Archive for June 14th, 2012

June 14th, 2012

Necessitarian Theory and Why Logical Positivists Attempt to Avoid Nomic Necessity

by Max Andrews

The necessitarian states that there are metaphysical connections of necessity in the world that ground and explain the most fundamental regularities.  Necessitarian theorists usually use the word must to express this connection.[1]  Thus, NT maintains must-statements are not adequately captured by is-statements (must ≠ is, or certain facts are unaccounted for).[2]  Nomic necessity claims that it is difficult for mere regularity to account for certain counterfactual claims because what happens in the actual world do not themselves imply anything about what would have happened had things been different.[3]  If it is now true that Q occurs if P causally precedes Q then the necessitarian can adequately account for counterfactual claims.  Given the present antecedent condition of P at tn and P implies Q at tn and it was true that P implied Q at tn-1 then using P as an antecedent for R at hypothetical tn-1’ then R is true if P was a sufficient condition R at tn-1’. Thus, there is certainty in the truth of counterfactual claims.  However, counterfactuals allow for conflict between truth functional interpretation and ordinary language.  For instance, any counterfactual claim with the necessary condition having a false truth-value and the sufficient condition obtaining a truth-value that is true then the counterfactual claim will be invalid.

Why is supporting counterfactual conditionals a symptom of nomic necessity? I would ague that there must be a connection or relationship between the conditions.  Consider the argument, as modus ponens, that if the moon’s core is made of cheese then my desk is made from mahogany.  What relationship do these two conditions have?

June 14th, 2012

A Short Response to William Rowe’s “The Problem of Evil”

by Max Andrews

See William Rowe, “The Problem of Evil,” in Philosophy of Religion (Belmont: CA, Wadsworth, 2007), 112-31.

Rowe makes a strong positive case for why atheism is true.  He supposes that, as especially in the absence of other arguments, anyone who observes the amount of human and animal suffering in the world and the truth of premise 1 in the evidential argument (that there are probably pointless evils) then this person would be rationally justified in believing atheism to be true. He presents two basic forms of the argument:  the logical and the evidential problems of evil.  The logical problem of evil argues that the existence of God and the existence of evil are logically contradictory claims.  However, these aren’t explicitly contradictory—they are implicit (i.e. a married bachelor is an implicit contradiction and a married non-married person is an explicit contradiction).  Rowe recognizes that we must abandon the logical problem of evil because the contradiction has yet to be proved (though he states that just because it has yet to be demonstrated doesn’t necessarily mean there isn’t one).

The evidential problem is a probabilistic argument, which argues that given the apparent [pointless] evil it is more probable that God does not exist than if God does exist.  He uses the example of a fawn suffering for no apparent reason.  Given that God would prevent this from happening and the fact that it does happen then God doesn’t seem to exist.  Rowe seems to favor this form of the problem of evil over the logical problem.

Each of the arguments is countered with theistic objections to the problem of evil such as the free will defense and other theodicies.  Rowe gives fair attention and representation of the competing explanations.  He concedes that there are certainly rational grounds for believing in theism and advocates a form of friendly agnosticism or atheism and discourages any unfriendly forms of agnosticism or atheism.

June 14th, 2012

What’s the Difference between Scientific Explanation and Natural Law?

by Max Andrews

In the eighteenth century David Hume held that the relation of cause and effect obtains only when one or more laws subsume the related events—that is, cover them as cases or instances of the operation of the law.[1]  This method and criticism of causality deprived science of any valid foundation in necessary connections obtaining between actual events and of leaving it with nothing more reliable than habits of mind rooted in association.  Hume’s mode of inquiry was one in which questions yield results that are not entirely new, giving rise to knowledge that can only be derived by an inferential process from what was already known.  Humean regularities and constant connections cannot be reduced to scientific explanations. If scientific explanation is causal explanation, and causation is law-governed sequence, then it follows that scientific explanations require laws.  However, a problem with this (i.e. the ideal gas law: PV=nRT) is that instead of making things clearer, it threatens to involve the analysis of scientific explanation in a thicket of “metaphysical” issues that several philosophers and positivists sought to avoid.[2]   Scientific explanation requires a causal explanation, which requires a law-governed explanation.

Natural law describes but does not explain natural phenomena.  Newton’s law of universal gravitation described, but did not explain, what caused gravitational attraction.  Newton claimed that he invented no hypotheses but deduced them from observations produced by rationalistic positivism, which engulfed contemporary European science.  Even though Newton’s law does not explain the data, it is still scientific but offers no scientific explanation.  Many scientific theories do not offer an explanation by natural law.  Instead, they postulate past regularities to explain presently observed phenomena, which also, in turn, allow for predictive capabilities.

June 14th, 2012

Theology Thursday: Thomas F. Torrance Part 2

by Max Andrews

Theologian: Thomas F. Torrance (1913 – 2007) – the development of onto-relations

More about his theology:  Thomas Torrance was a professor of Christian Dogmatics at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.  He was heavily influenced by Karl Barth and contemporary science.  He translated Barth’s Dogmatics from German to English. (Which is quite voluminous–thirteen volumes, six million words).  He was also a recipient of the Templeton Prize for the advancement of religion.

In reality all entities are ontologically connected or interrelated in the field in which they are found.  If this is true then the relation is the most significant thing to know regarding an object.  Thus, to know entities as they actually are what they are in their relation “webs”.  Thomas Torrance termed this as onto-relations, which points more to the entity or reality, as it is what it is as a result of its constitutive relations.[1]

The methodology of the epistemological realist concerns propositions of which are a posteriori, or “thinking after,” the objective disclosure of reality.  Thus, epistemology follows from ontology.  False thinking or methodology (particularly in scientific knowledge) has brought about a failure to recognize the intelligibility actually present in nature and the kinship in the human knowing capacity to the objective rationality to be known.[2]

June 14th, 2012

A Second Exception to the BVG Theorem

by Max Andrews

The Borde-Vilenkin-Guth Theorem states that any universe, which has, on average, a rate of expansion greater 1 that system had to have a finite beginning. This would apply in any multiverse scenario as well.  There are four exceptions to the theorem.*

For a greater context please see the first exception to the BVG theorem, which is Initial Contraction (Havg<0).

The second exception: Asymptotically static (Havg=O)

Example: asymptotically static universe is an emergent model class.

An asymptotically static space is one in which the average expansion rate of the universe over its history is equal to zero, since the expansion rate of the universe “at” infinity is zero.  The problem is that we observe expansion today and if at any moment there is expansion then the Havg must be greater than 0.