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WLC: "nothing but"

Fkkize
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10/18/2015 11:45:51 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
The "nothing but" argument is more rhetoric than it is an actual argument. But Craig and some others, including members of DDO, really like it.
I don't. I think it's poison to any conversation between theists and non-theists.

So let's see how it holds up.
Here are some text passages Craig often repeats.

"After all, on the naturalistic view, there"s nothing special about human beings. They"re just accidental byproducts of nature which have evolved relatively recently on an infinitesimal speck of dust called the planet Earth" - Reasonable Faith, p.175

"But if man has no immaterial aspect to his being (call it soul or mind or what have you), then we"re not qualitatively different from other animal species. On a materialistic anthropology there"s no reason to think that human beings are objectively more valuable than rats. When a terrorist bomb rips though a market in Baghdad, all that happens is a rearrangement of the molecules that used to be a little girl." - Opening Statement from his debate with Antony

His point being of course, that
"On the atheistic view, there"s nothing really wrong with your raping someone." - God? A Debate Between A Christian and An Atheist

and that
"On the atheistic view, humans are just animals, and animals have no moral obligations to each other." - Is Goodness without God Good enough?, p.67

From this we can take Craig believes under atheism/materialism (which he uses more or less synonymously) humans are:
1) nothing but accidental byproducts of nature
2) nothing but arrangements of molecules
3) nothing but animals

Since none of these things supposedly has moral value he concludes on the atheistic view, humans have no moral value.

How are we to understand "nothing but" here?

Focusing on 2) and the second quote, Antony suggests might understand Craig here as saying

4) If X is made up of a bunch of molecules, then X is not qualitatively different from other bunches of molecules.

But that is quite obviously false. The bunch of molecules that make up the air I am breathing is totally different from the floor I am standing on.

Alternatively, we can take from the last quote

5) If X is just an animal, then X has no moral obligations.

As Antony notes, this would either make for an invalid argument or the fallacy of begging the question.
It is true that most animals do not have moral obligations. They are moral patients, not moral agents.
But he cannot go from "some animals" to "all animals", as humans clearly posses rationality, language and so on that make the difference between being a patient and an agent.
If he, on the other hand, insists that he means all animals, then he begs the question. He takes as a premise what he intended to prove.

Craig also thinks it the important thing about humans is the immaterial aspect of their being.

6) If X is an arrangement of matter/animals and not an immaterial soul, then X is not qualitatively different from other arrangements of matter/animals.

This version however is doubly troublesome. First of all, it does not follow from X not being immaterial that X is no different than these things.
Secondly is just assumes that being immaterial is sufficient to have moral value.
Very much like some indeterminists think that just by proving indeterminism, they have proven libertarian free will.
They haven't.

The only possible formulation Antony sees that could support Craig's conclusion is to understand it in a deflationary manner, i.e., that X being "nothing but" an animal/arrangement of matter just somehow eliminates the value from X.
Which is why Craig ultimately has to beg the question here.

I'll leave the rest to Shelly Kagan.

"If you put it as "complex nervous systems" it sounds pretty deflationary. What"s so special about a complex nervous system? But of course, that complex nervous system allows you to do calculus. It allows you to do astrophysics" to write poetry" to fall in love. Put under that description, when asked "What"s so special about humans"?", I"m at a loss to know how to answer that question. If you don"t see why we"d be special" because we can do poetry, think philosophical thoughts and we can think about the morality of our behavior, I"m not sure what kind of answer could possibly satisfy you at that point."
: At 7/2/2016 3:05:07 PM, Rational_Thinker9119 wrote:
:
: space contradicts logic
Fkkize
Posts: 2,147
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10/19/2015 2:41:20 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
bump
: At 7/2/2016 3:05:07 PM, Rational_Thinker9119 wrote:
:
: space contradicts logic
dylancatlow
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10/19/2015 4:08:35 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
Obviously WLC would accept that there is some degree of difference between humans and inanimate objects, so your arguments are pretty much strawmen. He simply draws the line at morality. The notion that certain arrangements of molecules have some sort of transcendent moral worth while others do not is, frankly, quite indefensible. Yes, nature endows us with the ability to speak and think, but does it endow us with any moral worth whatsoever? If not, then it's hard to see how morality is anything but a convenient fantasy with no basis in reality. Of course, we could always forget about trying to live up to some objective moral standard and just make up the rules as we go, but in that case we shouldn't have any pretense of doing something special or important when we engage in moral discourse, so long as we're being honest. Some will warm to this prospect, while others will not. Blaming those who crave an ultimate rationale for existence is both irrational and childish.

"6) If X is an arrangement of matter/animals and not an immaterial soul, then X is not qualitatively different from other arrangements of matter/animals.

This version however is doubly troublesome. First of all, it does not follow from X not being immaterial that X is no different than these things.
Secondly is just assumes that being immaterial is sufficient to have moral value."

No, it assumes that being immaterial is a perquisite of moral worth. Obviously, being immaterial is not sufficient or moral worth. For instance, the number seven is an abstract (immaterial) concept, yet ascribing to it moral worth doesn't even make sense.
Fkkize
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10/19/2015 5:37:56 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/19/2015 4:08:35 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
Obviously WLC would accept that there is some degree of difference between humans and inanimate objects, so your arguments are pretty much strawmen. He simply draws the line at morality.
I have covered that.

The notion that certain arrangements of molecules have some sort of transcendent moral worth while others do not is, frankly, quite indefensible.
Then you are begging the question.

"6) If X is an arrangement of matter/animals and not an immaterial soul, then X is not qualitatively different from other arrangements of matter/animals.

This version however is doubly troublesome. First of all, it does not follow from X not being immaterial that X is no different than these things.
Secondly is just assumes that being immaterial is sufficient to have moral value."

No, it assumes that being immaterial is a perquisite of moral worth.
Correction: Craig thinks having an immaterial aspect to one's being is both necessary and sufficient. So you are not really disagreeing with me.

Obviously, being immaterial is not sufficient or moral worth. For instance, the number seven is an abstract (immaterial) concept, yet ascribing to it moral worth doesn't even make sense.
Craig said " if man has no immaterial aspect to his being". That excludes numbers. Further, he does not even believe numbers exist to begin with.
: At 7/2/2016 3:05:07 PM, Rational_Thinker9119 wrote:
:
: space contradicts logic
kp98
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10/20/2015 9:59:14 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
First let's be clear about something: WLC is not saying atheists do not value humans or that they are immoral. What WLC argues is that atheism offers no rational basis for 'human exceptionalism' (ie the doctrine that a collection of molecules in the form of a human has more value than molecules in the shape of, for example, a pile of bricks).

Fk points out that atheism doesn't demand atheists treat all molecules as equal but that isn't really answering WLC - to answer WLC atheism needs a positive reason to treat 'human molecule collections' better than 'brick-pile molecule collections'.

If we consider Kagan's comment, then it can be taken as an admission of the problem. She lists a number of qualities of humans that atheists undoubtedly do value, but she says of why atheists value them 'I"m at a loss to know how to answer that question.'

I repeat: WLC does not argue atheists do not value humans - obviously we do. The issue is whether atheists have a rational reason to do so. Or do we have to echo Kagan: "If you don"t see why we"d be special" because we can do poetry, think philosophical thoughts and we can think about the morality of our behavior, I"m not sure what kind of answer could possibly satisfy you at that point." - is that really an answer to WLC's charge or an admission he is right?
Fkkize
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10/20/2015 12:58:58 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/20/2015 9:59:14 AM, kp98 wrote:
First let's be clear about something: WLC is not saying atheists do not value humans or that they are immoral. What WLC argues is that atheism offers no rational basis for 'human exceptionalism' (ie the doctrine that a collection of molecules in the form of a human has more value than molecules in the shape of, for example, a pile of bricks).
I am perfectly aware of this.

Fk points out that atheism doesn't demand atheists treat all molecules as equal but that isn't really answering WLC - to answer WLC atheism needs a positive reason to treat 'human molecule collections' better than 'brick-pile molecule collections'.
Last time I checked it was enough to show how premises either cannot support an argument or beg the question in order to refute it.

but she says
he

is that really an answer to WLC's charge or an admission he is right?
Since Craig has to beg the question, the former.
: At 7/2/2016 3:05:07 PM, Rational_Thinker9119 wrote:
:
: space contradicts logic
kp98
Posts: 729
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10/20/2015 1:48:57 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
Maybe your still new enough to enjoy it, but after a while refuting theists seems like shooting fish in a barrel, except its even more futile. It's far more interesting to consider what the rational basis for morality (etc. etc.) is within the atheist world-view, even if it might involve washing some dirty linen in public ;-).
skipsaweirdo
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10/22/2015 5:47:08 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/20/2015 1:48:57 PM, kp98 wrote:
Maybe your still new enough to enjoy it, but after a while refuting theists seems like shooting fish in a barrel, except its even more futile. It's far more interesting to consider what the rational basis for morality (etc. etc.) is within the atheist world-view, even if it might involve washing some dirty linen in public ;-).

How many times have you actually had fish in a barrel and shot at them, literally?
What did it take to get the fish in the barrel?
What did it take to make a weapon to shoot them with?
What was the clarity of the water?
What kind of fish and how big?
What kind of barrel and how big?
How far were you from the barrel?
What type of weapon was it, a bow, a pistol, a shotgun, a rifle, a bazooka, etc.?
kp98
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10/22/2015 12:52:11 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
How many times have you actually had fish in a barrel and shot at them, literally?
Never had a gun in my hand - never will I hope.

But I think fk might enjoy shooting fish in a barrel. It's not really all that hard to cherry pick some quotes from WLC, present them unflatteringly without supporting context in such a way they are easily shot-down. With no possibility of WLC actually replying it's a hollow victory, and the pleasure of those soon palls.

And we are still left with the real issue raised by WLCs accusation - what is the rational basis of morality? No need to answer - there are a couple of hundred threads on that already!
Fkkize
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10/22/2015 6:57:10 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/22/2015 10:54:10 AM, treeless wrote:
So basically, according to Craig, materialism necessitates moral relativism or absence?

Moral nihilism and meaningless lives.
: At 7/2/2016 3:05:07 PM, Rational_Thinker9119 wrote:
:
: space contradicts logic
Fkkize
Posts: 2,147
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10/22/2015 7:10:44 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/22/2015 12:52:11 PM, kp98 wrote:
How many times have you actually had fish in a barrel and shot at them, literally?
Never had a gun in my hand - never will I hope.

But I think fk might enjoy shooting fish in a barrel.
Seriously, how on earth have you arrived at your judgements of my character?
I find it insulting by now. Not only did you suspect I would promote the beating of pregnant woman, now you also suspect I would kill fish for no reason.
I am a vegetarian and animal rights advocate.

It's not really all that hard to cherry pick some quotes from WLC, present them unflatteringly without supporting context in such a way they are easily shot-down.
True, cherrypicking is easy, but you assume I did that. Which is either ignorant or dishonest.
You yourself acknowledged Craig believes that it is not the belief in God, but the existence of God that is relevant to morality and meaning. So how could possibly claim it is cherrypicked that Craig believes on the naturalistic view, "[w]hen a terrorist bomb rips though a market in Baghdad, all that happens is a rearrangement of the molecules that used to be a little girl."?

With no possibility of WLC actually replying it's a hollow victory, and the pleasure of those soon palls.
How, then, is anyone supposed to learn about the positions of others and philosophy in general, if not by reconstructing their arguments and formulate responses?
: At 7/2/2016 3:05:07 PM, Rational_Thinker9119 wrote:
:
: space contradicts logic
Benshapiro
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10/23/2015 1:37:15 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
I actually watched Craig's debate with Shelly and thought that Shelly won.

The simplest refutation of objective morality in a worldview without God is an appeal to philosophical coherence.

If atheism is true, human beings are inherently means without ends.
Objective morality requires that humanity has inherent ends.
Either atheism is false or objective morality is false.

Any moral fact is a statement of good and bad. Good and bad are prescriptions of the way things ought or ought not be. It can't be true that we ought or ought not do anything according to a mindless source. The source must possess intentionality in order for the prescriptions to be true and meaningful.

Anything considered moral/immoral references the disposition or will of the mind. Ergo, morality doesn't exist apart from mind and intentional states. If something is moral/immoral regardless of human will or disposition, there is a mind where moral facts reside. If moral facts are binding upon all human beings, this mind must be an arbiter of human purpose. This means that if objective morality is true, God must exist.
Fkkize
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10/23/2015 2:28:25 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/23/2015 1:37:15 AM, Benshapiro wrote:
I actually watched Craig's debate with Shelly and thought that Shelly won.

The simplest refutation of objective morality in a worldview without God is an appeal to philosophical coherence.
Then you would have to show logical incompatibility between those views. That is quite the burden.

If atheism is true, human beings are inherently means without ends.
On the contrary. Theistic accounts of meaning are externalist. If there is meaning in an atheistic world, and I believe there is, then it is internalist. Obviously because there is nobody to impose meaning over humans from the outside.

Objective morality requires that humanity has inherent ends.
Wrong.

Either atheism is false or objective morality is false.
Wrong.

Any moral fact is a statement of good and bad.
Facts are not statements. If anything statements report facts.

Good and bad are prescriptions of the way things ought or ought not be. It can't be true that we ought or ought not do anything according to a mindless source. The source must possess intentionality in order for the prescriptions to be true and meaningful.
Which is a bare assertion. I have asked you to justify this before.

Anything considered moral/immoral references the disposition or will of the mind.
Then, however, we are not talking about moral realism.
: At 7/2/2016 3:05:07 PM, Rational_Thinker9119 wrote:
:
: space contradicts logic
kp98
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10/23/2015 6:35:41 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
The source must possess intentionality in order for the prescriptions to be true and meaningful.

I get your point - (although 'intentionality' is a tricky word. As a technical philosophical term it doens't mean 'with a future goal in mind' as any normal person would expect. 'Intentionality' is closest to simple 'aboutness'. So I may be 'intentional' towards fkz, but that doesn't mean I intend to, say, murder him(*). It just means I am thinking about fkz in a general sort of way)

But that was just an aside! As you point out, the point of morality seems to lie in terms of future goals, not past histories.

If so. I think the problem is that the justification for morality is always in the future. Morality is fundamentally teleological - consequentialism only makes that even more apparent. The teleology of morality is in stark contrast to the way physical law works, which is based purely on the past.

I don't know if that is a stepping off point to a disproof of objective morality - but it seems another problem with reconciling morality with physics. I'll have to think about it....

(*except by coincidence).
skipsaweirdo
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10/23/2015 6:39:14 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/22/2015 12:52:11 PM, kp98 wrote:
How many times have you actually had fish in a barrel and shot at them, literally?
Never had a gun in my hand - never will I hope.
you can't protect your family from invaders with a big dog and a plea for them to react sanely. If ur an American, guns merely put all people on equal grounds. You can't reason your way out of someone who is robbing your house. But everyone has their opinion on what guns represent, nothing wrong with believing you'll never need one. And just an absurd hypothetical.
Would it be ok if you put a sign in front of your house saying, "owner refuses to arm themselves with guns", or would you rather put a sign in your front yard that says, "owners possess 2 shotguns to show unwanted visitors, please come inside", lol

But I think fk might enjoy shooting fish in a barrel. It's not really all that hard to cherry pick some quotes from WLC, present them unflatteringly without supporting context in such a way they are easily shot-down. With no possibility of WLC actually replying it's a hollow victory, and the pleasure of those soon palls.

And we are still left with the real issue raised by WLCs accusation - what is the rational basis of morality? No need to answer - there are a couple of hundred threads on that already!
I completely understand. But what makes you think there is a rational basis for constructing morality when most morality is an emotional issue? We simply can't rely on one approach to morality in my opinion because intelligent people "rationalize" differently.