Monday, May 04, 2009

The Poofy Materialists

Barry Arrington claims that materialist cannot consistently use then "poof" objection to intelligent design, and then appeal to a mysterious emergence when, say, dealing with consciousness.

20 comments:

Clayton said...

What's the poof objection supposed to be, precisely? It might be nice for Arrington to actually cite examples/give links or quotes so that we might have some idea of what he's talking about.

Ilíon said...

Please, Clayton! Playing stupid and/or ignorant in just this manner is so unbecoming.

Clayton said...

Ilion,

I defy you to reconstruct the logic of the 'argument' that Arrington makes. Here's a standard view for materialists to take. Arguments against materialism in mind fail because they fail to take account of non-reductive forms of materialism. Arrington derides that view, but offers no reason to think the view is untenable. That's sort of asinine, so I'm not surprised to see you're sympathetic. As for the point about irreducible complexity, I've seen nothing that suggests that he's not strawmanning. That would be typical for people on uncommon descent.

Ilíon said...

Clayton: "I defy you to reconstruct the logic of the 'argument' that Arrington makes."

Well, shoot! that was easy ... even before reading it (which I just now did, I hadn't even looked at it previously) I knew/grasped the argument Mr Arrington would be making.


Clayton: "Arrington derides that view, but offers no reason to think the view is untenable."

You're blind ... or dishonest.

Arrington: "The mind is a real phenomenon that cannot be reduced to the properties of the brain. Obviously, this is not so easy for the materialist who, by definition, must come up with a theory that reduces the mind to an epiphenomenon of the electro-chemical processes of the brain. What do they do? They say the mind is an “emergent property” of the brain. Huh? Wazzat? That means that the brain system has properties that cannot be reduced to its individual components. The system is said to “supervene” (I’m not making this up) on its components causing the whole to be greater than the sum of the parts."

Shall I repeat that? "That means that the brain system has properties that cannot be reduced to its individual components. The system is said to “supervene” (I’m not making this up) on its components causing the whole to be greater than the sum of the parts."

Wholes cannot be greater than the sum of the constituent parts. It's logically impossible. When a person assert of something, "The whole is greater than the sum of the parts," it *always* the case that he's overlooking a part of the whole. Generally, 'information,' the part whish is the contribution of a rational mind. In this case, it's the reality of the mind itself being overlooked.


Clayton: "That's sort of asinine, so I'm not surprised to see you're sympathetic."

And I'm not surprised to see you behaving dishonestly: it what you do, after all.

Clayton said...

"Shall I repeat that? "That means that the brain system has properties that cannot be reduced to its individual components. The system is said to “supervene” (I’m not making this up) on its components causing the whole to be greater than the sum of the parts."

Wholes cannot be greater than the sum of the constituent parts. It's logically impossible. When a person assert of something, "The whole is greater than the sum of the parts," it *always* the case that he's overlooking a part of the whole. Generally, 'information,' the part whish is the contribution of a rational mind. In this case, it's the reality of the mind itself being overlooked."

Fallacy of composition?

Ilíon said...

Ilíon: "Wholes cannot be greater than the sum of the constituent parts. It's logically impossible."

Clayton: "Fallacy of composition?"

Something you must not allow yourself to understand.

You're so amusing, in a noir sort of way. Here's the Wikipedia discussion of 'Fallacy of composition:' "A fallacy of composition arises when one infers that something is true of the whole from the fact that it is true of some part of the whole (or even of every proper part). For example: "This fragment of metal cannot be broken with a hammer, therefore the machine of which it is a part cannot be broken with a hammer." This is clearly fallacious, because many machines can be broken into their constituent parts without any of those parts being breakable."

Doctor Logic said...

I'm gonna say that non-reductionist emergence is, indeed, poofy. It's no better than dualism because it says that mental properties are inexplicable.

But Arrington is attacking a straw man if he's going after the mainstream consensus. The mainstream view is reductionist, not poofy emergentism.

Clayton said...

When one infers that the whole material object lacks mental properties because the material parts that compose it lack mental properties, that's a fallacious inference. It's like someone who infers that the whole is invisible because the parts that constitute it are not visible. It's like someone who infers that NaCl is poisonous because its parts are poisonous.

Ilíon said...

Clayton, I know that you're dishonest and that it doesn't particularly bother you to have that widely known. But have you no self-respect? Don't you care that the casual reader may begin suspect that you're simply stupid, rather than merely dishonest?

The 'fallacy of composition' error is the false belief/assertion that what is true of some of the parts of a whole must necessarily be true of the whole.

The fallacy you insist upon making is the self-evidently false belief/assertion that what is true of NONE of the parts of a whole may nonetheless be true of the whole.

I am, of course, not making the 'fallacy of composition' error. I am simply denying your fallacious assertion; I am saying that what is true of NONE of the parts of a whole may never be true of the whole.

Even if, per impossible, I were wrong and you were right, such that I am making some logical error in denying what you are asserting, that error would not be the 'fallacy of composition' error.

What shall we call the error you insist upon making? Does it already have a formal name?

Doctor Logic said...

Clayton,

Just ignore Iliot.

He's being dishonest, and choosing not to mention that that same wiki page refers to the fallacy of division, of which he is guilty.

It is true of none of the parts of water that they are water. It is true of none of the parts of a triangle that they are triangular. Per impossible, I know.

Ilíon said...

Curiously Misnamed Personage: "Just ignore Iliot.

He's being dishonest, and choosing not to mention that that same wiki page refers to the fallacy of division, of which he is guilty.
"

From the link supplied by Curiously Misnamed Personage: "A fallacy of division occurs when one reasons logically that something true of a thing must also be true of all or some of its parts."

What a fool this Curiously Misnamed Personage is!

Hey, Curiously Misnamed Personage, the offer to lend you the first two letters of my name is still open. You really could make good use of them.

Doctor Logic said...

Quoting Iliot: "I am saying that what is true of NONE of the parts of a whole may never be true of the whole."

Or, to paraphrase, "a whole will never have a property which is a property of none of its parts."

The fallacy of division.

Mission "per impossible"! Dun dun dun-dun-dun dun... bee na now, bee na now, dun ah!

Ilíon said...

Is it logically possible that in some circumstances 1 + 1 = 4 (or any other number than only 2)?

You silly 'atheists' are asserting that it can be true.

If you want to dispute what Ilíon has said, this is what you really need to be dealing with: "Wholes cannot be greater than the sum of the constituent parts. It's logically impossible. When a person asser[s] of something, "The whole is greater than the sum of the parts," it [is] *always* the case that he's overlooking a part of the whole. Generally, 'information,' the part [which] is the contribution of a rational mind. In this case, it's the reality of the mind itself being overlooked."

Ilíon said...

Quoting further from Doctor (Il)logic's referenced page:
"An example:
1 A Boeing 747 can fly unaided across the ocean.
2 A Boeing 747 has jet engines.
3 One of its jet engines can fly unaided across the ocean.
"

Can a Boeing 747 (or any other airplane) fly on the moon? No, of course not.

So, were an airplane transported to the moon and found, as it must, to be unable to fly, would we properly conclude the that airplane had lost a property? And that it shall regain that property when taken back to earth? That would be a supremely silly thing to think, would it not?

So, where does the error in reasoning occur?

Quoting further from Doctor (Il)logic's referenced page:
"Another example:
1 Functioning brains think.
2 Functioning brains are nothing but the neurons that they comprise.
3 If functioning brains think, then the individual neurons in them think.
4 Individual neurons do not think.
5 Functioning brains do not think. (From 3 & 4)
6 Functioning brains think and functioning brains do not think. (From 1 & 5)

Since the premises entail a contradiction (6), at least one of the premises must be false. We may diagnose the problem as located in premise 3, which quite plausibly commits the fallacy of division.
"

Well, this *is* Wikipedia, so of course one does not expect the author of the page to notice that premise #1 has never, ever been established; that it is merely an assertion which materialists *need* to be true. And, of course, premise #2 is not true.


Another popular example given to illustrate this 'fallacy of division' goes something like this:
"1 Human beings are visible
2 Human beings are made of atoms
3 Therefore, atoms are visible.
"

When one takes a tour of Mammoth Cave, at some point, deep in the earth, the tour-guide will turn off the lights ... and all the human beings in one's group "become invisible."

Did these human beings lose a property when the lights were extinguished? Do they regain the property when the lights are turned back on? Is this *really* what we properly conclude?


Both the 'fallacy of composition' and the 'fallacy of division' are classified as "verbal fallacies;" that is, that one's reasoning is being waylaid by the words one is using.

Is this 'fallacy of division' itself a logical fallacy? And, if it is, does it go all the way back to, say, Aristotle? Or was it "discovered" by some atheist/materialist as a means to disguise the fallacy contained in the belief/assertion that "The whole is greater that the sum of its parts," which error seems to be necessary for 'atheists' to assert?

Or, is our Amusingly Misnamed Personage misunderstanding or misapplying the 'fallacy of division?'

Clayton said...

"I am saying that what is true of NONE of the parts of a whole may never be true of the whole."

You realize that the textbook cases of fallacy of composition have precisely the feature you point to. Atoms are invisible. Some things composed of atoms are visible. Simples have no parts. Composites composed of simples have parts. Seriously, Illion, stop the puppet show.

Ilíon said...

Clayton,
If it were logically possible for a whole to be greater than the sum of its parts, then it would be logically possible that "1 + 1 = 4" (or any other non-2 number).

If it were logically possible for a whole to be greater than the sum of its parts, then it would be logically possible for a perpetual motion machine to be built.

If it were logically possible for a whole to be greater than the sum of its parts, then it would be the case that Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem is false.

Clayton: "Atoms are invisible. Some things composed of atoms are visible."

Some visible things composed of atoms, human beings for instance, become invisible in Mammoth Cave when the tour guide turns off the lights. Then, mirabile ductu, these invisible things become visible again when the tour guide turns the lights back on.

So, did these visible-invisible things really lose a property ... and then regain it?

Or, are you still refusing to think clearly about the matter at hand?


Clayton: "Simples have no parts. Composites composed of simples have parts. Seriously, Illion, stop the puppet show."

Do you enjoy playing the fool?

At *least* get with Doctor "Logic" and settle on which logical fallacy you two are going to accuse me!

Clayton said...

"If it were logically possible for a whole to be greater than the sum of its parts, then it would be logically possible that "1 + 1 = 4" (or any other non-2 number)."

No. If every whole could be greater than the sum of its parts, sure. If some wholes could have features that none of its parts have (see the examples given just above), that wouldn't follow. Ilion, you've never studied logic or philosophy have you? I'm not trying to be mean, but you need to realize that arrogance is a privilege and you haven't earned it.

Anonymous said...

I see that the childish Maverick Philosopher has linked to this thread.

Ilíon said...

Yes, and it's sad. Not sad that he has linked to the thread, but that he's behaving "childishly."

But, I suppose it's OK that he has linked to this thread so that he may call me a 'punk:' I've linked to and examined his some examples of his behavior displaying his foolishness. I'll do a few more posts on that, when I can work up the grit to do it.

Then again, he *could* simply admit that he was wrong and unjust in the baseless accusations he initially made of me.

Ilíon said...

For instance, consider this little vignette --

Ilíon: "If it were logically possible for a whole to be greater than the sum of its parts, then it would be logically possible that "1 + 1 = 4" (or any other non-2 number). ..."

Clayton: "No. If every whole could be greater than the sum of its parts, sure. ..."

How would the Maverick Philosopher react were that 'Ilíon:' replaced by 'Wm.Vallicella:?' Well, here's a hint -- at the very minimum, Mr Philosopher would do as I do and state (openly for the whole world to see) that Clayton chooses to be a fool. BUT, since Mr Philosopher has decided to act the fool, this thread is evidence that I am a 'punk.'