The Instigator
BruteApologia
Pro (for)
Winning
7 Points
The Contender
CGBSpender
Con (against)
Losing
1 Points

The Universe's Existence is Explicable

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
BruteApologia
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/12/2011 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,119 times Debate No: 17489
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (36)
Votes (2)

 

BruteApologia

Pro


I will defend the proposition that the universe as an existing "whole" can be thought to more plausibly have an explanation for its existence than its negation. In other words, is it more plausible to think that there is an explanation for why the universe exists or should we think the universe to more plausibly have no explanation for its existence? This is not a debate on what that explanation is (e.g, the necessity of the universe, God, multiverses, etc) but on what is in principle more epistemically plausible - an explanation or no explanation. The burden of proof should be mutual.



First round is for accepting only.


CGBSpender

Con

I thank my opponent for this debate. It should prove to be an interesting challenge.
Debate Round No. 1
BruteApologia

Pro

For this discussion, I will be claiming that it is at least more plausible to think the universe's existence has an explanation than its negation. So, without further ado, here's my argument:


1. A proposition is plausible if it has explanatory power.

2. If an inexplicable proposition has no explanatory power, then it is not plausible.

3. Inexplicable propositions do not have explanatory power.

4. Therefore, it is not plausible to posit inexplicable propositions.


For a proposition to have explanatory power in a plausible sense, it needs to explain why something exists through probability, reason, or observation. There are two kinds of explanations; either something is necessary by its own nature or it requires an external reason for its existence. Inexplicable propositions, on the other hand, are propositions that are said to simply be the case without any reason for why they are the case. These inexplicable propositions may possibly explain other facts, but this could apply to many other competing inexplicable propositions as well. For example, the fact that I have presents under my tree could be said to have appeared without any reason. Or perhaps Santa Claus popped into existence for a moment to deliver the presents but then vanished into non-existence for no reason. Both of these would trivially explain the fact that I have presents but I would have no reason for positing either of them to be true. On the other hand, I do have valid reason to think that my parents or family put the presents under the tree through observation.

Now, which one would you say is more plausible? I don't think it is difficult to understand that explicability should be the default position. Even if I did not observe who provided the gifts, it seems more plausible to think that it is explicable (regardless of whether we know what that explanation is) than to arbitrarily posit inexplicable propositions that have no reason for why we should think them to be true. What this suggests is that in order for someone to claim that an inexplicable proposition is true, you'd need to provide a reason why it is implausible or impossible for the universe to have an explanation. However, doing so would subject you to assuming premise (1) as true because you'd be providing an explanatory reason for positing an inexplicable fact. The universe in particular is known to exist because we have reason to think it does but to then propose that "it exists because it exists" just seems to be a useless tautology. It does not answer why the universe exists at all but instead begs the question. Even if the universe is eternal, that would still not answer "why" it exists.

Let me just distinguish here between having a reason to think that something exists and knowing why that thing exists. These two should not be confused, even if they are related. The former has to do with existence and the other has to do with causes. Perhaps the universe must exist or was caused to exist eternally/temporally. Both of these options qualify the quality or kind of existence in question. Logic would be an example of something that must be true because it cannot be false. On the other hand, a computer exists because it was created by humans, not because it has to exist by its nature. It may be argued that we cannot know what the cause of the universe is because it is beyond our scientific observation. This is not true as we can still infer or deduce a cause through reason. However, even if I was to grant this assumption, this only shows that we cannot know what the cause is. It does not tell us that it is implausible or impossible to think that it has some kind of cause. I hope that this was clear enough. Looking forward to your objections!

CGBSpender

Con

I thank m opponent for his arguments. I will begin by demonstrating what my opponent takes for granted in his argument and will proceed to the affirmation of my own side.

Explain:
1. to make plain or clear; render understandable or intelligible: to explain an obscure point. (1)
2. To offer reasons for or a cause of; justify: explain an error.
To offer reasons for the actions, beliefs, or remarks of (oneself). (2)

"1. A proposition is plausible if it has explanatory power.
2. If an inexplicable proposition has no explanatory power, then it is not plausible.
3. Inexplicable propositions do not have explanatory power.
4. Therefore, it is not plausible to posit inexplicable propositions."

The implicit assumption in this argument is that everything has an explanation, otherwise inexplicable propositions would have to be plausible. As explanation is a function of language, what is explainable must first be expressable. For example, the proposition "that painting is beautiful" is perhaps entirely unexplainable to someone who has been blind from birth, or to someone who has opposing views of what makes something beautiful. The proposition breaks down into "I find the painting beautiful because I find the painting beautiful." This has no real explanatory power and yet when peoples' terms of reference are different, it is the only way to explain the proposition. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder is perhaps the "explanatory" principle allowing people to explain their tastes this way, but it is merely an extension of the tauology.

Conclusion:
A0. A proposition is plausible if it has explanatory powers
A1. "Some things are inexpressable" has explanatory power
A2. Therefore "some things are inexpressable" is a plausible statement
A3. Explainable things must be expressable things
A4. As per (A1.) and (A3) some things are inexplicable

"Inexplicable propositions, on the other hand, are propositions that are said to simply be the case without any reason for why they are the case."

It has been shown above that inexplicable propositions ae not simply this. They are also propositions whose reasons are impossible to be expressed whether or not reasons exist becomes irrelevant.

"For example, the fact that I have presents under my tree could be said to have appeared without any reason. Or perhaps Santa Claus popped into existence for a moment to deliver the presents but then vanished into non-existence for no reason. Both of these would trivially explain the fact that I have presents but I would have no reason for positing either of them to be true. On the other hand, I do have valid reason to think that my parents or family put the presents under the tree through observation.
Now, which one would you say is more plausible?"

This is an unfair analogy because it deals with clearly knowable and expressable reasons. For it to be analogous to our resolution, we must already assume that the universe's cause has clearly knowable and expressable reasons. This makes the argument circular. My opponent must show why they are the same.

"I don't think it is difficult to understand that explicability should be the default position."

This is a highly-loaded normative statement. Faith, for example, in many worldviews, has a high value even above that of plausible explanation. If seeking explicability should be our "default position", I think it is incumbent upon Pro to show why.

"What this suggests is that in order for someone to claim that an inexplicable proposition is true, you'd need to provide a reason why it is implausible or impossible for the universe to have an explanation. However, doing so would subject you to assuming premise (1) as true because you'd be providing an explanatory reason for positing an inexplicable fact."

I do not see how this hurts con's side. Yes, it is necessary to explain why a proposition is inexplicable, but if that undermines con's side than this debate becomes impossible.

"The universe in particular is known to exist because we have reason to think it does but to then propose that "it exists because it exists" just seems to be a useless tautology. It does not answer why the universe exists at all but instead begs the question. Even if the universe is eternal, that would still not answer "why" it exists."

Any statement a person does make regarding anything "the cause of A" for example, must be tautolgous or else false. "The cause of A=B C and D only if B C and D are equivalent to the cause of A" Therefore any true statement must be in its simplt form "The cause of A is the cause of A". Indeed anything beyond the tautogy only works to complicate what is otherwise a clear, but almost always void of explanatory power, fact. Therefore, by giving reasons for anything, one must necessarily render a thing more complex and obscure, therefore it is impossible to satisfy the two provided definitions of explainable.

"However, even if I was to grant this assumption, this only shows that we cannot know what the cause is. It does not tell us that it is implausible or impossible to think that it has some kind of cause."

I agree with my opponent, in fact I am sure that there is a cause of some kind, however the resolution is whether the existence of the universe is explicable and so its reason must be expressable. Given this, my opponent must show how the reasons for the universe's existence are not only existent but knowable and expressable as well.

Now onto my own arguments.

1. The Limits of Language

"What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence." (3) This quote comes from the Pears/McGuiness translation of Wittgstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Largely considered to be the father of analytic philosophy, he studied the limits of language in deapth. This quote expresses the idea that certain things are inexpressable and given such are inexplicable, by showing that the cause of the universe falls into this category it becomes undeniable that the resolution of this debate is false.

Wittgenstein understood reality as comprising of facts. These facts are not objects, as a scientist or a materialist might think, facts are states of affairs. They are combinations, both actual and possible, of objects. Thoughts and propositions are representations of these "facts". He treated them as pictures and said that these pictures were "models of reality". He built on these ideas two criteria for a sensical proposition "First, the structure of the proposition must conform with the constraints of logical form, and second, the elements of the proposition must have reference (bedeutung)." (3) The reference here is the important thing to consider. It basically means that the meaning of the word comes from its social context (4).

Any proposition that concerns the outside of the universe offers us no frame of reference and so cannot be meaninful. Going back to the very beginning of this argument, it would be like trying to explain a colour to someone who has never seen colours or trying to convey what death feels like. The statements might meet the first criterion, but not the second.

In conclusion, my opponent has ommited an important element of explicability in all his arguments, namely, expressibility. The argument that our default stance should be explanatory is unsubstantiated and highly-loaded. Additionally, the analogy showing how it is always more plausible to explain something is somewhat abusive. Conversely, it has been shown that some things are indeed inexpressable and that the cause of the universe is necessarily one of those things. It has also been shown that explanations in general are contradictory in their purpose and at their base no different from non-explanatory tautologies.

(1) http://dictionary.reference.com...
(2) http://www.answers.com...
(3) http://plato.stanford.edu...
(4) http://en.wikipedia.org...
Debate Round No. 2
BruteApologia

Pro


I think some important clarifications are required here. First, we need to distinguish between ontology, epistemology, and language. Ontology is the study of being, epistemology is the study of how we come to know things, and language deals with how we express things. Second, explanations in the sense that I have used it refers to something that explains why another thing exists. It's important to note that I did not claim that "everything has an explanation" (nor was it implicit). Instead, the argument simply demonstrated that explanations are in general superior to brute facts (inexplicable propositions) in order to support a certain claim, namely that the universe is explicable. My formulation should demonstrate how this does not entail the plausibility of brute facts at all. To see this more clearly, observe the following counter argument that one would need to make:



1. A proposition is plausible if it has explanatory power.


2. If some explicable proposition cannot exist, then it must be inexplicable.


3. Some explicable propositions cannot exist.


4. Therefore, we must sometimes posit inexplicable propositions.



This is the only way in which a brute fact can be posited. Plausibility is thus inherently determined by one's explanatory power, which is what a brute fact would lack by definition. Now unless my opponent is prepared to deny premise one, it is simply not the case that "inexplicable propositions would have to be plausible". Rather, brute facts must be the only possible solution. Even if we suppose this to be too demanding, it is still true that the formulation I offered in the first round supports the claim that explanations are more plausible than brute facts. The only real assumption that matters here is what I stated in premise one. Lacking the assumption that "everything has an explanation" does not suddenly reverse this argument. At best it would only suggest that some inexplicable propositions are possible but it would not prove that they're plausible, such a claim would require an extra argument. This is precisely what my opponent attempts to do and is what I will now proceed to address.


The argument that my opponent has presented seems to equivocate between expressibility and explicability. The distinctions I previously made should help to illuminate this. To use the examples, a person could have eyesight and yet be incapable of expressing this because such a word did not exist. This is a linguistic problem. On the other hand, a person could have eyesight and yet be incapable of relating it to a blind person. This is an epistemological problem because the blind person does not know what it is like to see. Lastly, what is it that makes someone see is an ontological problem because it deals with the nature of being. Now as we can see (no pun intended), these are some rather crucial distinctions. Ontology is logically prior to epistemology, for without being you cannot know or be anything. And epistemology is logically prior to language, for without knowledge you cannot express anything. Now in practice we may use a combination of all three but this does not eliminate the differences. Something can exist without us knowing about it and consequentially we do not express it. However, this does not mean that a being needs our ability to know and express it in order to be what it is or to have an explanation for why it exists as it does.


We can further clarify by making a distinction between the different kinds of explanations. Something may have explanatory power in the sense that it accurately describes our ability or inability to know something, which is an epistemological explanation. On the other hand, something may have explanatory power in that it accurately describes our ability or inability (e.g, "Some things are inexpressible") to express something in words, which is a linguistic explanation. Finally, some other being may have explanatory power because it explains what makes X be what it is rather than not be, which is an ontological explanation. In all of these cases, we think them to have explanatory power precisely because it tells us something about something in different ways. If we apply these principles to my opponent's objections, we can clearly see that an explanation is not first a function of language but instead is first a function of ontology. Furthermore, I am only concerned with ontological explanations here. Whether we're capable of explaining our perceptions of beauty to another or to ourselves is irrelevant to this debate as those are strictly an epistemological and linguistic concern.


The fact that a painting is perceived as beautiful is still useful insofar as it explains what a person thinks of a painting. Tautologies are only useless when we ask a different question, namely why a person thinks that way. We can explain beauty by arguing that it exists objectively within a being or to appeal to some kind of mechanism in the brain that brought this about. The fact that a person does not know or can only appeal to a tautology is not a reason to think that there is no ontological explanation. Similarly, the fact that some things may be inexpressible does not make it inexplicable. That's a non sequitur. It is certainly explanatory to say that I cannot express how evolution works but that does not entail that evolution works inexplicably without any ontological reason. This is the same as saying that gifts can be explained by a Santa Claus that popped into existence and then into non existence. He argues that this is an unfair analogy because it deals with the knowable and the expressible whereas the universe is apparently neither of those. I have seen no persuasive argument for this other than to suggest that "some things are inexplicable" without showing how it includes the universe. Since we know the universe exists, I see no reason why the proposition that it has an explanation cannot be meaningfully expressed.


The next objection seems to misunderstand my position because I never said that our default position should be to seek explicability. Though, I do think that any worldview should have some kind of reasons for their faith. Nevertheless, people do put faith into a religion that affirms things that are otherwise currently unknowable to them but that does not mean that there is no explanation for those things. Such faith does not strictly contradict my position unless it is intrinsically irrational. To clarify another point, the fact that you need a reason to say a proposition is inexplicable is meant to be a proof of premise one. My opponent seems to agree, which means that he too must affirm that explicability is the default position. Later on he argues that "the cause of A" must be tautologous or false but I see no reason to think this to be true. I can assert that the cause of A is B and there would be no tautology. Strangely enough, my opponent then agrees that there is a cause of some kind. Not sure how he can deny causal statements as tautologous and then affirm it but if this is true, then it seems as if we agree that there is an ontological explanation. In which case, I do not see what there is to further discuss unless he wishes to reinforce his expressibility objections against my distinctions.


Lastly, my opponent appeals to Wittgenstein's argument from the limits of language. This still rests on the assumption that since we cannot express it that therefore it has no ontological explanation. Even if I assumed that it had some relevancy, I do not see how it is even a sound argument. The frame of reference that I appeal to is to general concepts like ontology that can be known logically and applied in all possible worlds. There does not seem to be anything inexpressible about the proposition "The universe has an ontological explanation" because I just meaningfully expressed it. So with that said, I hope this has clarified my position some more.


CGBSpender

Con

I thank my opponent for his response.

My opponent begins with a "clarification" that I fully accept, except where he states that language deals purely with how we express things. This is one function/definition of language, but certainly not the only thing language deals with.

Language- "Another definition sees language as a formal system of symbols governed by grammatical rules combining particular signs with particular meanings... The structuralist viewpoint is commonly used in formal logic, semiotics, and… the most commonly used… In the philosophy of language..." (1)

The important thing to note in this definition is its prevalence in philosophy and so its relevance to this debate.
"It's important to note that I did not claim that "everything has an explanation" (nor was it implicit). Instead, the argument simply demonstrated that explanations are in general superior to brute facts (inexplicable propositions) in order to support a certain claim, namely that the universe is explicable."

If one assumes that explanations are generally better (i.e. more plausible) than brute facts, one would have to assume that this is also true in the cases where there are no explanations for something. Of course it is ridiculous to say an explanation is more plausible when something has no explanation and so an explanation is not possible. Since this is ridiculous, the argument must either be faulty or assume that there must always be an explanation.

"This is the only way in which a brute fact can be posited. Plausibility is thus inherently determined by one's explanatory power, which is what a brute fact would lack by definition."

This is faulty because my argument is not an explanation of how any one brute fact is a brute fact it merely suggests that there are brute facts. Suppose X=X is a brute fact. The argument above supports the existence of brute facts, not that X=X IS a brute fact. Again, if my opponent thinks that explaining how something could be a brute fact removes its brute fact status than Con's side is impossible.

"The only real assumption that matters here is what I stated in premise one."

This premise is not an argument for my opponent's side, but the assertion of it. It is clear how it leads to illogical propositions. To state that in order for something to be plausible it must be explicable is to state that only explanations offer plausibility. It does not prove this only asserts this.

"The argument that my opponent has presented seems to equivocate between expressibility and explicability"

This is not true. "what is explainable must first be expressable". Expressability is merely a criteria of explicability.

"Ontology is logically prior to epistemology, for without being you cannot know or be anything. And epistemology is logically prior to language, for without knowledge you cannot express anything."

This is patently false. Ontology is the study of being, not being itself, and so the criteria for knowledge logically comes before the study of any other thing as it is necessary in all studies. The statement that knowledge is necessary for expression totally ignores belief. I can express things that I believe, but do not know. I can believe that I am expressing myself properly when in fact my listener gets a very different message, this however does not mean I am not expressing myself. What's more, epistemology is a practice done entirely with language.

"this does not mean that a being needs our ability to know and express it in order to be what it is or to have an explanation for why it exists as it does."

The resolution being debated goes beyond simply "having an explanation" it is "explicable" which means: "capable of being explained." (2) Since expressability is a prerequisite of explaining, it is not enough to say that there is an explanation out there we just can't know it. My opponent may believe that I am splitting hairs her, but as the audience sees, this debate becomes categorically different because of the difference in these two words.

My opponent then goes on to state different definitions of explanatory, all of which I offered in the beginning of my prior argument. My opponent also ties them to their various philosophical sections, I have no problem with this.

"we can clearly see that an explanation is not first a function of language but instead is first a function of ontology."

This mistake stems from the prior mistake that ontology is somehow prior to the other two studies. Explanation as a process, even as my opponent writes this and for the purpose of not just this debate, but any debate, is a function of language.

"Furthermore, I am only concerned with ontological explanations here. Whether we're capable of explaining our perceptions of beauty to another or to ourselves is irrelevant to this debate as those are strictly an epistemological and linguistic concern. "

My opponent arbitrarily limits this debate to ontology after failing to provide any definition of explanation before this argument. I have included all three studies in my multiple definition of explanation--my opponent even offers comparable definitions-- which should be accepted on the grounds that they are clear, common, and not abusive. If my opponent wants to limit this debate to ontological matters, I believe it is incumbent on him to show why this should be the case.

"We can explain beauty by arguing that it exists objectively within a being or to appeal to some kind of mechanism in the brain that brought this about."

Even if we consider some objective definition of beauty the proposition is still "X is beautiful because X has all the qualities necessary for beauty". This is the equivalent statement to "X is beautiful because X is beautiful". If a tautology has no explanatory power than neither does any more specific definition as they are all in their purest forms tautologies. Therefore, a proposition with explanatory power the way my opponent explains it is impossible.

"Similarly, the fact that some things may be inexpressible does not make it inexplicable. That's a non sequitur."

This is clearly not true as an explanation is an expression with specific qualities. Again my opponent unfairly dismisses the language element of this debate and gives no particular reason for its dismissal.

"It is certainly explanatory to say that I cannot express how evolution works but that does not entail that evolution works inexplicably without any ontological reason."

"I cannot express x "and "x" are two different statements. It should also be noted that I am not saying "I cannot express the reasons for the universe" I am saying "the reasons for the universe are inexpressible". These are also two different statements. The latter makes any explanation (v) impossible.

"I have seen no persuasive argument for this other than to suggest that "some things are inexplicable" without showing how it includes the universe. Since we know the universe exists, I see no reason why the proposition that it has an explanation cannot be meaningfully expressed."

My opponent seems to miss the fact that "the universe has an explanation" is a different explanation from "X is the explanation for the universe. At no point did I call the first statement meaningless, the second one must be meaningless because there is no frame of reference possible to give it meaning (this argument is totally ignored by my opponent).

I only agree to premise 1 to show its contradictory implications, which have not been properly refuted. Premise 1 remains merely an unsupported assertion. A=Cause of B is the same a Cause of B=Cause of B.

In conclusion, the problems with my opponent's arguments are due entirely to the arbitrary assertion that this is purely an ontological debate. If it is not, than an explanation is not only less plausible but impossible.

(1) http://en.wikipedia.org...
(2) http://dictionary.reference.com...
Debate Round No. 3
BruteApologia

Pro

To refocus the purpose of this debate, we need to note that the topic is "The Universe's Existence is Explicable" and is not "The Universe's Explanation is Expressible". The former is an ontological issue as it addresses "existence" which is a state of being. I also made it clear that this is not about what that explanation IS nor did I claim that "Everything in Existence is Explicable" as that is not the issue at hand. In sum, I had a strict focus on the plausibility of an ontological explanation for the existence of the universe. Ontology was thus not an arbitrary ad hoc invention as my opponent would have us think but has been intrinsic to this debate since the first round. By definition, something is explicable if it is capable of being explained and if you notice, I go further than this by establishing that it is plausible to think it has an explanation. To explain in this case is not to simply "make plain or clear" but in context clearly refers to offering "reasons for or a cause of".

To dispute this, my opponent claims that explicability first requires expressibility but this is clearly false because it is possible that Y is objectively the cause of X apart from me being able to know or express that. Something can therefore be explicable without being directly knowable or expressible to us. This is what ontology is concerned with and not once did I suggest that ontology is being itself but rather, it is the subject in question. Furthermore, in order to have "knowledge" you need to be a being that is capable of knowing something. To express something, you must know what to express as a being with the capacity to express what it knows. This knowledge does not necessitate the truth of a belief but it does necessitate that you know that you believe something, otherwise you could not express a belief. The logical priority here is inescapable, but of course in practice we do need all three precisely because we are a being with these rational capacities. Unfortunately, my opponent accuses me of saying that I can do ontology without knowledge or language when just a sentence later I outrightly said that we use all three in practice. Logical priority is not the same as being actually prior. The former is equivalent to "a gun is logically prior to shooting a bullet" and the latter is equivalent to "a bullet is shot without a gun". Being logically prior does not mean that I can shoot a bullet without a gun but that I cannot shoot a bullet without a gun. Noticing the subtle difference between the two is essential here.

In reality I need to exercise all three in order to have this debate but this does not remove their logical priority nor does it take from their subject matter. To see how this is true, let's look at logic. To make a meaningful statement I must implicitly use logic. However, this is not the same as talking about "logic" because I am merely using logic in order to make a statement about something else. The same holds true for ontology, epistemology and language. I may use language to talk about ontology but that does not mean that I am talking about language. While I have been called out for having a limited view of what language does, the definition my opponent provided only reinforced what I said and does nothing to refute the arguments here. The fact that language is a "formal system of symbols governed by grammatical rules combining signs with particular meanings" is just a detailed way of explaining how we express things. Later on he claims that he offered all of my definitions for the different kinds of explanations already but I see nothing of the sort other than a quote from the dictionary, which is fine but not the same as what I offered.

The entire point of my formulation was to demonstrate that plausibility can only exist for explanations and not brute facts. This is because something is determined to be plausible precisely because it possesses explanatory power or reasons for why something is the case. Brute facts, on the other hand, by definition do not and cannot posses this feature as it does not explain anything but simply asserts that something is the case because that's just how it is. Strangely, my opponent responds by arguing that this is faulty because he only suggests that there are brute facts, not how any one brute fact is a brute fact. That makes no sense, I am not asking how a brute fact is plausibly a brute fact but only how it is true that a fact (namely the universe) is a brute fact. You cannot say that a brute fact is plausibly true, you need to show why it is impossible for there to be an explanation for the universe as my counter formulation demonstrated. How this entails that an explanation is more plausible than a brute fact even if an explanation is impossible is beyond me because I admitted that an explanation would NOT be plausible if it were shown to sometimes be impossible in principle. Of course this excludes attempting to explain square circles because such things cannot exist.

Next, my opponent claims that premise one is merely an assertion. The very fact that he requests a reason for the first premise is to implicitly assume that a "proposition is plausible if it has explanatory power". If I said that the premise was a brute fact, he should rightly have a problem with that. This is exactly what I pointed out in the second round and my opponent said "Yes, it is necessary to explain why a proposition is inexplicable". Now he claims that I did "not prove this but only asserts this". More confusion arises when he claims that it is not enough to "say that there is an explanation there we just can't know it". This is not at all what I had said as I think it is possible to know exactly what that explanation is but that is simply not the subject of this debate. Not only that but he asserts that I totally ignored his appeal to "frame of reference" when I have addressed it since the start of my distinctions and on the last paragraph of my last response. I also see no equivalence to the statement that "X is beautiful because X has all the qualities necessary for objective beauty" with "X is beautiful because X is beautiful". Even if this is true, this just ignored the alternative explanation, namely a biological mechanism that I provided too. He then attempts to transform the claim that "the cause of A is B" into "Cause of B is B" which is nonsensical and two completely different statements. I could turn anything into a tautology with that kind of logic.

Lastly, he attempts to distinguish between "the universe has an explanation" from "X is the explanation for the universe". He says the former is meaningful but the second one must be meaningless. Like I said before, I am affirming the former and not the latter. This is again not a debate about what that explanation is and whether it can be meaningfully expressed or not as "X" but about whether the universe can be plausibly thought to have an explanation at all. In response to my evolutionary analogy, he attempts to appeal to what I can only perceive as an artificial distinction. To say "I cannot express the reasons for the universe" is the same as saying that "the reasons for the universe are inexpressible" precisely because inexpressibility is a person's inability to express something. My opponent has claimed that "In fact I am sure that there is a cause of some kind" and has in the past admitted to the superiority of explanations while affirming the meaningfulness of statements like "the universe has an ontological explanation". All of this seems to suggest that we actually agree. In closing, I think I can safely conclude that my opponent has incorrectly appealed to expressibility as a condition, misunderstood the debate's objective, equivocated between terms and has failed to provide a compelling reason for the inexplicability of the universe.

I'd like to thank my opponent for this opportunity. I hope that no offense will be taken here!

CGBSpender

Con

To begin, I would like to thank my opponent and say that no offense has been taken.

"To refocus the purpose of this debate, we need to note that the topic is "The Universe's Existence is Explicable" and is not "The Universe's Explanation is Expressible". "

I have never stated these two are the same, but based on the provided definition of explain, explicible, and explanation, expressability is certainly a necessary component. The focus has been solely on expressability because if it can be shown that the reasons for x are inexpressable, then it necessarily follows that they are unexplainable.

"In sum, I had a strict focus on the plausibility of an ontological explanation for the existence of the universe."

In reality, this has become a debate over what explanation actually entails. So while the main debate might be ontological in nature, there are metadebates here , which are necessarily language/epistemology-centred. I have attempted to resolve these issues, namely, what is necessary for an explanation.

"Ontology was thus not an arbitrary ad hoc invention..."

At no point, did I accuse ontology of being an "arbitrary ad hoc invention" on the part of my opponent, I have simply stated that, while it is intrinsic in this debate, so are many other issues and it is an arbitrary distinction to ignore the other issues.

"To explain in this case is not to simply "make plain or clear" but in context clearly refers to offering "reasons for or a cause of". "

The last sentence of this is perhaps the greatest statement of my case. Explain means: "offering reasons for or cause of". The word offering means that in order to have an explanation, one must not simply have reasons, but also the ability to offer those reasons, otherwise, X remains impossible to explain. This has been half of my case since the beginning, the other half has been showing that the reasons of the universe categorically, canont be offered (i.e. expressed).

I agree that I misunderstood the meaning of logically prior, but it becomes entirely irrelevant, because as my opponent says, they are all inextricably tied up in each other. My opponent goes on to say that we can be dealing with epistemology and language without debating it. I agree that this resolution would not necessitate that side debate if a clear accurate definition of "explanation" was set forth and agreed upon. However one was not offered. I do not equate it with the main debate.

"This is because something is determined to be plausible precisely because it possesses explanatory power or reasons for why something is the case."

P1. Plausibility comes from explainalibility
C: An explanation is always more plausible

The core argument of my opponent defines two key terms (plausability and explanatory power) as functionally the same without reason. Needless to say, this argument shouldn't be accepted.

"my opponent responds by arguing that this is faulty because he only suggests that there are brute facts, not how any one brute fact is a brute fact. This makes no sense."

It does indeed make sense because if it can be shown that a brute fact exists than we know there is at least one case where an explanation is not more plausible (because it is impossible) than its negation. This disproves my opponent's core argument.

"proposition is plausible if it has explanatory power". If I said that the premise was a brute fact, he should rightly have a problem with that. This is exactly what I pointed out in the second round and my opponent said "Yes, it is necessary to explain why a proposition is inexplicable"..."

"X is inexplicable" should be explained in order for a debate to be possible, however "X" itself does not need to be explained in order for a debate to be possible. Again, my opponent's statement entails that every plausible statement must have explanatory powers, whereas I state that a specific statement must have explanatory power to be plausible (i.e. X is inexplicable), but not all statements (e.g. X).

"More confusion arises when he claims that it is not enough to "say that there is an explanation there we just can't know it". This is not at all what I had said as I think it is possible to know exactly what that explanation is but that is simply not the subject of this debate."

it is important that the reasons of the universe be knowable if you understand an explanation as being something that is understandable. Since it seems logically ridiculous to think an explanation doesn't need to be understandable to be explanatory, whether it is possible to know the reasons of the explanation is therefore part of the debate.

""X is beautiful because X has all the qualities necessary for objective beauty" with "X is beautiful because X is beautiful". Even if this is true, this just ignored the alternative explanation, namely a biological mechanism that I provided too."

This doesn't ignore any biological factors. If there are biological reasons behind beauty than what stimulates those are what is meant by "qualities necessary for objective beauty".

X is beautiful because X is beautiful is the equivalent statement to:
X=2+3+4 (i.e. the factors for beauty)
X=9 (i.e. beauty)
X=X

These are all logically equivalent, so what changes that some of these statements have explanatory power and some do not? My opponent never shows this change.
As my opponent astutely concludes:

"I could turn anything into a tautology with that kind of logic."

If we accept that tautologies lack explanatory power as my opponent does than an explanation of the universe is indeed impossible.

Note: ""the cause of A is B" into "Cause of B is B" which is nonsensical and two completely different statements."
I meant to write the Cause of A is the Cause of A" this was simply a typing error.

"Lastly, he attempts to distinguish between "the universe has an explanation" from "X is the explanation for the universe". He says the former is meaningful but the second one must be meaningless... I am affirming the former and not the latter... whether it can be meaningfully expressed or not as "X" but about whether the universe can be plausibly thought to have an explanation at all."

Again, I am not debating what the explanation of the universe is. If the second statement is necessarily meaningless than the first statement cannot be true. Keep in mind a statement can be meaningful and false. In order to have explanatory power, a statement must be meaningful and so the question of meaning is very much related to the question of whether an explanation is possible or not.

"In response to my evolutionary analogy, he attempts to appeal to what I can only perceive as an artificial distinction. To say "I cannot express the reasons for the universe" is the same as saying that "the reasons for the universe are inexpressible" precisely because inexpressibility is a person's inability to express something."

This is far from an artificial distinction. "Bob doesn't understand physics" is not the same as "physics is not understandable". The first statement deals with a quality of Bob whereas the second statement deals with a quality of physics. My argument is the latter.

My opponent rebuts my frame of reference argument with an appeal to "all worlds" logic, however this relies on an assumption that "a world" indeed preceeded this one which hasn't been proven to be more likely than its opposite. The statement the universe has an ontological explanation might be meaningful as a statement, but if "the explanation is the explanation" is enough to provide explanatory power than my opponent must accept tautologies as having explanatory power, which he does not.

In conclusion, my opponent's misunderstands the word explanation, bases his argument on an unsubstantiated equivocation, and fails to show 1)a meaningful frame of reference, 2) the difference between any explanation and a tautology. Con affirmed.
Debate Round No. 4
36 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by RogueAngel 5 years ago
RogueAngel
I can't vote, but I will give my opinion in the comments.

Con struggled to understand pros case and was arguing a different topic than what the debate initially entailed. Pro also defended his position much better. 4:3 pro.

When I get in enough debates I'll be sure to come back and vote here.
Posted by BruteApologia 5 years ago
BruteApologia
@CGBSpender

Wow that's cool! I'm kind of slow due to other priorities and I like to take my time to carefully word things. You certainly do show a great ability to respond with ease. Unfortunately, I suppose I have not convinced you of my side in the end, eh? I still think you misunderstand my argument here but despite our disagreements, I thank you for the debate!

@RogueAngel

Haha yeah, I guess this topic is boring for most people. Homosex is where its at.
Posted by RogueAngel 5 years ago
RogueAngel
No votes? Really?
Posted by CGBSpender 5 years ago
CGBSpender
Well this will be resolved soon enough, but if you go to the wikipedia article on explanation, or to the dictionary definition, it takes into account both the noun (which is more what pro is arguing) and the verb (which is what I am arguing).
Posted by Contradiction 5 years ago
Contradiction
Con seems to have misunderstood Pro's argument. Expressability and explainability are two totally different things. The former is a function of epistemology while the latter is a function of ontology. Something's explanation has to do with whether or not its being can be accounted for, not whether or not it can be accurately described.
Posted by CGBSpender 5 years ago
CGBSpender
haha, I am very compulsive when it comes to debates. If I ever take more than a day it's because I must be very busy. That's why I only do one debate at a time. Man you should have seen me in grade 11. My law class had an online forum and every day there'd be a new topic. By the end of the semester, I had more posts and thread creations than the rest of the class collectively.
Posted by BruteApologia 5 years ago
BruteApologia
Wow, you responded pretty quickly.
Posted by BruteApologia 5 years ago
BruteApologia
I'm glad we can agree on that. Well I cannot wait to see the conclusion of this debate, I can only hope that it will be a good one :)
Posted by CGBSpender 5 years ago
CGBSpender
Oh yes, I definitely believe that healthy debate, should be to pit sides against each other not with the goal of advancing one's side, but with the goal of coming to a greater conclusion, often a mix of both sides. If all you want to do is proselytize there are better ways to do it.
Posted by BruteApologia 5 years ago
BruteApologia
I was just wondering because I'm the kind of person who wants to debate with a goal. It's simple to debate to win but I think I should be more interested in where that person is at. If he thinks something is true, then I would hope to persuade that respectful truth seeker of his false position. On the other hand, I am also content with a person just wanting to challenge my position to its limits even if he agrees with me since that can be educational and competitively valuable.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by ohnoyoulost 5 years ago
ohnoyoulost
BruteApologiaCGBSpenderTied
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Total points awarded:31 
Reasons for voting decision: Con did well, but nowhere near well enough to take down Pro's argument. So 3:1, Pro
Vote Placed by Dimmitri.C 5 years ago
Dimmitri.C
BruteApologiaCGBSpenderTied
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: Con misunderstood Pro's argument and thus failed to engage his argument.