Logic and First Principles: Summarising first principles and duties of reason

As we continue to ponder the core of responsible rationality, it is helpful to ponder a summary of what we have won:

I recall, way back, being taught how the seventeen first equations of Boolean Algebra [which can all be verified as equivalence relations through truth tables] were of equally axiomatic status. But then, I got the logic of being infection, and began to see that in fact, from the ontological perspective, identity and its close corollaries are prior:

Then, there was that old philosopher who said that truth says of what is, that it is; and of what is not, that it is not. Sometimes, the truth does fit in a nutshell. Here, that truth accurately describes reality. That is, propositions — what sentences assert regarding reality — in certain cases hit the mark. Of course, in other cases, while the intent is there, performance is not.

Consequently, one of the first undeniably true claims is the Josiah Royce proposition, E: error exists. Obviously, this is general consensus and readily observed (think, red X’s on elementary school sums gone awry), but it is also stronger than that.

Imagine someone asserting Not-E, ~E — and yes, we likely can find such persons out there.

That person would immediately imply that E is in error; i.e. the very attempt to deny lands in confirming truth. This case being immediately apparent as a reduction to the absurd. Thus, we find a case of self-evident truth. Truth that is evident from understanding what is claimed (in light of adequate background experience that enables understanding) and which is so on patent absurdity if a denial is attempted. Of course, there are different sorts of absurdity (not just logical self-contradiction), thus different forms of self-evidence.

Allow me to add an illustration (inescapable truth), following Epictetus:

EPICTETUS

DISCOURSES
CHAPTER XXV

How is logic necessary?
When someone in [Epictetus’] audience said, Convince me that logic is necessary, he answered: Do you wish me to demonstrate this to you?—Yes.—Well, then, must I use a demonstrative argument?—And when the questioner had agreed to that, Epictetus asked him. How, then, will you know if I impose upon you?—As the man had no answer to give, Epictetus said: Do you see how you yourself admit that all this instruction is necessary, if, without it, you cannot so much as know whether it is necessary or not? [Cf J. C. Wright]

Now, these results carry with them already, a world of consequences. For, here we have truth, undeniable truth that accurately describes what must obtain in any possible world. The truth, error exists, is a consensus and is empirically observable. It is also logically necessary. It is warranted, credibly true (and so, reliable) while being believed; it is objective knowledge. Indeed, it is undeniably certain knowledge, a point of absolute, known, knowable truth.

Thus, immediately, radical subjectivism, emotivism and relativism fail, bringing down with them a large swath of current thought, ideology and cultural agendas that pivot on such.

We can add a train of thought that breaks truth out of being strictly empirical. Consider a possible world W, to be distinguished from a close neighbour W’ by some feature or aspect A. We then partition — dichotomise — W as W = {A|~A}, where ~A id the complement to A in W, in effect ~A = W – A. The partition, |, is empty, i.e. nullity emerges. A is a unit and ~A a complex unit. Further, these, together show duality. We thus see inherent abstracta, the numbers 0, 1, 2 in action. Extending via von Neumann:

{} –> 0

{0} –> 1

{0,1} –> 2

{0,1,2} –> 3

. . .

{0,1,2,3 . . . } –> omega

. . . and we have the natural counting numbers and a first transfinite successor ordinal, omega. Thus, we may proceed to the integers by positing that for any natural n we have (-n) such that n + (-n) = 0; this gives us vectors on one axis, as direction is added to size. Then, we define Q the rationals as m/n, thence the reals R as numbers such as pi or sqrt-2 etc requiring infinite sums of power series to specify. Similarly, we may identify complex numbers C by using i* as a 90 degree anticlickwise rotation operator so i*x defines another line of numbers pivoting on 0. However as i*i*x = -x, we then see that i^2 = -1, i is sqrt-(-1). We thus have a core of abstract structure and quantity, the heart of Mathematics.

Abstracta can be as real as concrete physical phenomena. Something, that cuts another huge swath across the space of currently fashionable worldviews and cultural agendas.

Going further, we encounter the mysterious PSR in a weak investigatory form: the principle of sufficient reason. Consider a candidate to be, X. We may freely ask about its logic of being status:

That leads us to ponder causality, e.g. the effect of necessary, enabling factors for a fire:

Thus, we are equipped to ponder contingent vs necessary beings and to examine how they are such.

Okay, nice logic-101 so far; of what relevance?

The answer lies in the implications for our civilisation and our need for reform. The above exposes fatal cracks in dominant ideologies, cultural assumptions and agendas, pointing to needed correction. For, in making man the measure of all things, we have set up crooked yardsticsks as standards of straight, upright, accurate. We need naturally straight and upright plumblines:

The question is, will we even heed the voice of the plumbline? END

F/N: It seems helpful to add an infographic on Schaeffer’s critique of how the West’s intellectual tradition has evolved over the past 800 years, as modified. First, theinjection of the principle of the house divided (now manifest in say the facts vs values dichotomy or the inheritance of Kant’s ugly gulch between the inner world and the external one of things in themselves etc) :

Next, the 800 year breakdown:

From this, we come to the way we warp our institutions to erect and support the protective roof of a dominant but dubious worldview and cultural agenda (which are unsustainable but protect the dominant elites for now):

This then raises the challenge of breakthrough, prophetic, intellectual and cultural leadership if we are to break out of our present en-darkened age and escape a voyage of folly:

That, is the kairos which now confronts us.

29 Replies to “Logic and First Principles: Summarising first principles and duties of reason”

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kairosfocus says:

Logic and First Principles: Summarising first principles and duties of reason — will we heed the message of the plumbline?

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kairosfocus says:

F/N: As one manifestation of how inescapably certain the Principle of Distinct Identity is, note this from Paul of Tarsus:

1 Cor 14: 7 Yet even lifeless things, whether flute or harp, when producing a sound, if they do not produce distinct [musical] tones, how will anyone [listening] know what is piped or played? 8 And if the [war] bugle produces an indistinct sound, who will prepare himself for battle? 9 So it is with you, if you speak words [in an unknown tongue] that are not intelligible and clear, how will anyone understand what you are saying? You will be talking into the air [wasting your breath]! 10 There are, I suppose, a great many kinds of languages in the world [unknown to us], and none is lacking in meaning. 11 But if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will [appear to] be a [c]foreigner to the one who is speaking [since he knows exactly what he is saying], and the one who is speaking will [appear to] be a foreigner to me. [AMP]

Yes, even to communicate so as to object, a supposed objector is forced to rely on LoI.

(And yes, this trumps attempted objections on Quantum superposition of states or the like . . . is that superposition a distinct thing that we can discuss? If it is not, then there is literally nothing to discuss. If it is, just to discuss it, we have to rely on LoI, so attempts to use same to overturn LoI are self-referentially incoherent, meaningless and absurd.)

KF

PS: That is also why we cannot prove LoI on something deeper; any attempted proof already embeds LoI. that is why we are forced to accept and acknowledge it as inescapably true. Proofs come after this.

3. 3
kairosfocus says:

F/N2: But, but, what about muh brute facts?

Wiki:

In contemporary philosophy, a brute fact is a fact that has no explanation.[1] More narrowly, brute facts may instead be defined as those facts which cannot be explained (as opposed to simply having no explanation).[2] To reject the existence of brute facts is to think that everything can be explained. (“Everything can be explained” is sometimes called the principle of sufficient reason). There are two ways to explain something: say what “brought it about”, or describe it at a more “fundamental” level.[citation needed] For example, a cat displayed on a computer screen can be explained, more “fundamentally”, as there being certain voltages in bits of metal in the screen, which in turn can be explained, more “fundamentally”, as certain subatomic particles moving in a certain manner. If one were to keep explaining the world in this way and reach a point at which no more “deeper” explanations can be given, then they would have found some facts which are brute or inexplicable, in the sense that we cannot give them an ontological explanation[citation needed]. As it might be put, there may exist some things that just are. The same thing can be done with causal explanations. If nothing made the Big Bang expand at the velocity it did, then this is a brute fact in the sense that it lacks a causal explanation.

Of course, this needs to be compared with the logic of being. For, some things are the case through contingency, tracing to causes. Others, are necessary and self-explanatory. That is, some things are, on pain of utter incoherence were they not the case. This of course includes numbers, and it includes that there is a root of reality of necessary character, given that it must be independent to be root, and given that were there ever utter non-being, such would forever obtain. So, as a world is, a root is and will always be.

KF

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bornagain77 says:

Atheists believe that there is no reason behind why the universe exists, and therefore no reason why we ourselves, exists. Christians, of course, believe the exact opposite.

The Christian, of course, is correct. Moreover, the Christian can appeal to Quantum Mechanics to support his belief that the universe is, at root, rational, i.e. that the universe is based on logic and reason.

Quantum Mechanics reveals that the universe, at its most foundational level, is based on reason.

kairosfocus referenced the laws of logic, i.e. identity, non-contradiction, and excluded middle.

All of the foundational principles of logic are revealed in the most basic action of Quantum Mechanics. Namely, revealed in the collapse of the wave function.

Atheists have often claimed that Schrödinger’s Cat refutes the law of non-contradiction, (i.e. the cat is both dead and alive at the same time they claim). Yet what the atheist’s appeal to Schrödinger’s Cat, (to try to refute the law of non-contradiction), actually reveals is that atheist’s do not really understand how the logic (and metaphysics) of Aristotle and Aquinas is verified by quantum mechanics, not refuted by quantum mechanics.

Dr. Egnor has a beautiful article that clears up the confusion on the part atheists in regards to their false claim that quantum mechanics refutes the law of non-contradiction.

Introducing Aquinas’ Five Ways – Michael Egnor – October 3, 2019
Excerpt: Introducing Aquinas’ Five Ways – Michael Egnor – October 3, 2019
Excerpt: The cosmological arguments have two cornerstones: the law of non-contradiction, and the metaphysics of potency and act. Both principles are Aristotelian, developed in fullest form by St. Thomas Aquinas.
Simple but Profound
The law of non-contradiction is simple but profound. It is the principle that it is not possible for a thing to be and not be at the same time in the same respect. If my coffee cup is full, it cannot also be empty at the same time. If I am alive, I cannot be dead at the same time (for readers thinking “What about Schrödinger’s cat?”, I’ll address that later).
Succinctly, A is not not-A, and not-A is not A.,,,
Without the law of non-contradiction, nature is Alice-in-Wonderland,,,, Reality must make sense first, before I can draw conclusions from it.,,,
,,, If reality makes no sense (if A and not-A are compatible), we can apprehend nothing. Expressed another way, sense is the precondition of truth. We can’t know any truth unless the world makes sense.
The second cornerstone of the cosmological arguments is Aristotle’s principle of potency and act.
Aristotle observed that in contrast to non-being, there were two manifestations of being — potentiality and actuality.
Potentiality (or potency) is an intermediate state between non-being and being. It is the capacity to receive form — the capacity to become a defined existing thing. It is not the thing itself, however, it is only capacity. Potency is not actual.
Actuality (or act) is the state of actually being in a defined way — full reality.,,,
Aquinas (following Aristotle) pointed out that the law of non-contradiction applies to the principle of potency and act in a fundamentally important way. A thing may not be in potency and in act in the same respect at the same time. Potency and act for the same thing are mutually exclusive at any moment in time. If something is possible, it is not yet actual, and if something is actual, it is no longer just possible. There is no middle state between potency and act and there is no state of simultaneous potency and act for the same thing.,,,
And Now for Schrödinger’s Cat
3) There is a common atheist objection to the Aristotelian principle of non-contradiction, using a famous paradox in quantum indeterminacy. The argument is that the principle of non-contradiction is disproven by the paradox of Schrödinger’s cat, in which a cat in a box with poison that can be released by a radioactive emission can be simultaneously alive and dead — in a suspended state between life and death — until the box is opened and it is observed. This would seem to be a situation in which A is not-A simultaneously. Before observation, the cat is both dead and alive. This, however, is a misunderstanding of the metaphysics. In fact the paradox of Schrödinger’s cat is better understood in an Aristotelian framework. There is obviously no materialist mechanistic framework in which it is comprehensible. In the Aristotelian framework,, the cat is in potency for life and death, not in actuality for either. It is only on observation that the cat is alive or dead. That is, it is only with observation that potency is raised to act and the law of non-contradiction apples. Only the Aristotelian principle that potency is not actuality makes sense of the cat’s indeterminate state.,, Of all of the metaphysical perspectives on tap, the least acceptable is the materialist mechanical perspective — i.e. “nature is atoms in the void, and nothing more.” The most acceptable, in light of the indeterminacy inherent to the quantum state, is Aristotelian potency and act.,,,
Quantum indeterminacy (exemplified by Schrödinger’s cat) is a striking example of Aristotelian potency, and collapse of the quantum waveform is an example of reduction of potency to act, and the law of non-contradiction is necessary to even talk about metaphysics or science meaningfully. It is materialist mechanical philosophy, not Aristotelian metaphysics, that is incompatible with quantum mechanics.
https://evolutionnews.org/2019/10/introducing-aquinas-five-ways/

Heisenberg himself understood that quantum mechanics verified Aristotle’s philosophy.

“In the experiments about atomic events we have to do with things and facts, with phenomena that are just as real as any phenomena in daily life. But atoms and the elementary particles themselves are not as real; they form a world of potentialities or possibilities rather than one of things or facts … The probability wave … mean[s] tendency for something. It’s a quantitative version of the old concept of potentia from Aristotle’s philosophy. It introduces something standing in the middle between the idea of an event and the actual event, a strange kind of physical reality just in the middle between possibility and reality.”
– Werner Heisenberg, Physics and Philosophy. London: Allen and Unwin. (1958), p. 41

That Aquinas would, via extension of Aristotle’s arguments, get the basics of quantum wave collapse correct centuries before quantum mechanics was even known about, is nothing short of stunning.

Here is the ‘first mover’ argument of Aquinas in its formal form:

Aquinas’ First Way
1) Change in nature is elevation of potency to act.
2) Potency cannot actualize itself, because it does not exist actually.
3) Potency must be actualized by another, which is itself in act.
4) Essentially ordered series of causes (elevations of potency to act) exist in nature.
5) An essentially ordered series of elevations from potency to act cannot be in infinite regress, because the series must be actualized by something that is itself in act without the need for elevation from potency.
6) The ground of an essentially ordered series of elevations from potency to act must be pure act with respect to the casual series.
7) This Pure Act– Prime Mover– is what we call God.
http://egnorance.blogspot.com/.....t-way.html

Or to put it much more simply:

“It’s impossible for something to put itself into motion. Therefore, anything in motion is put into motion by something else. There isn’t an infinite regress of movers in motion. Therefore, there is a prime mover, something that moves without itself being in motion, God.”
– summation of Thomas Aquinas’ first mover argument

“The ‘First Mover’ is necessary for change occurring at each moment.”
Michael Egnor – Aquinas’ First Way
http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....first.html

None of this is contradicted by quantum mechanics, and in fact, as was already pointed out by Dr. Egnor, Aquinas’ (and Aristotles’) ‘first mover’ argument is actually confirmed by quantum mechanics.

As well, none of this contradicts Christianity either: As Paul himself preached to the ancient Greeks at Athens

Acts 17: 28
For “In him we live and move and have our being”; as even some of your own poets have said,
“For we too are his offspring.”

One humorous final note, Dr. Egnor notes that “No atheist scientist in the public spotlight today would pass a freshman philosophy class.”

Stephen Hawking: “Philosophy Is Dead” – Michael Egnor – August 3, 2015
Excerpt: The metaphysics of Aristotle and Aquinas is far and away the most successful framework on which to understand modern science, especially quantum mechanics. Heisenberg knew this (Link on site). Aristotle 2,300 years ago described the basics of collapse of the quantum waveform (reduction of potency to act),,,
Real scientists have a meaningful understanding of natural philosophy as it relates to their work. No atheist scientist in the public spotlight today would pass a freshman philosophy class. Think Dawkins. Think Krauss. Think Myers. Think Moran. Think Novella. Think Coyne. Think Hawking.
Our 21st-century scientific priesthood — mostly atheists and materialists to the extent that their metaphysics is coherent enough to be described — is dominated by half-educated technicians with publicists.,,,
http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....98261.html

I agree with Dr. Egnor!

5. 5
Silver Asiatic says:

Aquinas’ First Way
1) Change in nature is elevation of potency to act.
2) Potency cannot actualize itself, because it does not exist actually.
3) Potency must be actualized by another, which is itself in act.
4) Essentially ordered series of causes (elevations of potency to act) exist in nature.
5) An essentially ordered series of elevations from potency to act cannot be in infinite regress, because the series must be actualized by something that is itself in act without the need for elevation from potency.
6) The ground of an essentially ordered series of elevations from potency to act must be pure act with respect to the casual series.
7) This Pure Act– Prime Mover– is what we call God.

Some will object to premise 5 by claiming that there can be an infinite series of causes – or a multiverse where one cause just leads to another.
But whatever has been actualized (some potency has been elevated to act) points necessarily to an actualizer. There must be something with the power, in itself, to actualize.
Another way to look at it is that things which exist today are derived from a power that existed previously.

6. 6
kairosfocus says:

H’mm, we are looking at possibilities and actualities exerting causal forces, with the implication that if a contingent world is, something else is, which is necessary. Post big bang, our observed cosmos is a credibly contingent world. The proposed underlying cosmos (not observed) is a candidate to be reality root however we also have good reason to see that any causal-temporal finite stage stepwise successive entity will both be subject to entropy [dissipation of energy concentrations] and faces the challenge of traversing the transfinite in successive finite stage steps. Which is a patently infeasible supertask, as has been shown here at UD. A quasi-physical cosmos as a whole cannot credibly be the reality root, necessary being. That comes from the logic of being, and of course our gaps on said subject underlie many of our errors. KF

PS: One of the claims made is that oh, succession of stages etc leads to a brute being root anyway. Nope, not when necessary, independent, world framework reality root being is on the table, being that cannot not exist on pain of contradiction. The real issue is what is candidate to be such a reality root, especially where at least one actual world has in it rational, responsible, morally governed creatures, us. Post Hume, the only locus for such is root of reality, and at that level IS and OUGHT must be bridged, pointing to the inherently, utterly good and wise as root of reality. Which should sound quite familiar.

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8. 8
Ed George says:

[SNIP, sorry as the actual comment was constructive]

9. 9
10. 10
Reapers Plague says:

[SNIP, sorry as there was constructive intent; but I will not entertain a flame war]

11. 11
Reapers Plague says:

[SNIP]

12. 12
ET says:

[SNIP, flame war]

13. 13
ET says:

[RETAINED BECAUSE OF SIGNIFICANT EXPOSURE,
REGARDING THE CIRCLE OF OBJECTING SITES
AND THE TRUE ATTITUDES OF TOO MUCH OF OBJECTION TO UD]

From Acartia Eddie on the state of Uncommon Descent:

Is this an improvement? From being run by a failed lawyer to being run by a failed journalist?

[–> Comment: the “need” to belittle speaks volumes, and the substance is false. Duly noted.]

And you want to give him a forum to speak from? His intentions are to try to discredit each of us. To sow seeds of doubt. Seeds that will never take root but the quantity gets overwhelming. And people don’t always read the thorough refutation, just the accusation. In his mind to discredit UD is to discredit ID.

His first principle is to carry that out.

Here

[FLAME WAR WILL NOT BE ENTERTAINED]

14. 14
kairosfocus says:

F/N: Continuing, why is the above relevant to the scientific, logical-epistemological and cultural question of intelligent design?

For one, because our civilisation has by and large cut moorings from first duties and principles of reasoning, not just by failing to embed in education but by actually embedding skepticism about such in our education, academy and media systems. As a result, we have literally undermined the intellectual foundations of our civilisation. Thus, we have weakened our rational capabilities, including capabilities to reason objectively regarding natters of inductive logic and science.

Of particular relevance is of course the undermining of recognition of first duties of responsible reason. A capital example is playing out in the media and government of a leading country of our civilisation that is descending into further depths of civil war as lawfare leads to ever deeper polarisation as we speak. Sadly, duties to truth, prudence (so, warrant), right reason, fairness and justice are at a steep discount; with implications of the corrosive influence of blood guilt over 63+ million victims of the slaughter of our living posterity in the womb lurking as a key driving force. Not to mention, contributory responsibility for the global holocaust of 800+ millions, advancing at another million per week.

Let us never underestimate the civilisation-corroding power of mass blood guilt and linked misanthropy.

This, we will have to face, if ever we are to move beyond our present dark age.

Second, such disregard for duty become a habit, one that is anti-civilisational and misanthropic. In such a context, science will be corrupted by ideology and will become a political football — ultimately losing its credibility and the dynamism of clear thinking mind that gave it its success.

(And yes, that is precisely what has already happened with Climatology. A more honest and balanced, nuanced view that remembers that, inherently on logic of inference to best explanation science is never “settled,” would have won wider and more enduring support. But now, the suspicion that we are seeing little more than watermelon environmentalism, cultural marxist ideology dressed up in lab coats has for cause set in. Resort to trying to brand honest questions with the taint of holocaust denial and that of being bought and paid for with oil money etc has simply deepened the divide. Let that be a warning with a particular eye to what is happening on origins questions. And no, I will not entertain a flame war here.)

Third, someone therefore needs to cry out, let us stop the madness, and let us refocus how to set our thinking straight. Which then requires not only laying out a case [cf here on in context as well as the Logic and First Principles theme/ WP category here at UD] but also putting together a summary of pivotal results. Which, is what the OP above is about.

Fourth, these first principles are themselves under attack, e.g. by those who imagine that quantum mechanics etc undermines the principle of identity and its close corollaries. That one can use language to try to make such an argument without instantly spotting the issue St Paul highlighted 2,000 years ago speaks volumes. It is futile to argue against a principle one must implicitly accept just to communicate intelligibly, much less to reason. One’s stance as a language and concept-using intelligent being shows the inescapable truth of LoI and its corollaries LNC and LEM. Yes, this is retorsion, and yes, it shows that such an argument can even establish self-evident, inescapable truth; it is not a fallacious ad hominem. Just as Epictetus pointed out what, sixty years after Paul wrote to his problem congregation in Corinth (and about twenty years after Clement of Rome had to remind the same congregation).

Inescapably true things are just that, true.

So, whatever we may imagine about superposition, entanglement etc, just to reason about and discuss them, we must rely on distinct identity. Quantum mechanics and its onward extensions rely on distinct identity to be rational. It is futile to then try to undermine LoI by appeal to the quantum world.

Next, we have the suggested issue of brute givens, substituted for recognising the power of logic of being (with a weak form PSR as convenient gateway). Here, Feser et al are right, if our chain traces to brute givens, then that foundation of inexplicability cannot give to what rests on it what it has not got. So, we need instead to understand the force of logic of being and linked modes, thus our ability to see the need for a necessary being root of reality without which a world such as we inhabit could not be. And yes, we then face the significance of bridging IS and OUGHT in that root.

In such a context, the evidence of a fine tuned cosmos and that of signs of intelligence as causal force in the world of life take on far different force.

Things are different when one has reason to be confident that the world will make coherent sense, even though its realities may be subtle indeed.

KF

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kairosfocus says:

Given what emerged, I have added a f/n to op; on the 800 year evolution of a fatal breakdown of our worldview as a civilisation. If we are to break out of our en-darkenment and bewitchment by enticing but ruinous ideas and agendas, this is what we need to heed.

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Seversky says:

As a longtime fan of Mr Spock and Sherlock Holmes, I acknowledge the value if reason and logic. That is why I recognize that the greatest threat to the human species on this planet is humanity itself . If we expect any one God, any one faith, any one political ideology to save us from ourselves we are going to be sorely disappointed. While we continue to try and divide ourselves into us and them – Republican v Democrat, conservative v liberal, nationalist v globalist, Christian v Muslim, believer v atheist, capitalist v communist/socialist, spiritualist v materialist, naturalist v supernaturalist – we are doomed to perpetual, internecine conflict which could ultimately be the end of us all.. If you are convinced that there is a better afterlife awaiting us all then, logically. why should you care what happens here? If you are not so sure then maybe we should try and do something ourselves for our own good because, if we don’t, once we are gone, there is no coming back.

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ET says:

seversky:

As a longtime fan of Mr Spock and Sherlock Holmes, I acknowledge the value if reason and logic.

That is quite the irony coming from someone who accepts the premise of “minds from the mindless via blind and mindless processes”. I would say that is evidence that you do not acknowledge the value of reason and logic.

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Silver Asiatic says:

Seversky

As a longtime fan of Mr Spock and Sherlock Holmes, I acknowledge the value if reason and logic. That is why I recognize that the greatest threat to the human species on this planet is humanity itself .

I didn’t watch the video but it looked like it was about population control. Birth control and abortion are usually given as the answers to overpopulation. Some people believe in that and are wiping out their own populations, for the benefit of humanity. Other people do not believe it and they are ending up out-populating the rest. So, I’m not sure what the overpopulation scare is trying to achieve. I imagine some people would want a national (or even world) government to control how many children people are permitted to have. But this will only create the very sort of internecine conflict that you were concerned about.

If you are not so sure then maybe we should try and do something ourselves for our own good because, if we don’t, once we are gone, there is no coming back.

This assumes that you, or someone, knows what to do for our own good, and also that God does not exist. You didn’t create the human race, so how do you know what is truly good for it? Why wouldn’t warfare and conflict result in a positive benefit? — that’s what competition was supposed to have achieved with evolution.

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Silver Asiatic says:

I think the part above on “the authentication of Scripture” is incorrect. We have argued about this before, but the New Testament came after the Christian Church was already established. So the Scripture was authenticated by the Church. Authority was grounded in the people (who were given the mandate by Christ), not in the text.
The movement in the West towards rationality, detached from realism (nature) was fulfilled by the bible-alone, subjective view of scripture where the individual, and not a divinely-established community (The Church), has complete authority to interpret the Bible any way they want.
The bible-alone viewpoint, in its radical form actually attacks the findings of philosophy.
This is why some creationists attack ID as being unbiblical.

20. 20
kairosfocus says:

Sev,

Let’s focus on points you raised:

>>As a longtime fan of Mr Spock and Sherlock Holmes, I acknowledge the value if reason and logic.>>

1: Excellent, now, do you accept that the first principles as outlined are self-evident (not merely axiomatic as that can mean in effect arbitrarily imposed as rules for an intellectual game to follow).

3: Then also, what of the extension of PSR and PoC into logic of being? Especially, i/l/o the issue that nothing, properly, is non-being; which can have no causal capacity, thus if a world is, something of independent thus necessary being character, always was. That is, the root of reality.

>> That is why I recognize that the greatest threat to the human species on this planet is humanity itself .>>

4: In your context, you seem concerned over population rise; in the West (including, increasingly the Caribbean) that has led to demographic implosion, which is fatal. And SA raises concerns which are also valid.

5: It seems to me, that we are failing to prioritise properly two breakthroughs, energy transformation through modern nuclear technologies [pebble bed modular reactors, Thorium based molten salt reactors, fusion] that would open up desalination and agriculture as well as rocket drives and solar system colonisation.

6: It is the latter that should especially be the priority focus of this century, starting with the Moon, Mars, the Asteroid belt and leading on to gas giant moons.

7: To that end, I have supported the idea behind an open source industrial reformation, the global village construction set, in which a cluster of about 50 key technologies has been targetted for creating a transformation cluster. I see that as something unis etc could back, as a wider open source movement that creates a base for 3rd world transformation and for capturing a cluster of technologies for future colonies.

8: The gap between what has been pushed by dominant elites, their spokesmen and media publicists on the one hand and what would actually work is stunning. In this regard I particularly highlight pebble bed and molten salt reactor technologies, which are significantly, inherently safer and dispatchable. (The only other major energy source that strikes me is accessible geothermal energy, and that is both location specific and faces seriously adverse exploratory risks.)

9: I think I need to seriously open up this front here at UD. DV, I will in coming months.

>>If we expect any one God,>>

10: Notice, above on world root, necessary being. An issue of logic of being not religious or cultural traditions. Especially, i/l/o our being inescapably morally governed creatures, through known duties to truth, to right reason, to prudence (so, to warrant . . . i.e. an epistemological-logical duty), to fairness and justice etc.

11: This points to the challenge that we inherently operate on both sides of the IS-OUGHT gap and face the need to bridge it. Post Hume, we recognise, that is only feasible at reality-root level. Thus, the root of reality has a logic of being bill to fill:

— finitely remote (on pain of the supertask of infinite traverse of causal-temporal stages of our world and any sub cosmos etc . . . i.e. a beginning point is definitively on the table)

— necessary being with capability and quasi-infinite [think of the energy density of space] power to source worlds.

— ability to account for language using code based systems and associated molecular nanotech in cell based biological life in the further context of a world that is at an isolated operating point fine tuned for C-chem, aqueous medium, terrestrial planet in galactic habitable zone life.

— inherent goodness and utter wisdom to bridge and fuse IS and OUGHT at the root.

12: That points to God, who is by core concept the inherently utterly good and wise creator God, a necessary and maximally great being, worthy of our loyalty and of the reasonable, responsible service [cf. the OP focus] of doing the good that accords with our manifest nature.

13: Where, this last points to the significance of built-in natural law that we did not invent nor can we abolish or materially alter at will that governs us through duties of care to truth, to right reason, to prudence, to sound conscience, to fairness, to justice, etc. (Which, precisely, is what we need to answer to the implicit nihilism of legal positivism in our day.)

14: Where also, the God of ethical theism [a worldview stance, not a particular religion or cultural tradition] is a serious candidate necessary being. Thus, God is either impossible of being (as is a square circle) or else is actual. The former, being an utterly implausible claim especially post Plantinga’s free will defense and its extensions.

15: This is pivotal, and sets the context for building a systematic understanding of God as world-root and true source of moral government.

>> any one faith,>>

16: You first need to connect the concept of “faith” to the Agrippa worldviews warrant challenge that leads to the impossibility of infinite regress, the futility of circularity, thus the recognition that our alternative first plausibles are addressed on comparative difficulties informed by logic of being etc. We all must live by faith, the issue is, reasonable, responsible faith and linked mutuality.

>> any one political ideology>>

18: Ditto.

>> to save us from ourselves we are going to be sorely disappointed.>>

19: Save us from precisely what, by which means and on which warrant? If you imply over population, that is an outdated issue. If you imply resource exhaustion of our planet, that assumption is driven by failure to acknowledge what energy transformation and onward solar system colonisation will do.

>> While we continue to try and divide ourselves into us and them – Republican v Democrat, conservative v liberal, nationalist v globalist, Christian v Muslim, believer v atheist, capitalist v communist/socialist, spiritualist v materialist, naturalist v supernaturalist – >>

20: I have laid out the inescapable worldviews warrant issue, the levels you highlight are not where such will be resolved. And, I suspect, there is more of radical relativism there than may be immediately apparent. Which collapses i/l/o the import of the undeniably true Josiah Royce proposition, E: error exists.

>> we are doomed to perpetual, internecine conflict which could ultimately be the end of us all..>>

21: This further points to the wrong level of focus, thus the significance of logic, first principles, first duties, ontology and other worldview questions. Precisely the things which we are so wont to dismiss.

>> If you are convinced that there is a better afterlife awaiting us all then, logically. why should you care what happens here?>>

22: Oh, because, we are infinitely valuable, morally governed creatures who must live in family and community, with duties of mutual care that are dual to natural law core, Creator-endowed rights, thus leading to needed sound government and policy issues. As in, the American Founders [all 55, it wasn’t just one lone genius] fundamentally got it right, building on the heritage of the Reformation and Christendom, thence the Pauline Synthesis of the classical heritage of Jerusalem, Athens and Rome, thus that of the deeper River Valley Civilisations also:

In Congress, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security . . .

>> If you are not so sure>>

23: Maybe, that should be the other way around, if you are not sure that you can warrant that God is impossible of being, then maybe you should reconsider the implications of necessary being and the further issues of reality root, thence the key idea of God thus whence our reasonable, responsible service in accord with our manifest morally governed nature springs.

>> then maybe we should try and do something ourselves for our own good>>

24: And, how do you warrant the good and bridge the linked IS-OUGHT gap, apart from addressing the reality root, logic of being issues above?

>> because, if we don’t, once we are gone, there is no coming back.>>

25: For each of us, once life is past, it cannot be un-lived. Therefore, from moment to moment, we must ponder our morally governed nature going forward from moment to moment.

26: We could continue, but this is enough to begin.

KF

21. 21
kairosfocus says:

PS: I add, that Matt 19:4 ff contains a natural law based judgement, that Rom 1, 2 and 13 endorse a range of philosophical thought and linked natural law thought, that Ac 17 is philosophical, as are Heb 1, John 1 and Col 1, etc. Ac 27 patently directly responds to Plato’s parable of the ship of state and the remarks on the eye in Matt 6 respond to the parable of the Cave; where, Jesus would have worked mainly in Sepphoris, one of the cities of the Decapolis, complete with theatre etc, indeed he quotes a play in Ac 9, as the habitually accurate and allusive Luke records. With, much more in the OT. Indeed, if we broaden phil to Wisdom, Proverbs etc and the Gospels alike, are Wisdom literature. In the latter, Jesus joins Moshe and Solomon/David (note, how Solomon is careful to attribute much of his Wisdom to parental training in preparation for sound rulership).

22. 22
Silver Asiatic says:

KF
Good points.
St. John begins his gospel: “In the beginning was Logos”.
In this, he was appealing to Greek philosophy. He merged the Old Testament revelation “in the beginning” with the philosophical tradition.

23. 23
Seversky says:

Silver Asiatic @ 18

I didn’t watch the video but it looked like it was about population control. Birth control and abortion are usually given as the answers to overpopulation. Some people believe in that and are wiping out their own populations, for the benefit of humanity. Other people do not believe it and they are ending up out-populating the rest. So, I’m not sure what the overpopulation scare is trying to achieve. I imagine some people would want a national (or even world) government to control how many children people are permitted to have. But this will only create the very sort of internecine conflict that you were concerned about.

This isn’t difficult. We live on one planet with finite resources. However much I enjoy Star Trek, I recognize the reality is that we are a very long way from being able to transport large numbers of people to another planet which is capable of supporting human life and which is not already occupied by indigenous life. The same is true for constructing large bases on the Moon or terraforming – or areoforming – Mars.

In fact, the only proposal I can remember in which serious thought was given to the economics of such endeavors was in The High Frontier by Gerard K O’Neill. He suggested large orbiting habitats, shaped like a cylinder which rotated around their long axis to provide simulated gravity for people living on their interior surface. They were rather like the station in Babylon 5 if you saw that. The habitats would be fitted either with large solar panels, or even just large mirrors to gather sunlight for power for the habitat. The economics came in with the habitats beaming power that was excess to their requirements down to Earth and selling it to terrestrial grids.

Overpopulation is the most serious problem for this planet because, as David Attenborough points out, all the other environmental threats can be tracked back to it. Global warming, pollution of the oceans, famines, deforestation and so on. I remember an article in New Scientist from way back about environmental issues in which the author argued that environmentalists would scream blue murder if they were told that world industry was proposing to dump 5000 tons of copper per year into the world’s rivers. He then went on to point out that that is the amount of copper excreted by the world’s human population in urine every year.

The fact is that if we don’t do something to control our population then Nature will, whether it be through famine, plagues or war. Believers may be just fine with that, regarding it as God’s will or punishment we have earned following the Fall or some such. I am not. We may not survive as a species – as has been pointed out before, there are no guarantees – but it would be irrational and illogical not to try and do something about it ourselves.

This assumes that you, or someone, knows what to do for our own good, and also that God does not exist. You didn’t create the human race, so how do you know what is truly good for it? Why wouldn’t warfare and conflict result in a positive benefit? — that’s what competition was supposed to have achieved with evolution.

Wars may well have what are generally regarded as good outcomes. The Second World War may be just such an example. But if you were able to ask all the casualties of such conflicts I’m pretty sure they would tell you that they would have preferred that humanity found a different way to solve its conflicts.

As for knowing what is good for ourselves, why shouldn’t we have a say in such matters? I know we’re not gods or even particularly advanced in many ways but we’re not hopeless either. There are many achievements in both the arts and the sciences of which humanity can be justly proud. I am always slightly nonplused – and even annoyed – by believers who will proclaim the humanity is God’s chosen people – the pinnacle of His creation – and yet have such a low opinion of our worth and capabilities. And the fact of the matter is that I don’t see God, if He exists, doing much to help us out given His alleged knowledge and powers.

24. 24
kairosfocus says:

Sev, just FYI (and this is taking this thread well off proper topic), taking the area of Australia and avg fam size as 4, we could accommodate the world’s population in 1 acre plots. Such leaves, the area of Asia, Africa, and the Americas over for agriculture, industry etc. The issue is not raw land area, nor is it numbers of people, nor available area for agriculture. It is energy, as I noted and put serious solutions on the table; start with energy for desalination. And BTW, the dismissal without addressing of a transition to a sol system rather than single planet base starting over this century is an evasion by strawman one liner [no, star trek sci fi transporters are not in view, try ion drive rockets (and BTW, back in A Levels a textbook reminded us that with a long enough ladder you can climb to the Moon . . . escape velocity considerations are predicated on short burn rocketry . . . )], not a serious argument. Earth, Moon, Mars and Asteroid belt are reasonable first targets . . . one wonders why a near 50 year gap with the Moon. Further to such, in fact we are facing population implosion as avg fecundity per woman in major countries is now well below replacement level. That points to an aging population, thus a low productivity collapse, not to overpopulation. Japan and Russia are only the most obvious cases. Perhaps, you need to start recalibrating the rest of your perceptions, feelings, arguments etc i/l/o issues, evidence and implications that are on the table, starting with logic of being and roots of reality. KF

25. 25
Seversky says:

Kairosfocus @ 20

1: Excellent, now, do you accept that the first principles as outlined are self-evident (not merely axiomatic as that can mean in effect arbitrarily imposed as rules for an intellectual game to follow).

I don’t accept self-evidence where it is used to imply some sort of transcendental truth – nor do I think it matters particularly – but neither do I regard them as axiomatic where it implies arbitrary. I see them more as principles derived from what we observe of the natural world and are of value only in so far as they can be applied to it.

Yes, if founded on a voluntarily acknowledged obligation to our own survival and well-being and, by extension, that of others. If you believe in democracy then it must be so.

3: Then also, what of the extension of PSR and PoC into logic of being? Especially, i/l/o the issue that nothing, properly, is non-being; which can have no causal capacity, thus if a world is, something of independent thus necessary being character, always was. That is, the root of reality.

We agree that if there had ever been truly nothing, there would still be such. That there is something implies that there has always been something, although we may be far from knowing the fundamental nature of that something or whether we can reasonably derive any moral imperatives from it.

4: In your context, you seem concerned over population rise; in the West (including, increasingly the Caribbean) that has led to demographic implosion, which is fatal. And SA raises concerns which are also valid.

I note that, in relatively wealthy countries, birth-rates are lower and even in decline but in light of the exponential growth of the global human population how does that help. Of course, you could argue that, given that overpopulation is a problem, it would suggest that one solution might be a more equitable distribution of global wealth.

5: It seems to me, that we are failing to prioritise properly two breakthroughs, energy transformation through modern nuclear technologies [pebble bed modular reactors, Thorium based molten salt reactors, fusion] that would open up desalination and agriculture as well as rocket drives and solar system colonisation.

I entirely agree with the fundamental importance of energy sources and I have no ideological objection to nuclear power, only technological ones. Nuclear fission produces highly-radioactive waste products with a very long half-life for which we still don’t have a satisfactory means of storage let alone disposal. Nuclear fusion seems to be more promising if we can overcome the problems with producing a stable fusion reaction. Using hydrogen as a fuel is also promising, again if we can overcome the technical issues.

6: It is the latter that should especially be the priority focus of this century, starting with the Moon, Mars, the Asteroid belt and leading on to gas giant moons.

While important, these are long-term projects which means they are unlikely to offer practical solutions to the pressing issue of terrestrial overpopulation in the near future.

7: To that end, I have supported the idea behind an open source industrial reformation, the global village construction set, in which a cluster of about 50 key technologies has been targetted for creating a transformation cluster. I see that as something unis etc could back, as a wider open source movement that creates a base for 3rd world transformation and for capturing a cluster of technologies for future colonies.

Sounds like a good idea to me.

8: The gap between what has been pushed by dominant elites, their spokesmen and media publicists on the one hand and what would actually work is stunning. In this regard I particularly highlight pebble bed and molten salt reactor technologies, which are significantly, inherently safer and dispatchable. (The only other major energy source that strikes me is accessible geothermal energy, and that is both location specific and faces seriously adverse exploratory risks.)

If the technologies can be made to work then I am all in favor. I think it makes sense to diversify our sources of energy rather than putting all our power eggs in one basket.

11: This points to the challenge that we inherently operate on both sides of the IS-OUGHT gap and face the need to bridge it. Post Hume, we recognise, that is only feasible at reality-root level. Thus, the root of reality has a logic of being bill to fill:

I think the fundamental nature of reality – for want of a better term – is still hidden from us. It is hard to see how this physical universe could have come into existence embodying the “laws” that determine its nature, let alone moral principles to regulate the behavior of beings that would not come into existence until over 14bn years after it arose but that possibility cannot be excluded. All of that should have been ‘squished’ out of existence in the unimaginably extreme conditions that we assume obtained in the primordial singularity. So where did it all come from?

If we conceive of this universe as some sort of intelligent being and/or agency then perhaps it could be the source of moral principles but, again, it seems unlikely that they could be intended just for us. If there is, has been and will be other intelligent life elsewhere and ‘elsewhen’ in this universe then why shouldn’t they also be the beneficiaries of this providence?

12: That points to God, who is by core concept the inherently utterly good and wise creator God, a necessary and maximally great being, worthy of our loyalty and of the reasonable, responsible service [cf. the OP focus] of doing the good that accords with our manifest nature.

You can call such a being ‘God’, certainly, although it may not be anything like what you and I are imagining or are even capable of imagining. What I reject is that this means we are bound to it in some sort of servitude in the way medieval serfs were bound to their feudal lords.

13: Where, this last points to the significance of built-in natural law that we did not invent nor can we abolish or materially alter at will that governs us through duties of care to truth, to right reason, to prudence, to sound conscience, to fairness, to justice, etc. (Which, precisely, is what we need to answer to the implicit nihilism of legal positivism in our day.)

Duties to truth, reason, fairness, justice etc, can all be understood as obligations of individuals to respect the rights and interests of other members of society in return for having their own guaranteed. There is no need for any transcendental status.

19: Save us from precisely what, by which means and on which warrant? If you imply over population, that is an outdated issue. If you imply resource exhaustion of our planet, that assumption is driven by failure to acknowledge what energy transformation and onward solar system colonisation will do.

I don’t agree that overpopulation is an outdated issue and, as I wrote before, I believe our other environmental challenges derive from it. Climate change is better understood as Anthropogenic Global Warming because that places the responsibility where it is due. You can only solve a problem if you recognize it exists.

20: I have laid out the inescapable worldviews warrant issue, the levels you highlight are not where such will be resolved. And, I suspect, there is more of radical relativism there than may be immediately apparent. Which collapses i/l/o the import of the undeniably true Josiah Royce proposition, E: error exists.

What is alarming to me is what appears to be a widespread tendency to relapse into tribalistic us-and-them mentalities that are the rejection of reason and logic and the embrace of cult membership.

22: Oh, because, we are infinitely valuable, morally governed creatures who must live in family and community, with duties of mutual care that are dual to natural law core, Creator-endowed rights, thus leading to needed sound government and policy issues. As in, the American Founders [all 55, it wasn’t just one lone genius] fundamentally got it right, building on the heritage of the Reformation and Christendom, thence the Pauline Synthesis of the classical heritage of Jerusalem, Athens and Rome, thus that of the deeper River Valley Civilisations also:

I think the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution are great documents as conceived, if flawed in execution. I would also invite you to consider the DoI not just as a re-balancing of the relationship between a subservient colony and its colonial masters but also as a suggestion for re-setting the relationship between your Creator and His creations.

23: Maybe, that should be the other way around, if you are not sure that you can warrant that God is impossible of being, then maybe you should reconsider the implications of necessary being and the further issues of reality root, thence the key idea of God thus whence our reasonable, responsible service in accord with our manifest morally governed nature springs.

I see no compelling evidence for the existence of the Christian God but neither can I rule the possibility out, I am also open to the possibility of some supreme being or agency that is different from anything human beings have conceived of thus far. Would you be open to that possibility as well?

25: For each of us, once life is past, it cannot be un-lived. Therefore, from moment to moment, we must ponder our morally governed nature going forward from moment to moment.

That’s right. We are all flawed beings of limited capabilities, making decisions which affect both ourselves and others based on insufficient data. We are all bound to make mistakes, some of which cannot be undone. We owe it to others in the name of compassion and charity to make allowances for their imperfections just as we would hope they do the same for us. We need to beware of being lured by the prospect of some perfect knowledge or guidance which, for some, can alleviate the need to show charity and compassion.

26. 26
Silver Asiatic says:

Seversky

This isn’t difficult. We live on one planet with finite resources.

First, you do not know that the resources are finite. Resources can be generated and could allow for an indefinite expansion.
Secondly, with whatever resources we have now, they are not inadequate for the need.
How will it be in the future, when you are no longer on this planet? Well, I don’t think you can or should determine how those people will live. Would you create laws or governments that would forbid future generations from having children? As mentioned elsewhere,
in several parts of the world, reproduction rates are below replacement level. This means an overall decline in population and if the trend continued or increased, it could theoretically wipe out the human race (which is the thing you were worried about).

America is in a “baby bust,” driven by millennials who are having kids at record low rates, according to a new report that warns America is no longer making enough babies to keep pace with deaths.
While moms need to have 2.1 births to keep pace with deaths, a number last hit in 2010, it has dropped dramatically to just 1.8, according to a report from the Negative Population Growth Inc., which cheers negative growth.

So, young families have already heeded the message of fear-mongers, or perhaps they just don’t like children – but a decline in the birth rate means a declining population – not over-population.
In any case, this might be good news for some, but again who are they to determine if other people should have children?
I think the only options are for the people concerned with overpopulation to not have children themselves, and this is what is happening. Additionally, they could support government actions that would force people not to have children. But that is drastic and would lead to the conflicts you would want to avoid. Therefore, the only other option is to try to convince people, or to shame them.
I think you and Mr. Attenborough run into another problem, however. If you’re trying to convince people not to have children, you have to deal with entire nations that are moving in the oppositive direction:

In his annual State of the Nation address this past Sunday, Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced his proposed “Family Protection Action Plan,” a package of policies aimed at encouraging couples to marry and have children. Lots of children.

Other European nations are giving incentives for families to have children. So, they haven’t been convinced by the overpopulation scare and they can see that a declining population could actually cause enormous damage.

Overpopulation is the most serious problem for this planet because, as David Attenborough points out, all the other environmental threats can be tracked back to it. Global warming, pollution of the oceans, famines, deforestation and so on.

But you’re taking an extreme position. You trace environmental threats to human beings. You conclude then: “We need to get rid of human beings”. But don’t you think there might be less severe solutions to various problems?

The fact is that if we don’t do something to control our population then Nature will, whether it be through famine, plagues or war.

Again, you’ve limited our solutions to a reduction in population. But deforestation, for example, can be reversed by other means. So can other environmental problems. Reducing the number of humans on this planet at present, is not necessarily the solution.

Believers may be just fine with that, regarding it as God’s will or punishment we have earned following the Fall or some such. I am not. We may not survive as a species – as has been pointed out before, there are no guarantees – but it would be irrational and illogical not to try and do something about it ourselves.

You have mentioned this before and I will say that those who believe in God should not think that they have no responsibility to the environment or towards the health and well-being of all other humans on the planet. So no, believers would not be fine with a global catastrophe. The key idea here is that God created this earth, and God created all of the human life on it — for His reasons and purpose. We have the responsibility to use the Gift of life wisely, to care for it, and to care for all the people around us. We do that, because we are not the owners of life, we are not the creators of this earth. We have been given a chance at life, and we should appreciate it.

Wars may well have what are generally regarded as good outcomes. The Second World War may be just such an example. But if you were able to ask all the casualties of such conflicts I’m pretty sure they would tell you that they would have preferred that humanity found a different way to solve its conflicts.

It’s a strange way to look at it. If we asked all of the people who died or who were hurt in the war, they would tell us what they would have preferred life on earth to be – yes. But you could also simply ask me what I would prefer life on earth to be. If you’d be willing to make decisions based on what some unknown people who are now dead would have wanted, why not make a decision based on what I (at least a living, somewhat “known” person) wants? I can’t very well take a survey of all of those people gone from us. Maybe some of them wanted the War. Maybe the Nazis are upset that they lost. Again, it’s a weird way to look at things.
Why not make it simpler? Instead of imagining what all of those people are thinking now, in whatever state they are in — why not imagine what God would want? Again, God created this world out of love for His creation. God wants us to trust His plan. We have to live ethically, care for the environment and our neighbors, seek peace and to be grateful for what we have. It’s simple enough. However, God does not want us to abort children (or commit infanticide against them) or to live in fear of children and of new life (as so many do). That’s a lack of trust and of faith.
So, we could also say “if we asked the children who died in abortion or were prevented from being born through contraception, I’m pretty sure they would tell us that they would have preferred to live”. We should give other people the chance at life that we had.

As for knowing what is good for ourselves, why shouldn’t we have a say in such matters? I know we’re not gods or even particularly advanced in many ways but we’re not hopeless either.

It’s one thing to have a say. It’s much different to decide for ourselves what “the only answer is” and then engage in a global campaign to reduce birth rates (as the US government does in ‘less developed’ countries). But you’re right, we’re not gods. We don’t even know what all the hidden resources in the earth are yet. We already waste a lot of food and material that could help people. With greater efficiency, innovative ideas in crop growth and housing – there’s a tremendous potential.

There are many achievements in both the arts and the sciences of which humanity can be justly proud. I am always slightly nonplused – and even annoyed – by believers who will proclaim the humanity is God’s chosen people – the pinnacle of His creation – and yet have such a low opinion of our worth and capabilities.

It’s a good point. You’re wondering: “why should we despair at what human ingenuity can produce”? But isn’t a demand that we stop the birth of children an act of despair in itself? What if we abort the very geniuses who could unlock unlimited potential in the resources of the earth?

And the fact of the matter is that I don’t see God, if He exists, doing much to help us out given His alleged knowledge and powers.

Regarding knowledge and powers, through logic alone we know they are infinite and complete. There can be no knowledge or power that God does not already possess – there can be no potential that is not fulfilled. The knowledge and power we have comes from God. But more importantly, we have received tremendous help from God. The incredible resources that the earth already has enable us to create a build good societies. When we think of the beautiful properties of something like silicon, for example – that is a natural substance, found in abundance in the earth. This is the sort of thing that God gives us, to build technology and to improve life on earth.

27. 27
Silver Asiatic says:

Seversjt

I see them more as principles derived from what we observe of the natural world and are of value only in so far as they can be applied to it.

Every rational thought you have depends upon those principles. You cannot assign or recognize value in anything without relying on those principles. They are derived from what we observe, but they are the basis of all analysis and evaluation. It is impossible to decide that those first principles have limited value or most especially, that they could have no value in some situations (since to do so you rely entirely on those principles).
Every rational choice – every collection of thoughts that proceeds in a reasonable manner, absolutely requires those principles as given.
We can’t even imagine how to proceed — we can have no understanding of anything without those first principles.
On that basis, we can see them as transcendent, as given in the world. They exist. They are not arbitrary. No material or natural cause could create them.

28. 28
kairosfocus says:

Sev,

the UK election turns today into a busy day otherwise, so let me take just a first bite just now, DV, more later across the day:

[KF, re inescapable 1st principles of reason, per OP:] . . . do you accept that the first principles as outlined are self-evident (not merely axiomatic as that can mean in effect arbitrarily imposed as rules for an intellectual game to follow).

[Sev:] I don’t accept self-evidence where it is used to imply some sort of transcendental truth – nor do I think it matters particularly – but neither do I regard them as axiomatic where it implies arbitrary. I see them more as principles derived from what we observe of the natural world and are of value only in so far as they can be applied to it.

SA is right:

Every rational thought you have depends upon those principles. You cannot assign or recognize value in anything without relying on those principles. They are derived from what we observe, but they are the basis of all analysis and evaluation. It is impossible to decide that those first principles have limited value or most especially, that they could have no value in some situations (since to do so you rely entirely on those principles).
Every rational choice – every collection of thoughts that proceeds in a reasonable manner, absolutely requires those principles as given.
We can’t even imagine how to proceed — we can have no understanding of anything without those first principles.
On that basis, we can see them as transcendent, as given in the world. They exist. They are not arbitrary. No material or natural cause could create them.

These principles are antecedent to thinking and communicating with language and symbols. We cannot escape them. They are antecedent to proofs or to observations of nature and inferences as to regularities aka natural laws. That is how inescapably true they are.

You speak of transcendence, and I clip Wiki briefly: “Transcendent truths are those unaffected by time or space.” That is, not matters of culture or idiosyncracies of thought, embedded in reality so that they help to frame worlds, eternal, immutable. Lessee, || + ||| –> ||||| is of that character, as is that something A is itself on its core characteristics, cannot be not A in the same sense and circumstances and cannot be intermediate between the two. Likewise, for any actual possible or impossible A, so long as rational beings exist, we can ask why such an A has the modality of being or non being it has. To do so, we are forced to rely on distinct identity, just to use language and symbols.

Transcendent, immutable first truths and first principles are real.

So is self-evidence, starting with inescapable first truths as identified.

KF

PS: I am starting a programme of future of civilisation OP’s that will take up other issues you raise and wider considerations. A first https://uncommondescent.com/moving-civilization-forward/the-ffc-cambridge-metalysis-metal-esp-ti-reduction-process/

29. 29
kairosfocus says:

>> [KF] 2: What about first duties?

[S] Yes, if founded on a voluntarily acknowledged obligation to our own survival and well-being and, by extension, that of others. If you believe in democracy then it must be so.>>

1: First duties are inescapable for rational, responsible beings in a world of real choice: to truth, to right reason, to prudence [so, warrant], to fairness, to justice etc. These are not a pick-choose, refuse smorgasbord

>> [KF] 3: Then also, what of the extension of PSR and PoC into logic of being? Especially, i/l/o the issue that nothing, properly, is non-being; which can have no causal capacity, thus if a world is, something of independent thus necessary being character, always was. That is, the root of reality.

[s] We agree that if there had ever been truly nothing, there would still be such. That there is something implies that there has always been something, although we may be far from knowing the fundamental nature of that something or whether we can reasonably derive any moral imperatives from it.>>

2: You have failed to address logic of being, thus by skipping over the implication of root, independent being in a world with morally governed creatures, you have created a needless sense of ignorance about the root of reality.

>> [K] 4: In your context, you seem concerned over population rise; in the West (including, increasingly the Caribbean) that has led to demographic implosion, which is fatal. And SA raises concerns which are also valid. >>

[s] I note that, in relatively wealthy countries, birth-rates are lower and even in decline but in light of the exponential growth of the global human population how does that help. Of course, you could argue that, given that overpopulation is a problem, it would suggest that one solution might be a more equitable distribution of global wealth.>>

3: Equitable of course is an appeal to fairness, in the first instance, though it is too often twisted into a cover for other things.

4: China, I believe currently has fecundity 1.5/woman, India 2.1; both are declining. The world population trend is to demographic collapse.

5: Both of these show that increased freedom of enterprise and of reward to entrepreneurship leads to growth and lifting out of poverty. A lesson that has been repeated — and repeatedly ignored — since the industrial revolution first opened up opportunities for widespread breakout from poverty.

>> [KF] 5: It seems to me, that we are failing to prioritise properly two breakthroughs, energy transformation through modern nuclear technologies [pebble bed modular reactors, Thorium based molten salt reactors, fusion] that would open up desalination and agriculture as well as rocket drives and solar system colonisation.

[S] I entirely agree with the fundamental importance of energy sources and I have no ideological objection to nuclear power, only technological ones. Nuclear fission produces highly-radioactive waste products with a very long half-life for which we still don’t have a satisfactory means of storage let alone disposal. Nuclear fusion seems to be more promising if we can overcome the problems with producing a stable fusion reaction. Using hydrogen as a fuel is also promising, again if we can overcome the technical issues.>>

6: Both Pebble Bed and Molten Salt reactors are manageable for generations, and fusion beyond them will be manageable also. Much of the nuclear waste problem in the US is regulatorily induced through unintended perversities. Ironically, nukes are less polluting of the general environment with RA deposits than fossil fuel reactors.

7: We must realise too that the general environment and things like bananas and our nervous tissues are radioactive, the issue is one of degree not all or none.

7: H, assuming combustion [and not fusion], is not a fuel, just an energy carrier. The energy has to come from somewhere else and that raises the issues of concentration, intermittency vs dispatchability and load following, etc.

>> [KF] 6: It is the latter that should especially be the priority focus of this century, starting with the Moon, Mars, the Asteroid belt and leading on to gas giant moons.

[S] While important, these are long-term projects which means they are unlikely to offer practical solutions to the pressing issue of terrestrial overpopulation in the near future.>>

8: Not a critical short term problem nor a longer term one. Resources and energy yes, governance [the real driver of social disruption] etc. yes. And, demographic collapse can be just as disruptive and inviting of wars etc as anything else.

>> [KF] 7: To that end, I have supported the idea behind an open source industrial reformation, the global village construction set, in which a cluster of about 50 key technologies has been targetted for creating a transformation cluster. I see that as something unis etc could back, as a wider open source movement that creates a base for 3rd world transformation and for capturing a cluster of technologies for future colonies.

[S] Sounds like a good idea to me.>>

9: To be explored. A first step is here: https://uncommondescent.com/moving-civilization-forward/the-ffc-cambridge-metalysis-metal-esp-ti-reduction-process/

>> [KF] 8: The gap between what has been pushed by dominant elites, their spokesmen and media publicists on the one hand and what would actually work is stunning. In this regard I particularly highlight pebble bed and molten salt reactor technologies, which are significantly, inherently safer and dispatchable. (The only other major energy source that strikes me is accessible geothermal energy, and that is both location specific and faces seriously adverse exploratory risks.)

[S] If the technologies can be made to work then I am all in favor. I think it makes sense to diversify our sources of energy rather than putting all our power eggs in one basket.>>

10: To be discussed. Molten salt Th-based reactors were demonstrated to be safe by being able to be simply turned off. Pebble bed ones encapsulate fuel in SiC balls and in case of accident the balls would spread out, killing critical mass. The He-4 fluid is utterly inert [alpha particles that collected two electrons and not normally reactive as a noble gas].

>> [KF] 11: This points to the challenge that we inherently operate on both sides of the IS-OUGHT gap and face the need to bridge it. Post Hume, we recognise, that is only feasible at reality-root level. Thus, the root of reality has a logic of being bill to fill:

[S] I think the fundamental nature of reality – for want of a better term – is still hidden from us. It is hard to see how this physical universe could have come into existence embodying the “laws” that determine its nature, let alone moral principles to regulate the behavior of beings that would not come into existence until over 14bn years after it arose but that possibility cannot be excluded. All of that should have been ‘squished’ out of existence in the unimaginably extreme conditions that we assume obtained in the primordial singularity. So where did it all come from?>>

11: Ponder again, logic of being and significance of a needed reality root that is independent thus a necessary being.

>>[S] If we conceive of this universe as some sort of intelligent being and/or agency then perhaps it could be the source of moral principles but, again, it seems unlikely that they could be intended just for us. If there is, has been and will be other intelligent life elsewhere and ‘elsewhen’ in this universe then why shouldn’t they also be the beneficiaries of this providence?>>

12: Our concept is not pivotal, logic of being is.

13: That we don’t generally see other beings does not imply that they are not there.

>> [KF] 12: That points to God, who is by core concept the inherently utterly good and wise creator God, a necessary and maximally great being, worthy of our loyalty and of the reasonable, responsible service [cf. the OP focus] of doing the good that accords with our manifest nature.

[S] You can call such a being ‘God’, certainly, although it may not be anything like what you and I are imagining or are even capable of imagining. What I reject is that this means we are bound to it in some sort of servitude in the way medieval serfs were bound to their feudal lords.>>

14: You skipped over material context of our being inherently morally governed, which shapes the bill to be filled by a reality-root necessary being.

15: Picking a metaphor of feudal conditions is in effect a strawman caricature of moral government starting with inescapable first duties of reason.

16: The skipping over of pivotal issues will systematically distort onward reasoning.

>> [KF] 13: Where, this last points to the significance of built-in natural law that we did not invent nor can we abolish or materially alter at will that governs us through duties of care to truth, to right reason, to prudence, to sound conscience, to fairness, to justice, etc. (Which, precisely, is what we need to answer to the implicit nihilism of legal positivism in our day.)

[S] Duties to truth, reason, fairness, justice etc, can all be understood as obligations of individuals to respect the rights and interests of other members of society in return for having their own guaranteed. There is no need for any transcendental status.>>

17: The attempted reduction to relativising and an implicit negotiation among the sufficiently powerful to be players fails. Fails by way of first undermining rationality into a power game, and then by implying that might and/or manipulation make ‘right,’ ‘rights’ ‘truth’ ‘justice’ ‘knowledge’ ‘reason’ etc. In short, reduction to absurdity.

18: Transcendence is secured inasmuch as these first duties obtain once responsible, rational, significantly free thus morally governed, beings exist. And if we deny such beings, then conversation collapses into nihilistic absurdity as was just outlined.

>> [KF] 19: Save us from precisely what, by which means and on which warrant? If you imply over population, that is an outdated issue. If you imply resource exhaustion of our planet, that assumption is driven by failure to acknowledge what energy transformation and onward solar system colonisation will do.

[S] I don’t agree that overpopulation is an outdated issue and, as I wrote before, I believe our other environmental challenges derive from it. Climate change is better understood as Anthropogenic Global Warming because that places the responsibility where it is due. You can only solve a problem if you recognize it exists.>>

19: The demographic collapse is the driving reality. And even as far back as Malthus, it was understood that resources cannot be outrun by a population for any length of time.

20: The terminology, anthropogenic global warming is largely outdated, and climate is by definition a 33 year moving average of weather. The extent to which decadal oceanic oscillations, long term ice age recovery, solar and orbital cycles, atmospheric feedbacks etc as well as human inputs have been properly assessed is debatable and relatively crude models of systems showing sensitive dependence on initial conditions with quasi-periodic cycles are not to be confused with reality. Where also, simple matters of accurate fine grained long term observations are open to challenge and to massaging of data. Proxies are even more debatable in many ways.

21: I think it still remains reasonable that no significantly costly policy action should be taken solely on the strength of modelling of weather pattern trends. Not least, as economic macro models of damage resulting from economic dislocation [e.g. on energy use, energy technologies and economic performance] are a lot more certain than climatological models and projected consequences.

22: More scientific research and greater humility on what we don’t know, thence greater caution and prudence, are indicated. Not least, among policy makers, pundits, media voices, educators and the like.

>> [KF:] 20: I have laid out the inescapable worldviews warrant issue, the levels you highlight are not where such will be resolved. And, I suspect, there is more of radical relativism there than may be immediately apparent. Which collapses i/l/o the import of the undeniably true Josiah Royce proposition, E: error exists.

[S] What is alarming to me is what appears to be a widespread tendency to relapse into tribalistic us-and-them mentalities that are the rejection of reason and logic and the embrace of cult membership.>>

23: It would be more cogent to address the actual issues.

>> [KF:] 22: Oh, because, we are infinitely valuable, morally governed creatures who must live in family and community, with duties of mutual care that are dual to natural law core, Creator-endowed rights, thus leading to needed sound government and policy issues. As in, the American Founders [all 55, it wasn’t just one lone genius] fundamentally got it right, building on the heritage of the Reformation and Christendom, thence the Pauline Synthesis of the classical heritage of Jerusalem, Athens and Rome, thus that of the deeper River Valley Civilisations also:

{S] I think the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution are great documents as conceived, if flawed in execution. I would also invite you to consider the DoI not just as a re-balancing of the relationship between a subservient colony and its colonial masters but also as a suggestion for re-setting the relationship between your Creator and His creations.>>

24: A more cogent, issue focussed response would help. You have also skipped over material context, leading to a strawmannish distortion of what is on the table.

>> [KF] 23: Maybe, that should be the other way around, if you are not sure that you can warrant that God is impossible of being, then maybe you should reconsider the implications of necessary being and the further issues of reality root, thence the key idea of God thus whence our reasonable, responsible service in accord with our manifest morally governed nature springs.

[S] I see no compelling evidence for the existence of the Christian God but neither can I rule the possibility out, I am also open to the possibility of some supreme being or agency that is different from anything human beings have conceived of thus far. Would you be open to that possibility as well?>>

25: You will observe that the issue primarily on the table was and is, logic of being, root of reality and characteristics of same i/l/o ourselves as morally governed creatures. In that context, God is to be considered as a serious candidate necessary being world root. Such a candidate will either be impossible of being or actual, and this matter of ontology of roots of reality is antecedent to debates over any particular faith tradition. Again, you skipped what is central and addressed a strawman issue.

26: We can take it to the bank that it is utterly unlikely that you have cogent grounds for holding that such a candidate to be reality root is impossible of being as a square circle is impossible of being.

27: If you are serious regarding onward questions as to why one can reasonably hold that God as necessary being world root and sustainer is the God worshipped by Christians, you may wish to explore here on in context.

>> [KF] 25: For each of us, once life is past, it cannot be un-lived. Therefore, from moment to moment, we must ponder our morally governed nature going forward from moment to moment.

[S] That’s right. We are all flawed beings of limited capabilities, making decisions which affect both ourselves and others based on insufficient data. We are all bound to make mistakes, some of which cannot be undone. We owe it to others in the name of compassion and charity to make allowances for their imperfections just as we would hope they do the same for us. We need to beware of being lured by the prospect of some perfect knowledge or guidance which, for some, can alleviate the need to show charity and compassion.>>

28: At the same time, we would be irresponsible to neglect or disregard or dismiss or talk ourselves out of what we do, can and should know but may find inconvenient or unpalatable.

KF