January 4th, 2013
I consider myself a moderate evidentialist when it comes to epistemology. There is a sense of deontology to it in that one ought to base their beliefs corresponding to the evidence; however, there is a sense in which one may hold a belief without sufficient evidence and still be rational. The source of truth is the objective prime reality and our knowledge should correspond to the truth of reality. My epistemology yields my theology in the sense of scientific theology. What I know about reality is what I know about God.
Everything that we know is intuitive or experiential. Intuition will be discussed later but the knowledge gained is from sensory apparatus’. The characters read on paper are only the result of photons reflecting off of the paper and the photoreceptors in the eye receiving that information. All knowledge cannot be deemed sensory only since it seems feasible that a person with a sensory handicap or no functioning sensory apparatus’ may still be justified in believing in his own existence by intuition (as well as moral truths). The task of justification, or determining the truth of p, must meet the criteria of an inference to the best explanation (IBE).
Consider the following definition for justification:
S is justified in believing p = S possesses sufficient evidence for p to be true.
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October 21st, 2012
In the book of Judges, Jephthah serves as the ninth judge, or deliverer, who makes a bold vow to God (See Judges 11.29-40). Jephthah makes a conditional deal with God; if he gets something, then and only then will he do something for God in return. Upon his decision to barter with God, his tragic vow turns into a moral dilemma where he must either sacrifice his daughter or break his vow. Each option carries with it further consequences. Given Jephthah’s moral dilemma, he must choose an available option with varying costs. Once his choice to sacrifice his daughter has been completed, he still stands in a morally condemning state. Upon examining the ethics of the situation via historical context, textual interpretation, and the theological significances, may one see the dilemma and all the possible consequences, how it could have been avoided, and how it applies to believers today.
The Ammonites oppressed the Israelite tribes east of the Jordan River for an eighteen-year period (Judg. 10.8). This may help qualify the date for the events. The conquest of the Transjordan occurred in 1406, forty years after the exodus, so Jephthah’s communication to the Ammonites must be dated close to 1106. Since the oppression lasted for eighteen years, that puts the oppression beginning at 1124.
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August 7th, 2012
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)]
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June 15th, 2012
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.” Clifford gives the scenario of a seafaring ship and the ship owner’s knowledge of the integrity of the ship. In Clifford’s alternated ending the ship owner is responsible or equally guilty for the shipwreck even though it never happened. The reason why he’s responsible is because he knew that that’s what could have happened.
The deontic aspect of belief and knowledge is not so much how one forms a belief but rather what that belief is. This ethic on pertains to what the belief is and how it measures to the evidence. The justificatory means is peripheral as long as the belief corresponds to reality. Initially, this seems an untenable position assuming that it may be possible to know the objective truth about all of reality. In order for one to be justified and to have knowledge without being at fault ethically the belief must be congruent to the evidence. This allows for reasonable accountability and correction of one’s beliefs and it permits the advancement of knowledge, to learn, and paradigm shifts.
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November 22nd, 2011
W.K. Clifford summarized his 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.” 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 (see below). 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).
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November 6th, 2011
The proponent of divine command theory (DCT) claims that whatever God commands to any moral agent becomes a moral obligation. Formulations of the commands are given symbolic form by David Efird as:
(RIGHT) ∀ϕ☐(Rϕ ≣ Cgϕ)
(WRONG) ∀ϕ☐(Wϕ ≣ Cg~ϕ)
(PERMITTED 1) ☐(~Eg ⊃ ∀ϕ~Wϕ) 
(PERMITTED 2) [(∃ϕ☐Cgϕ ∙ ∃ϕ☐Cg~ϕ)] ∙ [(∃ϕ☐~Cgϕ ∙ ∃ϕ☐~Cg~ϕ)]
The arbitrariness objection claims that [for example] if God commanded moral agents to rape then the action of committing rape would be obligatory to all moral agents. The objector assumes an inference in the form of the argument stating that ∀ϕ☐(Rϕ ≣ Cgϕ) may also be applicable in the sense that ϕ could refer to rape (ρ). What would make the command arbitrary is the truth of the counterfactual: If God did command rape then there would be a moral obligation to rape. If this counterfactual were true then it would serve as a defeater for DCT. The objection is not a defeater for the existence of God; it is a defeater for the DCT’s model of deontological ethics.
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