Michael Horton's apologetical views?

Discussion in 'Apologetical Methods' started by jwright82, Oct 9, 2010.

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  1. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    There is nothing about a TA of any kind that demands a counter-TA. Kant's justification of morality, for example, does not compel me to provide a similar one unless he can convince me that I need need one.

    Why do we need anything other than simple moral intuition?

    Not necessarily---there's also counter-example.

    Whereas I would prefer that you analyze whether the ought statement that he gives is adequate.
  2. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    It depends upon what you mean here. If you are simply criticizing a TA than no you are not required to give one. But if say the unbeleiver is asserting the irrationality of christianity than I can a transcendental critique of their worldview to reveal that they cannot give an adequite theory of reason so to speak. This is only an avenue of criticism like your method of de facto criticism, its just one more method of criticism in our bag of apologetical tricks. If you choose to allow the unbeleiver to have some sort of givens so to speak than that is your choice but there is nothing wrong with a transcendental critique, logically speaking. But keep in mi8nd that your givens may come back to bite you in the behind so to speak. I prefer a method that utterly destroys the very foundation the unbeleiver is sitting on.

    Your model seems to demand that transcendental analysis of anykind be illegittemate, which is very curious. I wonder what in a transcendental analysis is so dangerous to your scheme, other than ruling out the ultimate sense of givens? That is to say that you can choose to allow for givens in your own method and I can choose not to but that is anathema to your scheme of things. I wonder if your problem is the age old problem of any foundationalism, it is either your scheme or pure skepticism (rationality verses irrationality).

    What your stating, again, is a given that both sides can agree on to be a foundation for discussion. But intuitionalism is problamatic because people don't agree on what is intuitavly right or wrong. Also no logic can be established that could analyze moral claims in such a situation. If no logic could be established than no claim could ever be regarded as wrong. No de facto basis can ever, I mean natural facts here, prove that abortion is wrong because these are worldview differences, see Peter Singer's ethics.

    But again it seems that your scheme demands such a situation be true or else it is pure skepticism.

    But this assumes a kind of list of rights and wrongs out there that we can all agree on and either your with it or not. The absolute most that your scheme could come up with is that certian things seem right and wrong to you and nothing more. But a TA can analyze the foundations of an ethical to see if they even provide the possibility of ethics.

    In what way is the statment "murder is wrong" more or less adequite, whatever that means, than the statment "murder is wrong"?
  3. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    Fair enough, but that still begs the question of who is defining what is and is not an adequate theory of reason.

    I'm wary of it simply because, frankly, it cuts both directions.

    The dilemma is this: if I were an internalist (internalism being any view where beliefs are justified in terms of systems rather than conformity to the external world), then I would have no rational reason to be a Christian. Why? Because I can conceive multiple liveable systems that do not require me to be a Christian that may be perfectly non-contradictory. I may have to explain away certain phenomena, and I'll certainly be left with a couple of disconnects, but I'm perfectly capable of creating this. Because there are no external criteria, there is no reason for me to choose any one system over another.

    Again, who is defining what is and is not an adequate explanation of the possibility of ethics. The metaphysical explanations are merely "why" stories to explain the phenomena of ethics. That is to say, ethics is possible (we do it)---why it is possible is a question of curiosity not necessity.
  4. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    Without slipping into an autonomous rationality but logical analysis. If the theory under consideration has irrational foundations than the whole building is faulty.

    Fair enough but remember a TA seeks to make sense out of our experience. In a sense you are right we all believe cerian immediate beleifs like reason, morality, empirical knowledge but the question is does an unbeleiving worldview provide the rational basis for providing the transcendental properties that justify what we experience.

    A TA would work like this. I am sitting with an atheist lets say and she and I are talking about how bad life is in Africa and how immoral is the treatment of women there. Now our discussion presupposses such a thing as morality just to make sense. If we look at Strawson's logic of a TA it looks like this:

    1. If X than Y is either true or false
    2. If not-X than Y is neither true or false

    So it is this
    1. If morality exists than an action X can be either right or wrong
    2. If morality does not exist than an action X cannot be either right or wrong

    That is how the logic works here.

    Logic is. We subject a view of ethics to logical analysis to see how rational it is. Does it violate the rules and laws of logic? This is an important part of any critique. The ethical question itself places before us certian questions that require a logical answer to be truly rational.
  5. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    Again, who is defining rationality? Second, I have pointed out that foundations are extremely complex, consisting mostly of immediate beliefs.

    Again, calling this metaphysical explanation a "basis" is a bit backwards, since we normally have beliefs involving reason, morality etc before we ever consider it useful to have a theory of why these are possible.

    Whose logic? What "logic" says depends, at least partly, upon who is using it, for what end, and what the premises are.

    I do many rational things that are not logical. It may be perfectly rational for a man to love someone, but it is not logical.
  6. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    Certianly they are complex but people always had reasons for there beleifs, I have to this date in my 28 years never met a person who had ethical beleifs for no reason or lacked a general theory of things (even if it was not very thought out). Also there are only so many options to choose from historically speaking. So if a person's beleifs about ethics are argured for on a similer basis as a Utilitarian than I will point that out to them critique Utilitarianism and then let them rethink it or argue against my critique. Also rationality here does not mean what someone feels is rational or not but the science of logical analysis. Fallacies, validity, laws, principles, etc.

    True but wrapped up with these beleifs will be or develop a theory of things. But to say that these presupossitions are based on immediate beleifs is saying to much. They force us to make sense out of them and with are own innate God knowledge so to speak we form a web of beleifs, or worldview, that becomes more complex and sophisticated as we grow old. Think Hegel's logic on a much smaller scale. But to say that our theories are so based on immediate beleifs that the immediate beleifs are not in need of a foundation is aoutonomy, in this sense it is our core basic beleifs that form the criteria for what is legitemately rational or not. Notice how if the TA is legitemate than it sort of fractures what you and Plantinga are attempting.

    The basic beleifs cannot be a foundation if they can be called into question. So a TA is deemed illigetimate for this reason, and you have more reasons I know, among many for the simple fact that you and Plantinga cannot incorperate it into your scheme and attempt what it is you are attempting. Also the whole philosophy of ethics is incompatable with your scheme as well, which is why you are critical of my appeals to it. If there are such logical demsnds on the part of the person holding to ethical beleifs than that undermines your ambitions a little. Also if ethical beleifs cannot be decided on a defacto basis than that spells trouble for your scheme.

    Ethical considerations cannot be decided on a de facto basis because it would commit the naturalistic fallacy, moving from what is facts to oughts. Unless of course there are uniterpreted facts of this ultimate kind, brute facts as Van Til called them.

    The science of logical laws and principles.

    True but we are talking about ethical beleifs here, two different animals. Please note that I am not completly critical of your whole scheme only the level you are trying to push it too. I use your scheme for many disagreements about immediate beleifs, but I know that deeper level beleifs require a more complex type of analysis.
  7. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    In other words, your model of rationality is the standard.

    I'm not saying that---I'm saying that they are expressions of personal commitments that determine what we do with immediate beliefs.

    First, define what you mean by "autonomy."

    Second, when I talk about foundation, I am not talking in terms of warrant. I am simply talking about basicality---in other words, a basic belief needs no more justification than an explanation of how you came to hold it.

    In that case there are no such things as basic beliefs---every belief can be called into question if you want to go that route. If Descartes were consistent, he would have been a nihilist---he was naive in thinking that his reasoning faculties were any more infallible than his other faculties.

    I reject because, frankly, all it proves is that God is a nice explanation for lots of stuff. It doesn't prove that He exists or that He ought to be Lord. It is not an argument for theism, but for ethics, epistemology, and the like.

    Depends---is ethics personal or not?

    What about it? Alone it can do nothing.

    Indeed, they require an analysis of the person's attitudes and ground motives.
  8. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    I think the basic point of presuppositionalism is correct.

    That in doubting or denying the existence of God, many - rather all - atheists are ignoring the fact that doubting or denying the existence of God isn't like doubting or denying the existence of the Loch Ness Monster, or one's mother-in-law.

    If you doubt or deny the existence of your mother-in -law, her posited lack of existence, doesn't undermine one's basis for intelligibility, thus an argument for her non-existence doesn't cut it's own legs from under it.

    The presuppositionalists are saying that arguing for the non-existence of God is a form of sceptism that undermines itself. To show that a person's view or argument, if accepted for the sake of argument, is self-refuting, is a strong point to be able to make properly.
  9. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    Richard, I would agree if someone could just demonstrate the necessary connection between intelligibility and God's existence. That is, show how God's existence is the only possible basis for intelligibility.

    Or to put it another way, how can we show that the propositions "There is no God" and "There are intelligible things" are contradictory?

    I can only think of one argument that might do this, but most presuppositionalists routinely reject it out of hand (though Van Til is strangely silent about it). That's Anselm's ontological argument (a topic for another thread).
  10. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    Than we agree. I have troulble really setting down what our disagreements are. If you think you know than please elaborate, we seem to go in endless circles (not that I don't enjoy good philosophical discussion).

    Well I mean what logic has been for 2,500 years. That is hardley mine. If someone makes an ad hominem argumetn against someone else than that is not my own model of rationality but a logical fallacy. There is no logical connection between someone's charector and the truth value of their argument, that is not my model of rationality or anything that is warranted by the beleif holder, it doesn't matter if they disagree the law of non-contradiction they must demonstrate why it is false or unreasonable.

    But if basic beleifs are not our ultimate presuppossitions than that is fine and dandy but if they are logically more important than that than that is autonomy because they cannot be doubted on any grounds. But if they are not more basic or ultimate than our presuppossitions than that is something else entirly.
    Autonomy would be making these basic beleifs, immediate beleifs, ultimate in terms of being beyond doubt in a logical sense. They are the measure of all things, for instance ethics if a basic moral beleif is beyond logical analysis than it is autnomous, it is its own authority.

    Well I agree with your analysis of Descarte. But all beleifs can and must appeal to some authority outside themselves, or else you have autonomy. Placing certian kinds of beleifs beyond the reach of logical analysis just to avoid skepticism seems a little extreme. Again I use your model for the warrant of immediate beleifs I just think it breaks down at more presuppositional levels. So please don't mistake my criticism fo an all out rejection.

    Did Hitler wage a personal war against Jews only or was it quite physical? What he did was purely natural, "death is a natural part of life" to quote Yoda, and very factual but was it moral? That can not be decided on personal beleifs or factual considerations but logical analysis and an ethical theory of right or wrong, that is transcendentaly justified (in a logical sense).

    But it is a binding creational tool that we cannot avoid using, it is part of "thinking God's thoughts after him".

    Agreed but a larger analysis of their worldview is neccessary as well.

    Yes but you have never criticised Strawson's argument for it, with his logical formulation of it. Do you reject that as well or just the application of it here in regards to this subject?

    ---------- Post added at 09:05 PM ---------- Previous post was at 09:04 PM ----------

    Nicley put!

    ---------- Post added at 09:11 PM ---------- Previous post was at 09:05 PM ----------

    I still think that you are demanding a direct argument of a deductive type, which the TA is not. But Anselm's argument is problimatic on the grounds that it doesn't show where its definition of perfection is grounded, where di dthat come from? Assuming that everyone means the same thing by the same term is naive at best, but it is the best of the classical arguments in my opinion (and your blog formulation was nice although I still feel that my problems are problems).
  11. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    where did that come from?

    I am therefore I am. Neil Diamond.

    I define.

    Adam named all things under him.

    Be Careful of where that comes from.

    I can be Shirley Mclaine if I want to be.

    (I am interjecting here. I noticed my post started at the top of the second page).

    Man believes all is eternity past culminating. Deficit of God even. Even with God this stands. Man named stuff to his acquisition or capability of mind. Philosophers have debated this and it is being neglected.

    (Gen 2:19) And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2010
  12. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    I think the trouble is that where you say "presupposition" I would like to substitute "attitude," "personal commitment" (Polanyi), or "ground motive" (Dooyeweerd). That is, the propositions that Van Til would call "presuppositions" are actually just expressions of particular commitments/etc that will simply adjust the worldview in the face of logical analysis.

    I do this too, by the way: when someone questions one of my beliefs on politics and gives good reasoning, what I do is to adjust the belief in accordance with the reason, guided by personal commitments. For example, a major reason why most on this board are advocates of constitutional republicanism as a form of government is that most on this board live in the United States and therefore have a vested interest in constitutional republicanism.

    So remind me why no two philosophers have ever completely agreed on everything. If reason was as self-evident as that, we'd all agree.

    There are times when an ad hominem attack is quite a reasonable objection. Credibility---ought I to trust this source?

    They can be doubted if you can give a reason to doubt them. Give me a convincing reason to think that I am hallucinating, and I will doubt the senses.

    Again, what do you mean by "autonomy" here---you are using this word as if it has some sort of normative force, as if there's an "ought-not-ness" about it.

    Yes, there's authority involved here, but I really don't have a good reason to ground my belief in a tree in anything more than "I see it" any more than I am compelled to explain my belief in God by anything more than "He has revealed Himself to me."

    Again, if a Down Syndrome child could not comprehend it, it's not necessary for a warranted belief.

    Yes. When I say personal I simply mean that ethics must be grounded in a person and applied by a person.

    Ethics in order to be ethical, must be grounded in a personal standard. This is why law in and of itself is ineffective in making moral people.

    Worldview is merely a manifestation of ground motives, attitudes, and personal commitments.

    It's intuitive. It's a notion of "great-making properties." Do I have a good reason to think that necessary existence (actual existence in all possible worlds) is not an absolute great-making property?

    I haven't seen it.

    I think Van Til would agree with you there. As I've said before, it's basically a logically perfect TA (aka one that covers all possible worldviews) used in reverse. That is, it proves that God is a necessary being and therefore His non-existence is impossible.
  13. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    Well at first I didn't know quite who or what you were refering to but now I see it is my critical comment on Anselm's argument, I believe so if not than please highlight what concerned you. Yes you are correct that we define things but your comments are a little confusing as to what your getting at, could please elaborate? As far as my criticism goes the argument assumes one selfevident meaning for the word perfection. But in everyday usage this word is used in many different sorts of ways, that doesn't mean that we can't latch on to one meaning and go from there but this only calls into question that such a word is selfevident in its meaning.

    But that becomes even more problimatic when we examine the logic of the argument. God's ontological proof of exsistance is dependent on the absolute definant meaning of the word perfection, God's proof of existance is based on something outside of Himself namley the idea of perfection. But what if the way this word is defined is loaded with arbitrary metaphysical baggage or people disagree over what perfection actually means. Hence a word that was thought to be selfevident is now in trouble and since God's proof of existance is now dependent on this troubled word than his proof of existance is troubled as well. Now you may object that I sort of ridiculously described the situation but that is exactly the same vien as how Van Til describes the traditional arguments. But what does he and I mean?

    The ontological argument is a direct argument, it directly attempts to show that there is a direct logical relationship between perfection as an idea and proof of God's existance, or that proof of God's existance logically is deduced from premises on the idea of perfection. There is a linier movement from one premise to other premises to the conclusion. This is logically making something prior to God in the grand scheme of things. It doesn't say that perfection as an idea is greater than God, to be sure, but Van Til always felt that it was a neccessary metaphysical truth that this was the case. Perfection as an idea must be agreed upon by linguistic users for one, for too it must have independency from being related to God for its meaning and very existance, or else you are arguing directly in a circle. If the oppisite is true that perfection as an idea owes what it owes to God up front than it cannot have any logical priorty to God's existance, hence why the transcendental argument is different in form than a direct argument.

    Also where does our very idea of perfection come from? Was it an inductivly deduced definition, which would then make the whole argument a formal logical fallacy and only probably true if that. Was it intuitivly deduced definition in which case it falls prey to the criticisms of intuitionalism. I could go on and on. If it was in fact defined from the self revealation of God in the bible than the whole argument, because it is a direct argument, is now circuler in nature and therefore commiting another logical fallacy.

    This was his whole problem with natural theology as it was traditionaly defined that, words and ideas all had individual meanings and existances apart from God. Meaning that in a sense the exsistance or nonexistance of God has no direct affect over anything at all, this Van Til worked out as a logical implications of their ideas not that this was what they really beleived. Atheists have pushed this seperation to the extreme in calling question to God's relevance to anything whatsoever, in fact it would be better if He didn't exsist at all. Van Til and Dooyeweerd both saw this as the inevitable end of such unguarded acceptance of the unbeleiving worldview. But he also felt that if you reworked the traditional arguments into a presuppossitional form this odd circualarity was absolved because of the different logical form of the TA.

    The traditional model
    1. The idea of perfection, therefore proof of God's existance, or actually proof of an absolute perfect being (not neccessaraly God).

    The TA model
    2. The assumed existance of God, therefore the very possibility of any idea of perfection. Or that God's very being defines what perfection is, not us.

    I'll elaborate a little further on the logical differences between a TA and other forms of arguments.

    Traditionaly in philosophy you have two different types of arguments, generally speaking of course.
    Deductive, in which case you try to deduce a truth directly, or from implication, from some premises and their logical relationships.
    1. All men are mortal
    2. Socrates is a man
    3. Therefore Socrates is mortal

    Inductive arguments, which moves from a list of particuler instances of some occurence to a probably general truth. But only one instance of something other than this occuring is needed to disprove or greatly modify the conclusion.
    1. For 28 years now everytime I drop something it falls to the ground
    2. I am going to drop something
    3. Therefore it will probably drop to the ground

    The TA on the other hand has a completly different logical form from the two above types of arguments, which makes it different from them. Critics of Van Til have often said that the TA is a veiled form of a direct argument, but to my knowledge not one has ever demonstrated that either:
    1. All TA's are in fact direct arguments, or
    2. That Van Til's TA was a direct argument in anyform it could take

    This is odd when one considers that the logical forms of the arguments are so different that they don't even, in a sense, look the same. Here is the logical form of the argument.
    1. The proposition Y presupposses the Proposition X
    2. If X is true than Y is either true or false
    3. If X is false than Y is neither true nor false

    Another way to put this is this
    Y presupposses X if and only if :
    1. if Y is true than X is true
    2. if Y is false than X is true

    In case that didn't clear things up than here is an example. We are sitting at a table and arguing over a piece of legeslation. One of us thinks that the legeslation, we'll call it leg. A, is morally right and one of us thinks that it is morally wrong. Now our whole discussion presupposses such a thing as right and wrong in the ethical sense. That presupposition by itself doesn't tell us whether or not leg. A is right or wrong but only that the very logical possibility for our discussion rests on the assumption of "there is such a thing as right and wrong". Or to plug that into our argument.

    The proposition X (there is such a thing as right and wrong) is presuppossed by the proposition Y (leg. A is either right or wrong)
    1. "there is such a thing as right or wrong" is true, therefore leg. A is either rigth or wrong
    2. "there is such a thing as right or wrong" is false, therefore leg. A is neither right nor wrong

    I know that that is a lot of stuff but some of this is refering to Philip's response as well it just seemed appropriate to lay it out here, so I will refer him at some points to my response to you. I know that this is a long way to take to get to the point but I think that it is important to understand Van Til's more philosophical ideas.

    ---------- Post added at 03:49 PM ---------- Previous post was at 03:30 PM ----------

    Than we agree on the general features of this idea, would you like me to use Dooyeweerd's phrase in the future to say the same thing, but Van Til and I would have some criticisms of it first?

    Well than we mean two different things here so I will stick to the word logic only, not reason. What you seem to be suggesting is that the laws of logic cannot rule out warrant for a beleif by themselves because my application of them is only my reason instead of logic. This results in skepticism because a very de facto argument assumes logic in some form to even make sense, no logic no argument.

    Correct it can be warrant for not beleiving someone but as a fallacy it means that someones charector has no logical bearing on the truth-value of there statement.

    Your model works fine on such immediate belifs as empirical ones but I am very curious on how this analogy plays out on more complicated beleifs about say morality? I don't see how the analogy concretly works out, you have layed out in theory how it would work but not in practice, which is what I am more interested in.

    Than your point here is irellevant to my question because I was talking about the moral aspect of creation. We all know that morality exists but we may not agree on what is moral or not, that is discussing the objectivity of ethics not its subjective ground.

    True but I guess we would disagree on the importance of the worldview.

    See my response to Martin above.


  14. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate


    The trouble is that the TA, as an indirect argument is either invalid or uncompelling when translated into symbolic form. It would be better termed as a method of worldview analysis than an argument. I don't think it really useful to talk about it as an argument for God, given that the existence of God is a premise rather than the conclusion. The only way to really change this would be to demonstrate that belief x necessarily (ie: in all possible worlds) presupposes the existence of God.

    In other words, a TA only works within a given worldview and only if that worldview has a systematic ontology worked out---which some just don't.

    So here's how this would work:

    Morality presupposes God's existence because:
    a) If God exists, moral statements are either true or false
    b) If God does not exist, moral statements are neither true nor false.

    The problem is this: a and b involve a burden of proof. That is to say, what reason would the unbeliever have to accept them as true? Just because you can prove a disconnect or even contradiction in his system (such as it is) does not mean that he has any warrant for believing a and b.

    Yes and no---perfection is a function of what we are talking about. So for example, a chair is perfect if and only if it perfectly instantiates the ideal properties of being a chair. Thus, it would be comfortable, aesthetically pleasing, would go with anything, etc. It would not, however, be self-existent because self-existence would not make it a better chair in the least.

    Now, when speaking of a perfect being, we are speaking simply of a being that has all properties that constitute being and instantiates them perfectly. Necessary existence perfectly instantiates what it is to be and therefore He is.

    By the way, this is an incredibly biblical concept given that when God gives His people His most secret covenant name, it is "Jahveh", the one who is, or "I am that I am."

    I think if we analyze its use in ordinary language, we can come to some idea of what we mean by the term.

    But that's just the point of natural theology: to prove that these ideas do in fact presuppose God. That when the atheist does ethics or biology that he is ignoring the fact that God has revealed Himself in these disciplines.

    If you accept the legitimacy of inductive reasoning, then you can't say this because all inductive reasoning involves formal fallacy.

    But this is exactly what I am saying---the objective ground of morality must be in a person. Law is useless without a judge, a standard of legal application. In addition, to be meaningful, law must have a personal source.
  15. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    Your right the argument is not for God isolated but Christianity as a whole. Now this does not, and cannot, mean that we have a one size fits all argument for every little thing in Christianity, but that the worldview argument involves every single aspect of our faith at least implicitly. The symbolic form could probably never do justice to an actual TA, Kant wrote a whole book on his and look at the Idealists who followed him, which involves so many elements that it is hard to pin down in perfect form a simple form of the argument. But we can show how it functions on a simpler level this way. Also the symbolic form has value to the critique because they can may analytical criticism on the TA itself with out having someone say "you are criticizinng a different TA from mine", this way you can criticize the logical form itself and that covers all that follow that form at least.

    True but we also must point out that certian justifications fro say an ethical beleif presuposse a theory in and of themselves, that the person holding the beleif may not even know about. For instance a person may have never thought about ethical theories at all but their moral conversation with someone presuposses, logically speaking, the existance of a moral standered at the very least.

    I don't think it could ever be that simple, direct arguments have the benifit of being that simple. Your argument begs to many questions plus it never realy delved into the experience which with we must have preconditions for.
    Morality presuposses certian logical preconditions, or questions requiring answers to, and our TA must provide aduquate logical preconditions, they do not commit logical fallacies and such, and then they must actually explain our moral experience. In the end they alow us to make sense out of morality and predicate moral judgements.

    Now someone may come along and logically criticize my TA in which case I either admit defaet or defend my TA whic only keeps the ball the rolling. The argument against the use of reason by the unbeliver doesn't really apply here because whether or not they can explain reason or not they leveled a criticism against my TA that demands a response.

    Really that is recasting what a TA is in direct argumentitave form, I know this can be a little confusing but I cannot answer a charge that does not need to be leveled against this form of an argument. So you are right if the argument were to be worded in such a fashion it would have the burden of proof you mentioned, but in its present form it makes no such claims.

    Now you may at this point cite many different sayings by Van Til and Bahnsen contradicting what I have said here but I think I can explain. Van Til beleived this that Christianity is true whether beleived or not it is still true. So only a christian view of things can ever hope to be totally correct. So in his methodology he presuppossed this. He didn't make this a premise of his argument but a methodological assumption, we all make them. If it is true than the Christian faith can be the only preconditions for making sense out of the world, this is in the most abstract general sense. In an ideal world where both beleivers and unbeleivers worked out their most deep spiritual commitments, religous ground motives, into a complete worldview the beleiver's would be completly true and acurate of the world and the unbeleiver's would be completly false.

    But we do not live in such an ideal world so this applies to our world in such a way that the beleiver must account for his or her own lingering sinful nature and the unbeleiver's mixed status. This mixed status or awkward mixture of the unbeleiver's worldview means that at least in theory they will have christian ideas and pagan ideas driving their worldview development, which can be different from unbeleiver to unbeleiver. It is in this logical progression that Van Til worked out his ideas for where the unbeleiver gets it right they are betraying their own most deep religous ground motives. So I as a Van Tillian can make use of the TA in isolated forms, in fact for every "fact" there can be in theory a different TA all with the christian faith as an implicit assumption with it. But these methodological assumptions about the beleiver and the unbeleiver and the truth of Christianity may not need be premises in a TA, only methodological assumptions in our apologetical task.

    I may not call a salseman a lier to his face but I can assume it about him in my method of converstaion with him, or haggling over a price.

    True but this definition of "perfect chair" can be different from person to person, giving ambiquity to the term.

    Not going into revelational anthropomorphic condescension here I will point out one thing. the term "being" has had a less than populer history, in fact do we even use that term in philosophy much, as an idependent thing to be predicated to something. Did not Heiddeger implicitly point out that being by itself makes no sense unless attached to a historical existance of some kind, being-in-the-world and such? That means that the word makes no sense by itself but only in relation to some object or something, things have a being or "ready-at-hand" if I remember his Being and Time at all, I could be wrong, but I thought metaphysics about being itself largley disapeared after him, is that correct?

    True but a definition that is so fixed, or ideal, that we can base a whole argument for God's existance off of is problematic, not impossible just problematic.

    No what he means is that general concepts like "truth" or "good" can make perfect sense by themselves or without any explination as to their meaning. So "true is something that is true" would not do for a descritptive theory of "truth". Also he objected that such words have little to know relation to the reality of God's existance, as a methodological assumption not a premise in an argument. But a TA can be fashonied to show that truth makes sense in a Christian worldview, that it meats the particuler preconditions for meaningfullness.

    True but all this proves is that the ambition of what an inductive argument can prove is too large. But if one were to provide the preconditions for a rational faith in science than this problem goes away, at least in theory.

    True but I think we are arguing to different things here. It is when we cross paths, so to speak, that we have problems. The unbeleivers alpha and omega of morality is not a standered in themselves, except that standered that God has revealed. "murder is wrong" is true because God said it was, they will agree with this but they will try to come up with some other reason why it so, which is autonoumy.
  16. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    James, you put the form of the TA as this:

    My question is how you are going to prove statements 2 and 3.

    If this is the case, then every argument is transcendental in nature. Every argument for the existence makes the case that something in creation declares that God is---its very essence presupposes God.

    In the continental tradition only. It's alive and well in analytic metaphysics (where the ontological argument is taken quite seriously).

    Also, I recall a quote from my theology prof: "If you think you understand Heidegger, you're probably wrong."

    Again, if this is the case, then natural theology is quite appropriate because in fact the things that we see out in God's world are evidence of His existence and the unbeliever is at fault for not seeing what's so blasted obvious.

    Murder would be wrong even if God had not revealed it. Polygamy was wrong before God revealed it. Remember that God's word is always grounded in God Himself and His own character.
  17. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    In reverse. If Y is true or false than it proves X.

    Well I think that there are many different kinds of arguments. But you state well what Van Til thought was the value in the traditional arguments, reformulate them in presupossitional form and you have a better argument. The way an argument is formulated determines what kind of argument it is.

    Which analytical traditions, I was not aware of any. They abstract being itself as an entity of study or just a logical category in language, I think there is a slight difference. I like the quote about Heidegger too. Did your proffessor like him or not?

    Natural revealation certianly is, but natural theology as it has been traditionaly formulated is problematic. All that needs to be done is to reformulate it on better more solid grounds and it will be very useful.

    I don't quite get you here, do you mean that morality was in us before special revealation was revealed and therefore it was still wrong before that? I believe that general revealation and natural law do reveal this.
  18. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    But that's exactly my question: how does one prove this. Let's take Y to be the proposition "murder is wrong." How exactly is one going to prove that its meaningfulness presupposes the existence of God?

    But if an argument is invalid in one form, it is invalid in every form.

    I'm actually studying analytic metaphysics at the moment. Stuff like ontology (nominalism, realism, substratum theory, bundle theory, etc.) is big fish for folks like David Lewis, Roderick Chisolm, W.V.O. Quine, etc. They're usually doing stuff with regard to actual metaphysics, not just language analysis.

    My prof wasn't discussing Heidegger, just mentioning him in background to Bultmann.

    Meaning that it would be wrong regardless of whether God revealed it at all. We wouldn't know it in that case, but we'd be no less culpable.
  19. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    The general scheme would be this.
    1. Explore what the immediate preconditions for the statement as specific as that need to be in order for it to be meanigful. This involves showing that a morality of some kind must be assumed in order for that statement to be meaningful.

    2. Next I would locate the argument withen the broader phenomena of value type language games, which morality seemst to be one of. I would attempt to demonstrate that it is inascapable in language to have talk about values in general, this steak is better than that steak etc. This would be basically a Wittgenstienian private language type argument against the possibility of the skeptic just saying well we can do without all value judgements by showing that he or she cannot create a form of life, or series of language games, that is sufficent without value judgements of somekind. Therefore value judgements are neccessary to language and life just for us to make sense of things. A little journey into Nietzsche's philosophy at this point would be helpful as a paradigm case.

    3. Next I would explore the preconditions for morality in general just to be meaningful. This would be to show that all ethics presuposses the two questions I have layed out over and over again which are to refresh your memory these:
    a. All ethics must be able to justify why something is right or wrong at all, in an abstract sense.
    b. All ethics must have a method for determining concrete cases as either right or wrong.

    4. Next I would show how the christian worldview in general logically meets these preconditions.

    5. Lastly I would explore how the christian concept of ethics doesn't fall prey to the reacuring problems of ethics in the history of philosophy, this due to the fact that we have a different metaphysical conception of what right and wrong is than they do.

    Now as you can see this would take up an entire book to give it proper philosophical consideration, in fact each number could easily be a different section of a book. Now every point up there I have discussed with you, except 2, but I don't expect you to remember them just that that is how the TA would work itself out in a practical discussion. But that would be the general method I would assume in any discussion no matter how complicated. It is perfectly valid though.

    I wouldn't say so, there are formualations of arguments that are invalid but one can reformulate the premises to get rid of this invaldness. It is true that you could demonstrate kinds of arguments that are analytically invalid I supposse but that wouldn't say anything about all arguments.

    How interesting. Does Quine delve into these metaphysical considerations in his work From A Logical Point of View, if you are familiar with that work? It is the only book of his that I have but I have troulbe with all the symbolic logic, I have never sat down and really learned that language at all (which has seriously hampered my philosophical development, but now that I am sufficently "convicted" of my sins I will "repent" and make a better effort to learn them).

    Strawson has some interesting things to say about metaphysics. In fact I am reading an online book of his on the subject here.
    Individuals: An Essay in Descriptive Metaphysics.
    I like it so far because he follows the later Wittgenstien in his linguistic views but sees a place for a "purged metaphysics" despite the somewhat negative apparent metaphysical implications of the Philosophical Investigations, I hope you enjoy.

    What works would you recomend on this subject of analytical metaphysics, you are much more familiar with the tradition than I am? In fact I have come to reasesse my whole largley negative opinion regarding postmodern and analytical thinkers in general, and am going back and restudying them as best that I can.

    Are you saying that we would be culpable to God regardless of wrether or not he revealed it in scripture or culpable in general regardless of whether or not He existed at all?
  20. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    All that it proves is that "murder is wrong" possibly presupposes the existence of God. It doesn't prove that X presupposes Y because you haven't proved that X is meaningful if and only if Y is true. You've proved that Y would be a sufficient condition for X's meaningfulness, but you haven't proved it to be a necessary one.

    Most of my familiarity with Quine comes from his "Epistemology Naturalized" and "On What There Is." A lot of the work in metaphysics right now takes place in journals.

    If you want a basic survey of what's going on right now, I'd suggest "Metaphysics: The Big Questions" a collection (mostly) of the best of metaphysics in the past fifty-sixty years.

    We would not be culpable if God didn't exist, but we would be even if God had not revealed Himself.
  21. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    You are right if and only if the TA is a direct deductive argument, but I have seen no reason to suppose that it is not historical or otherwise. A critique of a TA comes in roughly 2 forms. Either you internaly critique the argument itself on logical grounds and/or you offer a better TA of somekind. It is odd that it is only in recent analytical history that we have this drive to demand that the TA be just like a direct argument, the idealists who followed Kant's method did exactly what I said they offered what they thought were better TA's than him plus criticized him for not providing the preconditions for knowledge that he claimed he did.

    The reason why this is not only possibly is because the issue itself regards whether or not ethics is possible at all. What is at stake is not the validity of an argument or being right but the very possibility of ethics at all. That is a huge difference between the two types of arguments. The direct argument is indifferent to rationality itself for the most part in its argumentation, in fact they are considered implicational arguments too. The TA for say rationality is concerned with how the very phenomena can exist as it is at all. There scopes and concerns are too different to be the same, just like there is a huge difference between inductive and deductive arguments.

    Another reason why it is not only possible is because to deny the validity of a deductive argument affects nothing else but the argument. To deny the validity of a TA brings into question the very thing under discussion, that is why idealists offered better solutions in their opinions first. You can criticize the validity of the TA and not offer an alternative but you have not erased the problem, it still begs the question on what are the transcendental preconditions for morality or knowledge?

    Thank you, I have "On What There is" in my book by him, but I have not read it in years.

    I would say that He revealed in our nature, being made in His image but yes I agree.
  22. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    We do ethics, therefore ethics is possible.

    However, you can't claim that ethics "presupposes" God unless you can show that ethics is possible if and only if God exists. That is to say, if God's being is not only a sufficient condition for the possibility of ethics, but a necessary one.

    I'm not criticizing the TA, just its use in apologetics. One TA does not demand another.

    Consider this claim by the atheist:

    "I concede your point: you have proved that if God did exist, He would provide sufficient conditions for the possibility of ethics. However, since God doesn't exist, and ethics is possible (we do it, after all), so what?"
  23. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    Exactly that is the starting point for any good TA!

    Again I believe I laid out the differences between a direct argument and an indirect one so if you would like to go ahead and frame this TA in a direct form than good luck but I cannot respond to a different form of the TA as a direct argument. I agree that that form of an argument is nearly impossible to prove that is why I employ a TA instead of that.

    Well you are right, but denying a TA raises the question of what TA will work? Again denying a particuler TA does not erase the transcendental problem.

    The atheist is mistaken because they are attempting to do ethics now with no foundation whatsoever. Now it is correct to ask them to provide a better foundation for ethics than we have. Saying so what does not erase a logical problem it only invalidates the rationality of the person, if they do not wish to be reasonable than we cannot help that. Again denying the validity of one TA does not require you to give an alternative but it does not erase the problem either, the atheist still has a problem they must deal with and any ethical claim can now legitmatly be criticized as unfounded.
  24. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    What is the transcendental problem and why would I care?

    What exactly is unreasonable about that statement? Again, you assume some sort of normative standard here, but why does the atheist have to accept it? For that matter, why do I have to accept that rationality of argument is dependent upon the ability to provide a TA?

    What problem? He does ethics, therefore ethics is possible---what requires him to give further explanation? Why should he accept this standard that you propose?
  25. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    It comes up when we try to base morality or reason on something. Materialism has metaphysical consequences and those consequences may or may not conflict with life as we experience it, thus there are certian transcendental problems that arise in any discussion or theory of something. Your own basic beleif scheme is a transcendental analysis or sorts based on the fact that it trys to dodge the problem by stating certian beleifs, like moral beleifs, as off limits to logical analysis. There can be no TA of these beleifs because that would destroy there basicality. What it fails to do is adequtly erase the problems of say a philosophy of ethics because it can only try to remove certian beleifs from logical criticism not prove that the trascendental basis for such beleifs is a ridiculous question to ask. It doesn't even refer to these problems it can't it can only assert that they do not in fact exist, which only begs the question.

    Richard Rorty I'm sure would view my TA as absurd philosophical rubbish, yet in the theory of mind he is logically compelled to explain a materialist view of mind because he recognizez the problems that are inherent in the view. He is attempting to give a TA for mind based on materialist assumptions, so even for an anti-philosopher these problems are inescable. If you really believe a TA to be innaffective than prove that is absurd to ask why I should believe that a certian action in human behaviour is wrong? For as long as we can ask such questions TA's will be in demand for our answers to such questions. I may give individual reasons for these beleifs but the belifs will form a rough theory of why such a thing is right or wrong hence a TA for ethical action.

    It is unreasonable because given the criteria of the problem it in no way even touchs upon the heart of the issue, it is a fallacy of absurdity. Unless the statement is supplimented with reasons why it is reasonable than it is hoplessly fallacious in nature and not a proper logical response to the question. They call those logical dodges for a reason. Your last statment is again framing the whole discussion in a direct deductive sort of way. To you what we're saying is that the TA starts from some premise that reason is such and such and that is proven and then and only then can the person reason only after they have proven that or the possibility of that.

    No the TA starts from the reality that we all reason and do ethics and seeks the logical preconditions for reason or ethics as we use it to exist at all. I think you are rightly hung up on the possibility of a Van Tillian dodging a rational criticism by say an atheist by asserting that they cannot account for rationality in their worldview therefore I do not have to take their rational criticisms seriously. No Van Tillian that I know of beleives that, but a criticism of an unbeleiver's worldview could be on the grounds that they cannot account for reason as we experience it in their view of things. That would be a logical criticism of their view. If they refused to give one than that is different but refusing to give an answer to a question in no way invalidates the question. Calling into question the basis of this question ironicaly involves a TA of sorts about the limits of say reason or language and its autonomy.

    That statment involves you in several problems. For one you take a view of language that is indefensable, people talk about ethical things therefore there is ethics somewhere out there. Just because we talk about things in a certian way does not guarentee there existance. Unless you view language with Russell, Moore, and the early Wttgenstien as modeling what reality is like and therefore every word must corespond to some actual thing, we talk ethics therefore there is ethics, but just because I can talk about Ghosts does not mean they exist.

    Also you are missing the point that we can say there is ethics but that is such an empty and abstract beleif so as to tell us nothing about what is ethical or not. You cannot avoid my questions in this way because I soon as you or whomever elaborates on what ethics is out of neccessaty in deciding what is ethical or not my questions will arise out of logical neccessaty. The two statments:
    1. There is such as ethics, and
    2. Such and such is an ethical behaviour
    Do not have any logical conection whatsoever. You need more premises to fill out the argument that answer why something is right or wrong and the method used in deciding that such and such is an ethical behaviour. In order to make ethics practical at all you must answer my questions. Simply asserting that ethics exists tells us nothing about ethics at all.

    You do bring up a good point remenescent to Anscombe's criticism, invoking the later Wittgenstien, of Lewis' argument from reason. Since I like the later Wittgenstien and the TA, which her criticisms at least indirectly affect I felt compelled to give an analysis of it in the philosophy section of this website, I will be posting my thoughts on it tommorow or the next day. I have to read up on it tonight and prepare my thoughts while handing out candy, I know I have not always been the best at posting threads that I promised to this one is definant, so we can deal with those issues relating to using reason and explaining reason in the context of her criticisms there if you like. For whatever its worth happy Halloween/Reformation day Philip!
  26. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    I am doing it, therefore it is possible. We are reasoning, therefore reason is possible.

    What I'm saying is that the demand for a TA constitutes a normative standard---which implies that someone is judging me for it. I just want compelling reasons why I should be answerable to this standard.

    But all you'll ever come up with is something along the lines of "well here's an interesting possibility." What you will never come up with is "here is what is necessary for us to reason." The so-called "logical preconditions" start to sound like speculations. This is why Clark, for example, starts to look an awful lot like Leibniz. It's easy: you find a couple of plausible explanations for certain phenomena and build a nice beautiful system---the only problem is that a system so built will not necessarily have much connection to reality (again, see Leibniz).

    But talk about ghosts is still meaningful. Ghosts are certainly possible beings---we talk meaningfully about them all the time. Similarly, we talk meaningfully about ethics, so unless you can prove some inconsistency in the very notion of ethics, then we must assume ethics to be possible. The only impossible things are things like spherical cubes.

    But at that point, you're not talking about the possibility of ethics, but ethics. As soon as you reach that stage, you've assumed that ethics is possible. Now, you might try to ground your standard of ethics in some metaphysical theory, but it's obvious that ethics is meaningful, otherwise we wouldn't treat it as a serious discipline.

    Well why is this necessary?

    I don't think that an ethical theory necessarily involves a TA. Ethical theories are merely systems of value.
  27. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    Yes but that fact still needs to be explained. Again refusing to admit that a metaphysical theory demands certian things be true about the world does not erase the logical problems involved in that theory. For the materialist to say that they don't have to explain away this problem is remeniscent to Anscombe's critique of Lewis' argument from reason. I decided against a whole thread on this because probably only you and I would even care about it, so I will lay it out, in breifer form here as it relates to your arguments.

    She basically objected to Lewis demamnding that the causual explinations are the same as reason explinations with regard to reasoning. That is to say that how the materialist explains reasoning on a causal level must, in Lewis' view, be the same as or the foundation for reason type explinations. She would say that to explain why I didn't follow your advice on how to fix my car is that I thought it was irrational would be a reason explinaition for my behavior. But a causal explination of the same event, whatever that would be (forgive the bad analogy), need not conflict with my earlier reason type explinaition. An empathetic person and a neurologist would explian my arm hurting in two different ways, from different forms of life with two different language-games, and that is just fine in everyday life. So the TA is uneccessary because the person can make perfect sense talking about ethics or reason and not be required to give an account of what they are. Also the materialist may have reason and there metaphysical views without either one conflicting with eachother. So I and Van Til are asking too much.

    But the catch here is this, materialism is not attempting to explian one aspect of a thing but all aspects of a thing. They have committed themselves to this logical problem by their metaphysical theory. So they have the burden of proof to show how reason and ethics as we all experience them and do them makes sense in their metaphysical theory. That is why she is wrong in her critique because the claims are different. A neurologist would never in their right mind pretend to exaustivly explian every aspect of my pain away, but the materialist is. If the materialist cannot or will not explain away this problem, which demonstrated by a transcendental critique, than they have lost the warrant for their reasoning even though they keep on reasoning. So the TA stands against this because of the types of logical commitments that implicitly made by a theory of some kind determine the very nature of what a thing is or must be and that either matchs reality or it doesn't.

    I can think of only one type of claim that would be immune to this demand and that is a claim that no one can legitmatly ask why to, which do not exist. If you say that something is wrong morally I can ask why that is so? That very ability to ask why about claims is why eventually you will end up in some sort of theory of some kind, even if it is only by logical commitment meaning that this theory of ethics must be true in order for your argument to stand. So you can and are unknowingly logically commiting to a theory by simple logical presupossition.

    You have got it all wrong we are not trying to prove that people reason that is a given we are concerned with what else must be presupossed by the person to make reason possible at all. That is different from trying to prove that people reason or trying to give a nice speculative explinaition of something that we can't really know for sure. We know that people reason, we know that there are preconditions that a theory of reason must pass to explian in a logical sense why reason is possible, we know that christianity furnishes these preconditions and avoids the traditional errors in this area.

    Yes but meaningful talk does not guarentee the existance of the thing being talked about. So meaningful ethical talk does not guarentee the existance of right and wrong. Also ethics is actual the possibility of ethics is what is in view. We are not trying to prove that ethics is actual so that then the world can get on with its merry ethical life. Ethics doesn't stop just because we ask these questions about it.

    Exactly! That is the starting point for a TA. But the actuality of ethics is not sufficient reason for a person to be ethically justified in holding a particuler ethical beleif. Ethics is empty in this sense because by itself it can no more arbritate between ethical claims by itself than reason could by itself.

    Same reason why you can't build a house with no foundation. The claim is not self supportive it is not true by itself, even tautologies assume the existance of logical laws to work. If a person says that they do not have to justify their moral beleif that abortion is good, than they have not only one problem (an unjustified beleif) but now they have commited the fallacy of special pleading. If they ask why they should submit to standered of logic that says they have commited this fallacy than they are using the same logical principles they are calling into question, which can be argued against by a paradigm case argument. So you see it is not that they have found a magical loophole to get out of this problem but only have stacked more problems on top of themselves in the proccess, why not just answer the question?

    So lets say that they are like everybody else and they answer the questions. The most popular answer for this beleif that I know of would be the practical benefits of allowing abortion. This logically assumes that what ever is most practical for society is what is morally good. But how many moral atrocities have been justified by practical considerations alone? Also it begs the question of why practicality is the standered for right and wrong? Why should I obey a particuler course of action because it is the most practical? This never doubted the existance of ethics only whether a particuler assumed standered of ethics could in fact justify ethical claims.

    True but we can give TA's and TC's of sytems of values to see if they justify ethical claims. Remember there is Ethics, the logical questions of right and wrong, and ethics, the various attempts at answering those questions, and we criticize ethics not Ethics.
  28. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    I would guess that most materialists would claim that they came to materialism through reason, not the other way round.

    Not necessarily---the way out is to appeal to a common standard.

    Theories of ethics, though, are not necessarily metaphysical in nature.

    So you say. Leibniz also provided a monadology that did the same thing.

    And by the way, what are these preconditions and why must a theory of reason pass them, and who is the judge of what constitutes a passing grade? You're using all kinds of normative language.

    Why can't you have a group of mutually supporting propositions, a sort of spherical system?

    No they haven't. What have they claimed about the belief that would make it special pleading?

    Because of the ends to which the practical course leads. Practicality is only practical in terms of some other value.

    Justify before whom? Who is judging? Whose standard? Which rationality? I'm going to keep asking this because you are bringing in some sort of normative standard and some sort of judge every time you use the word "justify."
  29. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    I have no idea what you mean here I can only guess that it is a misunderstanding of how presuppositions formed and there affect on future belif formation, I don't quite know what you are getting at.

    No you are misunderstanding me here. When someone argues for a beleif on specific grounds they logically presuposse that like practicality for instance is the decider for all moral issues. They don't have to actually hold that theory but logic demands that they do in this particuler issue. Why you might ask? Because if the presupposition is false than their moral beleif loses all rational grounding, if practicality is not the decider in all moral affairs than it is useless and pointless to argue for a specific action on soley practical grounds.

    Fine but a theory is a theory, this is just semantics.

    Well look at it this way, what you are advocating is a relativism of the worst sort. People get to pick and choose what logical principles they believe in, and whats worse is they are not to blame for this deviation because they can subjectivly set a burden of proof so high that no reasons why they should believe in the fallacy of special pleading will ever presuade them. So can commit any fallacy they want with full rational warrant, it seems this way in your responses of course. Your model seems to be creaping very closly to skepticism because you have given every person the ultimate reasons to be irrational.

    The preconditions for reason will be those things that must be true in order for reason to be as it is. If a person offer s a TA in which they argue that in order for reason to make sense it must not exist than obviously that theory, which might have full warrant in your model unless I have missed something, is not an adequite TA.

    Incompletness theorms of Godel.

    How have they not? If they state that such and such is the case and I ask why and they refuse to answer the question because they don't have to than that is very much so special pleading. There opinion is beyond that sort of logical criticism, but logical criticism seems to be nonexistant in your model, at least I'm am unsure as to its proper place.

    Naturalistic fallacy and begging the question. Just because a course of action is the most practical does not mean that I ought to obey it. You are also begging the question again of why I should care about practicality in ethics.

    I don't quite understand you here.

    Do you really mean to suggest that normative standereds do not exist? If you are waiting for me to say something like agreed standereds of logic than fine those, but that statement poses no problem for me or Van Til because of common grace and the metaphysical and psychological point of contact between the beleiver and the unbeleiver. If you mean that there are no standereds beyond models of rationality than that is going to lead to skepticism pure and simple. My model doesn't match up to your and vice versa so we have no point of contact.
  30. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    Not at all---no one chooses what they believe. I can't just choose not to be a Christian.

    Simply this: most materialists would say that they arrived at the conclusion that materialism is true on the grounds of reason, or at least common sense.

    There are plenty of things that don't exist that we find quite useful---imaginary numbers, for instance. Meaning does not imply existence in the least: the concept of a spherical cube is perfectly meaningful---and one condition of its being meaningful is that no spherical cubes exist.

    Logical criticism is valid if you can show a contradiction between the propositions advocated. Otherwise, it may be a disconnect, it may be weird, but it's not illogical.

    "Practical" implies practice, which implies some goal of practice. E.G. pragmatism as such cannot be advocated---those philosophies that have claimed to be pragmatist are simply arguing for various workable goals.

    Practicality is a function of goals.

    Not at all, just pointing out that until you appeal to a common standard and a commonly agreed-upon judge (remember that standards imply interpreters, judges) the unbeliever has no reason to accept your argument.

    But the standards we are talking about are standards of rationality. For example, if God did not exist (let's set the impossibility of that aside for now), it would be very likely that my belief in Him is irrational, a cognitive dysfunction. On the other hand, since God does exist, it is very likely that my belief in Him is quite rational.

    However, I take issue with the idea that not having a nice metaphysical story for why X is true, when warrant has nothing to do with such a story, is grounds for saying that my belief in X is unjustified.

    Ok, now here we come down to the point: you have just uttered a tautology. I want specifics. What are those propositions that are such that reason is meaningful if and only if they are true? What is the argument that shows this to be true?
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