The Instigator
popculturepooka
Pro (for)
Losing
11 Points
The Contender
unitedandy
Con (against)
Winning
15 Points

Logic Presupposes God: a Transcendental Argument for God's Existence

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 8 votes the winner is...
unitedandy
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/26/2010 Category: Religion
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 10,118 times Debate No: 14152
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (76)
Votes (8)

 

popculturepooka

Pro

Thanks to unitedandy for agreeing to debate this with me; he is a formidable opponent and I look forward to the challenging debate!

=========
The preface
=========

I will be presenting an transcendental argument for God from the existence of abstract objects - in this particular debate I will only focus on logical absolutes or the classical laws of logic/thought but readers should note that other transcendental arguments can be made. I will be arguing that only if you presuppose God's existence do you have a coherent and plausible account of the ontology and epistemology of the laws of logic.

A transcendental argument is "a philosophical argument that starts from what a person experiences, and then deduces what must be the case for the person to have that experience." [1] In other words, they are arguments that seek to establish what is a necessary precondition for some particular phenomena.

They generally take this form:

For X to be the case, Y would have to be the case, because Y is a precondition of X. X is the case. So, Y is the case.

Descartes famous "cogito ergo sum" could be stated as a TA.

If I am able to doubt that I exist I would have to exist in the first place as existing is a necessary precondition of me doubting. I doubt. Therefore, I exist.

==========
The Argument
==========

So, a TA for God's existence from the laws of logic would go like this:

1) If God doesn't exist, the laws of logic would not exist.
2) The laws of logic do exist.
3) Therefore, God exists.

==========
Definitions and Clarifications
==========

Abstract object - is an object which does not exist at any particular time or place, but rather exists as a type of thing (as an idea, or abstraction). [2]

Laws of logic - (1) the law of contradiction, (2) the law of excluded middle (or third), and (3) the principle of identity. That is, (1) for all propositions p, it is impossible for both p and not p to be true...(2) either p or not-p must be true, there being no third or middle true proposition between them...(3) if a propositional function F is true of an individual variable x, then F is indeed true of x...Another formulation of the principle of identity asserts that a thing is identical with itself; or simply that x is x. [3]

Exist - to have actual being; be; [4]

Ontology - is the philosophical study of the nature of being, existence or reality as such, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations. [5]

Epistemology - the branch of philosophy that studies the nature of knowledge, its presuppositions and foundations, and its extent and validity. [6]

The conception God I have in mind here is that of the Anselmian theist - the being of which no greater than can be conceived. The being with all compossible great-making properties or perfections. This TA doesn't purport to prove all of God's attributes but it does provide support for some key properties that God is said to have: aseity (necessary/self-existent and dependent on nothing), omniscience, and cognitive capability.

==========
Rules
==========

Round 1 - to be used for assent to the debate or any concerns before the debate starts. Con can also propose definitions or clarifications as well.

Rounds 2 - 4 - are the rounds where we state our respective cases.

I have no reason to suspect my opponent would try this but just for posterity's sake: no semantics!

==========
Sources
==========

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[3] http://www.britannica.com...
[4] http://dictionary.reference.com...
[5] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[6] http://www.answers.com...
unitedandy

Con

= = = Intro = = =
Just want to thank pop (who will be referred to as Pro from now on) for agreeing to debate me on this topic and for being so flexible as well, and I hope and expect that come the end of the debate, we will have produced something approaching a decent exchange. I'm just going to do my best to add to what Pro said in the debate preliminary, in order to lay the ground work for the debate, and then we can begin properly in the next round.

= = = Definitions and Abbreviations = = =
The definitions Pro has given seem perfectly acceptable. But I would just like to clarify that when Pro speaks of logical "laws" and I speak of "absolutes", I take these to be synonyms for each other, and not different in any way other than name.

------------------
TAG - The transcendental argument for the existence of God.

TANG - The transcendental argument for the non existence of God.

LAs - Logical absolutes (or laws).

= = = TAG mission statement = = =

TAG is essentially a theistic argument that seeks to eliminate any sort of non-belief by charging that without a God which has certain characteristics, logical absolutes (LA) cannot be accounted for, and thus any attempt to justify non-belief fails to even get off the ground, as it can't even account for the prerequisite to do so - rationality (1). Thus the aim of TAG is to present a situation where:

"The only way to account for . . . logical absolutes is by postulating God's existence." (2)

By first acknowledging that LAs exist, Slick then identifies LAs as (3):

a. conceptual
b. transcendent
c. absolute

And concludes both that the atheist cannot given an account for LAs, and that the Christian can:

"Logical absolutes, thus being conceptual, must come from a mind, and this mind in turn must be an absolute, transcendent mind . . . This mind is called God." (4).

Obviously Pro's job is to flesh out this argument, which he will do in round 2, but this is just a rough outlier of what the atheist is up against, and what a conclusion reached from TAG would amount to - mainly the existence in a God with these attributes (and, for sure, many others besides).

= = = TANG (5) = = =

TANG, first formulated by atheist philosopher Michael Martin, is an argument to show that the implications of the TAG argument carries so much baggage that the case for the non existence of God can be made purely on the conditions created by reaching the conclusion of God's existence through TAG. Just to be clear, it is more of a reaction against TAG than it is a positive argument for atheism, mainly because it only works with the theist who accepts the said implications of TAG. In this way, it should be seen as a sacrificial argument - employed to parallel the TAG argument from an atheist perspective (much like the Atheist Wager is used). I will be using my own versions of this, which will try to encapsulate the same principle that Martin used in attempting defeat the TAG argument - which I take to be my objective for the debate ahead.

= = = Conclusion = = =

Anyway, I hope I haven't telegraphed my punches too much, and I would like to invite Pro to state his case, and to thank him and wish him the best of luck. Cheers.

= = = Sources = = =

(1), (3), (4) http://carm.org...

(2) (shown above)

(5) http://www.infidels.org...
Debate Round No. 1
popculturepooka

Pro

Thanks to Con for the excellent primer on what readers should expect from this debate in his round 1. I shall endeavor to make this debate worthwhile!

I shall obviously be using Matt Slick's general outline argument as the basis for my TAG for logical absolutes (I shallow follow Con in abbreviating "logical absolutes" to LA and agreeing that the term "logical law" is, for all intents and purposes, equivalent to the term "logical absolute") but I hope by presenting the argument the way I do in this round I am adding more metaphorical "meat on the bones". I shall be splitting considerations for my TAG into two parts: epistemological [1] and ontological. [2] Slick does not make this distinction explicit in the way he formulates the argument but it seems to me that the implications can easily be drawn out if one looks hard enough.

On to the arguments!

==========
The TAG
==========

If you'll recall I formulated the TAG for logical absolutes in a very simple syllogism:

1) If God doesn't exist, the laws of logic would not exist.
2) The laws of logic do exist.
3) Therefore, God exists.

-----
2)
-----

I will defend the least controversial premise first. I take it as a given that LAs do exist - in fact I'd argue that to deny that LAs do exist is self contradictory - to do deny they exist would be to say that the statement "LAs do not exist" can be both true and not true at the same time in the same sense. That is just absurdity. Part of what it means to say *anything* is to imply that opposite is not true at the same time in the same sense. If I say, "there's a cat on the mat", and that is true, that implies that cat isn't not on the mat.

Avicenna once decisively quipped, "Anyone who denies the law of non-contradiction should be beaten and burned until he admits that to be beaten is not the same as not to be beaten, and to be burned is not the same as not to be burned." [3] So I take nominalism [4] or non-realism about abstract objects (in this case LAs) to be a non-starter. Such a position cannot even get off the ground if taken in regards to LAs.

-----
1)
-----

So, if we agree that LAs do exist it'd be useful to look at exactly what properties LAs have and why God is a necessary ground for them.

LAs seem to be immaterial and non-spatial - there is nothing physical or material that one could point to and say "that right there is the law of non-contradiction". Tying into this point of immateriality/non-spatiality is the fact that LAs are also "transcendent" (per Matt Slick) in the sense that they apply everywhere - even in possible worlds [5] where there are no physical or material objects. In fact, we'd call the LAs necessary truths - that is they couldn't possibly be not true. In fact, LAs are what determine what is *possible* at all! We determine logical possibility by not being able to derive a logical contradiction from whatever proposition we are considering. LAs are "absolute" (per Slick) in the sense that there are no exceptions to them. "Things" with logically incompatible properties just can't exist. It seems to me to incoherent to say there could be an exception to the LA of identity. What would that even be like for something to not be identical to itself? Would it be like to say that something can both exist and not exist at the same time in the same sense? Or that that existent/non-existent "thing" can be in an intermediate state between existence and non-existence? This seems absolute nonsense.

Assuming that above (short) arguments are sound it has been established that LAs posses the properties of being absolute, transcendent, immaterial, non-spatial, and necessary objects (among other things). This is automatically rules out positions advocating that the laws of logic are just conventions agreed upon by humans as 1) the LAs would have to be presupposed in order to make those conventions and 2) that would make the LAs contingent - meaning possible that they could have been different or not existed - objects which is incoherent. But what this doesn't rule out is Platonism. [6] What would rule that out is the last property that LAs are purported to have: conceptuality.

As is argued by Slick the process of logic is conceptual (or mental) in nature. When we think in accordance to the LAs that process is necessarily something that has to be instantiated by a mind. It's not possible to think without a mind. The position that abstract objects exist in the mind is known an conceptualism. [7]

-----
3)
-----

But looking at all the properties that LAs have it would follow that something with all those properties is the ground for them. A necessarily existent, immaterial, non-spatial, transcendent, absolute mind. I don't think it is a stretch to say with Aquinas, "and this everyone understands to be God".

==========
Epistemological considerations for the TAG
==========

Assuming that the above argument is sound the TAG can also be strengthened by arguing that God is not only necessary to ground the *ontology* of LAs but also the *epistemology* of human knowledge of LAs. It's obvious that humans have knowledge of LAs but given the nature of LAs it's hard to see how anything but could possibly ensure a connection between LAs and humans.

One well worn objection against Platonism is the epistemological objection. Abstract objects (LAs) are *by definition* causally in efficacious. Meaning, they don't and can't cause anything. This immediately leads to an obvious problem; when I say I have knowledge of something external to me I mean that thing and I exist in some type of relationship. It has to be a factor in causing my knowledge of that thing. So, on Platonism, abstract objects (LAs) could never be *cause* me to know anything about LAs. But, this is obviously false as I do have knowledge of at least some LAs. We are left with an incredibly implausible position here.

Another position typically brought up is that we know of the LAs through empirical observation. This on the face of it seems less than ideal. Observations based on empirical generalizations are contingent as empirical evidence is always (in principle) open to refutation and certainly the world as we see it could have been physically arranged different. This commits the empiricist to the position that the LAs are contingent and could have possibly been different which is a non-starter as I showed earlier.

One could see that if there is a God who grounds LAs this position doesn't suffer from the same epistemological objections that other positions face. A Christian could, for example, argue that God created people in his image and as a result gives people the ability to have knowledge of LAs. In that way there's a causal connection between humans and LAs that other positions lack.

==========
Sources
==========

[1] http://carm.org...
[2] http://carm.org...
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[4] http://plato.stanford.edu...
[5] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[6] http://plato.stanford.edu...
[7] http://en.wikipedia.org...
unitedandy

Con

= = = Refuting Tag = = =

1. The fallacies of TAG (1)
The first thing, and perhaps the most important thing to establish is a very clear distinction between LA as logical concepts, and LA as the nature of existence . Now conceptual LA are the statements of logic themselves; the symbols, language, and framework. Now clearly these concepts are contingent not just upon human minds but on particular persons throughout history (mainly Aristotle), and do not exist without a sentient mind which follows our linguistic process to conceive of them. They are always conceptual by nature and are used as the founding principles of logic. Now, obviously accounting for these would require a historical approach, not a philosophical one , so TAG must refer to LA as laws which govern the nature of existence.

LA as the nature of existence would be what statements like they law of identity REFER to (that something is what it is, and not what is not) - the consistency of existence to behave in a particular way. Now, clearly the nature of existence is not contingent upon anything, it behaves the way it does regardless of what anyone thinks or does, so is transcendent, and does so seemingly in all time and places. But crucially, it is not conceptual. We can conceive of it, but the statements we use (the logical laws) are not laws which govern the universe, but symbols we use to the way things consistently behave - the nature of existence. The laws are conceptual; what they refer to is not (in the same way as the word "apple" is conceptual, but what it refers to is not). To conflate the conceptual absolutes with the existent absolutes is to commit the fallacy of equivocation.

Other fallacies of TAG include the fallacy of division, seen here when Pro says this:

" But looking at the all the properties that LA have it would be follow that something with all those properties is the ground for them. A necessarily existent immaterial, non-spatial, transcendent, absolute mind . . . and this everyone understands to be God."

This blatantly commits the fallacy of division by concluding that the properties of the absolutes reflect the source of them (God).

Consider this: All humans are made up of atoms
Atoms are invisible
Therefore, all humans are invisible.

TAG fails in the exact same way in its crucial shift from the existence of logical absolutes, to the source of these absolutes (an absolute, transcendent mind). The nature of LA tells us nothing of the properties of their source.

But, there's more. TAG is essentially an argument from ignorance. I think it obvious to anyone familiar with TAG that the theist cannot account for logical absolutes, but simply shifts the problem down the line, and always seems to never get the accounting of LA. God is said to account for them, but how? Pro ended the ontology section with no real reference to how these where accounted for, just an implication of something which is itself unaccounted for (God's nature), such is the predicament of the TAG enthusiast.

2. The futility of TAG
The most popular rebuttal to TAG is that logical laws are axioms which assume their own truth. Even Kant agreed that denying God's existence is in no way contradictory, while denying logic is. But this point can be taken slightly further.

The stated aim of TAG - to account for logical absolutes, is the first problem, because it is impossible to account for them without implicitly assuming them to be true and even using them in pretty much every way throughout the argument. The problem can be simplified thus: In order to account for LA (the stated goal of the TAG argument), one must first define what these are. But wait! Defining something REQUIRES ASSUMING that the so-called logical absolutes are true.

In order to define something, we must assume the law of identity and the law of non-contradiction.

SO EVEN DEFINING LOGICAL ABSOLUTES ASSUMES THAT LOGICAL ABSOLUTES EXIST!!! Which is what the argument is supposed to conclude, not assume! Thus, as soon as we try to account for logical absolutes, we commit the fallacy of begging the question, because it is only by assuming that logic absolutes can be accounted for that the argument can even make sense and have a stated purpose. The theist faces a kind of Euthyphro dilemma: either he commits said fallacy or he tries to account for logic and absolutes without the law of identity and non-contradiction. Just to be perhaps a bit more clear, here's a syllogism below:

P1 - In order to account for LA, a necessary (but not sufficient) precondition is to define LA.

P2 - To define LA, one has to assume that the law of identity is true.

C - In order to account for LA, one has to assume that the law of identity is true.

The conclusion then is that a necessary condition to account for LA is to assume that the law of identity is true, thus begging the question, which is why identifying LA as anything other than axioms runs into tremendous problems, and, so TAG seems doomed to circularity.

The flaws of TAG - Dealing with P2 (2)
Now obviously what was said above will have an impact on how we answer the challenge. So, do logical laws "exist"? No. This is a categorical error, akin to asking what colour justice is, or what kind of fruit a triangle is. What the law of identity refers to is not something that exists, but the NATURE of existence. Indeed Pro tacitly supports this by agreeing that something which is logically inconsistent cannot exist. Why not? Because all things that exist and that could exist must be consistent with the nature of existence. If they are not, then they don't and could not exist. To account for this with as LA existing, as Pro does, firstly anthropomorphises the nature of existence and secondly leads to a greater problem: a regression of laws - e.g. what governs the law of identity to ensure that it is what it is and not something else? If God (or his Nature) what governs this, and so on, re-emphasising the point made in 2 - the futility of TAG.

Epistemology

Assuming references to logic as axioms does not work, then all we can do is state that the LA as reflections of the nature of reality have been attested to many times, and cannot conceivably be falsified, in the same way that that Pythagoras' theorem is always is vindicated. Incidentally, the downgrading of absolutes is far more of a problem of the proponent of TAG - this being their vehicle to theism. Pro states that a Christian God wouldn't suffer these objections, and that other options would. Firstly, Pro is essentially excluding Islam and other religions when these seem viable options for the conclusion TAG affirms, but also, how is the Christian to know what these LA are. They don't appear in scripture, they don't appear in most apologetics (past and present), and things like revelation are fraught with dangers, so no benefit is had for the Christian.

= = = TANG = = =
TANG attempts to deal with P1 of Pro's argument, and to defeat TAG on its own terms. If God's nature is the source of LA (TAG), could anything exist which is contrary to God's nature?

Now clearly the answer should be no, because if something contradicts, say, the law of identity, it doesn't and could not exist. But if God's nature is the source for LA, then nothing which currently exists should be antithetical to God's nature. Yet, there exists evil, liars, and other things which are contrary to God's nature. Indeed, everything within the spatio-temporal framework exists as contrary to God's nature. Conclusion - God's nature cannot account for LA.

Another problem is that God himself seems to be held hostage to LA:

If God's nature must be logically consistent in order to exist (which Pro acknowledges), then He can no more account for LA than anything else which is bound by them.

= = = Sources = = =
(1) (2) Theoretical Bullsh!t youtube videos "Slick Logic" and "Matt/Matt" series
Debate Round No. 2
popculturepooka

Pro

Thanks to Con for the well-thought out round.

On to the arguments! I will be using his headings as a convenient example to follow.

==========
1. The fallacies of TAG
==========

I think Pro's counter-arguments here rest on the simple mistake of not distinguishing universals from particulars. [1] When I say that the Law of Non-Contradiction exists I'm NOT referring to a particular entity that instantiates the LNC. I'm referring the "universal" of the LNC - or if you want to get more esoteric and Plato-like - the Form of the LNC. The statements that Con refers to are just representations of particulars of the LNC.

The distinction between conceptual LAs and the LAs as the nature of existence is contentious. Presumably existence is just the aggregate of all things that, well, exist - or all things that have actual being. This tells us nothing interesting by itself but it's implications are very interesting for Con's argument. If LAs only Con claims the LAs just are (part) of the nature of existence but neglects important talk of essences. [2] Essence precedes existence. Obviously, existence can exist in different modes as well. If something exists only in mind - or found to be only instantiated by the mind - then there is literally no distinction between conceptual LA and nature of existence LA as they are the same thing. So if these type arguments work it would make sense to place LAs in the nature of a rational being like God. The problem is if we accept Con's wide ranging nature of existence argument we'd have place LA in things that aren't essentially rational like matter.

I maintain there is no conflation. One of the essential properties of the LAs is that they are conceptual. Logic and reason are very clearly a process of the mind as I argued in the earlier round.

Note that even if were to accept that LAs are just part of the essential properties of the nature of existence then we'd have to accept that they are abstract objects that are completely mind-independent. I detailed the problems with this particularly Plato-esque philosophy in the last round. So even if I'm wrong, Con still has to deal with my epistemological objections to his implicitly held Platonism.

==========
Fallacy of Division?
==========

Con accused me of committing a fallacy of division - the problem is that neither TAG nor I commit the fallacy. The fallacy of division is an informal fallacy and it's not a problem of logical form; there can be valid cases of reasoning from whole to parts.

I am not even sure what to make of the suggestion that the nature of an object can tell us nothing of their source as this seems almost overly dismissive to me. Consider the field of philosophy of mind arguments that figure heavily in the debate between reductive/eliminative physicalists and non-reductive physicalists/property dualists are so called knowledge arguments involving qualia. [3] They argue from the particular *properties* of subjective experience to the conclusion that subjectivity is not reduce to the physical. If those arguments work (and a lot contemporary philosophers - perhaps the majority - think so) then it is positively the case that properties of an object can tell us something about it's source. I maintain that such is the case with the TAG. We look the nature of LAs and conclude that certain options just can't be sources of them and certain objects can.

==========
The futility of TAG
==========

I think this part of Con's contention misses the point. TAG tarts from the assumption that LAs exist and that they are self-evidentially true. Indeed, a TAG proponent wouldn't disagree with Con when he states they are axioms. TAG isn't about trying to prove that LAs exist so therefore God exists. I would only argue for the existence of LAs if someone was foolish enough to deny them. The very definition a transcendental argument is to take some feature of the world that is (mostly) immune to doubt and figure what conditions make that feature intelligible. That is what TAG purports to do. What question is given the essential properties of the laws of logic *what world view do they fit the best with*. TAG argues that certain features of the law of logic only make sense within a (certain) theistic worldview. Con states that the argument is supposed to conclude that LAs exist - actually that isn't the point. The point is to conclude that God exists given certain features of LAs and seeing the preconditions necessary for them.

=========
Defending P2
=========

Assuming my points earlier didn't work Con's assertion that the logical laws don't "exist" flat-out contradicts his assertions that LAS are simply the nature of existence. If they are the nature of existence then they exist - that is trivially true. To assert otherwise is to say that a necessary condition of existence (the LAs) are non-existent. This is obviously untenable. If all he means by that is that the LAs don't exist as particulars then I agree with Con; they don't and I never said nor implied as much. I see no anthromorphization here and Con slightly misconstrues my argument - I never said that God *governs* logical laws. I said they were based in his nature - no theist I know of (besides, maybe, Descartes) thinks that God *governs (as in controls) his own nature. God can no more change his nature then you and I can. You could just say that LAs are just representations of the way God thinks.

=========
Epistemology
=========

Note that just stating that LAs are a reflection of the nature of reality doesn't actually explain HOW we came to know this truth. Do we humans have a mysterious intuition that detects necessary truths? How did that come about? The theist has a possible answer; I see no others forthcoming from non-theistic philosophies. It's not enough to just say that LAs are part of the nature of reality and leave it at that.

Con says I am essentially excluding Islam and other religions but it's hard to see how given what I said: "A Christian could, for example, argue that God created people in his image and as a result gives people the ability to have knowledge of LAs..." That doesn't necessarily exclude any other philosophy or religion that has a God that endows humans with a capacity to know necessary truths (among other things). I was just coming at it from a Christian perspective which should be fairly non-surprising considering that I am a Christian. For example, it is often supposed among Christians that being made in the image of God entails certain God-like (to a much lesser extent of course) capacities like love, morality, rationality, etc.

=========
TANG
=========

Con's objections here also seems to miss the mark. He objects that if God's nature is the source of LAs then how could anything exist that is contrary to the nature of God?

The problem here seems to lie with the very ambiguous word "contrary". If one were to say that nothing could exist that is contrary to the LAs that I would take that to mean there is a *logical contradiction* in asserting the relationship between two or more concepts. The problem with Con's TANG is that he doesn't specify how the existence of say, evil, is logically contrary to God's existence. Is the existence of a omnipotent, omnibenevolent, and omniscient being logically incompatible with the existence of evil? Con would have to show that. In fact, in previous debates Con has argued that it is UNLIKELY that a God so specified existed not that it is LOGICALLY IMPOSSIBLE that a God so specified exists. [4, 5] It would seem this objection doesn't work.

==========
Sources
==========

[1] http://www.iep.utm.edu...
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[3] http://plato.stanford.edu...
[4] http://www.debate.org...
54] http://www.debate.org...
unitedandy

Con

= = = Intro = = =
Before beginning, I would just like to state a few problems apparent in Pro's first response. Firstly, I think he missed a couple of key points (argument from ignorance, etc), & without dealing with these, he cannot establish TAG. And the example I mentioned really is a key point, because it is essentially how LA are accounted for by God's nature. So, Pro, how does God's nature account for LA? Secondly, many of Pro's responses themselves need to be argued for, & referring to an unsupported & controversial claim to answer an unsupported & controversial claim is inadequate - 2 unsupported assertions don‘t make an argument! Lastly, although recognising that some issues are "contentious", Pro must show his approach to be clearly superior. If my approach is even plausible, Pro has a massive problem in supporting TAG. Now for the crux of the debate.

= = = The Fallacies and flaws of TAG = = =
As for my distinction between conceptual LA (cLA) & existent LA (1), here's where the most problems lie. Now I contend that LA are not things with a nature, but the nature of all things, therefore to ask whether they exist is just a category error, like I said before, akin to asking what kind of fruit is a triangle. Now talk of essences (2) & universals (3) fail, as does references to LA as "abstract objects" because LA are not objects or things with a nature, LA ARE a nature - the nature of existence. Such references show a projection of criticism at arguments closer to his own than mine, relating to points I never made or implied (Platonism). As for LA being conceptual, they are not. Logic (which cLA are the basis of) is conceptual, but as I said, accounting for this requires history, not philosophy, & they are most definitely contingent upon historical figures (Aristotle), therefore TAG must be addressing existent LA (from now on just LA).

These LA are not conceptual by nature (a key point of TAG) primarily because they do not have a nature, rather THEY ARE A NATURE - THE NATURE OF EXISTENCE & ALL THINGS THAT EXIST! (4) So in order to get the desired properties for the theist, they have to conflate these 2 things, and Pro does this (despite denying it) in order to make TAG work - he has to, committing the fallacy of equivocation, as I said before. This also deals with P2 - that LA don't fall into the category of existence since they are the NATURE of all things that exist.

Pro's rebuttal to the fallacy of division is incomplete. He rightly points out that there are times when this doesn't apply, but neglects to show that this is one of these times. As for what the properties of LA say about their source, consider this:

My mind can conceive of abstract objects
My mind can conceive of physical objects

What does this tells us about mind? That it's both abstract and physical? No. My mind can also conceive of chocolate, this doesn't tell us that my mind is tasty. If Pro's argument tells us anything, it would be tentative at best, & since he has only deferred his argument to authority (another fallacy), it tells us nothing. But this is the bridge of TAG from LA to their source - God. If such an important step in the argument can only really hope to be a weakly pointed direction (at best), instead of, say, a logically deductive necessity, Pro has a huge problem - one which he must address.

= = = The futility of TAG = = =

On the futility of TAG, Pro answers by saying I have missed the point of TAG, that:

"TAG isn't about trying to prove that LAs exist so therefore God exists."

Pro also says that he agrees LA are axioms & that accounting for LA was ridiculous. Notice that in round one, in a section called the "TAG mission statement", I quoted Slick saying that the aim of TAG is to create a situation where:

" The only way to account for . . . LA is by postulating God's existence." (5)

But the thing is, Pro even agreed to this, calling my characterisation of TAG at this point (which the statement above was part) to be an "excellent primer", going on to say that he would be using Slick's "general outline". Even the title of the debate suggests I am right here. So it seems Pro shares my sentiment that accounting for LA is utterly ridiculous, but fails to realise that this is the whole basis of the TAG argument - thus TAG's whole contention is predicated upon what Pro himself calls something "foolish". Notice further futility of TAG, accounting for LA with something which is itself unaccounted for - God.

= = = Epistemology = = =

On epistemology, how would the Christian know that the law of identity was an example of an LA (even conceding the argument to this point)? Is it in scripture? No. So what other means does the Christian posses - let's hear it. Be it revelation, or other forms of knowledge, this point is both unsubstantiated & controversial, & as TAG's ontology argues for a merely "a" God (not exclusively Christian), then answers to this problem will inevitably contradict. Heck, even deism is an option from TAG's ontology, which would certainly be incompatible with all methods of knowledge (e.g. revelation). This is no small problem.

= = = TANG = = =
Clearly evil was an emotive example here, so I'll use another. Now here I am just going to quote Slick:

" The LA are a part of God's nature & essence. God cannot make A be not A anymore than God can lie or stop being God, because God has a certain nature, & He must operate in a manner consistent with His own nature. God cannot make a squared circle because it is a logically impossible thing." (6).

Now, if LA are ONLY a part of God's nature, then making something logically inconsistent (making A = not A, or a squared circle) should be no different that making something which can lie. Clearly, God can make something which can lie, so why not a squared-circle, as according to Slick, both are equally inconsistent with God's nature.

TBS continues:

"So God should be able to create a squared circle, which is no more inconsistent with His nature than lying is, as you (Slick) just explicitly said (in the quote above) . . .

Thus we can conclude:

"While the inability to lie is the nature of God specifically, logical consistency is the nature of God & everything else which could or does exist. In other words, it is the NATURE of existence of all things that exist to be what we call logically consistent." (7)

Conclusion - not only can God not account for LA, but LA are redefined to my contested definition by Slick himself, thus defeating TAG.

Now point 2 of TANG can be expressed much more clearly:

P1 - If God's nature is bound by LA, He cannot account for LA.

P2 - God's nature is bound by LA

C - God cannot account for LA.

Clearly, if God is to be considered logically consistent, then He has to conform to LA. If God's nature is bound thus, & he cannot change it (God cannot be both God & not God at the same time for example), then not only are LA still unaccounted for, but it would seem God cannot be their source, as He Himself is as bound by them through His own nature as anything else. Conclusion - God cannot account for LA. LA are still unaccounted for.

= = = Conclusion = = =
It is clear to me that even in trying to tackle some of my problems already, TAG requires many assumptions that are just wrong or at least controversial, & that Pro argues his position as if one of consensus, while at many times, I just completely disagree with many of his key points. Now it is not enough to merely win all the individual battles of the various points, but to maintain the essence of TAG. Pro has done neither - he even disagrees with the most fundamental aspect of the argument - it's aim!

Sources
(1) TBS youtube video, "Slick Logic", (4) (7) "Borrowing worldviews"
(2) http://www.thefreedictionary.com..., (3) ibid/universal
(5) Matt Slick youtube video shown in round 1, (6)
Debate Round No. 3
popculturepooka

Pro

Response:

==========
Argument from Ignorance?
==========

I think this is easily dealt with. I'm not arguing from the basis of what we don't know about Las or God to the existence of God as a precondition; I'm arguing from what we DO know about LAs (all of the essential properties I laid out in my second round) to God.

==========
Fallacies of TAG?
==========

Con is correct when he states that him distinguishing between conceptual LAs and existent LAs seems to be where most of the clash comes from. I think the reason for this is two-fold: 1) Con artificially separates the concept of the *nature* of a thing/the *nature* existence from the concept of essences when in reality they are the same thing, and 2) it's not at all clear what Con is speaking of when he talks of the existence. I think when it's clarified what exactly existence is and how nature and essence are the same thing my objections stand.

1):

A definition of "nature" that most captures what we are talking about: "1. the fundamental qualities of a person or thing; identity or essential character". [1]

Some definitions of "essence "from the *very own source* that Con posted in round 3: "the characteristic or intrinsic feature of a thing, which determines its identity;***fundamental nature***." Here's another one: "the unchanging and unchangeable ***nature*** of something which is necessary to its being the thing it is; it's necessary properties." [2]

Note in the second definition it mentions necessary properties. These are the equivalent to essential properties which are properties "...of an individual just in case that individual has the property in every possible circumstance in which the individual exists." [3] Also further note that properties are usually widely construed as UNIVERSALS (sound familiar?): "...To say that properties are universals is to say that the selfsame property can be instantiated by numerically distinct things. On this view it is possible for two different apples to exemplify exactly the same color, a single universal." [4] They are usually construed as universals for good reason, too, which is what the apple example illustrates. Con seem to already accept that properties exist.

With that out of the way it becomes clear that when Con says talk of essences and universals fails he is mistaken. I think it's just missing the fact that Con's position implicitly commits him to their existence but Con just misses the implication.

This also deals with Cons objection that LAs don't fall into the category of existence because, as I've shown above, the NATURE of something(s) ("all things that exist") simply just IS the conjunct of all essential properties. If properties exist (and Con seems to think so) then it follows that LAs exist. Con's distinction between existence and nature of existence fails. Furthermore, it would mean there is no distinction between conceptual LAs and existent LAs. Even furthermore, this would mean there is no fallacy of equivocation as I referring to exactly the same thing throughout my arguments. So, despite Con's protestations he is committed to the existence of LAs as abstract objects.

2):

The way Con treats the term "existence" is just strange. He argues as if "existence" is some singular term or thing where we can derive a "one-size-fits-all" nature for "it". I explicitly argued in round 3 that existence simply IS the aggregate of all things with actual being and that there are different modes of existence - i.e. something can exist in the mind or something can exist outside the mind. Neither one is NECESSARILY more "real" than the other. So when Com claims that LAs are simply the nature of existence I'm left confused - what kind of existence does he mean here? I know that it would be coherent to place LAs in the nature of rational beings like God (where logic is a process of the mind) but I have no idea what to make of the suggestion that LAs make up the nature of existing things like matter which is inherently non-rational.

==========
Futility of TAG?
==========

Con's argument here all relies on what he means by "accounting for". Typically speaking when you are trying to "account for" something in philosophy you take it as a given that that thing exists. Then from that data you figure out what conditions make that something intelligible. I never said nor implied that accounting for LAs is ridiculous; what I said is I don't argue for their existence because it's a given that they do exist. To deny them is to refute yourself. Note: not arguing for their existence is not the same as agreeing that accounting for LAs is ridiculous. Given the properties of the LAs that I laid out in the 2nd round I maintain that only God makes them intelligible because God has the properties that could If it is agreed that LAs are conceptual, and I showed why Con's earlier distinction doesn't work, then they would have to instantiated by a mind. If we agree that LAs don't exist in time and space then we agree that they couldn't be instantiated by anything material as material things are necessarily located in time and space, etc. God has all these properties therefore it's sensible to account for LAs by saying God is the necessary precondition of them.

I'm not exactly sure how God is "unaccounted for" - it's typically said that God is a necessary being who is self-sufficient (i.e. not dependent on anything else). God accounts for himself.

==========
Epistemology
==========

Here Robert Adams is useful: "And that opens the way for another explanation of our knowledge of necessary truths: an explanation in terms of divine illumination. Suppose that necessary truths do determine and explain facts about the real world. If God of his very nature knows the necessary truths, and if he has created us, he could have constructed us in a way that we would at least commonly recognize necessary truths as necessary. In this way there would be a causal connection between what is necessarily true about real objects and our believing it to be necessarily true about them. It would not be an incredible accident or an inexplicable mystery that our beliefs agreed with the objects in this." [5] I don't see why LAs have to be explicitly spelled out in scripture or whatever for this argument to work - presumably people thought something can't not be identical with itself long before Aristotle formalized the logical expressions.

In return I ask the same question I have asked for several rounds: even granting LAs simply are the nature of reality - how do we get to know them without God?

========
TANG?
========

A lot of this criticism relies on Con's previous point about the LAs being the nature of existence and not things with a nature. I showed earlier how this is a false distinction.

Con's other main claims here are 1) that God should be able to create logically inconsistent things if his nature is the source of LAs and 2) God cannot account for LAs because he is bound by them.

1) It's one thing to have an internal logical contradiction (a square circle) it's quite another have an external logical contradiction which is the relation of two things to each other which shows that that relation is impossible. It's no logical contradiction for God to create beings that are capable of lying simply for the fact thatthey are not omnibenevolent like God is. Omnibenevolence constrains some things that God can or can't do.

2) Again this relies on ambiguous usage of the phrase "accounted for". I have explained in what sense God "accounts for" the LAs. To say God can't account for LAs because he's bound by his own essentially rational nature is like saying idealism can't account mental experiences because by nature everything is a mental object under idealism.

========
Sources
=========

In comment section.
unitedandy

Con

= = = Intro = = =

In the end of the last post, I intimated that Pro would be unable to answer all the objections of TAG - & I was right. There are numerous important points which have been somewhat neglected, So even at this stage, TAG fails.


As for the argument from ignorance, I specifically asked how God’s nature would account for LA, with Pro replying that the attributes of God & LA were somewhat similar. But Pro has failed to show how God's nature accounts for LA. As philosopher Doug Krueger puts it:


“ If your argument fails to explain something, then it’s just plain not an explanation.” (1)


= = = Fallacies and flaws of TAG = = =

The objection over essences & such has consumed much of the debate, so who’s right? While essences are fundamentals to an object (2), LA are fundamentals to existence. A=A not because of some law or rule which itself exists, but because it is the nature of A to behave that way (3). Therefore, the distinction is one of behaviour (nature of existence) & ontology (essences), which are CATEGORICALLY DIFFERENT! But to concede Pro’s argument for a second - that LA are essences, & so they do in fact exist, even still essences are not CONCEPTUAL by nature, but are :


“ . . . things which the mind may grasp, but not mental entities.” (P378). (4)


So here still, the cLA & the existent LA are still divided, even if we accept Pro’s argument . He seems to win the battle & lose the war. And we see this division when Pro distinguishes “logic” - “a process of the mind” from LA - an essence. This is essentially (sorry) parallel to what I have been arguing all along - that TAG may be able to defeat most or even all objections, but to do so it has to do what all bad arguments do - it has to differentiate definitions, content and even its own aim and by doing so by flaunts, ironically, one of the rules it uses as evidence of God - the law of identity. Now of course, if my rebuttal is successful, not only is P2 falsified, but P1 doesn’t even make sense.


= = = Futility of TAG = = =

Here, Pro successfully defends many of his key points. I still think this at odds with Slick’s version of TAG, but, Pro’s argument has been a good deal better than Slick’s. But in the very last sentence, over accounting for God, he gives the game away. He says that “God accounts for himself”. But if God can be described as a necessary being, why not just account for LA as being necessary preconditions to existence, in which LA are the way they are necessarily. A always equals A, in all possible worlds. Such a position, in fact would be stronger, because as Kant noted, while denying LA is self-refuting (a point elucidated by Pro), denying God is not. So one would have seemingly good grounds for dismissing TAG outright.


Lastly, it seems not that logic presupposes God‘s existence, but God presupposes logic‘s existence, for the same reason I said before - in order to presuppose anything (including God), things like the law of identity are assumed, whether we realise it or not.


= = = Epistemology = = =

On epistemology, the problem here is assumption . . . IF God exists & IF LA exist, & IF He was interested in human affairs, & IF He deemed it necessary to do so, then He MAY illuminate these truths IF He could find some way to communicate with us. And this is the problem - too many assumptions. But worse than this, Pro seems to contradict himself. He refutes my scriptural objection by saying that LA are self evident:


“ I don’t see why LA have to be explicitly spelled out in scripture or whatever for this argument to work - presumably people thought something can’t not be identical with itself long before Aristotle . . . “


And then asks me,


“how do we get to know them (LA) without God?”


Pro assumes that the truth of LA are both self-evident and that they require God’s intervention. This is a contradiction. Either we can know them without God, or we can’t. If LA are self-evident, we don‘t need God, if LA are not self-evident not, we may need God. Again, TAG becomes different, depending on the situation. I would answer that we know LA because not only do they appear to describe all things which exist and have never been falsified, but they appear to be necessary truths. God seems superfluous. This is perhaps the only point of the argument where I feel Pro is significantly weaker than Slick. While Slick ignores or at best merely implies epistemology, Pro attempts to use this to his advantage, but instead invites more objections to TAG.


= = = TANG = = =

1) On point 1, I actually agree with Pro here, but this response from Pro again has consequences. The first point is that although we both agree with each other, we both disagree with Slick, who made the equivalence between external and internal contradiction. This is a minor point. The major point is the consequences of Pro’s position, which seems to entail that logical consistency is necessary for ALL things, while God’s nature (his omnibenevolence and so on) only applies to Him. Yet if Pro is to account for LA by God’s nature, how can something that exists be opposed to God’s nature (like lying) and not be logically impossible, as both stem from God’s nature. I take the obvious answer to be that because, while omni benevolence is a feature of God’s nature, logical consistency is a feature of all things that exist - including God’s nature (God cannot be all-powerful and impotent). Again this has been my position all along. The final point regards the point of LA being accounted for by God’s nature because they share the same attributes (transcendent, absolute, conceptual, etc). If this is the case (as TAG argues), then surely things which are not transcendent, not absolute, not conceptual come from a different source.


2) Pro intimates here that God’s nature being bound by LA doesn’t necessarily disqualify Him from being the source of LA. Firstly, it is intuitive that this would be the case, & indeed seems to be the case for all other “laws” which God created. Secondly, we seem to have a infinite regress of LA. If God’s nature accounts for LA, and thus why things are consistent with themselves, what accounts for why God’s nature is what it is? And so on, ad infinitum.



= = = Conclusion = = =

On many points, Pro has actually won his case and refuted many of my objections. However, far too often, Pro has either dropped key points (fallacy of division & the bridge between the properties of LA and their source - both left unresolved, dropped by Pro in R4), changed TAG for different purposes ( aim of TAG, epistemology), as well as being unable to show his approach as superior to mine (what LA are).



= = = Sources = = =




3) Theoretical Bullsh!t youtube video "Slick Logic"

4) Grayling, A.C, (1975), Philosophy 1, Oxford University Press, UK.



Debate Round No. 4
76 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Jay_Walk 3 years ago
Jay_Walk
Im curious what would be Andy's position called with his stance on the ontology of Logical Absolutes. Since its a realist position (I guess even though he says they are not a "thing") it can't be nominalism, fictionalism, etc. Is it objectivism?
Posted by popculturepooka 4 years ago
popculturepooka
lol
Posted by Kinesis 4 years ago
Kinesis
Hmm, I need to give this a (fake) rfd. It looks epic.
Posted by unitedandy 6 years ago
unitedandy
Sure thing.
Posted by popculturepooka 6 years ago
popculturepooka
I was thinking it'd be a cool debate tournament, to be honest...
Posted by unitedandy 6 years ago
unitedandy
Yeah, I've grown fond to some self-harm, or so it seems. Seriously though, I've not seen any apparent weaknesses in the argument that I've felt couldn't be overcome, so I thought I'd try it out against you, knowing that if anyone on this site could point the flaws in it, you could. Anyway, if we were to debate it, we could leave it alone for the moment, and wait to see the outcome of the debate tournament, or just go full steam ahead, and try and organise it now and debate it in a couple of days time.
Posted by popculturepooka 6 years ago
popculturepooka
I'd love to debate the ANB with you, unitedandy.
Posted by unitedandy 6 years ago
unitedandy
Just like to thank pop for the debate and everyone who read and voted. Also, hopefully in the debate tournament, we'll get paired up at some point, as I would love to try and defend one of my own arguments against pop, such as the ANB.
Posted by popculturepooka 6 years ago
popculturepooka
Oh yeah, you did -sorry.

I just don't agree with that at all. But I don't feel like arguing about it in a done debate. *shrug*
Posted by unitedandy 6 years ago
unitedandy
Pop,
I think there may be other bits and pieces I made on this point, but in my last post in the debate, I responded:

"The objection over essences & such has consumed much of the debate, so who's right? While essences are fundamentals to an object (2), LA are fundamentals to existence. A=A not because of some law or rule which itself exists, but because it is the nature of A to behave that way (3). Therefore, the distinction is one of behaviour (nature of existence) & ontology (essences), which are CATEGORICALLY DIFFERENT! But to concede Pro's argument for a second - that LA are essences, & so they do in fact exist, even still essences are not CONCEPTUAL by nature, but are :

" . . . things which the mind may grasp, but not mental entities." (P378). (4)

So here still, the cLA & the existent LA are still divided, even if we accept Pro's argument . He seems to win the battle & lose the war. And we see this division when Pro distinguishes "logic" - "a process of the mind" from LA - an essence. This is essentially (sorry) parallel to what I have been arguing all along - that TAG may be able to defeat most or even all objections, but to do so it has to do what all bad arguments do - it has to differentiate definitions, content and even its own aim and by doing so by flaunts, ironically, one of the rules it uses as evidence of God - the law of identity. Now of course, if my rebuttal is successful, not only is P2 falsified, but P1 doesn't even make sense."
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Reasons for voting decision: That was deep thinking, I had a hard time keeping up. Good arguments on both sides. I understood the videos more than anything. The second one, I think the Atheist guy put out an impossible scenario: what if there was a univ. that was the same as this univ. except there were no minds. That is impossible. The argument they were talking about proves that. Although that may itself be faulty reasoning.
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