The Instigator
Noumena
Pro (for)
Losing
22 Points
The Contender
philochristos
Con (against)
Winning
35 Points

The Kalam Cosmological Argument is unsound

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 17 votes the winner is...
philochristos
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/18/2013 Category: Religion
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 5,526 times Debate No: 29333
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (52)
Votes (17)

 

Noumena

Pro

===Definitions===


The Kalam Cosmological Argument (KCA) is as follows:

(1) Everything that has a beginning of its existence has a cause of its existence.
(2) The universe has a beginning of its existence.
Therefore:
(3) The universe has a cause of its existence.
(4) If the universe has a cause of its existence then that cause is God.
Therefore:
(5) God exists.[1]


God is defined as the personal originator of all that exists. Here the common characteristics of benevolence, omniscience, and omnipotence will not be included as the argument under scrutiny here ignores them.


For an argument to be sound means that it is valid (its premises necessitates its conclusion) and all of its premises are true.


===Rules===


1. Drops will count as concessions.
2. Semantic or abusive arguments will not be counted.
3. New arguments brought in the last round will not be counted.
4. Per Con's request, he'll post his preliminary argument in R1.


===Sources===


[1] http://www.philosophyofreligion.info...
philochristos

Con

Another KCA debate. Yay!

Preliminaries

Pro defined God as "the personal originator of all that exists." Since God could not have created himself, I want to tweak this definition to say, "the personal originator of the universe."

1. Everything that has a beginning of its existence has a cause of its existence.

The meaning of the first premise

Most things that begin to exist do so ex materia, but the KCA is more interested in beginning ex-nihilo. Although this first premise refers to both, I think we should focus on beginning ex-nihilo, though I'll briefly defend the more general principle.

There are two types of causes. A material cause is the material out of which an object is made, and an efficient cause is whatever brings about the change. For example, if I carve a bowl out of a piece of wood, the wood is the material cause, and I am the efficient cause.

I take the first premise to mean that whatever begins to exist has a cause, either of one kind or another. It doesn't specify which kind of cause each thing must have. This is relevant because the typical counter-examples that are raised against the first premise include pair production and radio active decay. According to some interpretations of quantum physics, these events entail the beginning of certain particles without efficient causes. However, these events do have material causes, so they are not counter-examples of the general principle.

If the first premise were tweaked to refer only to things which begin to exist apart from material causes, then the cause would have to be efficient. In that case, even if virtual particles begin to exist without efficient causes, they would still not serve as counter-examples since the tweaked first premise excludes them from its field of reference.

a priori defense

There are things we grasp by a rational intuition. For example, if two straight lines intersect, the opposite angles will be equal. We don't have to experiment to discover this to be universally true. We only need to grasp it. But not all things that can be known by rational intuition are known by all people. For example, some people rationally grasp why the Pathagorean theorem is necessarily true, but other people just memorize it and trust their math teacher.

The notion that it's impossible for something to spontaneously come into existence uncaused out of nothing is part of our rational intuition. One need only explore the idea in their minds to grasp that this is a necessary truth. It could be that the reason some people don't accept this premise is because, just like the case of the Pathagorean theorem, they can't "see" it. But that is no reason for those of us who do grasp it to have any doubts. This is something we can know with certainty.

If it were possible for something to spontaneously come into existence uncaused out of nothing, then there would have to be a potential or a probability that something could come out of nothing. Probabilities depend on initial conditions, so that would mean 'nothing' had properties. To have properties is to exist, so it would mean 'nothing' is actually 'something,' which is a contradiction.

a posteriori defense

Science is driven by a desire to know why things happen the way they do. When we observe something in the world, we want to know what caused it. With time and effort, we often are able to discover the cause. So we can inductively infer that there are causes to all events--even the ones whose causes we have yet to discover.

Most physicists subscribe to indeterministic interpretations of quantum physics, which entail undetermined events, such as radio active decay and pair production/annihilation. But it is a mistake to infer that because an event is indeterminate that it is therefore uncaused because indeterminate events have probabilities. The probabilities are determined by initial conditions, so those initial conditions serve as causes, albeit insufficient causes. Sufficient causes entail 100% probability in their effects, but insufficient causes entail less than 100% probability of their effects. The fact that particular isotopes have fixed half lives shows that radioactive decay is not completely a-causal.

2. The universe has a beginning of its existence.

The meaning of the second premise

For this debate, I'll define the universe as the sum total of all space, time, and energy. If there is a multi-verse, then it is included in "universe."

Usually, when something begins, it is preceded by a time in which it didn't exist. However, the universe could not have been preceded by such a time since time itself had a beginning. There could not have been a time before time in which time didn't exist because that's a contradiction. We must mean something different when we say the universe began to exist than when we say most other things began to exist.

What we mean, essentially, is that the universe has a finite past, and there is no state of affairs in which the universe exists timelessly.

The impossibility of forming an infinite set by successive addition

1. If the past had no beginning, it would be composed of an actually infinite collection of equal intervals of time.
2. An actually infinite collection of equal intervals of time cannot be formed by successive addition.
3. The past was formed by successive addition.
4. Therefore, the past cannot be an actually infinite collection of equal intervals of time. (from 2 and 3)
5. Therefore, the past had a beginning. (from 1 and 4)

I think the only controversial premise is 2. The reason the second premise is true is because there are no two finite numbers that you could add and reach infinity. The sum of any two finite numbers is always another finite number.

The grim reaper paradox

Suppose that time had no beginning and that during each hour in the past, a grim reaper (GR) was created and set to kill you at 12pm + 1/n minutes, where 'n' is the number of the reaper.. If you are alive when a GR goes off, it will kill you instantly, but if you are already dead, it will do nothing. With this set up, there is no first GR because each GR has a GR before it. It follows that no GR can kill you, yet you can't survive a moment past noon. Therein lies the paradox. If the past is beginningless, then the GR scenario would be possible, but since it's not possible, the past must have a beginning.

3. The universe has a cause of its existence.

This follows from 1 and 2.

4. If the universe has a cause of its existence then that cause is God.

Since we are defining God as "the personal originator of the universe," and since we have already argued that the universe had an originator, all that remains is to show that the originator is a person. For the purpose of this debate, I'll define a person roughly as a mind.

Nothing can create itself, so the cause of the universe must be other than the universe. Since the universe is the sum total of space, time, and energy, the cause of the universe must be spaceless, timeless, and immaterial.

Disjunctive argument from minds and abstract objects

The only things that could have such properties are abstract entities (e.g. numbers, propositions, etc.) and minds. Since abstract entities do not stand in causal relations, the cause of the universe must be a mind, which means it's a person.

Only minds can create ex nihilo

When we act on purpose, a mental event causes the action. My intention to type is the reason my fingers move. Only substances have causal powers, and my mind has causal influence over my brain, so my mind is a distinct substance from my brain. It is an immaterial substance.

When a particle at rest begins to move, it has kinetic energy that it did not have before. That energy has to come from somewhere. Since minds are not composed of energy, the only way they can have causal influence in the world is by creating energy ex nihilo.

Since minds are the only entities known to have this ability, the best explanation for the beginning of the universe is a very powerful mind.

Therefore, God exists

This follows from 3 and 4.
Debate Round No. 1
Noumena

Pro

===Deconstruction of the Con case===


Before I begin, I think it necessary to outline which parts of Con's argument I take issue with and which parts I see no reason in refuting either because I happen to agree or because they hold little relevance to the debate given my other counters. The first premise of the argument (beginning necessitating cause) will be the one I will focus most of my argument countering. And since without the first premise, the rest of the argument necessarily falls apart, parsimony dictates that we focus on that the most. This will give both my opponent and myself ample space to hash out the first premise as precisely and clearly as possible. Con's "mind" argument "infinite succession" point are doubtless interesting in themselves and worthwhile debate topics for another time. However, I don't see refuting them as necessary if Con's defense of P1 can be shown to be flawed from the start.


I sincerely hope that my opponent (and readers of this debate) won't take offense to this and think that I'm being lazy with this debate. I just hate debates with too many simultaneous lines of argumentation and I think this single point has ample room for philosophical debate.


P1: Everything that has a beginning of its existence has a cause of its existence.


a priori defense.


Con's defense of P1 from an a priori perspective is vulnerable to the same criticism of other supposedly a priori truths and leads us into the problems with foundationalism itself. When someone claims that we can grasp the truth of something purely by means of intuition, they are necessarily leaving out of the discussion the concept of empirical verification or support (from the definition of a priori). So all we have is our intuition. The problem is though that intuition fails as an inter-subjective justificatory methodology.


For instance, I can *claim* that I just happen to know that when two straight lines intersect, that the two opposite angles will not be equal. You would obviously disagree but there wouldn't be any inter-subjective line of argumentation available to use to try to convince me otherwise (without first relying on other inter-subjectively accepted a priori truths). Intuition only works as justification when it is shared by everyone. When it isn't (and this is usually the case), as far as argumentation is concerned it's nothing more than conjecture. And unfortunately for my opponent, that's exactly what it is in his a priori defense of the first premise.


a posteriori defense.


Con has taken to attempt to refute a common a posteriori counter to the first premise (by way of quantum mechanics). I assure my opponent that this will not be necessary to explore further as I have no intention of defending that line of argument here. Instead, I plan to critique the methodology itself employed by my opponent, that of inductive inference ot universal truths.


David Hume was among the first to recognize the problems with employing induction to arrive at necessary truths. He observed famously that even watching the Sun arise every morning, it fails to give us sanction to ascribe to its rising any necessity. The problem described here is known as the problem of induction. It states that: "The problem is how to support or justify them and it leads to a dilemma: the principle cannot be proved deductively, for it is contingent, and only necessary truths can be proved deductively. Nor can it be supported inductively—by arguing that it has always or usually been reliable in the past—for that would beg the question by assuming just what is to be proved."[1]


As stated above, inductive inference poses a two-fold problem of justification. It cannot be proved valid by deduction given that inductive inferences fail to pose necessary truths. Nor can it be proved inductively without recourse to circularity and hence incoherence. Therefore, any line of reasoning jumping from noted contingencies (i.e., events happening to exhibit causes) to necessity (ALL events MUST have a cause) proves itself unwarranted.


===Conclusion===


Con's arguments for P1 have both been shown wanting in terms of argumentative support and justification. In both lines of argument, Con's arguments have rested on presumed and unstated premises which have been left unsupported. On the a priori foundation, Con has stumbled into the problems associated with foundationalism and non-inferential truths. On the a posteriori foundation, Con's argument is left vulnerable to the problem with inductively justifying universal, metaphysical truths. Thankfully though, this debate will allow us to explore these two important epistemological concepts and their relation to the Kalam argument.


I now pass the debate back over to Con.


===Sources===


[1] http://plato.stanford.edu...
philochristos

Con

A deductive argument can be unsound for one of two reasons--either it's logically invalid, or one or more premises are false. Pro only needs to refute one premise to refute the whole argument, so we can't fault him for not addressing all of my arguments. However, debate rules: "Drops will count as concessions." For the purposes of this debate, he has conceded all but the first premise.

1. Everything that has a beginning of its existence has a cause of its existence.

a priori defense

I argued that there are foundational items of knowledge we have that we know by rational intuition, the first premise being among them. Specifically, we can know by rational intuition that ex nihilo beginnings requires efficient causes.

Pro responded by attacking a priori knowedge by rational intuition. Before addressing his arguments, let me give a more robust defense of a priori knowledge.

Most of what we know is inferred from something else we know. If everything we know must be inferred, then all of our premises must be inferred as well. And the premises from which we infer our premises must also be inferred. Etc.

One of two things can happen at this point. Either we will get ourselves into an infinite regress trying to justify all of our premises, or else we can finally arrive at a set of premises that can be known to be true without having to infer them from anything prior. If we get into an infinite regress, then knowledge is impossible because it's impossible to complete a beginningless series of inferences in order to arrive at a present state of knowledge. So the only way knowledge is possible is if there are some items of knowledge that don't have to be inferred from anything prior.

The claim that we must be able to prove something before we can know it is self-refuting. It leads to global skepticism, which is the view that knowledge is impossible. If knowledge is impossible, then we can't know that any of the premises that lead to our global skepticism are true, nor that global skepticism follows from those premises. And we certainly can't know that we must be able to prove something before we can know it.

Since the claim that we must be able to infer something from prior premises before we can know it is self-refuting, it must be possible to know things a priori.

If Pro wants to bite the bullet and admit that we can't know anything, then his whole case against the KCA fails. If we can't know anything, then we can't know that his case against the KCA is sound. So if Pro rejects a priori knowledge, then his case against the KCA is self-refuting because he undermines the necessary preconditions to launch a case against the KCA.

Now, I just ask you to be honest with yourself. Can you not close your eyes and rationally "see" that if A is bigger than B, and B is bigger than C, that A is bigger than C? And can you not see that this transitive property is universally true without having to go out in the world and verify it?

There are some things you know with certainty that you don't infer from anything else. If you think of a number between 1 and 10, you know which number you're thinking of. You know that 2+3=5. You know that the law of non-contradiction is true. Not only do you know these things without having to prove them, but you know them with absolute certainty.

Pro thinks the mere fact that somebody can claim opposite angles of intersecting lines are unequal is enough to refute a priori knowledge. But it's clearly not. People claim all kinds of silly things. There are people who deny the law of non-contradiction, but does that honestly cause you to doubt it? If somebody claimed that 2+3=6, would that cause you to doubt that 2+3=5? Surely not!

I already pointed out in the last round that just because something can be known by rational intuition, it doesn't mean it will be known by all people. So I have already responded to Pro's argument even before he made it.

Pro thinks that if there's no way to adjudicate between competiing knowledge claims, that those claims cannot be known by intuition. But again, I already responded to this when I explained that just because something can be rationally known doesn't mean it will be known by all people. The fact that somebody else doesn't grasp the truth of math, logic, geometry, or the causal principle is no reason for any of us who do grasp them to have doubts.

If a person is unable to work out in their mind why something is true, it is possible to get them to see that it's true. For example, in the case of the Pythagorean Theorem, you can demonstrate it by drawing triangles on a sheet of paper and using algebra.[1] Once the person "sees" it, they recognize that it's a necessary truth that will apply to any right triangle anywhere in the universe.

Likewise, I attempted to show that the notion that something cannot come from nothing without a cause is a necessary truth by showing that its denial entails a contradiction. Pro ignored that demonstration.

a posteriori defense

Pro's only response to my a posteriori defense is to deny the validity of induction. That is quite the bullet to bite! Most of what we know is through induction. If induction were not a valid way of knowing, then it would be impossible to learn anything from experience. Science could not tell us anything about the world. Experiments could tell us nothing.

Pro claims that David Hume showed the problems with induction. What David Hume actually showed was that the principle of induction (i.e. that the future will resemble the past) cannot be proved because the only way to prove it is to assume it, and that is circular reasoning.[2] The only way to deny induction on that basis is to assume that the only way we can know something is to prove it. But I already demonstrated above why that position is self-refuting.

The principle of induction is part of our a priori knowledge. I just ask the reader and Noumena if you honestly doubt it. There is a tendency when people sit around talking about philosophy to play games by entertaining the most absurd ideas, but I want you to be honest with yourself. Think of all the things in your own life that you rely on knowing, and that you know because of past experience. Are you harboring any serious doubt about whether fire will burn you in the future? Are you harboring any serious doubt that the earth will continue to spin tomorrow? Are you harboring any serious doubts about whether gravity will continue to keep you on earth tomorrow?

Hume showed that the principle of induction cannot be proved, but he did not show that it was false. He did not even show that it could not be known. It is only by assuming Hume's empiricism that we can conclude it can't be known, but that argument ought to be taken as a reductio ad absurdum against Hume's empiricism.

Hume's argument against miracles rests on the principle of induction, so he obviously didn't deny the principle.[3]

Conclusion

The resolution of this debate is that the KCA is unsound, so Pro has the burden of showing that the resolution is true. To be unsound, the KCA has to either have a false premise or invalid logic. He has dropped (and thereby conceded) everything but the first premise, so this entire debate rests on the first premise.

Even if Pro's arguments so far are all sound, it does not amount to a refutation. At best, it shows that we cannot know that the first premise is true. If it's true, but we don't know it, then the KCA is still sound. To show that the KCA is unsound, he needs to show that the first premise is false, which so far he hasn't attempted.

It's hard to imagine how he'll do it at this point either because he has dropped all of the arguments from quantum physics that I addressed. Those are usually what people use to attempt to disprove the first premise. Remember, drops count as concessions.



[1] http://www.cut-the-knot.org...

[2] http://www.marxists.org...

[3] http://www.fordham.edu...

Debate Round No. 2
Noumena

Pro

===A priori defense===


Con's arguments comes down to two points. First, foundational beliefs are necessary for the grounding of knowledge, and, second, the grounding of knowledge is necessary given that the alternative (global skepticism) is unjustifiable. Con makes some other minor points as well but they mostly relate to these two points so I'll handle them together most likely.


Con's first point is that foundational beliefs are necessary to ground knowledge given the problems associated with infinite, ungrounded (hence unjustified) inference claims. This is actually where most of his a priori defense comes from, the supposed necessity of foundatonalism. However, he spends much less time defending the causal principle itself. Even if Con can show that some sort of foundational beliefs MUST be accepted upon pain of contradiction (for instance the cogito), he still hasn't shown why the causal principle is among these. I can freely accept this principle but go on denying that the causal principle is among these necessary foundational beliefs.


Con next responds to the problem I raised last round of inter-subjective justification. The nature of truths which can only be known by "intuition" lends itself to a problem with argumentative justification. The very fact that these truths are non-inferential and are supposedly the basis of argument means that they can't be justified inferentially (with reasons or evidential support). Con's point that something being justified doesn't mean everyone will recognize it is irrelevant to the question. If we are having a debate and you argue for a position, you may not expect others to assume your premises by simply stating them and hoping the other rationally intuits them as well. Just pointing out the obvious (ontological truth =/= people accepting it) doesn't change that and Con hasn't offered up a sound response to this.


There is actually a way around this fortunately. And that is by recourse to non-contradiction. Some principles can't be denied under pain of contradicting one's self, therefore, even though they can't be deductively or inductively proven, we're forced to accept them regardless. The mistake Con makes here is to equivocate propositions which we "intuitively" know and propositions which we are forced to accept if we expect to remain within the realm of rational thought. Doubtless these two sets might overlap, but they certainly don't necessitate one another. For instance, a proposition such as causality may be "intuited" by my opponent, however, he isn't forced to accept it without contradiction. I admit that certain propositions (Descarte's cogito among them) must be assumed on threat of contradiction. However, Con has failed to show why the causal principle finds itself in this set.


The non-contradiction point also gets around Con's reductio to skepticism in light of his mis-statement of my position (that we need inferential justification for ALL beliefs). My point was simply that Con hasn't posed any inter-subjective reasoning to support the existence of an a priori causal principle. Non-inferential beliefs can still exist as the above shows, those which discarding results in contradiction.


===A posteriori defense===


Con's first line of defense is to assume that the failure of induction necessitates the failure of science or experiential reasoning. This is false considering Karl Popper's philosophy of science known today as "Critical Rationalism"[1]. I don't want to get too off topic but it's necessary to fully refute this point from my opponent. The problem of induction shows both our epistemological limits as well as the methodological flaws of early modern empiricism. The flaw stemmed from relying on a verificationist model of human knowledge as opposed to a falisiable one. On critical rationalism, knowledge is gained in a sense by repeatedly subjecting our knowledge claims to rational scrutiny. So long as we follow reliable scientific methods and the proposition fails to be refuted, we are justified in holding to that view. The problem of induction, on critical rationalism, clearly allows for both the progress of science and the existence of experience-based knowledge (though knowledge defined in a different paradigm).


Con's next point isn't really an argument, more him pulling a bit of pseudo-"common sense" into this debate. However, (I don't understand why I even need mention it) in a debate of philosophic nature such as this one, it's unwarranted to appeal to the reader's subjective feelings without recourse to any arguments for the validity of those feelings. Just saying "You know you agree with me" isn't an argument and I implore Con to refrain from employing such means in future rounds. Just claiming that induction is part of our a priori knowledge and attempting to prove it by asking readers to "feel" it is not an argument.


Con makes some more points about Hume specifically and his reaction to the problem. For instance, he claims that Hume relied on induction for his arguments concerning miracles. I'm not entirely sure of the relevance here. Hume introduced the problem into philosophy, just pointing out that he was either inconsistent or used it in a different way than I am here doesn't refute the validity of the points being raised. On whether we need accept Humean empiricism to accept the validity of the problems raised by induction, I simply refer my opponent to the last round where I explained the problem. Induction as a principle of inference cannot be known inductively (circularity) or deductively (categorically different types of truth claims). I implore Con to show where Hume's empiricism need be assumed and why it is wrong specifically if he is to make such claims.


===Conclusion===


Con here mistakenly claims that my points have not amounted to a refutation. However, my points have gone to show (if successful) that we have no valid reason to think that a metaphysical causal principle exists. My inductive argument does this implicitly by showing the problems with inference of universal laws (physical or metaphysical) on a verificationist-type epistemology. Furthermore my foundationalism point calls into question putting the causality principle into the realm of necessarily accepted/justified beliefs. That's why I didn't just refute Con's individual reasoning on each premise from his R1. P1 allowed for me to bring unique problems to the debate which the KCA cannot account for. Con claims I haven't attempted to show P1 false. However, I ask, can P1 be true if my application of the inductive problem along with the critique of foundational truths holds up? Obviously not. Con mistakenly presumes I don't have a case when my case is what we exclusively focused on in this round.


===Sources===


[1] http://www.iep.utm.edu...
philochristos

Con

I agreed in the comment section that since I went first, this would be my conclusion. In the next round, I'll just say, "This space intentionally left blank." That gives us both an equal number of posts.

The burden of proof was not established by the rules of this debate, but I think there has been an implicit shared burden of proof. Since Noumena is "Pro" in a debate whose resolution is "The KCA is unsound," he bears the burden of proving that it is unsound. And since I have gone first in this debate, defending the KCA, I have implicitly agreed to bear the burden of proving that the argument is sound.

To prove that the argument is sound, it is my burden to show that the argument is logically valid and that its premises are all true, which I did in my opening.

To prove that the argument is unsound, Pro had to either show that the logic is invalid or that at least one of the premises is false.

In his opening, Pro dropped all points of contention except the truth of the first premise. Since the rules stipulate that drops count as concessions, this debate came down to whether the first premise is true. If I succeed in showing that it is true, then I should win this debate. If Pro succeeds in showing that it is false, then he should win this debate.

I pointed out in the rebuttals that Pro had not even attempted to show that the first premise is false. Instead, all he did was try to show that my arguments for the first premise were unsound. In response, he said, "However, my points have gone to show (if successful) that we have no valid reason to think that a metaphysical causal principle exists." There are two problems with this response.

First, even if it is true that there is no valid reason to think the first premise is true, that is not enough to say that the first premise is false. It could be true, and we just have no way of knowing it. Pro still has not given us any reason to think the first premise is false, which means he has not carried his burden of proof in this debate. And since the rules stipulate that "New arguments brought in the last round will not be counted," Pro has no hope to win this debate (unless somebody votes improperly). The best he can do is tie the debate, and he can tie it if he successfully undermines my arguments.

Second, Pro's points, even if sound, do not show that "we have no valid reason to think" the first premise is true. At best, all they show is that my arguments are not sound reasons to think it's true. There may be other arguments we haven't considered yet.

In my opening, I gave two arguments for why we should think the first premise is true. One was an a priori argument, and the other was an a posterior argument. In his opening, Pro responded to the a priori argument by attacking the whole notion of a priori knowledge, and he responded to the a posteriori argument by attacking induction. So, in the rebuttal period, I defended the only things he attacked--a priori knowledge, and induction.

A priori argument

In his rebuttal, Pro said, "Even if Con can show that some sort of foundational beliefs MUST be accepted upon pain of contradiction (for instance the cogito), he still hasn't shown why the causal principle is among these." The reason I only defended a priori knowledge in my rebuttal is because that's the only thing he attacked in his opening. He never attacked the claim that the causal principle was a rational intuition.

But he is mistaken to say that I haven't shown the causal principle is part of our a priori knowledge. I did so in my opening. In fact, I did so just as he thought I should--by showing that it must be accepted upon pain of contradiction. Pro has ignored that argument throughout this debate. Since I showed that denying the first premise entails a contradiction, and since Pro has not responded to it, and since new arguments don't count in the last round, I ought to win this debate.

Pro insists that I have not adequately addressed the problem of "inter-subjective justification." That is, if you disagree with your opponent on a point that can't be inferred, then at best, you're left at an impasse. But that is not so. You can get somebody to rationally grasp something without inferring it. I used the Pythagorean theorem as an example.

Pro goes on to say that you can get around the problem of "inter-subjective justification" by recourse to non-contradiction. But that's exactly what I did in my opening, which Pro ignored. Besides that, the law of non-contradiction is, itself, part of our a-priori knowledge, and we obviously can't appeal to that law to prove itself. Nevertheless, Aristotle does use two illustrations to show that it is true[1], which technique is similar to mine in showing that the first premise is true.

Pro's argument is also fallacious because it leads to absurdity. If we must infer every item of contention in a debate, then it would be trivially easy to win any debate in which the burden of proof is on your opponent. Just say, "Nuh uh!" to everything your opponent says. Then, he'll be forced to prove his premises, and you can say, "Nuh uh!" to whatever premises he uses to prove his premises. You can do this throughout the debate, and if he cries foul, you can just appeal to Noumena's "inter-subjective justification" argument.

A posteriori argument

In my rebuttal, I showed that denying induction leads to absurdity because it makes it impossible to learn anything from experience, it makes science impossible, and experiments could tell us nothing. I further explained that all Hume succeeded in doing was showing why induction could not be proved.

In his answer, Pro suggested Carl Popper's "critical rationalism" as a way for science to work even given the "problem of induction." But if you read carefully what Pro said, applying the criteria of falsification instead of verification doesn't solve the problem. It, too, depends on induction. The fact that our hypothesis hasn't been falsified in the past is supposed to give us some confidence about whether it will work in the future. That is induction. Whenever you extrapolate your experiences in the past to the future, you are reasoning inductively.

Pro misrepresents me in appealing to the readers' "feelings" about the inductive principle, but I made no appeal to feelings whatsoever. Rather, I appealed to your sense of reason and your experiences. I asked you to be honest about it and think of all the cases in your own life where you depend on induction. I also asked Pro to be honest about it. If you'd rather play games and pretend that you don't live your life ever day as if induction were a valid way of reasoning, then I don't have anything further to say about that.

The relevance of Hume using induction in his argument against miracles is to show that Hume did not deny induction in spite of having shown that it can't be proved. That was meant to bolster my claim that it's fallacious to conclude that induction is invalid just because it can't be proved.

Pro really hasn't given us any reason to doubt the validity of induction. His overriding point seems to just be that it can't be proved. What I meant to argue is that it doesn't need to be proved because all of us, if we'll just be honest about it, already believe it. Even Pro believes it, which is evident in the fact that he uses is continuously. Nobody can live without using induction.

Conclusion

Thank you for coming to tonight's debate. This was kind of an interesting debate to me because it started off in the broad area of theology and cosmology and ended up being a debate largely over epistemology. I hope you enjoyed it.

And thank you to Noumena for an interesting debate that deviated from the norm. It is nice to see a new twist on an otherwise tired old debate.

[1] http://plato.stanford.edu...

Debate Round No. 3
Noumena

Pro

First, I'd like to thank Philochristos for agreeing to debate this with me. He defended the KCA remarkably well in spite of having to deal with objections which normally don't come up in this tired old topic. I'll make this round a bit shorter since it's meant mostly as a conclusion to our arguments.


Burden of Proof.


Again, my points *did* go to show that Con's premises were false. On his a priori defense, I showed the epistemic problems with extrapolating ultimate foundational criterion, and furthermore, in extrapolating the causal principle as among them. If Con fails to defend his claim against this, then I have shown the futility of a priori arguments for P1 just as I would have done if I had brought a counter-argument for, say, the existence of parts or objects that are a-causal. On Con's a posteriori defense, I further showed the incoherence of induction, instead supplanting it with a falsificationist methodology. As with the first point, this one shows that Con's methodology is severely flawed.


I think the confusion on Con's part here stems from his insistence on staying within the "normal" framework for most KCA debates. That is, debaters generally only argue from a metaphysical standpoint. I've done things differently here, insisting on holding the premises up to an epistemic justificatory lense. Can we even prove them? My arguments, if successful, show that we cannot. So I need not argue metaphysics proper in order to win this debate, I need only to show why they cannot be rationally justified. This doesn't amount to me just saying Con's specific arguments are false (thus leaving room for further arguments in support), but amounts to a full-scale refutation of the entire methodology and epistemic presumptions behind the argument. My arguments are meant to show that the KCA is an unsound attempt at proving its conclusion because its premises are inherently unsupported or unprovable.


A priori Defense.



On Con's problem of "impasse" I detect a bit of misinterpretation on my opponent's part. My point was that appealing to intuition itself doesn't argumentatively help in justifying a proposition. The "Pythagorean Theorem" point is a bad example and in fact presumes going back to non-contradiction as its foundation. You must accept so and so because the opposite entails contradiction is exactly what I'm saying. But that's very different from Pro's methodology wherein one accepts so and so *because* it is intuited. Con has failed to defend this methodology against the problem of inter-subjective justification.


Con is confused (perhaps understandably) about my methodology in choosing the law of non-contradiction as my starting point. And while not necessarily relevant to this debate, a little bit of explanation might be in order to clear up any confusion. Non-contradiction doesn't necessarily filter into knowledge since it can't be justified by recourse to anything other than itself. However, argumentatively it's impossible not to assume. Contradictions may or may not exist externally from us but we'd have no way of knowing, and worse, we'd have no way of arguing for that being the case.


Con is attacking a strawmann *again* in describing my position as that inference is the only sound way to debate around an issue. In fact, if you look at the "impasse" point directly above this you can see that I defended non-contradiction as an argumentatively necessary alternative.


Con also constantly alludes to some a priori argument for causality in his P1. I've read through it several times and fail to find one of any sort. Con provided arguments for (1) us rationally intuiting causality which I responded to, (2) an argument from potentiality/probability which was responded to in my refutation of the first point i.e., attacking the epistemic presumptions behind it, (3) that science relies on induction, responded to by critical rationalism, and (4) that the universe had a beginning which as both my opponent and myself have agreed, is irrelevant if I can show that P1 is false.


A posteriori Defense.


Con's attack on critical rationalism attacks a strawmann of the position, not anything it actually claims. Yes, we are still left a blank as to the problem of justification even assuming the falsification standard has been adhered to. But the point is that Popper's system leaves "foundationalist epistemology" entirely. Hume's problem of induction showed that trying to ground a posteriori beliefs with certainty is inherently fallacious. So instead, we just change what we look for as a standard. This isn't running away from the problem since one also leaves out claims to ultimate certainty in scientific problems. One simply accepts scientific conclusions tentatively, as they are always open to revision.


Con's reliance on how we act in the everyday world is furthermore irrelevant to this debate. I'll admit that we generally rely on this in our everyday goings. Green lights have always meant go, so when I see a green light I "know" instinctively that that means I'm free to pass. But jumping from this to philosophical soundness of the principle is quite the leap my opponent is trying to make. We act on this principle, and perhaps there's no way we could ignore it, but that doesn't mean it's philosophically justified and my opponent has failed to show that it is.


Con's overarching point then, is that we don't need to prove induction to be a valid principle to operate on, because we already do it regardless. This would be akin to me saying that we *have* free will because we already presume that we have it. Our subjective inclinations, however "natural" they may be, are no substitute for a rational defense of principle. And that, Con has failed to provide.
philochristos

Con

[This space intentionally left blank.]
Debate Round No. 4
52 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 1 year ago
Rational_Thinker9119
"(1) Everything that has a beginning of its existence has a cause of its existence.
(2) The universe has a beginning of its existence.
Therefore:
(3) The universe has a cause of its existence.
(4) If the universe has a cause of its existence then that cause is God.
Therefore:
(5) God exists.[1]"

Non-sequitur. God could have ended his existence simultaneously with T=0 as the universe began. "God exists", does not follow from "God caused the universe"...
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 1 year ago
Rational_Thinker9119
"(1) Everything that has a beginning of its existence has a cause of its existence.
(2) The universe has a beginning of its existence.
Therefore:
(3) The universe has a cause of its existence.
(4) If the universe has a cause of its existence then that cause is God.
Therefore:
(5) God exists.[1]"

Non-sequitur. God could have ended his existence simultaneously with T=0 as the universe began. "God exists", does not follow from "God caused the universe"...
Posted by YouShallKnow 1 year ago
YouShallKnow
This debate was indeed very informative! Though I have read many KCA debates before, I've still have learned many things here, also because the contention mostly revolves around epistemology which is not quite common, but quite interesting, and as should just be.

But despite of it, yap, I also am wondering why people wants to attack the first premise, when it seems to me it is of the most obvious. I think the weakness lies on the second premise, namely, in showing that the universe began to exists some point in the past.

In this point, I wonder if philoscristos have already been acquainted on this excellent attack of popculturepooka against the traditional justification for KCA's premise 2, namely, to the impossibility of the instantiation of an actual infinite as well as the traversal of it (http://www.debate.org...). Though, I've first read the neat articulation of this criticism from exapologist (http://exapologist.blogspot.com...; http://exapologist.blogspot.com...), they (PCP) both maintained it (just the mere possibility, which is sufficient an attack against the proposed impossibility) through various traditional objection, hence seems to succeed in undermining the said justification. And of course, there are other lines of criticisms against it (premise 2).

Nevertheless, it surely would be very exciting if philocristos would stand as Con on the said debate (Infinite Time) with PCP!^^,
Posted by phantom 1 year ago
phantom
Part. 3

For a posteriori justification, pro doesn't rely on the quantum mechanics argument as con predicted but uses namely Hume's problem of induction. I think the crux of pros argument as he proposed in his first round, could be stated as that induction cannot prove necessary truths, whereas the principle of sufficient reason, if true, is a necessary truth and thus can't be proven with an a posteriori argument. While more was added and taken away throughout the debate, to me this was probably the most important part of the argument and one I've used myself before.

Upon reaching the a posteriori part of the argument again, I immediately notice con strawmans pro's argument from the problem of induction. From what I recall, pro's point was that induction cannot provide us with necessary truths. This is not a complete rejection of induction, rather just a limit on it. Pro also proposes Poppers theory, but for me, that's not as important since I think applying it against necessary truths is sufficient enough to refute con.

Pro also notes his position is not that foundationalism must be false, but that all he needs to argue is that the principle of causality is incorrect/unjustified.

In conclusion, I do think pro fairly solidly one the debate, though well done to both sides.
Posted by phantom 1 year ago
phantom
Part. 2

Con supports a defense of a priori reasoning by saying that intuition solves the infinite regress. This I do hold at least a very similar position to though I suppose I believe it entails a more skeptical outlook than con does at least in the conclusions he lead it to in this debate. Con's objection does not really address the entirety of pros point. Everyone agrees and shares the same intuition regarding the basic geometrical and mathematical necessities and thus those truths can be relied upon more with intuition. The same does not go for the principle of sufficient reason, or universal causality....whatever you want to call it. Pro stated in his first round that, "Intuition only works as justification when it is shared by everyone." If I was the only person who believed 1 plus 1 equaled 2, personally I'd be rather skeptical of my rational intuition so I do agree that the number of those who share common intuition is important.

Con: " The reason I only defended a priori knowledge in my rebuttal is because that's the only thing he attacked in his opening." -> False. I only recall him attacking the sort of intuition argument you were making and not even refuting intuition as a whole just that you could not use it in this case for his argument.

Con: "showing that it must be accepted upon pain of contradiction. Pro has ignored that argument throughout this debate." -. Incorrect. I do remember pro responding to this.
Posted by phantom 1 year ago
phantom
Part. 1

First off, though I really didn't see that sh!t load of tests and quizzes in all my classes last week, I have to apologize for taking so long to vote on this debate when I said I would do it a while ago.

=RFD=

I think there was some confusion in the debate between both sides which also probably lead to my being at least partially confused at times, so sorry for any misrepresentations though I did try my best.

Soooo, let's start with the BoP first!

I'm not sure I understand con's point on the burden of proof entirely. Pro's burden is to prove the argument is non-sound. While I think pro would have been better off offering perhaps an attack on causality through quantum physics or some other more direct means, pro did undermine the soundness of the argument by supporting an entirely skeptical view of premise one. For the argument to be sound, premise 1 needs to be true. Pro did not necessarily have to prove it was false because an agnostic position clearly succeeds in undermining the soundness of the argument. So an entirely epistemological attack is enough.

=Args=

Pro chose only to refute premise 1, so that's where all the contention laid. Specifically the whole debate could be divided up into a discussion about a priori justification and a posteriori justification of premise 1.

Con argues an a priori/intuition based support fore premise one. Pro first counters this contention arguing there isn't justification in relying on intuition to support premise one. While intuition may be the source of our belief for basic geometrical principles, those intuitions are shared by everyone whereas here there is much disagreement. I think he may have differed a bit latter on, but I think that was his initial objection.
Posted by phantom 1 year ago
phantom
I'll try to vote on this this week.
Posted by philochristos 1 year ago
philochristos
I agree with your counter, John.
Posted by johnlubba 1 year ago
johnlubba
I countered Jarhyns Vote, I am willing to alter my vote if you guys think his RFD is not biased and semantical, as I found it to be.
Posted by philochristos 1 year ago
philochristos
Roy, I'm the one that raised an objection to your vote. I think Noumena just agreed with me. The problem is that you're voting on arguments that were never brought up in the debate. You're supposed to vote on the content of the debate, not your own arguments.
17 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Vote Placed by KingDebater 1 year ago
KingDebater
NoumenaphilochristosTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Con used the most reliable sources and had stronger arguments - his priori and posteriori defences.
Vote Placed by Nur-Ab-Sal 1 year ago
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Reasons for voting decision: I loved this debate. While I found many of Pro's points strong, Con's case was simply more compelling -- I believe Con won both his a priori and his a posteriori defense. I don't see how any rational voter could find Pro's rejection of a priori knowledge reasonable, since no rational person denies the law of non-contradiction (which Pro accepted later on...), and Con demonstrated a rejection of P1 was a self-contradiction in his opening case. As such, Con already won. Anent a posteriori knowledge, Pro attacked Con's appeal to our everyday use of induction to justify a posteriori principles with Hume's problem of induction. But Con's central point was that there is no reason to invalidate induction, and the criteria for falsifying induction rely on induction as well. So although Pro made interesting points, in the end, Con was victorious.
Vote Placed by Daktoria 1 year ago
Daktoria
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Reasons for voting decision: Con is convoluted. Pro is less convoluted. Pro contradicts oneself over the (albeit SIMPLE) argument of point 1. He never explains the rational intuition of why things that exist must have a cause. The successive addition argument made later is also backwards. The past is constructed from successive subtraction of a preexisting infinite set. "Addition" is simply a measurement technique, not an actual construction. Grim Reaper argument is also gibberish. It doesn't say why "you" cause the GR to be created. Con also doesn't explain how minds can create (not imagine or craft) ex nihilo either. On the other hand, Pro forfeits so many points and makes no sense over foundationalism; causes ARE foundations. Literally, causes found everything else. The a posteriori argument is gibberish. Yes, the problem of induction exists. No, you don't talk about induction when it comes to deducing causes. Conduct goes to Pro for just being slightly less nonsensical. Nobody made a convincing argument.
Vote Placed by phantom 1 year ago
phantom
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Reasons for voting decision: Reason for Decision in the comments section (Comment #47)
Vote Placed by johnlubba 1 year ago
johnlubba
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Reasons for voting decision: Counter Jerhyn. Who semantically constructed an RFD which makes no sense. It's only fair.
Vote Placed by proglib 1 year ago
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Reasons for voting decision: What a great debate! On rereading, I give the arguments points to Con. GarrettKadeDupre and Smithereens stated the reasons well enough, IMHO.
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 1 year ago
RoyLatham
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Reasons for voting decision: The KCA is a silly argument from incredulity which modern cosmology has completely defeated. It endures solely by virtue of the desire to believe it. Pro's arguments are correct.
Vote Placed by DeFool 1 year ago
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Reasons for voting decision: " the KCA is an unsound attempt at proving its conclusion because its premises are inherently unsupported or unprovable." This represents the challenge in this debate. According to Con, this would be accomplished if Pro "either show(s) that the logic is invalid or that at least one of the premises is false." I feel that Pro did well enough in arguing that evidence to support each premise is missing. Philo Cristos did remarkably well in his use of clear and understandable language, which rendered his case much easier to follow. The "this space intentionally left blank" gesture forces me to award a conduct point to Con.
Vote Placed by unitedandy 1 year ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Countering GarretKadeDupre.
Vote Placed by Smithereens 1 year ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Con managed to prove by the end of the debate that rational intuition via induction was a justified method to examine the validity of the first premise, Pro's counter-arguments slightly missed the mark and did lesser damage to the KCA then what Con did in its defense. Good debate, well done.