Monday, January 18, 2016

If naturalism is true, then belief based on evidence is metaphysically impossible

The evidential relation is not a physical relation. So if physicalism is true, evidence never has anything to do with what anyone believes. On that view, only spatial, temporal and causal relations have anything to do with anything that goes on in reality. So rather than being the correct conclusion of evidentialism, naturalistic materialism actually makes evidentialism impossible. If theism is true, then it is possible for beliefs to be based on evidence. Otherwise, it's metaphysically impossible.

62 comments:

John Moore said...

Why isn't the evidential relation a physical relation? Isn't evidence just like cause-and-effect? It's like one billiard ball hitting another. Is there some other kind of evidence besides physical evidence? I'm honestly confused.

samuelpdouglas said...

Care to expand on what constitutes the 'evidential relation'?

planks length said...

Could you please re-phrase, Victor? I've read your comment several times now, and still do not understand it. I googled "evidential relation" and what I found was no help at all - way over my head. (Perhaps that's why you have a PhD in Philosophy, and I do not?)

Edgestow said...

Totally off-topic, but it looks like viewers of this year's Superbowl will be treated to a Pro-Life Doritos commercial.

Joe Hinman said...

I can see that evidence is not c/e. I think he should give examples to make the argument more meaningful especially to naturalists.

Let's say we argue that binding delegates in primaries increases voter turnout. There is a c/e relation in that people are more apt to vote when they fell the have a voice or that their vote counts. But the actual relationship is not physical. It's attitudinal and psychological and logical. Nothing physical is compelling them to vote

example in apologetics. the modal argument I consider to be evidence but it's relation t God and the world is purely logical and metaphysial.

Ilíon said...

"The evidential relation is not a physical relation. So if physicalism is true, evidence never has anything to do with what anyone believes ... If theism is true, then it is possible for beliefs to be based on evidence. Otherwise, it's metaphysically impossible."

Exactly. And *thus* we know that physicalism, in particular, and atheism, in general, is a false conception of reality. That is, we *know* -- we *all* know -- that there is Creator-God.

Ilíon said...

planks length: "Could you please re-phrase, Victor? I've read your comment several times now, and still do not understand it. I googled "evidential relation" and what I found was no help at all."

John Moore: "Why isn't the evidential relation a physical relation? Isn't evidence just like cause-and-effect? It's like one billiard ball hitting another. Is there some other kind of evidence besides physical evidence? I'm honestly confused."

JM, even throuogh your materialist glasses, you're stating the very problem, and you're still "honestly confused"?

To both PL and JM, and the reader --

To understand "evidential relation", consider the question, "What is one plus one?" and the answer, "Two".

What physicality has "one" or "two" or, for than matter, "plus"? None at all; these are mental-and-logical -- and utterly immaterial/non-physical entities.

An "evidential relation" is a logical relationship between some number of entities. The entities themselves may be physical, or they may be logical, or a mixture, but the relationship is not a physical thing.


"Why isn't the evidential relation a physical relation? Isn't evidence just like cause-and-effect? It's like one billiard ball hitting another."

Today, "one billiard ball hitting another" may, via physical cause-and-effect, cause you to respond "two" to the question, "How much is one plus one?" Tomorrow, "one billiard ball hitting another" may, via physical cause-and-effect, cause you to respond "applesause" to the same question. Which response is correct? Is either response even an answer in the first place?

If you are an entity which "reasons" via physical cause-and-effect, then how are you going to determine which of those two responses -- that you yourself made -- is correct? And how are you going to *know* that you are correct when you say, "this response is correct and that one is incorrect"? The answer is that you can't, becasuse your determination is itself yet another result of via physical cause-and-effect.

If one understands (and admits) the truth, which is that we do not reason via physical cause-and-effect, then one can see (and admit) where one has made a faulty logical inference and thus reached a false conclusion. But, if one insists (and really does try to live by it) that we do too reason via physical cause-and-effect, then one is also insisting that no one can ever arrive at any truth, that no one can never know anyting! For, after all, there is no incorrect way for one billiard ball to hit another.

We -- being immaterial minds -- understand the "evidential relationships" which exist between the logical entites comprising the question. Thus, we know that the answer it "two", and we understand *why* that response, and only that response, is the truth of the matter.

This knowing and understanding has nothing to do with "one billiard ball hitting another" -- if if did, we wouldn't, and couldn't *know* anything at all.

Cal Metzger said...

VR: "The evidential relation is not a physical relation. "

Sure it isn't.




Jim S. said...

"It is true that we speak of being constrained by the evidence. But this constraint or cogency of implication is something different from causal necessitation. A conclusion may follow from given premises, but this does not mean that the act apprehending the premises will in all cases be followed by another act of apprehending the conclusion. Validity and psychological constraint are different notions."

Morris Ginsberg, On Justice in Society, p. 168.

planks length said...

Thanks, Ilion. I think I understand (sort of) now.

Of interest, Cal's latest comment (Sure it isn't) shows that he also does not understand. But in his case, he seems not to care.

Ilíon said...

PL, perhaps a simpler way to put this would be -- the term "evidence" does not refer to a physical entity, but rather to a set of one or more statements or propositions about some entity, which entity itself may or may not be physical.

Think of it this way: a rock is not "evidence"; even a rock that has been used to murder a person is not "evidence". Evidence is a (set of) statement(s) like, "This rock is the material cause of Jones' death; that his skull was fractured by a blunt heavy object and that his blood is found in the fissures of this rock establish it as the material cause of his death".

Notice, there are logical relationships between these statements (and the ones merely implied, as we all grew up on crime dramas), and it is the all of this together, the propositions and logical relationships between them, that is the evidence. But the rock itself? even though people may apply the word "evidence" it, it is not itself evidence. Else, any old rock would do.

But then, that gets us back into the "aboutness" issue, about which the materialism *also* need to keep the waters muddied.

John Moore said...

OK, I sort of get it, assuming Ilíon is speaking for Dr. Reppert. It's the idea that symbolic relationships are non-physical. It just seemed really non-intuitive the way Dr. Reppert threw the phrase out like that.

I disagree, of course, and I think all symbolic relationships depend on actual physical forces moving from the one thing to the other. This follows from the idea that the human mind is entirely physical. I explained a bit more here, in case anyone's curious.

Joe Hinman said...

what's the physical force making a not be non a?

I guess yu could say the actual existence of a. but what if a is justice? justice is nmot injustice, it's not physical either.

SteveK said...

John,
Show us a false or illogical physical force moving from one thing to another and cite the physical properties that make it physically false/illogical so that we can distinguish them from the physically true/logical things.

planks length said...

You guys just don't understand. To the materialist, being "physical" equates to existence, by definition. So you'll never get one to admit to the existence of something that doesn't have physical nature. The number two? That's just a word we use to describe a physical aspect of something. ("There are two of them.") Good and evil? Those are just words we use to describe observable actions of physical entities - no different than "going up" or "falling down".

It's circular reasoning at its finest! Not only does it not get you anywhere, but being a closed loop, no competing idea can get interfere. It's quite similar to the conspiracy theorist's mindset, in which the very absence of evidence for his version of events is itself evidence of a conspiracy.

Ilíon said...

SteveK: "Show us a false or illogical physical force moving from one thing to another and cite the physical properties that make it physically false/illogical so that we can distinguish them from the physically true/logical things."

AND, when you do that, show us how to distinguish the true/logical physical force which compels you to assert that the one you cite as being true/logical is indeed and that the one you cite as being false/illogical is indeed from the false/illogical physical force that will compel me to deny that you have demonstrated anything other than your obstinate refusal to admit the error of atheism/materialism.

Ilíon said...

PL, so, its the materialist's adamantine refusal to acknowledge the epistemic failure of materialism that is the "physical force" we're seeking?

Hugo Pelland said...

'Primacy of Consiousness', as usual, is implied in that kind of philosophical statements. Naturalism cannot even possibly be true only because it is assumed to be false to start with; it is assumed that there literaly is such a thing as the non-physical, for no reason other than the argumenter's own feelings and assumptions, and thus the physical cannot even possibly be all there is.

When starting from a worldview grounded in reality, in the physical first, then there are relations that we express in non-material terms, but always with a material grounding. It thus still renders the idea of a non-physical existence, completely independent of the physical, possible but unsupported. Hence, naturalism concludes that there is probably nothing else.

Basically, some people who assume the non-physical to exist, because they think they are non-physical themselves, their mind, their consciousness, cannot fathom the idea that it really does exist only because of their physical body. The others don't make such assumptions; they only assume that reality is real, that we can learn something from it, and try our best to find what's true. In that reality, some people claim there is more, some non-physical stuff they can think about, and believe this so strongly that it's not even possible, for them, that they could be wrong. Because they assume that these non-physical things they believe in really are existing, independently of any physical reality.

Dr. Reppert's argument assumes that naturalism is false to start with, by assuming that some abstract thins such as 'relation' are literally non-physical. Then, the conclusions follows that naturalism cannot be true, because non-physical things exist. Of course, they were assumed to exist independently of the physical world to start with...

Naturalism, on the other hand, is a conclusion reached by starting with the real objective reality we live in to ground beliefs and knowledge. It does not render non-natural, non-physical, things impossible to exist, just unproven, or even unprovable in most cases, and thus irrelevant, not worthy of belief. Hence, the conclusion that the natural world is 'most likely' all there is; unlike the pretentious conclusion based on supernatural unsupported beliefs that it's 'impossible' for naturalism to be true.

planks length said...

Wow. Such a pile of loaded language.

"for no reason other than"
"a worldview grounded in reality"
"starting ... always with a material grounding"
"they only assume that reality is real" (This is my personal favorite. We all think only reality is real. What is under discussion here is what is included in that reality.)
"because they think ... make such assumptions ... some people claim ... because they assume ... they believe"
"starting with the real objective reality" (see my above comment)
"pretentious"

But don't worry, folks. No presuppositions here. Just the straight dope!

Hugo Pelland said...

Sure, it's loaded language, just like the OP... that's the point. Good job on figuring that out!

Ilíon said...

PL:"Wow. Such a pile of loaded language. ... But don't worry, folks. No presuppositions here. Just the straight dope!"

Not only that, but it was a pile of bollocks; his primary assertions are the very opposite of the truth.

Consider -- "'Primacy of Consiousness', as usual, is implied in that kind of philosophical statements. Naturalism cannot even possibly be true only because it is assumed to be false to start with; it is assumed that there literaly is such a thing as the non-physical, for no reason other than the argumenter's own feelings and assumptions, and thus the physical cannot even possibly be all there is.
...
Naturalism, on the other hand, is a conclusion reached by starting with the real objective reality we live in to ground beliefs and knowledge. It does not render non-natural, non-physical, things impossible to exist, just unproven, or even unprovable in most cases, and thus irrelevant, not worthy of belief. Hence, the conclusion that the natural world is 'most likely' all there is; unlike the pretentious conclusion based on supernatural unsupported beliefs that it's 'impossible' for naturalism to be true.
"

and consider the comments made in just this thread, never mind one's previous experience with these sorts of (ahem) discussions.

Victor Reppert said...

By physical one can mean

1) Has a location in space and time.
2) What physical science can talk about
3) Obeys physical law
4) At the most basic level of analysis, is free of intentionality, purpose, subjectivity, and normativity.

Are we all willing to accept all four as part of what it means to be physical?

B. Prokop said...

I could go along with the first three, but I'd have to think long and hard about the last one.

Hugo Pelland said...

Victor Reppert said...

"By physical one can mean

1) Has a location in space and time.
2) What physical science can talk about
3) Obeys physical law
4) At the most basic level of analysis, is free of intentionality, purpose, subjectivity, and normativity.

Are we all willing to accept all four as part of what it means to be physical?
"

Sure, these sound right; could there be more?

Also, the usage of the word 'literally' in my comment is very important. Because that's what I always a problem with. Arguments against naturalism are oversimplifying the notion of what's physical to suit their own conclusion. Nobody argues that something like the number '3' is literally physical; but its definition rests our own physical experience. You cannot talk about '3' in purely abstract terms. Whether you like it or not, you end up grounding it in reality, in the physical.

Hugo Pelland said...

Ilíon said...
B. Prokop said...
grodrigues said...

'Stuff that does not address any point, and instead attempts to ridicule and dismiss the points made above.'

Ok!

Hugo Pelland said...

Oops, sorry B. Prokop, you were replying to VR; I thought you were 'going with' their comments...

Ilíon said...

VR: "By physical one can mean

1) Has a location in space and time.
...
4) At the most basic level of analysis, is free of intentionality, purpose, subjectivity, and normativity.
"

.Prokop: "I could go along with the first three, but I'd have to think long and hard about the last one."

What are the spatial dimensions of "intentionality, purpose, subjectivity, [or] normativity"? What do they weigh? Where are they located? If you toss, say, "intentionality", at a window, will it shatter the glass? Can you scratch "purpose" with a diamond, or will it scratch the diamond? What is the boiling point of "subjectivity"? How brittle it "normativity"?

B. Prokop said...

My big problem is with the idea of physical things being free of purpose. Surely everything has a purpose - even the least electron.

Ilíon said...

The purpose isn't *in* the electron. Any and all purpose that one wishes to propose for any material entity is imputed to that entity by a mind

grodrigues said...

@Hugo Pelland:

"Stuff that does not address any point, and instead attempts to ridicule and dismiss the points made above."

Your "point" is sufficiently addressed by noting that you do not understand the argument. Examples? "Naturalism cannot even possibly be true only because it is assumed to be false to start with" False. "Basically, some people who assume the non-physical to exist, because they think they are non-physical themselves, their mind, their consciousness, cannot fathom the idea that it really does exist only because of their physical body." False. And the falsities continue.

That you do not grasp the argument, or even know elementary logic to be able to distinguish an assumption from a conclusion, is your problem and your problem alone. It is that simple.

Hugo Pelland said...

@grodrigues
No, you don't understand; see I can do that too... We established that before; you prefer to whine that I don't understand to hide your own misunderstanding, and then walk away when pressed on specifics. It's that simple.

grodrigues said...

@Hugo Pelland:

"We established that before; you prefer to whine that I don't understand to hide your own misunderstanding, and then walk away when pressed on specifics. It's that simple."

This is hilarious because that is just what you have done: you *declared* by fiat that the argument is circular without giving a *single* reason, or even showing the least inkling of what the argument is. While I have already *explained* it to you that no, the argument is not circular. But since quite clearly, you have some comprehension difficulties, here it goes again. For a suitable predicate P, the argument has the structure:

1. Thought is P.
2. No purely physical thing is P.
3. By Leibniz's law, thought is not purely physical.

The argument is valid in point of logical form. The argument is not circular. If the argument fails it is *not* for the reasons you throw out without the least justification or substantiation. So yes, you do not even so much understand the argument. That you are do not see it and invent falsehoods out of whole cloth is your problem and your problem alone.

Now, continue whining.

Hugo Pelland said...

My argument is that I reject the definition of 'P' in the argument. And why does it sound so familiar... Here are some parts of that other thread, which answered what you re-wrote here:

grodrigues said...
" (1) Thought is P.
(2) no purely physical thing is P.
(3) Thought is not purely physical."


Hugo Pelland said...
Well of course, but that means nothing in this context because I also defined thoughts as not 'purely physical'. Again, my point is that the thoughts we know of, ours, are the produce of physical things. And, the things that are like thoughts but not ours, objectively defined abstract objects such as mathematics, for example, are also always referring back to physical things because we would not be able to discuss them otherwise. Thoughts can point to things that either exist as purely physical things, or not; if they fall in the second category, they cannot possibly be purely physical, by definition. That's what your deduction here argues for; not against my position.

grodrigues said...
No, we do *NOT* know that. And besides, I was careful in the way I phrased the conclusion; what I said was "Thought is not purely physical". I do not deny that we are physical beings, I just deny that we are wholly physical or that what we are is wholly reducible to the physical as we understand it.

Hugo Pelland said...
Correct, that's what I am curious about. How can you reach the conclusion that are more than just physical? Saying we cannot reduce our intelligence to the physical is an argument from ignorance.

--jumping ahead to what was left unanswered--

Just 2 things to quickly discuss, you said:
"There is not a single case of misrepresentation of your views on my part"
...but you did say...
"repetition of the mantra that thought is purely physical"
...which was not accurate. The use of the word 'purely' is key here since my position is that thoughts are 'not' purely physical (we cannot weigh them, taste them, touch them, detect them physically...) but a product of the physical; their existence is contingent on the physical. They are thus not in violation of physicalism, which reject that there exists things independent of the physical. And that's obviously just 'as far as we can tell' since we cannot possibly prove such statement. Physicalists like me just don't see a reason to believe there is such realm of existence.

Which brings me to the second point, regarding what you said here:
"I told you elsewhere however, that I am not a substance dualist"
I would be curious to know what you think of the video I linked to before in this thread. I wonder if you agree with the narrator's views since he is arguing against 'substance dualism'. Because I still don't know exactly what part of my views you actually disagree with.

To take a step back, from my end the simplest way to put it is that I see us as material beings living in a material world, first and foremost. We can discuss what exists, or not, and think about both kind of things, conceptually. But all that thinking we are doing is because we have material bodies; I don't see us thinking without a brain. It literally means nothing to me if you are talking about 'thinking' as an action detached from the material world. Because of that tie with the material world, we also think using only material things, as basic building blocks, and arrange them mentally to construct thoughts, abstract objects, ideas, and their relationships with each other.

Hugo Pelland said...

TL;DR
Premise (1) is both the start and the goal of the argument because 'P' is intended to mean 'literal non-physical', which does not fit under Naturalism and thus supposedly prove Naturalism false. I reject that premise because it assumes 'literal non-physical' things exist. The example used in VR's version was 'evidential relation', implicitly defined as a 'literal non-physical' thing because it's 'not physical'. Examples always vary but the argument is always the same.

John Moore said...

Dr. Reppert asked, "Are we all willing to accept all four as part of what it means to be physical?"

I think even the first point (has location in spacetime) is questionable, because the universe as a whole has no location in spacetime, and I want to call the universe physical too. Physical things include not just matter-energy but also the fundamental structure of spacetime. Thus, forces such as gravity (part of the fundamental structure of spacetime) are still physical even though gravity as a phenomenon doesn't have any particular location.

Maybe we can understand points 2 and 3 in terms of physical things being observable with our physical senses, and most importantly that our physical observations are repeatable in a mechanistic kind of way.

In that sense, I agree with points 2 and 3, but I disagree completely with point 4, because at the most basic level, intentionality etc. is simply a coherent flow of energy. Intentionality comes from momentum, or ultimately from the expansion of the universe.

People tend to think human subjectivity is non-physical because we currently can't observe the inner workings of the brain very well, and we can't figure out human motives in any repeatable or mechanistic kind of way. But someday we will! That's what naturalists like me say, anyway.

This is why the Argument from Reason is so interesting, because it suggests we can never figure out the mind at all. It's an area of philosophy we must explore. I think the Argument from Reason fails to consider the idea that intentionality, at its most basic, is energy flow.

SteveK said...

Hugo,
"When starting from a worldview grounded in reality, in the physical first, then there are relations that we express in non-material terms, but always with a material grounding. It thus still renders the idea of a non-physical existence, completely independent of the physical, possible but unsupported. Hence, naturalism concludes that there is probably nothing else."

You've been living under a rock if you think that there are no good reasons to think that naturalism is false. It's not an assumption, it's a conclusion that CAN be reached starting from the known physical world that you are speaking about. The arguments go back in history a long time. The fact that you disagree with them doesn't make them invalid nor circular.

Victor Reppert said...

Intentionality can't be energy flow. If it were, the flow of a river to the sea would be intentional, since it involves flow of energy. But it doesn't. QED.

grodrigues said...

@Hugo Pelland:

"Well of course, but that means nothing in this context because I also defined thoughts as not 'purely physical'. Again, my point is that the thoughts we know of, ours, are the produce of physical things."

The hilarity continues. First charge the argument with a fallacy while not giving a *single* argument; then go on to beg the question in the second sentence.

" And, the things that are like thoughts but not ours, objectively defined abstract objects such as mathematics, for example, are also always referring back to physical things because we would not be able to discuss them otherwise."

This is *false*. There is no "always referring back to physical things" when mathematicians talk about measurable cardinals, categories of perverse sheaves, Sobolev spaces, topos cohomology or whatever. It is also irrelevant because the argument does not hinge on any putative properties of mathematical objects like being abstract or immaterial -- because it would beg the question against the (hard-core) naturalist and I am not a Platonist anyway. Once again, you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.

"Thoughts can point to things that either exist as purely physical things, or not; if they fall in the second category, they cannot possibly be purely physical, by definition. That's what your deduction here argues for; not against my position."

For the love of God, that is *not* what I am arguing. Because the argument you put in my mouth is unsound (to wit, "if they fall in the second category, they cannot possibly be purely physical, by definition" is laughably off-base). I have already gone through this, and you *still* do not grasp what are quite *elementary* points. And I am not arguing "against your position", I am defending Reppert's argument from your ignorant falsehoods, which is a different thing.

"How can you reach the conclusion that are more than just physical?"

Facepalm. I have no patience for this.

Guess: in a few days / weeks Hugo will be repeating the exact same falsehoods.

John Moore said...

On the topic of rivers flowing to the sea, I wrote an item recently: Why We Want While Rivers Don't. Yes, it's just a matter of how complex the system is. I'm referring to a post that Edward Feser wrote. Anyway, I don't think you can simply dismiss the idea out of hand.

Hugo Pelland said...

SteveK said...

"You've been living under a rock if you think that there are no good reasons to think that naturalism is false. It's not an assumption, it's a conclusion that CAN be reached starting from the known physical world that you are speaking about. The arguments go back in history a long time. The fact that you disagree with them doesn't make them invalid nor circular."

Of course there are reasons; but not good ones that I know of. And I am explaining why the reasons I heard of always try to hide the assumption that the immaterial exists, before starting any argument. And I agree, it's still possible to reach the conclusion that Naturalism is false, and even that it's possible that the conclusion is accurate. I have simply not been convinced it is the case. But the fact that you disagree with me doesn't make arguments against Naturalism valid.

Note that the argument VR presented is way more "pretentious" than that, for lack of a better word, because it does not simply claim that Naturalism is false, it claims that it's 'impossible', pretty much by definition. That's what I am addressing, as Naturalism is a much less strict conclusion actually.

The latest comment does the same thing again:

Victor Reppert said...
Intentionality can't be energy flow. If it were, the flow of a river to the sea would be intentional, since it involves flow of energy. But it doesn't. QED.

So intentionality 'cannot' be an energy flow; it's not even possible that it comes purely from the brain? That's what I find particularly unconvincing in this approach; and it applies to the category of arguments as a whole. There is this notion that things like 'intentionality' are literally non-physical by definition, and thus Naturalism is false, by that definition. Arguments are not even needed...

Regarding that argument presented here, more specifically, it is invalid: it attempts to claim that because some 'A' are not 'B', then no 'A' can be a 'B'. (The energy flow of a river is not intentionality; hence no flow of energy can be intentionality.)

Hugo Pelland said...

==== Now, an irrelevant side note; no need to read really, but I sometime enjoy replying to this...

@SteveK
You've been living under a rock if you think that...
@grodrigues
"The hilarity continues. [...]
For the love of God, [...]
Facepalm. I have no patience for this.
Guess: in a few days / weeks Hugo will be repeating the exact same falsehoods.
"

Are you guys able to have discussions without these useless insertions? Does it make you feel superior or something like that? Then, of course, the follow-up is to call some of us 'trolls' because you don't like what we write...

And grodrigues, if you are not patient enough, not interested enough, you can always just IGNORE. Nobody is paying you to read or write here; so I don't understand what you get from this, besides getting angry at someone on the Internet! Nobody cares if you reply or not. But when you do write something, what's wrong with addressing it? Again, you can IGNORE the response if you don't like it.

And it's funny that you say I will come back repeating the exact same thing, when this is EXACTLY WHAT YOU DID. You literally re-wrote the same words, almost identical to your previous version of '1. Though is P. 2... etc...', but it was not a copy/paste because it's slightly different... so you had this fixed idea in your mind and you just spit it out exactly the same way, even when we exchanged several comments AFTER you had written these same words. Yet you accused me of doing that!

investigativeapologetics said...

I’m sorry, but Hugo Pelland’s post at 1:50 pm on the 20th of January 2016 was so funny, and so intellectually backwards, that it truly brought a smile to my face.

Consider:

When starting from a worldview grounded in reality, in the physical first,

Materialism, grounded in reality as a “first”, seriously? Consider, what do we know to be true? What can we not doubt? Well, we cannot doubt that we are thinking things, but we can absolutely and easily doubt that we are material thinking things. The fact is that I can easily deny that reality is material, but I cannot deny that it is thought. Immaterialism is the first undeniable reality, the physical the second and easily doubtable one.


…there are relations that we express in non-material terms, but always with a material grounding.

Backwards. When we speak in the vulgar, it is with a materialistic grounding, but it always comes back to the immaterial.


It thus still renders the idea of a non-physical existence, completely independent of the physical, possible but unsupported. Hence, naturalism concludes that there is probably nothing else.

Again, quite backwards. What we have is no evidence of the material. Oh, we have evidence of things, but no evidence that they are material things rather than just the projection of thought (as on immaterialism). And since we know thought exists, and we cannot deny that thought exists, but we do not know or need matter to exist, then Occam’s Razor naturally leads the rational man to reject materialism and matter, for it is totally unnecessary to account for existence. So while immaterialism might possibly admit the existence of matter, its existence is possible but unsupported, and so immaterialism concludes that there is probably no matter.


Basically, some people who assume the non-physical to exist, because they think they are non-physical themselves, their mind, their consciousness, cannot fathom the idea that it really does exist only because of their physical body.

Again, backwards. Basically, some people assume the physical to exist, because they think they are actually physical themselves and they cannot fathom the idea that they really only exist because of a projection of an immaterial mind.


The others don't make such assumptions; they only assume that reality is real, that we can learn something from it, and try our best to find what's true.

Again (and again), backwards. Others, like immaterialists, don’t make the assumption that matter exists and they don’t needlessly move beyond what empiricism actually shows. Immaterialists only believe what is real, and what is known to be real, namely thought, not this amorphous stuff that no one has ever seen called ‘matter’.


…some people claim there is more, some non-physical stuff they can think about, and believe this so strongly that it's not even possible, for them, that they could be wrong.

Again, backwards (I know, I’m repeating myself). The people who claim the unnecessary “more” to reality are materialists! And materialists believe this so strongly—with no non-question-begging evidence for it—that it’s not even possible for them that they could be wrong.

Con’t…

investigativeapologetics said...

Con’t…


Because they assume that these non-physical things they believe in really are existing, independently of any physical reality.

Backwards. It is because materialists assume these physical things really exist independent of a mind.


Dr. Reppert's argument assumes that naturalism is false to start with, by assuming that some abstract thins such as 'relation' are literally non-physical. Then, the conclusions follows that naturalism cannot be true, because non-physical things exist. Of course, they were assumed to exist independently of the physical world to start with...

No, it’s the materialist who assumes that immaterialism is false to start with, by assuming that some abstract thing called ‘matter’ actually exists. Then the conclusion follows that immaterialism cannot be true because matter exists. Of course, matter was just assumed to exist without any evidence for it.


Naturalism, on the other hand, is a conclusion reached by starting with the real objective reality we live in to ground beliefs and knowledge. It does not render non-natural, non-physical, things impossible to exist, just unproven, or even unprovable in most cases, and thus irrelevant, not worthy of belief. Hence, the conclusion that the natural world is 'most likely' all there is; unlike the pretentious conclusion based on supernatural unsupported beliefs that it's 'impossible' for naturalism to be true.

Again, actually backwards. Watch this rephrase: Immaterialism, on the other hand, is a conclusion reached by starting with the real objective reality (namely, thought) we live in to ground beliefs and knowledge. It does not render material things impossible to exist, just unproven and unprovable, and thus irrelevant, not worthy of belief. Hence, the conclusion that immaterialism is true, and thus that minds and ideas are all there is, unlike the pretentious conclusion based on unsupported beliefs that it’s ‘impossible’ for immaterialism to be true.


…it is assumed that there literaly is such a thing as the non-physical, for no reason other than the argumenter's own feelings and assumptions, and thus the physical cannot even possibly be all there is.

Again, backwards. It is the materialist whose own feelings and assumptions cloud his judgement to the point that he accepts the existence of the material, even though there is no evidence for it and no need for it.


And finally, if the materialist dares to claim that immaterialism just is so absurd and unbelievable as to not be worthy of consideration, then consider that this is a pretty hypocritical claim coming from a person who believes that actual objects are composed of nothing more than little balls on undetectable stuff floating in space with vast spaces between these little balls…and that is somehow supposed to be more plausible or rational than immaterialism. Please, give me a break!

Anyway, just my two cents.

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www.investigativeapologetics.wordpress.com

Hugo Pelland said...

investigativeapologetics said...

so funny, and so intellectually backwards, that it truly brought a smile to my face.

Please add your name to the comment above (Are you guys able to have discussions without these useless insertions? Does it make you feel superior or something like that?)
I should have waited just 2 more minutes I guess...

But thankfully, that was just a tiny bit of a much longer comment, which appear to be well thought out. I will take a peak when I have more time. Cheers.

investigativeapologetics said...

Hugo Pelland,

Quite seriously, I just reported the truth. It was funny, and intellectually backwards. That is a fact, which I then substantiate in my post.

Understand as well that as an immaterialist, I have seen these kinds of comments from naturalists so often that it makes my eyes roll, and thus I insert a little snark because naturalists and materialists need to be awoken from their dogmatic slumber, and sometimes a pointed comment is the best way to do so.

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investigativeapologetics said...

However, in the interests of fostering a productive discussion, let me ask you three questions (and feel free to answer or not as you like):

1) Do you take Occam's Razor (essentially, simplicity/modesty) to be a guide to truth and/or rationality for differing worldview?

2) Do you accept that to be a thinking thing, the one thing that we cannot doubt is that we are a thinking thing (its tautological, I know, but I still need an answer)?

3) Do you accept the fact that we can indeed doubt (even if it is only a tiny doubt) that we are material thinking things?

Thank you.

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Hugo Pelland said...

Sure, but it goes both ways you know... we're all biased and obviously all see others' position as false and repeatedly debunked.

Hugo Pelland said...

1) Yes, generally, but not always
2) Yes, but that's what we know, we can then assess what 'existence' really means
3) No, after assessment of what 'to exist' mean, I reject that I can possibly be immaterial, i.e. rejecting hard solipsism as a starting point.

Thanks for these questions, might be interesting to extrapolate further. (On transit and thus on my phone...)

Cheers

investigativeapologetics said...

Hugo Pelland,

Here is the simple argument for immaterialism:

1) Occam's Razor is a guide to truth and/or what is rational to believe.

2) I know that I am thinking thing; I cannot deny that I am a thinking thing.

3) Immaterialism accounts for reality as well as materialism does (if not more so).

Conclusion: Since immaterialism has as much (if not more) explanatory power concerning reality as materialism does, and since being a thinking thing is all that is required for immaterialism or for reason itself, then, following Occam's Razor, I should not multiple things beyond necessity, and since I have no need to posit / believe in the existence of matter, I should not do so.

Ergo, immaterialism is more likely true and/or is more rational than materialism.


Second, if I value evidence, I note that while I know that I am a thinking thing, there is absolutely no non-question-begging evidence for the existence of this stuff called 'matter', and so why should I believe in a position (namely, materialism) which not only violates Occam's Razor, but for which there is absolutely NO evidence.

As Berkeley argued, an evidentialist/empiricist is an immaterialist, not a materialist.

Hence, immaterialism is more rational than materialism, for while the materialist assumes the existence of matter, the immaterialist actually has an argument for why this assumption is unnecessary.

I note as well that in this image of video games and virtual reality, seeing the way that immaterialism could work and could be real is quite easy, but we are so trapped in our materialistic presuppositions that we just do not wish to let them go.

investigativeapologetics said...

Oh...I also note that there is a burden of proof argument here as well:

Namely, we both agree that we are thinking and reasoning things, but you (the materialist) make the additional positive claim that we are MATERIAL thinking things. I, however, do not accept that, and thus the burden is on you to prove your claim. Until and unless you do so, I am perfectly rational to remain an immaterialist. And yet since it is arguable that the materialist can never prove the need for matter to exist in order to account for reality, then immaterialism remains the most rational position in perpetuity.

Jim S. said...

"The naturalistic/physicalistic crusade to reduce the mental to the physical is driven by the idea that we have better knowledge and understanding of the physical than we have of the "problematic" and uncomfortably "mysterious" mental. But if what I asserted above is true, the tenability of any sort of physicalism rests on an epistemology that is committed to a view diametrically opposed to this idea. We have a better, and more immediate grasp of the mental than we have of the theoretical posit that is the physical world and its properties. If anything, we should be much more concerned to reduce the physical to the comfortable, more familiar world of the mental than we should be interested in reductions that move in the opposite direction."

Richard Fumerton, Knowledge, Thought, and the Case for Dualism (Cambridge Studies in Philosophy), p. 143.

grodrigues said...

@Hugo Pelland:

"Are you guys able to have discussions without these useless insertions? Does it make you feel superior or something like that? Then, of course, the follow-up is to call some of us 'trolls' because you don't like what we write."

No, because they are *not* "useless insertions", but an accurate diagnosis of the dialectical situation. Furthermore, it takes real chutzpah for you to whine about "useless insertions". Your post at January 20, 2016 1:50 PM has in the first paragraph:

"it is assumed that there literaly is such a thing as the non-physical, for no reason other than the argumenter's own feelings and assumptions, and thus the physical cannot even possibly be all there is."

Besides the blatant lie, the lie is followed with some rank psychologization of those that disagree with you ("for no reason other than the argumenter's own feelings and assumptions"). You really are a piece of work. But this is to be expected: when you do not have arguments -- and you don't, not even a *single* one as I keep stressing -- or even have less than a tenuous grasp of what the issues are, you shift the discussion to how meanie your opponents are, conveniently forgetting that your track record is no better.

"But when you do write something, what's wrong with addressing it?"

I addressed it, several times, it is you who keeps missing the *obvious*. The *conclusion* of the argument is, and I quote, "thought is not purely physical". For you to then ask "How can you reach the conclusion that are more than just physical?" just shows that you cannot read plain English, and so should refrain from commenting on anything whatsoever, or you can read but are intellectually dishonest (or a combination of both). Therefore the Facepalm.

"You literally re-wrote the same words, almost identical to your previous version"

Oh God... I did not made the prediction (prediction, not accusation) that you would repeat the "same words", but that you would repeat the "exact same falsehooods", *demonstrable falsehoods* (for the record, I sure hope I am wrong in my prediction). Can you spot the difference? Or even this elementary distinction is beyond you?

note: in the previous comment I said I was "defending Reppert's argument", which of course is wrong; it is Ross's argument. Reppert's argument is a different one. Apologies for the mistake.

Ilíon said...

grodrigues: "That you do not grasp the argument, or even know elementary logic to be able to distinguish an assumption from a conclusion, is your problem and your problem alone. It is that simple."

But, in fact, Hugo (*) is quite "able to distinguish an assumption from a conclusion" ... when he wants to. The problem is not that he is stupid, it's that he is intellectually dishonest.

He "do[es] not grasp the argument" because he does not desire to grasp it; he chooses to "not get it". He misrepresents the argument, and even outright lies about both the argument made and his own responses to it, because to admit the truth would be to begin the trek out of atheism. Hell! if he were to do that, who knows where honesty might take him? If he started to acknowledge the reality of a Creator, he might even end up acknowledging Christ (**), and that just wouldn't do!


(*) and all of these God-deniers who "play dumb" when that is what it takes to maintain the pretense that God-denial hasn't been shown, by multiple means, to be absurd.

(**) who, according to Christianity, *is* the Creator.

SteveK said...

Hugo,
"Of course there are reasons; but not good ones that I know of. And I am explaining why the reasons I heard of always try to hide the assumption that the immaterial exists, before starting any argument."

Where is it hidden? Take a look at some of the classic arguments and show us where it is assumed rather than concluded. I think G. Rodgrigues is correct, that you cannot distinguish between assumption and conclusion - but maybe you can show us that we are wrong.

Hugo Pelland said...

Investigativeapologetics,

Thanks for presenting the argument in this form; concise yet mostly well-defined.

"1) Occam's Razor is a guide to truth and/or what is rational to believe.
2) I know that I am thinking thing; I cannot deny that I am a thinking thing.
3) Immaterialism accounts for reality as well as materialism does (if not more so).
"

1) Occam's Razor is a guide, yes. On its own, it cannot justify rational beliefs. Sometimes, the more complicated explanation is the right one. Do you deny that?

2) I cannot deny that I am a thinking thing. If it turns out that I am in the Matrix, or subject of an alien experiment, or totally mind controlled by an evil genius, I am still really thinking what I am thinking. Anything that is able to grasp that concept and reflect about it, about them, is a thinking thing. But this is my own subjective knowledge only; so at least 1 key point is missing.

3) As you know, I disagree, of course; and I don't see much support for this premise, it's an opinion; mine is that materialism accounts for reality better than immaterialism, which only adds superfluous questions and no answers at all. I don't think this could ever be use as a premise to support the idea that immaterialism better explains reality.

"Conclusion: Since immaterialism has as much (if not more) explanatory power concerning reality as materialism does, "(3)" and since being a thinking thing is all that is required for immaterialism or for reason itself "(4)", then, following Occam's Razor, I should not multiple things beyond necessity, "(1)" and since I have no need to posit / believe in the existence of matter, I should not do so"(5)""

4) The conclusion implies another premise, which states that being a thinking thing is all that is required for reason itself. I don't accept that. It directly mirrors the issues I have with 2), because the key things that are missing here are (a) what 'reality' refers to exactly, (b) what can we say is 'objective' vs 'subjective', and (c) what 'existence' should be defined as.

5) is presented as a conclusion but, in my opinion, reflects the opinion of the argument maker, namely that material existence should not be assumed. i.e. the primacy of (immaterial) consciousness is preferred over the primacy of (material) existence.

Hugo Pelland said...

Putting all this together, the shortest summary I can make is this:

(a) Reality cannot be subjective, by definition; there is an implicit notion that 'Reality' = 'Objective Reality'. Our personal experiences and beliefs of that reality are not reality itself.
(b) What I am thinking about, as a thinking thing, can either be an accurate representation of reality, or not, objectively. I have to compare my representation with reality itself to figure out whether I am right, and other thinking things might disagree with me on what I think is true, objectively, even if we agree there is only 1 true objective truth.
(c) As a thinking thing, I have a representation of my own existence, but also of other things' existence, and existence as a whole. I thus have a subjective theory of what objective 'existence' is. Every thinking thing has one, and we can adjust it based on facts and others' opinion; that's why we are having this discussion.
(d) My theory is that the most basic assumption I should make about reality is that the 'material existence' I perceive through my senses is real. That's why I exist, that's why I can think. I am a material thinking thing because I have a material presence, which my thinking depends on. Yes, it's more complicated than just 'I think therefore I am', but I believe it to be more accurate.

Another way to put it is this: what are we thinking 'about', and what 'can' we think about? By comparing the content of our thoughts through language, writing, gesture, art, etc... we, thinking things, can explain and discuss how everything we (all of us) think about is, at its most basic level, only 1 of 2 things: direct conceptual representation of reality, which we experienced before, or aggregate of conceptual building blocks, which are themselves direct conceptual representation of reality. We can, for example, discuss what UV light is, even if we don't see it, but we cannot discuss what it feels like to see UV light; we are restricted to the colors we know of. Conversely, people who only see in black and white can understand, to a degree, what colors are, but can never know what it feels like to experience them; on the other hand, we also have people, mostly women apparently, who can see UV, just like some birds can, and they also struggle at explaining what it feels like because language did not evolve to include these colors. So the material world informs not only what we think about, but also what we 'can' think about; we are definitely limited by our own body when it comes to thinking, and I argue that we are 'completely' limited, in the sense that we cannot even think of things we are not aware of, physically. The best we can do is combined things we know of to try to imagine what these others things are, or what they feel like.

Lots of other points could be addressed to be clearer, and I did not directly answer many other things that your brought forward; I could go on and on, on why I am not surprised you say I have everything 'backward' because this is precisely my point, and how I see no more explanatory power on the immaterial side by replying sentence by sentence to the rest of your comment. But I am afraid that would make it too long, and it already kind of is... so I am curious to know what you think about just these few points.

grodrigues said...

@Hugo Pelland:

So first, Hugo quotes investigativeapologetics' argument thus:

"1) Occam's Razor is a guide to truth and/or what is rational to believe.
2) I know that I am thinking thing; I cannot deny that I am a thinking thing.
3) Immaterialism accounts for reality as well as materialism does (if not more so)."

Then in response to 3) he writes:

"3) As you know, I disagree, of course; and I don't see much support for this premise, it's an opinion; mine is that materialism accounts for reality better than immaterialism, which only adds superfluous questions and no answers at all. I don't think this could ever be use as a premise to support the idea that immaterialism better explains reality."

There are two things we can learn from this. First, is that Hugo Pelland seems to be constitutionally incapable of evaluating an argument, any argument, since he *cannot* distinguish premise from conclusion. Newsflash: (3) is the *conclusion* not a *premise* and the support of for it, *is* the argument itself. Second, it is that when he writes "it's an opinion; mine is that", he quite accurately understands that he only has *opinion*, not *real knowledge*. Kudos to him for that.

Hugo Pelland said...

@grodrigues

Investigativeapologetics wrote the argument like this:
"1) Occam's Razor is a guide [...]
2) I know that I am thinking thing [...]
3) Immaterialism accounts for reality as well as materialism [...]
Conclusion: Since immaterialism has as much (if not more) explanatory power concerning [...], then, [...]
Ergo, immaterialism is more likely true and/or is more rational than materialism.
"

I am pretty sure #3 was a premise, and the conclusion is what comes after 'Ergo'. The listed conclusion even repeat premise 3 by stating 'Since [Premise 3] then'. But you know, I could still be wrong; it's just my interpretation of his argument, so he can clarify if needed.

There are two things we can learn from this... nevermind.

grodrigues said...

@Hugo Pelland:

Actually, your interpretation is indeed a plausible one (whether or not it is what investigativeapologetics intended), so I retract my charges with an apology for jumping the gun.

investigativeapologetics said...

Hugo Pelland,

First off, I don’t have much time to answer in detail at this time, but I think that I spotted one of your main errors in your comments, which is this:

(d) My theory is that the most basic assumption I should make about reality is that the 'material existence' I perceive through my senses is real.

The fact is that you don’t perceive a material reality through your senses, you perceive “things”—things that are colored, things that are hard, things that are shaped, etc.—which you then infer are material. But it is an inference, not a direct perception. You never perceive matter, you only infer that what you see is this stuff called matter rather than something else. I note as well that you admitted that this is an assumption on your part, and it is, but note that the immaterialist makes no such assumptions, and that is a point in immaterialism favor.

Now, very quickly, let me put my argument another way (in a ‘scientific’ / ‘comparing hypotheses’ type of way):

1) Immaterialism Hypothesis: Only thinking things exist (no matter at all exists (not dualism), with one thinking thing (“a god”) who is responsible for controlling and projecting an objective reality to all of the other thinking things that exist.

2) Materialism Hypothesis: A material realm exists that eventually produced thinking things that think about things.

Compare Hypotheses to Explanatory Virtues:

a. Explanatory Power and Scope: Both explanations can account for reality as we experience it (and you even admitted this when you said that you might be in the Matrix, which admits that you could be in the Matrix and yet reality could be the same…and obviously a god could make such a thing as a “Matrix” type existence). In fact, whereas we know, by definition, that a God could create other thinking things, we do not know (at present) whether material forces have the causal power to create thinking things. And we cannot assume this to be the case. Ergo, at present, immaterialism actually has more causal explanatory power than materialism does and is at least equal in explanatory scope to immaterialism.

b. Concurrence with Background Knowledge: Whereas I know that I am a thinking thing, and I cannot doubt that, I do not know that I am a material thinking thing. Furthermore, I can easily doubt that matter exists (as countless skeptics have previously shown). So immaterialism is more in line with our background knowledge.

c. Simplicity: Immaterialism only posits the existence of one thing: namely, thinking things, which we know exist. Materialism, by contrast, posits two things: thinking things and matter, and yet we don’t know that matter exists.

Conclusion: Immaterialism is at least equal in explanatory scope to materialism, but greater in explanatory power, more in line with our background knowledge, and simpler. Ergo, immaterialism is more likely to be true and/or more rational than materialism.

Finally, I note that you were silent on my ‘burden of proof’ argument. Essentially, the burden is on you to show that matter actually exists, not on me to simply assume that it does.

Anyway, more to follow in a few days.

Hugo Pelland said...

Investigativeapologetics,

I will try to keep it as short as possible since you said you have more coming already, but I see some disagreements that we will probably not get pass within the comment box of a blog...

"The fact is that you don’t perceive a material reality through your senses, you perceive “things” [...] I note as well that you admitted that this is an assumption on your part"

Absolutely right, but that's not a problem, that's part of the difference between the primacy of consciousness and the primacy of existence. So I am not concerned with the inference that what we perceive is 'matter'; it's just one of many labels we use to describe existence. That's the reason why I don't see much difference, if any, between Naturalism, Materialism, and Physicalism. They all boil down to the assumption that reality is real, what we perceive as part of this reality is labelled as Natural/Material/Physical and, after close examination and thinking, it seems to me that there is no reason to believe that non-Natural/Material/Physical things really do exist independent of reality. People have ideas about what they could be, more or less, but I see no reason to believe these people are right.

"1) Immaterialism Hypothesis: Only thinking things exist (no matter at all exists (not dualism), with one thinking thing (“a god”) who is responsible for controlling and projecting an objective reality to all of the other thinking things that exist"

I think you just killed your argument with this addition of a god here. It suddenly makes it so much more complicated than a godless self-sustaining reality, even without comparing it to something else, since your argument depends strongly on the fact that it's a simpler worldview...

Plus, what is objective in this case? Is it the same reality I find to be the objective reality we experience, or is it really something else that only some god knows about? Again, this makes it more complicated. You added multiple levels of potential realities.

But it's worse than that actually; because it's a bogus definition of 'objective'. You just described reality to be the result of some thinking thing that controls it, and decides how it is; hence, it's not objective! It's a world that a god created, based on its subjective opinion and preferences, for us to be fooled into thinking it looks objective, when it really isn't.

Hugo Pelland said...

"2) Materialism Hypothesis: A material realm exists that eventually produced thinking things that think about things"

That sounds right, and it's shorter and simpler than 1) so, again, the argument doesn't work very well anymore... but the case for simplicity was a moot point anyway. I notice that you did not acknowledge that by the way.

"a. Explanatory Power and Scope"
- I was not clear when I said that I acknowledge we could be in the Matrix; I am passed that point. What it meant is that, if, temporarily, I look at your approach and focus only on my own subjective existence, my thinking, then I cannot reject the Matrix scenario. But, that's not what I am doing. I am explicitly rejecting such options, when thinking about what 'existence' really is, by assuming reality is real. The primacy of existence gets rid of that option by assuming it's false and moving on to other endeavor.
- We do know that material forces have the causal power to create thinking things; it's called biological evolution... Plus, even if we did not know about it, it would still be a possibility; something we can conceive.
- And, even if we did not know anything about evolution at all, positing a god without any explanation as to how this would work is nothing but an argument from ignorance; 'we cannot think of any natural ways this could happen, hence god makes more sense'. There is no explanatory power at all here; it's just a statement of opinion.
- Ergo, at present, even I were to "forget" what I know about human evolution, immaterialism has more no more causal explanatory power than materialism.

" b. Concurrence with Background Knowledge:"
Your opinion; too bad honestly... in 2016, we do know a great deal about all that actually. Sorry if that sounds arrogant but I cannot unlearn what I know about the brain...

"c. Simplicity: "
No, I disagree that Immaterialism is simpler.
And no, even if it were, it's not a good reason to think it's right.
Again, you did not acknowledge that 2nd point and I wonder why...

"Conclusion"
Ergo, materialism is more likely to be true and/or more rational than immaterialism.

"the burden is on you to show that matter actually exists, not on me to simply assume that it does."
It's your choice really, since I assume reality exist I don't even know what I could prove to you... but I do care about things like how the brain changes over our lifetime, and the tons and tons of examples we have that show how, clearly in my opinion, it is the only reason why we are thinking.