John Frame Sent me this

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Covenant Joel

Puritan Board Sophomore
You might be right. But in the conclusion(s) the OP cited, what are the arguments? Or what are Frame's arguments?

As I mentioned above, Frame's words above seem to have been a simple response to a question by email. He doesn't have the time to fully elaborate the argument behind all of those conclusions. I think he has made the arguments for this particular issue both in DKG and in Apologetics to the Glory of God.

And I don't mean to say that Frame has fully backed up all of his conclusions. Sure, there are some things in DKG and in his newer Doctrine of the Christian Life that could be more expanded. But to generally characterize him as making assertions without backing them up is an unfair characterization of the time he has put into many of these issues.
 

CatechumenPatrick

Puritan Board Freshman
You might be right. But in the conclusion(s) the OP cited, what are the arguments? Or what are Frame's arguments?

As I mentioned above, Frame's words above seem to have been a simple response to a question by email. He doesn't have the time to fully elaborate the argument behind all of those conclusions. I think he has made the arguments for this particular issue both in DKG and in Apologetics to the Glory of God.

And I don't mean to say that Frame has fully backed up all of his conclusions. Sure, there are some things in DKG and in his newer Doctrine of the Christian Life that could be more expanded. But to generally characterize him as making assertions without backing them up is an unfair characterization of the time he has put into many of these issues.

Do you know where in DKG or Apologetics he elaborates? I've heard him make similar claims as the ones he said in the e-mail in his lectures on the history of philosophy and pastoral and social ethics at RTS, but I haven't encountered them in his books. Or I don't remember where they are.
In any case, how might the arguments for his claims go?
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
I think that is a succinct way of describing the confusion. But I think Frame is talking about one level higher: what is driving us to evaluate true/false?

The motivation for why we do what we do might be said to be the realm of psychology, not philosophy. I'm not arguing that the answer you would give is inadequate, just that the question may be perceived as irrelevant.


Sure, someone can say the question is irrelevant. But in doing so I’d hope such a person would acknowledge that he has nothing to say about why choosing to apply reason is better than unreason. If that is the case, he has no ground for saying someone is wrong in their evaluatation of true/false distinctions and ought to acknowledge that his opinions on morality, or even causation, are arbitrary.

If he has no reason for using reason, then, at that point at least, he is irrational because his choice to be reasonable is based on a whim.
 

Covenant Joel

Puritan Board Sophomore
Do you know where in DKG or Apologetics he elaborates? I've heard him make similar claims as the ones he said in the e-mail in his lectures on the history of philosophy and pastoral and social ethics at RTS, but I haven't encountered them in his books. Or I don't remember where they are.
In any case, how might the arguments for his claims go?

I don't have the books with me right now. I can check on it later when I get home.

I think the argument (in a nutshell) is what I've said above and what Victor Bravo has just said above as well. And really, I think it just goes back to Van Til. If we can say that we ought to reason in a certain way, then that introduces a moral distinction. If we say that one ought to use reason rather than irrationality, then one introduces a moral distinction. Accordingly, thought is dependent on the existence of morality. Assertions about causality then have no basis without thought's validity and therefore morality. (I am fully aware that this could/should be elaborated more, but I think that is the basic argument.)
 

CatechumenPatrick

Puritan Board Freshman
Do you know where in DKG or Apologetics he elaborates? I've heard him make similar claims as the ones he said in the e-mail in his lectures on the history of philosophy and pastoral and social ethics at RTS, but I haven't encountered them in his books. Or I don't remember where they are.
In any case, how might the arguments for his claims go?

I don't have the books with me right now. I can check on it later when I get home.

I think the argument (in a nutshell) is what I've said above and what Victor Bravo has just said above as well. And really, I think it just goes back to Van Til. If we can say that we ought to reason in a certain way, then that introduces a moral distinction. If we say that one ought to use reason rather than irrationality, then one introduces a moral distinction. Accordingly, thought is dependent on the existence of morality. Assertions about causality then have no basis without thought's validity and therefore morality. (I am fully aware that this could/should be elaborated more, but I think that is the basic argument.)

Not all uses of "ought" are strictly moral, but all are normative. As a moral concept, if S ought not X, then S would be blameworthy, subject to moral condemnation, if S performed X, and feelings of guilt would be warranted on S's part. But there are non-moral uses of "ought," uses having to do with broad normativity (reasons for action). Say S has some epistemic goals, such as minimizing false beliefs and maximizing true ones. Then we might say S ought (has reason) to, say, investigate matters thoughtfully, not believe anything on insufficient evidence, familiarize him- or herself with basic logic, or the like. So merely saying "one ought to reason in a certain way" need not be a moral command. But even if it was, it wouldn't follow that "Accordingly, thought is dependent on the existence of morality." First of all, again, the concepts need unpacking. What does "thought" refer to? Thought as a cognitive processes in sentient beings? How does, then, thought as a cognitive function of a brain require morality? Why couldn't a being have amoral thought-processes, perhaps only thinking about numbers and counting objects? (And what does it mean to say thought is dependent on morality's existence? Does that mean that, so long as one conscious being has moral thoughts, other beings can think but lack a moral sense, or not think about morality?)
 

ChristianTrader

Puritan Board Graduate
I don't think Frame would deny that. But if I am not obligated to reason in certain ways, I could simply claim that an effect didn't have a cause, and who would be able to challenge me? The point is, we are obligated to reason in certain ways, and therefore I can't make assertions about causality if no such obligation exists.

What type of obligation are we talking here? Moral or practical?

You are equivocating between two different kinds of normativity: that which you must not do and that which you cannot do.

I do not think there is an equivocation here. One cannot argue that an effect does not have an cause because that statement is nonsense/meaningless. So even if you attempt to make such an argument all you would be doing is making funny noises.
 

T.A.G.

Puritan Board Freshman
As a brother from this website has pointed out to me
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1Co 10:31)
Thus every decision we know as Christians is a moral one.
 

Covenant Joel

Puritan Board Sophomore
Not all uses of "ought" are strictly moral, but all are normative. As a moral concept, if S ought not X, then S would be blameworthy, subject to moral condemnation, if S performed X, and feelings of guilt would be warranted on S's part. But there are non-moral uses of "ought," uses having to do with broad normativity (reasons for action). Say S has some epistemic goals, such as minimizing false beliefs and maximizing true ones. Then we might say S ought (has reason) to, say, investigate matters thoughtfully, not believe anything on insufficient evidence, familiarize him- or herself with basic logic, or the like. So merely saying "one ought to reason in a certain way" need not be a moral command. But even if it was, it wouldn't follow that "Accordingly, thought is dependent on the existence of morality." First of all, again, the concepts need unpacking. What does "thought" refer to? Thought as a cognitive processes in sentient beings? How does, then, thought as a cognitive function of a brain require morality? Why couldn't a being have amoral thought-processes, perhaps only thinking about numbers and counting objects? (And what does it mean to say thought is dependent on morality's existence? Does that mean that, so long as one conscious being has moral thoughts, other beings can think but lack a moral sense, or not think about morality?)

But what we're talking about is ultimate, binding standards of thought. If one ought always to reason in a certain way (cause to effect; a=b, b=c, therefore a=c), then that is a moral matter. I cannot say, "A = B, B = C, therefore, A does not equal C." That would not be right reasoning. The point is, why is there any right way of reasoning (or doing anything else)? If there isn't a right way, I can reason however I want to, no matter how preposterous it is.

I think we're speaking past each about thought, and about thought requiring morality. I'm not saying that if someone denies absolute standards that they can't think. Only that they have no basis for doing so. This the same point that Van Til made, just pointed in a little bit different direction: the unbeliever may deny all of these things (morality, God's standards, etc), but that doesn't mean that he doesn't still operate on their basis. Clearly people who deny God's standards of morality do think, do make assertions about causation, perhaps even live according to some moral standards that seem biblical. But the point is that they have no basis for doing so. If they deny that there is any right and wrong, then they are denying that there is a right and a wrong way to think. But if they then appeal to use standards of thought in their attempts to disprove God's existence, for example, it is the Van Tillian image of a child sitting on his father's lap, beating his chest and saying that he doesn't exist, while it was only the Father's presence that keeps him from falling to the floor.

Frame addresses these issues briefly on page 63 of DKG (part of a larger section on God's law). I'll quote a relevant portion:

Therefore it is possible and useful to regard epistemology as a branch of ethics, though this is not the only way to classify epistemology. (Different classifications have value for difference purposes; there is no one "right" classification.) Ethics, we may say, deals with the norms, or laws, for human life in general. Epistemology deals with the norms that govern thought. By seeing epistemology as a branch of ethics, we remind ourselves in the most vivid way that knowing is not autonomous; it is subject to God's authority, as is all of human life. This procedure also reminds us that knowing, thinking, theorizing, and so forth are indeed parts of human life as a whole. Although that point seems obvious, often we fail to consider that theory is part of practice, that thinking is one kind of doing, that knowing is one kind of achievement. Often we are inclined to put "epistemological" activities into some special kind of category, wherein they furnish the norms for all the rest of life and are themselves subject to no norm at all. No! Thought is not an activity that lifts us above the normal level of our humanity. It is an ordinary part of human life, subject to the same law as the rest of life, and no more autonomous than any other human activity. Indeed, I will show that far from determining the whole course of human life, thought is as dependent on our other activities as they are on it.
Epistemology, then, analyzes the norms for belief. It tells us what we ought to believe, how we ought to think, what justifications ought to be accepted. Those "oughts" are ethical thoughts. [The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 1987), 63-64.]

This section is followed by Frame working out some of the specifics of the arguments he made in the quoted section above. You may disagree with his arguments, and that's fine. But he has made arguments for these things.
 

CatechumenPatrick

Puritan Board Freshman
If one ought always to reason in a certain way (cause to effect; a=b, b=c, therefore a=c), then that is a moral matter.

That depends. If one ought to reason that way because God commands it, or because that form of reasoning characterizes God's spoken and written revelation that we ought to imitate, then sure, that's a moral ought applied to epistemic practices. But if I ought to reason that way (e.g., by following the basic laws of logic) because that maximizes true belief, and that's something I want (it sure seems like it's in my interests to want it in any case), then I have reason to (ought to) follow those laws. Or, if given my cognitive composition the only way I can intelligibly understand the external world is through causal inferences, then either I reason that way, or I don't understand events in the world--presumably, then, I have reason to think in that fashion as understanding the world is something most people want. The latter two cases are not necessarily matters of morality, but broad normativity.

Regarding Frame's discussion, no philosopher disagrees that epistemology has a normative aspect, or even that it can have an ethical aspect. But why think epistemology is just the ethics of thought, such that every epistemic rule is a moral one? He says,
Epistemology, then, analyzes the norms for belief. It tells us what we ought to believe, how we ought to think, what justifications ought to be accepted. Those "oughts" are ethical thoughts.
First, he is not quite correct in his description of epistemology. Epistemology does not tell us what we ought to believe--that is, it doesn't give the content of beliefs we ought to hold, but the type of beliefs (rational, justified). Epistemology is about how we in fact form beliefs and how we should form beliefs, what methods we use to justify them, and what it means to say any given belief is rational, justified, known, etc. And formal epistemology (as opposed to mainstream) likewise uses probability theory/decision theory to analyze things like belief revision and belief paradoxes.
Second, it is not clear what he is saying in the last sentence. If he merely means the "ought" involved in epistemology is normative, not descriptive, he's obviously right as has been shown (here, though, is an example of a purely descriptive use of "ought": John, seeing the rain clouds, says, "It ought to rain today." This is a statement of empirical probability--he is not saying the sky has a normative or moral reason to rain). But if he means all epistemic oughts are ethical, he is incorrect. Am I sinning every time I do not follow modus ponens? Am I morally blameworthy every single time I fail to proportion my belief to the evidence? Is the probability calculus part of God's law? I don't think even a radical evidentialist like Clifford would go that far.
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
Joel

In making this move, Frame is assuming a deontological view of epistemology where reasonability entails doing your epistemic duty. This is the Lockian view of epistemology that Plantinga demolishes in Warranted Christian Belief. Epistemology is normative only insofar as it establishes criteria for what constitutes knowledge and reasonability. It is not normative in that its job apart from these criteria is primarily descriptive.

Are all kinds of normativity ethical? Not necessarily--some norms are practical. Speed limits are often practical norms not ethical ones. The tax code is a set of practical norms, not ethical norms. Passport law is a set of practical, not ethical, norms. Now, this is not to say that practical norms cannot become ethical--but it would be necessary to show exactly how and why a practical norm is ethical in a particular situation.

In epistemology, for example, one would have to show how exactly the madman's belief that he is a poached egg is a moral infraction. A huge part of the case against evidentialism rests on the fact that epistemology is not ethical in its roots.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
Frame, and anyone else who agrees with him, is within their Christian right to believe that reason, like all other spheres of human life, is inherently ethical. Everything we are or have can be used in only two different ways: in obediance to God or in disobediance to God. I remeber hearing Sproul, who as we all know is no friend of pressupossitionalism, say that to reason incorectly was a sin.
I think the argument in this case could be laid out in this fashion:
1. Reason is part of the image of God
2. Human beings are the image of God
3. To misuse reason is to badly reflect that image
4. To badly reflect that image is a sin, or morally wrong
5. Therefore epistomology, which estblishes the rules of reasoning correct, is inherently ethical

If we look at it this way than there is definantly an ethical dimension or perspective or whatever you want to call it at root in epistomology. If we are disobediant in the use of reason than we can never adequitly use the canons of reason, without Divine assistance of course.
Of course anyone could obgect that I must prove that we are in fact made in the image of God and that this God actually exsists and so on and so forth.
The interesting thing though is that at the end of the day every person, regardless of whether or not I have proven my premises, is still obediant to God or disobediant to God making everything we do right or wrong.
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
1. Reason is part of the image of God
2. Human beings are the image of God
3. To misuse reason is to badly reflect that image
4. To badly reflect that image is a sin, or morally wrong
5. Therefore epistomology, which estblishes the rules of reasoning correct, is inherently ethical

Misusing reason is not the same as making an error. Misusing reason refers to using it for a purpose which God did not intend. God did intend it to be used for epistemology, ergo its use in epistemology is inherently good.

If I unintentionally commit a formal fallacy, is that sin? No, it's human error--it's a result of an oversight, my finitude, not necessarily sin. Because of the fall, all of our reasoning is inherently imperfect, not simply because we are finite, but because we are fallible.

Also, epistemology does not provide the rules of reasoning: it assumes the rules of reasoning. It is only skeptics who think that it has to provide them. The rules of reasoning are matters of observation with a view toward normativity, so they are not strictly normative or ethical.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
Also, epistemology does not provide the rules of reasoning: it assumes the rules of reasoning. It is only skeptics who think that it has to provide them. The rules of reasoning are matters of observation with a view toward normativity, so they are not strictly normative or ethical.

Epistemology is normative only insofar as it establishes criteria for what constitutes knowledge and reasonability.
What is the difference between what you are saying here and summerizing this statement, which I whole heartedly agree with, as saying that epistemology establishes the "the rules of reason"? The difference, it seems to me, is only semantical? I was just trying to summerize what you said, so if we mean 2 different things by this phrase than for future reference when I use this phrase I am merely trying summerize your well put definition. Sometimes my Wittgenstienian beliefs get the best of me and I forget that sometimes you need exactness in definition and not addequite substitute for words. I can't just assume that people see things like I do.
Misusing reason is not the same as making an error.
How so? It seems simple to me that if I correctly use reason all the time I will never make a mistake. How could I?
Misusing reason refers to using it for a purpose which God did not intend. God did intend it to be used for epistemology, ergo its use in epistemology is inherently good.
I can definantly agree that epistemology is inherently good but I would definantly make a distinction between Epistemology as an independent field of inquiry and various epistemological P.O.V.'s over the years, I think we can agree here. Also if epistemology is inherently good than how can it's use lead to error?
If I unintentionally commit a formal fallacy, is that sin?
Why did you unintentionally commit it? If you had used epistemology correctly all the time than you would not have made the mistake. But if you didn't use it properlly than you are right back in the middle of my argument.
No, it's human error--it's a result of an oversight, my finitude, not necessarily sin. Because of the fall, all of our reasoning is inherently imperfect, not simply because we are finite, but because we are fallible.
Every single action that every single human being makes is either right or wrong. Either it is done in obediance to God or disobediance to God. You seem to be assuming some neutral space here where this rule doesn't apply.
 

Covenant Joel

Puritan Board Sophomore
That depends. If one ought to reason that way because God commands it, or because that form of reasoning characterizes God's spoken and written revelation that we ought to imitate, then sure, that's a moral ought applied to epistemic practices. But if I ought to reason that way (e.g., by following the basic laws of logic) because that maximizes true belief, and that's something I want (it sure seems like it's in my interests to want it in any case), then I have reason to (ought to) follow those laws. Or, if given my cognitive composition the only way I can intelligibly understand the external world is through causal inferences, then either I reason that way, or I don't understand events in the world--presumably, then, I have reason to think in that fashion as understanding the world is something most people want. The latter two cases are not necessarily matters of morality, but broad normativity.

Well I think Frame's point is that you ought to reason that way because it does flow from God's revelation. You may not agree with him on that point, but I think that's where he is saying what Van Til said. I'm also unsure how "maximizing true belief" could be a neutral activity. I can reason in way that doesn't maximize true belief, but that's fine as long as I don't want to? That ought seems like a moral ought to me. So to reason in a way in which you can't make sense of the world is fine? There's no moral dimension to me saying, "The president landed on Air Force One in Washington. A bomb went off in Turkey. The president should quit flying in airplanes because it's causing bombs in Turkey"? My cause-and-effect reasoning would be wildly inaccurate, but that's fine because I don't really care if I properly understand the world?

Regarding Frame's discussion, no philosopher disagrees that epistemology has a normative aspect, or even that it can have an ethical aspect. But why think epistemology is just the ethics of thought, such that every epistemic rule is a moral one? He says,
Epistemology, then, analyzes the norms for belief. It tells us what we ought to believe, how we ought to think, what justifications ought to be accepted. Those "oughts" are ethical thoughts.
First, he is not quite correct in his description of epistemology. Epistemology does not tell us what we ought to believe--that is, it doesn't give the content of beliefs we ought to hold, but the type of beliefs (rational, justified). Epistemology is about how we in fact form beliefs and how we should form beliefs, what methods we use to justify them, and what it means to say any given belief is rational, justified, known, etc. And formal epistemology (as opposed to mainstream) likewise uses probability theory/decision theory to analyze things like belief revision and belief paradoxes.

I can see your point in what's in bold, and I'm not entirely sure how Frame would reply to that. What I've put in italics is what I think Frame was getting at: how can we determine what methods are acceptable?

Second, it is not clear what he is saying in the last sentence. If he merely means the "ought" involved in epistemology is normative, not descriptive, he's obviously right as has been shown (here, though, is an example of a purely descriptive use of "ought": John, seeing the rain clouds, says, "It ought to rain today." This is a statement of empirical probability--he is not saying the sky has a normative or moral reason to rain). But if he means all epistemic oughts are ethical, he is incorrect. Am I sinning every time I do not follow modus ponens? Am I morally blameworthy every single time I fail to proportion my belief to the evidence? Is the probability calculus part of God's law? I don't think even a radical evidentialist like Clifford would go that far.

Sure, the word "ought" can have other meanings. If I say to a friend, "You ought to go to the gym with me," clearly I'm not making a moral claim on his life. But I don't think Frame would dispute that either. I don't think he's saying either that every time you do not follow modus ponens you're sinning. But I think he's saying that by reasoning incorrectly, you are admitting that true/false and right/wrong exist in the world. We don't always have all the information, sometimes our vision is clouded, and we make a faulty decision. But his basic point (if you disagree, that's fine, the original question was just asking what Frame meant) is that by admitting right and wrong ways of reasoning, we are admitting that there is morality (right/wrong) in the universe.

---------- Post added at 10:56 AM ---------- Previous post was at 10:48 AM ----------

Joel

In making this move, Frame is assuming a deontological view of epistemology where reasonability entails doing your epistemic duty. This is the Lockian view of epistemology that Plantinga demolishes in Warranted Christian Belief. Epistemology is normative only insofar as it establishes criteria for what constitutes knowledge and reasonability. It is not normative in that its job apart from these criteria is primarily descriptive.

The original post was asking what Frame meant, so I tried to explain it. Having not read Warranted Christian Belief yet, I don't feel I am capable of commenting on your thoughts here. Frame has interacted with Plantinga in his writings, but I don't know about this specific point.

Are all kinds of normativity ethical? Not necessarily--some norms are practical. Speed limits are often practical norms not ethical ones. The tax code is a set of practical norms, not ethical norms. Passport law is a set of practical, not ethical, norms. Now, this is not to say that practical norms cannot become ethical--but it would be necessary to show exactly how and why a practical norm is ethical in a particular situation.

It seems that each of the norms you've mentioned is ethical in the sense that I'm required to abide by them. But certainly, passport law is not the same as other norms. I doubt that Frame would dispute that. I think his basic point is simply this: If you say, "I am a man. Rufus is a dog. Therefore, I am a man," you have reasoned in error. By claiming that you have reasoned in error, I am presupposing that are right and wrong ways of reasoning (thus morality). That, I believe, is what Frame is saying. You may disagree. It makes sense to me, but having not had the time to read extensively in epistemology, I probably can't comment further.

In epistemology, for example, one would have to show how exactly the madman's belief that he is a poached egg is a moral infraction. A huge part of the case against evidentialism rests on the fact that epistemology is not ethical in its roots.

I'm not sure that Frame is exactly saying that every time one makes an error in reasoning, he is morally culpable. But I think he is saying that we are presupposing that right versus wrong (morality) exists when we make such a claim.
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
What is the difference between what you are saying here and summerizing this statement, which I whole heartedly agree with, as saying that epistemology establishes the "the rules of reason"?

Reasonability is distinct from reason. Reason refers to using the laws of logic and evidential standards, where reasonability simply means sanity. One can be reasonable without using reason.

How so? It seems simple to me that if I correctly use reason all the time I will never make a mistake. How could I?

Correct usage refers to usage with right intent, not to absence of error. Making mistakes is not indicative of sin, but of our finitude and fallenness--sometimes error is unavoidable (ask any scientist).

I can definantly agree that epistemology is inherently good but I would definantly make a distinction between Epistemology as an independent field of inquiry and various epistemological P.O.V.'s over the years, I think we can agree here. Also if epistemology is inherently good than how can it's use lead to error?

Through using it in an attitude of independence from God rather than an attitude of faithful dependence on God. The difference between autonomy and faithful dependence is this: when you reason autonomously, you will never reach God, even if you begin from Scripture, whereas if you reason in an attitude of faithful dependence upon God, then you will inevitably find Him, no matter where you begin.

Why did you unintentionally commit it?

Maybe it was simply an oversight, a lack of sleep, or simple necessity (in fact, you commit all kinds of formal fallacies every time you look out the window and conclude that there are trees outside).

Every single action that every single human being makes is either right or wrong. Either it is done in obediance to God or disobediance to God. You seem to be assuming some neutral space here where this rule doesn't apply.

But the sin or right action, for much of what we do, consists in the motivation, the heart, not in the act itself. Is my decision to get my hair cut at one barber and not another inherently ethical? Is my decision to drink coffee and not tea this morning inherently ethical? Is my decision to hang a Rembrandt print over a Slaughter an inherently ethical decision? I don't think so.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
Reasonability is distinct from reason. Reason refers to using the laws of logic and evidential standards, where reasonability simply means sanity. One can be reasonable without using reason.
Your difference here is merely semantical. Many ordinary people use these two words interchangebley. You have simply stamped them down with exact definitions. The last part I can't agree with because every single thought we have incorperates reason. There is a united function of faculties happening in every thought, we abstract them into different things to help us understand better.

Correct usage refers to usage with right intent, not to absence of error. Making mistakes is not indicative of sin, but of our finitude and fallenness--sometimes error is unavoidable (ask any scientist).
Why should one except this? How could Adam and Eve had made mistakes when they had direct divine revealation from God? Error is indicative of autonomy not finitude, incompletness of knowledge is indicative of finitude.

Through using it in an attitude of independence from God rather than an attitude of faithful dependence on God. The difference between autonomy and faithful dependence is this: when you reason autonomously, you will never reach God, even if you begin from Scripture, whereas if you reason in an attitude of faithful dependence upon God, then you will inevitably find Him, no matter where you begin.
No disagreement here.

Maybe it was simply an oversight, a lack of sleep, or simple necessity (in fact, you commit all kinds of formal fallacies every time you look out the window and conclude that there are trees outside).
But if I apply the the right use of reason than I would only conclude such things if I chose to be lazy about applying the rules completly and consistantly.

But the sin or right action, for much of what we do, consists in the motivation, the heart, not in the act itself. Is my decision to get my hair cut at one barber and not another inherently ethical? Is my decision to drink coffee and not tea this morning inherently ethical? Is my decision to hang a Rembrandt print over a Slaughter an inherently ethical decision? I don't think so.
You seem again to be assuming this whole area of human life in which sin has not corrupted. You also simplify human action to a level that is inconsistant with experience.
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
But the sin or right action, for much of what we do, consists in the motivation, the heart, not in the act itself. Is my decision to get my hair cut at one barber and not another inherently ethical? Is my decision to drink coffee and not tea this morning inherently ethical? Is my decision to hang a Rembrandt print over a Slaughter an inherently ethical decision? I don't think so.

Actually, I think deciding which acts are adiaphoria is inherently ethical.
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
Why should one except this? How could Adam and Eve had made mistakes when they had direct divine revealation from God? Error is indicative of autonomy not finitude, incompletness of knowledge is indicative of finitude.

Quite easily, it seems:

Suppose that I look at the clock and it says 2:30, but what I don't know is that the clock has stopped, and therefore I conclude wrongly that it is 2:30, even though I am reasoning in a perfectly right manner. I would suggest reading Edmund Gettier's Is Justified True Belief Knowledge? (it really isn't that long) for more examples of how right reasoning can go wrong.

But if I apply the the right use of reason than I would only conclude such things if I chose to be lazy about applying the rules completly and consistantly.

You forget that half the time it's involuntary--unless you happen to be a disembodied spirit (which I highly doubt). Many times our mistakes are not through laziness, but through simple error and fallibility. Inductive reasoning, for example, while useful is not infallible. Is a weatherman sinning when his prediction, based on state-of-the-art techniques, is wrong? Honestly, have you really considered how many times a day you are wrong and it's not your fault?

You seem again to be assuming this whole area of human life in which sin has not corrupted. You also simplify human action to a level that is inconsistant with experience.

No, just removing motivation from the picture for a minute. In essence, I am scrutinizing particular actions to see whether, all things being equal, these actions are in essence ethical. There are many actions which derive their ethical nature from the motivations of the actor, not from anything inherent in the actions themselves.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
Quite easily, it seems:

Suppose that I look at the clock and it says 2:30, but what I don't know is that the clock has stopped, and therefore I conclude wrongly that it is 2:30, even though I am reasoning in a perfectly right manner. I would suggest reading Edmund Gettier's Is Justified True Belief Knowledge? (it really isn't that long) for more examples of how right reasoning can go wrong.
Thank you for the book suggestion I will look into to it, any author you deem worthy to read means I ought to read them or I will miss out. My ony question for this statment is this, how do you know the inference you are drawing from experience around you isn't tainted? I mean If creation was and is cursed from sin than how do you know that the mistakes we make are not sinful? Do we really know what an unfallen world would be like?

Honestly, have you really considered how many times a day you are wrong and it's not your fault?
Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell a lot!

You forget that half the time it's involuntary--unless you happen to be a disembodied spirit (which I highly doubt). Many times our mistakes are not through laziness, but through simple error and fallibility. Inductive reasoning, for example, while useful is not infallible. Is a weatherman sinning when his prediction, based on state-of-the-art techniques, is wrong?
Well like I said above how do we know these mistakes are not indicative of the fall?

No, just removing motivation from the picture for a minute. In essence, I am scrutinizing particular actions to see whether, all things being equal, these actions are in essence ethical. There are many actions which derive their ethical nature from the motivations of the actor, not from anything inherent in the actions themselves.
Well it seems this is the crux of our disagreement. You are correct if you abstract the action in question to see if it is inherently ethical or not you are absolutly correct they are not. But since nothing happens in a pure vacuum than the motivation in question is a complex one to look at. Since every motivation is created in a web of beleifs than it will itself be weblike. This also means that every action has a corresponding complex motivation behind it. This motivation in the unbeleiver is either in its most basic form willful obediance to God or willful disobediance to God.
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
Thank you for the book suggestion I will look into to it, any author you deem worthy to read means I ought to read them or I will miss out.

It's actually just a two page article--but it has nearly shattered the traditional definition of knowledge. Here it is.

My ony question for this statment is this, how do you know the inference you are drawing from experience around you isn't tainted? I mean If creation was and is cursed from sin than how do you know that the mistakes we make are not sinful? Do we really know what an unfallen world would be like?

Because it's the only inference that I can possibly make. An unfallen world would still contain finite creatures who can only reason from what they are given--finite knowledge means that truth is not guaranteed, since there is now the category of inductive reasoning.

Well like I said above how do we know these mistakes are not indicative of the fall?

So, in other words, Adam was omniscient? Even if this is indicative of the fall, that may not indicate sin. The fact that I'll die without food is indicative of the fall, but we don't call that sin. Jesus Himself suffered under the effects of the fall, yet He didn't sin--ergo, not all effects of the fall are sinful necessarily.

Since every motivation is created in a web of beleifs than it will itself be weblike. This also means that every action has a corresponding complex motivation behind it. This motivation in the unbeleiver is either in its most basic form willful obediance to God or willful disobediance to God.

The difference between us is that I am a foundationalist and you are a coherentist, like Van Til (still trying to figure out Clark). Motivations determine our actions, but is my desire to go and get a drink of water right now ethical? I would prefer to see things as done in a certain spirit or attitude rather than simply saying that all motivations are necessarily ethical.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
Because it's the only inference that I can possibly make. An unfallen world would still contain finite creatures who can only reason from what they are given--finite knowledge means that truth is not guaranteed, since there is now the category of inductive reasoning.
So, in other words, Adam was omniscient? Even if this is indicative of the fall, that may not indicate sin. The fact that I'll die without food is indicative of the fall, but we don't call that sin. Jesus Himself suffered under the effects of the fall, yet He didn't sin--ergo, not all effects of the fall are sinful necessarily.
Well the example of Adam and Eve actually goes to one of the most important things in Van Til's system, at least in my opinion. They still had special revealation to guide them, God directly told them what He wanted them to do. As far as the problem of induction in the garden, I would say that it was not that much of a problem after all. They had direct revealation of the Creator and so they had faith in the regularity of nature, this was of a primal nature though. Who knows how philosophical they were. As far as making mistakes goes I don't know that we can answer that in a post-fallen world.

I agree that not all effects of the fall are sinful, necessaraly, but I thought the issue in question was human action of all types and how far our corruption went into these areas? Total depravity means total, my choice to go to a certian barber over another may not seem at first glance to be an ethical decision but that abstracts that one decision out of of context. Human beings are very complex creatures, why should the ethicicst rip an action or motive out of its WV context to see if it is intrinciscly right or wrong? I don't agree with this statement for 2 reasons:

1. It seems to assume that there is this standered of right and wrong out there that has the quality of aseity, which only God has. Aseity means self-exsistant, among other things, it literally means "from or by oneself". Right and wrong are treated as though they are independent metaphysical qualities that need nothing but themselves to exsist. This gives divine attributes to created things, the essence of idolatry. Right and wrong are dependent on God's will for their meaning, not themselves.

2. It overly simplifies human beings. As if we are these simply constructed creatures who can be adequitly diced up and analiyzed. No Every action and motive are made in a context, ussually a complex one. This context involves a complex web of beliefs, both concious and unconcious, that all must be taken into account to determine the rightness or wrongness of an action.

The difference between us is that I am a foundationalist and you are a coherentist, like Van Til (still trying to figure out Clark).
It depends on how you use thes terms. I prefer to consider myself a revealational epitemologest, I will try to find a good article to explain this or start a thread.

Motivations determine our actions, but is my desire to go and get a drink of water right now ethical? I would prefer to see things as done in a certain spirit or attitude rather than simply saying that all motivations are necessarily ethical.
So it is motivation alone that determines whether an act is right or wrong? Do unbeleivers do good things from a Divine P.O.V.?

Also the great thinkers and manipulators of power in history have recognized that every human action is selfish in some way. I may give to the poor but I only give because it makes me feel good or I like the way people think about me when I do it. Or even I feel bad about something else I did.

Since you don't appear to believe that getting a drink of water is inherently ethical, than what determines what is ethical and what is not? How do you divide human actions into ethical ones and non-ethical ones?
 
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