Posts tagged ‘axiology’

November 28th, 2012

The New Moral Argument

by Max Andrews

The following is an argument David Baggett developed, which argues for the existence of a perfectly moral person. I used this in the VT debate on the existence of God. (I highly recommend Baggett’s book co-authored with Jerry Walls Good God: The Theistic Foundations of Morality.) This version of the moral argument is an abductive version. I believe this argument, when used in an abductive form, is the strongest form of the argument. You’ll usually see it in a deductive form, a la William Lane Craig. I believe this argument is better and I’d like to see it used more often. (See below for my method behind abduction.)

The advantage of this argument is that nature is included in the argument for the morally perfect person. Usually it is depicted as nature vs. God (or a morally perfect person). That argument, I believe, gives too much to the naturalist. Here’s the argument:

  1. There are objective axiological/moral facts that obtain.
  2. Either the world alone or the world and a perfectly moral person best explain these facts.
  3. It is the case that the world and a perfectly moral person best explain these facts.
  4. Therefore, the world and a perfectly moral person best explain these facts.
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August 7th, 2012

The Contingency of Commands

by Max Andrews

The ethical realist objector [to DCT] claims that it is possible for God to command rape in some possible world, or in an impossible world close to the actual world, making it obligatory for all moral agents, whereas rape is still morally bad in that same world, thus, making DCT arbitrary and is defeated.

The nonstandard semantics objection to the arbitrariness of DCT suggests that there is an impossible world, however close to the actual world, in which God commands rape or the torture of innocent children.  Approaching the objection from an explanandum-driven consideration, would a contingent command be an adequate objection?

Consider the following contingencies of a command:

(CONTCOM)   ∀ϕ[(◊~Cgϕ) ∙ (◊Cgϕ)]

(CONTCOMʹ)   ∀ϕ[(◊~Cg~ϕ) ∙ (◊Cg~ϕ)]

The objector to divine command theory assumes that ϕ can be any command and could thus look like:

(CONTCOM″)   ∀ϕ[(◊~Cgϕ ∙ ◊~Cg~ϕ) ∙ (◊Cgϕ ∙ ◊Cg~ϕ)]

(CONTCOM‴)   ∀ρ[(◊~Cgρ ∙ ◊~Cg~ρ) ∙ (◊Cgρ ∙ ◊Cg~ρ)]

July 10th, 2012

“See to it that No One Takes You Captive through Philosophy”

by Max Andrews

What ought Christians do with philosophy?  Isn’t this contrary to theology and explicitly warned of in the Bible? This is particularly poignant in the letter to the Colossians 2.8.

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementry principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.

βλεπετε μη τις υμας εσται ο συλαγωγων δια της φιλοσοφιας και κενης απατης κατα την παραδοσιν των ανθρωπων κατα τα στοιχεια του κοσμου και ου κατα χριστον

Now, of course, for a better and full exegesis be sure to grasp the whole context of the letter.  Paul is warning the Christians in Colossae of philosophy and being distracted by and importing inappropriate concepts into their Christian beliefs. The first key word to focus on here is φιλοσοφιας (root: φιλοσοφια), which is the Greek word for philosophy here.  Philosophy literally means the love of wisdom.  In this passage the word is used either of zeal for or skill in any art or science, any branch of knowledge. Used once in the NT of the theology, or rather theosophy, of certain Jewish Christian ascetics, which busied themselves with refined and speculative enquiries into the nature and classes of angels, into the ritual of the Mosaic law and the regulations of Jewish tradition respecting practical life.

The Death of Socrates

This type of philosophy Paul is referring to is of a vain folly.  Paul uses the word ‘empty,’ κενης (root: kenos), to explain what he means. This type of philosophy is that which is empty and devoid of truth–it contains nothing. Compare this passage to Col. 2.23,

These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.

Ephesians 5.6,

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.

and 1 Tim. 6.20:

O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called “knowledge.”

So what does this mean? This means we need to have a philosophy according to Christ.  Our knowledge, metaphysics, and axiology must be conformed with Christ.  It’s impossible to be anti-philosophy.  Everyone has a philosophy. How do you know what you know? That’s epistemology, a branch of philosophy. What is God and what is reality? That’s a metaphysical question, which is philosophy.  What is right and wrong? What is beautiful and what isn’t? Again, these are axiological questions—philosophy. The Bible isn’t telling us to not be philosophical; rather, it’s telling us to have the right philosophy and worldview. In the words of Christian philosopher and theologian William Lane Craig, “The man who says he has no need for philosophy is the man who is most likely to be deceived by it.”

May 3rd, 2012

Are We Morally Obligated to Appropriate our Belief to the Evidence?

by Max Andrews

W.K. Clifford summarized this deontic model of rationality when he stated, “it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.  If a man, holding a belief which he was taught in childhood or persuaded of afterwards, keeps down and pushes away any doubts which arise about it in his mind… the life of that man is one long sin against mankind.”[1] I will need to clarify a few of the nuances to Clifford’s epistemic ethic.  I would part ways with Clifford in his sea-worthy ship story with regards to his alternate ending.  The ship owner is not responsible or equally guilty for the shipwreck even though it never happened.  Such counterfactuals are absurd to consider as having deontic statuses since they do not pertain to reality.  I would merely suggest that someone’s wrongfulness for believing upon sufficient evidence is congruent and the wrongfulness is not congruent to the consequent of actions taken based on that belief.  William James’ position states that it is permissible to believe upon insufficient evidence and, perhaps, even obligatory for us to believe on insufficient evidence.  I disagree with James (see my argument for justification for the contrast).