Justifying TAG? Part 2: A Response to Paul Manata

I am very glad that Paul Manata has responded to my various posts on presuppositionalism and laws of logic (the most recent post being this one). His response has been a long time in the making and I was beginning to wonder if it would ever arrive.

Below, I will comment on his response.

First, I should say this. I actually do have a good deal of respect for Paul. We've had some very valuable discussions in the past. I believe that he is well-reasoned and articulate, and I enjoy our dialogue because I feel that he pushes me to be more exact with my language.

Every now and then you will see me "trading barbs" with Paul in various comment boxes. I've more or less simply adopted the prevailing language of blogging, and the "insults" are meant to be playful banter and not taken seriously. [I suspect Paul thinks likewise about his barbs as well, and doesn't really believe I am an "ex-brainer."]

That said . . .

Paul states that the transcendental argument for the existence of God (TAG) is "person varied." When he states TAG,

<> P-->Q
<> P
:.Q

the "P" is that "which the skeptic accepts." Quoting Bahnsen, he fleshes this out:

If predication, reason, explanation, interpretation, learning, certainty, universals, possibility, cause, substance, being, or purpose, counting, coherence, unity, or system in experience or in a conception of a "universe," logic, individuating of facts, unchanging "natures" or laws in a chance universe, uniformity, science, connecting logic and facts or predication to reality, avoiding contradictions, avoiding the irrationalism or scepticism which arise from the tension between knowing discursively and knowing-asystematic, etc, are possible then God is the case .

Predication, reason, explanation, interpretation, learning, certainty, universals, possibility, cause, substance, being, or purpose, counting, coherence, unity, or system in experience or in a conception of a "universe," logic, individuating of facts, unchanging "natures" or laws in a chance universe, uniformity, science, connecting logic and facts or predication to reality, avoiding contradictions, avoiding the irrationalism or scepticism which arise from the tension between knowing discursively and knowing-asystematic, etc, are possible.

Therefore God is the case?
Though the question mark at the end seems out of place for a Reformed Christian, I won't make anything of that.

Essentially, Paul is asserting that if any of these things are possible, they are unfounded without reference to the Christian God. Which brings me back to the original question that I started with in my most recent post. Why is this the case? Why is the possiblity of any of these things unfounded without reference to the Christian God?

I stated that, in my experience, presuppositionalists do not attempt to give evidence of this assertion, but instead, they try to shift the burden of proof to make their opponent disprove their assertion.

Paul responds:

i. If the argument was that you could not account or make sense of logic within your worldview, then you'd need to show how you can.

But that IS NOT the argument! At least not the one that you presented. Your argument was:

<> P-->Q
<> P
:.Q

I.e. If some concept accepted by a non-Christian exists, then the Christian God exists; some concept accepted by a non-Christian exists, therefore the Christian God exists.

There is nothing about accounting for or making sense of logic within a world view. You make an assertion here. You state that a concept accepted by a non-Christian demands the existence of the Christian God.

Elsewhere, you may have stated that atheists can't account for held beliefs in their "world view" (see here for correction of this language), but we are talking about your transcendental argument, right? Why do you feel the need to change the subject here? Why not accept your burden to prove your assertion? You are the one presenting an argument, you should be the one to support its assertions.

ii. Since you have a burden as well, you need to show how you can reason autonomously. If you assume that you can have logic without God then you're begging the question against my worldview. So, you can't just assume you're autonomous and not expect to have to justify your autonomy.


Again, I don't have a burden in this transcendental argument. You are the one saying that a concept accepted by a non-Christian demands the existence of the Christian God. You are the one who must demonstrate this.

I have, elsewhere, dealt with my burden of the argument that you have introduced as a red-herring to shirk your obligation to prove your first premise in your TAG argument.

Let's remember that my question was about TAG. You have left that discussion and have introduced another argument that would, essentially, read, "If you can't 'account [for] or make sense of logic within your worldview,' then your world view is not true; you can't 'account [for] or make sense of logic within your worldview,' therefore your world view is not true."

This is a bad argument in its own right (one that, maybe, we can take up another day), but I want you to see that you have changed the topic. We aren't talking about the TAG that you presented any more. I want you to justify your first premise in your TAG argument.

iii. We're debating entire worldviews.

Not in the TAG argument you stated above! We are only debating if your first premise in your argument is true. You should be explaining your assertion that a concept accepted by a non-Christian (like the ones you quoted from Bahnsen above) demands the existence of the Christian God. Maybe later we can debate "entire worldviews," right now, though, we should be talking about your assertion in your first premise of TAG.

iv. If your argument assumes universal laws of logic then you must offer an account of how such things are possible, unless you just want some freebies.

I didn't make an argument, you did!

We are talking about your TAG argument. You are the one who is begging for "freebies" here. You want me to simply accept your first premise without asking that you support it. Why would I grant you this "freebie"? Why should I accept your first premise?

v. There's a two-step method in play. The first is to argue negatively, i.e., you can't account for logic given what you say about the world. The second is to show how, say, logic does presuppose God's existence.

So, let's look at your two-step method.

Step One: Are you now suggesting that your first premise is proven because it can't be disproved? Argumentum ad Ignorantiam! Are you saying that if logic exists, then God exists because I can't show otherwise? So, purple unicorns exist somewhere in the universe because you can't prove otherwise?

No, I don't think you are actually making this mistake. You are too smart for that. What you have done, though, is, again, forgotten that we are talking about the TAG argument that you presented. You are still referring back to your red-herring argument that you introduced so that you can neglect your responsibility of supporting your first premise of that argument.

The first step of your "two-step" method assumes that we are talking about your argument that I can't account for logic in my "world view." But that isn't what we are discussing. We are talking about the TAG argument you presented above, remember? I asked you to justify the first premise of that argument. I did not ask you to justify the first premise of the argument that you have introduced to avoid justifying the first premise of the argument you presented above.

Step Two: Now, this is the step I am actually asking about, and now we are actually talking about the argument you presented above. In this step, you must support your assertion that "logic does presuppose God's existence."

But wait, where is that support? Not in this comment. The next maybe?

vi. The argument is usually retortive in that the attempt is made to show that by denying the transcendental claim you do so only by performing it.

But how is this helpful?

I get what you are saying about transcendental arguments per se, but we are supposed to be evaluating this particular transcendental argument.

In other words, I agree that a transcendental argument for the existence of logic per se would be shown because any logical denial of the existence of logic would be a performance of logic which must exist. But your TAG is something else entirely. By "performing" logic (or any of the other items in Bahnsen's list above), I am only demonstrating that that item exists (whether in reality or perceived reality).

The only way that your argument would be "retortive" would be if by denying that the Christian God exists, I was affirming that the Christian God exists. Now, you do believe I am doing this, but only indirectly. You correctly identify my denial as an act relying on logic, but then you assume that the existence of logic demands the existence of the Christian God.

WHICH IS EXACTLY THE FIRST PREMISE OF YOUR ARGUMENT THAT I HAVE BEEN ASKING YOU TO SUPPORT!

Pardon the yelling, but it is a little frustrating. You are assuming the premise that I have asked you to support in order to prove the premise. Following that argument makes me dizzy, and I yell when I get dizzy.

Next, Paul begins to address my assertion that Greg Bahnsen's "TAG" (as presented here), doesn't sound like a modus ponens argument to me.

I see this as a peripheral issue to the one stated above. If there is a response to this post, I hope that the response focuses more on everything I have stated above rather than this part of my post.

The question I am most concerned with is, "How is the first premise of TAG justified by presuppositionalists?"

What follows is simply an issue I have with understanding how Bahnsen seems to put the argument.

In Bahsen's article, he writes, "Whose perspective is intellectually justified, the Christian's or the non-Christian's?"

I translated this to be:

P v Q

(i.e. the non-Christian's perspective is "intellectually justified" or is the Christian world view "intellectually justified")

He goes on to write, "In various forms, the fundamental argument advanced by the Christian apologist is that the Christian worldview is true because of the impossibility of the contrary."

I translated this to mean,

~P
:.Q

(i.e. the non-Christian world view is not "intellectually justified" (i.e. it is not "true"), therefore the Christian world view is justified).

Paul responds to my assertion.

i. The Christian worldview is true by the impossibility of the contrary. We're not trying to prove just "if logic, then God" but rather the entire worldview.

Well, according to TAG, the Christian God is true because logic (or one of the other items on Bahnsen's list) exists. And since this is part of your argument, I asked you to justify it.

ii. Transcendental Arguments take the form of modus ponens. I'll sidestep debate here because the burden is one you, considering the fact that you're the only person in the history of the world who has made the stricture of a TA a disjunctive syllogism.


But my point was that Bahnsen made it sound as if TAG was a disjunctive syllogism. I know the structure of TA's. I'm not arguing about how TA's should be stated per se. My point was about Bahnsen's structure, not TA's generally.

Here's what might have confused me. I was under the impression that, according to presuppositionalists, "the fundamental argument advanced by the Christian apologist" was the transcendental argument. Bahnsen writes, "the fundamental argument advanced by the Christian apologist is that the Christian worldview is true because of the impossibility of the contrary."

I therefore reasoned:

T = F
C = F
:. T = C

(i.e. The transcendental argument is "the fundamental argument advanced by the Christian apologist"; the "impossibility of the contrary" is "the fundamental argument advanced by the Christian apologist"; therefore, the transcendental argument is the impossibility of the contrary.

The assumption that I probably got wrong was that Bahnsen was referring to TAG when he named "the fundamental argument advanced by the Christian apologist."

But I think you can understand my confusion on this point. Throughout your post, when you were supposed to be discussing TAG, you have really been discussing this impossibility of the contrary argument. If TAG is not the "impossibility of the contrary" argument, then you, presuppositionalists, should be more clear on this. You seem to confuse the two throughout your post.

Additionally, you admit that the impossibility of the contrary argument really preceeds TAG.

You see, there are only two worldviews and all I've been doing is giving illustrations on how many different ways I can refute that worldview in its various forms. The non-Christian worldview is like a family in that there are different family members who look a bit different, but they are all members of the same family. Likewise, atheism and Buddhism are just distant cousins. So, my argument is not as you have set it up, rather, it is:

C v ~C

~~C

:.C.

You use TAG to demonstrate ~~C (which I'll give you the "freebie" of assuming that you don't mean everything that is not the Christian world view).

The first argument of a presuppositionalist is disjunctive. Either the Christian world view is true or another one is. In order to establish that another world view is not true, the presuppositionalist employees TAG. TAG states that all other world views hold a belief that can only be justified by the existence Christian God.

The problem, though, is with the justification of TAG. You must justify that argument before you can prove ~~C. And this is what I asked you to do in your response. And this is exactly what you didn't do in your post.

iii. Notice that EB misstates his symbols above. He says that the argument is "the Christian worldview or the non-Christian worldview." He translates that as:

P v Q.

Really, that would be translated P v ~P.

You really should be careful when accusing me of misusing formal logic. I'm pretty good at it.

If P equals "the Christian world view," ~P would equal "not the Christian world view." My cat is "not the Christian world view." So, are you saying that the Christian world view is true or my cat is true? That would be a mistake, huh?

I used Q as a "non-Christian world view" because I needed a symbol that could be used to describe world views, not everything else in existence besides the Christian world view.

We can engage in these formal logic pissing contests more if you want to, but I wouldn't recommend it, for your sake.

Okay, that was parts (2a) and (2b)of your post. In the heading, you said that you would (1) address some comments made by others on this blog, (2) Answer my question about how the first premise of TAG is justified (which is what I think you were trying to do in the pre-Bahnsen discussion above), and (3) refute an argument I have made in the past about the laws of logic.

I feel no need to comment on your first goal as it has nothing to do with me. Above is my response to your second goal (and I believe my response to part (a) shows that you failed to achieve that goal). I will respond to your third goal in a subsequent post (I have a paper due in class and need to attend to that).

I do enjoy the dialogue, Paul. Thanks.

By the way, I am still interested in a real justification of the first premise of the transcendental argument if anyone has one.

23 comments:

John W. Loftus said...

I am still unpersuaded that my initial critiques of presuppositionalism have been shown to be invalid here.

But there are so many debates over this God that Manata wants to argue for. Take for instance the debate between Open Theism and Classical Theism. Paul Helm argued that “the arguments used to show that God is in time, in effect support the view that God is finite.” There is such a close connection between the timelessness of God and the spacelessness of God, Helm argued, that a denial of God’s timelessness is also a denial of God’s spacelessness. Therefore, he claims it’s possible that “the belief in God is even more incoherent than previously thought, in that it requires unintelligibilities such as a timeless and spaceless existence.”

Helm concludes by laying out the three options: Someone can either a) Accept the unintelligible existence of both a timeless and spaceless God, b) Accept the consequences of a God who is both in time and finite, or, c) Supply other arguments on behalf of a God who is in time which does not also deny God’s spacelessness. [“God and Spacelessness,” Philosophy 55 (1980)]. I just think this indicates God’s existence is unintelligible, regardless of what we might conceive him to be, and hence neither ontological nor TAG arguments can even get off the ground.

Paul Manata said...

I was talking about *worldviews,* not cats.

So, as I said, there are only two-worldviews. C and ~C.

You should stick to what i said.

Also, you asked *how* does one justify it. You didn;t ask me *to* justify it.

So, I said it was justified using retortion. That is different than doing it.

So, I took your request at face value. I assumed that you just wanted to know how we did it, i.e., the method of argumetation empoyed. You said your post was intended to be a sincere question, not a debate.

Yes, I assume logic requires God's existence. I come to the table with a complete worldview. It has logic, ethics, etc., already included. So, I come with a package.

We thern engage in internal criticisms. In my worldview we have no problem with the existence of immaterial abstracte ntities, which are universal.

I then look at yours, and find it has problems accounting for the existence of such, even on its own terms.

So, I'm left standing and you're not.

I know people confuse this as *assuming* or *circular* are *dogmatism* but that's because they fail to grasp the nature of *worldview* apologetics with its TAG weapon included.

Paul Manata said...

oh John, you seem to be forgetting my refutation of your post on presuppositionalism (which you never responded to, btw)

http://presstheantithesis.blogspot.com/2006/02/debunking-john-w-loftus.html

exbeliever said...

Paul,

Also, you asked *how* does one justify it. You didn;t ask me *to* justify it.

So, I said it was justified using retortion. That is different than doing it.

So, I took your request at face value. I assumed that you just wanted to know how we did it, i.e., the method of argumetation empoyed. You said your post was intended to be a sincere question, not a debate.


Oh, I get it, you were confused. If someone asked you how to play chess, you would answer, "with a chessboard and chess pieces," because you think that is what they meant.

It's funny, because in your post, you seem to have a different understanding. You quote me as saying, "Normally, after making an argument, people seek to support each of their premises."

So, it certainly seems that you knew, then, that I wanted you to support your first premise.

Stop back-pedaling. How do you justify the first premise of TAG? You say that the existence of logic (or whatever other concept) demands the existence of the Christian God. If logic (or whatever other concept) exists, then the Christian God exists. That is your first premise. Why is that so?

Give your basis for believing this premise.

Bahnsen Burner said...

Paul,

Your recent blog entry makes you look quite foolish, Paul. Indeed, in many ways, you appear not to have graduated beyond the sandbox tactics of your street-running days. As with virtually all your writing, I read through your statements hoping to learn something useful, but by the time I reach the end (or even mid-point in many cases), I can’t help but feel embarrassed for you. As constructive criticism, I’d suggest you edit your writing before you publish it. What you publish appears to have been written in haste, in the white heat of some unstructured outrage which takes your writing on a meandering course as you try to seal in the minds of your readers that the individual you’re writing about is beneath contempt. Sarcasm, if used sparingly, can be effective. But with you, Paul, it’s always over the top, heavily over-used, as if it were the only seasoning in your cupboard. I’d suggest you review what you’ve written before you publish it, consider more carefully what it is that you want to accomplish in your piece (if you just want to vent your frustration and make yourself look rather childish, then proceed with your current habit), and make edits as you go, cleaning up the mess you made in your angst.

For instance, when in your draft you write:

“Now, since I can't conclude that Bethrick doesn't know what he's talking about here, based of his previous blunders, I suppose I'll have to actually give new examples of”

a series of clauses strung together on the brink of a run-on sentence which aborts in mid-thought, you would catch this “blunder” (ironic, isn’t it?) and either finish your thought, or scrap it altogether. But in your haste, you published without reviewing what you wrote, thus telling your readers that you’re annoyed rather than articulate a well-considered message. So in this way, publishing your original draft makes you appear rather over-anxious, too eager to impress someone (perhaps your fellow triabloggers), not to mention unable to contain your impatience. But I’ve noticed this is common at triablogue, so in this way you fit right in with the flock.

Now to consider some of the things you did say. One of your complaints is that I did not present an argument in my comment. An argument for precisely what? What am I called to argue for? Do you think it was my intention to present an argument for something, and I simply failed in that task? I was pointing to my analyses of apologetic arguments, not presenting a new argument of my own.

You then want to say that I have “almost no knowledge of philosophy.” But it’s unclear from what you do present how you think you can establish this. You picked on one of my statements, which was:

"This pretense is supported by embarrassingly naïve understandings of the problems themselves (e.g., failing to question Hume's conception of the problem of induction)..."

A concern for context will help us keep in mind that the pretense that I am talking about here is the hallmark of presuppositional apologetics, namely the assumption “that the only ‘solutions’ to various persisting philosophical problems (e.g., problem of universals, problem of induction, preconditions of knowledge in general, etc.) are Christian-theistic in nature.” Thus the pretense I’m talking about is one that is promulgated in the writings of presuppositionalist authors, like Greg Bahnsen. Notice that I am not making a statement about thinkers outside the presuppositionalist box. Bahnsen repeatedly points to Hume as an authority on induction in his debates and writings, and from what I have read of Bahnsen’s, he never once questions Hume’s premises in framing the problem. That is, Bahnsen is all too eager to rush along with Hume’s skeptical conclusions as something to be reckoned with (somehow belief in invisible magic beings is supposed to make it all better), and apparently believed that no one outside Christianity can answer Hume on his own terms. In his book Van Til’s Apologetic: Readings & Analysis, Bahnsen suggests that Hume’s challenges are the standard to be contended with:

“The Christian apologist should be interested to find out from the intellectual despisers of Christian faith who it is, then, that has provided the rational rebuttal to the skepticism of Hume. Perhaps to his surprise he will find that most contemporary philosophers – having little taste for idealism (with its speculative complexities and flights from common sense) – acquiesce to Hume (and thus to skepticism), either by trivializing the problem he raised (“Nobody can answer them, so they are not important”) or by giving up on epistemological certainty in favor of “pragmatic” approaches to knowledge or science.” (359.n188)

Bahnsen’s apologetic is in fact invested in the assumption that Hume’s problem is something to be taken seriously. It is this assumption – specifically that Hume’s conception of the problem should be taken at face value – that I find embarrassingly naïve. It is an assumption that I don’t see Bahnsen ever questioning. Perhaps Paul can find where Bahnsen does question this, and if so, I’d really like to see this. Then I would wonder why Bahnsen still continued to appeal to Hume as an authority on the issue of induction.

In his stupor to make me look bad (this is a high ambition for many apologists who are easily shown up on philosophical issues), Paul misappropriates my statement beyond recognition by construing it to say something it does not say, or even remotely intended to say. For one, he seems to think that I said that he and his gang (Paul uses the word “we” but does not specify whom this refers to) misunderstand the problem of induction. But my point is not incompatible with the possibility that some apologists have a better understanding of induction than either Hume or Bahnsen had. Remember, the issue here is presuppositionalism’s pretense, not the apologist’s own actual understanding. It could be that the apologist actually knows better, but simply hopes that his opponents do not. I don’t have any evidence to suppose this was the case for Bahnsen; I am of the impression that he really did not know any better, but I could be wrong on this and am open to being corrected. At any rate, I have yet to see Paul Manata demonstrate that he has any better understanding of induction than either Bahnsen or Hume. And if he does what Bahnsen did – i.e., take Hume seriously as an authority on the matter – it’s unlikely that he’ll grow in this department.

In his effort to amplify my remarks beyond what they say, Paul pointed out that “in all of my philosophy books, when I read on the POI, Hume is brought up.” And nothing I’ve said is incompatible with this state of affairs. I am wholeheartedly willing to concede the historical development of the issue, owing to Hume’s attempts to wrestle with the problem. Paul says that “one could say that Hume’s question is the problem of induction.” But the problem that Hume raised was not isolated to a mere question. On the contrary, Hume imported a broad context into his conception of the issue, and this is what I think Bahnsen should have appreciated more. Indeed, did Bahnsen ever stop to inquire on Hume’s “presuppositions”? What were the driving “presuppositions” in Hume’s conception of the problem? Rather, Bahnsen was more focused on Hume’s conclusion, and this is what he wanted everyone else to take seriously. Hume’s premises in forming the problem were apparently not a concern for Bahnsen. So here, Paul aptly illustrates my point without realizing it.

Paul then tries to encapsulate the problem: “The problem is, ‘what gives us a right to reason from particular instances of our experience to a generalized conclusion?’ Now, that’s the problem.” So, for Paul, the problem is not the process by which we generalize, it’s “what gives us the right” to do so. Paul has made this an issue of “rights”, which is a political concept. Already he’s gotten off track, for the problem of induction has historically been a matter of epistemology, not politics. Paul says that “there are many answers to the problem (e.g., uniformity of nature; language; pragmatic; etc), and the apologist might go on to show that the answers to the problem fail to make muster.” Should we be surprised, however, to find that most attempts to answer Hume in fact proceed on the basis that Hume adequately grasped the problem? Again, it’s not clear that Paul has grasped my point, and yet his intention is to show that I have “almost no knowledge of philosophy.”

Only by uncharitably conflating what I have stated can Paul suggest that I have “effectively said that virtually every philospher/epsietmologist... in the world is naive on a subject which they supposedly have mastered.” Again, he has spoken beyond the context of my point, which was specific to the pretense of presuppositional apologetics. To make this impression on his readers, he goes to his bookshelf to quote numerous non-presuppositionalist sources, as if the understanding found there can substitute for the misunderstandings pawned off in Bahnsen’s apologetic. This doesn’t fly.

Paul quotes from Pojman,

"From a single experience, we sometimes make an inductive leap to many; from some of a certain kind, we often make a leap to judgments about allexperiences of a kind. ...But though inductive probability is psychologically inescapable, we have trouble providing a rational justification for it. ...It was David Hume (11711-1776)who first raised the problem of induction...” [sic]

What is given here is not sufficient to determine whether or not the author has fallen for Hume’s illicit premises, so this quotation is unhelpful for Paul's intentions. But it certainly does nothing to call into question my knowledge of philosophy, nor does it show that I am wrong for pointing out presuppositionalism’s naïveté on the matter. You’ll notice that I nowhere contended that Hume did not raise the issue, or that he was the first to raise it. Again, my point is that Hume’s underlying premises were faulty, but this does not stop someone like a Greg Bahnsen from swinging Hume’s conclusions around as if they were insuperable. So all of Paul’s energy in dusting off the many tomes of knowledge on his bookshelf has been wasted.

Paul also says that “one could make the argument that if you do not state Hume's problem, you're not stating the POI.” But what is this really saying? Is this an agreement with Bahnsen, that Hume’s conception of the problem is indisputable? Or, is it a matter of ownership? Is Paul simply telling us that he is unaware of the premises which Hume assumed when developing his conception of the problem? Hume did not simply announce that there is no justification for inductive generalization. On the contrary, Hume tilled through the mental processes as he understood them which he used in forming generalizations. And it is this point which seems to have escaped Paul’s hairsplitting wit.

Paul is correct when I mentions that I take an Objectivist approach to the issue of induction. In doing so, I am not saddled with the confusion that chokes Hume’s understanding of perception, conceptualization and the law of causality. These are key to understanding Hume’s chief errors, errors which, as far as I can tell, went undetected by Bahnsen. And though I do not travel in “most academic circles,” I wouldn’t be surprised if the thinkers in those roundtables were unaware of the unique approach to induction that Objectivist affords. If so, that's their loss, suggesting that they are in fact ignorant of Objectivism’s contribution here, and, since they’re supposed to be the experts on such matters, I see nothing wrong with thinking them naïve at this point. Professor Kelley presented an Objectivist response to Hume back in the mid-80’s. It’s been around for a while now. Kelley’s approach includes an explanation of what Hume had gotten wrong. Then he shows how the Aristotelian conception of the law of causality coupled with the Objectivist theory of concepts work together to provide inductive generalization with an objective basis, showing how concept-formation provides a working model for induction even before actual inferences are made. In their attempts to press the issue of induction in their apologetic ramblings, presuppositionalists come across as completely clueless on the issues that Kelley brings up (again, how are they not naïve?). Needless to say, presuppositionalists are unprepared to refute the Objectivist position on the matter.

But instead of showing a genuine interest in what Objectivism has to say, I’m confident that we’ll see more playground attitude and juvenile frustration posted on the blogs, hoping to convince someone that Dawson Bethrick is just “full of hot air.”

Regards,
Dawson

Aaron Kinney said...

That was a hell of a reply Dawson, good one.

Paul Manata said...

Dear Dawson,

1. The ad hominem portion of your response did nothing to undermine my argument.

2. You fallaciously offer only a couple of the (worst) reasons for why I write in haste. This is all to typical of you.

3. You fail to address the point that you look moronic by saying Hume failed to grasp the PoI, since Hume's "problem" *IS* the PoI. So, you just look plain ignorant.

4. You, as I demonstrate in my series on you, fail to seek to really understand what your opponent means, always seeking to interpret in the worst light. I meant epistemic rights, not political ones! So, what's the difference between someone who writes in a hurry but at least represents others arguments correctly, and someone who dresses his misrepresentations up in nice proce? Well, the difference between a pig in the mud and another pig in the mud, but who's wearing a dress. You can dress up a pig all you want, it's still a pig.

5. You fail to even mention my critique of your answer. Which is where you should spend the majority of your time.

6. You *again* fail to elaborate on your answer to the problem.

7. Everytime I say, "read Van Til" or "Bahnsen" you ask me to explain it to you. Well, do the same. Don't be a hypocrit.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, Paul Manata does not warrant the attention you guys have been giving him. You guys on the Debunking Christianity blog should move on.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, Paul Manata has made most of you look rather weak.

I would suggest you move on also, but for different reasons that the above.

Paul Manata said...

Pretty brave, for an anonymouse.

Bahnsen Burner said...

Paul,

You prove me a prophet, for I had closed my last comment with the following words:

"instead of showing a genuine interest in what Objectivism has to say, I’m confident that we’ll see more playground attitude and juvenile frustration posted on the blogs, hoping to convince someone that Dawson Bethrick is just 'full of hot air'.”

And here you come, fulfilling my prophecy just as I had predicted. Let's take a look at your points:

"1. The ad hominem portion of your response did nothing to undermine my argument."

What precisely was your argument? Was it: "Bethrick is a liar and is well known for being full of hot air"? And you say I argued ad hominem? You do realize that simply having your feelings hurt does not constitute a validation of the charge of ad hominem, do you not?

"2. You fallaciously offer only a couple of the (worst) reasons for why I write in haste. This is all to typical of you."

I made the observation that you are in the habit of writing in haste and publishing your statements before reviewing and editing them. I offered you constructive criticism to overcome this habit. Specifically what fallacy did I commit here? Why not gracefully accept the advice with some gratitude? Would that be too difficult?

"3. You fail to address the point that you look moronic by saying Hume failed to grasp the PoI, since Hume's "problem" *IS* the PoI. So, you just look plain ignorant."

I spoke to this, Paul. You haven't answered what I wrote. Why is that? It appears that you think Hume adequately understood the process of inductive generalization. In fact, this is the very assumption that I have brought into question. Repeating over and over that "Hume's problem *IS* the PoI" simply begs the question while missing my point. If you want to believe, as Bahnsen clearly did, that Hume's premises in formulating his take on induction are accurate, then by all means, believe it. In the words of Christian apologist Greg Welty, this only serves to make you "look, well, a bit outdated. Sort of like never progressing beyond Hume in our understanding of 'the inductive problem'."

"4. You, as I demonstrate in my series on you, fail to seek to really understand what your opponent means, always seeking to interpret in the worst light. I meant epistemic rights, not political ones! So, what's the difference between someone who writes in a hurry but at least represents others arguments correctly, and someone who dresses his misrepresentations up in nice proce? Well, the difference between a pig in the mud and another pig in the mud, but who's wearing a dress. You can dress up a pig all you want, it's still a pig."

Paul, are you agreeing, or disagreeing with me, that the problem of induction has historically been concerned with the *process* by which we form generalizations from selected samples rather than being concerned with what "gives us the right" to do so?

As for your comment - "you can dress up a pig all you want, it's still a pig" - I agree. Indeed, you can deny the fact that the Christian worldview is irrational all you want, but it's still irrational. It's possible that one day you will wake up from the stupor of Christian delusion and look back on these days in your life, wondering how you could have become so estranged from reality. Others have woken up. How do you know you won't?

"5. You fail to even mention my critique of your answer. Which is where you should spend the majority of your time."

Which answer of mine did you critique? And where is your answer to it? Perhaps I missed it? Anyway, do you think I'm obligated to respond to EVERYTHING you write? I don't think so.

"6. You *again* fail to elaborate on your answer to the problem."

Then what in tarnation did you critique? You said you critiqued my answer. But now you complain that I haven't given an answer. Are you coming, or are you going?

"7. Everytime I say, 'read Van Til' or 'Bahnsen' you ask me to explain it to you. Well, do the same. Don't be a hypocrit."

You want me to explain Van Til and Bahnsen to you? Then read my blog.


Here are some points in response to you, Paul:

1. In your blog, you had complained that "no actual argument was given," and in my response above, I asked you to identify what you think I'm called to argue for. You fail to answer this.

2. You have not made good on your claim that I have "almost no knowledge of philosophy."

3. You resist acknowledging that my statement about naïveté on the issue of induction was specifically in regard to the pretense that is integral to presuppositionalism.

4. You resist acknowledging that my point was not to question whether Hume *raised* the issue of induction, but to point out that Bahnsen erroneously assumed that Hume's understanding of induction is correct.

5. You cite zero instances of Bahnsen questioning or challenging Hume's premises in his (Hume's) formulation of the problem of induction. Thus you have not succeeded in bringing my point about Bahnsen into question.

6. You resist acknowledging that you had to conflate my statement well beyond what I did in fact state in order to invent the myth that I am saying that all philosophers are naïve on the matter of induction. I nowhere affirmed this, nor would I.

7. You complain that I did not present a full exposition of the Objectivist response to Hume, even though I did not intend to do this in the comments section of a blog. You referred to my not doing so as a failure on my part. It could only be a failure if I had sought to do so and did not succeed. But since I did not seek to do this in the space of a comments section of a blog, there's no failure on my part.

8. I don't think it would serve much of a purpose to try to explain to you how induction works since it's clear that you've presupposed from the beginning that whatever I say on the matter is wrong anyway, even before you've had a chance to examine it. As Price puts it, you have your "head up your assumptions." That's the underlying precondition of presuppositionalism, by definition: you're confessionally committed to only one outcome, namely one which will make Christianity seem to prevail in your mind. That's why Bahnsen was satisfied to assume that Hume's conception of induction is accurate. It wasn't that Hume's understanding was flawless, it was simply that his conclusions were apologetically useful. If you can't see through this, then that’s your loss.

9. I know the previous point is the case because your attitude is not one of honest inquiry, but of fear that I might be right (and this angers you). This is also demonstrated by your persisting ambition to misrepresent my view (such as when you try to make the axiom 'existence exists' say something other than what Objectivism means by it).

Regards,
Dawson

Bahnsen Burner said...

Anonymous: "In my opinion, Paul Manata has made most of you look rather weak.

I would suggest you move on also, but for different reasons that the above."

Did you mean to write "for different reasons than the above"?

Perhaps, like Paul Manata, you should also acquire the habit of reviewing what you've written before you post it.

Regards,
Dawson

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Paul Manata said...

Dawson, anytime you want to debate your "answer" to the PoI, go ahead.

I'm afraid I don't have the time to play, "out wordsmith the wordsmith."

You won't though because you have your handy little out: "I won't promulgate and defend my view because you really don;t want to learn it, you just want to critique it."

Oh, and as far as reading your blog to understand Bahnsen and Van Til, that's laughable. Laughable considering the series I've done on you. Three was the most embarrassing so far. Even fellow atheists and commenters on your blog said I hit.

Lastly, then I'll move on:

"Paul, are you agreeing, or disagreeing with me, that the problem of induction has historically been concerned with the *process* by which we form generalizations from selected samples rather than being concerned with what "gives us the right" to do so?"

Disagreeing. The *process* would be a *psychological* question (which was Hume's answer, btw, i.e., "it's a habit of the mind"). The epistemological one (as you said above the PoI is) would be for one to show the *epistemic* justification for inductive reasoning. That is, what epistemic right do we have to reason from the observed to the unobserved.

We have the epistemic *duty* to do so, if we want to be rational, but do we have the epistemic *right* to do so? You do understand the distinction, right.

Anyway, I'm not expecting much as you've already shown your ineptitude at distinguishing between psychology and epistemology.

Now, I know many young children will comment on how you're a butt-kicker (indeed, such are the one's who comment on your shoddy blog), but that's because they fail to distingush between *argument* and *rhetoric.*

Anyway, why don;t you write up a blog answering the PoI. Okay? There's the challenge from this weak little theist. Will the big bad atheist take him up?

Also, readers should be aware that I've asked Dawson, for many months, to give us his "answer" to the problem of universals (since he wrote that he had an answer). Dawson still has failed to address that challenge.

You see, for Dawson, if he can spend his time atacking, rather than putting forth anything positive, then he's free of the cumbersome problem of actually contributing anything positive to our world.

Furthermore, and I've already addressed this, what does it matter if I already think you're wrong? What does it mater if I just want you to give your position so I can attack it? My arguments will still stand or fall on their own. I mean, the subject's desires have no bearing on the object (arguemnts), do they?

You're not being a good Randroid, Dawson.

Oh, before I forget, can you make sure to include your position on epistemic justification. That is, are you internalis, externalist, or what? That will help me as I critique your answer.

So, now it's put up or shut up time for Dawson.

Engage in more rhetorci then I'll have to ignore you again.

ciao

Anonymous said...

ouch!

How many times is this that Manata has called Bethrick out?

Will Dawson step up?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Daniel said...

I just removed a post that had something to do with Paul performing a sexual act with Jesus.

Please, people, be civil. I know that being anony-mice emboldens you, but there is no need to turn our blog into a latrine.

This place is not a schoolyard playground within which the anony-mice can hide behind the swings and, "na-na-na-na-boo-boo" each other. I don't think Dawson, or Paul, need to be goaded into responding as if this is the 6th grade. If they want to, they will, and if not, they won't.

Jeez, and I thought I was immature.

Bahnsen Burner said...

Paul,

It is interesting how someone who signs on as "anonymous" posts a comment encouraging EXACTLY ONE MINUTE after you had posted your comment to me. That's quite a coincidence, don't you think? Sincerely, it's

I asked: "Paul, are you agreeing, or disagreeing with me, that the problem of induction has historically been concerned with the *process* by which we form generalizations from selected samples rather than being concerned with what "gives us the right" to do so?"

Paul: "Disagreeing. The *process* would be a *psychological* question (which was Hume's answer, btw, i.e., 'it's a habit of the mind'). The epistemological one (as you said above the PoI is) would be for one to show the *epistemic* justification for inductive reasoning. That is, what epistemic right do we have to reason from the observed to the unobserved."

This just confirms that you do not have a conceptual understanding of induction, and thus no actual epistemological understanding of the issues pertaining to induction. You're not going to make any progress in either forming or evaluating a justification for inductive generalization if you're unclear on what constitutes the process by which such generalization is generated, and by dismissing the process as a psychological habit indicates that you are quite unclear on the process itself to begin with (just as Hume was - which was my point all along!). It is true that we automatize the process, but this does not remove induction from epistemology since the process is still a conceptual process. Indeed, referring to induction as merely "a habit of the mind" in no way informs us of what this "habit" consists of in terms of mental processes. This simply blurs the issue. An attempt to acquire a fuller understanding of induction would have to cut past such ambiguities. Also - and this point is critical - we should keep in mind that inductive generalization is not the only means by which we "go from the observed to the unobserved," nor is it the primary means by which we do this. We do this already just by forming concepts on the basis of what we perceive firsthand. Have you considered what exactly the concept 'unobserved' in this context refers to? Does it refer to a specific concrete object? Or, does it refer to an abstraction which includes an open-ended range of objects whose particular attributes and measurements are not specified? The conceptual implications here are difficult to miss, but from what I can tell, not many thinkers who have engaged the issue of induction have a conceptual understanding of the process. In fact, concepts themselves provide a working model for inductive generalization. Unless you understand this process, you won't get very far in trying to understand induction. And so far, Paul, you've not demonstrated any appreciation for these finer points. Perhaps they frighten you since they so effectively undermine presuppositionalism, your faith. Needless to say, throwing our hands up in the air and saying "Duh, I donno! Must be god did it!" will only stop our understanding in its tracks. Nor does the claim that we "think" someone else's thoughts shed any light on the process. Also, appealing to supernatural promises fails to address the issue for it, too, does not shed any light on the process. On the contrary, such appeals merely take the process for granted.

Paul: "We have the epistemic *duty* to do so, if we want to be rational, but do we have the epistemic *right* to do so? You do understand the distinction, right."

I do not accept such arbitrary distinctions. As I indicated, I don't think the concept of rights has anything to do with it, and I acknowledge no 'duty' to do anything. Since my approach to induction focuses on the process as an extension of concept-formation, the alleged distinction you want to point to here simply does not apply. At best it can only distract you from the issues at hand with unnecessary complications that accomplish nothing important. I realize this will be a pain point for you, but that will not deter me.

Paul: "Anyway, I'm not expecting much as you've already shown your ineptitude at distinguishing between psychology and epistemology."

Paul, simply because I do not accept the arbitrary distinctions that you've picked up (perhaps uncritically) from Anal Phil and other academic vices, does not in anyway justify your (unargued) assertion here that I am inept "at distinguishing between psychology and epistemology." If it's truly the case that you really think I'm so inept at everything, being "full of hot air" and having "almost no knowledge of philosophy," why would you want to engage me on these matters in the first place? Again, since the process by which we generalize from specific samples is essentially a conceptual process, it necessarily falls under the heading of epistemology. This is only unclear if you have no conceptual understanding of induction (which appears to be the case).

Paul: "Now, I know many young children will comment on how you're a butt-kicker (indeed, such are the one's who comment on your shoddy blog), but that's because they fail to distingush between *argument* and *rhetoric.*"

Here's an example of your own 'habit of mind' paraded in the guise of a generalization which has no inductive backing whatsoever. It is because of the tendency to mistake habitual errors of this nature with the process of induction that I think it's important to submit the premises which Hume incorporated in his skeptical conclusions to much needed philosophical detection. As Rand would say, "Check your premises." This is something I strongly suggest you start doing, Paul.

Paul: "Anyway, why don;t you write up a blog answering the PoI. Okay?"

That's a great suggestion, Paul. Perhaps one of these days I will.

Paul: "Also, readers should be aware that I've asked Dawson, for many months, to give us his 'answer' to the problem of universals (since he wrote that he had an answer). Dawson still has failed to address that challenge."

That's not exactly true, Paul. Above I gave an indication of the general course I would take in addressing the conclusion that Hume drew regarding induction when I summarized Kelley's approach to the same matter. Hume got a number of significant points wrong, such as his views on perception, concepts and causality, the key factors in building a basis for inductive generalization. Given his premises, Hume couldn't conclude anything other than what he famously announced regarding induction. But if Hume's premises are faulty, then so is his conclusion. This is where Bahnsen did a major blank out, since he seems nowhere to have questioned Hume's premises. By affirming that you think that the process of induction is merely psychological ("a habit of the mind"), you demonstrate to me that, like Bahnsen before you, you've fallen for Hume's illicit premises. I also have the impression that you're confessionally committed to the outcome of Hume's analysis, not because you think it's true (after all, you think that Christianity refutes Hume's conclusion, don't you?), but because of the opportunity Hume's conclusion affords in terms of apologetic expedience. So even when you attempt to defend Hume's take on induction (which, by the way, has been exorbitantly weak so far), it's not in the interest of truth, but in the interest of protecting the pretense of presuppositionalism that I exposed above.

Paul: "You see, for Dawson, if he can spend his time atacking, rather than putting forth anything positive, then he's free of the cumbersome problem of actually contributing anything positive to our world."

Paul, do you think you've contributed anything positive, even to our discussion, let alone to our world? I'm really curious about this. If you do think you have, can you let your readers know what you think that positive contribution might be? What did Jesus teach? Matthew 7:3: 3 "You can see the speck in your friend's eye, but you don't notice the log in your own eye." And yea, you call me a "hypocrit"? [sic]

Paul: "Furthermore, and I've already addressed this, what does it matter if I already think you're wrong? What does it mater if I just want you to give your position so I can attack it? My arguments will still stand or fall on their own. I mean, the subject's desires have no bearing on the object (arguemnts), do they?"

It doesn't matter if you think I'm wrong. Nothing you think matters, Paul. You merely provide entertainment, and an opportunity for easy sparring.

You seem to be making no points whatsoever, Paul. Every time you try to make a point, it shows that you are not paying very good attention to what I'm saying. I strongly suggest you "chill" for a while, think about it, and then if you have any questions, come back to me. Or, just settle in your mind that I'm all "rhetorci" and no substance, but then that would leave my points unanswered. So, it's your choice.

Regards,
Dawson

Paul Manata said...

I failed to see your answer to the PoI.

You can continue to name call, in a nice way, "but then that would leave my points unanswered."

So, I'll continue waiting for your answer to the PoI. Until then, keep telling yourself that you have an answer. Repetition is a good way to make yourself feel good. Also, for those who take your words on blind faith, I'm sure that they'll also go along blindly thinking you ahve an answer to the PoI.

For me, I don;t have that kind of faith.

So, still waiting fopr your answer to the PoI as well as to your answer on the problem of universals.

Will Dawson every take me up on the challenge? Dountful.

Anonymous said...

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2006/04/greg-bahnsens-self-appointed-internet.html

and the mugging continues! ouch!

Bahnsen Burner said...

Paul: "I failed to see your answer to the PoI."

I think I was pretty clear about how I would approach the matter. I would basically affirm what Dr. Kelley has already presented.

As I stated earlier in the comments above:

"Kelley’s approach includes an explanation of what Hume had gotten wrong. Then he shows how the Aristotelian conception of the law of causality coupled with the Objectivist theory of concepts work together to provide inductive generalization with an objective basis, showing how concept-formation provides a working model for induction even before actual inferences are made."

Later I stated:

"I gave an indication of the general course I would take in addressing the conclusion that Hume drew regarding induction when I summarized Kelley's approach to the same matter. Hume got a number of significant points wrong, such as his views on perception, concepts and causality, the key factors in building a basis for inductive generalization."

So, essentially, I would make it a point to correct Hume's mistaken views of perception, concepts and causality, then I would explain how the Aristotelian conception of causality and the Objectivist theory of concepts together provide the mind with the objective basis that inductive generalization requires. Curiously, this approach is not represented among the samples of "secular responses to the problem of induction" that Anderson covers in his review.

Of course, there are a lot of issues that all this brings up, so a short, concise explanation is not likely to settle all anticipated questions. I have examined numerous approaches to this issue, Paul, and I've found none more enlightening that Kelley's. I've certainly not seen you bring any informed objections against it, or even against the basic approach that I've outlined here. I'm willing to suppose that you're just unfamiliar with it. But this only suggests that you're not in much of a position to critique it. But from what I've given here, can you find any fatal flaw already inherent in the approach that Kelley takes on the matter? Don't you think that an attempt to "answer Hume" should include a critical examination of Hume's premises? Or, do you think that one should simply accept Hume's premises unquestioningly?

Regards,
Dawson

Paul Manata said...

Well, I still see no answer to the PoI.

Maybe you like the "here, see my footnote" approach, but I'm not buying.

I can, with equal arbitrainess, say, "hey, you use Rand's theory of concepts? Well, that has been sliced and diced by the likes of Ryan, Heumer, Robbins, and Blanshard."

So, are we going to see Bethrick's answer to the PoI?

I highly doubt so.

Bahnsen Burner said...

Well, Paul, I guess the only thing that will satisfy you is if I throw up my hands and say "Duh, I donno! Must be god did it!" After all, that's essentially all that presuppositionalism offers on the matter. Meanwhile, you will likely continue to evade the fact that the cartoon universe of theism completely suffocates induction since it denies any objective basis which could make it possible or reliable. So even if there are minor problems with my take on induction (and you've not shown that there are), they couldn't possibly approach the destructive implications that Christianity has on the matter.

Regardless, it's clear you have nothing intelligent to offer on this matter. You've demonstrated this before and with patience I've given you the opportunity numerous times now to overcome your contentless naysaying and catcalling. But it's clear: you don't want to intelligently discuss the issue because it threatens your god-belief.

You can appeal to Ryan, Heumer and other critics all you want, but you don't agree with them anyway. Besides, do a little digging, you'll see that they've been answered already.

Regards,
Dawson