The Instigator
gizmo1650
Con (against)
Losing
7 Points
The Contender
popculturepooka
Pro (for)
Winning
19 Points

The Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/18/2010 Category: Religion
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,176 times Debate No: 12570
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (10)
Votes (6)

 

gizmo1650

Con

I recently came across a new (or old) arrangement for the existence of god, found here:http://www.carm.org.... Pro will take the position of defending this argument, in the form i provided. I will point out some of the flaws in round too.
popculturepooka

Pro

I'm not exactly sure what I'm supposed to do in the first round but I'll give it a try....

I will be defending the Transcendental Argument for God's existence (hereafter TAG) and I just want to make it a little clearer what's going on with this argument.

Obviously, TAG is a transcendental argument (hereafter TA) , but *what* exactly is a TA? A TA 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.

We can do a similar thin with the TAG in case of the laws of logic:

P1) For logical laws to exist God would have to exist as God is a necessary precondition of logic.
P2) Logical laws exist.
C) Therefore, God exists.

That God is a necessary precondition is shown by conceptual analysis of what it means to be a law of logic and what kind of properties the laws of logic possess and by showing that all non-theistic attempts to account for the laws of logic fail.

Some properties of the laws of logic would be conceptual, absolute, truth-preserving, etc.

As for making the initial case I will just quote Matt Slick: "Logical absolutes exist. Logical absolutes are conceptual by nature, are not dependent on space, time, physical properties, or human nature. They are not the product of the physical universe (space, time, matter), because if the physical universe were to disappear, logical absolutes would still be true. Logical Absolutes are not the product of human minds, because human minds are different, not absolute. But, since logical absolutes are always true everywhere, and not dependent upon human minds, it must be an absolute transcendent mind that is authoring them. This mind is called God." [2]

I turn it over to my opponent.

==========
Sources
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[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] http://www.carm.org...
Debate Round No. 1
gizmo1650

Con

Your short summary shows the point i challenge "For logical laws to exist God would have to exist as God is a necessary precondition of logic."
In the quote you provided, Matt Slick claims logical absolutes are conceptual, which i challenge.
" Logical absolutes are conceptual by nature, are not dependent on space, time, physical properties, or human nature."
by the structure of the sentence it seems like he means conceptual to be the opposite of being dependent on space, time, physical properties, or human nature, which i agree they are not
However by incorrectly using the word conceptual he implies that a mind is required for logical absolutes to exist, which i challenge.

To challenge his paper (which you are defending) directly
His big conclusion to show god must exist is:

A. person's thoughts reflect what he or she is.
B. Absolutely perfect thoughts reflect an absolutely perfect mind.
C. Since the Logical Absolutes are transcendent, absolute, are perfectly consistent, and are independent of the universe, then they reflect a transcendent, absolute, perfect, and independent mind.
D. We call this transcendent, absolute, perfect, and independent mind God.

The problem lies in point C.
He goes from perfect thoughts reflect a perfect mind to Logical Absolutes reflect a perfect Mind.
For this to work he must show that Logical Absolutes are thoughts.

He attempted this in section 6.
before i continue, does this argument make sense- a causes b and b is c therefore a is c.
This is his first argument (slightly re-ordered and shown below) for Logical absolutes being conceptual.
Argument one "Logic is a process of the mind. Logical absolutes provide the framework for logical thought processes. Therefore, Logical Absolutes are conceptual by nature."

argument 2 for Logical absolutes being conceptual:
Logical absolutes are either conceptual by nature or they are not-i'll concede to this
he shows that they can not be non-conceptual by asking the question "what is their nature".
their nature is logical, constant, absolute, anything i can use to describe them.
In order for this argument to hold you must show that they do not have a 'nature'

I will also show how they can not be conceptual by nature.
because you are defending Slick's paper you have already granted his argument "If they are conceptual by nature, then they depend on mind for their existence."(6.b.i.a)
consider a universe without any minds. according to this arguments the Logical Absolutes would not exist here. Clearly this is not so. In this hypothetical universe is a cloud a rock. No, therefore the law of identity still applies even without any mind existing.
popculturepooka

Pro

I'll jump right into it. Con basically makes only one argument in the previous round.

Con: "However by incorrectly using the word conceptual he implies that a mind is required for logical absolutes to exist, which i challenge."

The definition of concept is:

–noun
1.
a general notion or idea; conception.
2.
an idea of something formed by mentally combining all its characteristics or particulars; a construct.
3.
a directly conceived or intuited object of thought. [1]

Take careful note of the above definition of the word concept. A notion or idea is necessarily had by a mind; so is an idea formed mentally; so is thought. Note that if logical absolutes are concepts then *by definition* they have to be instantiated by a mind. So, Con seemingly is left in a dilemma. Either agree that logical absolutes are conceptual in nature and therefore agreeing that a mind is required for logical absolutes to exist or deny that logical absolutes are conceptual which them seems absurd. If logical absolutes aren't conceptual, what are they? Them being physical is out of the question so it seems that Con is left with thinking that logical absolutes are abstract objects [2] that just exist "out there", so to speak, in relation to neither physical reality or minds or to anything else really.

Indeed, Con seems to think this when he says:

"consider a universe without any minds. according to this arguments the Logical Absolutes would not exist here. Clearly this is not so. In this hypothetical universe is a cloud a rock. No, therefore the law of identity still applies even without any mind existing."

In this quote he seems to be making that claim. The problem is that this commits him to some kind of Platonism where abstracta (like logical absolutes) just exist and that's that. Why is this a problem? Well, because abstract objects by their very nature don't cause anything. They are causally ineffective. The number 2 doesn't cause anything on Platonism - it just exists. Why is THAT a problem, you ask? Well, because that means we could never know anything. Think about what it means to "know" something that is external to ourselves. It means we enter into some kind of relational or casual relationship - one where information transfers between the object of knowledge and the knower. What this means is that if logical absolutes are external to minds they would be immaterial, abstract objects that can't cause anything. They couldn't cause our knowledge of logical absolutes then. So, if Con's position is true we could *NEVER* know anything about logical absolutes much less imagining them existing in some universe "without any minds". Let me repeat: we'd be entirely ignorant of logical absolutes if we accept Con's line of argumentation. This is obviously false; we do have knowledge of logical absolutes. Therefore, Con's argument about considering a universe without any minds but with logical absolutes "applying" would become incoherent to suppose as we wouldn't even know what logical absolutes are on his position!

So, in summation Con's claim that we could imagine a universe without any minds is incoherent if we accept that logical absolutes are conceptual by their very nature - because if they are conceptual they *must* be instantiated by a mind and if we think we are imagining a universe without any minds we are really mistaken. We maybe imagining a universe without any human minds but that does not phase the TAG as the proponent would just say you've aptly just demonstrated why there would need to be an ultimate, transcendent mind to think of these logical absolutes. As Thomas Aquinas was wont to say, "and this everyone understands to be God".

[1] http://dictionary.reference.com...
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...
Debate Round No. 2
gizmo1650

Con

In my previous round i have demonstrated how TAG requires logical absolutes to be a product of the mind, with no objection. Therefore, the question becomes are Logical Absolutes the product of the mind.
Pro objected when i said conceptual was used incorrectly. To clarify, i was referring to the following line:
"Logical absolutes are conceptual by nature, are not dependent on space, time, physical properties, or human nature."
given that this is the line where he defines conceptual, the only relevant definition is "not dependent on space, time, physical properties, or human nature"
My argument that con objected to was "by incorrectly using the word conceptual he implies that a mind is required for logical absolutes to exist, which i challenge."
Pro refutes this by saying "if logical absolutes are concepts then *by definition* they have to be instantiated by a mind."
this would be true using the correct definition of conceptual, however TAG did not show that logical absolutes met this definition. What it did show was that they are "not dependent on space, time, physical properties, or human nature" and called this conceptual.
Pro refutes my hypothetical argument by saying that if logical absolutes are non-conceptual we could never know them. The problem is that we can have a concept of something that is non-conceptual. For example, an apple is not a concept, but I still have a concept of an apple.

Pro concludes "Con's claim that we could imagine a universe without any minds is incoherent if we accept that logical absolutes are conceptual by their very nature"
I agree, the debate is now about if they are conceptual by nature.
"We maybe imagining a universe without any human minds but that does not phase the TAG as the proponent would just say you've aptly just demonstrated why there would need to be an ultimate, transcendent mind to think of these logical absolutes."
can you explain how i demonstrated there would need to be an ultimate, transcendent mind.

I would like to close with 2 questions for con.
1. Is it possible for a universe with no minds to exist.
2. In this hypothetical universe, is a cloud a rock.
The observant reader will notice that this is the same argument from last round. This is because pro still has not answered my question. What he seems to say is that in a universe with no minds nothing is preventing a cloud from being a rock.
popculturepooka

Pro

Jumping right into it:

Con: "this would be true using the correct definition of conceptual, however TAG did not show that logical absolutes met this definition. What it did show was that they are "not dependent on space, time, physical properties, or human nature" and called this conceptual.:

Actually if you take a look at what Slicks says here in his expanded argument:

"Logical Absolutes are conceptual by nature.

1. Logic is a process of the mind. Logical absolutes provide the framework for logical thought processes. Therefore, Logical Absolutes are conceptual by nature. " [1]

And you look at the definition of concept again:

"–noun
1.
a general notion or idea; conception.
2.
***an idea of something formed by mentally combining all its characteristics or particulars; a construct.****
3.
a directly conceived or intuited object of thought." [2]

It would seem that Slick did have the correct, or similar, definition in mind of what concept or what conceptual means. What he was doing is going beyond the definition and doing a conceptual analysis and drawing out the consequences of what it means for something to be "conceptual in nature".

Con: "Pro refutes my hypothetical argument by saying that if logical absolutes are non-conceptual we could never know them. The problem is that we can have a concept of something that is non-conceptual. For example, an apple is not a concept, but I still have a concept of an apple."

That is not exactly what my argument was. What I said is that Con's position commits him to some kind of Platonism if he's going to deny that logical absolutes are conceptual. Then taking the position of Platonism that would entail that we could never know what logical absolutes are if they exist in the platonic sense. But obviously we do have knowledge of logical absolutes therefore Con's position is incoherent and logical absolutes most be conceptual.

In any case, Con's rebutting analogy is really disanalogous because an apple would is a concrete object [3] - not an abstract object. So we could have knowledge of that even if it is non-conceptual.

Con: "can you explain how i demonstrated there would need to be an ultimate, transcendent mind."

Con demonstrates this by leaving only one option besides conceptualism. Platonism. But platonism about abstracta is incoherent so we only have one option left to choose when considering the ontology of abstract objects.

Con: "I would like to close with 2 questions for con."

I'm assuming he meant Pro here.

Con: "1. Is it possible for a universe with no minds to exist."

Not if we accept that the laws of logic are necessary truths and exist in all possible worlds. For example, it wouldn't make sense to say that the law of non-contradiction doesn't apply or can't apply in other possible worlds because we have to presuppose the law of non-contradiction in order to deny it! Part of what it means to say anything is to imply that the opposite is not true. If I say "the cat is on the mat" it is implied that cat isn't not (yes, double negative) on the mat at the same time in the same sense. It would seem that the laws of logic apply in every possible universe. If we accept that claim and that they are concepts (as I argued that we have to in the preceding paragraphs) then it follows that a universe where no minds exist is impossible. We would need a mind that exists in all these possible universes to instantiate the laws of logic. This sounds a lot like what theists say when they claim that God is a necessary being who exists in all possible worlds. [4]

Con: "2. In this hypothetical universe, is a cloud a rock."

No. Because if we accept the the preceding arguments that it is: a) impossible for the law of identity not to hold in any possible universe and b) impossible for a universe with no minds to exist then it is not possible for a cloud to be a rock.

Thanks for the debate, Con!

==========
Sources
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[1] http://www.carm.org...
[2] http://dictionary.reference.com...
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[4] http://plato.stanford.edu...
Debate Round No. 3
10 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by popculturepooka 6 years ago
popculturepooka
Err, nice vote bomb.
Posted by gizmo1650 6 years ago
gizmo1650
Please vote
Posted by popculturepooka 6 years ago
popculturepooka
I'm not particularly convinced of the form/some of the argumentation of this argument (although it's very similar to a conceptual argument that even Quentin Smith finds impressive) so this is kind of like playing devil's advocate for me. :)
Posted by gizmo1650 6 years ago
gizmo1650
whats that supposed to mean
Posted by Kinesis 6 years ago
Kinesis
Regardless of the quality of the argument, Pro is going to win. A lot.
Posted by Freeman 6 years ago
Freeman
"I will point out some of the flaws in round too."

This is an omen of bad things to come.
Posted by KRFournier 6 years ago
KRFournier
I've been using TAG in my debates since I joined a couple years ago.
Posted by Cody_Franklin 6 years ago
Cody_Franklin
Just from reading that first little "summary" paragraph, I can already see a huge problem.
Posted by popculturepooka 6 years ago
popculturepooka
Lower the rounds to 3 and I'll take it.
Posted by RoyLatham 6 years ago
RoyLatham
The Transcendental Argument is interesting. It is so convoluted that I wonder if anyone will take up the challenge of defending it -- but on ddo you can usually find someone to argue anything. Anyway, I see what seem to be serious flaws in the argument, but it could be a good debate.
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Cliff.Stamp
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