certainty, not Absolute Certainty.

    In some obvious ways, this question becomes especially poignant given the subject matter we’re discussing, because only if objective moral values and duties exist would you have any kind of obligation to make decisions based on the truth value you assign to the content of any claims.

    More as I have time.

    Take care,
    HeKS

  262. 262
    kairosfocus says:

    HeKS, I (again) point to the requisites of rationality, which will be foundational to a coherent cosmos rather than a chaos. Namely, responsible, rational freedom, with diligent carrying out of a sound framework for the cosmos. Our own being bound under moral government is closely tied to our being rational thus responsibly free also. KF

  263. 263
    jdk says:

    to HeKS at 261.

    OK, I see that I have misunderstood: the antecedent of your conditional, “IF a world-root being holds any ‘essential positions’ that we would consider morally relevant,” is the minimum condition for establishing OUGHTS in the world. I though that you were intending for offering further minimal conditions for establishing the truth of that statement, but now I understand and that confusion is settled, I think.

    I also understand your point that the existence of these essential positions is the key element, irrespective of whether people know them well or thoroughly, or whether the world root cares whether we a moral duty to adhere to them. As you write, the issue is “establishing that there are certain things that really are morally right and others that really are morally wrong, whatever those turn out to be and however it is that we get to know about them.”

    So we’ll focus on the statement “the world-root being [of our world] holds … essential positions that we would consider morally relevant.”

    Note: I added [of our world] because I think several people have said that might not be true of some possible world, but it true of this world, and my position is that it is logically possible that this world has no OUGHTs at the root-level.

    So, I understand when you say that you are not claiming to prove by pure logic, from first principles, so to speak, that “ANY world-root being MUST have morally relevant essential positions.”

    Rather, I understand and agree with you position that

    The only way I think you could possibly argue for the logical necessity that this being has morally relevant essential positions is by starting with what exists and working back to the type of being that is logically necessary to explain what actually exists.

    With all that said, to establish the ground we have covered, I think this is the point where we are at:

    I think the details of the actual world may make it a logically necessary conclusion that the being responsible for this world has essential positions that would make the existence of an objective moral framework a logically necessary aspect of reality.

    This is what I am interested in hearing about.

    But you write, “Again, I’ve indicated what some of these details are,”

    The only details that I remember you offering was about people feeling that their moral sensibilities were connected to some deeper reality. My reply to that was first, that not all people feel that way, and second, more broadly, there are good (I think better) explanations for that then assuming those feelings are accurate.

    You also write, “it may come down to definitions, in the sense that this world-root being would have carried out actions that indicate morally relevant essential positions by definition.”

    I am very leery of arguments “by definition”, because usually the definition being offered just implicitly includes the conclusion one is trying to establish. So I’m interested in the details of whatever definition you might offer.

    I understand, I think, all that you have to say about skepticism. I am a strong agnostic about the matters we are discussing, and am a careful skeptic about claims in general. As I have often stated, I would rather live with uncertainty than believe things that are not true.

    So, to be very clear (and redundant), I am not arguing that the root-level of our world doesn’t have essential moral positions. I am arguing that it is logically possible that the root level has no such essential moral positions.

    Also, I understand that as far as personal action goes (as opposed to careful logical discussion as we are engaged in), people are more than just rational beings, and that we combine logical understanding, consideration of evidence, emotions and other aspects of our psychology, and so on, when we reach decisions about how to act, and on a practical level, what to believe.

    And I understand your point that whether you prove your point to my satisfaction really shouldn’t matter: it’s my business to assess all the evidence and arguments and make my own decisions about what to believe.

    But, you write,

    In other words, if you were attempting to approach the issue as unbiased as possible and looking at the evidence, what conclusion would seem more reasonable, and is the issue important enough that it would warrant action on your part if it were true? In still other words, we should be aiming for Moral Certainty, not Absolute Certainty.

    Well, first, I am “attempting to approach the issue as unbiased as possible and looking at the evidence”, and have been for over 50 years, as my interest in this topic goes back to my high school days.

    Also, I understand that almost always expecting absolute certainty about a position is unrealistic, but in this discussion I wouldn’t say I am aiming at “Moral Certainty”: rather I am aiming at some level of “understanding” certainty.

    So, to summarize, I’d like to hear more about what you think the evidence and arguments are, aiming for a reasonable level of certainty, that the root-level of reality contains essential moral positions? More to the point, why do you think it is, again with a reasonable level of certainty, impossible (or at least extremely unlikely to be true) that the root-level of reality has no positions.

    And, for the record, the position I have posited as an alternative is that the IS of the world accounts for our existence as truly free, rational creatures, and that it is up to us to decide what norms we wish to establish for ourselves and in the society around us.

  264. 264
    kairosfocus says:

    HeKS, to be able to reason, a being must be free, self-moved, not driven by blind chance and/or mechanical necessity. But freedom is just that, not a force. It does not enforce itself or regulate itself. The free being has to be self-governed, if it is to consistently act rationally and soundly. That self-government is inherently moral, and should be based on truth, diligence, the right, coherence, consistency and more. The level of existence of the self-moved and free is inherently that of moral government. And this then points to the world-root as the source. The notion of rationality and logic and soundness being amoral is a grave error. KF

  265. 265
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF

    CR, your problems demonstrably start with first principles of right reason. I suggest to you that you try to comment without implicitly relying on distinct identity, starting with alphanumeric characters.

    As I’ve pointed out several times before, nothing in the above is incompatible with what you call self-evident truths being ideas that we currently do not have good criticisms of. For example, why did you pick identity as an example of a self evident truth out of all possible ideas? Because you quickly tried to criticize it and came back with none.

    Pointing out that Identify is useful in all of our other explanations is a criticism to the idea that it is false.

    Furthermore, we have criticisms of identity in the new riddle of induction, which I’ve referenced before.

    Grue and bleen are predicates coined by Nelson Goodman in Fact, Fiction, and Forecast to illustrate the “new riddle of induction”. These predicates are unusual because their application to things is time-dependent. For Goodman they illustrate the problem of projectable predicates and ultimately, which empirical generalizations are law-like and which are not.[1][2] Goodman’s construction and use of grue and bleen illustrates how philosophers use simple examples in conceptual analysis.

    There can always be a future observation that would conflict with properties we use to identify something as one thing or another.

    We can say that someone is “grue” if it is green until some time t, such as 2050, in which it is blue. While these are not terms we use in everyday life, they still accurately represent the problem of whether a property can be projected into the future based on past observations.

    All of the observations of an emerald to date support it being both green and grue.

    What then makes some generalization lawlike and other accidental? This, for Goodman, becomes a problem of determining which predicates are projectable (i.e., can be used in lawlike generalizations that serve as predictions) and which are not. Goodman argues that this is where the fundamental problem lies. This problem, known as Goodman’s paradox, is as follows. Consider the evidence that all emeralds examined thus far have been green. This leads us to conclude (by induction) that all future emeralds will be green. However, whether this prediction is lawlike or not depends on the predicates used in this prediction. Goodman observed that (assuming t has yet to pass) it is equally true that every emerald that has been observed is grue. Thus, by the same evidence we can conclude that all future emeralds will be grue. The new problem of induction becomes one of distinguishing projectable predicates such as green and blue from non-projectable predicates such as grue and bleen.

  266. 266

    CR ,

    The Mona Lisa is a piece of art, not a template replicator. It does not contain a recipe (the knowledge) of what transformations of mater are necessary to make a copies of itself from raw materials.

    I am reluctant to step back into a conversation with you, but you keep saying things that are so demonstrably false. Since I now know that you are up-in-your-head and immune to evidence and reason, I will respond to your comment only for any interested readers of the thread.

    A template replicator does not contain a recipe of itself. A recipe entails a symbolic relation between a medium of information and its referents within a system. In the study of self-replicating systems that have open-ended evolutionary potential, this is the central observation. It is virtually impossible to read the literature on such systems and miss this point.

    In a recipe system like DNA, one set of objects (the codons) serve as symbolic representations, while another set of objects (the aminoacyl synthetases) independently establish what is being represented.

    This system of discontinuous association is a fundamental requirement in semiotic systems. It is what establishes DNA as an actual medium of information. It is specifically this discontinuous association that enables the physical independence required for the medium to actually specify all the different referents that are needed to organize the system.

    It is important to remember that in classical physics, all interactions between physical objects are lawfully determined by the exchange of energy and rates of exchange of energy. However, the unique organization of a semiotic system specifically establishes rate-independent control over this ubiquitous physical reality, thus allowing the production of effects that would otherwise never occur in a wholly rate-dependent system.

    A template replicator, on the other hand, does not establish a medium of information, does not contain representations, has no referents, and is physically incapable of open-ended evolutionary potential. Every interaction that takes place in a template replicator is fully rate-dependent, and is thus incapable of producing the effects of a recipe. One of those effects, of course, is organizing a recipe.

    CR willfully conflates these two entirely different physical systems. He then avoids the issue by citing others who also conflate the systems, and no amount of evidence is allowed to interfere. But the physical facts remain. The symbol-matter paradox is not resolved by ignoring it.

    His response is always the same; post-modern bafflegab, irrelevance, and assumption. How do I know this? Because, until he is prepared to acknowledge the issues, he has no alternatives.

  267. 267
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, you have been unable to comment in this thread without relying on distinct identity and its immediate corollaries, LOI, LEM, LNC. That should be a clue. These are not on trial, you are. And beyond, you seem to be still stuck in an outdated understanding of inductive reasoning, the part that anchors us to the real world. As just one little issue try this: on factual adequacy, coherence and balanced explanatory power, which is the better explanation, that emeralds are green or that they are grue? And, what colour are emeralds in the dark or buried deep underground or when no one is looking? Extending, which is better, the three laws of thermodynamics or the concept that oh perpetuum mobiles exist, we just have not discovered them yet or maybe the laws switch from time to time so at some future date such will work. KF

  268. 268
    Origenes says:

    CR: da Vinci being “just born” complete with the knowledge of what transformation of matter are necessary to a copy of the Mona Lisa from raw materials serves no explanatory purpose.

    You are not making sense. Suppose that Da Vinci created a self-replicating system “Mona Lisa”. Why would Da Vinci as the creator of that self-replicating system not serve an explanatory purpose wrt the existence of that system?
    And, why on earth, should anyone think that Da Vinci was born with that knowledge? Are you again conflating ‘explanation’ and ‘ultimate explanation’?

  269. 269
    critical rationalist says:

    @UB

    I wrote..

    The Mona Lisa is a piece of art, not a template replicator. It does not contain a recipe (the knowledge) of what transformations of mater are necessary to make a copies of itself from raw materials. As such, that recipe was external to the paining, like a car built in a factory. The proximate cause of an organism is that knowledge, as the entire cell is constructed anew during replication.

    You wrote..

    A template replicator does not contain a recipe of itself. A recipe entails a symbolic relation between a medium of information and its referents within a system. In the study of self-replicating systems that have open-ended evolutionary potential, this is the central observation. It is virtually impossible to read the literature on such systems and miss this point.

    First, exchanging “template replicator” with whatever term you would like to use instead does not result in the Mona Lisa containing the knowledge of how to make a copy of itself. Is there some other term you would prefer to use instead?

    Second, In the context of the paper I referenced, the term “template replicator” was used to distinguish a specific kind of replication that was necessary to perform accurate copies. Namely, that the replicator vehicle is not copied, but a “recipe” is used instead. Had the vehicle itself been copied, any damage or construction errors in the vehicle would be present in the copy. Nor could there be error correction after the copy was made. This is a key point in explaining how accurate self-replication is compatible with no-design laws. No such knowledge is present in the Mona Lisa.

    It is important to remember that in classical physics, all interactions between physical objects are lawfully determined by the exchange of energy and rates of exchange of energy. However, the unique organization of a semiotic system specifically establishes rate-independent control over this ubiquitous physical reality, thus allowing the production of effects that would otherwise never occur in a wholly rate-dependent system.

    Replication in the paper was first expressed in constructor theoretic terms in which the constructor itself is abstract, then specially applied to biological organisms. This is because constructor theory is concerned with what transformations are possible, which are impossible and why – which would entail physical theories – principles – that constrain what is possible. This includes breaking down biological replication into construction tasks, subtasks, etc. until we end up with subtasks that are not specific to design and/or occur spontaneously. This avoids an infinite regress, which is what you seem to be referring to.

    3.1 An accurate constructor must contain a replicator

    A task T being possible means that for any given accuracy (short of perection) the laws of physics permit an approximate constructor capable of performing the task to that accuracy.
    Consider a possible, non elementary task T and an object F that can perform T to a high accuracy (8) ?. For instance, T could be the task of constructing a car from generic substrates and F a generalised car factory, including all the processes converting raw materials such as iron, etc., into a car.
    The approximate constructor F executes a procedure – a recipe – to perform the task T to accuracy ?. I will show that F must include a replicator and a programmable constructor; and that the recipe must have a hierarchical structure and be instantiated in the replicator.
    No-design laws contain no good constructor for T, such as F – neither in the elementary interactions, nor in the generic resources. Hence the recipe used by F to perform T must be decomposable into steps (not necessarily sequential) that are allowed by no-design laws. That is to say, sub-recipes – procedures to perform sub-tasks that are executed by sub-constructors contained in F. To avoid infinite regress, two conditions must be fulfilled. (8)It is the subsidiary theory that provides specific measures of accuracy.

    One is that the subtasks be non-specific to T. For instance, when T is the task of constructing a car, the subtasks are those of constructing sub-parts of the car – e.g., door handles, windows, etc. Hence, the constructor F must include two parts: One – which I call V – performs T blindly, i.e., subtask by subtask, and it is non-specific to T, because so are the subtasks. The rest of F – which I call P – is specific to T and instantiates the recipe for T: it specifies the sequence of the subtasks, thus controlling V. Hence F can be described as a programmable constructor, V , programmed with a program P having the same logic as the recipe: it has a modular structure P = (p1, p2, · · · , pN ) where each instruction pi takes values in an information variable and tells V which sub-task to perform, when, on the substrates(9). V is non-specific to T because it must also be capable of executing other programs – different combinations of the elementary units pi. For example, a car factory contains robots executing sub-recipes to construct the car’s doors. These robots contain sub-robots to construct handles, windows, etc., which could be used to construct other objects than cars.
    The other condition is obtained by applying the same reasoning recursively to the subtasks. If they, too, are non-elementary, they require a recipe that is decomposable into non-specific sub-recipes. The base for the recursion – for T to be performable to that particular accuracy – is provided by the elementary sub-recipes of the recipe for T being elementary tasks – which can be performed by (approximations to) constructors that are available in nature, as generic resources.
    Note that these elementary sub-tasks need not be specified in the recipe: they are implicit in the laws of physics. For instance, the elementary steps in the car recipe are tasks like, say, “oxidise the aluminium coating”, and occur simply by leaving the substrate exposed to air.
    Under no-design laws, any (approximation to a) constructor wears out after a finite time. Therefore F, to perform the task T to the accuracy ?, must undergo a process of maintenance, defined as one whereby a new instance of F – i.e., of P and V – is brought about, from generic materials, before the former one stops working. In the case of the car factory, this is achieved by replacing old subparts of the robots, assembly lines, etc. and by preserving the programs they run.
    To avoid an infinite regress, implementing the maintenance must not in turn require the recipe P for T. Also, the design of the recipe P cannot be in the laws of physics. Thus, the only other possibility is that the new instance of P is brought about by blind replication of the recipe P contained in the former instance – i.e., by replicating its subunits pi (that are non-specific to T). We conclude that, under no-design laws, the substrate instantiating the recipe is necessarily a modular replicator: a physical object that can be copied blindly, an elementary subunit at a time. In contrast, V – the non-specific component of F – is constructed anew from generic resources.

    Moreover, under no-design laws errors can occur: thus, to achieve high and improvable accuracy, the recipe must include error-correction. In the car factory, this includes, say, controlling the functionalities of the subcomponents (e.g., fine checks on the position of doors, wheels, etc.). Hence the recipe P must contain information about the task T, informing the criterion for error detection and correction.
    The information in the recipe is an abstract constructor that I shall call knowledge (without a knowing subject [26]). Knowledge has an exact characterisation in constructor theory: it is information that can act as a con- structor and cause itself to remain instantiated in physical substrates. Crucially, error-correcting the replication is necessary. Hence the subunits pi must assume values in a discrete (digital) information variable: one whose attributes are separated by non-allowed attributes. For, if all values in a continuum were allowed, error-correction would be logically impossible.

    IOW, from what I can gather, what you referring to as rate-independence would be subtasks in the constructor theoretic terms. The specific mediation would itself be knowledge. Again, this open-endedness is acknowelged in the paper.

    3.2 The logic of self-reproduction
    I shall now apply the results of section 3.1 to self-reproduction, to conclude that no-design laws permit an accurate self-reproducer, provided that it operates via what I call, adapting Dawkins’ terminology [7], the replicator- vehicle logic.
    A self-reproducer S (of the kind (2)) is a constructor for its own construction, from generic resources only. From the argument in 3.1 it follows that for S to be a good approximation to a constructor for another S, it must consist of: a modular replicator, R = (r1,r2,…,rn), instantiating the recipe for S (the elementary units ri have attributes in an information variable ?, corresponding to instructions); a programmable constructor, the vehicle V , executing the recipe blindly, i.e., implementing non-specific sub-tasks.
    The recipe instantiated by the replicator R must contain all the knowledge about how to construct S, specifying a procedure for its construction. Note, however, that the recipe is in one sense incomplete: as remarked in section 3.1, the recipe is not required to include instructions for the elementary tasks, which occur spontaneously in nature. These are indeed relied upon during actual cell development – they constitute epigenetics and environ- mental context. As remarked by George C. Williams, “Organisms, wherever possible, delegate jobs to useful spontaneous processes, much as a builder may temporarily let gravity hold things in place and let the wind disperse paint fumes”, [29].
    Under no-design laws, maintenance and error-correction are necessary for a high and improvable accuracy to be achieved; and in self-reproduction, crucially, it must be S only that brings about the new instance of S. Therefore, since the maintenance cannot be performed by the laws of physics either, because of the no-design conditions, it must be executed by S. As in the general case of section 3.1, maintenance must be achieved via copying the recipe and constructing the vehicle V . These are enacted, respectively, by two sub-
    15
    constructors in the vehicle, C and B, which implement the replicator-vehicle logic that von Neumann discovered, [15].
    In the construction phase B executes R to construct a new vehicle V :
    N =? (V,W).
    In bacteria B includes the mechanisms for constructing the daughter cell, such as the ribosome which uses DNA instructions (translated into RNA) to construct proteins. Blind error-correction is possible via checks on the sub- tasks of the recipe; however, construction errors are not propagated, because the new vehicle is the result of executing the recipe in the replicator, not a copy of the former vehicle.
    In the copy phase, the blind replication of R is performed by C, a copier of the information variable ?:
    C
    This happens by replicating the configuration of R blindly, one elementary unit at a time. It follows that C is a universal copier for the set of replicators consisting of elementary units drawn from ? (a property called heredity [32]). Error-correction can happen blindly too, for instance via mismatch-repair. In bacteria this phase is DNA replication and C includes all the relevant enzymes in the cell. (10) For the two phases to perform maintenance, the recipe for the vehicle V , instantiated in the replicator R, must be copied in the copy-phase. This requires the elementary instructions of the recipe to be (sets of) the elementary units ri of the replicator. In bacteria they are the codons – triplets of the elementary units of the replicator (the nucleotides), coding for the building blocks of proteins (aminoacids).
    The replication of each sub-unit ri constitutes a measurement of which at- tribute ri holds, followed by constructing a new instance of it. Since the replicator R must contain all the knowledge about S, the attributes in ?, of which R is made, must be generic resources, so as to require no recipe (other than R) to be constructed from generic resources. I call a modular replicator such as R whose subunits are made of generic resources a template replicator. A DNA strand is one: the information variable ? is the set of nucleotides – they are simple enough to have been naturally occurring in pre-biological environments.
    (10)I do not model details irrelevant to the self-reproduction logic (e.g. DNA semi- conservative replication).

    [diagram]

    We thus see that the two maintenance phases achieve self-reproduction, as they amount to bringing about a new R, by copying the former R, and a new V , by construction – controlled by R. Thus, self-reproduction is stable precisely because copying and construction automatically execute the maintenance of S, by replicating the recipe and re-constructing the vehicle before the former instance of S wears out; and they permit error-correction. For arbitrarily high accuracy, both phases implement elementary sub-recipes that are non-specific to self-reproducers, and do not bear design. Therefore arbitrarily accurate self-reproduction is permitted by no-design laws, provided that the latter allow replicators – i.e., information media.
    Rewriting the copy phase, (3), as

    [diagram]

    to highlight that C executes R, we see that a template replicator has a special property. It instantiates a recipe for its own construction from generic resources only (C does not need to contain any additional recipe to construct the subunits of R: it blindly copies the pattern, subunit by subunit; and the units are generic resources). This is unique to template replicators. No other object could be a recipe for the construction of itself to a high accuracy. For the argument in section 3.1 implies that an instance (or a blueprint) of an object is not, in general, a recipe for its construction from generic substrates. A 3-D raster-scanner provided with an instance of, say, a bacterium could not re-produce it accurately from generic substrates only: without a recipe containing the knowledge about the bacterium’s structure, there would be no criterion for error-correction, resulting in a bound on the achievable accuracy. Likewise, an entire organism could not self-reproduce to a high accuracy via self-copying: without the recipe informing error-correction, an “error catastrophe” [30] would occur. This also provides a unifying descriptions of the two phases: the replicator R is a recipe for another instance of itself, when instructing C; a recipe for the construction of another vehicle, when instructing B. Overall, it instantiates the full recipe for S – see the figure 3.2.
    R is an active, germ line replicator [7], because instantiates all the knowledge necessary to achieve its own replication. It is a consequence of the above argument that high-fidelity replication is possible under no-design laws too, provided that there is a vehicle that performs blind copying and error-correction.
    Figure 2: The logic of self-reproduction An accurate self-reproducer (top of the figure) consists of the replicator R (blue outline) and the vehicle V (green outline) – which contains the copier C and the constructor B. In the copy phase C copies the replicator R – C[R] (red outline) acts as a constructor. In the construction phase B executes the recipe in R to build a vehicle from generic resources N – B[R] (red outline) acts as a constructor. Finally (bottom) the copy of R and the newly constructed vehicle form the offspring.
    Moreover, for the replicator to preserve its ability to be an accurate replicator across generations, its vehicle must be reproduced too – together, they must constitute a self-reproducer. Hence self-reproduction is essential to high-fidelity replication under no-design laws.

  270. 270
    critical rationalist says:

    You are not making sense. Suppose that Da Vinci created a self-replicating system “Mona Lisa”. Why would Da Vinci as the creator of that self-replicating system not serve an explanatory purpose wrt the existence of that system?

    The recipe that would be present in the painting would be the proximate cause. Having da Vinci just copy it there as an authoritative source doesn’t explain that information.

    And, why on earth, should anyone think that Da Vinci was born with that knowledge? Are you again conflating ‘explanation’ and ‘ultimate explanation’?

    Explanations have reach. Any explanation for the knowledge da Vinci possessed would extend beyond da Vinci and the paining. This is why I keep pointing out that you are confusing induction with an explanation.

    I wrote in a comment above….

    A narrow band transmitter would only be the result of explanatory knowledge, which has enough reach to, well, reach beyond the planet of origin so we could detect it. By reach, I mean the ability to solve problems beyond the exact situation originally encountered. Only people can create explanatory knowledge by conjecturing theories about the world works in an attempt to solve a problem, criticizing those theories and discarding errors we find. We are universal explainers. This is contrast to non-explanatory knowledge, which are useful rules of thumb, which have limited reach. So, yes, our explanation for the growth of knowledge is relevant in determining the significants of such a discovery.

    The idea that some other species would also value prime numbers is yet another explanatory theory that primes should have use not just to themselves, but to other people even in environments they have never observed before. That is reach.

    The reach of explanations is what has allowed us to make rapid, open ended progress.

    So, either you have not presented an explanation, or you’re trying to arbitrarily limit its reach.

  271. 271
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF,

    Again, nothing in your comments indicate how what you call self-evident truths is incompatible with ideas that we currently lack good criticism of. For example…

    I suggest to you that you try to comment without implicitly relying on distinct identity, starting with alphanumeric characters. When that proves impossible, try to speak without doing the same. Oops, impossible again, try to think without having distinct thoughts. Double oops.

    These are examples of trying to take an idea seriously for the purpose of criticism. Having singled out identity from all other candidates requires criticism, etc. If they are not examples, then what do they represent? You have simply failed to address this at all.

    And beyond, you seem to be still stuck in an outdated understanding of inductive reasoning, the part that anchors us to the real world.

    I’ve made distinctions between inductivism and conjecture and criticism. Merely choosing to call the latter the former, just muddies the water. As for Abduction…

    Abduction is formally equivalent to the logical fallacy of affirming the consequent (or Post hoc ergo propter hoc) because of multiple possible explanations for b.

    Nor am I just focused on naive induction, as that lets it off far to easy. People here have…

    – Assumed the contests of our theories come from observations. (Excluding some unobserved causes, but not others)
    – Implied it’s possible to extrapolate observations without first putting them into an explanatory theory, (#239)
    – Attempted to use probability to choose between theories
    – Assumed some ideas are not subject to criticism (self-evident)

    And that’s just the ones I can think of of the top of my head.

  272. 272
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, you are side-stepping the outright self-contradiction corrected above and are failing to face the fact that apart from implicitly relying on distinct identity you cannot even comment. It is impossible to deny or dismiss distinct identity (thus its corollaries LOI, LEM, LNC) without implicitly relying on it. Start with the use of distinct letters, sounds or the like. Self evident.You would be well advised to revisit the positions you keep on taking up heedless of such challenges. KF

  273. 273
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF,

    Again, we can adopt the position that has, up to this moment, stood up to criticism most effectively. This is all I need to comment.

    According to the stance of critical preference no position can be positively justified but it is quite likely that one, (or some) will turn out to be better than others are in the light of critical discussion and tests. This type of rationality holds all its positions and propositions open to criticism and a standard objection to this stance is that it is empty; just holding our positions open to criticism provides no guidance as to what position we should adopt in any particular situation. This criticism misses its mark for two reasons. First, the stance of critical preference is not a position, it is a metacontext and as such it is not directed at solving the kind of problems that are solved by adopting a position on some issue or other. It is concerned with the way that such positions are adopted, criticised, defended and relinquished. Second, Bartley does provide guidance on adopting positions; we may adopt the position that to this moment has stood up to criticism most effectively. Of course this is no help for dogmatists who seek stronger reasons for belief, but that is a problem for them, not for exponents of critical preference.

    Furthermore, you keep providing concrete examples of criticizing the very things you claim are immune to criticism by selecting identity, etc. as examples of supposed self-evident truths. Again, if this does not represent criticism, the what is it?

  274. 274
    Origenes says:

    CR @270:

    Origenes: Suppose that Da Vinci created a self-replicating system “Mona Lisa”. Why would Da Vinci as the creator of that self-replicating system not serve an explanatory purpose wrt the existence of that system?

    The recipe that would be present in the painting would be the proximate cause.

    There are several candidates for the title ‘proximate cause of the self-replicating system’: the parts of the self-replicating system, the first-time-assembly-instructions (how to assemble the system for the first time, which is different from the ‘recipe’ for autonomous self-replicating) and, of course, the builder of the self-replicating system (here Leonardo da Vinci).
    In my book, Leonardo is the proximate cause of the coming into existence of the self-replicating system. He is the one who makes the decision to build it. Neither the ‘first-time-assembly-instructions’ nor the isolated parts have this decision power.
    However, it should be clear to anyone that each of the listed candidates serves an explanatory purpose wrt the existence of the self-replicating system.
    You are just being silly when you keep denying this obvious fact.

  275. 275
    kairosfocus says:

    CR,

    Nope, you are side-stepping what must be in place for you to open your mouth, oops, for even a you to be there, distinct identity. Again:

    you have been unable to comment in this thread without relying on distinct identity and its immediate corollaries, LOI, LEM, LNC. That should be a clue. These are not on trial, you are. And beyond, you seem to be still stuck in an outdated understanding of inductive reasoning, the part that anchors us to the real world. As just one little issue try this: on factual adequacy, coherence and balanced explanatory power, which is the better explanation, that emeralds are green or that they are grue? And, what colour are emeralds in the dark or buried deep underground or when no one is looking? Extending, which is better, the three laws of thermodynamics or the concept that oh perpetuum mobiles exist, we just have not discovered them yet or maybe the laws switch from time to time so at some future date such will work.

    Your whole scheme turns on suppressing a first undeniable truth and is therefore utterly self contradictory. The ex falso quodlibet principle warns us that such systems then lose ability to track true consequences implied by true premises. They become dangerous and generally error-riddled.

    You need to go back to basics and set little errors at the beginning right to be able to go on to anything of consequence.

    Until you do that you are liable to be stuck in a situation of using error as yardstick, which is a test the truth cannot pass. As, the truth already corresponds to reality so it cannot conform to relevant error.

    KF

  276. 276
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF

    I wrote:

    Furthermore, you keep providing concrete examples of criticizing the very things you claim are immune to criticism by selecting identity, etc. as examples of supposed self-evident truths. Again, if this does not represent criticism, the what is it?

    KF

    NO RESPONSE

    And I’m side stepping?

  277. 277
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, until you get first principles right there is no basis for a reasonable discussion. That is why I again point out: “you have been unable to comment in this thread without relying on distinct identity and its immediate corollaries, LOI, LEM, LNC. That should be a clue. These are not on trial, you are.” I have no onward time to waste on trying to have a reasonable discussion with one who rejects the first principles of right reason, hopelessly contradicts himself then tries to proceed as though nothing has seriously gone wrong. KF

    PS: On April 3, 2015 here at UD, WJM rightly put the matter this way:

    If you do not assume the law of non-contradiction, you have nothing to argue about. If you do not assume the principles of sound reason, you have nothing to argue with. If logic is not assumed to be a causally independent, authoritative arbiter of true statements, there’s no reason to apply it. If you do not assume libertarian free will, you have no one to argue against. If you do not assume morality to be an objective commodity, you have no reason to argue in the first place. If you do not assume mind is primary, there is no “you” to make any argument at all.

    To attempt to have a reasonable discussion under those circumstances is a futile task.

  278. 278
    HeKS says:

    jdk #263

    OK, I see that I have misunderstood: the antecedent of your conditional, “IF a world-root being holds any ‘essential positions’ that we would consider morally relevant,” is the minimum condition for establishing OUGHTS in the world. I though that you were intending for offering further minimal conditions for establishing the truth of that statement, but now I understand and that confusion is settled, I think.

    Ok, excellent.

    I think this is the point where we are at:

    HeKS: I think the details of the actual world may make it a logically necessary conclusion that the being responsible for this world has essential positions that would make the existence of an objective moral framework a logically necessary aspect of reality.

    This is what I am interested in hearing about.

    Ok, since we seem to be on the same page regarding the strictly logical aspects of the issue, I can move on to the empirical side.

    But you write, “Again, I’ve indicated what some of these details are,”

    The only details that I remember you offering was about people feeling that their moral sensibilities were connected to some deeper reality. My reply to that was first, that not all people feel that way, and second, more broadly, there are good (I think better) explanations for that then assuming those feelings are accurate.

    So, I actually listed a number of different empirical considerations, and I think that in the one you’ve cited you may have slightly misunderstood my intention (BTW, I don’t mean to just keep saying that I think you’re misunderstanding me, but these are obviously kinda complex and subtle issues we’re talking about here, so it’s easy for some of those subtleties to get lost in the mix).

    Let me repeat the empirical considerations that I listed earlier:

    From #178: You speak of the potential lack of OUGHTs in the world on the basis of the possibility of a world-root IS that simply doesn’t care about outcomes in the world it produces. This seems problematic on numerous counts. To begin with, the initial conditions for the origin of our own universe appear to have been very finely-tuned to allow for a specific outcome, namely the arrival of intelligent life. I and many others here would say that further fine-tuning took place at the level of our solar system and planet for the same purpose, and at all these levels to make the universe scientifically discoverable to the intelligent life that would ultimately come to exist here. We also see some manner of intervention in the origin of life and at various other points on the path to intelligent human life. We also see a need for involvement in the creation of a rational mind capable of having thoughts that are about things and capable of rational deliberation and deducing conclusions on the basis of the contents of premises, all of which necessarily implies an aspect of the mind that goes beyond the merely physical. We also find that these minds not only have thoughts about moral issues, but a sense that these thoughts are connected to a deeper reality, and perhaps most telling, that we feel a deep-seated compulsion that we OUGHT to do what we BELIEVE is good, whether or not we happen to be correct in discerning the moral status of some particular behavior. I say that this last point may be the most telling, because even if there is disagreement about what courses of action really are good, the sense that we OUGHT to do whatever the good is is universal, except among those that we would consider to have some kind of mental or emotional pathology. And, of course, in the case of Christians, we believe there is historical evidence supporting the resurrection of Christ from the dead.

    All of these factors, individually and collectively, suggest a world-root IS that is anything but disinterested in the outcomes taking place within the reality it has produced. Instead they strongly point to a cause for existence that cares about intelligent life and about the moral behavior of that life.

    Let’s break those up into a list of items that is slightly easier to visually digest…

    1) In producing the physical universe, this being finely-tuned the initial conditions of its origin to an unfathomable degree in such a way that future intelligent life would able to exist within in it. This fine-tuning was necessary but not sufficient for the existence of such intelligent life.

    2) Several hundred other conditions needed to be met in our own solar system and planet in order to sustain intelligent life.

    3) The fine-tuning of the initial conditions and the constants and quantities of the universe goes beyond what is needed for the bare existence of life and extends into the even more narrow subset required to make the universe discoverable to that life.

    4) That cosmic fine-tuning for discoverability would be mostly useless were it not for the fact that our own solar system and planet also meet a variety conditions to make the universe discoverable to intelligent life living here.

    5) There is ever-increasing evidence that intervention was required in the origin of life and other steps on the path to intelligent human life.

    6) The rational intelligent mind as we experience it seems utterly incapable of being reduced to the purely physical mechanisms of the brain (if you doubt this, I’d be happy to point you to the kinds of comments consistently made by those scientists and philosophers who do reduce it to the brain to show that they are thereby forced into downgrading the mind into something wholy unlike human experience and totally lacking any basis for rational thought). This means that direct intervention was in some way required to produce minds capable of free rational thought, having thoughts that are about things and of arriving at and judging the validity of conclusions based on the contents of premises.

    7) These minds have a number of distinct and independent thoughts and powerful intuitions about moral issues that work together in an interlocking network. Perhaps we might break down this network into the following constituent parts:

    a) Beliefs about specific moral issues or propositions

    b) The powerful intuition that there is a deeper moral reality that moral beliefs should be in harmony with … that moral error is possible.

    c) The powerful sense that whatever the real moral good happens to be in any given scenario, we should not only bring our beliefs into alignment with it, but we should actually act in accord with it.

    d) A conscience that actually bothers us and which sometimes even leads to negative physiological reactions when we act contrary to our own moral beliefs and fail to do what we think is the real moral good, with the severity of the response depending on the severity of the transgression.

    Now, let me just return for a moment to part of your comment relevant to 7b. You said:

    The only details that I remember you offering was about people feeling that their moral sensibilities were connected to some deeper reality. My reply to that was first, that not all people feel that way….

    First, I want to point out the distinction between ‘a’ and ‘b’, where your comment here combines them. I wasn’t saying that people necessarily feel that all of their own specific personal moral beliefs were directly rooted in a deeper reality, but rather than in addition to having specific moral beliefs, they also had the powerful intuition of a deeper truth that moral beliefs should ideally be aligned to and that moral error is possible (and undoubtedly they feel that some of their specific moral beliefs are properly aligned to that).

    Second, I would contest your general point. I have had countless discussions with people who claim not to believe in objective morality, but they inevitably end up making statements and acting in ways that show that at a deeper level they really do feel that there are things that are really right and really wrong and there is some objective obligation to act in accord with those things. There are very few people who REALLY don’t believe in objective morality and REALLY are not governed in any way by intuitions about their existence, and we typically call those people psychopaths and/or sociopaths. In my experience, if you spend long enough talking to someone who claims to reject objective morality they will eventually passionately express some concept they insist we ought to adhere to or course of action we ought to take that is literally incoherent if objective morality doesn’t exist. These are moments when those powerful moral intuitions manage to overcome their intellectual denials (and just to be clear, I’m not necessarily accusing these people of lying about their intellectual beliefs, but more of allowing an ideological stand to delude them into consciously denying what subconsciously they can’t help but accept).

    Now, I’ve listed here at least 7 different activities/interventions in which this being would be implicated (though the count would be higher if you break up the individual aspects of moral life, as we likely should). Each one of these very strongly indicates that this root-level being holds a variety of essential positions that we would consider morally relevant – and we can ultimately get into the weeds on those if you like – but really only one is necessary. If we look back to the first couple, about producing a physical reality that required very precise fine-tuning and intervention at multiple levels in order to make intelligent life first possible and then actual, that, by definition, indicates interest and care in the outcome of intelligent life.

    A being that produces, sustains, precisely fine-tunes and intervenes in a situation to ensure the viability of an outcome, cares about and assigns importance to that outcome by definition. Any being that produced a universe like ours cares about and values the existence of life as an outcome according to any way would define that concept. Allow me to paste in the definition of “care”

    care

    noun

    1. the provision of what is necessary for the health, welfare, maintenance, and protection of someone or something.

    2. serious attention or consideration applied to doing something correctly or to avoid damage or risk.

    verb

    1. feel concern or interest; attach importance to something.

    2. look after and provide for the needs of.

    Every one of these meanings is met to one degree or another, and this is what I meant when I was saying that it seems necessarily true by definition that the being who produced this world has essential positions we would consider morally relevant … or at the very least one such position. I meant that if we agree that this being took and takes certain actions that have already been stipulated, then those actions, by definition, demonstrate a care for intelligent life according to any definition of “care” that we might choose to use. And if this is the case, then, at the very least, we can be secure in saying that a concept like “intelligent life has value” or “intelligent life is worth caring about” or something of that sort necessarily forms part of the backdrop of reality and constitutes an objective moral truth or value. I think we can get quite a bit further than just that, but this is somewhere to start and I’m outta time 🙂

    Take care,
    HeKS

  279. 279
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF

    Furthermore, you keep providing concrete examples of criticizing the very things you claim are immune to criticism by selecting identity, etc. as examples of supposed self-evident truths. Again, if this does not represent criticism, the what is it?

    Still waiting.

  280. 280
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, until you get first principles right there is no basis for a reasonable discussion. That is why I again point out: “you have been unable to comment in this thread without relying on distinct identity and its immediate corollaries, LOI, LEM, LNC. That should be a clue. These are not on trial, you are.” I have no onward time to waste on trying to have a reasonable discussion with one who rejects the first principles of right reason, hopelessly contradicts himself then tries to proceed as though nothing has seriously gone wrong. KF

    PS: On April 3, 2015 here at UD, WJM rightly put the matter this way:

    If you do not assume the law of non-contradiction, you have nothing to argue about. If you do not assume the principles of sound reason, you have nothing to argue with. If logic is not assumed to be a causally independent, authoritative arbiter of true statements, there’s no reason to apply it. If you do not assume libertarian free will, you have no one to argue against. If you do not assume morality to be an objective commodity, you have no reason to argue in the first place. If you do not assume mind is primary, there is no “you” to make any argument at all.

    To attempt to have a reasonable discussion under those circumstances is a futile task.

    PPS: Just for one, inductive arguments support their conclusions per evidence. In the case of abduction (much used in science), observations O1 to On are puzzling, but explanation Ei coherently implies them and predicts p1 . . . pk, pl . . . where on tests to k so far it correctly predicts. In addition it is superior to other candidates. Ei is the best current explanation and as p_k grows, may prove highly reliable. The pattern SUPPORTS Ei as best current and empirically reliable explanation, open to correction on some prediction Pr failing. This is simply not the same as the fallacy of affirming the consequent. In a primitive form, this reasoning is found in say Newton’s Opticks, query 31.

  281. 281
    jdk says:

    Hi HeKs. I hadn’t forgotten your last post, and I appreciate your effort in fleshing out your ideas for the empirical evidence for a root-level of reality that cares, and that has essential,mortal properties.

    I have some fundamental disagreements with your conclusions–that will come as no surprise, I imagine–for a couple of reasons, both of which are probably reasons to bring this discussion to an end.

    First, my original purpose was to establish the logical possibility of an alternate metaphysics in which the root-level of reality had no specific care for or involvement with beings such as us, not to discuss whether one or the other metaphysics is more likely to be true.

    I have two somewhat different perspectives about this alternate metaphysics. The first is that, as a strong agnostic, I don’t believe we can actually know anything about the root of reality.

    In fact, William J Murry expressed my view well in a post this morning:

    But to imply that god must either be an inanimate thing or a personal agent is, IMO, the false dichotomy of a person trying to reconcile logic with certain a priori ideological beliefs. … I think ascribing to god any of the terms we use to describe subjective personhood as if those terms can mean the same thing about god is a category error.

    I will say this: If god is truly the O3 root of all of existence, god cannot be a personal agent like when we think of individual personhood. It’s a logical contradiction. Individual personhood has contextual requirements that are simply not available to an O3 root of all existence.

    That’s doesn’t make god a “thing” or an “inanimate object” like Craig implies; it makes god something else entirely.

    However, people do try to describe what they think the root of reality is like. WJM calls this “a priori ideological beliefs”. I think the reasons are deeper than that. Short version: because of our abstract thinking skills, we can ask more questions than we can answer. And due to our dependence on learning and our socialization within a culture, we, culturally and individually, make up stories to try to give structure to our understandings. At the heart, much of what we consider religion, metaphysics and a great deal more are literary inventions that enable to live with ourself and others in ways that meet our individual and social needs. They are stories that we choose to live by: stories which gain their truth from our commitment to affirm their meaning and purpose, not from their literal connection to any reality that we could confirm objectively through any empirical observation.

    With that said, I personally find the alternate metaphysics that I have presented here a better fit with my “intuitions” than a theistic one. I think the idea that intelligence and creativity and consciousness, as we experience them, are localized manifestations of diffuse, pervasive properties that underlie our universe in ways which we can’t possible describe or envision.

    I like wjm’s statement that “Individual personhood has contextual requirements that are simply not available to an O3 root of all existence.” I think all gods, including the most rarified versions of a personal root of all reality that has moral positions, cares about humans, intervenes in the world in specific actions, etc. are anthropomorphic personifications of our experience of human personhood, and I don’t think they could possibly be true.

    But this is not something to debate with anyone based on “empirical evidence” because so much of it goes beyond anything we can empirically experience: our commitment to our metaphysical stories (aka “a priori ideological beliefs”) will shape the nature of our conclusions to too great a degree. I enjoy describing my “beliefs” about metaphysics to people who are interested in my perceptions, and have some sense of resonance with their own, with the hope that I might add something for them to think about and perhaps incorporate into their understanding, but I would never think that I can convince anyone that I am right (or that they are wrong.)

    So, to return to your post: I do have a few things to say about what I disagree with you about, for the sake of making our differences clear.

    First, from #178 you quote a summary of some issues:

    To begin with, the initial conditions for the origin of our own universe appear to have been very finely-tuned to allow for a specific outcome, namely the arrival of intelligent life. I and many others here would say that further fine-tuning took place at the level of our solar system and planet for the same purpose, and at all these levels to make the universe scientifically discoverable to the intelligent life that would ultimately come to exist here. We also see some manner of intervention in the origin of life and at various other points on the path to intelligent human life.

    I agree, and have from the beginning, that the existence of the properties of the universe that make possible the physical, chemical, and biological entities we see around us point to a root-level of reality that has creative and intelligent powers. However, I’ve also posited that those powers are, as I mentioned above, diffuse, pervasive, and underlie our universe in ways which we can’t possible describe or envision, but do not coalesce into a personal being.

    I disagree that further fine-tuning arguments about our planet are significant. Yes, our planet supports life, and if things were different it wouldn’t. But we know virtually nothing about the rest of the universe. We do not know if other types of life might exist, formed of different elements and capable of living in different environments. Also, there are about 10^22 stars in the universe, so even if a very small fraction could support some type of life, there are likely to still be a very vast numbers of places where life could exist. And, we really don’t know if we, as a life form, are all that special. Looking at the big picture over time and space (if “someone” could do so), creatures like human beings might be a common step towards a much different type of being, or perhaps a dead-end that has no chance of existing for very long.

    We really don’t know: But to think that we are a species or Earth as a planet have been singled out by the root of reality for special treatment seems preposterous to me.

    If the properties which make life not only possible, but an actuality, including life like us, are part of the bed-rock fine-tuning of the universe, then it seems to me that such life would arise all over the universe without instances of such being especially singled out.

    I also disagree with the statement that, “We also see some manner of intervention in the origin of life and at various other points on the path to intelligent human life.” My intuition of how intelligence and creativity underlie the world is that there is no special interventions, because, for one thing, there is no personal “one” to do the intervening. I can’t possible claim to know how intelligence and creativity manifest their results in the world, but my intuition is, again, that they impinges upon the world, arising from below the most fundamental root-level of the material world that we experience, so to speak, to bring into existence various patterns and features, including life,

    Another point: you write,

    6) The rational intelligent mind as we experience it seems utterly incapable of being reduced to the purely physical mechanisms of the brain.

    I haven’t questioned this. From the beginning I’ve posited a root-level of reality in which non-material aspects of reality might, in ways we can’t possibly understand, interface with the physical, and which consolidate in livings things in order to provide an experience of a rational, free mind.

    You also discuss some “powerful intuitions” people have about morals and moral reality, and the need to act in accordance with moral beliefs. I’ve described my thoughts on this several times: that our moral nature comes from our rational, emotional, and biological needs, both personal and social; that we invent moral and other normative systems in order to meet those needs; and that we, ultimately, are metaphysically free to affirm and live by whatever morals and other principles we choose to live by.

    Many people have intuitions of a deep level of moral reality, as live in a primarily theistic culture, but others don’t, and for all the reasons I’ve discussed above, I don’t think those intuitions are evidence for the actual nature of the root-level of reality.

    You say,

    There are very few people who REALLY don’t believe in objective morality and REALLY are not governed in any way by intuitions about their existence, and we typically call those people psychopaths and/or sociopaths. In my experience, if you spend long enough talking to someone who claims to reject objective morality they will eventually passionately express some concept they insist we ought to adhere to or course of action we ought to take that is literally incoherent if objective morality doesn’t exist. These are moments when those powerful moral intuitions manage to overcome their intellectual denials

    Well, I can’t agree with all that. I am not a pyschopath, for instance. I think the key issue is not whether people have deep moral intuitions, but rather where those intuitions come from. I think they come from a different source than the root-level of reality. The root-level of reality doesn’t care, but people care.

    You write,

    If we look back to the first couple [of your points], about producing a physical reality that required very precise fine-tuning and intervention at multiple levels in order to make intelligent life first possible and then actual, that, by definition, indicates interest and care in the outcome of intelligent life.

    A being that produces, sustains, precisely fine-tunes and intervenes in a situation to ensure the viability of an outcome, cares about and assigns importance to that outcome by definition. Any being that produced a universe like ours cares about and values the existence of life as an outcome according to any way would define that concept.

    I know this is getting repetitive, so I’ll bring this to an end. I don’t believe that “interventions” have been necessary. (Thinking that such are even possibly presupposes that type of personal being that you are arguing for.) I think we have virtually no idea to what extent life exists throughout the universe, or whether life such as us has any special place in the overall catalog of what is, or might come to be, in the universe.

    The universe exists, along with human beings with rational minds and the ability to choose and direct their beliefs and actions. As I said way at the beginning of this discussion, it very well could be that the “essential position” of the root-level of reality is for those creatures with free, rational minds to be truly free to decide how to live life in ways that best fit their broader needs as biological, social and culturally embedded creatures.

    This is probably all I have to say about all this. As I said in the beginning, we have gone way past my origical purpose in claiming that there is no logical reason why the root-level IS should contain any OUGHTS. I’ve enjoyed your well-written descriptions of your beliefs and why you think they are true, but, also as I’ve said before, all I think we can do here is exchange personally meaningful stories, so to speak.

    So thanks for the discussion.

  282. 282
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK,

    In re:

    my origical purpose in claiming that there is no logical reason why the root-level IS should contain any OUGHTS

    On the contrary, there is excellent reason to see why the world-root will ground ought.

    As has been pointed out several times, our rationality is pervaded with responsibility and requires genuine freedom, on pain of reduction to absurdity. Indeed, your own arguments just now directly imply appeals to our persistent sense of a duty of care towards the truth and the right, including coherence. As does the sustained reasoning process — any sustained reasoning process, e.g. mathematical, legal, scientific, managerial, philosophical, economic, political, relational, moral, etc. Even, in works of fiction, failure to sustain this duty produces clangers not worth the time to read. Where, common experience and knowledge recognise in this the voice of conscience, a testimony to our being under moral government.

    For the moment, consider with Ruse and Wilson, as one of many cases in point, that this sense is delusional, somehow triggered by our evolutionary programming running on wetware in our brains and CNS more generally:

    The time has come to take seriously the fact [–> This is a gross error at the outset, as macro-evolution is a theory (an explanation) about the unobserved past of origins and so cannot be a fact on the level of the observed roundness of the earth or the orbiting of planets around the sun etc.] that we humans are modified monkeys, not the favored Creation of a Benevolent God on the Sixth Day . . . We must think again especially about our so-called ‘ethical principles.’ The question is not whether biology—specifically, our evolution—is connected with ethics, but how. As evolutionists, we see that no justification of the traditional kind is possible. Morality, or more strictly our belief in morality, is merely an adaptation put in place to further our reproductive ends. Hence the basis of ethics does not lie in God’s will … In an important sense, ethics as we understand it is an illusion fobbed off on us by our genes to get us to cooperate. It is without external grounding… Ethics is illusory inasmuch as it persuades us that it has an objective reference. This is the crux of the biological position. Once it is grasped, everything falls into place.

    [ –> And everything instantly falls apart as this would set grand delusion loose in our mental lives. Even logical reasoning is guided by the conscience-driven urge to truth, right and justice, so once such a grand delusion is let loose it undermines the general credibility of conscious mindedness, setting up a cascade of shadow-show worlds. The skeptical spider has enmeshed himself in his own web. Thus, any such scheme should be set aside as self-refuting.]

    [Michael Ruse & E. O. Wilson, “The Evolution of Ethics,” Religion and the Natural Sciences: The Range of Engagement, , ed. J. E. Hutchingson, Orlando, Fl.:Harcourt and Brace, 1991. (NB: Cf. a separate discussion on the grounding of worldviews and ethics here on, which includes a specific discussion of the grounding of ethics and goes on to Biblical theism; having first addressed the roots of the modern evolutionary materialist mindset and its pretensions to the mantle of science. Also cf. here on for Plato’s warning in The Laws, Bk X, on social consequences of the rise of such a view as the philosophy of the avant garde in a community.]

    Once grand delusion like that is let loose in our mindedness, there are no fire-walls, the conflagration takes it all down with it in a cascade of self-referential absurdities that undermines reasoning itself.

    So, on pain of incoherence and utterly undermining responsible, rational discussion, we are back to our in fact being objectively under moral government. Which instantly demands an adequate world-root IS capable of grounding OUGHT. This immediately requires that world-root to be of intrinsically moral character, inextricably intertwined and fused with its core existence. That is, the moral must be an essential part of the necessary being roots of reality, once responsibly free and rational creatures exist in an actual world. Which we do.

    This then confronts us with the issue of serious candidacy, where necessary being of adequate capability to frame a world in which such creatures as us come to be is a stringent constraint. Also, where a serious candidate — things like flying spaghetti monsters need not apply (no composite or essentially material entity need apply) — will either prove to be an impossible being or else will be inherent to the framework of any possible world. A square circle is impossible due to mutual ruin of required characteristics, squarishness and circularity. But, a world without distinct identity is impossible, there will always be the two-ness involved in A and ~A; even in a world with no material entities.

    The challenge is, that there is but one serious candidate, after centuries of debate: the inherently good creator-God, a necessary and maximally great being, worthy of loyalty and the reasonable, responsible service of doing the good in accord with our evident nature.

    If you doubt, simply propose a good alternative under comparative difficulties: _________ (For years, none has been forthcoming.)

    KF

  283. 283
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Here, again, is the young Cicero on the subject:

    —Marcus [in de Legibus, introductory remarks,. C1 BC]: . . . the subject of our present discussion . . . comprehends the universal principles of equity and law. In such a discussion therefore on the great moral law of nature, the practice of the civil law can occupy but an insignificant and subordinate station. For according to our idea, we shall have to explain the true nature of moral justice, which is congenial and correspondent [36]with the true nature of man. We shall have to examine those principles of legislation by which all political states should be governed. And last of all, shall we have to speak of those laws and customs which are framed for the use and convenience of particular peoples, which regulate the civic and municipal affairs of the citizens, and which are known by the title of civil laws.

    Quintus. —You take a noble view of the subject, my brother, and go to the fountain–head of moral truth, in order to throw light on the whole science of jurisprudence: while those who confine their legal studies to the civil law too often grow less familiar with the arts of justice than with those of litigation.

    Marcus. —Your observation, my Quintus, is not quite correct. It is not so much the science of law that produces litigation, as the ignorance of it, (potius ignoratio juris litigiosa est quam scientia) . . . . With respect to the true principle of justice, many learned men have maintained that it springs from Law. I hardly know if their opinion be not correct, at least, according to their own definition; for “Law (say they) is the highest reason, implanted in nature, which prescribes those things which ought to be done, and forbids the contrary.” This, they think, is apparent from the converse of the proposition; because this same reason, when it [37]is confirmed and established in men’s minds, is the law of all their actions.

    They therefore conceive that the voice of conscience is a law, that moral prudence is a law, whose operation is to urge us to good actions, and restrain us from evil ones. They think, too, that the Greek name for law (NOMOS), which is derived from NEMO, to distribute, implies the very nature of the thing, that is, to give every man his due. For my part, I imagine that the moral essence of law is better expressed by its Latin name, (lex), which conveys the idea of selection or discrimination. According to the Greeks, therefore, the name of law implies an equitable distribution of goods: according to the Romans, an equitable discrimination between good and evil.

    The true definition of law should, however, include both these characteristics. And this being granted as an almost self–evident proposition, the origin of justice is to be sought in the divine law of eternal and immutable morality. This indeed is the true energy of nature, the very soul and essence of wisdom, the test of virtue and vice.

    Food for thought.

    From a pagan Roman rhetor and one of the all time greatest lawyer-politicians.

    KF

  284. 284
    kairosfocus says:

    Notice, as predicted.

  285. 285
    jdk says:

    kj, I just saw these last two posts of your. I’ll point out as I just did in the Charles thread that I have described some of my thoughts on Taoism at https://uncommondescent.com/atheism/fft-seversky-and-the-is-ought-gap/#comment-631072.

  286. 286
    jdk says:

    Believe it or not, I’ve decided to respond to 282.

    First, as I’ve repeated several times, I am not attempting to offer a materialistic view, so all the “wetware” comments are irrelevant to this discussion.

    You write,

    As has been pointed out several times, our rationality is pervaded with responsibility and requires genuine freedom, on pain of reduction to absurdity.

    I accept that humans are free and rational, but I believe the sense of responsibility comes from us, not from the IS of the universe.

    At 83, I wrote,

    But I can easily imagine a coherent and possible world where a supreme being created our universe, with all the qualities necessary to produce the physics, chemistry, and biology that we see (that is, is the ground of IS), but who is supremely indifferent to the details of how the world goes, including the actions of the life forms within it (that is, is supremely indifferent to OUGHT).

    I see no incoherent impossibility, no self-refutation, in believing, or at least being able to imagine, that this is the type of supreme IS-ness that underlies the world.

    Later someplace, I further wrote that what this means is that we are truly free to figure out out to best live, with ourselves and others, in ways that are in harmony with both our natures and the nature of the world we live in.

    You write,

    Indeed, your own arguments just now directly imply appeals to our persistent sense of a duty of care towards the truth and the right, including coherence.

    True: I am committed to these things as freely chosen principles, but not because they are manifestations of any aspect of the IS of being. Caring for these things is something humans do, but that doesn’t mean the universe cares.

    I’ve resisted labeling my views, especially since I believe that we can’t really know the truth about metaphysics, but I’ll do so now in order to summarize. I might consider myself a:

    *** strong agnostic – we can’t really know the truth about the roots of reality. All of our metaphysical speculations are stories that we invent to structure our understanding, but they are never “true” in any literal sense.

    *** atheist – despite the above paragraph, I believe it is a rational, considered conclusion that all beliefs about non-material beings which conscious and willfully relate to us (“gods” of all sorts) are false. Santayana called such religious beliefs “sacred literature”, embodying key elements of a culture’s worldview, but nevertheless stories, and not literally true.

    *** Taoist – there is an effable IS (the Tao) beyond/behind/before the universe we experience that provides an underlying, pervasive creative impulse to the world, making possible all the fine-tuning we see, and making possible the consolidation and localization of consciousness, rationality, and true freedom, in various degrees, in living things. Thus, as human beings, we are able to use those qualities to choose and act.

    *** existentialist – we are truly free to choose, and the responsibility for creating meaning, value, and morals lies with us, both collectively and individually.

    *** humanist – our freedom, rationality, and consciousness are part of our larger biological nature, including our social nature, our emotions, our curiosity, our creative use of language, and so on. Being human means creating a life that is in harmony with both our natures and the nature of the world we live in.

    That’s my offered alternative to theism.

  287. 287

    jdk said at 286:

    existentialist – we are truly free to choose, and the responsibility for creating meaning, value, and morals lies with us, both collectively and individually.

    So, if a person believes it is good to torture innocent children for fun, it is in fact (inasmuch as any moral position can be a “fact”) good, and you would have no problem with nor would you intervene given a society that let people decide for themselves what was and was not moral?

    IOW, if it was legal to torture children for fun, you wouldn’t have a problem with other people doing it, nor would you intervene?

  288. 288
    jdk says:

    No. I don’t believe the things you say. I don’t believe that one should torture anyone, and to the extent I have the power to stop torture, I would do so. (But I have very little power, as unfortunately people get tortured and otherwise hurt by purposeful violence all over the world every day.)

  289. 289

    jdk @288 said:

    No. I don’t believe the things you say. I don’t believe that one should torture anyone, and to the extent I have the power to stop torture, I would do so. (But I have very little power, as unfortunately people get tortured and otherwise hurt by purposeful violence all over the world every day.)

    Then I suggest your beliefs are in contradiction to each other. If you believe that each human is truly free to choose for themselves their own morals, meaning and value, you cannot also believe that no one should torture anyone because your “shoulds” can only apply to yourself.

    IOW, “People should choose for themselves their own morals, values and meaning.”

    is in contradiction with

    “People should not choose to torture other people, and if they do I will do what I can to stop them.”

  290. 290
    jdk says:

    Hi William.

    It doesn’t surprise that you showed up to comment, since you have strong opinions about this issue.

    Each of us are interdependent with others, and we need each other to fulfill our full humanity, As both the Golden Rule and the Categorical Imperative state, expecting a common adherence to norms for both ourselves and others in society is necessary.

    I make my choices. You make your choices. If your choices are excessively unacceptable to me, I will do what I can to change them, including cooperating with others who agree with me. On the other hand, I also have to live with people doing things that I don’t think should be done, so I have to choose which issues are worth my investment in trying to change, although a great deal is out of each person’s individual control.

    So, yes, we have to choose. I can choose to pay attention to my humanity–my compassion, my empathy, my love–and try to chose accordingly. The source of my morals is not empty speculative logic, it is a deep involvement in my human nature and the collective wisdom of humans that have come before me.

    One of the objections to this idea is that devolves to “might makes right”. But for the most part people influence each other’s morals by other means, such as compassion and love, rational discussion, serving as a role model and showing the benefits of virtuous living, and so on. Yes, sometimes fights happen, but there are many reasons other than disagreement about morals that are behind them.

    So my challenge to those who believe in libertarian free will is to have the courage of your convictions and take full responsibility for your actions. The existentialist view is that there is no god-like being providing guidelines or rules how to act, so we have to exercise both our freedom and rationality to assess the nature of the world, including ourselves, other people, and society in general, and decide how to act. There are no easy answers, at times, and the world of choices that people make will always be messy and imperfect, but that’s the way it is. Either choose to accept it, or find refuge in stories which let you escape some of the responsibility for being truly free.,

  291. 291
    jdk says:

    Let’s put this another way:

    You write,

    IOW, “People should choose for themselves their own morals, values and meaning.”

    is in contradiction with

    “People should not choose to torture other people, and if they do I will do what I can to stop them.”

    I believe each person, from an existential point of view, chooses their morals, values, and meaning.

    I believe each person can choose to support, or not, other people’s choices.

    There is no contradiction here.

    Everyone reacts to other people. One can choose to act like a jerk, but then one may have to live with the consequences of other people treating him like a jerk. I can decide that lying to my wife is OK, but then I might have to live with the consequence of her leaving me.

    We choose our actions, and we are responsible for living with the consequences. We all impinge upon each other. As I said before, it is messy and imperfect, but it is the human condition.

  292. 292
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK:

    each person, from an existential point of view, chooses their morals, values, and meaning. I believe each person can choose to support, or not, other people’s choices

    Soft nihilism.

    If you doubt me, compare what Plato had to say about the rise of evolutionary materialism, radical relativism and outright might makes right thinking in his time:

    Ath [in The Laws, Bk X 2,350+ ya]. . . .[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that fire and water, and earth and air [i.e the classical “material” elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art . . . [such that] all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only [ –> that is, evolutionary materialism is ancient and would trace all things to blind chance and mechanical necessity] . . . .

    [Thus, they hold] that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.-

    [ –> Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT, leading to an effectively arbitrary foundation only for morality, ethics and law: accident of personal preference, the ebbs and flows of power politics, accidents of history and and the shifting sands of manipulated community opinion driven by “winds and waves of doctrine and the cunning craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming . . . ” cf a video on Plato’s parable of the cave; from the perspective of pondering who set up the manipulative shadow-shows, why.]

    These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might,

    [ –> Evolutionary materialism — having no IS that can properly ground OUGHT — leads to the promotion of amorality on which the only basis for “OUGHT” is seen to be might (and manipulation: might in “spin”) . . . ]

    and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [ –> Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality “naturally” leads to continual contentions and power struggles influenced by that amorality at the hands of ruthless power hungry nihilistic agendas], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is,to live in real dominion over others [ –> such amoral and/or nihilistic factions, if they gain power, “naturally” tend towards ruthless abuse and arbitrariness . . . they have not learned the habits nor accepted the principles of mutual respect, justice, fairness and keeping the civil peace of justice, so they will want to deceive, manipulate and crush — as the consistent history of radical revolutions over the past 250 years so plainly shows again and again], and not in legal subjection to them [–> nihilistic will to power not the spirit of justice and lawfulness].

    Likewise, what about “jerks” with power beyond effective social consequences, such as Stalin, Hitler, Mao and even today’s third generation king of North Korea?

    I suggest you think again.

    KF

    PS: And that’s before we get to the problem that the inner voice of moral government is pervasive in all we think, say or do. So if that voice is in effect a delusion that we are under law when in fact we simply choose our values however we want, then it sets grand delusion loose on mindedness, like a proverbial bull in a china shop.

    PPS: By his own admission, WJM is a former real nihilist.

  293. 293
    jdk says:

    I’ll note that you make all your standard points, but that you don’t actually address some of the responses I’ve made to them above. I’ll summarize

    1. I don’t deny that we have an “inner voice of morality”. I just disagree about where it comes from and how it is populated with content. For instance, at 290, I wrote,

    As both the Golden Rule and the Categorical Imperative state, expecting a common adherence to norms for both ourselves and others in society is necessary. …
    So, yes, we have to choose [our morals]. I can choose to pay attention to my humanity–my compassion, my empathy, my love–and try to chose accordingly. The source of my morals is not empty speculative logic, it is a deep involvement in my human nature and the collective wisdom of humans that have come before me.

    This doesn’t lead inexorably to nothing but “might makes right.” It leads to morals that can be rooted deeply in both the compassionate nature of our being and in our rational understanding of what behaviors best further everyones interests.

    One of the objections to this idea is that devolves to “might makes right”. But for the most part people influence each other’s morals by other means, such as compassion and love, rational discussion, serving as a role model and showing the benefits of virtuous living, and so on. Yes, sometimes fights happen, but there are many reasons other than disagreement about morals that are behind them.

    You write,

    Likewise, what about “jerks” with power beyond effective social consequences, such as Stalin, Hitler, Mao and even today’s third generation king of North Korea?

    I had written,

    If your choices are excessively unacceptable to me, I will do what I can to change them, including cooperating with others who agree with me.

    So my answer is we fight against such people in whatever ways are necessary.

    As I said to wjm, it is not a contradiction to believe that each person is existentially responsible for their own choices, including their moral values, and to believe that we also can choose to judge that other’s choices are unacceptable, and act accordingly.

    So, instead of your standard annotated quote of Plato and your invocation of Hitler, perhaps you would address what I’ve actually written.

  294. 294
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK,

    If the inner compass does not speak truly, we are in grand delusion, and the whole project of responsible rational discussion etc collapses.

    Notice, you cannot even argue without appealing to implied duties of care to truth, right, etc. that should be telling you something, never mind trying to brush it away as “standard talking points,” etc.

    Next, when one deals with a Stalin etc, or when one is a young child in the grips of a monster intent on rape and murder for his own sick satisfaction, our ability to fight is exactly the issue. Similarly, if we in effect reduce morality to individual or community or cultural views, the would be reformer is either a would be tyrant or else automatically in the wrong, as going against what defines morality: the community dominant view.

    We fight, without a basis for justice is just a nicer way of saying might makes right, i.e. soft nihilism.

    And the like.

    I think it is time for you to re-think.

    KF

  295. 295
    jdk says:

    Thanks, kf, for some short points to respond to.

    You write,

    If the inner compass does not speak truly, we are in grand delusion, and the whole project of responsible rational discussion etc collapses.

    Your black-and-white view presupposes your belief that moral truth objectively exists. However, if it does not, and I am arguing it doesn’t, then this black-and-white dichotomy doesn’t exist.

    It is a standard point in logical argument that not liking the supposed consequences of something is not evidence for that something. If objective moral truth doesn’t exist, then we are left with the type of moral truth I am arguing for, which is not a delusion and does not negate the possibility of responsible rational discussion. We are not left with nihilism, and I’ve written quite a bit about why not.

    You write,

    Notice, you cannot even argue without appealing to implied duties of care to truth, right, etc. that should be telling you something, never mind trying to brush it away as “standard talking points,” etc.

    I have clearly explained that I accept that we have a moral sense. What we disagree about is the nature and source of that moral sense. I am not “brushing this away,” and I don’t think my “talking points” are any more “standard” than yours are. I won’t repeat my points here, but 293, 290, and 286 have some short paragraphs my views on this.

    You write,

    we in effect reduce morality to individual or community or cultural views, the would be reformer is either a would be tyrant or else automatically in the wrong, as going against what defines morality: the community dominant view.

    No, I have addressed this. People, individually or in groups, can judge that they do not accept other’s moral judgments. The reformer who judges that the commonly accepted community views are wrong can work to change other people, and the culture, in many peaceful and rational ways: no tyranny necessary. Of course, sometimes people do resort to violence.

    But I have also said, part of taking responsibility for one actions, including moral judgments, is being willing to take responsibility for the consequence. Civil disobedience is an example: people sometimes feel strongly enough about what they are trying to change that they willingly break the law, and accept that they will be punished for that.

    You write,,

    I think it is time for you to re-think.

    I think that condescension is not an appropriate way to treat others, and is not conducive to civil discourse.

  296. 296
    Eugen says:

    Jdk

    “The reformer who judges that the commonly accepted community views are wrong can work to change other people,”

    Just wondering, would you go into cannibal tribe and try to convince them that their community views on killing and eating humans are wrong. How would you change them and somehow not end up in a stew swimming with potatoes and carrots?

  297. 297
    jdk says:

    Hi Eugen.

    I think that would be dangerous! And that’s a crusade I’be unlikely to take on, as one solitary man would be very unlikely to have any effect even if he tried.

    However, I have read some fascinating stories about explorers in Africa in the mid 1800’s who tackled this problem.

    More seriously, large scale culture change is hard. It takes the effort of lots of people over time. Witness, to take a clear and non-controversial subject, segregation and the civil rights movements of the 60’s, or, more controversially, the Vietnamese anti-war movement of the 60’s.

    As a young man I became convinced that both those things were wrong. I had little opportunity to do anything about segregation in the town I lived in, but I played a somewhat larger role about the war in college, writing a long paper on the war, speaking on panels, teaching a Free University course, etc.. Those were tools I could bear on trying to influence people to either see something as wrong, or to up their level of concern enough that they to would work to change the situation.

    This type of constant interplay among people, with people expressing their moral choices through words and actions, and likewise expressing their judgments of other people’s moral choices, creates a social dynamic that is sometimes quite stable (I am right now reading about Isabella Bird’s visit to the Ainu people in northern Japan in the 1878, for whom everything is quite proscribed and hadn’t changed for ages) and sometimes quite volatile (such as concerning LGBT issues in the US today.)

    So reform happens through dynamic sociological processes. All each one of us can do is both try to make the moral judgments we want to live by, and try to pick and choose the issues that we think we perhaps can have impact in changing.

    So to return to the cannibals. There are many things in the word that I think are morally appalling but for which I have little to no chance of having any impact. There are others closer to home that I can influence. For instance, I am very involved in raising my grandchildren, and I was a public school teacher for 35 years. In both cases I teach, through words and actions, various morals and character traits that I think are important: honesty, responsibility, respect for others, politeness, initiative, perseverance, and so on. In this way I am playing the cultural role that almost all of us play, raising the next generation to have a moral foundation upon which to build as they move towards getting old enough to take responsibility for their own choices as an adult.

  298. 298
    Eugen says:

    Hi jdk

    Kairos and others covered this before and in much better way…… cannibal tribe has certain way of life established because they decided as a group what’s right and wrong. Therefore in their eyes they are doing just fine.

    Now we bring an outsider who can evaluate tribe’s behavior and perhaps decide it’s wrong. If outsider is a moral relativist how can he evaluate somebody’s behavior? In his view society of cannibals made collective decision that it’s just fine to kill and eat humans. Who are we to judge?

    I appreciate your anti war efforts, every little action helps but reality today is that many nations are still at war. I don’t know what’s the solution for that. You may appreciate our anti abortion efforts but in a similar way we don’t know how much of this mess can we repair.

    I never read about Isabella Bird and her meeting with Ainu. They were not cannibals so that made it easier for her 🙂

    I watched this documentary about meeting of different cultures by anthropologist Jean Pierre Dutilleux

    https://youtu.be/xd0I1xAICOc

  299. 299
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK,

    It is noteworthy that we have had a significant and reasonable exchange, now across several threads.

    However, it seems to me that you are struggling with the logic of reductio, and the concept of self-evidence also by extension.

    No, it is not a matter of assumption begging the question at stake. it is indisputable fact that our reasonings, decisions and actions are haunted by the consideration of oughtness. Indeed, underlying your own argument is, that you expect us to be bound by the oughtness of truth etc.

    Now, that sense tells us plainly, we are under law, as say the young Cicero so eloquently outlined. (Cf 283 above.)

    This is a truth claim, i.e. it implies that there is an objective state of the world in which we are under genuine moral law suitable to the government of responsibly and rationally free creatures. Indeed, to be able to reason and argue, we need to e so governed, or else that is already a case of delusion at work, delusion that then spreads across our whole mental life, as we are then confronted with evidence of our thought life being tainted by delusion in such a way as to influence the whole course of thought, decision and action.

    So, to treat the moral gogernment of our responsible, rational conduct as delusional instantly has catastroiphic consequences.

    Nor it this just a matter of some IDiot commenter off in cyberspace. here is for example the inadvertent admission of Ruse and Wilson:

    The time has come to take seriously the fact [–> This is a gross error at the outset, as macro-evolution is a theory (an explanation) about the unobserved past of origins and so cannot be a fact on the level of the observed roundness of the earth or the orbiting of planets around the sun etc.] that we humans are modified monkeys, not the favored Creation of a Benevolent God on the Sixth Day . . . We must think again especially about our so-called ‘ethical principles.’ The question is not whether biology—specifically, our evolution—is connected with ethics, but how. As evolutionists, we see that no justification of the traditional kind is possible. Morality, or more strictly our belief in morality, is merely an adaptation put in place to further our reproductive ends. Hence the basis of ethics does not lie in God’s will … In an important sense, ethics as we understand it is an illusion fobbed off on us by our genes to get us to cooperate. It is without external grounding… Ethics is illusory inasmuch as it persuades us that it has an objective reference. This is the crux of the biological position. Once it is grasped, everything falls into place.

    [ –> And everything instantly falls apart as this would set grand delusion loose in our mental lives. Even logical reasoning is guided by the conscience-driven urge to truth, right and justice, so once such a grand delusion is let loose it undermines the general credibility of conscious mindedness, setting up a cascade of shadow-show worlds. The skeptical spider has enmeshed himself in his own web. Thus, any such scheme should be set aside as self-refuting.]

    [Michael Ruse & E. O. Wilson, “The Evolution of Ethics,” Religion and the Natural Sciences: The Range of Engagement, , ed. J. E. Hutchingson, Orlando, Fl.:Harcourt and Brace, 1991. (NB: Cf. a separate discussion on the grounding of worldviews and ethics here on, which includes a specific discussion of the grounding of ethics and goes on to Biblical theism; having first addressed the roots of the modern evolutionary materialist mindset and its pretensions to the mantle of science. Also cf. here on for Plato’s warning in The Laws, Bk X, on social consequences of the rise of such a view as the philosophy of the avant garde in a community.]

    The reductio is real and it is not just on evo mat terms, anything that reduces moral governance to a delusion faces the same collapse.

    The alrternaticve is to accept ex falso quodlibet, and to say that the fact that we cannot but live as responsibly and rationally free creatures is itself evidence that is decisive that we are under moral government.

    This is the context in which we then ask, what sort of world must we inhabit for that to be the case?

    The sobering answer post-Hume is that here is only one place where such can be founded: the root of reality.

    That is we need a world-root IS capable of bearing the weight of OUGHT. For which there is after centuries of debates but one serious candidate, the inherently good creator God, a necessary and maximally great being, worthy of loyalty and the reasonable, responsible service of doing the good in accord with our evident nature.

    If you doubt this, simply put up another candidate and show that it does not lead to an incoherent, self-defeating picture. Where, anything that implies that our sense of moral government is delusional will be so burdened. Of course, “delusional” is a strong word, but it is the right one — euphemisms as even Ruse and Wilson resorted to, will not do.

    KF

    PS: You may find Don Richardson’s Peace Child a useful discussion of dealing with real cannibal cultures and finding a way of redemption and reform. Eugen’s case is not hypothetical.

  300. 300
    jdk says:

    Thanks for the reply, Eugen.

    FWIW, my original college degree was in cultural anthropology, so I have a long-time interest in the diversity of human cultures.

    You write,

    Cannibal tribe has certain way of life established because they decided as a group what’s right and wrong. Therefore in their eyes they are doing just fine.

    Now we bring an outsider who can evaluate tribe’s behavior and perhaps decide it’s wrong. If outsider is a moral relativist how can he evaluate somebody’s behavior? In his view society of cannibals made collective decision that it’s just fine to kill and eat humans. Who are we to judge?

    I think the two sentences I’ve bolded are the heart of the matter.

    I think I’ve made it clear that I believe that we can judge others. Just as I make choices about the principles I wish to live by (that is, judgments about my actions), I choose to evaluate the actions of others around me.

    My position is not a laissez faire approach to human interaction (or what you have called a “moral relativist” approach). My approach is an engaged approach, whereby I (this is my chosen attitude) owe it to the collective well-being of the world around me to judge the moral positions of others. I then choose at times to either support or oppose certain ones which I consider important enough, and for which I have the means to be effective.

    This should be clear: there is a vast range of moral issues, of varying importance, and so we all adopt a “live and let live” attitude towards some things and an “I can’t accept that” attitude towards others.

    We are all judges. Making judgments is at the heart of what it is to be an actively engaged human being. This is one of the principles of the existentialism that I listed back at 286 when I made an effort to lablel and describe myself.

  301. 301
    jdk says:

    First, kf, I responded to your comment in the other thread.

    Second, you write,

    It is indisputable fact that our reasonings, decisions and actions are haunted by the consideration of oughtness. Indeed, underlying your own argument is, that you expect us to be bound by the oughtness of truth etc.

    Now, that sense tells us plainly, we are under law.

    I agree with your first paragraph, as I have said a number of times.

    I disagree with your second sentence. This sense of “ought” does NOT tell me plainly we are “under law.” I have explained a number of times that I believe that making and living by normative beliefs, moral and otherwise, is a part of our social and psychological nature. This does not mean that there is some outside source, rooted in the fundamentals of the universe, that relates in any way to our normative nature.

    That is where we disagree.

    I have also pointed out that your black-and-white view that either one believes in a root level OUGHT or one is delusional is wrong, and I have presented my view (see 178) as an alternative which I don’t believe is delusional.

    You write,

    If you doubt this, simply put up another candidate and show that it does not lead to an incoherent, self-defeating picture. Where, anything that implies that our sense of moral government is delusional will be so burdened.

    I have put up another candidate. Your ability to assess my position is nullified by your dichotomous and circular position that any denial of a root-level OUGHT is delusional, incoherent, and self-defeating. However, your reason for that judgment is simply that any other position denies the assumption upon which your judgment is based.

    The position I outline in 178 is a valid alternative to theism. I don’t expect you, of course, to agree with it, but I don’t think you can dismiss it as delusional.

    (And please don’t bother to quote Wilson and Ruse to me. I don’t agree with them and am not arguing for a position such as theirs, so their thoughts are irrelevant to my position.)

  302. 302
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, the sense of oughtness clearly points to duties and tugs us back from going off track. The sense is that we face an obligation, and to do otherwise is a breach. That is a commonplace of human experience. It is significant that you seem to struggle with such a commonplace of experience. KF

    PS: It is entirely appropriate to cite case studies showing that fairly prominent intellectuals do in fact openly state or imply that our sense of being morally governed is delusional.

  303. 303
    jdk says:

    kf writes,

    That (a sense of outghtness)is a commonplace of human experience. It is significant that you seem to struggle with such a commonplace of experience. KF

    If is significant to me that you seem to struggle with the fact that I have acknowledged, numerous times, that I very much accept the sense of oughtness as a “commonplace of human experience”. What I don’t accept that this implies an OUGHT at the metaphysical root-level of reality.

    All you have to do is read the first part of 301 above to see that.

    Do you actually read my posts?

  304. 304
    Eugen says:

    Jdk

    Anthropology and linguistics are interesting to me but unfortunately I don’t have time to study it 🙁

    This is more of a thought experiment but I’m curious how would you attempt engaged approach if you were to meet cannibal tribe?
    Also, if I remember correctly you are a taoist. I think taoist allows things to go their way or unfold naturally. I don’t see taoist as judgemental person.

  305. 305
    jdk says:

    Eugen writes,

    This is more of a thought experiment but I’m curious how would you attempt engaged approach if you were to meet cannibal tribe?

    This is really too hypothetical to consider. One random Western man such as me isn’t going to go in and have any influence on a cannibal tribe.

    But just today I read this out of Isabella Bird’s book on Japan.

    She had just spent a week or so living with very primitive people, the Ainu, who she liked because they were warm, calm, good-natured, respectful, and otherwise pleasant people. However, their religion, which was vague and animistic, involved continually drinking the alcoholic beverage sake as part of their daily religious rituals. Isabella was a Christian and daughter of a preacher, but was very non-judgmental when travelling in foreign lands. However, the constant drinking bothered her. So, right before leaving,

    “I inveighed to the assembled Ainos against the practice and consequences of sake-drinking, and was met with the reply, “We must drink to the gods, or we shall die;” but Pipichari [one of the few Ainu who didn’t drink] said, “You say that which is good; let us give sake to the gods, but not drink it,” for which bold speech he was severely rebuked by Benri [the chief].”

    So, she saw behavior that she considered immoral in people she liked and cared for. She let them know her thoughts, but was not really in any position to have much of an impact, as the behavior in question was absolutely central to important aspects of the Ainu culture.

    Excerpt From: Isabella L. Bird. “Unbeaten Tracks in Japan.” iBooks.

    Also, more importantly, you write,

    Also, if I remember correctly you are a taoist. I think taoist allows things to go their way or unfold naturally. I don’t see taoist as judgemental person.

    This is not my understanding of Taoism. Living in harmony with the state of affairs is a goal of Taoist living, but that means that sometimes one must act decisively, and sometimes not: unfolding naturally does not preclude either decisive action or judgment, because sometimes that is what needs to unfold. My understanding of Taoism, which I have explained is idiosyncratic and not formal in any way, coupled with my existentialistic bent, is that one adjusts one’s actions to the needs of a situation, constantly choosing and balancing multiple perspectives. My understanding of Taoism is that it is definitely not a laissez faire, que sera sera, philosophy.

  306. 306
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, here is a 101 level discussion as to why I hold that. Notice, how I start with a yardstick, self-evident truth case. Once there are such truths, morality has an objective core, period. KF

    PS: Notice the young Cicero in his De Legibus, where justice is inherently a moral issue implying that the foundations of law are moral:

    —Marcus [in de Legibus, introductory remarks,. C1 BC]: . . . the subject of our present discussion . . . comprehends the universal principles of equity and law. In such a discussion therefore on the great moral law of nature, the practice of the civil law can occupy but an insignificant and subordinate station. For according to our idea, we shall have to explain the true nature of moral justice, which is congenial and correspondent [36]with the true nature of man. We shall have to examine those principles of legislation by which all political states should be governed. And last of all, shall we have to speak of those laws and customs which are framed for the use and convenience of particular peoples, which regulate the civic and municipal affairs of the citizens, and which are known by the title of civil laws.

    Quintus. —You take a noble view of the subject, my brother, and go to the fountain–head of moral truth, in order to throw light on the whole science of jurisprudence: while those who confine their legal studies to the civil law too often grow less familiar with the arts of justice than with those of litigation.

    Marcus. —Your observation, my Quintus, is not quite correct. It is not so much the science of law that produces litigation, as the ignorance of it, (potius ignoratio juris litigiosa est quam scientia) . . . . With respect to the true principle of justice, many learned men have maintained that it springs from Law. I hardly know if their opinion be not correct, at least, according to their own definition; for “Law (say they) is the highest reason, implanted in nature, which prescribes those things which ought to be done, and forbids the contrary.” This, they think, is apparent from the converse of the proposition; because this same reason, when it [37]is confirmed and established in men’s minds, is the law of all their actions.

    They therefore conceive that the voice of conscience is a law, that moral prudence is a law, whose operation is to urge us to good actions, and restrain us from evil ones. They think, too, that the Greek name for law (NOMOS), which is derived from NEMO, to distribute, implies the very nature of the thing, that is, to give every man his due. [–> this implies a definition of justice as the due balance of rights, freedoms and responsibilities] For my part, I imagine that the moral essence of law is better expressed by its Latin name, (lex), which conveys the idea of selection or discrimination. According to the Greeks, therefore, the name of law implies an equitable distribution of goods: according to the Romans, an equitable discrimination between good and evil.

    The true definition of law should, however, include both these characteristics. And this being granted as an almost self–evident proposition, the origin of justice is to be sought in the divine law of eternal and immutable morality. This indeed is the true energy of nature, the very soul and essence of wisdom, the test of virtue and vice.

    PPS: Please note, I am speaking to the dimension of our conscious, minded, self-moved existence that we term conscience. I am not implying that every impulse is right (moral error patently exists), but that on the whole, as responsibly and rationally free creatures, our moral sense in core aspects is detecting and responding to truths tied to the value of those who are as we are, and our fellow creatures and world, thus our individual and collective stewardship.

    PPPS: As I find time, I will comment on your worldview thoughts. So, pardon, later, I am multitasking.

  307. 307
    jdk says:

    I understand that you, and others in the past (Plato, Cicero, et al) believe that morality has an objective core.

    I also think we agree that human beings act morally, and often care about improving the world.

    Where we disagree, as I repeat in order to focus the discussion, is that I don’t believe the root-level of reality contains an objective core of OUGHT: my belief is that our moral sense is part of our localized humanity and is up to us to exercise through our choices.

    And the really key issue I want you to address is that I don’t believe the worldview I am describing is incoherent and self-refuting.

    I accept that a theistic worldview is a logical possibility, and is affirmed by millions of people (although in many different forms). I claim an IS without an OUGHT, is also a logical possibility as an explanation for our world and the human condition.

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