Thursday, February 8, 2018

The latest on Five Proofs


Check out a short interview I did for EWTN’s Bookmark Brief, hosted by Doug Keck, on the subject of Five Proofs of the Existence of God.  The much longer interview I did for Bookmark will appear before long.

At First Things, Dan Hitchens reflects on how the arguments of Five Proofs might be received in an age of short attention spans.

Jeff Mirus at Catholic Culture recommends Five Proofs.

At Catholic World Report, Christopher Morrissey kindly reviews Five Proofs.  From the review:

Whether all readers are convinced by Feser’s proofs or not, Feser’s lively approach in this book nonetheless demonstrates at least this much: despite all their bluster, natural theology’s funeral directors will inevitably be buried first.  Feser takes a shovel to them.

End quote.  Morrissey also offers some interesting critical reflections on the Augustinian proof (to which I may respond in a future post).  As they say, read the whole thing.  Some further comments from Morrissey at B.C. Catholic.

The blog Ontological Investigations is critically examining the book in a series of posts.  Some of what is said is quite off-base (e.g. the false claim that I do not address the most serious critics).  But overall this seems to be a serious attempt to grapple with the book’s arguments, and I may respond to some of it in a future post.

203 comments:

  1. You do address some of the serious criticisms e.g. Grimm's animadversion against omnipotence or Leftow's argument against grounding modal truths in the divine nature, in the course of discussing each argument, but not so much in the Objections to Natural Theology section (though credit where credit's due with the Rowe on divine choice).

    Also come on: New Atheists = Fish + Barrel + Oversized Harpoon.

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    1. Two points:

      1. "Some"? Which ones, specifically, do I not address? And what does it matter which section of the book I address them, as long as I address them?

      2. I'm glad you and the guys at OI see that the New Atheist objections are crap. But here's a newsflash: Enormous numbers of readers, including even some academic philosophers who don;t specialize in phil of religion, don't realize that. The book is meant for them too.

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    2. And let's be honest here. The real power of the new atheists was in their rhetorical force combined with the platform that the mainstream media used to give them.

      Case in point: Hawking and Mlodinow's The Grand Design. A book filled with hand-waving and bald assertions argued that there was no real need to believe in God. The press touted it as a nail in the coffin of natural theology, and for the "Christian" response, cherry-picked the most milquetoast church officials you could imagine, many of whom sounded like they never even read the book.

      Someone like Edward Feser, William Lane Craig, or Hugh Ross would have torn the books arguments to shreds on mainstream TV, which is why they were deliberately avoided.

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    3. Apologies for the delayed response time folks.

      Edward Feser wrote

      Two points:

      1. "Some"? Which ones, specifically, do I not address? And what does it matter which section of the book I address them, as long as I address them?


      Off the top of my head.

      - alleged incompatibility of Omniscience and de se knowledge

      - alleged incompatibility of Omniscience and knowledge of temporal indexical

      - The modal problem of evil with Gale’s coda that concomitants of free will i.e. principle of alternative possibilities, (supposedly) entails that such a world is indeed possible.

      I will also add that you don’t give more than quick response to the accidental property objection to Divine Simplicity (classifying God’s creating X or knowing X as contingent may commit us to certain externalist accounts of belief - is this the case and if so are they defensible?)

      As to why it matters: my charge was that a sizable percentage of the material in the last section was redundant, the important responses having been given elsewhere.

      2. I'm glad you and the guys at OI see that the New Atheist objections are crap. But here's a newsflash: Enormous numbers of readers, including even some academic philosophers who don;t specialize in phil of religion, don't realize that. The book is meant for them too.

      True but I am afraid that many of the people who buy such obviously dishonest arguments e.g. ‘What Caused God’ or ‘the universe came from nothing because of nothing’s funky quantum properties’ are unlikely that change their minds when faced with a rational argument to the contrary. You’ve highlighted the bankruptcy of the New Atheists and the old strawmen in multiple blog posts and in TLS – what need is there to include a New Atheist bashing section in anything touching on natural theology, particularly when there are higher status critics to take on?

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    4. OA Police,

      First, the trouble with the objections you give as examples is that they essentially presuppose a theistic personalist or anthropomorphic conception of God, which, of course, I reject. Since God does not have beliefs in the sense we do, nor is he in time, nor is he a moral agent, etc., such objections don't arise. A theistic personalist might have to fret about whether God knows what it is like to be Feser typing a blog post, whether he was morally obliged to create a world with less evil, etc., but classical theists don't. Lots of what is hashed out at length in the contemporary phil of religion literature is just irrelevant to classical theism and could therefore be ignored in Five Proofs.

      Second, while I am glad to hear you've read all those past blog posts of mine, you might keep in mind that lots and lots of people who will read the book will not have done so and thus will find that material useful. It's always a bad idea to judge a book by asking "How well did Feser tailor this book to what I, OA Police, am personally interested in?"

      Third, it is silly to characterize the last chapter as devoted to mere "New Atheist bashing" on the grounds that I cite New Atheist writers. Many of those objections are raised by lots of critics, not just New Atheists. To take just one example, when I respond in that chapter to the charge that cosmological arguments presuppose ontological arguments, it would be ridiculous to say "Oh that's just more New Atheist bashing," on the grounds that I cite Grayling as someone who raises that objection. Sure, he raises it, but so do lots of non-New Atheist types (including what you call "higher status critics").

      Fourth, my Inbox over the years indicates that you are quite wrong to assume that people aren't moved away from atheism by responses to objections that you and I know to be bad but many other well-meaning but ill-informed people assume are powerful. Again, I'm afraid I wasn't thinking "Gee, would OA Police want to read this?" as I began each chapter.

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    5. Comes with the territory, Ed.

      The only public impact some of these people, be they theists or atheists are likely to have, will be whatever impact results from their encounters with you.

      Over the last decade or so - I've witnessed about 5 of it personally - you have increasingly become one of the more socially significant moderate realist voices, and one of the few [including WLC among them] venturing into the public square, and whose "God Talk" cannot be immediately waved away or shrugged off by skeptics as the product of wish fulfillment.

      Because you are thorough and careful in argument, as well as combative, and they cannot justly complain of the latter, you are now set to have your work nitpicked and trolled in a way in which milquetoast and less effective authors would not.

      "Professor Feser! Shame! You forgot to mention footnote 23 in Ergon von Smegma's monograph on "Reconciling Plotinus and Sartre" in The New Journal of Dominican Didacts edition of April 1996."

      Price of success and all that.

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  2. I'm looking forward to possible blog responces. Any ETA for the philosophy of nature book?

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  3. I noticed that Amazon review by Ontological Investigations too, and became instantly annoyed at how they said Prof. Feser doesn’t address objections by serious thinkers like Oppy and Gale. Because, unless you count objections directed at “theistic personalist” natural theology (a view of theology which Prof. Feser himself rejects) – and which leave classical theism unscathed –, I really can’t see any one objection that was neglected...

    Although, to tell the truth, I would indeed like to have seen more detailed derivations of the divine attributes specifically grounded in Neo-Platonic and Augustinian philosophies as well, in addition to the Aristotelian-Thomistic one already presented in this book. So, in effect, we’ve got here five distinct ways of getting to the Prime Mover / One / Eternal Mind / Subsistent Existence Itself / Necessary Being ; it wouldn’t hurt to also have several ways of getting from there to God proper. For example: did St. Augustine use an equivalent of the “purely actual” A-T technical jargon or did he provide a different argument entirely? (I’m asking this for I genuinely don’t know the answer.)

    Nevertheless though, I understand of course that it’d be impossible to include literally everything in just one single book, and indeed I benefited tremendously from having already read Prof. Feser’s previous books and blog posts, so as to be familiarised with the ideas of Classical/Scholastic philosophy and thus remain unaffected by some difficulties a newcomer is bound to encounter.

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    1. Oppy has given criticisms of various classical theists; for instance, Oppy has engaged with Leftow, Stump, Vallicella, and Krettzmann. The same could likely be said about Gale, although it's been quite a while since I read him.

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    2. Yes, he has. But at the same time those criticisms miss the point of classical theists. Like Prof. Feser mentioned more than once in the past, philosophers like Oppy read into Aquinas et al the typical assumptions of modern analytical philosophy which classical thinkers would have rejected.

      And, if said objections are not explicitly engaged in this book, at the end of the day they are all variations of the ones already addressed.

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    3. Oppy has given criticisms of various classical theists

      Yes, but most of what I've seen by Oppy in this vein is either concerned with families of argument that are not obviously relevant to *Five Proofs* specifically (e.g., ontological arguments) or are technical discussions of how analytical tools and concepts are used in particular arguments. The question at hand is which of Oppy's contributions (1) is specifically an objection (rather than, for example, just the development of a different position on opposing assumptions); (2) has no analogue or counterpart in the objections actually discussed in 5P (i.e., is not a version of some objection by someone else that is, in fact, discussed); and (3) is specifically concerned with a matter relevant to the lines of argument specifically discussed in 5P (e.g., not directed at theistic personalism or kinds of argument that 5P doesn't cover). Given that Oppy has had a rather prolific career, it's entirely possible that an argument meeting these criteria exists; but it's hard not to notice that none of the critics in question have actually identified one, for Oppy or anyone else.

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    4. Anonymous wrote

      I noticed that Amazon review by Ontological Investigations too, and became instantly annoyed at how they said Prof. Feser doesn’t address objections by serious thinkers like Oppy and Gale. Because, unless you count objections directed at “theistic personalist” natural theology (a view of theology which Prof. Feser himself rejects) – and which leave classical theism unscathed –, I really can’t see any one objection that was neglected...

      Most of the arguments in question are at least prima facie neutral to whether one accepts divine simplicity or not (if they are ultimately not then the classical theist needs to show this). Plenty of classical theists e.g. Anselm or Aquinas have seen it necessary to answer misconceptions about what a certain divine attribute e.g. omnipotence entails. Likewise Feser does respond to some criticisms of the same form such as the good old paradox of the stone.

      Also divine simplicity, surely the hallmark of classical theism, is itself amongst the targets of these critics.

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    5. >Yes, he has. But at the same time those criticisms miss the point of classical theists. Like Prof. Feser mentioned more than once in the past, philosophers like Oppy read into Aquinas et al the typical assumptions of modern analytical philosophy which classical thinkers would have rejected.


      If your point is Oppy is concerned with arguments someone like Aquinas wouldn't have been interested in, then I agree.

      That fact, however, is irrelevant to the point I made, which is Oppy has written quite a bit that would still be relevant to the classical theist, as he has directly engaged with philosophers such as Stump, Krettzmann, Haldane, Brian Davies, Vallicella, and Barry Miller.


      Brandon,

      I didn't mean to insist that Feser should have addressed Oppy in his book. That wasn't what I was disagreeing with the original poster about. What I was disagreeing with was the suggestion that Oppy has only written on arguments a "theistic personalist" (I hate to use that label, as it isn't a label the philosophers grouped under it self-identify with) might be interested in. This, as I've insisted, isn't the case, as Oppy corresponds regularly with contemporary classical theists; again, such as Leftow, Stump, Vallicella, Krettzmann, Haldane, Barry Miller, and Brian Davies. Of course, you are right in insisting that none of this has direct barring on Oppy's irrelevance to "The Five Proofs," but it is relevant in the sense that the claim Oppy only deals with the theistic personalist conception of God — which was the claim being made by the OP — is false.

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  4. Imagine seeing ten ravens in one day. They all happen to be black, so you cautiously conclude that all ravens are black, but the distinct possibility that some might be white remains clearly open. Now imagine you saw millions of new unique ravens everyday, never experiencing the same raven twice. Surely at this point everyone would be perfectly justified to conclude that all ravens are black.


    Now replace "raven" with contingent fact, and you pretty much have the situation as it stands now. Every day we experience millions upon millions of different contingent facts, and they are all explicable, which puts enormous pressure on us to accept that all contingent facts are explicable.

    The thing is, if PSR is false then all explicable contingent facts are explicable for no reason. Which means we have no way to be confident that there will be no brute facts tomorrow.This also means we cannot be confident that the sun will rise tomorrow for it could cease to rise for no reason, putting further pressure on us to accept PSR if we want to maintain some semblence of common sense induction.

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  5. There’s also a pathetic review posted by some scientistic dude named Isen over at Goodreads. (Spoiler alert: he explicitly admits to not having read everything; well, actually, it becomes pretty clear he didn’t even read *anything* carefully.)

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  6. The problem with Feser's book is that in order to prove God, you have to prove there is a supernatural being who is omnipotent, omniscient, AND perfectly good. Feser fails at the third attribute, as I show in my refutation. (Sadly, I can't post my full refutation since my comments have a history of being deleted. Feel free to email me.)

    Until Chapter 6, he consistently uses a non-moral use of the term 'good'. In my refutation, I go on to refute any claims of moral goodness. In a nutshell, moral perfection (and moral realism in general) depends upon the highly contestable notion of libertarian free will. Free will is incoherent, as Galen Strawson, Daniel Dennett, David Hume, and others have shown. One does what one desires to do, and you can't control what you desire...or if you could, it would be random or based on what you desire to desire, ad infinitum.

    The incoherence of free will will be the death-blow to theism.

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    1. Remember not to feed the troll. This SP wannabe is bammba.

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    2. God doesn't have moral goodness and Feser isn't even trying to argue that he does. God is not a moral agent at all. https://youtu.be/h1AZvn4tESs

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    3. On classical theism, God is not a moral agent to begin with, so your object is a non-starter.

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    4. One does what one desires to do, and you can't control what you desire...or if you could, it would be random or based on what you desire to desire, ad infinitum.

      This doesn't itself contradict what a libertarian might hold. The libertarian can hold that whatever an agent does, the agent desired to do. That claim is distinct from the claim that one's set of desires uniquely determines a single action.

      What you're perhaps trying to make is the "Mind argument". If my present set of desires (let's assume this set contains second-order desires too) does not determine what I do next, that is because I randomly perform some action from a set of possible ones. But whatever libertarian free will is, it is not randomness.

      But the problem with the argument will always be the question of why we should accept "if not determined, then random". That can't just be asserted against the libertarian. The libertarian thinks that when I choose A, though I really could have chosen B, I am choosing A for a reason. That's enough to secure its not being random. If I'd chosen B, that also would have been for a reason.

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    5. "God doesn't have moral goodness"

      Feser argues for perfect goodness. Even if God is not a moral agent, He is still the basis of morality, and is Goodness Itself. But if morality is incoherent, so is God.

      And why should we be moral agents if God doesn't have to be?

      "The libertarian thinks that when I choose A, though I really could have chosen B, I am choosing A for a reason."

      If you have two perceived options both of which have reasons, then what is the basis for choosing one reason *over the other*? It can't be in the options themselves. (Having reasons would only be a necessary condition for its being an option.) Unless there is a higher-order basis for selecting one over the other, then choosing one over the other is matter of chance, which is randomness.

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    6. That simply begs the question against libertarianism. The point is you can choose for a reason even if that reason does not necessitate your action; you are trying to force a strictly logical cateogry of relations between propositions into the ontology of action. It pressupposes a spinozistic PSR in which sufficient reasons are necessitating reasons, which we have to reason to accept and may have reasons to doubt. You are simply begging the question against the libertarian by stating the option must be between determinism and chance, while there is the possibility of a rational free choice which is an action that is motivated (not necessiated) by reasons.

      Moreover, a libertarian thomist can argue that it is simply incoherent to think that a rational will can be determined by a finite good, which by its own nature (finiteness) has that which repels the will, therefore can't determinately affect it. Saying rational action is chance-based, on the other hand, begs the question again, and would be self-refuting (because then our own reaching of conclusions would be completely random and not causally motivated at all by propositional content).

      Thirdly, if God was free to create the universe, then rig off the bat we have proof that libertarianism is coherent and possible. And there are arguments to that effect.

      We know by your own admission that you really want atheism to be true, but if your case is based around thinking that libertarianism has no plausibility whatsoever in the philosophy of action, you'll face many problems. Same when it comes to metaethics. You'll need to do some REALLY heavy philosophical work. Good luck

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    7. @Miguel,


      Moreover, a libertarian thomist can argue that it is simply incoherent to think that a rational will can be determined by a finite good,


      Isn't Thomism different from libertarianism though?

      Thomism holds that the will isn't absolutely free in all cases because it cannot will evil as evil, only indirectly through willing it under the aspect of good.

      Furthermore, the will cannot act contrary to the reasoning it assents to prior to a decision, even though that reasoning can occur in a split-second, and the will is involved in it as well.


      Also, some Thomistic scholars such as Eleonore Stump claim that Aquinas's account of free will is independent from the Principle of Alternate Possibility and can easily accomodate Frankfurt cases, thus differentiating it from a more Libertarian account where an agent only has freedom if he could act on alternative options.


      Thirdly, if God was free to create the universe, then rig off the bat we have proof that libertarianism is coherent and possible. And there are arguments to that effect.


      Well, there are some caveat to that, most notably that freedom for God simply means that He isn't compelled to create either by anything in His own nature or anything outside of Him.


      Heck, this view could work with a Frankfurt view of free will where freedom is primarily seen as causing your own actions independent from the capacity to choose an alternative option.

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    8. "But if morality is incoherent, so is God"

      That doesn't follow, and actually you have it backward. God comes before morality, not after. Your reasoning would be like saying that if I am the cause of a chair, if the chair does not exist, then I don't exist. Obviously that is backwards.

      Even if we reject the existence of moral goodness all together, that doesn't do anything to God as non-moral Goodness itself.

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    9. If “One does what one desires to do”, the individual is a slave to his appetites or passions which fluctuate based on the mood of the individual. But this is quite simply NOT the conception of good as defined by Aristotle or Aquinas. Morality begins with an act of the intellect that attempts to grasp what the good is. The will is a blind power that carries out whatever the intellect ascertains the good to be. Essentially, morality is the will acting upon what the intellect believes to be true and in fact really is true.

      Now, immorality can come into play one of two ways. First, because of habitual vice, an individual’s will can grow accustomed to taking the appetites or passions as a guide. This seems to be the morality of Strawson, Dennett, Hume, etc. that you reference. But Thomists would agree such an individual that conforms his intellect to his desires is morally corrupt, so I’m not sure why you think this would qualify as a refutation.

      Secondly, a person’s intellect can think something is good that really is not good, or the intellect could attach a greater importance to a good than it really deserves. But since you seem to concede that God is omnipotent, it seems to follow that God would know what the good is and never fail to carry it out.

      Furthermore, unlike human beings, God’s intellect and will are not distinct powers. Rather, God’s intellect is his will which is his existence which is his power which is his goodness etc, etc, etc. I would highly recommend some of Dr. Feser’s posts on divine simplicity if this idea requires greater clarity. But the point is that there is nothing needed to prompt God’s will to choose between His intellect or something else. At the risk of sounding trivial, the will cannot have failed to will that which it has willed. Since the Divine Intellect is the Divine Will, and since the Divine Intellect is perfect in knowledge, the Divine Will always acts in accordance with the Divine Intellect and always acts in a way that is good. From these premises, it follows that God is perfectly free and good.

      After all, freedom is not the ability to choose between good and evil, but the ability to choose the good that is known to be good.

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    10. Why are you all feeding this troll? As he himself says, his comments are routinely deleted. He is banned.

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    11. @Miguel: It's not question-begging. If you have two options A and B, backed by reason-sets rA and rB, then what is the basis for choosing one over the other? You can't say it's rA, because there's also rB. If there's no higher-inclination to act on set of reasons over the other in the self, then acting on rA/rB is just random. If one's choice is not determined by one's existing nature, then all that's left is randomness.

      "there is the possibility of a rational free choice which is an action that is motivated (not necessiated) by reasons."

      If your choice is guided by rationality, then it isn't free. Satan's will obviously chose not in accordance with the rule of reason. Did he choose to be irrational? That would be irrational in itself, so it's a regress again. Why did Satan choose irrationally and Michael rationally?

      "if God was free to create the universe, then rig off the bat we have proof that libertarianism is coherent and possible. And there are arguments to that effect."

      No, the First Cause's (not established to be God yet) decision was either motivated by something (He had the desire to create it) or it just popped out of nowhere. If libertarianism is incoherent, which it is, then God is incoherent.

      "We know by your own admission that you really want atheism to be true"

      Wrong. I want theism to be true, for if theism were true, we'd all be in Heaven. God is all-loving.

      I want Catholic theism to be false, for I do not want people to burn forever. I can't help it if I'm inclined to not want my fellow creatures to suffer just because their intellects were misguided in what they apprehended as good. Even if free will were true, the intention to do X or ~X would have to be unguided (due to factors of chance), so why should I be responsible for that. -- But ironically, proving free will would disprove Catholicism, since you can't be free to do ~X if someone knows infallibly you will do X.

      "You'll need to do some REALLY heavy philosophical work."

      It doesn't take a lot of skill to recognize the incoherence of free will. I have no interest in getting sucked in the world of Thomism, when all you need for atheism is moral nihilism.

      @Billy: "That doesn't follow, and actually you have it backward."

      No. I said God is the basis for morality; He is the eternal law, not subject to it. But if there can be no eternal law, then out goes 'God'.

      "that doesn't do anything to God as non-moral Goodness itself."

      Then what would Good even mean in this case? You'd just be equivocating "being" with "goodness," which is redundant and misleading, and I reject that. Plus, if there's no morality, how is God different from Brahman?

      @Neophyte

      The will acts in accordance with what the intellect apprehends as desirable, and you can't help but desire what you desire, unless you have an overriding desire, which would still have to be apprehended. And there's the regress again. I'm not persuaded of Thomism, but even putting that aside, the will is not free to act on what is NOT apprehended as desirable.

      @Anonymous -- Please stop calling me a troll. That may have been justified in the past, but this thread is ABOUT Feser's book, and my comments are ABOUT Feser's book.

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    12. The will cannot desire evil as evil, but that's not a limitation. Desiri evil as evil is just nonsensical. The point is that the rational will can never be determed by a finite good, so our actions are never necessitated by a finite good, thus we always have the option to follow such a good or avoid it or ignore it.

      God is not determined by anything to create. Creation is motivated, not necessitated. How does that contradict what I said?

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    13. A Counter Rebel,

      "One does what one desires to do, and you can't control what you desire."

      Suppose I have two or more conflicting desires. Which is in control? Your statement seems to demand a simplicity that does not exist in me.

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    14. "No. I said God is the basis for morality; He is the eternal law, not subject to it. But if there can be no eternal law, then out goes 'God'."

      No you didn't say that, but even if you meant that, you focused on freewill being nonsensical to the conclusion that morality is nonsensical, but that is downstream from the eternal law, and therefore downstream of God. All this flows from God, God does not flow from these things.

      Even without any rational agents in the world, the eternal law would still stand anyway.

      Maybe you actually mean Natural Law, which does rely on rational creatures such as ourselves being in existence. But again, Natural law itself does not apply to God, and is also downstream of God and the eternal law. Even without natural law, this does not eliminate God as well.

      Hmm..being charitable, are you saying something analogous to saying that a state with a governing body that does not enforce or legislate any legal laws does not actually have a governing body? Or like that an unjust law is not really a law? If so, based on my points above, I don't see how you get that from simply rejecting the existence of morality and freewill, which is all downstream of God.

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    15. @ A Counter Rebel

      If you have two options A and B, backed by reason-sets rA and rB, then what is the basis for choosing one over the other? You can't say it's rA, because there's also rB. If there's no higher-inclination to act on set of reasons over the other in the self, then acting on rA/rB is just random. If one's choice is not determined by one's existing nature, then all that's left is randomness.

      Again, this is just to assert what the libertarian denies. It is sufficient, he says, that you chose A for a reason; you may also have had a reason to choose B. But you chose A, not A-rather-than-B. To act for a reason--that is, intelligently and not arbitrarily and therefore not randomly--there is no need for a "basis for choosing one over the other".

      @ JoeD

      Isn't Thomism different from libertarianism though?

      Yes, Thomism is not libertarian, and it doesn't hold that whatever is determined is amoral. But Thomism does, I think, hold that there are decisions between contingent goods where the agent really could choose one or the other, consistent with the history of the world.

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    16. "Desiri evil as evil is just nonsensical."

      How is it nonsensical? Didn't Augustine in his Confessions talk about doing forbidden things precisely because of their being forbidden? In the case of a misotheist (God-hater), they might desire evil because it is evil.

      "The point is that the rational will can never be determed by a finite good, so our actions are never necessitated by a finite good, thus we always have the option to follow such a good or avoid it or ignore it. "

      You never gave an argument for why finite-ness repels the will. I'm saying that the will is moved by something seen to be desirable, and the intellect can't help but view the desired as desirable. If the intellect could withhold assent to its being desirable, then you're back in the regress, for that imply that a choice has to be made before making a choice. The intellect would have to see the withholding itself as something desirable.

      "Saying rational action is chance-based, on the other hand, begs the question again, and would be self-refuting (because then our own reaching of conclusions would be completely random and not causally motivated at all by propositional content)."

      I would argue that indeterminism gets in the way of reasoning. We would be "free" to just accept or reject logical steps along the way during a proof or argument on a whim, instead of being fully guided by the evidence. Would you trust a scale at the grocery store that could suddenly "freely" weigh your apples as 8 lb?

      I don't know if you personally would argue that determinism rules out rational action, but for anyone reading, it doesn't. Reasons can be part of the determinism.

      "Creation is motivated, not necessitated."

      So God has reasons to create or not-create. (If he only had an antecedent desire the former, then he wasn't free to not-create the universe, since such an option didn't even arise in his mind.) Call the reasons to create R-C and to not-create R-N. What moved the will to create? It couldn't have been R-C, since there was also R-N at the time immediately prior to the choice. You might point to retrospective causation, that after choosing to create, we can point to R-C, but that still doesn't explain anything, since at the time of the choice, R-C couldn't have the been reason for choosing creation *over non-creation*.

      As you would seem to agree, R-C/R-N is only a motivator, not necessitating. So what causes the will to act on one over the other if it can't be that? What makes it come about that creation is chosen? If it's not sufficiently caused by one's personality, character, desires, then it will (at least partly) be due to factors of chance

      The only answers seem to be "the will chose R-C because the will chose R-C," which is circular and doesn't explain anything, or "the agent moved his will toward one over the other," but that gets into the regress. To move your will toward R-C/R-N to make the choice, means you have to make a choice before making a choice. And did that choice to follow this-or-that reason have its own reasons...or randomness? Free will is ultimately the personification of randomness. It'll be exciting when people finally wake up to this.

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    17. How is it nonsensical? Didn't Augustine in his Confessions talk about doing forbidden things precisely because of their being forbidden?

      Augustine goes on to ask why he did what he did and is convinced that he would not have done what was wrong if he were not, for instance, with his friends.

      Reasons are complicated. It is not exactly that you cannot do something for the reason that it is forbidden, or even for the reason that it is evil: just that in so doing it, you see something good about its being forbidden or evil. (For instance, one does what is forbidden because it gives one the sense that one is freer from constraint.) That its seen as in some sense good is constitutive of its being a desire.

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    18. Background issues loom large. Whether an explanation needs to be contrastive, whether an explanans needs to entail the explanandum.

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    19. "Again, this is just to assert what the libertarian denies."

      It is to explain why the libertarian conception of freedom is incoherent, and why the libertarian is wrong. What the libertarian believes is indistinguishable from what a believer-in-chance would state. What is free will and how is it different from randomly-guided will?

      "that you chose A for a reason; you may also have had a reason to choose B. But you chose A, not A-rather-than-B."

      Both A and B were in the cards before the choice was finally made, along with both the reasons for A and B. Choosing A entails not-choosing B, which means you chose A rather than B, unless you deny that B was in the cards, which denies libertarianism. The reasons for choosing A (rA) can't be the cause of your choosing A (even if necessary), for rA still would have been perceived had you chosen B. There has to be another element at work: what brought about the state of affairs where rA were acted on rather than rB? This is called the 'luck objection'. You can't just ignore it and say I'm begging the question, when I backed up my reasoning with an argument.

      "But you chose A"

      Again, why? Don't say rA, because rA doesn't entail the outcome of A, given the presence of rB, as I explained.

      "To act for a reason--that is, intelligently and not arbitrarily and therefore not randomly--there is no need for a "basis for choosing one over the other"."

      Now you're the one begging the question by saying chance can have no role in a reason-backed decision. Even if you choose X for a reason, that doesn't explain why you didn't choose Y for Y-reasons. If you appeal to higher-order reason in the intellect for X's reasons being more persuasive, then that's determinism. If nothing brought it about that you acted on one set of reasons *over another*, then it's random (arbitrary) which reasons you acted on, even if you retrospectively explain the "choice" as being brought about for those reasons.

      "That its seen as in some sense good is constitutive of its being a desire."

      That's kind of a useless observation, since 'good' would mean 'desirable', tautology.

      @Billy --

      The eternal law is the moral law. From Edward Feser --

      "He is already Goodness Itself and therefore already possesses supreme Beatitude, and there is accordingly no rule or measure outside Him against which His actions might be evaluated. He is not under the moral law precisely because He is the moral law." (from "God, obligation, and the Euthyphro dilemma")

      God is Goodness Itself. If you're going to define "good" in some fashion other than either being a moral agent or being the basis for morality, then the term communicates nothing to me. You might as well say God is God Itself or God is Being Itself, which is redundant (both) or nonsensical (the latter).

      According to theism, God is the divine government which we ought to follow, but if free will is incoherent, then we aren't morally obligated to do anything, which contradicts the First Cause's being the divine government. That falsifies theism even if there is a sentient First Cause.

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    20. It is to explain why the libertarian conception of freedom is incoherent, and why the libertarian is wrong.

      Nope. You aren't getting your desired contradiction without adding in an additional premise which the libertarian rejects. All you are showing is that libertarianism conjoined with a premise libertarians reject is incoherent. That is not interesting.

      Both A and B were in the cards before the choice was finally made, along with both the reasons for A and B.

      Right.

      Choosing A entails not-choosing B, which means you chose A rather than B, unless you deny that B was in the cards, which denies libertarianism.

      I denied that I chose A-rather-than-B; that is, that the object or content of my choice was A-rather-than-B. I didn't deny that I chose A, rather than B, if that means that I chose A and did not choose B. Choosing A-rather-than-B requires that one has reasons for choosing A over B; choosing A rather than choosing B does not, and only requires that one has reasons for choosing A.

      The reasons for choosing A (rA) can't be the cause of your choosing A (even if necessary), for rA still would have been perceived had you chosen B.

      Again, why? Don't say rA, because rA doesn't entail the outcome of A, given the presence of rB, as I explained.

      You can't just ignore it and say I'm begging the question, when I backed up my reasoning with an argument.

      I'm not ignoring your objection. I am just hinting at the fact that it is sheer pretence that you are revealing an incoherence in libertarianism rather than insisting on a conception of actions which libertarians don't accept. You haven't given an argument for these theses:
      - rA cannot be an agent's reason for choosing A if the agent could have chosen B while still recognizing rA.
      - rA cannot be an agent's reason for choosing A if the agent's recognizing rA does not entail the agent's choosing A.

      Libertarians don't accept those claims. They can't be asserted without argument in arguments that libertarianism is incoherent.

      Even if you choose X for a reason, that doesn't explain why you didn't choose Y for Y-reasons.

      Sure, but what of it? My choosing X for a reason also doesn't explain why I didn't explode.

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    21. If nothing brought it about that you acted on one set of reasons *over another*, then it's random (arbitrary) which reasons you acted on, even if you retrospectively explain the "choice" as being brought about for those reasons.

      The libertarian's conception is action is that it is free and non-arbitrary when done for a reason. Libertarian free will is possible because it is possible to act for a reason (that is, it is possible for one's act to be for the sake of something, to have an intelligently conceived purpose) even if one were not determined to do perform it.

      Is such action random? Randomness is a statistical notion. There is no probability distribution which describes the agent's selection of his action; if someone to assert that there were, it is not clear what he should mean.

      We do have some understanding for what it would be for an agent to act randomly. Say: I don't know whether to pursue a career as a doctor or a lawyer, so I flip a coin. But that isn't what the libertarian agent is doing, so if we are to accuse that agent of randomness, we need another model of randomness.

      Is such an action arbitrary? What is meant by 'arbitrary'? The agent's action is clearly arbitrary in this sense: consistent with the past, he could have done differently. But that is just to say that he was libertarianly free. The accusation aims to go further than that. 'Arbitrary' is an accusation because it suggests that the agent's action was in some way groundless or unreasonable.

      But in what sense? The action has a reason, so it seems not too be groundless or unreasonable. The non-libertarian can't mean that actions are groundless or unreasonable whenever they are not entailed by all the reasons recognized by the agent, or at least we will need an argument if he wants to put that claim in service of his argument against the libertarian.

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    22. You keep saying the libertarian rejects this or that, which is just obvious given what a libertarian holds. I'm showing that what a libertarian believes is indistinguishable from randomness and is incoherent. I'm not adding in any premises.

      If you choose A and not B (when both were possible), that means you chose A rather than B. That's all that I meant. If you didn't choose one over the other, then you would've chosen both or none.

      "I denied that I chose A-rather-than-B; that is, that the object or content of my choice was A-rather-than-B."

      This is silly. You're just playing with the language to obscure the problem. The content of your choice was A rather the content being B. So the question still arises why did the choice have one content rather the other one that was available?

      "choosing A rather than choosing B does not, and only requires that one has reasons for choosing A."

      The reasons for A do not explain why you chose A. They can't, since those reasons still would have present had you chosen B. Either there was no reason for acting on rA and not rB (so it's just chance), or there was a reason.

      "You haven't given an argument for these theses:
      - rA cannot be an agent's reason for choosing A if the agent could have chosen B while still recognizing rA.
      - rA cannot be an agent's reason for choosing A if the agent's recognizing rA does not entail the agent's choosing A."

      The first one -- it's possible that you choose A even though rA and rB were present to your intellect. It's also possible that you choose B even though both were present. Obviously, rA cannot entail either decision, so it's incomplete to say that that serves as the reason, when the existence of the so-called reasons of doing A are compatible with doing it or doing B. There has to be something else that brings about one or the other, since both sets of reasons don't cause one choice while ruling out the other. There's either randomness, or an even higher-order set of reasons that incline the will to act on rA.

      Libertarianism means you have control over which reasons you choose to act on. But of course this leads to the regress, for to control what you choose means choosing what to choose. If you can't control what you choose, then how can you be responsible, and even if you can control that, you can't control your control of that. Ad infinitum.

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    23. "Sure, but what of it? My choosing X for a reason also doesn't explain why I didn't explode."

      Exploding was not a third option, although if it was, the reasons for choosing to not-explode (if the reasons aren't compelling) doesn't explain why you didn't choose to explode, since there also would have been reasons for exploding.

      "The libertarian's conception is action is that it is free and non-arbitrary when done for a reason. Libertarian free will is possible because it is possible to act for a reason (that is, it is possible for one's act to be for the sake of something, to have an intelligently conceived purpose) even if one were not determined to do perform it."

      If the so-called reason doesn't entail the outcome, then something else is needed to explain what made the outcome come about. If the will isn't sufficiently guided to follow one set of reasons rather than another, then it's just random which set of reasons he follows, so his intention to act on one reason and not the other is formed without reason.

      "I don't know whether to pursue a career as a doctor or a lawyer, so I flip a coin. But that isn't what the libertarian agent is doing"

      But that's exactly what the libertarian is doing. He sees reasons for both careers, but neither is compelling enough, so he leaves it to chance which outcome comes about, although both careers still would have had "reasons" associated with pursuing them.

      "The agent's action is clearly arbitrary in this sense: consistent with the past, he could have done differently. But that is just to say that he was libertarianly free."

      That is no different from randomness, which is why libertarian free will is incoherent.

      "But in what sense? The action has a reason, so it seems not too be groundless or unreasonable. The non-libertarian can't mean that actions are groundless or unreasonable whenever they are not entailed by all the reasons recognized by the agent,"

      But there as nothing that made it so you chose to act on rA rather than rB, neither is sufficient to explain why your choice had the content of A instead of B. It's not enough to appeal to either set of reasons. Even if the action is partly grounded due to the reasons (or retrospectively explainable in terms of rA), it's obviously not fully grounded since it doesn't necessarily lead to A. So there has to be an element of randomness in the decision-making process.

      The challenge for the libertarian is to explain why rA and not rB in a way distinguishable from randomness. This is impossible.

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    24. "choosing A rather than choosing B does not, and only requires that one has reasons for choosing A."

      I should add: if choosing A only requires having reasons for A, then you would have chosen B too, since all that would be required for choosing B would be having reasons for it.

      But obviously that doesn't work, so there's something left out for why one was not selected.

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    25. Again, the whole thing depends on whether explanans entail the explanandum and if explanations need to be contrastive. There you go.

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    26. This is silly. You're just playing with the language to obscure the problem. The content of your choice was A rather the content being B. So the question still arises why did the choice have one content rather the other one that was available?

      I am not. "chooses _" is an intensional context. If I chose to dance with Elizabeth, then I still may not have chosen to dance with the tallest woman in the room, even if Elizabeth was the tallest woman in the room. Or, at least, we speak both ways in practice, but "choose" in its sense relevant to explanation by reasons is an intensional verb. We might say that I did choose to dance with the tallest woman in the room. But then we admit that the content of the choice, so specified, bears no relation to reasons; in the sense in which I did choose to dance with the tallest woman in the room, it is not the case that I need have had reasons for dancing with the tallest woman in the room. Likewise if A is incompatible with B. My choosing A rules out my choosing B; A implies not-B. But that does not give us any need to find reasons for my choosing A-rather-than-B.

      If the so-called reason doesn't entail the outcome, then something else is needed to explain what made the outcome come about.

      Again, that an explanans must entail the explanandum is just not the sort of thing which can be premised in an argument against a libertarian, though you do so repeatedly.

      But that's exactly what the libertarian is doing.

      Not so. In the coin-flipping case, a randomization mechanism is deployed as a tool. Nothing parallel happens in the general libertarian agent case.

      That is no different from randomness, which is why libertarian free will is incoherent.

      Again, randomness is a statistical notion, and there is nothing statistical about the libertarian's claim. So if it immediately follows from the definition of libertarian free action that it is random, then you've sufficiently extended the notion of randomness that it ceases to be clear a) what you mean and b) whether the libertarian would be remotely embarrassed in saying that free actions can be random in this extended sense.

      The rest of what you've said does not require comment.

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    27. If an explanation doesn't explain why the alleged choice was made, then it's not an explanation, by definition. (It'd be akin to a necessary condition rather than a true reason.)

      He keeps saying A was chosen for reasons such and such, which doesn't tell us why the reasons for B were not acted on. There's something being left out, and it can only be chance. Why were those reasons picked and not the others? Did the free agent have control over what reasons he acted on?

      If he did, then that would imply a choice needs to be preceded by an act of control, which brings us the regress problem.

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    28. If an explanation doesn't explain why the alleged choice was made, then it's not an explanation, by definition.

      No one's saying that it doesn't explain the choice that was made, only that it didn't necessitate the choice that was made. Your argument just doesn't have the mileage you want it to. Which is not surprising, because you are pretending that there is no reply that one side of a complicated philosophical debate can make to the other, which is never true.

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    29. "But then we admit that the content of the choice, so specified, bears no relation to reasons;"

      Then the choice is being made for no reason.

      "Likewise if A is incompatible with B. My choosing A rules out my choosing B; A implies not-B. But that does not give us any need to find reasons for my choosing A-rather-than-B."

      The reasons for A is not incompatible with B, unless there are reasons for the choice being A when both A and B were options. If A was the only option, then rA would suffice, but both options are available.

      Right, choosing A entails that it was chosen rather than B. So there still needs to be explanation for the will's having acted on one set of reasons and not a different one, unless you want to leave it to chance.

      "that an explanans must entail the explanandum is just not the sort of thing which can be premised in an argument against a libertarian"

      See my above comment. It's not a real explanation if it doesn't make something come about. It's just a corollary. So rA and rB would be corallaries (potential reasons) of A and B, but neither brings out the decision at the time of choice, so it's does explain anything. It only explains the presence of the potential choices. What made it so that rA was acted on?

      "In the coin-flipping case, a randomization mechanism is deployed as a tool. Nothing parallel happens in the general libertarian agent case."

      In the libertarian case, the choice itself would be the randomization mechanism, since there is nothing guiding it to act on one reason over another. It you're not sufficiently inclined to follow one set of desires, then you'll be moved to a different one, or you're acting randomly.

      "nothing statistical about the libertarian's claim."

      According to libertarianism, if we roll back the clock, the other set of reasons will be acted on. So if we were to roll the clock back 100 times, then a certain percentage of the time, you'd choose A, and the rest of the time you'd choose B. But you don't control which reasons you follow through on. If this isn't a roll of the dice, I don't know what is.

      random (n) - proceeding, made, or occurring without definite aim, reason, or pattern

      In "libertarian free" will, the will moves without a definite plan towards A or B, so it's luck.

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    30. First off, it seems one of my comments wasn't posted.

      "Your argument just doesn't have the mileage you want it to."

      Perhaps I need to do a bit more research or improve my debating skills, but I can assure that free will is incoherent and it has been demonstrated by philosophers.

      From Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: "A recent trend is to suppose that agent causation accounts capture, as well as possible, our prereflective idea of responsible, free action. But the failure of philosophers to work the account out in a fully satisfactory and intelligible form reveals that the very idea of free will (and so of responsibility) is incoherent (Strawson 1986) or at least inconsistent with a world very much like our own (Pereboom 2001). Smilansky (2000) takes a more complicated position, on which there are two ‘levels’ on which we may assess freedom, ‘compatibilist’ and ‘ultimate’. On the ultimate level of evaluation, free will is indeed incoherent. (Strawson, Pereboom, and Smilansky all provide concise defenses of their positions in Kane 2002.)"


      If the "reasons" (corollaries) and psychological state of the agent don't entail one decision over another, then it's just a matter of chance. On libertarianism, if we roll back time a 100 times, then sometimes you choose A and other times B. If that's not a roll of the dice, I don't know what is. It seems that the outcome, then, is out of the agent's control, so how could he or she be responsible?

      An explanation that doesn't bring about the outcome necessarily is not a complete explanation, but exists alongside an element of chance.

      "My choosing A rules out my choosing B; A implies not-B."

      This is obvious, but you haven't explained why you chose A over B in a way distinguishable from chance.

      "But that does not give us any need to find reasons for my choosing A-rather-than-B."

      Then it happened for no reason. It was just random that you acted on these reasons instead of those.

      "you are pretending that there is no reply that one side of a complicated philosophical debate can make to the other, which is never true."

      This is a lie. I wouldn't keep coming back this page if I thought there was no reply. This is just arrogance on your part.

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    31. Then the choice is being made for no reason.

      If your view commits you to saying this, then it is clearly false. The case in question is that I chose to dance with Elizabeth; Elizabeth happens to have been the tallest woman in the room; but I did not choose to dance with the tallest woman in the room. What I have said is that there are senses in which I did and did not choose to dance with the tallest woman in the room; in the sense in which I did choose to dance on the tallest woman in the room, it is no problem for the freedom of my action that I had no reason for the woman I chose being the tallest woman in the room. Likewise it is no problem for the freedom of an action there there is no reason for its being for A-rather-than-B.

      According to libertarianism, if we roll back the clock, the other set of reasons will be acted on. So if we were to roll the clock back 100 times, then a certain percentage of the time, you'd choose A, and the rest of the time you'd choose B.

      Says who? I might choose the same thing every time, yet still not be determined to do so. Or the thought experiment of rolling back the clock might be meaningless. Or if it is not meaningless, you could run 100-experiment trials over and over indefinitely and they could never converge on anything. Who is to say that there is any such thing as the probability that the libertarian agent will choose A over B?

      There is quite simply no obvious way of translating a straightforward modal claim into a probabilistic claim.

      It makes sense if there is a mechanism. When I flip a coin (and if we assume it is genuinely random), there is a mechanism for producing randomly distributed results. So we can predict that if we rolled back the clock 100 times there would be 50 heads. But there is no mechanism specifiable prior to the experiment that would warrant any such prediction, in the case of choice. You feel there must be so you posit one. But again, the libertarian disagrees.

      Perhaps I need to do a bit more research or improve my debating skills, but I can assure that free will is incoherent and it has been demonstrated by philosophers.

      The alleged dilemma that choices are either determined or random is not new. But it's just not a true dilemma. There is clearly logical space for another position. This isn't even to say that libertarianism is a compelling position.

      This is a lie. I wouldn't keep coming back this page if I thought there was no reply.

      I mean that you started out by saying that libertarianism is incoherent and philosophers have demonstrated as much, so that anyone who disagrees is just defending the indefensible. I am registering my belief that those claims are mere polemics. I can see why those arguments are enticing. They have the feeling of elegance. But they aren't enough to attribute incoherence to the libertarian.

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    32. See, you could argue that agent causation is metaphysically impossible on account of Pereboom where freedom is probabilistically constrained. That of course has been disputed but it's a more central issue regarding the problem of control.

      However, all that has been repeatedly asserted is that an explanans must entail the explanandum and that explanations must be contrastive. I don't think there is good reason to accept that

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    33. Well, philosophers have demonstrated that free will is incoherent. You're just good at using a lot of words to obscure the fact that your choice-making model that you call "libertarian" is indistinguishable from a randomness model. I guarantee that if I could get Galen Strawson, Pereboom, or a more highly educated determinist over here, you'd be shredded fairly quickly.

      You even admit reasons aren't needed for choosing one over the other.

      "t is no problem for the freedom of my action that I had no reason for the woman I chose being the tallest woman in the room. Likewise it is no problem for the freedom of an action there there is no reason for its being for A-rather-than-B."

      This is not comparable to the question of why you choose A rather than B, since in your example, the agent isn't aware of the woman being taller than everyone else, but she is still chosen for a reason. When it comes to A and B, you say there is no explanation needed for why the agent went along with the "reasons" for A and the "reasons" were B were magically ignored, even though the outcome wasn't tied with either set of reasons before the act of will was made.

      "I might choose the same thing every time"

      You might also choose the same thing every time on a literal dice-rolling model, but it's highly unlikely since neither set of reasons explain anything as to why one set of reasons didn't bring about its respective possibility.

      "But there is no mechanism specifiable prior to the experiment that would warrant any such prediction, in the case of choice."

      The mechanism would be the act of the will, since it is not guided to act on one set of corollaries over another, so the choice is random, or "libertarian" as you would call it.

      "But it's just not a true dilemma. There is clearly logical space for another position."

      If a decision isn't determined by a person's character, desires, traits, inclinations, habits, etc., then it is not determined by anything. It's partly or fully due to factors of chance. That's randomness, and libertarians simply give it a different label and then adduce a reason to it (even though no reason made it so he acted on one reason rather than a different equally powerless reason), when the chance-advocate could also do that.

      You keep saying libertarians disagree, which isn't an argument. I know they disagree, but they're wrong.

      "you started out by saying that libertarianism is incoherent and philosophers have demonstrated as much, so that anyone who disagrees is just defending the indefensible."

      And I stand by that. Even if I'm not doing a good job, that only says something about my personal poor debating ability, but get a skilled determinist over here and you'd be destroyed. Your model of freedom is no better than randomness since there is NOTHING guiding you to prefer one reason over another. Even if it's true, I don't see how it could make us morally accountable, since the agent seems to have no control over what his choice will be.

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    34. In this thread: question-begging the assumption that an explanans must determine its explanandum.

      There is no sense to be made from the randomness objection unless one assumes that an explanans can only be an explanans if it determinately implies its explanandum. This is the same tired assumption used every time in randomness objections and it is never fully argued for (not to mention the mere concept of "randomness" but let that slide), we can have explanations that do not determinately imply what is explained in any way, and whether we take them as "complete" or "incomplete", the fact a supposedly incomplete explanation can provide intelligibility is enough to show that intelligibility is not necessarily tied to causal determination or logical implication. Hence why we can quickly grasp and accept intelligibile statistical or agential explanations without simultaneously thinking "but what's happening here really is determinism, if only we grasped the full story!"; that has no bearing on our own grasp of intelligibility as experience clearly shows. Until determinists demonstrate their spinozistic understanding of explanations and psr, the randomness objection will simply beg the question against the libertarian who holds that an action can be explained and motivated by reasons R without having to be determined by reasons R.

      Not to mention the problems involve with thinking a rational will can be determined to move by a finite good.

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    35. Miguel,

      In agreement in regards to the type of explanation and PSR. However, there are a few more points to be settled. Some argue that agential causation is impossible or superfluous in terms or choosing between reasons, if we already have 'weight bearing reasons being compared (if option A brings about a given desire with more probability than option B, why appeal to agent causation on top? Check out Timothy O'Connor's reply to these issues. You can get his paper from Pruss'website.

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    36. I guarantee that if I could get Galen Strawson, Pereboom, or a more highly educated determinist over here, you'd be shredded fairly quickly.

      Even if I'm not doing a good job, that only says something about my personal poor debating ability, but get a skilled determinist over here and you'd be destroyed.

      It is interesting that you think the outcome of this discussion is not representative of the defensibility of libertarianism but you think the outcome of that discussion with Strawson or Pereboom would be.

      If we put you in a room with Galen Strawson and told you to rebut his argument for panpsychism, you'd be shredded fairly quickly (or you'd accept panpsychism). I would know; I have been in a room with Galen Strawson pitching his argument for panpsychism. It sounds crazy, but he's a very persuasive guy, and none of the other professional philosophers in the room could address objections to him which he thought were decisive.

      I think you've read a few papers, or at least the SEP entry on free will, and you were convinced, and you can't imagine that someone else reading the same thing wouldn't be. But philosophy is not that simple.

      This is not comparable to the question of why you choose A rather than B, since in your example, the agent isn't aware of the woman being taller than everyone else, but she is still chosen for a reason.

      I did not say that the agent was not aware of the woman's being the tallest, and that need not be true.

      He could have been aware. Then either, on the intensionalist reading of "chooses", it is still false that he chose to dance with the tallest woman in the room.

      I also acknowledged that there is an extensionalist reading of "chooses", which is perhaps the more common in our language, according to which it is true that the agent chose to dance with the tallest woman in the room. Perhaps this reading branches again: on one reading, if an agent chooses A and believes A to imply B, then the agent chose B; on another, if an agent chooses A and A implies B, then the agent chose B.

      But what is common to all of these readings is that if it is true that the agent chose to dance with the tallest woman in the room, that description of the object of his choice does need not require a special reason; his choice may be adequately explained and free by virtue of being explained by whatever reason explains his choosing to dance with Elizabeth.

      You keep saying libertarians disagree, which isn't an argument.

      It is an argument. You're addressing an objection to the libertarian. It is relevant to the success or failure of your argument if the libertarian rejects some of your premises, like "If not determined, then random". If I were trying to provide a philosophical account of libertarianism, then it would of course be incumbent upon me to try to say something about what it would be to reject that premise. But I'm not trying to provide a philosophical account of libertarianism. (Even so, some of what I have said had cast doubt on that premise anyway.) All I've needed to do is point out that you have not given the libertarian a reason to doubt his rejection of that premise; when you do get around to trying to meet that burden, the considerations you advance already presuppose that you've met it.

      The mechanism would be the act of the will...

      As I said, "You feel there must be [a mechanism] so you posit one." But there's no need.

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    37. " I have been in a room with Galen Strawson pitching his argument for panpsychism. It sounds crazy, but he's a very persuasive guy, and none of the other professional philosophers in the room could address objections to him which he thought were decisive."

      Very cool. Was this in class or something like a conference?

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    38. He was just invited to give a seminar at a university affiliated with what was at the time my own.

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    39. I actually am an idealist that leans towards panpsychism, since I don't think materialism can account for the first-person experience (the hard problem). We all comprise Brahman (we are all streams in one consciousness) who is evolving towards Adonai. Part of this evolution will be realizing that libertarian free will is impossible, then we stop taking pride in our "goodness" and pointing the finger at others. Pride, guilt, moral realism, and retributive justice are primitive, stupid ideas/emotions that need to be thrown in the trash if we want to progress. (Which makes me think of Edward Feser's obsession with the death penalty.) And another element will be legalizing euthanasia, and stop torturing our old/sick people because of an unsupported notion that life is always worth living no matter how painful.

      So I'd happily be shoved into a discussion with my fellow determinist and non-materialist, Galen Strawson.

      Ironically, we won't be free from the clutches of Rome until we realize we aren't free.

      "But there's no need."

      Well, something must bring about the fact that A was acted on rather than B, or vice versa, whether it be a "free choice" or a coin toss. The reasons for (better: with) doing A don't bring about A until the agent follows through with those reasons...by choosing. The agent desires both A and B, and without a higher-desire for one over the other (without a higher-basis), it's out of his control. So it's just luck.

      The act of the will is a randomness mechanism, since the agent in the "libertarian" model has no control over which set of reasons he lands on. The reasons for A don't rule out B, and vice versa. The agent has no control over what happens, so whichever he lands on (A or B, with their corollaries) is random. In this case, the reasons-sets amount to (or determine) the number of sides the die has, and whichever reasons lands face-up, will be the reasons followed through with.

      Did the agent have the desire to act on one and not the other?

      If the agent does have control over what set of desires he acts on, that would mean the choice is guided by what desire-set the agent desires to act on, which rules out randomness, but brings us back to either determinism or the regress.

      The fact that A has reasons doesn't mean it isn't random, since in your very own coin toss example, both careers have reasons, but the decision involves an element of chance that isn't determined by anything. So your libertarian model fails to rise above randomness just because you adduce reasons to whatever choice is made.

      If A was the only desire on the agent's mind, then the reasons for doing A would suffice to explain why A was acted on. But if there are two desires, and neither is stronger than another, then I can't even begin to fathom how it's not random which reasons are acted on, sans a higher-order set of inclinations. Saying you did A "for" A-reasons doesn't explain why B-reasons weren't acted on, since (before the choice), neither reasons made it you not act on the other reasons. The reasons only explain why A and B are on the mind, but not why the mind chooses one rather than the other. You might have picked A with A-reasons, but not FOR those reasons.

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    40. I'd happily be shoved into a discussion with my fellow determinist and non-materialist, Galen Strawson.

      Interesting as this is, the point really was about professional philosophers. That a professional philosopher can best a non-philosopher in an argument over p does not lend much evidential support to p.

      (That said, I think I have a pretty good objection to Strawson's argument for panpsychism. Strawson acknowledges that there are two combination problems in the philosophy of mind. The first is how one would get a conscious mind out of non-conscious matter; the second is how one would get a conscious mind out of conscious matter. Strawson holds that exactly one of those problems is soluble, admitting of course that no solution currently exists. Now, the former is clearly a harder problem than the latter, and it's possible that the latter could be soluble while the former is not. But I do not think the former is much harder; in the space of options, the ground between non-naturalism and materialism seems to be exceedingly thin. Without some concrete proposal of how the latter problem is handily solved once consciousness in matter is posited, I think the grounds for panpsychism are very weak.)

      The fact that A has reasons doesn't mean it isn't random, since in your very own coin toss example, both careers have reasons, but the decision involves an element of chance that isn't determined by anything. So your libertarian model fails to rise above randomness just because you adduce reasons to whatever choice is made.

      I think it's right that my coin-flipping career chooser is not an example of a random, non-free agent. On any account of freedom, someone can choose to deploy a randomizing mechanism to make a decision, and this won't imply that he is not free. He is, indeed, acting on reasons and from reason; he could, indeed, not have decided to deploy the randomizing mechanism at all (compatibilist and libertarian will agree on that point, differing just on their reading of 'could').

      I did say before that who acts on reasons does not act arbitrarily and therefore does not act randomly. I'm happy to say that the coin-flipping career chooser acts non-arbitrarily but randomly, however. (I'd also say that there's a sense in which the choice isn't random.)

      What doesn't follow, though, from this admission is that the libertarian agent's choosing generally is akin to the deployment of a randomization mechanism. From "libertarian choice and use of randomization mechanism are compatible" it doesn't follow that "libertarian choice is akin to a randomization mechanism". This point is sufficiently basic that I won't say more.

      My defense of libertarianism against your argument has made use of a conception of freedom available also to compatibilism, that to act freely is to act on reasons and from reason. This is fitting because Aquinas is not a libertarian. The compatibilist of course holds just that free will and determinism are compatible. If determinism were true, then my principle might show why there could still be freedom. But the principle also shows why undetermined choices cam be free.

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    41. "who acts on reasons does not act arbitrarily and therefore does not act randomly."

      It is random if there are two sets of reasons, and there is no reason to prefer one reason over another.

      "What doesn't follow, though, from this admission is that the libertarian agent's choosing generally is akin to the deployment of a randomization mechanism. From "libertarian choice and use of randomization mechanism are compatible" it doesn't follow that "libertarian choice is akin to a randomization mechanism". This point is sufficiently basic that I won't say more."

      I don't think I argued that the compatibility entails that libertarian choice is akin to a randomization mechanism. I said that it's akin to randomness in that "the choice itself would be the randomization mechanism, since there is nothing guiding it to act on one reason over another. It you're not sufficiently inclined to follow one set of desires, then you'll be moved to a different one, or you're acting randomly."

      The mechanism isn't sufficiently inclined to land on one set rather than other--which is exactly what makes it random. Even if some sides of the die are weighteir than others, it's still random given the element of chance (.6 to .4; .5 to .5, whatever). The die and the will are both randomization mechanisms, then. Without a reason to adopt one set of reasons over another, I don't see how it's not random. It's not that l.c. and use of a r.m. are compatible; they're identical.

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    42. Please answer: how is randomly choosing to act on R1 (reasons with option 1) rather than R2, different from libertarianly choosing to act on R1 rather than R2?

      In both cases, the agent has no control over what his choice would be. If he did, that would mean there's a higher-inclination that determines what the outcome would be, which is incompatible with the stage of indeterminism. The whole point of libertarian free will is to make us morally responsible. LFW is worse than the coin toss model since at least the agent chose to toss the coin, on LFW you're just forced to follow one desire-set over another (whether you want to or not), even though they were equally strong, or maybe one was weaker (which means LFW implies that you don't always get to do what you want most to do).

      It's not enough to say you chose 1 because R1, since R1 only explains the presence of 1 before the outcome transpired, where it existed alongside 2. Merely pointing to R1 doesn't explain why it magically took priority over R2. A contrasting explanation is needed, since the outcome is contrastive. What made the difference? Nothing.

      With regards to the ridiculous compatibilism discussion: Obviously compatibilists have a definition of free will/freedom that is compatible with determinism. Indeed, I have a million dollars if I define "million dollars" as a candy bar wrapper. But if Aquinas was a determinist, that puts in the same position of John Calvin, since it makes God the ultimate author of the Holocaust, and child rape. The perpetrators could not have done otherwise: there was only one possibility for them.

      David Hume, Of Liberty and Necessity: "The ultimate author of all our volitions is the creator of the world, who first bestowed motion on this immense machine, and placed all beings in that particular position, whence every subsequent event, by an inevitable necessity, must result. Human actions, therefore, either can have no moral turpitude at all, as proceeding from so good a cause; or if they have any turpitude, they must involve our Creator in the same guilt, while he is acknowledged to be their ultimate cause and author. For as a man, who fired a mine, is answerable for all the consequences whether the train he employed be long or short; so wherever a continued chain of necessary causes is fixed, that Being, either finite or infinite, who produces the first, is likewise the author of all the rest, and must both bear the blame and acquire the praise which belong to them."

      Hume's quote would apply to both Calvin and Aquinas. Any Catholic that is a compatibilist is a jerk in my opinion. How could God punish me for doing what I was inevitably inclined to do? I could not have truly done otherwise in this game of dominos. He knocked over the first domino. When I talk about freedom being incoherent, I'm referring only to the libertarian definition.

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    43. That is all, I think, libertarians as a group have to agree upon, as they can give diverse accounts of what libertarian free choice is. I think to describe an event as random is to describe it in efficient-causal terms, and that is why I think a free agent could deploy a randomization mechanism as a means, but his behavior could not be random "all the way down"--that would be to say that he is subject to occurrences, rather than an agent at all. Someone whose behavior is random all the way down (recall that here we mean truly describable by some probability distribution, not merely someone whose behavior is not determined) would not be acting for any reasons; he'd just happen to start moving in their direction. The causal facts, then, differ between the two cases; there is not intelligent final-causal explanation in play in the random case, but (I think) there is in the libertarian free agent's case.

      In both cases, the agent has no control over what his choice would be. If he did, that would mean there's a higher-inclination that determines what the outcome would be, which is incompatible with the stage of indeterminism.

      This doesn't follow. When a libertarian free agent chooses A rather than B, he was in control of the choice because he is its cause and he could have chosen otherwise.

      This relates to the points made above about the final-causal difference between the random 'agent' and the libertarian agent. The description "on LFW you're just forced to follow one desire-set over another" is inaccurate; as though someone who chooses to do A is 'forced' so to choose because he could have done otherwise. Who or what forced him? The fact that actual world is actual?

      ...

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    44. ...

      Obviously compatibilists have a definition of free will/freedom that is compatible with determinism. Indeed, I have a million dollars if I define "million dollars" as a candy bar wrapper.

      Don't be an idiot. Compatibilists are characterized by holding the thesis "free will and determinism are compatible". If they're to defend that view, they still need a conception of freedom which is in fact compatible with determinism. They are not merely renaming some other thesis which is compatible with the thesis of determinism (say, physicalism) 'free will' so that they can say free will and determinism are compatible.

      But if Aquinas was a determinist, that puts in the same position of John Calvin, since it makes God the ultimate author of the Holocaust, and child rape.

      I said Aquinas was a compatibilist. I did not say he was a determinist. He thinks free action can be determined and also that some free action is determined. But he also holds that determinism in general is false and that much of human free action is not determined.

      Anyway, I don't expect we are going to make any progress here. So do your worst, if you like.

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    45. "He thinks free action can be determined and also that some free action is determined."

      If free action can be determined, then why is there suffering?

      "Compatibilists are characterized by holding the thesis "free will and determinism are compatible"."

      Right. Free will--the ability to do otherwise--is manifestly incompatible with determinism. Compatibilists use a different definition of "free will" that simply means being able to act on your desires. Putting "hard" or "soft" in front of determinism doesn't change the fact that all is determined.

      "When a libertarian free agent chooses A rather than B, he was IN CONTROL OF THE CHOICE because he is its cause and he could have chosen otherwise." (emphasis added)

      To control what your choice will be means choosing what your choice will be, which brings us to the regress problem. Having control means you get to determine what the outcome will be (for example: wanting to follow one desire and not the other), but on indeterminism, nothing guarantees that the outcome will be one rather the other. You have no control. Despite all prior effort and deliberation, your choice could end up being B rather than A.

      Also, having control would imply knowing what you want to choose (what desire you want to act on), but then there'd only be one possible outcome--no alter. pos.s.

      "The description "on LFW you're just forced to follow one desire-set over another" is inaccurate; as though someone who chooses to do A is 'forced' so to choose because he could have done otherwise."

      Well, given libertarianism, it is unavoidable that you follow through with one desire-set and not the other. So "free will" is what forces you to do it, like being forced to throw a die.

      "Someone whose behavior is random all the way down (recall that here we mean truly describable by some probability distribution, not merely someone whose behavior is not determined) would not be acting for any reasons; he'd just happen to start moving in their direction."

      On indeterminism, some possible worlds you choose A, others B. If both desires were equally strong, then they had a .5 chance of being followed upon (chosen). Rewinding time 100 times, approximately half the outcomes would have outcome B transpiring. You can say I'm not allowed to do this, but it would amount to "nuh-uh" with perhaps fancy rhetoric to dress it up. If a die is thrown, I'm allowed to give probabilites to what side will face up.

      Given libertarianism, you aren't really acting for reasons. You're acting randomly, but it just so happens that your options are circumscribed by reasons. There's no reason for adopting one set of reasons over another. You just happen to choose one on a whim. If your decision had been guided by a higher-reason in mind, that would determine the outcome. In the end, you're either acting randomly or for a reason.

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    46. The whole explanans entails the explanandum issue was swept under a rug . . . .

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    47. Not really. I said somewhere that the outcome is contrastive (outcome A happens rather than B, with all the same reasons in place), so the explanation has to be contrastive. Pointing to rA doesn't explain why A took priority, as I explained. rA is compatible with A not taking place. What made the difference? There is no explanation.

      Basically, you're just insisting on terms that are conducive to your being libertarian. You just insist the reasons cirumscribing A are an explanation when they don't explain the rejection of one of the possibilities, the push into nothingness.

      Thought experiment: I have a desire to press the green button because I find it fun. I also have a desire to press the red button because of its being fun. I only have time to do one, and I press the red button. (Which entails having not pressed the blue button, but doesn't explain it.) Why? "Because it was fun." Okay, but pressing the red button was also fun. Without an explanation (a reason) for why the red-desire-set was acted on rather than blue-desire-set (e.g. one was more fun), you're just giving me randomness and labeling it as something magical.

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    48. No, you have repeatedly asserted that explanations must entail the explanandum and be contrastive in order to be an explanation. Your thought experiments amount to 'this isn't contrastive, ergo, not an explanation'.

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    49. No, I haven't. You can keep repeating that accusation but it's not true.

      I already explained it but you won't address it. The outcome is that one reason was acted on rather than another. The outcome itself is contrastive, so the explanation has to explain why one desire-set was rejected instead of the other one.

      You refuse to do that.

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    50. You can make any outcome contrastive. The question is whether its a neccessary condition in order to have an explanation. You havent argued for that.

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    51. A was acted on rather than B. The alleged explanation is the reasons for acting for A, but this explanation would still be true if B was chosen. So the explanation is completely compatible with the explanandum never taking place. So without something that explains why the one possible outcome took priority over another, you're just giving me randomness and making excuses for calling it "free will." But there is no free will.

      More and more people are waking up to the fact that free will is an illusion, and this will free us from the clutches of the horrific Roman Empire (the Catholic Church).

      "Men were thought of as free so that they could become guilty." -Friedrich Nietzsche

      No longer will men be dependent on the Church for forgiveness, for the reality of hard determinism will forgive us.

      "Cuz everyone is forgiven now. Cuz tonight's the night the world begins again." -Goo Goo Dolls, "Better Days"

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    52. This is why you have been accused of begging the question. The free will proponent wants to explain why choice A was chosen, not give a contrastive explanation, because being contrastive isn't a necessary condition. As long as there is intelligibility.

      You don't even seem to have read the other side (the agent causes the choice and the specific account of action is more complicated than measuring 2 options. Take Aquinas with habituation and the passions). No one punts for Voluntarism and accept the accounts of free will must be goal directed but the reasons for a decision aren't the whole story. You need something like Agent causation.

      But it doesn't take a genius to see that you are driven by your dislike of hell (I don't blame you completely, it's a scary thought). So I'll leave it here.

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    53. "The free will proponent wants to explain why choice A was chosen"

      And he fails, for the reasons I explained which you refuse to deal with.

      "because being contrastive isn't a necessary condition."

      This would be true if there was only one desire available. But if there are two options, and only one option is followed on, then you need to explain why one reason was adopted AS OPPOSED to the other. All you do is cite the reasons for A, which don't explain anything since the reasons for A still exist if B is chosen. All it explains is the possibility of A amongst other ones.

      Answer this question:

      Why was A chosen rather than B?

      You keep dodging this, which shows the weakness of libertarians.

      Agent causation doesn't help at all. If the decision is not determined by the agent (and his personality and character), then it will be due (at least in part) do an element of randomness. How is that reflective of the agent's nature?

      It doesn't matter how complicated it is. You can toss in as many factors as you like, but if you're not sufficiently inclined to follow one desire over another (or many others), then you're acting randomly even if your decision is circumscribed by reasons.

      "it doesn't take a genius to see that you are driven by your dislike of hell"

      It doesn't matter what I'm driven by. What matters is my arguments which you're afraid to address, so you keep repeating "begging the question" like a mindless parrot.

      You both also completely ignored the regress problem, so I'll repost it for any bystanders:

      "To control what your choice will be means choosing what your choice will be, which brings us to the regress problem. Having control means you get to determine what the outcome will be (for example: wanting to follow one desire and not the other), but on indeterminism, nothing guarantees that the outcome will be one rather the other. You have no control. Despite all prior effort and deliberation, your choice could end up being B rather than A."

      I would also recommend reading "The Impossibility of Moral Responsibility" by Galen Strawson.

      Theism fails, and determinism will help people to see that.

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    54. "The free will proponent wants to explain why choice A was chosen, not give a contrastive explanation"

      IOW -- he doesn't want to explain why A was chosen rather than B, because that would uncover the randomness hiding behind free will.

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    55. No, the free will proponent rejects having to give a contrastive explanation in the first place. Out of a number of options, he gives intelligibility to decision. All you have done is demanded a contrastive explanation. Which is why you have been accused of begging the question.

      You may wish to justify explanations needing to be contrastive, but you haven't done so this far.

      By the way, agent causation was specifically formulated to address the randomness objection. Just having reasons which goal direct a number of options has never been the total exhaustion of a theory of free will.

      But I shouldn't have responded when I said I would leave it. Me bringing up your disgust at hell wasn't to address your arguments on the randomness objection etc it's to point out that you seem really passionate about destroying moral responsibility. So much so that I'm not surprised you seem not to be listening (I don't think it can be chalked up as just misunderstanding). Considering that context, I'm not going down the rabbit hole trying to explain *just what free will proponents say* let alone whether they are correct. Or on the primitive nature of agent causation. This is hardly a dispassionate talk aimed at understanding the other side.

      One more point. Even if you get rid of free will, it doesn't follow that philosophical theism is touched.

      That's it. Deuces II

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    56. "the free will proponent rejects having to give a contrastive explanation in the first place." IOW -- he rejects having to explain what happened (e.g. A having been chosen rather B even though they were both fun). He refuses to make free will different from randomly-adopting-one-set-of-reasons over another...because that's what it is.

      Do you deny there is a contrast between A and B?

      You dodged the question again.

      "but you haven't done so this far."

      The outcome is contrastive. You can ignore this and repeat "you haven't done so this far," or you can address it. Any honest bystander will see which one you do. And they also see the regress problem was not answered.

      "So much so that I'm not surprised you seem not to be listening"

      I'm the one who gives direct quotes of my opponent, whereas all you do is repeat "begging the question" even after I explain my points. This is just disrespectful. It's also just stupid to say I'm not listening.

      "agent causation was specifically formulated to address the randomness objection."

      So if it can be demonstrated that if doesn't work at solving the randomness objection, then the r.o. still runs through.

      Saying the agent chose A because the agent caused it (or "agent causation") is circular: he chose A because he chose A. Without a higher-order reason to go with one reason-set over another, the outcome is random, even if A is circumscribed by reasons. (B also had its reasons.)

      "This is hardly a dispassionate talk aimed at understanding the other side. "

      So what? You don't need to understand everything about your opponent's position to refute it. I used to be a devout Catholic and was close to suicide because of what the Church teaches. It's not funny. And I will spend the rest of my life exposing free will for the incoherent nonsense that it is and freeing people from the clutches of Church, whose god tortures people forever and allows little children to be raped and people to be thrown into gas chambers.

      I'm passionate at fighting stupidity (in your case, stubborn stupidity) and reducing suffering. Yes.

      "Even if you get rid of free will, it doesn't follow that philosophical theism is touched. "

      Yes, it does. God is defined as morally perfect, which needs morally significant free will. Without moral perfection, even if there is a sentient first cause, it is not God, and so atheism is true. There's also the logical argument from evil, which has not been refuted despite many attempts. No loving god would watch a child get molested and just sit on his you-know-what. Is the molester's almighty, autonomous will THAT important to your god?

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    57. For what's it worth, I still think CR is dodging the contrastive issue. But determinism doesn't rule out theism. It could rule out most religions, but not theism. Spinoza believed in God. Aristotle and Plotinus' view of God seems untouched.

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    58. By the way CR, I'm sorry to hear about your past troubles.

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    59. "I still think CR is dodging the contrastive issue."

      Then you've forgotten how to judge correctly, since I've dealt with it numerous times, even directly quoting my opponent. Read my above comment again. The outcome itself shows a contrast: A was chosen rather than B.

      They never give a reason for this.

      "Spinoza believed in God. Aristotle and Plotinus' view of God seems untouched. "

      Their "God" is compatible with atheism since It is not morally perfect. And then in addition to determinism, there's the irrefutable argument from evil.

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    60. This objection fails to appreciate that explanation need not always be contrastive. If there are truly indeterministic quantum mechanical systems capable of generating any of a plurality of outcomes, whatever results is not
      absolutely inexplicable. A perfectly good explanation may be given by citing the system and its relevant capacities that in fact produced the outcome, even if there is no explanation at all of why that outcome occurred rather than any of the others that might have. Similarly, if an agent is capable of causing any of a range of intentions that would result in different corresponding actions, the reason(s) that inclined the agent to do what he in fact does serve to explain it even though there may be no explanation of why he did that rather than any of the alternatives.

      You might argue this is inconsistent with the PSR, but the PSR says that every contingently true proposition p has an explanation, not that for every pair of propositions p and q where p is contingently true and q is a relevant alternative to p, there is an explanation of why p rather than qholds.  There  may well be such a notion of explanation which would make explanation be a ternary relation, but there is also a perfectly fine notion of explanation which makes explanation a binary relation, and it is the latter that the PSR concerns.

      Also, Pruss has an interesting argument that shows that the attempt to assimilate contrastive explanations to explanations of contrastive propositions fails.

      The Aristotelian has independent reason to hold this account of explanation beyond the issue of freedom. From Feser's book Five Proofs;

      "But from an Aristotelian point of view it is a mistake to suppose in the first place that causality entails determinism. For a cause to be sufficient to explain its effect, it is not necessary that it cause it in a deterministic way. It need only make the effect intelligible. And that condition is satisfied on a nondeterministic interpretation of quantum mechanics. As Robert Koons writes: "According to the Copenhagen version of quantum mechanics, every transition of a system has causal antecedents: the preceding quantum wave state, in the case of Schrödinger evolution, or the preceding quantum wave state plus the observation, in the case of wave packet collapse."".

      Note the difference between Leibniz's PSR and a Thomistic one. This time Feser from Scholastic Metaphysics;

      " The Thomist, however, looks backward from effects to causes. On a Thomistic construal of PSR, for a cause to be sufficient to explain it's effect it is not necessary that it cause it. It need only make the effect intelligible".

      This is echoed by John Haldane. If we can appeal to objective, non deterministic natural propensities in quantum systems to account for the phenomena they exhibit, this will suffice to provide us with the sort of explanation the Aristotelian claims every contingent thing in the world must have.

      I think your objections fail.

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    61. "Their "God" is compatible with atheism since It is not morally perfect. And then in addition to determinism, there's the irrefutable argument from evil.".

      How are we defining God? For Aristotelians, God is the ultimate explanation for everything. He is Pure Act. For Neo-Platonists he is the One. He is Perfect. You seem to be fine with attributing intellect and will (as interpreted by the compatibilist Thomists) but not moral goodness. If moral goodness is incoherent, and therefore not an attribute anything has, this doesn't detract from God's perfect nature.

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    62. I don't think there are indeterministic quantum systems. DraftScience (on Youtube) has made videos on the slit experiment. As he points out elsewhere, modern science has basically become a religion where you're considered a loon for going against the conventional theories. Absolutely everything is predestined, including your comment ;-)

      However, if they are indeterministic, they are random. So this doesn't help with free will at all.

      "[T]he reason(s) that inclined the agent to do what he in fact does serve to explain it even though there may be no explanation of why he did that rather than any of the alternatives."

      They only become reasons for what he did in retrospect. Immediately prior to the decision, he could have done something else, and the cited reasons would still be true. Surely this is random since there wasn't anything fully inclining the agent to act with one inclination over another.

      And hey, we're getting somewhere. At least you admit you don't have an explanation of the phenomenon (one thing happening rather than another thing).

      Pruss? I would love to see Alexander "Not Bothered by the Problem of Evil" Pruss debate Franz Kiekeben on free will, or better, Richard Carrier. He'd be put to shame.

      "It need only make the effect intelligible"

      It makes the effect intelligible, perhaps, but by factors of chance, since there is no reason why one potential "intelligle" outcome happened rather than the other one. Randomness would account for this, just like in quantum systems (even though randomness in the quantum world is mythological, as DraftScience proves).

      "How are we defining God?"

      God is omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect. G-d is omnipotent, omniscient, and all-loving.

      The first one is impossible because free will is impossible. Atheism wins there. The second one is possible but false because J.L. Mackie's "Evil and Omnipotence" essay was never refutued, though Plantinga tried. So atheism wins in both cases.

      G-d will not exist until the Messianic Age. "I will become who I will become." -Exodus 3:14

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    63. I can assure you a YouTuber hasn't disproved the orthodox view interpretation of quantum mechanics (and by quite a few accounts still the majority position). But the position doesn't even stand or fall on whether QM really is indeterminate. If it were, the PSR would still hold, demonstrating it's coherency. Also, Aristotelians had reason to hold such a PSR long before the indeterminacy of QM appeared.

      "However, if they are indeterministic, they are random. So this doesn't help with free will at all." Seems question begging to me.

      "They only become reasons for what he did in retrospect. Immediately prior to the decision, he could have done something else, and the cited reasons would still be true. Surely this is random since there wasn't anything fully inclining the agent to act with one inclination over another.

      And hey, we're getting somewhere. At least you admit you don't have an explanation of the phenomenon (one thing happening rather than another thing)."

      Now you are explicitly begging the question!

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    64. "I can assure you a YouTuber hasn't disproved the orthodox view interpretation of quantum mechanics"

      This betrays intellectual elitism. Just because he's a YouTuber does not mean he hasn't adequately argued his case. "If you don't have a fancy piece of paper, you're not worthy of having a seat in the discussion!"

      Indeterminism either implies randomness or free will. In quantum theory, it implies randomness. What else would it imply? It's a matter of chance whether one outcome is caused or another.

      Like a parrot, you say I am begging the question rather than deal with my argument. Accusing your opponent of "begging the question" is a lame cop-out. You have to actually show that I'm begging the question.

      Franz Kiekeben: "Another way to think about all this is to compare it with a (supposedly) random event, like the decay of a radioactive atom. When a particular atom decays, it does so randomly in the sense that, everything else being equal, it might not have done so at that particular moment. But of course that doesn't mean there are no causal factors involved. The atom is of a type that has a chance of decaying at any moment, and so on. So there are causal factors that explain to some extent why it decayed, even though they did not guarantee it would do so at any particular moment.

      Now compare that with the kind of explanation you're offering for why an agent acts a particular way rather than another. There are causal factors (the agent has certain beliefs and desires, etc.) involved that explain why the agent did what she did, even though they do not guarantee her action would be that one. I fail to see the difference."

      Until the decision is made, they are only reasons for what might happen, reasons with the potential outcome.

      You fail to show how free will is different randomness.

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    65. I should have said 'most probably assure you'. I'm not chasing after every Tom, Dick and Deepak Chopra to see if they have demonstrated the correct interpretation of QM. The Copenhagen interpretation still stands as a (the?) Major position for QM. It's logically possible this YouTuber has demonstrated the correct position, considering the stalemate in the philosophy of science, I remain unconvinced. 

      "Indeterminism either implies randomness" depends on what you mean by randommess. If it's in the mathematical sense (IIRC) with no intelligibility, then no. 

      "there are causal factors that explain to some extent why it decayed, even though they did not guarantee it would do so at any particular moment." This is Perfectly compatible with an intelligible event. Here 'guarantee' really is synonymous with 'entail the explanandum' or 'entail which specific moment the atom will decay'. Again, question begging. What is at issue between you and I is if explanans must entail the explanandum. You have, through quotation, simply said 'I am right'. 

      *This is the question you are begging. I have pointed it out to you. Others have too. It has been shown you are begging the question*

      I want to point something out. Libertarian supporters don't simply say free will acts are like quantum indeterminate events. They had something extra (whether it's agent causation or whatever). So if you are saying that free will is still hit by the luck objection, you may be correct. I'm not giving a full account of free will that answers all objections. I haven't pretended too, either. 

      Take this away. Free will succumb to the luck objection or problem of control. I haven't addressed that problem either way. I don't have the time to. What I have done, is shown that some of your premises are wrong. The explanans does not have to entail the explanandum and explanations do not have to be contrastive. Your objections have no muster, regardless of how the free will debate turns out.

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    66. I am not assuming that explanandums entail the explanation, as I already pointed out to Callum. You can keep repeating that as much as you want, but it's not true. The explanation, after all, can include an element of chance, like in quantum mechanics (the mythological version) or a die roll.

      Franz Kiekeben: "The argument doesn't depend on the principle of sufficient reason. It merely says that IF there is a reason why an event, AS OPPOSED TO ANY OTHER ALTERNATIVE, occurs, that reason is incompatible with the event failing to occur.

      The libertarian says that there is a reason why an agent chose A rather than B, and yet that even with that reason in place, the agent could have chosen B. But in that case, the choice between A and B remains unexplained."

      Now in your case, you might say there is no reason why an agent chose A over B, but then how that any different from random chance? A could happen, B could happen; the agent's character doesn't determine which one, so how the heck could you hold him accountable. If the agent is not acting for a reason, but merely landing on a set of reasons, that's exactly what random behaviour is. As pointed out by another determinist: "If you are to have responsibility for your actions, then there must be reasons for taking a given action."

      "randommess" That the outcome is unpredictable, and that all things being equal, A or B (C, etc.) could occur. Chance. From dictionary.com: "proceeding, made, or occurring without definite aim, reason, or pattern"

      If I throw a die, you could say that the outcome (e.g. 4) is sufficiently explained by my throw of the die, the number of sides, the shape, and the presence of 4. That doesn't change the fact that is random chance. In a "free" choice, the outcome can be linked with one desire, but there is nothing guiding the will (no fixed higher-inclination) to land on one rather the other. It's basically a die roll in the brain, but you label it "agent causation" to obscure the element of chance. The presence of the desire-set doesn't explain why it magically took priority over another one. Let's say B is chosen rather than A. The "reasons" for A are still there. So reasons don't show that their respective outcome will occur. Why did the reasons for A bring about A in one world, but not in another world? There is an element of chance involved, unless something brings it about that the reasons for A are more persuasive than B, which takes us back to determinism.

      So free will is indistinguishable from random will. How could one be responsible for a "free choice" if they have no control over what it will be? Having control means you get to determine what the outcome will be (for example: wanting to follow one desire and not the other), but on indeterminism, nothing guarantees that the outcome will be one rather the other. You have no control. Despite all prior effort and deliberation, your choice could end up being B rather than A. How could be responsible when you didn't want to act on this desire over another one, but it just happened on a whim? The whole point of free will is to make men morally responsible, but the agent and his choice will just be up to luck.

      Also, given free will, if one has even the slightest inkling of a desire to rape someone, that means they might do it, even the odds are unlikely (the side of the die is less weighty, to use an analogy). I don't see why this free will is even desirable. I want my desire to not-harm others to always outweigh any sadistic thought that could pop in my stream of thoughts. That can only be the case on determinism. Randomness ruins things. You could never trust anyone, since there prior personality up a point doesn't determine what their future behaviour will be like, but only makes some sides of the die a lot more weighty.

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    67. Agent causation amounts to saying "the agent cause A because he chose A," which is circular. If he's not sufficiently inclined to follow one desire-set over another, then he's just acting randomly. Putting the coin toss in the mind doesn't make the mind morally responsible for it, since he still determine whether the outcome was heads or tails. Without a higher-order reason to go with one reason-set over another, the outcome is random, even if A is circumscribed by reasons. (B also had its reasons.)

      "It has been shown you are begging the question" Saying I'm begging the question and repeating it a thousand times will never make it true. Deal with my arguments and stop being a parrot.

      "and explanations do not have to be contrastive." The outcome is contrastive (A was chosen rather than B), so if your explanation doesn't explain the contrast, then there's randomness involved.

      "Your objections have no muster" It's easy to say that someone else's objections have no muster. It's harder to actually demonstrate it.

      There is no free will. This is very exciting, since it will destroy the Roman Catholic Church that has kept humanity down for far too long. We're too old for the nonsense of free will, sexual morality, retributive justice, Edward Feser's neurotic obsession with the death penalty, Catholic apologists acting like Aquinas is infallible, using old arguments and arrogantly acting like they haven't been refuted, & psychologically torturing people with the doctrine of Hell (which is child abuse). This needs to stop. Even though I completely disagree with Martin Luther's theology, I admire him for taking the stand and setting humanity on its road to freedom from the oppressive Roman Empire, which never truly died but morphed into papism.

      We've been in the dark too long.

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    68. ""The argument doesn't depend on the principle of sufficient reason. It merely says that IF there is a reason why an event, AS OPPOSED TO ANY OTHER ALTERNATIVE, occurs, that reason is incompatible with the event failing to occur."

      Ok. Basically describing what it is for an explanation to entail the explanation. Gotcha gotcha.

      "The libertarian says that there is a reason why an agent chose A rather than B"

      Aaaand straw man.

      I hope you don't expect me to run around addressing the whole theory of agent causation (when I manifestly mentioned I haven't the time for that).

      A few points

      • you actually appealed to the everyday dictionary for the definition of word (with multiple technical terms)?!

      • seeing as you have forgotten, my interest is in arguing that you are wrong on 2 accounts; that explanans entail the explanandum and that explanations must be contrastive. The rest of the pixels you have used aren't my focus (maybe interesting, maybe not). You seem to have given up defending the first point and instead appealed to quotations which assume it (in this context, that's assuming what is under discussion, I.e question begging).

      With the contrastive issue, you note "Saying I'm begging the question and repeating it a thousand times will never make it true. Deal with my arguments and stop being a parrot."

      So what is your argument?

      "The outcome is contrastive (A was chosen rather than B), so if your explanation doesn't explain the contrast, then there's randomness involved."

      This calls for a gif of disbelief. I haven't the words. "The outcome is contrastive"? I have already noted that a contingent proposition P can always add &~q. You are simply insisting that I explain P&~q rather than P. But an explanation doesn't have to be contrastive in order to be an explanation. See my above comment on the matter.

      "It's easy to say that someone else's objections have no muster."

      I know exactly how you feel.

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  7. Secular Outpost seems to have given up its blog series on Five Proofs after it turned into a bit of a shit show. The guys they had doing it got lost in the weeds and they seem to have gone back to attacking easier targets like Kreeft and Swinburne.

    Thing is, if you have to turn to such extremely esoteric hair splitting to avoid the conclusion that there is a God, you've already lost. Isn't atheism supposed to be just bleeding obvious?

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    1. Could you give some examples? I'll be upfront, I havent got the inclination to go read it

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    2. I agree. That stuff is starting to get ridiculous...

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    3. I must confess I was seriously disappointed at Bradley Bowen.

      I mean, after eight or so posts of pedantic nitpicking and pointless handwaving masquerading as analytic rigour, this was the best objection he could come up with:

      If a boy becomes a woman, then that is a change, but it is NOT a change based on a potential of that boy to become a woman. If an ugly and untalented actor becomes a famous movie star, that is a change, but it is NOT a change based on a potential of that actor to become a famous movie star. Not every change happens in accordance with “a potential for X to become Y”, so Feser’s analysis of change is wrong.

      He couldn't even get the most basic and commonsensical of all claims Dr. Feser makes in his book! A claim which, I guess, even a five year-old would be able to understand...

      I figure that famous quote by G. K. Chesterton fits like a glove here:
      A madman is not someone who has lost his reason but someone who has lost everything but his reason.

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    4. Bradley Bowen never understood what the act/potency distinction was, despite several commenters (including me) telling him about it. Most of his material amounted to suggesting meanings for the term "potential" that had nothing to do with Aristotle's. As you say, it was a great disappointment.

      I thought the combox discussions of modern physics' relationship with the metaphysics of Parmenides and Aristotle were interesting, but Bowen wasn't involved in that.

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  8. God is evident in the dimension of Being, not of causes and effects.
    The question of the existence of God is commonly posed relative to the evidence represented by the effects that may be perceived or the causes that may be presumed in the realm of Nature. Therefore, no ultimately satisfactory or deeply convincing proofs are offered by this approach.
    The question "Does God exist" is not truly a question. It is an expression of a confused of un-Lightened state of human being. It is at once the evidence of that state and an emotional or psychic proposition based on that state. It is a question only in its outer form or linguistic expression. It is not a true question seeking an answer, nor can it be satisfactorily answered through any of the procedures that are traditionally suggested as responses to it as a question. It is simply a rhetorical devise, a literary instrument for communicating the presumption of doubt. It is also essentially a political power play.

    Real questions are gestures toward an answer which necessarily lead to a transformation of ones entire being.

    The pseudo-question "Does God exist" has occupied, and still occupies, millions upon millions of un-Enlightened human beings. It is one of the principal signs of the futility of conventional outer-directed of materialistic philosophy and culture, and (similarly) of "official" institutional religiosity. It is an idol made of words, made to stand in every marketplace, causing all who pass to knit the brow as if engaged in serious reflection. But the expression on those faces is merely one of bewilderment and frustrated intelligence.

    The question in regard to God's existence is merely a verbal form of a hell-deep fundamental doubt. It is a proposition based on the prior presumption of sinful being or separation from the Infinite Field of Being. It is based on the presumption of a world in which objects, or all that is presumed to be not-self are chronically presumed to be Reality, while beings and the Radiant Being that includes and transcends all beings are regarded to be non-existent as such.

    The question is actually a negative proposition relative to its subject. It is based on the prior denial of the existence of God. The question is merely a sign that the being, or the state of mind, that asks it is in question, in state of alienation from Being, fixed upon causes and effects - dimly conscious of Nature but unconscious of the Fullness of Being, or hell-deep convicted of sin.

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  9. "Free will is incoherent..."

    Good. Then we can ignore your comment.

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  10. Sean Carroll's latest....Check out

    https://arxiv.org/pdf/1802.02231.pdf

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    1. "From a modern perspective, arguments of this sort are not very convincing, as the justifi-
      cation for the PSR is somewhat antiquated. Once we think of the laws of nature as describing
      patterns rather than causal forces, and the notion of cause and effect as being appropriate to
      higher-level emergent descriptions of the world rather than the fundamental level, the PSR
      loses its luster. It is sometimes defended as a prerequisite for understanding and talking
      about the universe at all: if things happen without reasons, how can we possibly make any
      sense of the world?3 But the requirement that the world be orderly and intelligible is much
      weaker than the demand that everything has a cause or reason behind it; there is a sizable
      gap between the PSR as usually understood and “anything goes.” In particular, somewhere
      in between is the idea of an orderly universe which follows impersonal, unbreakable patterns
      – precisely the kind of universe that is described by modern physics. Such a property is more
      than enough to allow for sensible investigation and discussion of how the world is, without
      implying the existence of anything outside the world; as we’ve seen, there is no shortage of
      ways the physical world could be both orderly and self-contained."

      That seems to be the main gist to argue against a PSR. This blog has probably addressed every point. It would have been interesting if he interacted with Pruss' updated probability argument. Alas, apart from Kuhn/Leslie, Swineburne and Plantinga no other philosophy work is cited. And even then most aren't relevant to the PSR. I don't think Carroll has done enough research into the literature on the PSR

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    2. If events in the world can obtain inexplicably (contra the PSR), then how can we hope to uncover its "unbreakable patterns" when the events we observe may be occurring for no reason whatsoever? Perhaps the events we observe in the course of our scientific investigations (such as in the LHC at CERN) tell us nothing more about the world beyond that the fact that they occurred at the moment we observed them.

      Carroll may breezily dismiss these sorts of concerns as being "somewhat antiquated," but it's hard to see how one can deny the PSR without also undercutting the epistemological foundations of the empirical sciences.

      Ben

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    3. Agree with you two,Although its just a draft so maybe such issues would be addressed later. His discussion basically boils down to few already heavily discussed points Some of his points are that There is no requirement for some "cause" of universe in current physics and Secondly, Brute fact view is better than necessary being because There just can't be any necessary being( per the Humean argument).Further he goes on to criticize necessary being on the grounds that our postulation of Ultimate causes should be based on Empirical Evidence and explanatory virtues not a priori principles but one wonders where does empirical evidence for his principles like Logical consistency is a guide to genuine metaphysical modality, come from when empirical science settled the issues regarding laws of nature once and for all, his view seems to be that his particular views which he himself observes is "Humean views of laws" is unquestionably endorsed by Science.

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    4. Carroll wants to argue for the presence of a continuum between explicability and inexplicability, whereas they can only constitute a binary. Either the world is explicable or it isn't; you cannot quarantine inexplicability so as to maintain the possibility of scientific explanation whilst keeping God off the plantation.

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    5. I have yet to read it, but Sean Carroll is a physicist, hence I see no reason why he should be able to answer why there is something rather than nothing. This suspicion is reinforced when right from the beginning he says:

      //Modern physics suggests that the universe can exist all by itself as a self-contained system, without anything external to create or sustain it//.

      No it doesn't. This is to misunderstand the legitimate purview of physics. See a blog post by me: http://ian-wardell.blogspot.co.uk/2018/01/the-difference-between-science-and.html

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  11. I, for one, would very much appreciate a post from Professor Feser addressing the objection that the Aristotelean argument is incompatible with free will. This objection is raised in the Ontological Investigations review/critique, but I think it is very old objection and I'm not sure I've seen an altogether satisfying response. David Oderberg wrote on article years ago defending the principle that whatever is changed is changed by another in which he argued that the actualization of a potency does not require deterministic causation. In this view, the fact that one's act of choice must be actualized by something outside oneself does not mean that one does not make a free choice for a particular action. The external actualizer would (I suppose) simply empower one to exercise one's freedom of will. This strikes me as a plausible response but raises the question of what external actualizer of one's will could be.

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    1. "the fact that one's act of choice must be actualized by something outside oneself does not mean that one does not make a free choice for a particular action."

      Exactly.

      "but (this) raises the question of what external actualizer of one's will could be.

      This is a different subject. Either way free-will survives as per the answer you mentioned above.

      But remember, the Aristotelian argument ultimately deduces that all composites of act/potency are being actualized by Pure Actuality, the source of all being. This in other words means we are being given actuality, existence, being etc.

      We are being given actuality; what we do with the actuality we're being given is up to us.

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  12. Red,

    I addressed Carroll's main argument here.

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    1. Not sure this is an entirely charitable reading of Carroll. I read Carroll to be saying that it is possible to construct a working model of the universe - i.e., one that accords with our current understanding of the laws of physics - that does not require an external cause to sustain it in existence. So he may not be arguing that he has actually proven the conclusion from his assumption -- rather, he might argue that if it is possible for the universe to exist without an external sustaining case, there is no reason why we should posit one. With that said, Carroll's argument does not (in my view) really address the question of metaphysical contingency, which is the concern of cosmological arguments such as those advanced by Professor Feser. This is not surprising given that Carroll, despite his generally non-dismissive attitude toward philosophy, appears to think that only physics, not metaphysics, can teach us about ultimate reality.

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    2. Yawn..... I'm reminded after a few hours of contemplation of Dr Feser's metal detector analogy. Of course Carroll is going to come to the conclusion that the Universe is self-sustaining because he's premptivley ruled metaphysics out of consideration.

      Granted he's not as obnoxious as Kraudawk but he still attacks strawmen. It beggers belief that an intelligent man (as he obviously is) could be so lazy.

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  13. Have I mentioned how I absolutely love the texture of the cover? ;-)

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  14. I've read Aquinas's two main works plus some of his other stuff and I am an atheist. I don't think our age has trouble thinking critically. Perhaps its the opposite since atheism is on the rise. I know for a fact there is not a God. There have been times in my life when my mind was so full of the sunshine of goodness, I knew for sure nothing could disturb it at that moment. If there was a God, we would always feel contingent. These experiences of mine were more philosophically sure than ones I had when I was younger that I considered religious experiences at the time. They were, and are for other people, simply emotional experiences. People want things to make sense at each moment, although things make sense only at the end of life, and it has nothing to do with an almighty God. Peace

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    1. You claim you are sure of your convictions but, as it turns out, everything you’ve said is just groundless emotivity.

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    2. Your comment intrigues me. Could you answer a few questions?

      1) What does simply reading some of Aquinas's writings have to do with being an atheist? I've read some of Nietzsche's writings and I'm a Catholic. So what?

      2) Atheism is on the rise? What makes you think that? Could you quote some sources?

      3) How do you know for a fact that there is no God? Judging from your later statements, this "knowledge" isn't based on feelings or emotions, so it must be based on argument and fact. Could you give us these arguments and facts?

      4) "If there was a God, we would always feel contingent." What? What does that means? Do you sometimes feel necessary?

      5) The experiences you had were more philosophical than your earlier experiences. I'm guessing you're referring to the "sunshine of goodness" that nothing could disturb. But surely this was primarily an emotional experience, since we could imagine a variety of circumstances which would end the "sunshine of goodness" in your mind. To be quick and vague, torture, rape, murder, or cringey blog posts could do the trick.

      6) What makes you think that religious experiences are emotional experiences? Indeed, talk to any academic Roman Catholic, and he might inform you from his own experiences that you are mistaken. I myself have had incredible religious experiences that were, at bottom, intellectual in nature, as when a proof or argument suddenly clicks, and a little more of the curtain is lifted from God or his acts.

      7) What on earth does your last sentence mean? I really want to make sense of it in this moment, but perhaps it will only make sense at the end of my life. Notice that it casts equal doubt on your own position of atheism, given your "sunshine of goodness" comment earlier. Perhaps those experiences can only make sense at the end of life too?

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    3. I think life makes sense without a God, and the universe is necessary, not God. The emotion that comes at death, I am sure, makes us understand life. A lot of Catholics think Aquinas's Contra Gentiles just hasn't been read by people. I read it, and he only shows in the first book that the First Mover must has some actuality and not be pure actuality as Plotinus thought. He doesn't prove that the First Mover is not material, that it has consciousness, that it has intellect, or that it has will. As with the Summa, he seldom says anything that cannot be doubted. What I said about feeling safe in one's skin is not subjective. Human's have a natural ability in this regard. I doesn't just come in times of goodness either. There are times, good and bad, when I knew nothing could hurt me or end my life in less than a second. I might hear a car coming down the street with a group of mafia members to kill me, but I can know that there isn't a God that could end my existence in a second. So I feel some of the world's necessity at that time. On youtube there is a video on William Craig answering Edward Feser on God and univocal goodness. I agree with Feser that Craig is wrong, because otherwise there would be no beauty in the particular. But I think in more philosophical moments it can be known that there is nothing God could be then, if not just a transcendent combination of the goods of the particulars. So in the end only the particulars exist. Finally, polls among young people show there is more disbelief in God now than there was in previous generations

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    4. Rene? In what sense were his comments intriguing? Except that he talks about critical thinking and then rambles on in a tedious fashion without the slightest hint of understanding what he is talking about, such as contingency?

      Do yourself, and the rest of us, a favor and ignore the trolls.

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    5. Rene? In what sense were his comments intriguing? Except that he talks about critical thinking and then rambles on in a tedious fashion without the slightest hint of understanding what he is talking about, such as contingency?

      Do yourself, and the rest of us, a favor and ignore the trolls.


      His comments were intriguing in the sense that he very clearly wanted to say something meaningful. Sure, he was having trouble doing it, but a careful read of his post would indicate that 1) he wanted to express a real and honest opinion of his, and 2) he didn't quite have the philosophical tools to do this just yet. Labeling him as a "troll" and ignoring him would be disrespectful and, frankly, uncharitable.

      Further, I identified with his remark since, prior to my own conversion and studies, I made many similar remarks, and all out of genuine interest in the topic at hand. I was guided to the truth and a better understanding of it by patient and charitable people. This is what I was trying to do.

      Finally, it's fair to assume that the person who posted immediately after me was the same one that I was replying to. There, it is even more clear that he is genuinely interested in discussion and debate, as he addressed nearly each one of my questions in a fuller and deeper manner. How you missed this, I cannot know.

      Given all of this, as far as I'm concerned, the only person who could plausibly be labeled a troll in this conversation is you.

      And to my friend who I was conversing with before some elitist Randy tried to shut down the discussion, I'm afraid there is just too much to reply to in your response. Perhaps we could pick one topic and discuss that?

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    6. This fellow might not be have the philosophical tools to express himself prppprop, but he clearly thinks he does. His long rambling comments all seem to boil down to himn asserting the world itself is necessary. To call him a troll might be harsh, but there are still signs he likely isn't worth the bother of interaction. From his other poats, he hardly seemsee to repaid the effort of those who have responded to him. He should make his points clearer, and tone down his confidence in them, to be taken seriously.

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  15. There have been times in my life when my mind was so full of the sunshine of goodness, I knew for sure nothing could disturb it at that moment. If there was a God, we would always feel contingent.

    This is one of the more interesting considerations I have seen put forward in favor of atheism. But I hate to break it to you: you are very contingent.

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  16. I meant to write that Plotinus believed the ultimate was pure potentiality, not actuality. sorry

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    1. No, he didn't, not in the Aristotelian sense. He literally argues Nous cannot be the first principle because intellect implies a degree of potency.

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  17. If Plotinus said that, then he was even further from Aquinas than I thought. The One does not act (ergon) with self-awareness but instead is pure potentiality (dynamis). My point was that there must be an actuality (not a hard concept) starting the universe, but it need not be God. Aquinas's argument is that there cannot be a dominoes series going back forever without something eternally "starting" it (a hard concept). But that only applies to a dominoes series. Imagine a planet eternally circling a sun because of gravity. That could have existed forever without a God, and that avoids Aquinas's objection. Aquinas makes many claims without proof besides, such as that to create from nothing requires an infinite power. There is no way to prove that. Or that an abstract impersonal entity couldn't make a motion outside of time to start the world. Feser said in an interview that Aquinas has "hundreds' of pages arguing for God's attributes. Catholics seem frustrated that many haven't read them. I have, and there isn't much substance there.

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    1. And my point was that you were mistaken in your understanding of Plotinus, and you still are. The One is has no potentiality in the Aristotelian sense. Plotinus makes extensive use of Aristotle's concepts of potency and act, and he would not refer to the One as containing potency in this sense. What you are referring to is the fact he portrays the One as the ground of all that is possible in being. Also, he exoliexpli, though not perhaps without certain obscurity, makes it clear the One is aware and has knowledge, though it's manner of being and having such in some semse transcends our normal usage of these terms.

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    2. So, you’re telling us that you’re qualified to talk about Aquinas... but you haven’t even figured out the difference between an accidentally ordered series and an essentially ordered series? Okay.

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    3. No, Aquinas's argument is not that "there cannot be a dominoes series going back forever without something eternally starting it".

      You don't seem to have grasped the basic point of the argument. Thus your further claim that the argument for God's attributes "lack substance" itself lacks substance.

      Once you unpack what it means for something to be Pure Actuality, being that which actualizes all things here and now without itself being actualized by another, certain attributes are immediately evident.

      You have to deeply reflect on the arguments to appreciate what they're saying. Sadly, I realize more and more, hardly anyone wants to do that.

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    4. 1- How would the first cause be anything other than a free and intelligent cause? If the cause lacked any agential power, the universe would have been determinately created. Not only would this entail necessitarianism, but how can an immaterial, transcendent being somehow be "determined" to create anything? What could determinately explain that? And that would imply there is no contingency whatsoever, with everything in existence being necessitated by an impersonal immaterial first cause (whatever that would be). This fact is well known both in discussions of the Kalam argument but also the Leibnizian argument, and can easily be applied to thomistic arguments as well.

      What if the first cause acted at random? I thought about that alternative before, as an escape route against the other option, and I have an argument against that. If the first cause created or kept the universe in existence out of a purely random process, then by the same token that first cause could have just as well randomly anihilated the universe, or stopped keeping it in being, at any time whatsoever. But it has never happened. And as the creator and first cause, it has no limitation. It cannot be a random process. (Also, by would process could it even operate at random).

      It is therefore extremely implausible that the first cause could have determinately created the universe, or that it could have randomly created it. The only option available is that which is in between determinateness and randomness without being either of them: agential free choice.

      2- Which is also what PSR shows. As Bernard Lonergan states, if PSR holds and the universe/contingent existence is intelligible, it cannot have come to exist arbitrarily without any reason, for arbitrariness is mere matter of fact and not a full explanation for existence. If PSR is true, the universe is fully explained only by a mind that can create with reasons and purposes, and not "as a matter of fact".

      3- Could also add other arguments such as the abstract objects X immaterial minds, etc., but I'll stop here. Those are just examples of arguments for why the first cause is God which do not explicitly draw from Aquinas. There are many of them. I for one cannot take seriously the idea that an impersonal first cause could exist and explain the universe, to me it is a position that has been thoroughly refuted in philosophy of religion (which is why atheists generally try to reject first causes in the first place, denying PSR and PC, which is even worse in my opinion).

      But you don't seem to have grasped Aquinas's own arguments for the divinity of the first cause. If you haven't found much substance there, perhaps the problem is with you rather than us thomists. To create from nothing obviously requires infinite power, a power that is sufficient to make a move from absolute nothingness (nothing, not even empty space) into being (something), instead of merely shaping something up that already has potencies to be something. The creating power must lie exclusively in the efficient cause in such a case; and what is the difference between nothing and something? What is the "distance" between nothing and something?

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  18. The world is it's own causality, its own reason, and thus its own cause so to speak. If the world always existed, what was the first mover is the gravity like forces in the universe. If the universe started, then the singularity has its own necessity. This answers all of Aquinas's arguments, except the Fourth Way which doesn't work, and the principle of sufficient reason argument. I don't usually think much about an abstract object like the idea of purple, or an eternal tree that lies outside of time, creating the universe, but I see no evidence yet that they can't have a type of necessary casual power

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    1. I'm struggling to make sense of what you mean by saying that "the world is its own causality, its own reason, its own cause so to speak". Are you saying the universe is modally and metaphysically necessary? Are you a spinozist, then? Is the singularity among us right now? How can "gravity" or other "forces" be the first cause if it's not pure act, and how on earth is the essence of gravity supposed to imply the existence of gravity? You seem to also be presupposing a weird view of natural laws which treat them as if they were metaphysical entities instead of descriptions of patterns and relations among substances. Honestly, have you even read Feser's book?

      This also doesn't change what I said in 1 and 2. 1, for instance, can be easily adaptable to thomistic arguments. The first cause cannot be determinately causing everything to exist, otherwise the universe and everything would also be necessary inasmuch as it determinately follows form the first cause; moreover, what sense would it make to say that a purely actual first cause is determined (by what?) to generate universes or finite substances? How can that which is pure existence or pure actuality be somehow determined to create finite things? And it cannot be random either, otherwise everything could have just stopped existing long ago. An agential and free first cause is the only alternative.

      Also the only one that makes any sense. How can you be serious when you say that "you see no evidence yet that (an abstract idea of purple or an eternal tree) cannot have a necessary causal power"? What would it mean to say that an abstract object (or worse, an idea outside a mind, whatever that would be?) could be causally responsible for the existence of the universe? Is a number causally responsible for the existence of finite substances? Do you really, sincerely see any plausibility in this idea against that of an immaterial agent/mind?

      The world is manifestly not its own "causality" or its own reason. Even if it were eternal, it would not explain the fact why a finite, changing, contingent world exists. That which is physical is always by its own nature conditioned, changing, finite. The existence of conditioned beings can only be the case if there is an unconditioned being, and it makes no sense to treat this unconditioned being as if it were an abstract object, or determinately conditioned (!) to cause conditioned beings, or that it conditions the existence of finite beings at random.

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    2. Necessity, not agency, is needed, although I don't agree with your argument about randomness. To borrow just the words from Hegel, the world "essentially is, and is per se; it assumes ojective determinate form, and enters 'relation' to itself. It is externality (otherness), and exists for self, yet in this determinition, and in its otherness, it is still one with itself- it is self-contained and complete, in itself and for itself... it is being, which is reflection into self." Somewhat poetic. I first say that for the singularity (a thing simple yet having the property of the material, btw) is not mechanistic. We are not talking about a dominoes series, but more about fire and combustion, and such. But not even that. Imagine the state of the singularity as a white marble, nothing moving, nothing causing. Just stillness in its principle of materiality and causality. Suddenly it opens and from it expands the whole universe. What caused it? It caused itself to do it. I know we don't usually think of matter this way, but our general ideas come from our senses. The point is it can't be proven that matter can't act in this un-mechanistic way. Another option is that universe coming from nothing without a cause because of its internal necessity.

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    3. Why assume that the cosmos is self-caused? Isn't this a mere assertion? Give me evidence, not speculation, for why I should accept that matter somehow can act in an unmechanistic way and that it did do so in the case of the Big Bang. Also Aquinas et al is not concerned with a temporally first mover.

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  19. I am offering alternatives to the position that a God exists. I have offered 5 ways (sic) this is possible:
    1) the universe is eternal and is not a dominoes series going back forever
    2) the original singularity was its own causality and not mechanistic
    3) a material object outside of time created the universe
    4) an abstract platonic idea caused the world
    5) the world popped out of nothingness because of its necessary nature.

    A 6th can be asserted as well. Hegel believed we are all God(s) and that we created the world without us remembering or knowing it. At least that is my interpretation of him. So we have many options besides a Thomistic God

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    1. Also, you seem to think that Aquinas is arguing for a First Cause as the one who kicked off the beginning of the universe. If you think so, then you do not understand Aquinas' arguments. Whether the universe had a beginning or not is completely irrelevant to Aquinas' arguments. Some of your other comments also make me very skeptical of your claim to have read anything of Aquinas actually.

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    2. I know it's no good to feed trolls, but some beginners might read this sort of stuff and fall for it. For the sake of the uninitiated...

      1) Aquinas would agree (at least for argument sake). None of his kind of arguments concern whether or not the universe had a beginning.

      2) The question of the sheer actuality of any given thing that does not account for its own actuality has nothing to do with a particular physical event or change from one state to another or from which it arose.

      3) And that material object would itself be just as composite, contingent, limited, and utterly incapable of accounting for its existence at any moment it exists.

      5) That would mean non-being gave the world being, even though the world would have already existed because it cannot not exist because it is apparently necessary. This is incoherent on many levels.

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    3. Notice that all five (six if you include your point about Hegel) of your points do not exclude the existence of God. In particular, on any one of these points the argument from motion would still be valid and sound. Indeed, in keeping with the discussion of Feser's Five Proofs, we could coherently affirm the first four of his proofs and any one of your points (although more might need to be said about the third proof with respect to your fourth point). This is because Feser's arguments are simply neutral to how or whether the universe came into being. Moreover, the only reason that your points are incompatible with his fifth proof is because you deny the PSR (inasmuch as something being its own cause is not a sufficient reason for its existence), which, of course, is absurd.

      We can, however, say something to each of your points.

      1) Granted for the sake of argument. All of Feser's arguments still apply. If you'd like to know how, the first chapter of his book contains an excellent and extended discussion of this.
      2) This is impossible, since nothing can cause itself; that thing would have to exist before it existed, which is a logical contradiction. Yet even if we grant this point, at the very least Feser's first four arguments still apply.
      3) But this is absurd, for part of what it means to be a material object just is to to be in time. Regardless, even if we grant this point, all five of Feser's arguments still apply.
      4) But how can an abstract Platonic idea cause anything? Again, granted this point, at the least, Feser's first, second, fourth, and fifth arguments would apply (and arguably the third). He discusses something like your point in the third chapter.
      5) And again, this is absurd. If the world's existence was necessary, it wouldn't begin to exist, it just would always have existed! Moreover, nothing can be the cause of its own existence. Yet if we grant this point, Feser's first four arguments still apply.
      6) Leaving your interpretation of Hegel aside, this point is laughable. You can't seriously be defending it. For the sake of argument, however, let's allow it. Still, each one of Feser's five arguments still applies.

      I hope you see now that your five (six) "ways" (alternatives, as you say) in fact are irrelevant when it comes to the question of God's existence, at least when it comes to the arguments which Feser has presented - that is, those arguments in that book which has a blog post which you've posted in. If you read the book you will find this to be the case.

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    4. You see, it’s fine to have honest doubts. What is not fine is to claim you’ve read Aquinas and then repeat the same tired objections that reveal you haven’t even understood the very fundamentals of the points he is actually raising.

      Aquinas does NOT argue for a beginning in time of the Universe. (Indeed, he famously rejected that such claim could be demonstrated philosophically.) His arguments are equally valid regardless of whether or not the world had a temporal start.

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    5. I'm pretty sure that this is actually some well accomplished trolling. There six alternatives are very good humor:

      "5) the world popped out of nothingness because of its necessary nature."

      Haha! :)

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  20. You can have options, but its about finding the correct one. Some of those options have very glaring issues with them.

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  21. I know full well that Aquinas said the world could be eternal. (I read his "book" on this) I said that explicitly earlier in this conversation. Aquinas is trying to argue that the system of the world makes no sense without a immaterial mind to create it. There is no evidence for this. The world explains itself. I never said that world must be prior to itself to be its own causality. Some of my points take a lot of thinking about, just like you say Aquinas's do. I have thought a lot about Aquinas and continue to do every day. He doesn't have a case however for God. Just for the sake of argument, let's debate on whether we are all gods and created the world, and just can't remember it. My other points you all aren't understanding. The only option open to prove God at that point would seem to be the Fourth Way. My argument against that one is simple. There IS a most hot thing, there is a most good as well. It is probably a person who chose the most good. Saying it must be a God is to use the ontological argument within the Fourth Way. Why does finite good imply infinite good? Children know what good is without knowing infinite good. Children know what hot is without knowing infinite heat

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    1. Okay, Daniel Joachim is right: you’re a troll.

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    2. Again, why assume that the universe is necessary. Can you back up this assertion?

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    3. Don't say that or Rene will be annoyed...

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    4. Don't say that or Rene will be annoyed...

      Did I hurt your feelings? I apologize if I did.

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    5. You hurt us all when you feed trolls....

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  22. Why am I a troll for arguing atheism on here? As for the universe, it could be necessary so there could possibly not be a God. I read relevant passages from the Summa Gentiles today. The book is worn from use and has my old "Jesus I trust in you" card as a bookmark. His arguments fell to the floor again and again, just like I remembered. There is not necessarily an infinite distance between something and nothing, so it doesn't necessarily take an infinite power. It says in the old Catholic Encyclopedia that Duns Scotus didn't believe sin was intrinsically infinite, but extrinsically. These things are open to discussion, with no definite answers. I use that as an analogy. Is there more than one God? Aquinas does not have a sound response. He says we wouldn't be able to distinguish the Gods if there were more than one. No. They would be distinguished by individuality. He said they would contradict each other. No. The persons of the Trinity don't either. Aquinas tries to "prove" there are angels. Just because there is man and maybe God, that doesn't mean there HAS to be something in between. Even if it sounds "fitting", Aquinas already argued in the Summa that God doesn't have to do every good. Finally on the Fourth Way, I think people believe in arguments like that because they were once in a womb, surrounded by love. So they think infinite love must be out there too. But perhaps a young person who hasn't sinned yet against his conscience is infinitely good, or maybe there is only finite good. Just because propositions approach truth to a greater and lesser degree, that doesn't mean there has to be a being who has infinite Truth. But if you don't want to discuss this further let me know. Don't call me something I am not

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    1. "As for the universe, it could be necessary so there could possibly not be a God"

      No it can't be. If it were, then it would have the attributes of God, which it doesn't. For instance anything that has parts is dependent on those parts for its existence, thus they cant be necessary. The universe has at least two parts since it is both matter and form, therefore it is not necessary. Anything physical has parts.

      This is also why God can only be One. Of there is any individuation, it will come from the Gods having parts that make them distinct, and give them individuation.

      Read Feser's 5 proofs. He goes through all of this and more.

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    2. Anonymous: I think people believe in arguments like that because they were once in a womb, surrounded by love.

      Um… you might be confusing "love" with amniotic fluid.

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  23. I think you're missing a key point of AT metaphysics. The universe can't exist necessarily given an AT worldview because it is metaphysically composite. It has metaphysical parts--matter and form, act and potency, essence and existence. Saying something material could exist necessarily is just nonsense for AT. It's like saying a triangle could be round. The very fact that the universe is material, is made up of physical parts, is this way instead of that way, means it's utterly contingent--in need of an explanation for its particular state of being. So, ultimately, you would have to give up the principle of sufficient reason in order to undercut the contingency of the universe. Are you willing to do that?

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  24. "Finally on the Fourth Way, I think people believe in arguments like that because they were once in a womb, surrounded by love. So they think infinite love must be out there too."

    Did the ghost of Freud tell you this?

    I'll be upfront and admit that I have only just starting reading through some of this blog after getting interested in philosophy, but that made absolutely no sense. So either I am woefully misunderstanding what the argument was there or you were misrepresenting Aquinas.

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  25. It can't be proven, as Spinoza pointed out, that something composite can't be necessary. That is another assumption of Aquinas. I am not giving up the Principle of Sufficient reason. I am saying that the world is necessary so that explains why it is the way it is. As for polytheism, the many Gods wouldn't have parts, they would just be separate from each other by their individuality, although each purely actual. So again Aquinas fails to prove his point

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    1. Aquinas does not assume that necessity entails no parts, it simply doesn't make sense. As I said, if something is made of parts, it is dependent on those parts for its existence. If it depends on anything, then it can't be necessary in the strict sense since it only exists because it's parts exist.

      Do you wish to actually make an argument against this? You are just making assertions.

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  26. You are just asserting this as a fact without an argument to back it up

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    1. Easy. Is there an explanation for why a cup is actually standing up straight and potentially being knocked over? Whenever something is metaphysically composite we always assume there's an explanation logically prior to it for its specific composition.

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    2. Are you saying that it is possible that a thing can exist without the parts existing that makes up the thing?

      What do you think the word "composed" means?

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    3. Billy, are you asking me that?

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  27. I know what the word composite means, and composite things came from a singularity, not a God.

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  28. I can prove, actually, that Aquinas's God doesn't exist. Take child rape. I am not using the argument from pain or evil. I have a different twist to it. How can God sustain the organ of the rapist as he rapes a child? He wouldn't be all good. He would be complicit by sustaining the human form as it does evil to another human form. Evil might be a negation, but physical acts are sustained during the sinning. So your God doesn't exist

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    1. What would you prefer, that everyone gets instantly annihilated the moment they commit evil? What a senseless and morally idiotic world.

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    2. Anonymous, there's no need to back away from running the argument from evil. It is a sound argument. The Free Will Defense fails for multiple reasons, but the biggest one is that there is no free will. One does what one desires to do. Since there is no free will, God with all his power could have determined us so that we only love each other and never feel pain. Instead, he created a world where people live in poverty and children get raped, and spoiled Christian apologists get to defend the pitiless divine plan when they're not the ones dragged into a basement and raped over a period of years.

      Now even if there is free will, in any world God creates, the future is logically determined. A world where everyone always chooses the good is a logically possible world; therefore, there is a logically possible world where God foreknows we always choose the good. Instead, God actualized the world where he foreknew children would be raped and children get thrown into gas chambers. That's not loving.

      "that everyone gets instantly annihilated the moment they commit evil?"

      That we never had the desire for evil, just as God never desires evil.

      Another problem with the FWD is transworld depravity--a condition that inclines us all to make at least one bad choice. That's not compatible with free will, since it logically entails that we will go wrong. But if we have true free will, we can always choose the good.

      Mackie > Plantinga

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  29. You are avoiding my point. "God" actually sustains the ejaculation of a pedophile in a child. You call that God holy?

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    1. That god is evil, which is we it so great that it doesn't exist. We atheists have much more respect for God than Christians. We don't believe we would sit and do nothing while a little child gets molested and raped. It is precisely out of love for God that we deny His existence.

      The only logical hope is the hope in the Messianic Age, that Brahman will become Adonai and there'll be no more suffering. Unorthodox Judaism for the win!

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    2. As for this point here, we can prove God's perfect Goodness on more fundamental, and I would say more effective grounds. So when we come to your argument, all we need to do to nullify it is point out that we may not know why God would actualize certain things (or we might, it doesn't matter) but we know that God has good reasons for it, because we know God is perfectly Good. Your argument rests on the very groundwork that establishes God's perfect Goodness in the first place so it's hardly a take-down argument. If we take down the foundations for arguing for God's perfect Goodness, it also takes down your argument too, and since we can nullify your argument but keep the foundation anyway, your argument is hardly convincing.

      Honestly, if you are just going to jump around to different arguments, instead of addressing the specific criticisms that come to them, you might as well be a troll. I'm done.

      Go buy Feser's book and come back when you want an actual conversation.

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    3. There is no proof of God's goodness. I've read Feser's book and even wrote a response to it. He uses a non-moral use of the term "good", and then in Chapter 6, he doesn't address the arguments against libertarian free will, and gives a really bad argument for God having free will.

      "but we know that God has good reasons for it, because we know God is perfectly Good."

      God's goodness is the very thing in question, so you don't get to presuppose that. Plus, it's trivial that God has "good reasons" for allowing suffering, since God is definitionally good any reason will be automatically good, no matter how many people get thrown in the chamber or how long the woman is raped.

      There is no good reason for allowing a woman to be dragged underground and raped for several years. It's easy for your (likely) middle-class, spoiled self to not be bothered by human suffering when you're not the one living in poverty or being repeatedly raped. This is what disgusts about Christian apologists.

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    4. Go away.

      Everyone, stop feeding the trolls.

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    5. Seems like if you show why theism is stupid on this website, you're automatically labelled a troll. They can't handle reality.

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  30. Billy, I have actually addressed all the arguments people have made against me. I have read Aquinas and read theists arguments all the time. So Feser finally proved what Aquinas failed to prove? I doubt it, but I am going to give it a try and read his book. I have no problem if a God exists, I just am sure he doesn't. I am pretty sure I do believe in free will and the pain/evil argument doesn't work for me. God gave us hard choices to find greater goods. If he could have made it different he would have. The more pain God's allow, the more holiness that can be attained. I can't disprove that argument. I'm not arguing that God shouldn't sustain sinners as they sin or innocent people in pain. I am talking about physical evil. If he is all holy he could have no part in sustaining acts of bestiality, to give another example. This definitely proves Aquinas's God doesn't exist. Holiness is otherness, apartness. Something that is goodness itself cannot actualize physical sexual evil like rape or bestiality, so these sinners have proved that God doesn't exist ironically

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    1. "God gave us hard choices to find greater goods."

      I just find this such a callous and unsympathetic stance.

      The greatest good is Heaven, and all other "goods" are just means to alleviating pain/gaining pleasure, or else they are useless. These greater goods are unneeded, so they are no excuse for God allowing people to be miserable and for letting babies be born with cancer, clinical depression, smallpox, etc. Of course, Dr. William Craig has a wife who cooks him multiple hot meals a day, so it's rather easy for him to arrogantly proclaim the problem of evil is dead and to not be perturbed by human suffering when it comes to the problem of evil.

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    2. Anon, once again all you're doing is simply asserting your claims as you've done throughout this thread , its glaringly obvious actually that you haven't read anything about arguments you seek to attack.Just look at your discussion above.

      And CR, You seem to absurdly suppose that no theist have ever suffered horrendous evils which is patently false,it seems you simply hate and you are frustrated at those theists for persistently maintaining their faith in face of such evils.This shows in your simple dismissal of various theodicies and defenses and your flawed arguments against free will and moral responsibility.

      The problem is the position you defend is much more unpalatable and irrational then the one you attack supposedly is.

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    3. No. I just point out that the ones defending Christianity, at least for the most part (Feser, Alexander Pruss, Internet Christians) are spoiled overprivledged dimwits who probably never suffered a day in their life, which makes it easy for them to defend and love a god who allows children to be raped.

      "simple dismissal of various theodicies and defenses"

      It's easy to label my arguments as "simple dismissals" rather than refute them.

      "your flawed arguments against free will and moral responsibility. "

      Saying that an argument is flawed and demonstrating it are two different things. Free will is no different from randomness, as I proved and my opponent failed to adequately address.

      "The problem is the position you defend is much more unpalatable and irrational then the one you attack supposedly is. "

      No, theism is stupid and irrational given how clear it is that free will is random will, and so morality (and thereby moral perfection, and therefore God) is not real.

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    4. William Lane Craig in an interview with Lee Strobel: "I'm married to a woman who cooks me three hot meals a day."

      Yup. Easy to defend a sadistic god who tortures people forever when you have no real difficulties in life, and you don't even have to make your own food. And you're not the woman being dragged into a basement and raped repeatedly, while god does nothing. It is out of love for God that I am an atheist. I would never spit in the Lord's face by saying He would permit children to be raped.

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    5. No. I just point out that the ones defending Christianity, at least for the most part (Feser, Alexander Pruss, Internet Christians) are spoiled overprivledged dimwits who probably never suffered a day in their life, which makes it easy for them to defend and love a god who allows children to be raped.

      Once again you're simply making absurd presumptions about people you know next to nothing about rather than sound arguments , the point remains your hate and frustration simply won't change the fact that there are theists who have gone through all kinds of suffering yet they remain steadfast in their faith, its understandable that such a fact makes you extremely frustrated, but its a fact nonetheless.

      "simple dismissal of various theodicies and defenses"

      It's easy to label my arguments as "simple dismissals" rather than refute them.

      "your flawed arguments against free will and moral responsibility. "

      Saying that an argument is flawed and demonstrating it are two different things.


      Unfortunately, you have shown no sign of participating in any kind of serious discussion only absurd emotivism which like I pointed leads to much more absurd and irrational conclusions than thesis you set out to disprove.

      Free will is no different from randomness, as I proved and my opponent failed to adequately address.

      As pointed out again and again to you your argument simply begs the question. the randomness isn't established as conclusion but is already assumed in your argument.

      No, theism is stupid and irrational given how clear it is that free will is random will, and so morality (and thereby moral perfection, and therefore God) is not real.

      First you've given no sound argument to establish that conclusion and Secondly once again this is much more irrational and absurd than theism can ever supposedly be.Just consider how on Earth Problem of evil is supposed to get of the ground if you think there are no moral properties in the first place? How can we recognize any bad state of affairs at all given above thesis?

      And you're not the woman being dragged into a basement and raped repeatedly, while god does nothing. It is out of love for God that I am an atheist. I would never spit in the Lord's face by saying He would permit children to be raped.

      First its not quite right to say God is doing "nothing" in this case given only that we aren't observing divine action, God is involved in much more complex state of affairs than we can imagine.

      Secondly, Its much more absurd and irrational to suppose that all this bad state of affairs is actualized by someone by mistake and he is not responsible at all and there is no chance of redemption for anyone involved.

      And Finally ,the thing is very few philosophers believe that there can be no possible coherency in any kind of free will, even those who completely reject that we possess like one philosopher you mention , Derk Pereboom, admit that its at least a coherent notion and not impossible.


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    6. "As pointed out again and again to you your argument simply begs the question." I dealt with this already, and it shows philosophical weakness to behave like a parrot instead of dealing with my material.

      Repeating this over and over will not make it true. This is a way for libertarians to dodge the problem. No explanation is given as to why the reasons for A were adopted rather than B, and you refuse to give one. It's indistinguishable from randomness.

      "you have shown no sign of participating in any kind of serious discussion only absurd emotivism "

      Right (sarcasm). That's why I made countless non-emotional comments discussing free will.

      "you've given no sound argument to establish that conclusion"

      Anyone can point at someone else's argument and say "it's unsound," but it's something else entirely to actually show why it's unsound.

      "how on Earth Problem of evil is supposed to get of the ground if you think there are no moral properties in the first place?"

      The argument from evil is about showing an internal inconsistency within Christianity. Why does God allow what would be evil given theism? What the atheist personally believes regarding morality is irrelevant. This is a common red herring Christians use when dealing with the problem of evil.

      You don't even need the need moral language. You could just point out the suffering, and that loving beings want their beloved ones to be happy. Instead, your god lets babies be born with cancer and for children to be raped and molested.

      "First its not quite right to say God is doing "nothing" in this case given only that we aren't observing divine action"

      That's what I mean. He could easily stop the rape but doesn't. If I saw a woman being raped and had the power to stop it (or if a police officer did), I/(s)he would stop it. Your god is more concerned with changing bread into flesh.

      "there is no chance of redemption for anyone involved."

      I believe in the Messianic Age; that Brahman is evolving into Adonai. Part of this evolution requires that we stop believing in free will--so we can finally stop feeling prideful and guilty and blaming the poor for their being poor, and not be dependent on a pedophile-priest-shuffling Church for forgiveness. All you need is hard determinism to be forgiven, not a Church that tells you that you need to be married to have sex.

      "the thing is very few philosophers believe that there can be no possible coherency in any kind of free will, "

      Philosophers who study the issue tend to be determinists. I don't know if you're correct, but free will is incoherent, as seen in my debate above, where Callum, etc. refuse to show how it's different from randomness and why A was chosen rather than B.

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    7. CR, William Lane Craig suffers from a degenerative neuromuscular disease and an eyesight issue which mostly affected him in his younger years. Don't be so quick to judge.

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    8. I dealt with this already, and it shows philosophical weakness to behave like a parrot instead of dealing with my material.

      Repeating this over and over will not make it true. This is a way for libertarians to dodge the problem. No explanation is given as to why the reasons for A were adopted rather than B, and you refuse to give one. It's indistinguishable from randomness.


      Its an absurd charge that this doesn't deal with your material when this exactly what the flaw being pointed out in your material is, that moral responsibility requires that sort of contrastive explanation is precisely what libertatians reject. this is the point David Widerker and Ira M. Schnall make in their "On the Luck Objection to
      Libertarianism". they deal with several formulations available in the literature so I recommend you check out their paper.

      And also the kind of unpalatable randomness is one in which something happens to something without a reason. It involves something passive, but there is an active agent involved in case of libertarian free choices. So the two cases can clearly be distinguished by presence of agents and patients.

      The argument from evil is about showing an internal inconsistency within Christianity. Why does God allow what would be evil given theism? What the atheist personally believes regarding morality is irrelevant. This is a common red herring Christians use when dealing with the problem of evil.

      Here you simply miss the point, in order to prove such inconsistency you need to observer particular evils obviously if there is no evil there is no problem, to asses some state of affairs as evil you need to judge them as morally bad, but to do that there must be some moral properties and hence moral realism involved.

      You don't even need the need moral language. You could just point out the suffering, and that loving beings want their beloved ones to be happy. Instead, your god lets babies be born with cancer and for children to be raped and molested.

      But that precisely is moral language, its only based on judgement that suffering involved in state of affairs you mention is bad and happiness is good, the problem is formed. SO No, these issues regarding morality aren't irrelevant to Problem of Evil.

      I believe in the Messianic Age; that Brahman is evolving into Adonai. Part of this evolution requires that we stop believing in free will--so we can finally stop feeling prideful and guilty and blaming the poor for their being poor, and not be dependent on a pedophile-priest-shuffling Church for forgiveness. All you need is hard determinism to be forgiven, not a Church that tells you that you need to be married to have sex.

      This mostly amounts to gibberish which simply fails to address irrationality and unpalatability involved in your views, it surely makes much bigger a joke out of victim's suffering if its inflictor should not even feel guilt about what they've done.And also makes a joke of all the hard work and dedication agents put into their achievements if they don't even deserve this clearly virtuous feeling of pride and accomplishment.

      Its again much worse for poor if whoever caused their poverty simply did so by mistake himself deserving no blame who should feel no guilt and should take no responsibility.

      So once again your position is much more irrational and self defeating than the one you attack.

      Philosophers who study the issue tend to be determinists. I don't know if you're correct, but free will is incoherent, as seen in my debate above, where Callum, etc. refuse to show how it's different from randomness and why A was chosen rather than B.

      Well many if not most determinists tend to be compatiblists. Based on your earlier comments containing many citations it seems you suppose that philosophers have conclusively established the issue against free will and responsibility, that is what I was challenging here .

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    9. And in the interview WLC was simply asked how his day goes by,how he prepares and studies, its absurd to expect him to start recounting every painful state of affairs he has ever gone through. He simply meant to appreciate what his wife does for him, hardly anything which points to him living in great luxury.

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  31. Trolls... Trolls everywhere...

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    1. Translation: I can't refute the argument from evil nor explain why A was chosen rather than B, so I'm just going to label atheists as trolls because I'm weak.

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    2. He's either a troll or hopelessly ignorant.

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    3. "He's either a troll or hopelessly ignorant."

      Give me a break.

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    4. Okay, Counter Rebel, I’ll just leave here this quote from your own profile and let readers decide for themselves whether you’re worth taking seriously or simply a mere troll (just in case anyone may still have any doubts left):

      This is the blog of a metaphysical rebel. I know with certainty that atheism is true. I believe that the Jewish G-d will exist in the future, in the inevitable Messianic Age.

      (This adding to the fact that you’ve already gone through multiple “conversions” in the past.)

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    5. I’ll just leave here this quote from your own profile and let readers decide for themselves whether you’re worth taking seriously or simply a mere troll

      False dilemma!

      He is not a troll. I do not even think he is especially ignorant. It is just that he feels he must insist on bad arguments for existential reasons.

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    6. I agree Greg. It helps me to reject free will. I have no reservations that he isn't completely Convinced of his position.

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    7. "It is just that he feels he must insist on bad arguments for existential reasons."

      They're not bad arguments, even if I'm a bad defender of them. Later this year, I'll be taking a class on free will taught by Richard Carrier. Maybe after that class I'll come back to this comments section and slaughter libertarians more than I already have.

      Callum: "It helps [him] to reject free will."

      Agreed. The Catholic Church destroyed my psychologically, to the point where all I would do is lie in bed in fear of Hell, and I would go to Confession multiple times a week, always afraid that I would die before I made it there. Determinism saved my life. I was on the verge of suicide. It's almost certain there are Catholics (and other theists) out there in the same position I was in, and it is out of love that I will spend the rest of my life attacking Catholicism and Orthodoxy. This nonsense--this child abuse--needs to end.

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    8. They're not bad arguments, even if I'm a bad defender of them. Later this year, I'll be taking a class on free will taught by Richard Carrier. Maybe after that class I'll come back to this comments section and slaughter libertarians more than I already have.

      Has anyone ever told you that you're a really bad sport?

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    9. "Has anyone ever told you that you're a really bad sport?"

      I guess it's in my nature. At least I'm not burning "heretics" on the stake, as your Church did.

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    10. 'Later this year, I'll be taking a class on free will taught by Richard Carrier.'

      Can't you find a class on free will by philosophers? Or is Carrier's class more convenient?

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    11. "Maybe after that class I'll come back to this comments section and slaughter libertarians more than I already have."

      Hopefully Ed will have reinstated his ban of logorrheic trolls by then.

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  32. I noticed that everyone just ignores my arguments on here. God can't sustain homosexual acts if homosexual are evil. He can't have any part of it, but in your view is intimately engaged in their sexual acts. And yet you stubbornly believe in God anyway

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    1. Are you aware that Aquinas considers precisely that objection (well, in the case of adultery rather than rape or homosexual acts)?

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  33. I don't think that is true. But adultery is still just sin in the souls of the sinner. The act is not perverted. Bestiality and child rape, or homosexuality according to Aquinas, are acts that are perverted, acts which God sustains, actualizes, and thus participates in. Such a God would not be good, let alone holy

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    1. Well, sorry, but it is true (cf. ad 5).

      Aquinas' reply to the suggestion that God concurs in adultery is that God concurs in what is natural in it and not in what is not. If the reply works for adultery, then it's going to work for your examples too, because he doesn't think there is any sin in which nothing is natural, and there is going to be something perverse about each of adultery, bestiality, child rape, and homosexual activity (cf. ad 3). The question of the relationship between God's causality and evil is not one that Aquinas overlooked.

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  34. I looked at what you linked, and I have read that before. It does nothing to my argument. Is ejaculating in a baby goat unnatural? Yes. Does your God, according to Aquinas, actualize and sustain it. Yes. So that God doesn't exist. I read a book from Tan books on homosexuality, and it quoted a saint saying that even the demons leave the room when homosexual acts happen. Not your God? He is all in there, sustaining/actualizing everything blow by blow. You have to face up to this fact and stop believing whatever Aquinas tells you to think

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    1. Does your God, according to Aquinas, actualize and sustain it. Yes.

      Where does he say this?

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  35. In the Summa he says that God sustains everything, since He along is not contingent. Now, homosexual acts are contingent, yet he sustains them as they happen, which a holy God couldn't do. You could say that demons sustain unnatural acts, but that would stray far from Aquinas's metaphysics

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    1. At I q. 49 a. 2 ad 2, which you allege to have read, he says:

      The effect of the deficient secondary cause is reduced to the first non-deficient cause as regards what it has of being and perfection, but not as regards what it has of defect; just as whatever there is of motion in the act of limping is caused by the motive power, whereas what there is of obliqueness in it does not come from the motive power, but from the curvature of the leg. And, likewise, whatever there is of being and action in a bad action, is reduced to God as the cause; whereas whatever defect is in it is not caused by God, but by the deficient secondary cause.

      So it would seem that Aquinas rather says that there is something God does not sustain, namely evil acts insofar as they are evil.

      Maybe you still thin that's incompatible with holiness. But I don't. Quod gratis asseritur, gratis negatur.

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  36. Aquinas is speaking of the evil will, which he thinks is a negation, not a substance. Human males having sex with each other is something God would have to sustain, yet He can't because its evil. So something is wrong with your theology

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    1. Aquinas is speaking of the evil will, which he thinks is a negation, not a substance.

      I don't know how you got this from the text, unless you mistakenly read a. 3 and not a. 2.

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  37. I read what you cited. What do you think sustains unnatural acts in existence?

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