Monday, July 26, 2010

Carrier on logical laws and physical laws

From his critique of my book. 

For logical laws are just like physical laws, because physical laws describe the way the universe works, and logical laws describe the way reason works — or, to avoid begging the question, logical laws describe the way a truth-finding machine works, in the very same way that the laws of aerodynamics describe the way a flying-machine works, or the laws of ballistics describe the way guns shoot their targets. The only difference between logical laws and physical laws is the fact that physical laws describe physics and logical laws describe logic. But that is a difference both trivial and obvious. 

I kind of thought logical laws were normative, myself. 

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ok - I'm new to this blog, and I'm looking for a way to finally debunk Christianity once and for all. It seems like this new book by Loftus et al. is not going to be able to do the job, can someone tell me where to find this "truth finding machine" that Carrier speaks of?

That is brilliant. Did he design this himself? (is there anything this guy *can't* do?) Is it more like a software program where you just plug in different propositions? Or is it an actual physical mechanism that literally searches for truth (like a metal detector)? If the latter, I guarantee if you point it at the Bible you will not get a positive reading. Please provide a link to where I can purchase this thing...

Anonymous said...

Richard Carrier rules!!!

Anonymous said...

I cant help but laugh a bit on reading his comments on Hasker's critique:

--
This statement is untrue, since the process of "accepting a conclusion because it is supported by good reasons" may be one among many types of purely physical process, as for example the process of "brewing beer" or "extracting termites from a log" or "winning at chess."
--

Anyone who defines an art like brewing beer as a purely physical process has:
1. likely, never made good beer;
2. potentially predefined all of human reason and culture as purely physical, before even starting to look at the AfR.


This kind of closet property dualism that prefers to redefine itself as physicalism was never the target of Lewis' argumnet, I think.

steve said...

This means that Carrier can never disprove the AFR, for Reppert's formulation simply describes the way in which Reppert's C-fibers work while Carrier's objection simply describes the way in which Carrier's C-fibers work.

Ron said...

Physical laws seem very much unlike logical laws. Logical laws must me true in any possible universe while physical laws can (logically at least) be different. A cannot be not-A but it seems perfectly reasonable to me that gravity could have been different than what we experience. Physical laws just describe what we observe while logical laws allow us a basis for any kind of thinking at all. The first is descriptive, the second is prescriptive.

Bjørn Are said...

As logical laws are necessary truths and physical laws are contingent, Carrier's thoughts are necessarily confused.

In short, he never seizes to amaze.

Tim said...

Shouldn't this post have been dated April 01 ...?

Good grief.

Francis J. Beckwith said...

Where does one begin?

Reason is a power that has a proper function. I can reason badly and ought to be reprimanded for it. The laws of logic are in fact applied in such a case in order to instruct me on how I ought to use my rational powers.

If I fall off the roof and land on Tommy and Tommy is injured, the police will ask me: why did you fall on Tommy? If I answer, "Because gravity pulled me to the surface of the Earth and Tommy was on the surface of the Earth," the police would then ask if fell on purpose. If I say, no, then I am not culpable for Tommy's injury if I was not negligent. However, if I say, yes, the police will follow up, why did you fall on Tommy? If i answer, "Because gravity pulled me to the surface of the Earth and Tommy was on the surface of the Earth," they will cuff me and book me. Why? Because they were asking for a justification not an explanation. The laws of logic concern the former not the latter. This is why, as Victor notes, they are normative.

To say that "logical laws describe logic" makes about as much sense as saying that "moral laws describe morality." For we could always ask the question, "Should I follow the laws of logic and morality?" We don't say that about "gravity" or any other physical law: "Should I follow the law of gravity?"

If one refuses to acknowledge the possibility of final and formal causes in nature, then this is the sort of silliness that ensues. Normativity and the existence of abstract objects are inscrutable to the philosopher who wants to "naturalize" everything. This is why they begin by dismissing "first philosophy," as it was once called. It's a way to win while pretending to be "rigorous" and "analytical."

Paul Manata said...

"or the laws of ballistics describe the way guns shoot their target"

Apart from the blunders on logic (covered above), there's problems here too. Laws of ballistics are insufficient to explain why the bull's eye was hit, or why this person was hit instead of that one. Or why the gun was shot in the first place? At best, laws of ballistic would only be a partial explanation. Wouldn't a complete explanation require irreducible reference to purpose and intentions?

Also, if "the only difference" between the two laws is that one describes physics and the other describes logic, then since one can violate laws of logic then, according to Carrier, one can also violate laws of physics. So much the worse for (some) arguments against miracles! :-)

Anonymous said...

Paul - your response regarding miracles comes back to bite you.

If someone violates the laws of logic, they have missed the *truth*.

Similarly, if someone claims to violate the laws of physics or to have witnessed this happen, this also must be *untrue*.

Hence, the Bible is false.

I think *that* is what Carrier is getting at here. Sometimes you have to look a little deeper, man.

Also - if we can get ahold of this truth-finding machine, we can find out once and for all. So let's stick to the topic here and start researching how far along Carrier is in building this thing.

Anonymous said...

If Richard were here, he would show you guys. He is the leading intellectual of our day in all areas related to God not existing.

Anonymous said...

I have refuted Manata, now onto Beckwith. I am not sure *exactly* what Beckwith is saying, but I don't need to be in order to refute him. We can take a more general approach here.

We can be fairly sure that Beckwith's philosophical pronouncements are not to be trusted simply by looking at his picture. It is a well-established fact that philosophers are not supposed to have cool hair or studly looks. Philosophers typically have a very nerdy look to them. We are pretty sure that, according to this criterion, Bill Craig has shaved his beard in the recent years to enhance his credibility during debates.

You might think Carrier is quite the Adonis, but if you look close enough, you will see that he has very small hands. See here (about 5 mins. into the vid.):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dce8mE0q4zA


Also - just for fun, Carrier shows that the Christian anthropic design argument proves that God created the universe for black holes (not humans), and also that the existence of brains proves atheism, here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBd22uLGpss&feature=related

Anonymous said...

Lastly, I think "Tim" here is Tim McGrew. His use of the elusive "Tim" rather than his full name is representative of his apologetic tactics.

It takes a keen eye to decipher McGrew's cryptic tactics in pretty much all of his work and I will reveal a bit here for readers.

Regarding his "April 01" comment, I'm pretty sure this is a veiled reference to the notion of a "fool's errand". On April Fool's Day, people would spend their time trying to trick others into believing things that are not true. This is exactly what apologetics is, and how Tim operates, so he's telling you right there, "I am a trickster and not to be trusted."

For instance, if you read some of his work, and you are an advanced skeptic, you'll pick it up right away. He has a very long paper on miracles in which he argues for the resurrection of Jesus (note - April 1st was also right around the time of the resurrection of Attis - see how tricky this guy can be?). If you read this paper, you will find yourself confused, getting more irritated by the minute, you will get extremely sleepy about half way through, and probably just give up altogether. Ultimately you will feel tricked into believing that Tim is very smart and that he knows what he's talking about when he says that Jesus rose from the dead. Particularly deceptive is his use of all this philosophical and logical code language including Bayes Theorem. Anytime a theist uses Bayes Theorem or logical code language, you can be pretty sure that they are doing this to pull a fast one. Keep an eye out for the up and coming Robert Koons on this as well.

They type up what looks like a bunch of mathematics and physics and then tell us this shows that "Jesus rose from the dead". The goal here is to imitate science. They want to make it look like they can formulate some sort of impressive scientific/mathematical equation that proves Jesus rose from the dead. I picked up on this a long time ago with Richard Swinburne.

This tactic has proven so successful at fooling others, that even Bill Craig is using Bayes Theorem in recent debates (e.g., see his debate with text-critical God Bart Ehrman).

If you want to see Bayes Theorem refuted, please do a search on the Internet Infidels website. I'm sure you will find something there that disproves it.

Anonymous said...

Lastly, I think "Tim" here is Tim McGrew. His use of the elusive "Tim" rather than his full name is representative of his apologetic tactics.

It takes a keen eye to decipher McGrew's cryptic tactics in pretty much all of his work and I will reveal a bit here for readers.

Regarding his "April 01" comment, I'm pretty sure this is a veiled reference to the notion of a "fool's errand". On April Fool's Day, people would spend their time trying to trick others into believing things that are not true. This is exactly what apologetics is, and how Tim operates, so he's telling you right there, "I am a trickster and not to be trusted."

For instance, if you read some of his work, and you are an advanced skeptic, you'll pick it up right away. He has a very long paper on miracles in which he argues for the resurrection of Jesus (note - April 1st was also right around the time of the resurrection of Attis - see how tricky this guy can be?). If you read this paper, you will find yourself confused, getting more irritated by the minute, you will get extremely sleepy about half way through, and probably just give up altogether. Ultimately you will feel tricked into believing that Tim is very smart and that he knows what he's talking about when he says that Jesus rose from the dead. Particularly deceptive is his use of all this philosophical and logical code language including Bayes Theorem. Anytime a theist uses Bayes Theorem or logical code language, you can be pretty sure that they are doing this to pull a fast one. Keep an eye out for the up and coming Robert Koons on this as well.

Anonymous said...

(refutation of Tim McGrew cont.)

They type up what looks like a bunch of mathematics and physics and then tell us this shows that "Jesus rose from the dead". The goal here is to imitate science. They want to make it look like they can formulate some sort of impressive scientific/mathematical equation that proves Jesus rose from the dead. I picked up on this a long time ago with Richard Swinburne.

This tactic has proven so successful at fooling others, that even Bill Craig is using Bayes Theorem in recent debates (e.g., see his debate with text-critical God Bart Ehrman).

If you want to see Bayes Theorem refuted, please do a search on the Internet Infidels website. I'm sure you will find something there that disproves it.

Lastly, consider how I have just refuted 3 of the top Christian thinkers so easily. Now, imagine if Richard Carrier were here himself!

Shackleman said...

*blink* *blink*

Dr. Reppert, now might be a good time to reexamine your anonymous post settings.

Anonymous said...

I'm also willing to refute Steve Hays if he shows up here.

If I refute more than 5 Christian apologists, I may turn this thread into a book to sell on amazon.

Victor Reppert said...

Bayes' theorem??? Refuted??? I'd LOVE to see the math on that.

Anonymous said...

Shackleman - if you're trying to get Dr. Reppert to make an age limit for people who post here, I doubt that it will work. And I can have the proper permissions emailed to him if necessary. I realize this is a theistic blog, but let's have some level of fairness here, ok?

Anonymous said...

See here for instance:

http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/gabe_czobel/swinburne.html

Relevant comments by the widely known and magnificent Gabe Czobel:

"It is clearly problematic whenever someone tries to derive a somewhat quantitative result using a precise quantitative formula where variables can only be examined qualitatively. The somewhat quantitative result sought here is to show that some probability is greater than 1/2. But the hypothetical being of h(S) has no necessary quantitative aspects at all in relation to either e or k. Hence the book is permeated with terms such as "perhaps," "maybe," "it seems to me," "intuitively," "I am inclined to suggest," "probability ... not be nearly as low," and so on—terms of ambiguity and imprecision. Swinburne tries to overcome this imprecision by introducing numerous examples and analogues, but this just muddies the waters even more. His use of Bayes' Theorem to evoke an air of precision is akin to using a micrometer to measure the location of the exact edge of a patch of fog. Furthermore, Swinburne's constant reliance on ambiguity in a lengthy, involved argument lends itself to the magnification of error in his final result, casting a great deal of doubt upon any outcome that he derives. Of course, this kind of objection itself is rather broad and imprecise, but it illustrates why the reader should be rather uneasy about Swinburne's ultimate conclusions."

Swinburne uses Bayes theorem to "evoke an air of precision".

Anonymous said...

I think my last post also means I have refuted Dr. Reppert (with all due respect).

One more and I'm going to start approaching Prometheus with a manuscript.

Victor Reppert said...

Bayes' theorem provides a model of belief change. Of course, that doesn't mean that the process is as precise as a mathematical theorem, but it gives us a model for looking at how we go from a prior state of our belief system to a subsequent one based on evidence.

Craig didn't use Bayes' theorem to prove that the resurrection occurred. He used it, along with arguments in Hume's Abject Failure by nonbeliever John Earman, to show that an across-the-board rejection of the miraculous, prior even to the investigation of the events in question, is untenable.

People on both sides of the issue use Bayesian arguments. In fact, most forms of the inductive argument from evil can be given a Bayesian formulation.

Anonymous, your posts don't strike me as serious.

Dustin Crummett said...

I have to say, anon is actually a pretty good troll--everything he is saying is patently ridiculous, yet some of it comes close enough to ridiculous things that the internet atheists actually say to cast real prima facie doubt about his troll status.

JS Allen said...

Yeah, anon is kind of funny, though wordy. My favorite was this:


"If Richard were here, he would show you guys. He is the leading intellectual of our day in all areas related to God not existing."


Since Richard is not "showing us guys", I can only conclude that Richard doesn't exist.

Tim said...

Okay, so let me try to get this straight. Richard Carrier is one of the leading intellectuals of our time, even though he has no idea what he is talking about when he discusses logic and probability theory.

When an "advanced skeptic" reads a technical paper, he gets sleepy. This proves that atheists are really smart, theists are just pretending to be smart, and the paper is just a clever attempt to pull the wool over the atheist's eyes.

Somewhere on the Internet Infidel's site, there is a refutation of Bayes's Theorem.

I'm beginning to warm to the idea that "Anonymous" is actually a gifted satirist.

DL said...

OK, some people are making uncharitible cracks about Mr. Anonymous. We must always remind ourselves that civil discourse is possible even with those with whom we disagree.

1) First of all, regarding charges of satire, it is only fair to note that Anonymous's comments are a direct defence of Carrier. To call Anonymous's contributions a joke is effectively to call Carrier's work a joke. With that kind of attitude, next thing you'll be calling Loftus and Ehrman jokes, or even Dawkins. Please consider the ramifications before posting dismissively.

2) Secondly, were Anonymous's comments meant to be parody, they would consist of blatant misinterpretations, philosophical conflations of the grossest species, vast ignorance of basic history and scholarship, and outrageous overconfident bluster, practically indistinguishable from actual postings by a certain class of less-than-classy skeptic.

3) Thirdly, if Anonymous were the skilled satirist some have suggested, to come out and say so would be to ruin the gag.

Now personally, I was about to post a devastating crticism of Carrier's above-quoted remarks, but in the face of Mr. Anonymous's several rapier-like responses, I find myself left speechless. I hope this clever wordsmith is not discouraged by the reaction here and continues to grace this site with his invaluable contributions.

Anonymous said...

Tim -

Here is my argument for Richard Carrier being a leading intellectual.

1. Bill Craig is considered an elite Christian apologist and philosopher.

2. Dr. Craig aims to debate the brightest and best atheists in the world to take on atheistic thought in its most potent form and show that Christianity is truly the dominant worldview.

3. Dr. Craig has debated Richard Carrier.

4. Therefore, Richard Carrier is among the brightest and best atheistic thinkers.

Gregory said...

"Material entities exposed to all this onslaught may very well be under compulsion to yield to whatsoever the atoms may bring: but would anyone pretend that the acts and states of a soul or mind could be explained by any atomic movements? How can we imagine that the onslaught of at atom, striking downwards or dashing in from any direction, could force the soul to definite and necessary reasonings or impulses or into any reasonings, impulses or thoughts at all, necessary or otherwise? And what of the soul's resistance to bodily states? What movement of atoms could compel one man to be a geometrician, set another studying arithmetic or astronomy, lead a third to the philosophic life? In a word, if we must go, like soulless bodies, wherever bodies push and drive us, there is an end to our personal act and to our very existence as living beings."

---from Plotinus' "Third Ennead", Chapter 1, part 3.

Anonymous said...

For further proof of Carrier's philosophical prowess, please see:

"Fatal Flaws in Michael Almeida’s Alleged ‘Defeat’ of Rowe’s New Evidential Argument from Evil." Philo 10.1 (Spring-Summer 2007).

Michael Almeida is a leading philospher of religion and Carrier refutes him.

Gregory said...

Anonymous said:

For further proof of Carrier's philosophical prowess, please see:

"Fatal Flaws in Michael Almeida’s Alleged ‘Defeat’ of Rowe’s New Evidential Argument from Evil." Philo 10.1 (Spring-Summer 2007).

Michael Almeida is a leading philospher of religion and Carrier refutes him.


I haven't read Carrier's response to Almeida...nor have I read Almeida's response to Carrier.

I'd also be interested to know if Carrier's confidence in the opinion that Jesus Christ probably didn't exist is shared widely by any competent, scholarly historian/s?

Which brings me to a quote from that lord and savior of atheism, Richard Carrier, himself:

(AFR claim):

2. Thoughts and beliefs can be either true or false.

(Carrier's response):

"From an analysis of data a brain computes varying degrees of confidence that a virtual model does or does not correspond to a real system. If there is such a correspondence, then having confidence in this is a true belief, while having confidence that there isn't such a correspondence would then be a false belief. If there is no such correspondence between the virtual model and reality, then having confidence that there is such a correspondence is a false belief, but having confidence that there isn't such a correspondence would be a true belief. Thus, Proposition 2 only requires the existence of correspondence and confidence, both of which can and do exist on naturalism."

Why would Carrier trust that any "analysis" of the brain--an "analysis" by other brains--and the brain's supposed ability to emote a degree of confidence when trying to discern "reality" from "virtual reality", if the question, at hand, concerns those very beliefs about the "brain"?

And, to be more exacting, what does it mean to say that a brain's output is "wrong" or "false", if the brain is wholly determined by the inviolable laws of physics and chemistry?

On another note: let's extrapolate, from the metaphysics of naturalism, to the truth that "evil", in the final analysis, isn't really a problem for anyone because "evil" is simply a mythological reconceptualization of what are, ultimately, just physical processes and events. But, in spite of this, I'm hoping that Chemists will be open to the idea that "evil" be included in the Periodic Table of Elements.

Someone might reply:

"Yes...but I have confidence that my brain is operating as a reliable, belief forming mechanism. Why should I doubt my own brain's ability to properly function?"

To which I reply:

"I'm not asking you 'why' you should doubt your own brain; but, rather, I'm wondering why you should doubt mine or anyone else's; granting that we, too, are predestined to the sublime verisimilitudes of our own Nature-given and Nature-blessed brains?"

But you know what? This would make an excellent science fiction series for T.V., starring "William Shatner", that I would give the tentative title "Brain Wars: Synapse C250". And I think the show's success is going to depend on casting "Richard Dawkins" as Shatners robot, sidekick buddy "Gene". Also, to get Paul and Patricia Churchland to fill the villain roles of "Dr. Vats" and "Doctor Mrs. Dr. Vats".

Oh, this is must-see T.V.

normajean said...

Yikes! This reminds me of a conversation I had with a yoot who asserted that logic is just a consequence of physics.
---

I said: that would mean that if the universe had different properties (and we were a different "truth finding machine) then the law of non-contradiction or modus ponens could be possibly false?

He said: Yes, I do believe that. It is an almost impossibility to imagine, but that is because our view of logic is based on our physical world, where those properties are never violated.

My response: Truth doesn’t work that way. The reason you intuit that it’s almost an impossibility to imagine that the law of non-contradiction (LNC) is possibly false is because it is of logical necessity not physical necessity that the law of non-contradiction is true and not possibly false (physical priority has nothing to do with truth or falsity).

Let me show you how the truth of LNC is inescapable (normative): If you say that LNC is possibly false (that it’s false to assert that Brandon cannot be both on and off the mat simultaneously), but then if I ask if it’s true that LNC is false and you say yes, then you’ve asserted that it’s false to assert that LNC is true which is to affirm LNC. If I ask if it’s true that LNC is false and you say no then you agree with me and we have nothing else to talk about. This is what distinguishes things of contingency with things of logical necessity and normativity. Does that make sense?

PS. I think Beckwith is spot-on! and funny =)