The Instigator
zmikecuber
Con (against)
Winning
5 Points
The Contender
Grapes42
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points

Aquinas' First Way succeeds

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
zmikecuber
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/9/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,071 times Debate No: 43684
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (2)
Votes (2)

 

zmikecuber

Con

The challenge

Burden of proof lies on Pro to show that Aquinas' First Way demonstrates the existence of a purely actual, unmoved mover, as understood in the Aristotelian/Thomistic sense.


Rules:
Remain respectful at all times.
5 rounds.
Round 1 is for Pro to state his opening case.
No new arguments after round 4.

I look forward to a great debate!
Grapes42

Pro

To actualize means to make something potential, actual. For example an ice cube is potentially melted, until it becomes actually melted. To go from frozen to melted is an example of an actualization.

With the concept of actualization in mind, I will write out Aquinas' first way as a proof. The word 'existence' will mean: the changing space/time reality.

1. Existence is continually actualized.
2. Something cannot actualize itself.
C: Therefore, existence must be continually actualized by its source, which does not need to be actualized.

The argument is valid (modus ponens). So, if it is unsound it must be because premise 1 or 2 is incorrect, but naturally I think that premises 1 and 2 are correct.

I will go ahead and elaborate on why the source of existence must be God.

The source of existence grants actualization to existence, which is why it is called the source of existence.

The source could not grant new actualization without conceiving of what it grants, so the source must be personally intelligent.

Also, since all things come from the source, it cannot lack, which means that it is perfect (because something that does not lack is perfect).

So, if the first way is sound, it proves that a source of existence must exist to actualize existence. The source must be foundation for everything that exists as well as personal and perfect, which is a basic description of the classical conception of the monotheistic God.

So, my opponent must demonstrate that either premise 1 or 2 is false or that the conclusion does not follow from the premises. Also, if he wishes he can contest the conclusions that I extended from the argument that the conclusion necessarily leads to the existence of God (though since this is not a part of the formal debate, he is not required to address this).
Debate Round No. 1
zmikecuber

Con

Opening remarks
First of all, I'd like to thank Grapes42 (hereafter referred to as "Pro") for accepting this debate. Having read a good deal of Aquinas (and Aristotle) myself, I feel that I have a good understanding of the argument from motion. With that being said, I've never seen the argument presented in exactly the way Pro does; this looks to be interesting!

Clarification of the Burden of Proof (BOP)
Before I get into objections to the argument Pro has presented, I would like to clarify the BOP which was agreed upon. Pro has assumed the burden of proof to show that "Aquinas' first way succeeds." Thus, in order to win the debate, Pro is obligated to give arguments for why Aquinas' first way succeeds. However, I am not necessarily obligated to show that Aquinas' way is unsound. All I have to demonstrate is that the argument is not necessarily sound.

Pro states: "my opponent must demonstrate that either premise 1 or 2 is false." However, I am under no obligation to show these premises are, beyond a doubt, false. All I have to do is demonstrate that Pro's argumentation in favor of these premises do not succeed, or that the premises may be false, and thus the argument cannot be considered sound.


Confusing terminology
Pro states, "The word 'existence' will mean: the changing space/time reality" however, this terminology is extremely confusing. Surely, Aquinas' first way would argue that, as purely actual, the unmoved mover would be "existence" itself. However, this is clearly meant in a different sense than how Pro defines the term in his argument. I would like to point this out, and ask Pro to be clear in future rounds when he says "existence" whether he means "the changing space/time reality" or not. Otherwise, this could lead to confusing equivocation later on.


Unsupported Premises
Pro states his argument thus:

1. Existence is continually actualized.
2. Something cannot actualize itself.
C: Therefore, existence must be continually actualized by its source, which does not need to be actualized.

Premise 1

Premise 1 of the argument is unfounded. By "existence," Pro means "the changing space/time reality." But what reasons have we for assuming that space/time requires actualization? Why can't space-time simply persist in being without any actualization? Pro must give reasons for accepting this premise as true, since it is clearly not self-evident.

Premise 2

Likewise, Premise 2 of the argument is unfounded. Why can't something actualize itself? This seems very plausible, and "self-actualization" should remain as an option until shown otherwise. Pro once again, needs to demonstrate that self-actualization is impossible. Until he does so, this option remains on the table, and the argument cannot yet be considered sound.


Non-being to being as a change-an attack on premise 1
Pro makes an example of actualization, saying:

"To actualize means to make something potential, actual. For example an ice cube is potentially melted, until it becomes actually melted. To go from frozen to melted is an example of an actualization."

It should be noted here that the potential is said of something existing. An extant ice cube has the potential to be melted. When this potential is elevated to actuality, actualization has occured.

But this is not clearly the case with the conservation of the existence of something.

If the existence of something can be seen to be a change, it must be from one state to another, since as Aquinas says, "Passage is always understood as being from term to term." [1]

But is the non-existence of the ice-cube a state of the ice cube? It seems obviously not.

Let me try to illustrate my point a bit further.

Ix---------->Iy

"Ix" means "ice-cube in x state" while "Iy" means "ice cube in y state." Clearly, this can be identified as a change, since the ice cube is changing from, say, a frozen state (x) to a melted state (y).

However, with the existence of something, this is not quite clear, since the first state is non-being, or nothing.

---------->Ie

In this example, "Ie" stands for "ice-cube existing." The existence of something cannot be viewed as a change from a potential to actuality, since actuality is always said of something actual.

Professor Edward Feser states, "A potential is always a potential for a certain kind of actuality...It is incoherent to speak of something as both existing and being purely potential." [2]

But if the first state is non-being, how can non-being (non-actuality) have any potential for existence, precisely because it is non-extant?


Why pure act?
For the sake of argument, let's say that I accept Pro's argument, and accept the first half of his conclusion. That is, "Therefore, existence(space/time) must be continually actualized by its source."

But what of the extra phrase "which does not need to be actualized"? This phrase seems to appear from nowhere. Maybe the actualizer of space/time is itself also actualized! Why assume that it is not?

I would imagine that at this point, Pro would argue that if the actualizer of space/time were actualized by another (actualization of existence, which we noted earlier, seems to be incoherent), then there could be a regress of actualizers. And I also assume that he would argue that an infinite regress of actualizers is impossible, and thus we terminate in an unactualized actualizer. To use our original terms, an "unmoved mover." But even if this is the case, how does it follow that the unmoved mover is unmovable, or purely actual?

Remember, Pro must demonstrate that the unmoved mover is also purely actual, that is, unmovable. But why think this at all? Perhaps the unmoved mover is unmoved, and does move (or actualize) all else, but still has some degree of potentials. Perhaps these potentials are just never actualized, since there is no other actualizer to do so. But even if this is the case, the unmoved mover would not be purely actual and thus not immovable.


Conclusion
I look forward to Pro's responses. In summary, keep in mind that at this point, he has not yet demonstrated the truth of his premises. Thus, the argument cannot yet be considered sound. Furthermore, even if we do accept his premises, and accept his conclusion, it does not follow that the unmoved mover is purely actual. This is critical to his success. Pro needs to respond to my arguments regarding premise 1, support reasons for accepting his premises as true in the first place, and demonstrate that the unmoved mover is purely actual. Back to Pro!

(Please forgive the length of this argument... I lack the time to make it shorter!)

[1] http://www.newadvent.org...;
[2] Aquinas, Edward Feser, pg. 12
Grapes42

Pro

As long as one of the premises is in doubt then I accept that the argument has not been proven, so what I meant by showing that a premise is false is to show that the premise could be reasonably doubted, so I think that Con and I can agree on that.

Also, I do phrase the argument slightly differently than Aquinas did, but I think that my phrasing does justice to what Aquinas' articulation was getting at.

To clear up ambiguity I will re-phrase the argument.

1. The universe actualizes.
2. Something cannot actualize itself.
C: Therefore the universe must ultimately be actualized by something outside of it, that does not need to be actualized, which can only be God.

This rephrasing is saying the same thing that I originally intended, hopefully it makes things clearer.

Premise 1:

Con seems to object to premise 1 by saying "potential is said of something existing" . So, something non-existent cannot be rightfully described has having potentiality, so it cannot rightfully be described as being actualized.

I agree that a non-existent thing itself does not have 'potentiality', but the non-existent thing is still 'potential', in that it can potentially exist. So I don't think that Con's stipulation demontrates a problem with premise 1.

The other objection that Con seems to be making is that perhaps the universe does not need to be actualized.

Except that actualization means to go from one state to another (eg. ice cube going from frozen to melted).

Premise 1 is not saying that the universe "needs" to be actualized, but rather that it is an empirical fact that the universe actualizes in the fact that it goes from one state to another.

So, if Con wants to object to premise 1 then Con must argue that the universe does not go from one state to another.

Again, I take it as an empirical fact that the universe goes from one state to another.

Premise 2

This premise seems to be true because in order to actualize, something must go from one state to another. It seems intuitively certain that something does not move itself to a new state (again it is absurd to think that an ice cube melts itself). This can be explained by recognizing that to actualize means to change in 'being' and something cannot give itself a new state of being, which it lacked before. In other words, something cannot give itself what it lacks, out of nothing.

So, Con must explain why it is coherent to accept that something can bring itself to a new state or give itself what it lacks out of nothing.

Conclusion

Con asks: If the universe is actualized by something else, must the actualizer be fully actual/lacking in potentiality?

Except, if the actualizer of the universe needs to be actualized then the actualizing process would go on for an infinite regress and nothing could be actualized.

If the actualizer is actualized in the process of actualizing something else, then the actualizer would need to be actualized by something else (which would then go on for an infinite regress).

So, if all things that are actualized must be actualized by something else (per premise 2) and we accept that an infinite series per se is impossible (which I take to be necessarily true) then the actualizer of the univese must be without even the possibility of being actualized, which means the actualizer lacks potentiality.

Now perhaps Con will object that an infinite series per se is actually possible. Except, I will respond by saying that this is tantamount to denying premise 2. For, a process that goes on for infinite never reaches a beginning, and this does not allow for actualization to be transferred, which amounts to actualization not taking place.

Con may object to this, but I take it as necessarily true.

So, Con now must explain why premise 1, 2, or the conclusion could be placed in doubt.
Debate Round No. 2
zmikecuber

Con

Preliminary remarks
Pro has presented an interesting reply, and I'd like to thank him for his much clearer presenatation of his argument. Also, I would like to point out to any readers that Pro and I both understand the BOP and agree. Smooth sailing so far, but rough waters are ahead for Pro and his case.

Pro's response to my "non-being to being as a change" objection
Pro responds to my objection that non-being to being is not a change of a particular thing, by saying, "I agree that a non-existent thing itself does not have 'potentiality', but the non-existent thing is still 'potential', in that it can potentially exist."

I'd like to thank Pro for this claffification. I'll agree that if we're not using strictly Aristotelian senses of the term "potential" then the existence of something is a "potential" that is, it is possible to be (or exists in some possible worlds), even if it is not a potential of something.

But due to Pro's restatment of the argument, it is now clear that Pro is not explicitly arguing that the existence of the universe is actualized, but rather that the general change of the universe is actualized by another. This could be any sort of change which we view in our day to day lives, or it could even be changes such as the expansion of space.

The argument restated...
Pro has graciously restated his argument in a very clear and concise manner:

1. The universe actualizes.
2. Something cannot actualize itself.
C: Therefore the universe must ultimately be actualized by something outside of it, that does not need to be actualized, which can only be God.

He further clarifies "actualization means to go from one state to another."

Premise 1
Due to misunderstanding earlier, I thought that Pro meant that the universe was constantly being actualized from non-being to being. While I don't doubt Pro would argue that the existence of the universe is also a cause of God (which is irrellevant to this debate), this is not what the premise reads. I will concede this first premise; the universe actualizes.

Premise 2
Premise 2 is where I shall devote most of my attention to arguing.

Pro's argument in favor of Premise 2 seems to be mostly this:

"It seems intuitively certain that something does not move itself to a new state (again it is absurd to think that an ice cube melts itself"

While I shall agree that it does, on face value, seem intuitive that something cannot move itself to a new state, this is not necessarily the case. First of all, intuitions are often wrong. While we may cling to them at first due to our human nature, when evidence to the contrary is presented, it is absurd to hold to our intuitions. I shall proceed to cast doubt upon Premise 2 of the argument, which states "Something cannot actualize itself."

The conception argument
To begin with, I'd like to say something about possibilites and conception. Everything which we can conceive of is at least metaphysically possible. This can be shown by viewing the impossibility of conceiving metaphysical impossibilities. We cannot even conceive of a metaphysical impossibility such as a square triangle. The reason behind this is that a square triangle is inherently and metaphysically impossible. I don't think Pro will argue this at all.

With that idea in mind, I shall procceed to my argument.

P1: IF self-actualization is metaphysically impossible, THEN self-actualization is inconceivable.
P2: Self-actualization is not inconceivable.
C: .'., Self-actualization is metaphysically impossible.

This argument is logically valid; it is a modus tollens. [1] Thus, my opponent must show that either premise is false.

Premise 1 has already been demonstrated as true. I shall argue briefly in favor of premise 2.

We can close our eyes, and imagine something moving without any external cause. I would use my 4x4 Rubik's cube as an example. Try to really conceive and imagine the Rubik's cube solving itself without any external cause. Can you do it? If the answer is yes, then you've conceived of self-actualization. This suffices to show Premise 2.

Inertia
Another substantial response to Premise 2 is Inertia.

P1: IF Inertia is true, THEN an external actualizer is not needed.
P2: Inertia is true.
C: .'., An external actualizer is not needed.

This is a logically valid modus ponens argument. [2]

Sir Issaac Newton writes, "Law I: Every body persists in its state of being at rest or of moving uniformly straight forward, except insofar as it is compelled to change its state by force impressed." [3]

Premise 2 is clearly true, since it is accepted as true by literally every physicist, and is considered one of the laws of physics.

Premise 1 also seems to be true. If something can simply persist in its actualization with regards to spatial position without any external cause, Pro's 2nd Premise is dubious.

Free will argument
The free will argument also carries a good deal of force, and it runs thus...

P1: IF self-actualization is impossible, THEN there is no free-will.
P2: There is free-will.
C: .'., self-actualization is possible.

What is free will? Right now I am tired, yet I'm determined to finish this reply before I go to bed. Why doesn't my tiredness simply cause me to go to bed (or to fall asleep, which it may yet)? The answer is obvious: Because I do not choose to go to bed yet. Let's use the analogy of a compass. I am able to somehow direct myself towards what I want to do. However, if this actualization is caused entirely by something external, I do not have any free will at all.

Now Pro could simply say, "Very well. You don't have free will" and that would be that, but then he would have to account for my illusion of free will. If I have no free will, why do I think I do?

False dichotomy
My last argument shall be that Pro presents a false dichotomy of sorts. Namely that either something is actualized by another, or is actualized by itself, or is actualized by nothing. Pro thinks that the only one of these which is possible is the first. But they seem to ignore a very simple possibility.

Perhaps something is not actualized by anything. It seems very odd to jump to the conclusion that "caused by nothing" and "having no cause" are the same thing. One assumes there is a cause (which is nothing) the other says that there is no cause in the first place.

So why can't something just have no cause at all? Not that it is caused by nothing, but that is has no cause.

Infinite regress
I agree with Pro that an infinite regress is impossible. This topic will not be brought into question in this debate.

Closing
In closing, I would like to point out that I don't think Pro has not successfully demonstrated why the unmoved mover is purely actual. For, suppose that the unmoved mover were not purely actual and had some admixture of potential. In this condition, the unmoved mover would not require another actualizer, but still would not be purely actual. Pro has argued that actualized potentials require a cause, but not that something with potentials requires an external cause.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...;
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org...
Grapes42

Pro

I appreciate Con's clear response and that we can agree on BOP, the re-articulation of the argument, premise 1 of my articulation of the First Way, and the issue of infinite series per se.

So I am going to focus on Con's objections to Premise 2 of the First Way.

Conception

Con argues that it is possible to conceive of something self-actualizing. I agree with what he said about conception in general, but it is important to draw a distinction between conceive and imagine (Feser pointed this out in his book Aquinas).

For instance we can imagine something being changed without a cause, but that may be because we are just refusing to imagine the cause of the change. So, imagining may not qualify as conceiving.

Though, it might be still be possible to conceive of an object being changed without a cause (as some purport happens at the quantum level). Let's put this problem on hold though until the bottom of the response where I will address it there.

Inertia

Con further objects that inertia places premise 2 in doubt because the law of inertia says that objects can move through space with no cause. Except, I think that these objects do have a cause, their cause is the laws of physics. So, I don't think that inertia places premise 2 in doubt.

Free will

Con objects that premise 2 is incompatible with free will. I think that we do have free will (and so did Aquinas), so if premise 2 is in fact incompatible with free will then something has to give.

It is important to understand how actualization applies in order to reconcile it with free will. Actualization is not a theory of occasionalism, where God is the direct cause of everything, as in God controls a person to walk down street and controls rain drops to fall from the sky.

Rather, actualization is the act of bringing something from one state to another, in accordance with the nature of that thing. So, going back to the ice cube, it is an ice cube's nature to be frozen until it melts. God does not necessarily directly cause the ice cube to melt, rather God brings the state of heat to a new state and brings the state of the ice cube to a new state, which results in the ice cube melting. So, if the ultimate cause but not the direct cause.

So, in regards to humans' wills, God brings the state of the person's will to a new state, but what that person chooses to will in that new state is up to that person, because the nature of the person is to will freely. So, the person can't bring themselves to the new state (self-actualize), but they still decide what they do in the state that they are in.

So, I don't think that premise 2 poses a problem for free will.

False dichotomy

Con thinks that a false dichotomy or apparently a sort of equivocation is at play between "caused by nothing" and "having no cause". This may be true, but I think that the two are actually the same thing. For something to change uncaused is to say that some sort of being is generated for that thing not from something else or from itself, so where does it come from? I think one would have to conclude that it comes from nothing. More on this below.

Conclusion

I will now return to the part about premise 2 and the possibility of something changing without a cause. I don't think it is possible for something to change without a cause for reasons that I gave above, but one may still want to maintain that an individual object can change uncaused (eg. quantum particles). So, I want to re-cast premise 2, slightly, to perhaps bring out the absuridty that I think ensues when this option of 'no-cause' is applied to the universe as a whole. So here is premise 2 written slightly differently.

2. The universe cannot actualize itself.

Now, this may seem like a bigger assumption than premise 2 already was, but I will now defend it.

Again, to actualize means to be brought to a new state of being. In order for the universe to be brought to a new state of being: it would have to bring itself to the new state of being, be brought to the new state by nothing, or be brought to the new state by something else. Now, obviously I think that only the third option is reasonable.

Con may again object though that perhaps the universe is brought to the new state without a cause, so not by nothing but just not by something. But agan, I think this is absurd. The only logical option left if the universe is not brought by itself or something else is to say that it is brought by nothing.

Conclusion further

Con objects that even if the First Way succeeds in presenting an actualizer that the actualizer may have potentials that are just not actualized and so the actualizer of the universe may not be fully actual. Con says that I have "argued that actualized potentials require a cause, but not that something with potentials requires an external cause."

This is true, except I now argue that if the actualizer of the universe has potentials then those potentials would be actualized when it actualizes the universe. In other words, God would change when He changes the universe, but if premise 2 is true and an infinite regress is impossible, then God cannot change.

Now Con may object that God may not need to change in order to change the universe and yet still have the 'possibility' of changing. Except, I think this is absurd. Something with potential must be actualized in order to actualize something else because I think that to have potential precisely means to be in waiting for a new state of actuality. But if God must be actualized in order to actualize something else, then this leads to an infinite regress which we agreed is impossible.
Debate Round No. 3
zmikecuber

Con

The conception argument
Pro disagrees with the second premise of my conception argument. Recall that the argument states:

P1: IF self-actualization is metaphysically impossible, THEN self-actualization is inconceivable.
P2: Self-actualization is not inconceivable.
C: .'., Self-actualization is metaphysically impossible.

So the question is really whether or not self-actualization is conceivable.

Pro brings out a distinction between conceiving an image, that is imagining something, and really conceiving something, that is actually grasping what is happening.

While I agree that self-actualization, or something changing without a cause, or even something changing with an unseen cause, may all have the same visual image, it's not clear how it follows from this that self-actualization, or acausal actualization is inconceivable. For it seems straightforwardly intuitive that we can conceive of something self-actualizing itself, or being actualized without a cause. Regardless of the mental image I create in my mind, it seems that I can conceive of something moving without a cause.

Inertial motion
While Pro argues that Inertial motion does not undermine premise 2 of his argument, I shall maintain that Inertial motion is deadly to the second premise of the argument, and in fact shows that it is false.

Pro disagrees with premise 1 of my argument, and argues that objects in Inertial motion do in fact have a cause, and that cause is the law of physics. However, this response does not work. Let's look at two options:

(i) Assuming the laws of physics have causal ability.

Let's assume, as Pro argues, that the laws of physics have causal abilities. If this is the case, then the cause of an object in Inertial motion is the laws of physics, as Pro also maintains. But if this is the case, then it's not clear how Pro's argument will succeed in general. If the laws of physics can "cause" anything, then wouldn't these laws of physics be the unmoved mover? Surely, the laws of physics themselves are not "actualizing" or changing. But if this is the case that the laws of physics are the unmoved mover, it's not clear how these laws can be shown to be "purely actual" as is required for the unmoved mover.

(ii) Assuming the laws of physics do not have causal ability.

In any case, (i) does not matter, precisely because the laws of physics do not cause anything. When we apply a "mathematical law" to something we see around us, we are simply explaning what we see.

David Oderberg states, "the laws of nature are the laws of natures," [1]. Let me explain what I mean.

"Laws of nature" or "laws of physics" are just abstractions for how things normally behave. Thus, since the "laws of physics" aren't existential things in themselves, causal responsibility cannot be attributed to them.

Finally, with the understanding of (ii) it should be clear how Inertia undermines Pro's case. For Inertia says that objects just will continue in motion, or in their actualization, without any force acting upon them until something stops them.

Free will
Pro disagrees with premise 1 of my argument from free will. Premise 1 stated that free will, and the impossibility of self-actualization cannot co-exist, since they are in conflict.

Pro argues that free will, and the principle of non self-actualization are compatible, stating:

"actualization is the act of bringing something from one state to another, in accordance with the nature of that thing...it is an ice cube's nature to be frozen until it melts. God does not necessarily directly cause the ice cube to melt, rather God brings the state of heat to a new state and brings the state of the ice cube to a new state, which results in the ice cube melting...in regards to humans' wills, God brings the state of the person's will to a new state, but what that person chooses to will in that new state is up to that person, because the nature of the person is to will freely. So, the person can't bring themselves to the new state (self-actualize), but they still decide what they do in the state that they are in."

However, I don't think this reply, as stated, quite solves the problem.

If it is our nature to will freely, and to will is a type of change, then how would God not be the cause of our choices? While I agree with Pro, that the states one finds oneself in may not be due directly to someone's will, the act of the will itself seems to be a sort of self-actualization.

Let's use the analogy of a compass again. The compass right now is pointing say to the right. However, it is possible for the compass to point to the left, at something else. This is clearly a sort of change (or actualization) on the part of the will. Is God, the unmoved mover, the cause of this change? Due to Pro's argument, the answer would be yes. But if God is the cause of the acts of our will, whether direct or indirect, it seems highly implausible that this will can be free.

Pro's restatement of P2
Pro seems to re-state his position regarding self-actualization slightly. He instead states:

2. The universe cannot actualize itself.

He defends this premise thus:

"to actualize means to be brought to a new state of being. In order for the universe to be brought to a new state of being: it would have to bring itself to the new state of being, be brought to the new state by nothing, or be brought to the new state by something else. Now, obviously I think that only the third option is reasonable...Con may again object though that perhaps the universe is brought to the new state without a cause, so not by nothing but just not by something. But agan, I think this is absurd. The only logical option left if the universe is not brought by itself or something else is to say that it is brought by nothing."

So our options for the actualization of the universe are...

(i) Self-actualization
(ii) Actualized by nothing
(iii) Actualized by another

Unfortunately, Pro gives little argumentation other than he personally finds the first two options absurd, and assumably his intuition argument from earlier. The conception argument can be made for (ii), the inertial motion argument can be made for (i) and (ii), and the free-will argument can be made for (i).

"Caused by nothing" vs. "having no cause"
Pro understands my argument correctly when he states "Con thinks that a false dichotomy or apparently a sort of equivocation is at play between "caused by nothing" and "having no cause"", and argues that, in reality, the two are actually the same thing. He argues for this conclusion thus:

"For something to change uncaused is to say that some sort of being is generated for that thing not from something else or from itself, so where does it come from? I think one would have to conclude that it comes from nothing."

However, when Pro asks "so where does it come from?" he misses the point. Pro also argues that, in any case, even if "cause by nothing" and "having no cause" are two different things, they are both as implausible. But as we've seen above, there are good reasons to think that these are plausible options.

Pure act
Finally, I'd like to question Pro's argument regarding the unmoved mover as purely actual. Pro argues that any actualizer which has potentials is itself actualized. Along with the impossibility of an infinite regress ordered per se, it should be clear; the only way to end a per se regress is in something which is purely actual.

First, I'd like to concede that this reasoning is valid. However, Pro's premise that "if the actualizer of the universe has potentials then those potentials would be actualized when it actualizes the universe" is false.

Don't magnets and gravitational attraction actualize other things, without themselves being actualized? It seems quite clear that if I hold up a magnet, which does have potentials, it can actualize other things without having any of its potentials actualized. Thus, Pro's premise is cast into doubt.

Conclusion
I'd first like to appologize for the rambling in this reply. I've been sick lately, and haven't gotten as much sleep as I'd have liked to, so if my arguments seem irrelevant in any way, this would be the reason why.

Secondly, I'd like to point out that Pro's arguments in favor of premise 2 are very few. They rely on intuition, and the way something seems. On the other hand, I have presented several arguments to show that premise 2 is dubious. If even so much as one of these arguments succeeds, or seems more plausibly sound than unsound, then premise 2 of Pro's argument has been undermined.

Thirdly, Pro's arguments for why the unmoved mover must be purely actual do not work either. Thus, even if all his other arguments succeed, he has failed on this part, and there are no reasons to believe in the existence of a purely actual unmoved mover.

Finally, I would like to also remind Pro that new arguments are not allowed in round 5. If he has any new arguments he'd like to bring up, he should do so in his next reply. Also, even though I have presented numerous amounts of arguments against Pro's argument, this does not mean that I necessarily adhere to them. I've had a great time so far, and I look forward to Pro's response.

[1] David S. Oderberg, Real Essentialism, p. 144
Grapes42

Pro

Conception

Con still maintains that he can conceive of an object changing without a cause. I am just not convinced that he can. Again he may just be imagining something changing without a 'known' cause, but this is not the same as conceiving of something changing without a cause.

Inertia

There is debate over what laws of physics actually are. Con seems to be saying that they are descriptions, while I am maitaining that they are at least possibly causal forces (or descriptions of what are causal forces).

If I drop a pencil and it falls to the floor, that happend due to gravity. Now gravity may be the word applied to the actualization that occurs when a pencil is in a certain environment, but that hardly means that the pencil had no cause. For if I dropped a pencil in outer space, it would not fall in the same way. This is because some sort of causal influence is different there than it is on earth. To me this clearly shows that intertia is causal.

Now, Con may object that in outer space things do not resist the pencil in the same way, so that is where the difference in falling comes into play.

Except, in order for the pencil to resist the other forces, it would have to exert a cause. And of course a pencil is a-causal, unless something else is acting upon it.

Now it may seem to Con that my alternative then is to embrace the laws of physics as the prime mover, but this is not so.

The laws of physics themselves are a part of the universe/reality that gets actualized. Gravity does not bring the rest of reality to a new state (which is what actualization is). Rather gravity, inertia etc. are a part of the transition of actualization.

Free Will

Con says that if we will things independent of God's direct causal influence/choice then we could be self-actualizers.

I don't think so, because going back to the analogy of the ice cube, from the begining, the ice cube melts because God brings about the 'nature' of the ice cube. So, likewise we can freely will because it is our nature to will in response to our actualized environment when we actualize in that environment.

Now, clearly the difference between the cube and the will is that the will does what it wants while the ice cube does what it is established to do in a determined sense. But this is just the nature of what it means to be a living rational creature compared to an inanimate thing.

The fact that I can carry out an action is still due to God's actualization, while the direction that I carry out the action (towards choice A or choice B) can still be up to me.

Again, actualization, at least in my terms, is the bringing of something from one state to another. Con seems to agree that a will cannot bring itself to a new state (it only directs how the state might turn out, at least in part), so I think that qualifies as saying that a will cannot actualize itself, if we agree that actualization means to bring something to a new state. Becaue again, in my view, the will freely responds to its actualization, but it does not actualize itself.

Restatement of P2

Con maitains that perhaps the universe can be actualized without a cause. As I said above I don't think that the inertia objection or the free will objection work. But perhaps there could be some example, known or unknown, that does work. And that it is at least conceivable that something changes without a cause.

To say one can imagine ,or even think they have witnessed, something occur uncaused is not to actually say that they did witness it. If we say a rock appeared out of nowhere and fell on our lap, I don't think we would be justified to then say "Oh it must have happend uncaused", rather we would say "What made that rock appear?" (I borrow from a similar example that Feser gave in The Last Superstition).

So, seems to me that it can be at least maintained that it is actually silly to say that something could occur uncaused.

But, I will grant that it is difficult to pin down a formal contradiction in saying that something happend uncaused.

But this is why I changed the premise, because while one may want to maintain that an object (like a particle) moves uncaused, it seems more bizarrre to say that the universe changes uncaused.

This is because 'where exactly is the new state (actualization) for the universe going to come from? If it happens uncaused, that means that a new state of being for the universe literally comes from nowhere. It just pops into existence, uncaused of course, but without any substance to grant it.

Pure Act

Con brings back a similar objection from earlier by maintaining that laws (magnetic and gravitational) can actualize other things, without being actualized themselves. But, again I disagree because the laws themselves are a part of the actualization process because they transition with the state of the universe. In other words, if the clock stops, so do the laws. The laws certainly direct the way things go, when things are being actualized (the laws do have causal influence) but the laws are not the prime mover, as I stated earlier.

Conclusion

The important thing to remember in assessing this argument is 'what does actualization mean?' In my mind, it means to transition from one state to another. Now, sense I don't think that laws or human wills carry themselves to new states, they do not in fact actualize themselves or actualize other thins without being actualized in the process.

Since God does not change states, He does not actualize. Furthermore, since He grants existence to the universe, without losing existence or gaining existence (a form of actualization), He therefore is unlimited and cannot change.

I also still maintain that in order for the universe to actualize without a cause is to maintain that the universe is granted a new state of existence without anything giving it that state (otherwise that thing would in fact be a cause), and this in fact would be to say that the universe actualizes from nothing, which is absurd.

So, I think I have given a sound defense of P2.

I have enjoyed the debate so far and look forward to hearing Con's reply.
Debate Round No. 4
zmikecuber

Con

This is the 5th and final round of this debate. Due to my lengthy posts above, I'd like to keep this reply short, sweet, and to the point.

The conception argument
Pro objects to my conception argument that I have not sufficiently established the second premise, which states "Self-actualization is not inconceivable." The question really is though, is this premise more plausibly true, or more plausibly false?

Recall that I argued one can easily imagine something moving itself. It seems that it is more plausible that I am really imagining that something is moving itself, or moving without a cause, than that I do not know what I am conceiving. For if I am going to question whether or not I am really conceiving something, when I think I do, couldn't this objection be made to any sort of conception argument? I say I am conceiving of x, and someone objects "how do you really know you're conceiving that? Maybe you're mistaken."

Inertia
Pro is mistaken when he remarks that gravity, inertia, and the laws of physics in general are also a part of the actualization. The laws of physics remain the same, unchanged, despite the changes in the universe. And if they are unchanging, then they require no actualizer.

Further, Pro mistakenly parallels gravity and inertia. Gravity is a force exerted from a physical object, while inertia is merely a description of what happens to an object set in motion. This description states that the object will continue in its motion in a straight line, without any external force.

Free will
Pro seems to be arguing that God is the cause of our nature, which is to be able to choose freely. And thus God is actually the one behind the seeming self-actualization. This is a problem. If self-actualization is impossible, then how could God be the cause of an impossibility? However, if it's not impossible, why is God needed to cause the self-actualization of free will?

Pro's second premise
Pro appeals to our intuition in defense of his second premise. While I will admit, that if we were to experience an event which seemed to happen "uncaused" one would probably not assume that it really was uncaused. However, intuition derives from our experiences. If we experienced acausal happenings all the time, our intuition would tell us that acausality is possible. But experience is very dangerous to argue from, precisely because our experience of the real world is so limited.

Furthermore, if Pro does admit that it may be possible for some sort of object to undergo acausal operations, why would the universe be any different than this? The arguments Pro presents against the self-actualization or acausal actualization of the universe could be mounted against the acausality or self-actualization of particles. Why should we accept one and not the other?

Pure act
Pro misundestands my objection. I am not saying that the physical laws exert any causal abilities, but rather that objects exert forces on other objects. The forces exerted from these objects change and actualize other objects without themselves being actualized.

Conclusion
I'd like to thank Pro for accepting this debate challenge. I've had a great time, and have definitely learned more about the First Way. It's always fun to see someone else's view of an argument you've done alot of research on, and it's very nice to see someone else's answers to objections you see with an argument.

Also, I forgot how long I set the voting for...I'm not sure if there will be enough time for anyone to vote on this, or if anyone will even read this debate in its entirety. Either way, I've thoroughly enjoyed myself.
Grapes42

Pro

Conception

Con argues that for me to charge him with only thinking he can imagine a change without a cause, while not actually conceiving of such a thing, could just lead to skepticism about conception altogether.

Except, if there is a reason to doubt one's conclusion, then we should doubt what they are purporting to imagine. For instance, if I think that an uncaused change is logically impossible then of course I don't think that one can conceive of it, even if they think they do. So, if one can conceive of something, compared to just imagining it, really comes down to whether or not it is logically possible for the thing to happen or not. I have argued of course that it is not logically possible, so Con's conception argument doens't hold water with me.

Inertia

Con objects to my saying that the laws of physics are actualized, because he says they don't change. While I agree that the laws don't change in substance, they do change from state to state (which is what actualization is) because the laws are a part of the universe, which changes from state to state.

Regardless of whether or not inertia and gravity are tied up in one another, the point I was making is that inertia can still be part of the laws of physics. So, inertia can be causal or at least a description of something that is causal. I don't see any reason to suppose that inertia is a description of something a-causal.

Free Will

Con argues that it is impossible for God to be the cause of free will, because then God would be the cause of self-actualization.

Except, I deny that freely willing would amount to self actualization, so it seems Con is just inserting his own views here. Again, to freely will is to direct the actualization that God grants, it is not to commit actualization upon itself.

My second premise

Con argues that if "we experienced acausal happenings all the time, our intuition would tell us that acausality is possible." Except, my argument is that we would never be truly justifed in concluding that acausal happenings occur, so how could we arrive at such conclusions? If we constantly saw rocks appear from nowhere or move around without any direct source, we would still look for causes of these things.

Now, perhaps I am wrong and it is only because we do see so many events that seem to have a cause and effect relation that we go ahead and conclude that there must be such an intrinsic correlation.

So, again it goes back to the issue of whether or not it is logical to suppose that somthing can change without a cause.

Of course, I don't think it is logical because again in order for something to change without a cause it requires that something is generated without any source, and this is absurd and really amounts to saying that something can come from nothing. I don't think that Con ever dealt with this issue of generation without a source.

Of course, I don't think that particles can change uncaused, but I think that it is easier to demonstrate that the universe cannot change uncaused because one may being playing a sort of trick in imagining that a particle moves without a cause, when they are really neglecting to imagine the quantum laws causing it after all. While, if the universe changes without a cause they would more likley to have to concede that the change would come from no source, which is absurd.

Pure act

Here Con thinks that I have misunderstood in attributing him with the view that laws are causal. I was applying my own view of laws here, while the issue is whether or not laws or in his view the descriptions of objects that laws entail, can be causal. Regardless, the point is that Con argues that these sort of things can actualize other things, without being actualized and therefore don't require God's actualization.

I answer to this issue again in saying that the laws must be actualized because they are part of the universe, they change their state with the state of the universe.

Conclusion

This debate has been fun. I am glad that Con proposed the topic. I hope if anyone reads it they have a better grasp of the argument and objections that can be made to it.
Debate Round No. 5
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by zmikecuber 3 years ago
zmikecuber
Whoops, I said the universe was a "cause of God." Meant to say "caused by God"...
Posted by zmikecuber 3 years ago
zmikecuber
Lol... Sorry, that was pretty long. My next argument will be shorter, I promise!
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by STALIN 3 years ago
STALIN
zmikecuberGrapes42Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: Close debate!
Vote Placed by TheSquirrel 3 years ago
TheSquirrel
zmikecuberGrapes42Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: Sources: Con had them. Ultimately this argument fails for many of the same reasons other arguments for god fail, and Con covered it quite thoroughly.